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  1. It's taken us some time to get here, and hopefully you've enjoyed a new look at the Twins prospect rankings, but today we reach the Top 5 Minnesota Twins pitching prospects. I certainly don't expect that everyone will agree, but the purpose of these reports is to provide recognition for well-deserving pitching prospects, and create discussion on the Twins system. What is very exciting is that these five pitchers, along with the pitchers in the 6-10 ranking range, and even a couple in the 11-15 range, have a real chance to be impact big league starters. The other thing to note is that the organization's top prospect lists have shifted quite significantly even from last year. While hitters such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Ben Rortvedt lost their prospect status, the Twins have developed many intriguing, exciting pitching prospects. Obviously what matters most is what they are able to do in the big leagues, but there is a stable of pitchers that Twins fans should be very excited about. Let's get started on my Top 5 Twins Pitching Prospects. #5 - RHP Josh Winder 2021 STATS: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 14/14 G/GS, 0.94 WHIP, 80/13 K/BB, 72.0 IP The Twins drafted Josh Winder out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He went 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts at Elizabethton that summer. In 2019, he went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. Like so many others, he missed the 2020 season, but when he came to Instructional League, he made a prospect name for himself. Instead of sitting 91-92 with the fastball, he was now hitting 95-97 consistently. In addition, he has a good slider and a changeup. In 2021, he received a call to be a part of the Twins depth camp for spring training. He skipped High-A and began the season as Wichita’s opening day starter. He dominated Double-A. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 65 batters while striking out just ten. He moved up to St. Paul and in his first Triple-A start, he started with five no-hit innings. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in the Futures Game in Denver. He made just four starts for the Saints due to a shoulder impingement and missed the remainder of the season. Winder is intriguing because of his fastball, his control of all of his pitches, and his work ethic is second to none. Following the season, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster and when spring training starts, he should be given a real shot to make the opening day roster. That said, he is most likely to spend some more time in St. Paul. He will be 25 years old throughout the 2022 season. #4 - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson 2021 STATS: 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 1.75 WHIP, 10/8 K/BB, 8.0 IP Simeon Woods Richardson joined the Twins organization in July when the Twins acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios deal. It was the second time the 21-year-old prospect was traded. After being drafted out of his Sugar Land, Texas, high school in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, he was traded in 2019 to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. He has always been very young for the level in which he plays, but at Double-A in 2021, he was nearly five years younger than average. The numbers showed it as he posted a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in New Hampshire before the trade. Now, he did have 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. He also walked 26 batters. Control was something that eluded him in 2021, though it really hadn’t previously. When the Twins acquired him, he was a teammate of Joe Ryan on Team USA in the Olympics. Woods Richardson has a big fastball in the mid-90s as part of a solid four-pitch mix. Again, control will be the key. He will pitch the 2022 season at age 21. With his struggles in 2021, and his youth, he should spend much of the season in Wichita. #3 - RHP Jordan Balazovic 2021 STATS: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 20/20 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 102/38 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins 2016 draft has proven pretty impressive to this point. The Twins started with five straight high school hitters. In the fifth round, they took Jordan Balazovic out of secondary school in Ontario. He has had ups and downs since signing with the Twins, but when healthy, he has generally been very good. He has also really developed as a starting pitcher. He now has a fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 at times. He has four pitches that all can be average or better big-league pitches. He has typically shown good control. He didn’t pitch in 2020, although he spent the last several weeks in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. Following the season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He came to big-league camp for spring training in 2021, but he began the season on the Injured List with an oblique injury. However, he still made 20 starts and reached a career-high 97 innings, all in Double-A