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  1. RED WINGS REPORT Norfolk 2, Rochester 3 Box Score Rochester scored single runs in the first three innings to jump out to an early 3-0 lead in support of starter Jose Berrios. Turns out that would be just enough to preserve his ninth win of the year with the Red Wings. In the first, a double from Adam Walker scored Daniel Palka, who had singled earlier to start the two-out rally. In the second, consecutive two-out singles from John Ryan Murphy, Tommy Field, and James Beresford made it 2-0. In the third, consecutive errors from the Norfolk defense led to the game's decisive run. Berrios went the first six innings, allowing no runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out nine, including two in the first and two in the third, and retired seven in a row at one point. At ninety-five pitches after the sixth, Buddy Boshers came on for seventh and had a one-two-three inning. Marcus Waldon was summoned in the eighth, and the Tides finally broke the barrier. All four hitters Walden faced reached base, and the knockout blow was a two-RBI single that brought in Sean Burnett to limit the damage. He retired the next three hitters to preserve the 3-2 lead for Rochester. In the ninth, it took J.T. Chargois nine pitches to close the door on the game, and pick up his seventh save with the Red Wings. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Mobile 6, Chattanooga 5 Box Score The Lookouts took a 3-0 lead in this one in the third inning, when a Zach Granite single plated Engelb Vielma who had singled earlier, and Mitch Garver followed with a two-RBI double to score Levi Michael and Granite. Michael had reached base by being hit by a pitch in between the singles from Vielma and Granite . Mobile closed the lead to 3-2 in the top of the fifth, as Chattanooga starter Felix Jorge ran into his first trouble of the game after picking up the first two outs of the inning. Up to that point he had faced the minimum, allowing only a single that was erased with a double play ball in the second. But two singles were followed by a two-RBI double to close the gap before he got out of the inning. Chattanooga got those runs back in the bottom of the inning, as Garver again delivered a two-RBI hit, this one a single to score Granite and Ryan Walker, making it 5-2 Lookouts. Jorge came back from the two-run fifth to go one-two-three in the sixth, allowed a solo home run in the seventh, and recorded the first two outs of the eighth before issuing a walk that brought in Jake Reed from the bullpen. Jorge’s final line was 7.2 innings pitched, and four runs allowed on five hits and two walks. Despite recording twenty-three outs against just twenty nine hitters, only one of those outs came via a strikeout. Reed hit the first batter he faced to put two runners on, threw a wild-pitch to move them to second and third, and walked another batter to load the bases before they were cleared with a double to put the BayBears out front late, 6-5. The Lookouts offense, including an appearance from Garver, was unable to muster anything else in the eighth or nine, and they went home with the loss to drop them to 50-44 on the season, and 14-10 in the second half. They are tied atop the Southern League North division standings. MIRACLE MATTERS Lakeland 1, Fort Myers 4 Box score Fort Myers starter Fernando Romero allowed three consecutive singles in the first inning to put Lakeland up 1-0 right away, but he and the bullpen settled in the rest of the way and allowed no further damage on the scoreboard. Romero went the first six innings, allowing just the one run on five hits and a walk, while striking out six. Luke Bard pitched two scoreless innings in relief, allowing two hits and striking out one. Nick Anderson notched his second save in the Florida State League with a perfect ninth inning. The Miracle offense got a solo home run from Tanner Witt in the third inning to tie it at one, and a two-run home run in the sixth from Lamonte Wade to make it 3-1. Wade’s home run was his first in the FSL. In addition to Witt and Wade’s 2-4 night’s, they also got multi-hit efforts from Trey Vavra (2-4, R) and Alex Perez (2-4) while knocking out twelve hits as a team. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, Fort Wayne 6 Box Score The Kernels took the lead late, and held on for a road victory against the TinCaps on Sunday. Cedar Rapids took a 1-0 lead in the first when Luis Arreaz reached base on a strikeout and wild pitch that was followed by a Zander Wiel double and Jaylin Davis single to drive him in. Fort Wayne tagged starter Eduardo Del Rosario for three runs in the second, including a two-run home run but would get no more against the Cedar Rapids starter. Rosario went six innings, allowing the three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out seven. Thanks to a two-run double from Nelson Molina in the sixth, and three more runs scored in the seventh Rosario remained in line for the win despite each reliever that followed him allowing at least one run. Davis added his third Midwest League home run in the top of the ninth for an added cushion. Michael Cederoth pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing a single run in each frame on three hits and a walk. He struck out two. Anthony McIver allowed the TinCaps to close it to 8-6 and had two-runners on base when he struck out the game’s final batter for his fifth save with the Kernels. The Kernels thirteen hits were amassed by multi-hit efforts from over half of their lineup. Casey Scoggins was 2-5 with a run scored out of the leadoff spot. Arraez was 2-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Zander Wiel picked up an RBI and clubbed two doubles. Davis finished 3-5 with three runs scored, a double, home run, and three RBI. Molina picked up three RBI’s of his own in a 2-5 night. Sean Miller added his fourth triple of the year. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 11, Princeton 6 Box Score Elizabthton pounded out fifteen hits compared to just the five for Princeton, but four Twins errors and a wild ninth inning for reliever Johan Quezada made the score quite a bit closer than it should have been. Ariel Montesino went 4-5 with a double and scored three runs out of the leadoff spot for the Twins. He raised his batting average to .423 in the Appalachian League thus far. Alex Kirilloff went 2-5, scored three runs, and hit his second home run of his professional career out of the three spot in the lineup. Amaurys Minier drove in four runs, including a three-run home run in the fourth in a 2-4 night. Lewin Diaz (2-5, R, 2B, RBI) and Andre Jernigan (2-5, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) also collected multiple hits. Jernigan’s blast was the first home run of his young professional career, and both his and Minier’s long balls came in the ninth inning to push the game well out of reach for the Rays. Sean Poppen made the start for Elizabethton and pitched the first five innings. He allowed an unearned run on two hits and three walks, and struck out seven to pick up his first professional win. Patrick McGuff went 2.1 scoreless innings to follow Poppen. He walked two, allowed one hit and struck out three. Colton Davis was responsible for one run on one hit as he finished off the last two outs of the eighth, and recorded one out in the ninth before Quezada was brought in. What followed was a very bizarre sequence, as Quezada had trouble finding the strike zone. There was a wild pitch to the first batter he faced, but he picked up a strikeout for the inning's second out. He then walked the next three batters to score one and load the bases, then a wild-pitch and walk scored another, and an error would score two more before Quezada got an infield pop-up to end the game. All told Quezada allowed four runs (two earned) on one hit and four walks in the inning that started with the Twins out front 11-1. GCL TWINS TAKES The GCL Twins had the day off on Sunday. They get back to action tomorrow morning on the road against the GCL Rays. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Jose Berrios, Rochester Red Wings (W, 6.0IP, 0 R’s, 4 H’s, 2 BB, 9 K’s) Hitter of the Day – Jaylin Davis, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3-4, 3 R’s, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Durham @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) – LHP Jason Wheeler (6-2, 2.80 ERA) Mobile @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) – LHP Stephen Gonsalves (3-1, 3.48 ERA) Lakeland @ Fort Myers (6:05PM CST) – RHP Miles Nordgren (0-1, 3.86 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Fort Wayne (6:05PM PM CST) – RHP Cody Stashak (6-5, 3.16 ERA) Elizabethton @ Princeton (6:00PM CST) – RHP Jose Martinez (0-1, 7.47 ERA) GCL Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00AM CST) – TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  2. RED WINGS REPORT Indianapolis Indians @ Rochester Box Score Despite having Jose Berrios on the bump and a 2-4 day from Byron Buxton that included a triple and a home run, the Wings could not keep up with the Indianapolis Indians. Berrios gave up a pair of runs in the top of the first inning and then another in the third, and one more in the fourth. Berrios struck out just one over 6.0 innings. He gave up seven hits, and walked two. He was lifted for Marcus Walden who pitched 1.2 innings, giving up a run in the top of the eighth, and was lifted for Ryan O'Rourke, who finished the final 1.1 innings of the game. Hitting in the top two spots in the order, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario (2-4, double) were pretty much the entire Red Wings offense, each picking up one of the Rochester RBIs on the evening. The Wings were ultimately 0-5 with runners in scoring position, unable to capitalize on the production at the top of the order. Adam Walker, who had hit six home runs in his previous six games, was 0-3 with two strike outs. Final: Indians 5, Red Wings 2 LOOKOUTS LOOK-IN Tennessee Smokies @ Chattanooga Box Score The Lookouts had thirteen hits and four walks, but could not put enough runs on the board to stay ahead of their in-state rivals, the Tennessee Smokies. Chattanooga was out to an early 1-0 after a Zach Granite home run to leadoff the game, and they were ahead 2-0 after the first thanks to a D.J. Hicks RBI single. Daniel Palk, Mitch Garver and Leonardo Reginatto were all 3-5, together accounting for four Lookouts RBIs. Former top draft pick (and a guy I keep hoping puts together a strong season) Levi Michael was 0-2 with a walk and a strike out and is hitting just .198/.289/.246 on the year. On the bump, Nick Greenwood had a tough outing, giving up 12 hits and five earned runs. He struck out two, walked one, and gave up a home run. Four of the runs given up by Greenwood came in big third inning, in which the Smokies sent eight batters up to the plate, and tallied three extra base hits including a two-run home run, a double, and a two-run triple. Greenwood was replaced by Luke Bard to start the eighth. Bard pitched two innings, gave up a pair of runs, walked one, struck out three, and gave up a home run. Mike Strong finished the game for the Lookouts with a 1-2-3 ninth. Final: Smokies 7, Lookouts 6 MIRACLE MATTERS Palm Beach Cardinals @ Fort Myers Box Score The Miracle received a very strong pitching performance from starter Felix Jorge. Jorge earned his third victory of the season, pitching 7.0 innings of scoreless baseball. Jorge walked two and struck out five. His ERA this year is down to 1.73, the fourth lowest ERA in the league among qualified starters. Yorman Landa pitched 1.1 innings, giving up a pair of runs in the top of the ninth before being lifted for Brandon Peterson who eared his third save of the year, who came into the game and induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. The Miracle received RBIs from each of the last five hitters in the order, including 2-4 nights from both Max Murphy and Tanner Witt. Centerfielder Edgar Corcino also had a nice night, he was 2-3 with a double, a walk and a pair of runs scored. Former first round pick Nick Gordon was 1-3 with a double and a pair of walks and is hitting .307/.361/.444. Final: Cardinals 2, Miracle 6 KERNELS KORNER Cedar Rapids @ Burlington Bees Box Score The Kernels just pounded the Burlington Bees on Thursday inning, scoring a run in the first, four runs in each of the second and third innings, and two more in the fourth to take an 11-0 lead. They tacked on one more run in the top of the ninth, for good measure. The twelve runs scored were more than enough for starter Fernando Romero who pitched 5.0 innings of two-hit baseball. Romero gave up one run, a pair of walks, and struck out five. Sam Gibbons pitched three innings of relief, giving up just two hits and one run, walking one and he struck out a pair. C.J. Irby finished the game, holding the Bees scoreless bottom of the ninth with a 12-2 lead. Six Kernels players had multi-hit games and with the exception of Brad Hartong (1-6 with a double and 2 strike outs) all the batters reached base safely multiple times, led by LaMonte Wade (1-3 with 3 runs scored, 2 RBI, and 3 walks). Daniel Kihle had a very nice game as well, going 3-5 with three runs scored, a double and an RBI. The Kernels had more extra-base hits (6) than the Bees had hits (5). Final: Kernels 12, Bees 2 TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day - Byron Buxton - Rochester Red Wings Pitcher of the Day - Felix Jorge - Fort Myers Miracle FRIDAY'S PROBABLES Charlotte Knights @ Rochester (6:05pm) - TBD vs. Logan Darnell (4-4, 4.47) Tennessee Smokies @ Chattanooga (6:15pm) - Paul Blackburn vs. David Hurlbut (2-3, 4.66) Fort Myers @ Charlotte Stone Crabs (5:35pm) - Kyle Gibson (Rehab Start, 0-0, 0.00) vs. TBD Wisconsin Timber Rattlers @ Cedar Rapids (6:35pm) - David Burkhalter vs. Dereck Rodriguez (1-5, 5.89) Please ask questions and discuss the Thursday games.
  3. The unfortunate reality is that Terry Ryan and the Twins brass has decided to stay in the middle this season, and it could prove costly. For whatever it's worth, the Twins were absolutely not supposed to compete in 2015. Another season eyeing 90 losses was more realistic than one nearing 90 wins. Because baseball happens though, Minnesota finds themselves above .500 and in striking distance of a one-game wild card playoff. In order to not sacrifice the future, Minnesota had to navigate their current winning carefully. Having gone through four poor seasons, Ryan and the Twins brain trust have built what can be regarded as one of the best farm systems in all of the big leagues. Knowing that the fruits of their labor are ready to overflow and pay dividends, sacrificing them substantially for what has been a surprise season would seem foolish. Pushing the envelope with the talent on the 2015 roster, the Twins looked to improve without going all in. While the Toronto Blue Jays made deals for players like Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, Minnesota shored up a bad bullpen with Kevin Jepsen. It was a low cost acquisition that carried future value as well. In the context of the season and organization, both now and in the future, it made a lot of sense. That's where things stop making sense, and the Twins find themselves in dangerous waters. During the month of August, the Twins made another acquisition. Neal Cotts, a 35-year-old veteran, was acquired from the Brewers as a rental, knowing free-agency loomed following 2015. The acquisition cost was minimal for the Twins (cash considerations or a player to be named later), but so was the return. Cotts compiled a 3.26 ERA with the Brewers across 49.2 IP, but a 4.72 FIP (fielding independent pitching) and 3.1 BB/9 loomed ominously. Regardless of what has or will come to fruition, the move was a sign of the Twins looking to further capitalize on the good fortune of their current wild card positioning. Within striking distance, Molitor needed another bullpen arm capable or bridging the gap to his All-Star closer. Cotts' rental status made him an intriguing option to go for it in 2015, without sacrificing the future. Following the two steps forward, the Twins then took two steps back. With a starting rotation boasting bloated ERA's (Kyle Gibson 6.00 ERA in Aug., Tommy Milone 5.40 ERA in last 3 starts, and Ervin Santana 9.12 ERA in Aug.), and two injured hurlers (both Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco may not contribute the rest of the way), the Twins decided to ignore a glaring weakness. Choosing not to trade for a David Price of their own, or make a significant future-damaging move, Minnesota stood pat. Meanwhile, at Triple-A Rochester, Jose Berrios kept rolling. In front of Terry Ryan, Berrios was lights out. In August, he owned a 2.03 ERA and a 48/3 K/BB ratio across 40.0 IP in which batters hit just .203/.232/.324. Despite the performance to the tune of a 2.67 Triple-A ERA, the Twins looked past their top pitching prospect. In holding him back, the club doesn't need to face service time implications until 2016 at the earliest. In the meantime, they may have cost themselves much more. Berrios' promotion would have started his service time. In the long run, that could have ended up costing the Twins a year of team control, forcing them to pay more down the line. However, they also could have maximized both 2015 and 2016 by being savvy with roster control. By promoting Berrios to the rotation now, the Twins would have immediately had another plus option to help carry them through September. The workload has appeared to be well within the Puerto Rican's wheelhouse, and the output would no doubt have benefitted the Twins. Following a postseason run, or whatever may have taken place in 2015, Minnesota could have then addressed 2016 in the spring. Having started the service clock in September, a year of arbitration could have been saved in early 2016. Rather than having Berrios start in the rotation out of spring training (which, judging by the Twins handling of the situation, seems like a long shot regardless), he could have made his 2016 debut in mid-May. If promoted during September 2015, and then May 2016, the results on his service time would be as if he had not been promoted this season at all. Because of how they handled things, the Twins find themselves in the middle of an uncertain equation. The playoffs are in the picture right here and now. Terry Ryan got Neal Cotts in a move to help get Minnesota there. Instead of making the internal decision with Berrios for the same reasons, he played the opposite side of the fence. Now the Twins must hope that 2016, and the next few subsequent years after, are as good as they are being hoped for. If they aren't or if larger moves need to be made to accomplish a playoff berth (the same goal as 2015), this season could end up being a distant "what if?" The business side of baseball is definitely one that isn't traveled without navigating murky waters. In a game with so much uncertainty however (again, were the Twins really supposed to be here), tempting fate and betting against the present is a difficult game to play. More often than not, being in the middle isn't going to produce the results to get you to the top. For now, the Twins will have to live with their decision and wait. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  4. Right now, Minnesota is still in the hunt, but it's these next few series that will determine their 2015 fate. The current major league roster is far from optimal, but it also appears capable of pulling out some victories. With the AL East as their upcoming competition, the Twins need to stay focused through to the end of August. Ideally, roster optimization in August for the Twins would include both Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios in the big leagues. Both are more than capable of providing a boost, and would be a definite asset. Buxton is likely being held back to sometime around the end of the month due to service time, and Berrios has a ticking innings clock. Arguments for both sides can be compelling, but operating under the belief that the Twins aren't a playoff team, I'd wait until September 1st on both. The bullpen is really the only other place the Twins could be looking for a boost in the current month. Things have been in flux of late, and changes have been made. There're a few places that could be considered weak spots, but it's also hard to suggest the replacement arms would be a guaranteed upgrade. Ryan O'Rourke and A.J. Achter have both proven capable at times, while Brian Duensing and Kevin Jepsen have been better of late. Much like the offense, there's little to nothing to be changed here at the moment. As rosters expand in September, this is where the Twins have the most room to work through some exciting decisions. First and foremost, Buxton and Berrios need to be with the big league club. Buxton is slashing .404/.440/.532 in his first 11 Triple-A games, while Berrios owns a 2.25 ERA in his last 40.0 IP. Buxton should push Aaron Hicks to right field, rendering Torii Hunter a rotational bat and replacement fielder (his likely 2016 role). Berrios deserves a crack at the rotation, and giving him three starts to end 2015 would be extremely valuable going into spring training 2016. Outside of the top two, Minnesota has some other must-accommodate types. First and foremost, Max Kepler. The German prospect is batting over .330 at Double-A and has been arguably the best hitter in the system this season. Getting him reps at the MLB level prior to 2016 is an absolute must. Teammate Nick Burdi in Double-A could also be a consideration. The 2014 second- round pick has taken his lumps this year, but he owns a 2.05 ERA across his last 22.0 IP. Burdi should be a key part of the 2016 bullpen, and getting his feet wet now (as well as his strikeout punch) is a route the Twins should explore. Jorge Polanco and J.T. Chargois could also be options if the Twins want to open things up a bit further. Just one level down, Paul Molitor has a few guys at Triple-A that will need a look. James Beresford should be given a tip-of-the-cap-type shot for what he has put together this year. The Aussie is slashing .313/.346/.368 and he offers at least a better option than Doug Bernier down the stretch for the big club. Out of the bullpen, Mark Hamburger is an option. The Twins are well acquainted with Hamburger, and his 1.05 ERA since June 16 would seemingly bolster the Twins bullpen. For Rochester, Kennys Vargas has pushed himself and worked his way back to the highest level on the farm. He's slashed .316/.519/.421 in seven games since his return to Triple-A, and will be fighting for a 25-man spot to open 2016. On the opposite end of the spectrum, overlooking Oswaldo Arcia might not be a bad idea. He went on a nice home run-filled hot streak, but he's slashed just .100/.200/.157 across his last 21 games. The Twins need to make a decision on Arcia before the upcoming year, but it's gut check time for the powerful Venezuelan. Looking at what can be done, and how the Twins are positioned, the final few weeks of the season offer plenty of intrigue. At the forefront is a team which is competing for the first time in many years. Secondarilyy though, this is a team that has shown up a year early and offers the organization an opportunity to not rush decisions, and also time to evaluate players in meaningful competition. August shouldn't be a time of much turnover for the Twins, as roster optimization would still more than likely keep them out of the playoffs. September though is a period where the Twins can begin to position for 2016 and beyond, with there being little reason not to get the ball rolling. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  5. By now, you know the story of the 2015 Minnesota Twins. Minnesota got off to an abysmal start, then something clicked, and the team burst onto the scene a year early. At the All-Star break, holding down a commanding lead for a wild card spot, the Twins looked to be in good position. Unfortunately, the bottom fell out and Paul Molitor's squad now finds themselves on the outside looking in. With a two weeks left in August, and the active roster expanding in September, things are about to get interesting.Right now, Minnesota is still in the hunt, but it's these next few series that will determine their 2015 fate. The current major league roster is far from optimal, but it also appears capable of pulling out some victories. With the AL East as their upcoming competition, the Twins need to stay focused through to the end of August. Ideally, roster optimization in August for the Twins would include both Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios in the big leagues. Both are more than capable of providing a boost, and would be a definite asset. Buxton is likely being held back to sometime around the end of the month due to service time, and Berrios has a ticking innings clock. Arguments for both sides can be compelling, but operating under the belief that the Twins aren't a playoff team, I'd wait until September 1st on both. The bullpen is really the only other place the Twins could be looking for a boost in the current month. Things have been in flux of late, and changes have been made. There're a few places that could be considered weak spots, but it's also hard to suggest the replacement arms would be a guaranteed upgrade. Ryan O'Rourke and A.J. Achter have both proven capable at times, while Brian Duensing and Kevin Jepsen have been better of late. Much like the offense, there's little to nothing to be changed here at the moment. As rosters expand in September, this is where the Twins have the most room to work through some exciting decisions. First and foremost, Buxton and Berrios need to be with the big league club. Buxton is slashing .404/.440/.532 in his first 11 Triple-A games, while Berrios owns a 2.25 ERA in his last 40.0 IP. Buxton should push Aaron Hicks to right field, rendering Torii Hunter a rotational bat and replacement fielder (his likely 2016 role). Berrios deserves a crack at the rotation, and giving him three starts to end 2015 would be extremely valuable going into spring training 2016. Outside of the top two, Minnesota has some other must-accommodate types. First and foremost, Max Kepler. The German prospect is batting over .330 at Double-A and has been arguably the best hitter in the system this season. Getting him reps at the MLB level prior to 2016 is an absolute must. Teammate Nick Burdi in Double-A could also be a consideration. The 2014 second- round pick has taken his lumps this year, but he owns a 2.05 ERA across his last 22.0 IP. Burdi should be a key part of the 2016 bullpen, and getting his feet wet now (as well as his strikeout punch) is a route the Twins should explore. Jorge Polanco and J.T. Chargois could also be options if the Twins want to open things up a bit further. Just one level down, Paul Molitor has a few guys at Triple-A that will need a look. James Beresford should be given a tip-of-the-cap-type shot for what he has put together this year. The Aussie is slashing .313/.346/.368 and he offers at least a better option than Doug Bernier down the stretch for the big club. Out of the bullpen, Mark Hamburger is an option. The Twins are well acquainted with Hamburger, and his 1.05 ERA since June 16 would seemingly bolster the Twins bullpen. For Rochester, Kennys Vargas has pushed himself and worked his way back to the highest level on the farm. He's slashed .316/.519/.421 in seven games since his return to Triple-A, and will be fighting for a 25-man spot to open 2016. On the opposite end of the spectrum, overlooking Oswaldo Arcia might not be a bad idea. He went on a nice home run-filled hot streak, but he's slashed just .100/.200/.157 across his last 21 games. The Twins need to make a decision on Arcia before the upcoming year, but it's gut check time for the powerful Venezuelan. Looking at what can be done, and how the Twins are positioned, the final few weeks of the season offer plenty of intrigue. At the forefront is a team which is competing for the first time in many years. Secondarilyy though, this is a team that has shown up a year early and offers the organization an opportunity to not rush decisions, and also time to evaluate players in meaningful competition. August shouldn't be a time of much turnover for the Twins, as roster optimization would still more than likely keep them out of the playoffs. September though is a period where the Twins can begin to position for 2016 and beyond, with there being little reason not to get the ball rolling. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz Click here to view the article