Wichita. He was much more inconsistent throughout the season than normal. He had a good start, then struggled a bit. Then he dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He followed that with struggles again, but he ended the season strong, and most important healthy. Balazovic should spend most of the 2022 season in Triple-A St. Paul, but I would expect him to make his MLB debut in 2022. He won’t turn 24 until mid-September. #2 - RHP Joe Ryan 2021 MiLB STATS: 0-0, 2.00 ERA, 2/2 G/GS, 0.78 WHIP, 17/2 K/BB, 9.0 IP 2021 MLB STATS: 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 5/5 G/GS, 0.79 WHIP, 30/5 K/BB, 26.2 IP Fair to say that Joe Ryan made a strong first impression with the Twins. Then again, he has been impressing since he was young. The Twins wanted to sign him after he went undrafted following an injury-filled junior season. He bet on himself, went to Cal State-Stanislaus, pitched great and the Rays took him as a senior sign in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. He has been really good since joining the Rays, and in 2020, he was pitching at the alternate site. He was pitching well for Triple-A Durham to start this season and then headed to the Olympics with Team USA (the team won both games he started). While across the ocean, he learned that he had been traded to the Twins with Drew Strotman in the Nelson Cruz deal. Upon his return to the States, Ryan made two unbelievable starts with the Saints (Strotman’s story about that in Monday’s Twins Spotlight is hilarious!) before joining the Twins. Then he came up to the Twins and was again impressive. A few more home runs than you might want, but he showed great poise and an ability to miss bats. As Strotman said of Ryan, you may not know why you can’t hit him, but they don’t hit him. Ryan sits with a fastball that averages right around 90 mph. He can occasionally touch 94 with the fastball, but since he releases the ball low and can spot the pitch and be successful up in the strike zone, it is hard to hit. He will throw a high percentage of fastballs, but we also saw some really good change ups and sliders, and he really tunnels the ball with all three pitches very well. Ryan should spend the full 2022 season with the Twins. He won’t turn 26 until May. I think Twins fans can look forward to The Joe Ryan Experience for years to come. #1 - RHP Matt Canterino 2021 STATS: 1-0, 0.78 ERA, 6/6 G/GS, 0.61 WHIP, 45/4 K/BB, 23.0 IP I am guessing that this ranking of Matt Canterino as my choice for the Twins top pitching prospect will come as a surprise to some. However, if not for the elbow concerns that caused him to only throw 23 game innings in 2021, I don’t think people would be surprised. They’re certainly legitimate concerns, for sure. However, when it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Canterino’s is electric. He’s got a big fastball, sitting 94-96 with his fastball as a starter, touching 97. He’s got the slider that can make hitters look silly. He’s got a slower curveball. And he’s got a good changeup. He’s also got really good makeup, work ethic and energy, some of the intangibles you are looking for in a top-of-rotation option. Canterino was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2019 out of Rice where he was a three-year starter and averaged about 97 innings each season. He did spend some time at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul late in 2020. If healthy, Canterino could move quickly. After his absolute domination in Cedar Rapids for the first month of the season (43 strikeouts in 21 innings!), I would expect he will start his season at Double-A Wichita and have a chance to move up to St. Paul fairly quickly. Now, innings will be a concern at some point, and if that happens, he could certainly work out of the bullpen as the season ends. The goal should continue to be to have him start, but obviously this kind of arm is very valuable and needs to be taken care of. He will be 24 throughout the 2022 season. Discuss... I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my rankings 100% I certainly wouldn’t expect that. I hope that I was able to make my case. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are a lot of pitchers in this system that have upside to become a playoff-caliber starting pitcher, and that’s exciting. It’s important to have some, but the fact that they have several should give hope that one to three of them will become just that while others will become mid-or-back end starters or even relievers. That’s just how pitching prospects work. Feel free to discuss and ask questions. . Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 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 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5 View full article
  2. It's hard to fathom that former AL Central staple Zack Greinke will be entering his 19th season in Major League Baseball in the 2022 season. At 38, the crafty veteran still has gas left in the tank and could prove to be a valuable asset for a Twins rotation that is flooded with youth. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically. View full article
  3. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically.