  6. The Twins finally won a game thanks to a three-run dinger from Trevor Plouffe and a spectacular eight-inning start from Ervin Santana. The Twins return home this weekend to face a red-hot Yankees team.RED WINGS REPORT Gwinnett Braves @ Rochester Red Wings Box Score Jose Berrios earned his first Triple-A win with a seven-plus inning start. He gave up just four hits, struck out one and walked two. Berrios faced two batters in the eighth, giving up a single and hitting a batter before being lifted for Caleb Thielbar. The Red Wings used four pitchers to get through the eighth inning: Berrios, Thielbar for a third, Alex Meyer for a third and Aaron Thompson for a third. A.J. Achter pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the game. Eric Farris picked up yet another hit for the Red Wings,and now has hits in eleven of his last twelve games. Reynaldo Rodriguez led the way with a 3-4 afternoon including a double and an RBI. Jemese Beresford was 2-4 with an RBI of his own. Danny Ortiz provided the rest of the Red Wings runs on a two-run shot in the sixth inning. The Red Wings lead the International League North Division at 53-46, a half-game ahead of second place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Wings head out on the road for 18 of their next 21 games, where they've played below .500 ball so far this year. Final: Braves 0, Red Wings 4 LOOKOUTS LOOK-IN Tennessee Smokies @ Chattanooga Lookouts Box Score Lookouts starter D.J. Baxendale had one of his best starts of the year on Thursday night. In front of the home crowd at AT&T Field in Chattanooga, Baxendale threw seven innings of two-hit, one-run baseball. Baxendale walked five and struck out three. The lone run he gave up came in the top of the first after he had given up a lead-off walk to start the game. Unfortunately for Baxendale, Jake Reed showed up in the eighth inning and things went haywire. Reed gave up three runs on four hits and a walk before getting out of the inning. After the damage was done in the eighth, the Lookouts turned to another D.J., this time D.J. Johnson, in the ninth to finish the game. Johnson faced the minimum and struck out two. After Baxendale gave up the run in the first the Lookouts came right back and evened the score on a Max Kepler single that scored Levi Michael who had doubled at the start of the game for the Lookouts. After those two hits in the first, the Lookouts had eight more, but stranded ten men and could not take advantage of their opportunities. Levi Michael was 2-5, including that leadoff double. Travis Harrison was 2-4 with a double of his own. Kennys Vargas was 0-4 with four strike- outs and now has eleven strikeouts in his last four games to go along with just two hits. Final: Smokies 4, Lookouts 1 MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers @ Tampa Yankees Box Score Jason Kanzler hit his seventh home run of the year in the seventh inning as the Fort Myers Miracle defeated the Tampa Yankees 7-5. Kanzler was 1-4 on the evening. Ryan Walker was 2-4 with a walk and an RBI, and Mitch Garver was 2-5 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Logan Wade also had a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored. Mat Batts came into Thursday's game with a 1.66 ERA and after he gave up three earned runs in just over five innings (5.1), he left with his ERA a third of a run higher at 1.96. Batts struck out six and walked just two, but he gave up six hits (five singles and a double). Batts was replaced by Nick Burdi who threw a wild pitch, allowing a run to score to even the game at 3-3. The wild pitch earned Burdi a blown save, but the Miracle went out and put up a four spot in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the seventh Burdi picked up a pair of strike outs, threw another wild pitch, and escaped a two-on, two-out jam by inducing a ground ball to second. Todd Van Steensel pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up a run on three hits. He also struck out two. Final: Miracle 7, Yankees 4 KERNELS KORNER Wisconsin Timber Rattlers @ Cedar Rapids Box Score Kernels' starter Zach Tillery faced twenty batters but didn't make it out of the fourth inning, lifted after just 3.2 innings. He gave up nine hits and five runs, all earned. He struck out one batter and did not walk anyone. Michael Theofanopoulos, owner of the longest name in the history of the world, earned a victory with 3.1 scoreless innings in relief. He walked two and struck out four. Jared Wilson earned his first save of the year, the two inning variety, with a pair of scoreless innings on an 80 degree night in Cedar Rapids. Brian Navarreto led the Kernels with three hits on a 3-4 night that included a double and a strikeout. Navarreto had the misfortune of hitting at the bottom of the lineup, so despite an extra base hit and a pair of singles, he did not have an RBI or a run scored. Nick Gordon was 2-3 with a double, two walks, an RBI and a run scored. Tanner English hit his fifth home run of the year, his only hit on the night. Final: Timber Rattlers 5, Kernels 6 E-TWINS E-NOTES Princeton Rays @ Elizabethton Box Score Trailing 1-0 headed to the bottom of the ninth inning, with just three hits so far in the game, the E-Town Twins rallied for a pair of runs for a walk-off victory. Down to their last out with no one on base, the Twins' Travis Blankenhorn walked and was replaced by a pinch runner, Manuel Guzman. Pinch hitter Amaurys Minier then doubled home Guzman to even the score at one. After a pitching change, Ariel Montesino singled on a ground ball to right. With two outs Minier was running on contact and came home to score the winning run! Those ninth inning theatrics occurred after a strong pitching performance from the Twins' starter Andro Cutura who went six innings, gave up four hits, walked three and struck out three. He was replaced by C.K. Irby who pitched two innings, giving up a run on three hits, but all six outs he recorded were via strikeout. Onesimo Hernandez pitched the top of the ninth and was credited with the win for a scoreless inning of relief Final: Rays 1, Twins 2 GCL TWINS NOTES GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles Box Score Williams Ramirez continues his domination of the Gulf Coast League. The right-hander gave up just one hit over 5.1 shutout innings. He walked two and struck out seven. It is his third straight start where he has worked at least five innings and give up no runs on just one hit. He is now 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA with the GCL Twins this year. He will turn 23 in early August, nearly two years older than the average GCL player. Stephen Pryor came in and gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. He struck out four. He has now pitched 9.2 innings over seven rehab appearances in the GCL. One would think he needs to be assigned to a full-season affiliate soon. Max Cordy struck out two in a perfect inning. The Twins managed just three hits in this game. Dalton Hicks appears ready to head back to Chattanooga. In his rehab game, he went 1-2 with two walks and his third double. Final: Orioles 1, Twins 0 TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - J.O. Berrios, Rochester Red Wings Hitter of the Day - Nick Gordon, Cedar Rapids Kernels FRIDAY'S PROBABLES Rochester @ Columbus Clippers - Greg Peavey (1-4, 4.68) vs. Will Roberts Chattanooga @ Tennessee Smokies - Jason Wheeler (1-1, 3.09) vs. Ryan Williams Tampa Yankees @ Fort Myers - Dietrich Enns vs. Kohl Stewart (4-5, 3.26) Beloit Snappers @ Cedar Rapids - Joey Wagman vs. Randy Rosario (1-1, 1.15) Elizabethton @ Kingsport Mets - Samuel Clay (0-1, 5.68) vs. Darwin Ramos Click here to view the article
  7. RED WINGS REPORT Gwinnett Braves @ Rochester Red Wings Box Score Jose Berrios earned his first Triple-A win with a seven-plus inning start. He gave up just four hits, struck out one and walked two. Berrios faced two batters in the eighth, giving up a single and hitting a batter before being lifted for Caleb Thielbar. The Red Wings used four pitchers to get through the eighth inning: Berrios, Thielbar for a third, Alex Meyer for a third and Aaron Thompson for a third. A.J. Achter pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the game. Eric Farris picked up yet another hit for the Red Wings,and now has hits in eleven of his last twelve games. Reynaldo Rodriguez led the way with a 3-4 afternoon including a double and an RBI. Jemese Beresford was 2-4 with an RBI of his own. Danny Ortiz provided the rest of the Red Wings runs on a two-run shot in the sixth inning. The Red Wings lead the International League North Division at 53-46, a half-game ahead of second place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Wings head out on the road for 18 of their next 21 games, where they've played below .500 ball so far this year. Final: Braves 0, Red Wings 4 LOOKOUTS LOOK-IN Tennessee Smokies @ Chattanooga Lookouts Box Score Lookouts starter D.J. Baxendale had one of his best starts of the year on Thursday night. In front of the home crowd at AT&T Field in Chattanooga, Baxendale threw seven innings of two-hit, one-run baseball. Baxendale walked five and struck out three. The lone run he gave up came in the top of the first after he had given up a lead-off walk to start the game. Unfortunately for Baxendale, Jake Reed showed up in the eighth inning and things went haywire. Reed gave up three runs on four hits and a walk before getting out of the inning. After the damage was done in the eighth, the Lookouts turned to another D.J., this time D.J. Johnson, in the ninth to finish the game. Johnson faced the minimum and struck out two. After Baxendale gave up the run in the first the Lookouts came right back and evened the score on a Max Kepler single that scored Levi Michael who had doubled at the start