  4. Over the past several weeks, I have shared my Twins Top 30 Hitting and Top 30 Pitching prospect rankings. This is the first time the information has been presented this way, and based on feedback, it is a positive thing. That said, I wanted to summarize what had been posted, so enjoy. Again, I certainly think that the Twins system is strong. It likely won’t be a Top 10 organization by the national publications, but I legitimately think that as many as 25 or more from each of the lists can play in the big leagues with continued development, health, and of course a little luck. Before getting too far, let’s take a look at the two lists... And before I do that, I will acknowledge my mistakes. (Yes, I make them from time to time...) 1.) I switched shortstops Jermaine Palacios and Wander Javier in my rankings. I showed Palacios ranking as the #25 hitter with Javier checking in at #15. Those should be reversed. 2.) I was looking at my living Twins Top 152 prospect rankings (Yes, I have one, and no, not going to share it) for this summary and realized that I just missed RHP Austin Schulfer. I have placed him in where I had ranked him among pitchers and overall in the below charts. I acknowledged in one of the pitcher articles that while it is a good start to split up the Hitters and Pitchers, there was a logical additional separation that is needed... Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers. You see, right or wrong, I still have it in my head that a #3 of #4 starter is still going to through 150-160 innings a season while even the best relievers will throw 60-70 innings in a season. Fair? Not necessarily because no one is questioning the importance of a quality bullpen. Twins fans certainly understand that need. And, maybe it's something that will change in time. If we're being honest, we have seen pitching roles change over the past few years and I would expect that will continue. Aside from the top starting pitchers, most starters are only going through the batting order twice, pitching four or five innings. That is making the value of relievers much more important. So, I did want to take a few minutes and also provide my list of the top 15 Twins relief pitching prospects. Top 15 Relief Pitching Prospects 1. Jovani Moran, LHP 2. Osiris German, RHP 3. Yennier Cano, RHP 4. Jordan Gore, RHP 5. Steven Cruz, RHP 6. Ryan Mason, RHP 7. Alex Scherff, RHP 8. Denny Bentley, LHP 9. Zach Featherstone, LHP 10. Ryan Shreve, RHP 11. Derek Molina, RHP 12. Zach Neff, LHP 13. David Festa, RHP 14. Josh Mitchell, LHP 15. Melvi Acosta, RHP Again, that is a really good group. The top five were included among the Top 30 Pitching Prospects, and likely #6 through #12 on this list would have appeared very soon. Seth's Top 50 Twins Prospects (Clicking on the player links will bring you to a list of any article that player has been tagged in on Twins Daily. It's fun to look back and see how they've progressed, and other interesting information from their careers.) Royce Lewis, SS (Hitter 1) Jose Miranda, IF (H2) Austin Martin, SS/OF (H3) Matt Canterino, RHP (Pitcher 1) Joe Ryan, RHP (P2) Jordan Balazovic, RHP (P3) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (P4) Josh Winder, RHP (P5) Chase Petty, RHP (P6) Marco Raya, RHP (P7) Jhoan Duran, RHP (P8) Cade Povich, LHP (P9) Noah Miller, SS (H4) Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (H5) Steve Hajjar, LHP (P10) Kala’I Rosario, OF (H6) Blayne Enlow, RHP (P11) Gilberto Celestino, OF (H7) Louie Varland, RHP (P12) Spencer Steer, IF (H8) Cole Sands, RHP (P13) Edouard Julien, IF (H9) Sawyer Gipson-Long, RHP (P14) Drew Strotman, RHP (P15) Aaron Sabato, 1B (H10) Matt Wallner, OF (H11) Misael Urbina, OF (H12) Jovani Moran, LHP (P16) Casey Legumina, RHP (P17) Keoni Cavaco, SS (H13) Chris Vallimont, RHP (P18) Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B (H14) Jermaine Palacios, SS (H15) Regi Grace, RHP (P19) Yunior Severino, IF (H16) Alerick Soularie, OF (H17) Jair Camargo, C (H18) Osiris German, RHP (P20) Christian MacLeod, LHP (P21) Alex Isola, C/1B (H19) Sean Mooney, RHP (P22) Yennier Cano, RHP (P23) Austin Schulfer, RHP (P24) Jeferson Morales, C/OF (H20) Seth Gray, 3B (H21) Will Holland, SS/CF (H22) Cody Laweryson, RHP (P24) Jordan Gore, RHP (P25) Mark Contreras, OF (H23) Charlie Mack, C (H24) Notes It is hard not to notice that the top three prospects are hitters. However, prospects four through 12 are all pitchers. Frankly, an argument could be made that those nine pitchers could be fairly interchangeable. If you were to tell me that Jhoan Duran or Josh Winder or Chase Petty should rank fourth, I'm not going to argue too vehemently. More important than the actual ranking is that the Twins have a lot of pitchers with not only big-league potential, but they have potential to be playoff starters in the future. I noted this throughout the series, particularly in the comments, but it's important to note who is no longer eligible for prospect status. On the mound, Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax , and Ralph Garza, Jr. surpassed rookie qualifications. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Ben Rortvedt, and Nick Gordon are no longer "prospects" either. For those curious, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak and Jorge Alcala were not rookies in 2021 after their big-league time in 2020. Breakdown (Pitchers): Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (19), Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (3), Right-Handed Relief Pitchers (3), Left-Handed Relief Pitchers (1). All three left-handed starters were drafted in 2021. Breakdown (Position Players): Catchers (4), Infielders (13), Outfielders (7). Obviously versatility is important in the organization and several players got time in multiple spots. I tried to include them where they played most often. How Acquired: Drafted by Twins (35), Acquired in Trade (8), International Signing (6), Minor League Signing (1, Jermaine Palacios). This is a large number, but more important, three of the top 7 prospects were acquired in July. 13 of these 50 players are on the Twins 40-man roster, so if there is no new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they will not be able to start spring training. They can't just go to minor league spring training. Several have told me (in the Twins organization and elsewhere ) that Covid could potentially have rippling negative impact on organizations and player development for a couple of years. Obviously that is primarily regarding pitchers, but there can also be hitters who will hopefully get their groove back again in 2022. It's also important to remember that a pitcher drafted out of college in 2019 was likely 21-22 years old. With the missed 2020 season, they pitched in 2021 at 23-24. Four-year college players even a year older. While age-to-level of competition is often a factor in prospect rankings, and it needs to be, it's my opinion that it has almost no bearing right now on what a pitcher can be as we move forward, and if they come up at 24 or 26 isn't a very big deal. So when I read comments like, "Well, Pitcher A is already 24, he has to be rushed up now..." I can't disagree more. As always, what makes doing these rankings fun is the interaction with the readers. Here at Twins Daily, I believe we have the best Twins minor league coverage around, and we have a lot of our readers and writers that have a strong interest in learning more. These lists serve many purposes. First, it's to highlight players that deserve to be talked about. Second, it's fun to think we are smart and that there is some science to these prospect rankings. I've done Twins prospect rankings going back to 2003 or 2004 online. It is not a science. These are kids, working their way up an organizational ladder, just like many kids just out of high school or college. The develop at different rates. They work hard. They get hurt. Things happen and they don't always pan out. So, we need to give them credit when we can, and we can dream on them helping our favorite team become a viable, consistent winning team. I enjoy the comments section. I enjoy being challenged. I try not to run from questions you ask while also being respectful of the players and their families. So please discuss these players and more in the comments. And also, please let us know what you want to see from Twins Daily's minor league coverage in 2022? What can we do better? What would you like to see more of, or less of? Your feedback helps us so much and we want to continue to improve. Twins Spotlight Several of these Twins players have been a guest on Twins Spotlight over the past two offseasons. We have now had 51 episodes. To look back and see who we have interviewed and listen back to them, click here. Previous Rankings (To look back at what I wrote about the 60 players, click below) Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Hitters Part 6: 1-5 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 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5 View full article
  5. Again, I certainly think that the Twins system is strong. It likely won’t be a Top 10 organization by the national publications, but I legitimately think that as many as 25 or more from each of the lists can play in the big leagues with continued development, health, and of course a little luck. Before getting too far, let’s take a look at the two lists... And before I do that, I will acknowledge my mistakes. (Yes, I make them from time to time...) 1.) I switched shortstops Jermaine Palacios and Wander Javier in my rankings. I showed Palacios ranking as the #25 hitter with Javier checking in at #15. Those should be reversed. 