of the game for the Lookouts. After those two hits in the first, the Lookouts had eight more, but stranded ten men and could not take advantage of their opportunities. Levi Michael was 2-5, including that leadoff double. Travis Harrison was 2-4 with a double of his own. Kennys Vargas was 0-4 with four strike- outs and now has eleven strikeouts in his last four games to go along with just two hits. Final: Smokies 4, Lookouts 1 MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers @ Tampa Yankees Box Score Jason Kanzler hit his seventh home run of the year in the seventh inning as the Fort Myers Miracle defeated the Tampa Yankees 7-5. Kanzler was 1-4 on the evening. Ryan Walker was 2-4 with a walk and an RBI, and Mitch Garver was 2-5 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Logan Wade also had a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored. Mat Batts came into Thursday's game with a 1.66 ERA and after he gave up three earned runs in just over five innings (5.1), he left with his ERA a third of a run higher at 1.96. Batts struck out six and walked just two, but he gave up six hits (five singles and a double). Batts was replaced by Nick Burdi who threw a wild pitch, allowing a run to score to even the game at 3-3. The wild pitch earned Burdi a blown save, but the Miracle went out and put up a four spot in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the seventh Burdi picked up a pair of strike outs, threw another wild pitch, and escaped a two-on, two-out jam by inducing a ground ball to second. Todd Van Steensel pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up a run on three hits. He also struck out two. Final: Miracle 7, Yankees 4 KERNELS KORNER Wisconsin Timber Rattlers @ Cedar Rapids Box Score Kernels' starter Zach Tillery faced twenty batters but didn't make it out of the fourth inning, lifted after just 3.2 innings. He gave up nine hits and five runs, all earned. He struck out one batter and did not walk anyone. Michael Theofanopoulos, owner of the longest name in the history of the world, earned a victory with 3.1 scoreless innings in relief. He walked two and struck out four. Jared Wilson earned his first save of the year, the two inning variety, with a pair of scoreless innings on an 80 degree night in Cedar Rapids. Brian Navarreto led the Kernels with three hits on a 3-4 night that included a double and a strikeout. Navarreto had the misfortune of hitting at the bottom of the lineup, so despite an extra base hit and a pair of singles, he did not have an RBI or a run scored. Nick Gordon was 2-3 with a double, two walks, an RBI and a run scored. Tanner English hit his fifth home run of the year, his only hit on the night. Final: Timber Rattlers 5, Kernels 6 E-TWINS E-NOTES Princeton Rays @ Elizabethton Box Score Trailing 1-0 headed to the bottom of the ninth inning, with just three hits so far in the game, the E-Town Twins rallied for a pair of runs for a walk-off victory. Down to their last out with no one on base, the Twins' Travis Blankenhorn walked and was replaced by a pinch runner, Manuel Guzman. Pinch hitter Amaurys Minier then doubled home Guzman to even the score at one. After a pitching change, Ariel Montesino singled on a ground ball to right. With two outs Minier was running on contact and came home to score the winning run! Those ninth inning theatrics occurred after a strong pitching performance from the Twins' starter Andro Cutura who went six innings, gave up four hits, walked three and struck out three. He was replaced by C.K. Irby who pitched two innings, giving up a run on three hits, but all six outs he recorded were via strikeout. Onesimo Hernandez pitched the top of the ninth and was credited with the win for a scoreless inning of relief Final: Rays 1, Twins 2 GCL TWINS NOTES GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles Box Score Williams Ramirez continues his domination of the Gulf Coast League. The right-hander gave up just one hit over 5.1 shutout innings. He walked two and struck out seven. It is his third straight start where he has worked at least five innings and give up no runs on just one hit. He is now 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA with the GCL Twins this year. He will turn 23 in early August, nearly two years older than the average GCL player. Stephen Pryor came in and gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. He struck out four. He has now pitched 9.2 innings over seven rehab appearances in the GCL. One would think he needs to be assigned to a full-season affiliate soon. Max Cordy struck out two in a perfect inning. The Twins managed just three hits in this game. Dalton Hicks appears ready to head back to Chattanooga. In his rehab game, he went 1-2 with two walks and his third double. Final: Orioles 1, Twins 0 TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - J.O. Berrios, Rochester Red Wings Hitter of the Day - Nick Gordon, Cedar Rapids Kernels FRIDAY'S PROBABLES Rochester @ Columbus Clippers - Greg Peavey (1-4, 4.68) vs. Will Roberts Chattanooga @ Tennessee Smokies - Jason Wheeler (1-1, 3.09) vs. Ryan Williams Tampa Yankees @ Fort Myers - Dietrich Enns vs. Kohl Stewart (4-5, 3.26) Beloit Snappers @ Cedar Rapids - Joey Wagman vs. Randy Rosario (1-1, 1.15) Elizabethton @ Kingsport Mets - Samuel Clay (0-1, 5.68) vs. Darwin Ramos
  8. Big Changes in the Coaching Staff For the first time in nearly three decades, the Twins fired their manager, dismissing Ron Gardenhire one day after the conclusion of the season. The move was warranted following a fourth consecutive 90-loss season. Not everyone viewed Gardenhire's internally promoted replacement, Paul Molitor, as a transformative change in direction, but by most accounts Molitor does things his own way and the look of his coaching staff will be very different. The most notable addition is pitching coach Neil Allen, a rising talent from the Rays organization with no meaningful previous ties to the Twins. A fresh perspective at the top, and a new voice for this embattled pitching staff, should at least provide a very different dynamic. J.O. Berrios' Incredible Year While the rest of the system's top prospects stagnated, sat out, or took steps backwards, Berrios saw his stock skyrocket with one of the best pitching seasons we've seen from a Twins prospect in some time. There were questions surrounding the right-hander entering this campaign, given his relatively small stature and his good-but-not-great results at Cedar Rapids in 2013, but Berrios made an emphatic statement by obliterating the Class-A Florida State League in the first half, then holding his own as the youngest hurler in the Class-AA Eastern League after a midseason promotion. He even made a critical late-season start at Triple-A... as a 20-year-old. Berrios' momentum hasn't stopped since he stopped playing in games. During the offseason, he's been on an insane workout regimen down in his native Puerto Rico, evidenced by the numerous photos and videos he has been sharing on his Twitter and Facebook pages. The difference in his physique since just September (at which point he wasn't exactly in bad shape) is noticeable: If Berrios doesn't pan out for the Twins, I think it's safe to say it won't be from a lack of effort or work ethic. The Spending Continues Last offseason, Terry Ryan went on a spending spree that was historic by this franchise's standards, handing out the two largest free agent deals in team history while committing a total of $84 million to Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey in an effort to reinforce their rotten rotation. The spend trend has only continued in 2014. First there was the in-season signing of Kendrys Morales -- a totally uncharacteristic move and a surprising one, given that the Twins really weren't shaping up as contenders at the time. Then, during this offseason, Ryan eclipsed Nolasco's record deal by inking Ervin Santana to a $54 million contract. In addition, the Twins signed Torii Hunter for $10.5 million and ponied up for a Hughes extension. In some respects, the Twins are simply riding a league-wide trend of increased spending as new revenues pour in, but it's still nice to see, and hopefully a sign of heightened aggressiveness to come, as they work back toward contention. Free Agent Success Stories Perhaps Ryan's new-found willingness to splurge on the open market has been bolstered by two free agent signings that would have to rank among the most successful this team has ever made (granted, that bar wasn't set high). Kurt Suzuki surpassed all expectations on his one-year deal, making the All-Star team and earning a two-year extension midway through the summer. Hughes, of course, might as well have been an All-Star, as he was one of the AL's best starting pitchers and finished seventh in the Cy Young voting. He also earned himself an extension even though there were two years left on his bargain deal. Rookie Rampage The Twins have sometimes been accused of promoting prospects too slowly, and leaving seemingly MLB-ready youngsters stagnating on the farm, which made it all the more encouraging to see Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas featured so heavily in 2014. Coming into the season, neither player looked like a candidate to log significant time in the majors. Santana was 22 and had played just one season in Double-A. Vargas, also 23, hadn't played above Single-A. Yet both were given chances and thrived, helping power a surprisingly strong offense. Hopefully the club will show similar willingness to let the next wave of promising young hitters make their case -- and hopefully with similar results.