2.) I was looking at my living Twins Top 152 prospect rankings (Yes, I have one, and no, not going to share it) for this summary and realized that I just missed RHP Austin Schulfer. I have placed him in where I had ranked him among pitchers and overall in the below charts. I acknowledged in one of the pitcher articles that while it is a good start to split up the Hitters and Pitchers, there was a logical additional separation that is needed... Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers. You see, right or wrong, I still have it in my head that a #3 of #4 starter is still going to through 150-160 innings a season while even the best relievers will throw 60-70 innings in a season. Fair? Not necessarily because no one is questioning the importance of a quality bullpen. Twins fans certainly understand that need. And, maybe it's something that will change in time. If we're being honest, we have seen pitching roles change over the past few years and I would expect that will continue. Aside from the top starting pitchers, most starters are only going through the batting order twice, pitching four or five innings. That is making the value of relievers much more important. So, I did want to take a few minutes and also provide my list of the top 15 Twins relief pitching prospects. Top 15 Relief Pitching Prospects 1. Jovani Moran, LHP 2. Osiris German, RHP 3. Yennier Cano, RHP 4. Jordan Gore, RHP 5. Steven Cruz, RHP 6. Ryan Mason, RHP 7. Alex Scherff, RHP 8. Denny Bentley, LHP 9. Zach Featherstone, LHP 10. Ryan Shreve, RHP 11. Derek Molina, RHP 12. Zach Neff, LHP 13. David Festa, RHP 14. Josh Mitchell, LHP 15. Melvi Acosta, RHP Again, that is a really good group. The top five were included among the Top 30 Pitching Prospects, and likely #6 through #12 on this list would have appeared very soon. Seth's Top 50 Twins Prospects (Clicking on the player links will bring you to a list of any article that player has been tagged in on Twins Daily. It's fun to look back and see how they've progressed, and other interesting information from their careers.) Royce Lewis, SS (Hitter 1) Jose Miranda, IF (H2) Austin Martin, SS/OF (H3) Matt Canterino, RHP (Pitcher 1) Joe Ryan, RHP (P2) Jordan Balazovic, RHP (P3) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (P4) Josh Winder, RHP (P5) Chase Petty, RHP (P6) Marco Raya, RHP (P7) Jhoan Duran, RHP (P8) Cade Povich, LHP (P9) Noah Miller, SS (H4) Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (H5) Steve Hajjar, LHP (P10) Kala’I Rosario, OF (H6) Blayne Enlow, RHP (P11) Gilberto Celestino, OF (H7) Louie Varland, RHP (P12) Spencer Steer, IF (H8) Cole Sands, RHP (P13) Edouard Julien, IF (H9) Sawyer Gipson-Long, RHP (P14) Drew Strotman, RHP (P15) Aaron Sabato, 1B (H10) Matt Wallner, OF (H11) Misael Urbina, OF (H12) Jovani Moran, LHP (P16) Casey Legumina, RHP (P17) Keoni Cavaco, SS (H13) Chris Vallimont, RHP (P18) Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B (H14) Jermaine Palacios, SS (H15) Regi Grace, RHP (P19) Yunior Severino, IF (H16) Alerick Soularie, OF (H17) Jair Camargo, C (H18) Osiris German, RHP (P20) Christian MacLeod, LHP (P21) Alex Isola, C/1B (H19) Sean Mooney, RHP (P22) Yennier Cano, RHP (P23) Austin Schulfer, RHP (P24) Jeferson Morales, C/OF (H20) Seth Gray, 3B (H21) Will Holland, SS/CF (H22) Cody Laweryson, RHP (P24) Jordan Gore, RHP (P25) Mark Contreras, OF (H23) Charlie Mack, C (H24) Notes It is hard not to notice that the top three prospects are hitters. However, prospects four through 12 are all pitchers. Frankly, an argument could be made that those nine pitchers could be fairly interchangeable. If you were to tell me that Jhoan Duran or Josh Winder or Chase Petty should rank fourth, I'm not going to argue too vehemently. More important than the actual ranking is that the Twins have a lot of pitchers with not only big-league potential, but they have potential to be playoff starters in the future. I noted this throughout the series, particularly in the comments, but it's important to note who is no longer eligible for prospect status. On the mound, Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax , and Ralph Garza, Jr. surpassed rookie qualifications. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Ben Rortvedt, and Nick Gordon are no longer "prospects" either. For those curious, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak and Jorge Alcala were not rookies in 2021 after their big-league time in 2020. Breakdown (Pitchers): Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (19), Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (3), Right-Handed Relief Pitchers (3), Left-Handed Relief Pitchers (1). All three left-handed starters were drafted in 2021. Breakdown (Position Players): Catchers (4), Infielders (13), Outfielders (7). Obviously versatility is important in the organization and several players got time in multiple spots. I tried to include them where they played most often. How Acquired: Drafted by Twins (35), Acquired in Trade (8), International Signing (6), Minor League Signing (1, Jermaine Palacios). This is a large number, but more important, three of the top 7 prospects were acquired in July. 13 of these 50 players are on the Twins 40-man roster, so if there is no new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they will not be able to start spring training. They can't just go to minor league spring training. Several have told me (in the Twins organization and elsewhere ) that Covid could potentially have rippling negative impact on organizations and player development for a couple of years. Obviously that is primarily regarding pitchers, but there can also be hitters who will hopefully get their groove back again in 2022. It's also important to remember that a pitcher drafted out of college in 2019 was likely 21-22 years old. With the missed 2020 season, they pitched in 2021 at 23-24. Four-year college players even a year older. While age-to-level of competition is often a factor in prospect rankings, and it needs to be, it's my opinion that it has almost no bearing right now on what a pitcher can be as we move forward, and if they come up at 24 or 26 isn't a very big deal. So when I read comments like, "Well, Pitcher A is already 24, he has to be rushed up now..." I can't disagree more. As always, what makes doing these rankings fun is the interaction with the readers. Here at Twins Daily, I believe we have the best Twins minor league coverage around, and we have a lot of our readers and writers that have a strong interest in learning more. These lists serve many purposes. First, it's to highlight players that deserve to be talked about. Second, it's fun to think we are smart and that there is some science to these prospect rankings. I've done Twins prospect rankings going back to 2003 or 2004 online. It is not a science. These are kids, working their way up an organizational ladder, just like many kids just out of high school or college. The develop at different rates. They work hard. They get hurt. Things happen and they don't always pan out. So, we need to give them credit when we can, and we can dream on them helping our favorite team become a viable, consistent winning team. I enjoy the comments section. I enjoy being challenged. I try not to run from questions you ask while also being respectful of the players and their families. So please discuss these players and more in the comments. And also, please let us know what you want to see from Twins Daily's minor league coverage in 2022? What can we do better? What would you like to see more of, or less of? Your feedback helps us so much and we want to continue to improve. Twins Spotlight Several of these Twins players have been a guest on Twins Spotlight over the past two offseasons. We have now had 51 episodes. To look back and see who we have interviewed and listen back to them, click here. Previous Rankings (To look back at what I wrote about the 60 players, click below) Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Hitters Part 6: 1-5 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 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5
  6. What is very exciting is that these five pitchers, along with the pitchers in the 6-10 ranking range, and even a couple in the 11-15 range, have a real chance to be impact big league starters. The other thing to note is that the organization's top prospect lists have shifted quite significantly even from last year. While hitters such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Ben Rortvedt lost their prospect status, the Twins have developed many intriguing, exciting pitching prospects. Obviously what matters most is what they are able to do in the big leagues, but there is a stable of pitchers that Twins fans should be very excited about. Let's get started on my Top 5 Twins Pitching Prospects. #5 - RHP Josh Winder 2021 STATS: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 14/14 G/GS, 0.94 WHIP, 80/13 K/BB, 72.0 IP The Twins drafted Josh Winder out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He went 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts at Elizabethton that summer. In 2019, he went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. Like so many others, he missed the 2020 season, but when he came to Instructional League, he made a prospect name for himself. Instead of sitting 91-92 with the fastball, he was now hitting 95-97 consistently. In addition, he has a good slider and a changeup. In 2021, he received a call to be a part of the Twins depth camp for spring training. He skipped High-A and began the season as Wichita’s opening day starter. He dominated Double-A. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 65 batters while striking out just ten. He moved up to St. Paul and in his first Triple-A start, he started with five no-hit innings. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in the Futures Game in Denver. He made just four starts for the Saints due to a shoulder impingement and missed the remainder of the season. Winder is intriguing because of his fastball, his control of all of his pitches, and his work ethic is second to none. Following the season, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster and when spring training starts, he should be given a real shot to make the opening day roster. That said, he is most likely to spend some more time in St. Paul. He will be 25 years old throughout the 2022 season. #4 - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson 2021 STATS: 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 1.75 WHIP, 10/8 K/BB, 8.0 IP Simeon Woods Richardson joined the Twins organization in July when the Twins acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios deal. It was the second time the 21-year-old prospect was traded. After being drafted out of his Sugar Land, Texas, high school in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, he was traded in 2019 to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. He has always been very young for the level in which he plays, but at Double-A in 2021, he was nearly five years younger than average. The numbers showed it as he posted a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in New Hampshire before the trade. Now, he did have 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. He also walked 26 batters. Control was something that eluded him in 2021, though it really hadn’t previously. When the Twins acquired him, he was a teammate of Joe Ryan on Team USA in the Olympics. Woods Richardson has a big fastball in the mid-90s as part of a solid four-pitch mix. Again, control will be the key. He will pitch the 2022 season at age 21. With his struggles in 2021, and his youth, he should spend much of the season in Wichita. #3 - RHP Jordan Balazovic 2021 STATS: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 20/20 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 102/38 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins 2016 draft has proven pretty impressive to this point. The Twins started with five straight high school hitters. In the fifth round, they took Jordan Balazovic out of secondary school in Ontario. He has had ups and downs since signing with the Twins, but when healthy, he has generally been very good. He has also really developed as a starting pitcher. He now has a fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 at times. He has four pitches that all can be average or better big-league pitches. He has typically shown good control. He didn’t pitch in 2020, although he spent the last several weeks in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. Following the season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He came to big-league camp for spring training in 2021, but he began the season on the Injured List with an oblique injury. However, he still made 20 starts and reached a career-high 97 innings, all in Double-A Wichita. He was much more inconsistent throughout the season than normal. He had a good start, then struggled a bit. Then he dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He followed that with struggles again, but he ended the season strong, and most important healthy. Balazovic should spend most of the 2022 season in Triple-A St. Paul, but I would expect him to make his MLB debut in 2022. He won’t turn 24 until mid-September. #2 - RHP Joe Ryan 2021 MiLB STATS: 0-0, 2.00 ERA, 2/2 G/GS, 0.78 WHIP, 17/2 K/BB, 9.0 IP 2021 MLB STATS: 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 5/5 G/GS, 0.79 WHIP, 30/5 K/BB, 26.2 IP Fair to say that Joe Ryan made a strong first impression with the Twins. Then again, he has been impressing since he was young. The Twins wanted to sign him after he went undrafted following an injury-filled junior season. He bet on himself, went to Cal State-Stanislaus, pitched great and the Rays took him as a senior sign in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. He has been really good since joining the Rays, and in 2020, he was pitching at the alternate site. He was pitching well for Triple-A Durham to start this season and then headed to the Olympics with Team USA (the team won both games he started). While across the ocean, he learned that he had been traded to the Twins with Drew Strotman in the Nelson Cruz deal. Upon his return to the States, Ryan made two unbelievable starts with the Saints (Strotman’s story about that in Monday’s Twins Spotlight is hilarious!) before joining the Twins. Then he came up to the Twins and was again impressive. A few more home runs than you might want, but he showed great poise and an ability to miss bats. As Strotman said of Ryan, you may not know why you can’t hit him, but they don’t hit him. Ryan sits with a fastball that averages right around 90 mph. He can occasionally touch 94 with the fastball, but since he releases the ball low and can spot the pitch and be successful up in the strike zone, it is hard to hit. He will throw a high percentage of fastballs, but we also saw some really good change ups and sliders, and