  9. In a large sense, 2014 will go down as another year of stalled movement for the Minnesota Twins organization, characterized by more setbacks for top prospects and minimal progress in the W/L column. However, a deeper look shows that very important strides were made in a few areas the bode well going forward. Here are five developments that should have you feeling a whole lot better as we look ahead to 2015.Big Changes in the Coaching Staff For the first time in nearly three decades, the Twins fired their manager, dismissing Ron Gardenhire one day after the conclusion of the season. The move was warranted following a fourth consecutive 90-loss season. Not everyone viewed Gardenhire's internally promoted replacement, Paul Molitor, as a transformative change in direction, but by most accounts Molitor does things his own way and the look of his coaching staff will be very different. The most notable addition is pitching coach Neil Allen, a rising talent from the Rays organization with no meaningful previous ties to the Twins. A fresh perspective at the top, and a new voice for this embattled pitching staff, should at least provide a very different dynamic. J.O. Berrios' Incredible Year While the rest of the system's top prospects stagnated, sat out, or took steps backwards, Berrios saw his stock skyrocket with one of the best pitching seasons we've seen from a Twins prospect in some time. There were questions surrounding the right-hander entering this campaign, given his relatively small stature and his good-but-not-great results at Cedar Rapids in 2013, but Berrios made an emphatic statement by obliterating the Class-A Florida State League in the first half, then holding his own as the youngest hurler in the Class-AA Eastern League after a midseason promotion. He even made a critical late-season start at Triple-A... as a 20-year-old. Berrios' momentum hasn't stopped since he stopped playing in games. During the offseason, he's been on an insane workout regimen down in his native Puerto Rico, evidenced by the numerous photos and videos he has been sharing on his Twitter and Facebook pages. The difference in his physique since just September (at which point he wasn't exactly in bad shape) is noticeable: If Berrios doesn't pan out for the Twins, I think it's safe to say it won't be from a lack of effort or work ethic. The Spending Continues Last offseason, Terry Ryan went on a spending spree that was historic by this franchise's standards, handing out the two largest free agent deals in team history while committing a total of $84 million to Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey in an effort to reinforce their rotten rotation. The spend trend has only continued in 2014. First there was the in-season signing of Kendrys Morales -- a totally uncharacteristic move and a surprising one, given that the Twins really weren't shaping up as contenders at the time. Then, during this offseason, Ryan eclipsed Nolasco's record deal by inking Ervin Santana to a $54 million contract. In addition, the Twins signed Torii Hunter for $10.5 million and ponied up for a Hughes extension. In some respects, the Twins are simply riding a league-wide trend of increased spending as new revenues pour in, but it's still nice to see, and hopefully a sign of heightened aggressiveness to come, as they work back toward contention. Free Agent Success Stories Perhaps Ryan's new-found willingness to splurge on the open market has been bolstered by two free agent signings that would have to rank among the most successful this team has ever made (granted, that bar wasn't set high). Kurt Suzuki surpassed all expectations on his one-year deal, making the All-Star team and earning a two-year extension midway through the summer. Hughes, of course, might as well have been an All-Star, as he was one of the AL's best starting pitchers and finished seventh in the Cy Young voting. He also earned himself an extension even though there were two years left on his bargain deal. Rookie Rampage The Twins have sometimes been accused of promoting prospects too slowly, and leaving seemingly MLB-ready youngsters stagnating on the farm, which made it all the more encouraging to see Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas featured so heavily in 2014. Coming into the season, neither player looked like a candidate to log significant time in the majors. Santana was 22 and had played just one season in Double-A. Vargas, also 23, hadn't played above Single-A. Yet both were given chances and thrived, helping power a surprisingly strong offense. Hopefully the club will show similar willingness to let the next wave of promising young hitters make their case -- and hopefully with similar results. Click here to view the article
  10. In the first part of my top 30 list there are a core of young pitchers moving through the system. The second part of my list includes a surprise or two but there are some powerful prospects. I have some differences compared to the other authors but that's what makes this fun. To see their top 30's, you're going to have to go and pick up a copy for yourself. ***Get your copy of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook now (Paperback or PDF). Use the code: TREAT before the end of the year for 25% off the print version*** 10 – Nick Burdi – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle 2014 Stats: 2-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 10 BB, 38 K Burdi had to finish up his run through the College World Series before the Twins could get him into action this year. He has all the tools to be a very solid back-end of the bullpen option for the Twins in the very near future. He can hit triple-digits with his fastball and he counters that with a good slider and an occasional change-up. Burdi could debut in 2015 but it might be more realistic to look for him during the 2016 campaign. 9 – Eddie Rosario – OF/2B – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats 2014 Stats: .243/.286/.387, 20-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 9 SB Rosario started the year with a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy. Before this season, he had shown the ability to hit at every level. There might have been some issues adjusting to better pitching at Double-A. He put together some impressive numbers in the AFL by hitting .330/.345/.410 with four doubles and two triples. He also stole 10 bases in 14 attempts. Minnesota tried him out at second base for a couple seasons but it looks like he'll have to make the big leagues as an outfielder. 8 – Trevor May – RHP – Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins 2014 MiLB Stats: 8-6, 2.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 98.1 IP, 39 BB, 94 K 2014 MLB Stats: 3-6, 7.88 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 22 BB, 44 K His big league numbers don't look the greatest but May made some strides in 2014. He lowered his walk rate and posted a better WHIP during his time at Triple-A. After some rough outings in his first handful of appearances, May calmed down a bit. He struck out 41 and walked nine in his last seven starts to end the year on a positive note. He'll be in the running for the final rotation spot coming out of spring training and he might be the front-runner at this point. 7 – Jorge Polanco – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Minnesota Twin 2014 MiLB Stats: .288/.353/.395, 23-2B, 6-3B, 7 HR, 61 RBI 2014 MLB Stats: .333/.500/.833, 1-2B, 1-3B, 0 HR, 3 RB When the Twins were in a roster crunch, they looked all the way down to High-A to pluck Polanco up to the majors. He saw limited action but showed off some of his skills. He's switch-hitting ability and powerful swing could make him dangerous. There are questions whether he will stay at shortstop but he made improvements at the position throughout the year. He'll need more time in the minors but his make-up will mean he's only a phone call away from being back with the Twins. 6 – Alex Meyer – RHP – Rochester Red Wings 2014 Stats: 7-7, 3.52 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 130.1 IP, 64 BB, 153 K There isn't much left for Meyer to do in the minor leagues and it sounds like the Twins might give him the chance to make the opening day roster as a bullpen arm. His command wasn't the best this season but he can strike out a ton of batters. If everything breaks right, he could be a top of the rotation guy or he might end up being a solid bullpen option. The time is now for Meyer. 5 – Nick Gordon – SS – Elizabethton Twins 2014 Stats: .294/.333/.366, 6-2B, 4-3B, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB Gordon marked the third straight top five pick for the Minnesota Twins with Buxton and Stewart already being featured on this list. He comes from a baseball family as his dad played in the majors and his brother was an All-Star last season. Most reports say he will be able to stay at shortstop for the long-term and he has the potential to be dangerous at the plate and on the bases. He's a long way from Target Field but he could be part of a solid core in the future. 4 – Jose Berrios – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Rochester Red Wings 2014 Stats: 12-8, 2.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 140.0 IP, 38 BB, 140 K Berrios had the best season of any player in the Twins farm system. Even though he is small is stature, he has the work ethic to mold himself into a top-notch big league pitcher. His fastball can hit into the mid-90s and his secondary pitches continue to improve. He pitched out of his mind this past season so it will be interesting to see where he starts in 2015 and how fast he gets to the big leagues. There's no reason to rush him but he might force the Twins hand. 3 – Kohl Stewart – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels 2014 Stats: 3-5, 2.59 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 87.0 IP, 24 BB, 62 K The gap between Stewart and Berrios is small but I give a slight nod to Stewart. He compiled decent numbers at Low-A as a teenager. There were some shoulder issues near the end of the season but I don't think these are going to impact him long-term. As a multi-sport athlete in high school, this was his first full season focusing on baseball. He will continue to rack up innings and figure out the art of pitching. He has the chance to be a future ace. 2 – Miguel Sano – 3B – Did Not Play 2014 Stats: DNP Sano didn't play in 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery during spring training. There was a chance that he would make his debut in 2014 but now he will have to show he is ready for 2015. Some questions remain about his long-term defensive position and his ability to make consistent contact as he moves up the ladder. For now, he's still considered elite because of his power potential. If everything goes right, he'll be at Target Field before the end of the year. 1 – Byron Buxton – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats 2014 Stats: .234/.307/.395, 4-2B, 2-3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB Buxton entered the 2014 season as the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. He suffered multiple injuries and was limited to just 31 games. This still takes nothing away from what his potential is. His combination of speed, power, and hitting could result in him being a perennial All-Star and the player who leads Minnesota out of the bottom of the American League. However, he's going to have to avoid the injury bug because he can't afford another lost season. For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  11. One of the highlights of the off-season for a core of Twins fans is the release of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Seth Stohs has worked to put together this fantastic book for the last seven years. In 2012, he gave me my first taste of helping with the book. By 2013, I was writing an article for the annual handbook and for the last three years I have been among a trio of writers that includes Jeremy Nygaard, Stohs, and myself.In the first part of my top 30 list there are a core of young pitchers moving through the system. The second part of my list includes a surprise or two but there are some powerful prospects. I have some differences compared to the other authors but that's what makes this fun. To see their top 30's, you're going to have to go and pick up a copy for yourself. ***Get your copy of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook now (Paperback or PDF). Use the code: TREAT before the end of the year for 25% off the print version*** 10 – Nick Burdi – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle 2014 Stats: 2-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 10 BB, 38 K Burdi had to finish up his run through the College World Series before the Twins could get him into action this year. He has all the tools to be a very solid back-end of the bullpen option for the Twins in the very near future. He can hit triple-digits with his fastball and he counters that with a good slider and an occasional change-up. Burdi could debut in 2015 but it might be more realistic to look for him during the 2016 campaign. 9 – Eddie Rosario – OF/2B – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats 2014 Stats: .243/.286/.387, 20-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 9 SB Rosario started the year with a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy. Before this season, he had shown the ability to hit at every level. There might have been some issues adjusting to better pitching at Double-A. He put together some impressive numbers in the AFL by hitting .330/.345/.410 with four doubles and two triples. He also stole 10 bases in 14 attempts. Minnesota tried him out at second base for a couple seasons but it looks like he'll have to make the big leagues as an outfielder. 8 – Trevor May – RHP – Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins 2014 MiLB Stats: 8-6, 2.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 98.1 IP, 39 BB, 94 K 2014 MLB Stats: 3-6, 7.88 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 22 BB, 44 K His big league numbers don't look the greatest but May made some strides in 2014. He lowered his walk rate and posted a better WHIP during his time at Triple-A. After some rough outings in his first handful of appearances, May calmed down a bit. He struck out 41 and walked nine in his last seven starts to end the year on a positive note. He'll be in the running for the final rotation spot coming out of spring training and he might be the front-runner at this point. 7 – Jorge Polanco – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Minnesota Twin 2014 MiLB Stats: .288/.353/.395, 23-2B, 6-3B, 7 HR, 61 RBI 2014 MLB Stats: .333/.500/.833, 1-2B, 1-3B, 0 HR, 3 RB When the Twins were in a roster crunch, they looked all the way down to High-A to pluck Polanco up to the majors. He saw limited action but showed off some of his skills. He's switch-hitting ability and powerful swing could make him dangerous. There are questions whether he will stay at shortstop but he made improvements at the position throughout the year. He'll need more time in the minors but his make-up will mean he's only a phone call away from being back with the Twins. 6 – Alex Meyer – RHP – Rochester Red Wings 2014 Stats: 7-7, 3.52 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 130.1 IP, 64 BB, 153 K There isn't much left for Meyer to do in the minor leagues and it sounds like the Twins might give him the chance to make the opening day roster as a bullpen arm. His command wasn't the best this season but he can strike out a ton of batters. If everything breaks right, he could be a top of the rotation guy or he might end up being a solid bullpen option. The time is now for Meyer. 5 – Nick Gordon – SS – Elizabethton Twins 2014 Stats: .294/.333/.366, 6-2B, 4-3B, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB Gordon marked the third straight top five pick for the Minnesota Twins with Buxton and Stewart already being featured on this list. He comes from a baseball family as his dad played in the majors and his brother was an All-Star last season. Most reports say he will be able to stay at shortstop for the long-term and he has the potential to be dangerous at the plate and on the bases. He's a long way from Target Field but he could be part of a solid core in the future. 4 – Jose Berrios – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Rochester Red Wings 2014 Stats: 12-8, 2.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 140.0 IP, 38 BB, 140 K Berrios had the best season of any player in the Twins farm system. Even though he is small is stature, he has the work ethic to mold himself into a top-notch big league pitcher. His fastball can hit into the mid-90s and his secondary pitches continue to improve. He pitched out of his mind this past season so it will be interesting to see where he starts in 2015 and how fast he gets to the big leagues. There's no reason to rush him but he might force the Twins hand. 3 – Kohl Stewart – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels 2014 Stats: 3-5, 2.59 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 87.0 IP, 24 BB, 62 K The gap between Stewart and Berrios is small but I give a slight nod to Stewart. He compiled decent numbers at Low-A as a teenager. There were some shoulder issues near the end of the season but I don't think these are going to impact him long-term. As a multi-sport athlete in high school, this was his first full season focusing on baseball. He will continue to rack up innings and figure out the art of pitching. He has the chance to be a future ace. 2 – Miguel Sano – 3B – Did Not Play 2014 Stats: DNP Sano didn't play in 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery during spring training. There was a chance that he would make his debut in 2014 but now he will have to show he is ready for 2015. Some questions remain about his long-term defensive position and his ability to make consistent contact as he moves up the ladder. For now, he's still considered elite because of his power potential. If everything goes right, he'll be at Target Field before the end of the year. 1 – Byron Buxton – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats 2014 Stats: .234/.307/.395, 4-2B, 2-3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB Buxton entered the 2014 season as the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. He suffered multiple injuries and was limited to just 31 games. This still takes nothing away from what his potential is. His combination of speed, power, and hitting could result in him being a perennial All-Star and the player who leads Minnesota out of the bottom of the American League. However, he's going to have to avoid the injury bug because he can't afford another lost season. For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com Click here to view the article
  12. While Paul Molitor's slightly revamped Twins team tries to dig its way out of irrelevance and show meaningful improvement for the first time in four years, some of the most integral components to the success of this ongoing rebuilding process will be reporting to Double-A. The stakes are high, as four of the best prospects in the system -- all at critical junctures in their careers -- are expected to open the 2015 campaign in Chattanooga. Byron Buxton, the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball a year ago, lost some of his luster during an injury-filled 2014 season that was all but lost. Miguel Sano underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring and hasn't played competitively since. Eddie Rosario missed half of 2014 due to a drug-related suspension and struggled after returning, derailing the considerable momentum he'd built up heading into the season. J.O. Berrios isn't stalled out like the other three -- quite the contrary -- but he has plenty to prove as an undersized starter coming off a flat-out spectacular campaign. Can the righty shut down advanced hitters and back up his newly claimed standing as the best pitching prospect in the organization (and maybe one of the best in the game)? Any one of these players is a candidate to see action at Target Field sometime next season. In April, they'll likely be joining a Lookouts roster packed with other notable prospects. If this team, and specifically a few key individuals, kick it into high gear, it would finally set in motion plans for a youth-fueled turnaround at the big-league level. One can hardly overstate the importance of Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Berrios getting off to fast starts. Mientkiewicz worked with all four while managing at Ft. Myers, and oversaw immensely successful seasons for each. It's hard to think of a better man for the task.
  13. It was easy enough to see coming, but the Twins made it official last week that Doug Mientkiewicz will move up and manage the club's Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga next year. The organization clearly thinks highly of Mientkiewicz, as they interviewed him multiple times for the big-league manager opening despite his lack of experience. And while he ultimately didn't come out on top of that race, he ended up with a job that might actually be more important in the short term.While Paul Molitor's slightly revamped Twins team tries to dig its way out of irrelevance and show meaningful improvement for the first time in four years, some of the most integral components to the success of this ongoing rebuilding process will be reporting to Double-A. The stakes are high, as four of the best prospects in the system -- all at critical junctures in their careers -- are expected to open the 2015 campaign in Chattanooga. Byron Buxton, the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball a year ago, lost some of his luster during an injury-filled 2014 season that was all but lost. Miguel Sano underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring and hasn't played competitively since. Eddie Rosario missed half of 2014 due to a drug-related suspension and struggled after returning, derailing the considerable momentum he'd built up heading into the season. J.O. Berrios isn't stalled out like the other three -- quite the contrary -- but he has plenty to prove as an undersized starter coming off a flat-out spectacular campaign. Can the righty shut down advanced hitters and back up his newly claimed standing as the best pitching prospect in the organization (and maybe one of the best in the game)? Any one of these players is a candidate to see action at Target Field sometime next season. In April, they'll likely be joining a Lookouts roster packed with other notable prospects. If this team, and specifically a few key individuals, kick it into high gear, it would finally set in motion plans for a youth-fueled turnaround at the big-league level. One can hardly overstate the importance of Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Berrios getting off to fast starts. Mientkiewicz worked with all four while managing at Ft. Myers, and oversaw immensely successful seasons for each. It's hard to think of a better man for the task. Click here to view the article
  14. In the past two offseasons, the Twins have signed four free agent pitchers to multi-year contracts. Four! When you think about that -- relative to their past tendencies and against the backdrop of an internally facilitated rebuild -- that's kind of crazy. What motivated the club to enter into lengthy commitments with so many outside pitchers, and what does it mean for the young arms already in the organization vying for their own spots in a suddenly crowded rotation?Terry Ryan said what you'd expect after adding Ervin Santana last week: "This isn’t exactly the blueprint we had in mind, going out and signing a guy for $55 million,” Ryan said. “Jim Pohlad gave us the ability to do that, and hopefully it’ll pay off, but the ideal is to keep [prospects] coming through the system, through player development.” Who could argue with that? Compared to veterans signed on the open market, young homegrown starters are far less expensive and generally less liable to break down. The teams that reign over MLB are the ones that can consistently develop and produce those arms, like St. Louis and San Francisco. But the four-year deal for Santana, one offseason after four-year and three-year pacts with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, inhibits the ability of Minnesota's system to pay dividends. One internally developed piece, Kyle Gibson, has already staked his claim with a solid first full season. But the Twins are evidently skeptical of either him, or the prospects behind him in the pipeline, because they're leaving little flexibility to build around him in the rotation from within. Three rotation spots other than Gibson's are now essentially locked up for both 2015 and 2016. That leaves only one clear opening over the next two years for a trio of quality prospects who are all pretty close, if not beyond ready, for the big leagues. Trevor May logged 45 innings in the majors this year, and while his overall results were not good, he showed enough positive signs -- and dominated enough at Triple-A beforehand -- to deserve at least a long look next spring. Alex Meyer, the prize of the Denard Span trade, will turn 25 in January and he has already made 27 starts at Triple-A, where he led his league in strikeouts this year. It's hard to justify keeping him in the minors much longer. J.O. Berrios is not a credible contender to break camp with the Twins next year, but he'll likely start at Double-A and if his performance is anything like it was in 2014, he could be angling for a big-league promotion in the second half. Injuries and other things happen, so in reality a lot of this might take care of itself. That's why overall I'm a fan of the decision to bring in Santana. But I hope that when situations arise where it comes down to either giving a chance to a young guy who's ready, or stalling in favor of veteran mediocrity, the Twins will make the right choice. I'd like to think they will, because Ryan knows as well as anyone the value of going with your own prospects rather than splurging on free agents. But now, that money is already spent. Click here to view the article
  15. Terry Ryan said what you'd expect after adding Ervin Santana last week: "This isn’t exactly the blueprint we had in mind, going out and signing a guy for $55 million,” Ryan said. “Jim Pohlad gave us the ability to do that, and hopefully it’ll pay off, but the ideal is to keep [prospects] coming through the system, through player development.” Who could argue with that? Compared to veterans signed on the open market, young homegrown starters are far less expensive and generally less liable to break down. The teams that reign over MLB are the ones that can consistently develop and produce those arms, like St. Louis and San Francisco. But the four-year deal for Santana, one offseason after four-year and three-year pacts with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, inhibits the ability of Minnesota's system to pay dividends. One internally developed piece, Kyle Gibson, has already staked his claim with a solid first full season. But the Twins are evidently skeptical of either him, or the prospects behind him in the pipeline, because they're leaving little flexibility to build around him in the rotation from within. Three rotation spots other than Gibson's are now essentially locked up for both 2015 and 2016. That leaves only one clear opening over the next two years for a trio of quality prospects who are all pretty close, if not beyond ready, for the big leagues. Trevor May logged 45 innings in the majors this year, and while his overall results were not good, he showed enough positive signs -- and dominated enough at Triple-A beforehand -- to deserve at least a long look next spring. Alex Meyer, the prize of the Denard Span trade, will turn 25 in January and he has already made 27 starts at Triple-A, where he led his league in strikeouts this year. It's hard to justify keeping him in the minors much longer. J.O. Berrios is not a credible contender to break camp with the Twins next year, but he'll likely start at Double-A and if his performance is anything like it was in 2014, he could be angling for a big-league promotion in the second half. Injuries and other things happen, so in reality a lot of this might take care of itself. That's why overall I'm a fan of the decision to bring in Santana. But I hope that when situations arise where it comes down to either giving a chance to a young guy who's ready, or stalling in favor of veteran mediocrity, the Twins will make the right choice. I'd like to think they will, because Ryan knows as well as anyone the value of going with your own prospects rather than splurging on free agents. But now, that money is already spent.
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