he really tunnels the ball with all three pitches very well. Ryan should spend the full 2022 season with the Twins. He won’t turn 26 until May. I think Twins fans can look forward to The Joe Ryan Experience for years to come. #1 - RHP Matt Canterino 2021 STATS: 1-0, 0.78 ERA, 6/6 G/GS, 0.61 WHIP, 45/4 K/BB, 23.0 IP I am guessing that this ranking of Matt Canterino as my choice for the Twins top pitching prospect will come as a surprise to some. However, if not for the elbow concerns that caused him to only throw 23 game innings in 2021, I don’t think people would be surprised. They’re certainly legitimate concerns, for sure. However, when it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Canterino’s is electric. He’s got a big fastball, sitting 94-96 with his fastball as a starter, touching 97. He’s got the slider that can make hitters look silly. He’s got a slower curveball. And he’s got a good changeup. He’s also got really good makeup, work ethic and energy, some of the intangibles you are looking for in a top-of-rotation option. Canterino was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2019 out of Rice where he was a three-year starter and averaged about 97 innings each season. He did spend some time at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul late in 2020. If healthy, Canterino could move quickly. After his absolute domination in Cedar Rapids for the first month of the season (43 strikeouts in 21 innings!), I would expect he will start his season at Double-A Wichita and have a chance to move up to St. Paul fairly quickly. Now, innings will be a concern at some point, and if that happens, he could certainly work out of the bullpen as the season ends. The goal should continue to be to have him start, but obviously this kind of arm is very valuable and needs to be taken care of. He will be 24 throughout the 2022 season. Discuss... I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my rankings 100% I certainly wouldn’t expect that. I hope that I was able to make my case. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are a lot of pitchers in this system that have upside to become a playoff-caliber starting pitcher, and that’s exciting. It’s important to have some, but the fact that they have several should give hope that one to three of them will become just that while others will become mid-or-back end starters or even relievers. That’s just how pitching prospects work. Feel free to discuss and ask questions. . Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 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 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5
  7. Minnesota Twins rookie starting pitchers Bailay Ober and Joe Ryan both showed reasons to be optimistic about their futures but both are still so inexperienced. Twins fans seem to be placing hefty expectations on them, and given the current status of the rest of the rotation, what else are we supposed to do? The reality is, however, that development isn't always linear. This franchise desperately needs these two to build off their impressive debuts, but that's not always how things work out. View full video
  8. Continuing our rankings of the most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization, we share our picks for six through 10. 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, and also read up on our picks for #11-15. 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 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL From there, we crack into the top 10. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 6 through 10 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 2021 Ranking: 7 Two-way catchers are among the most valuable commodities in baseball. It's not yet clear that Jeffers will be one, but his young major-league career has offered promising signs. Defensively, Jeffers established himself as a strong pitcher framer and good overall backstop. His instincts and reaction speed enable him to make special plays. He seems to have the confidence of the pitching staff – no small feat for a 24-year-old who went from college to the majors in two years. Offensively, his rushed development has been evident. After an impressive rookie showing in 2020, Jeffers saw his OPS drop by 120 points as lacking plate discipline derailed his production. But while the .199 average and .270 on-base percentage were tough to stomach, Jeffers kept bringing the power with 14 home runs in 85 games. At worst, Jeffers looks like a good defensive catcher who can take one deep here and there. (A poor man's Salvador Perez, perhaps?) If he can evolve a bit in the batter's box, he'll become a highly coveted asset – the heralded two-way catcher. It's important to keep in mind Jeffers' age and experience; when Mitch Garver was 24, he was posting a .688 OPS in Single-A. 9. Max Kepler, RF 2021 Ranking: 3 Kepler is an average hitter and an elite defensive right fielder with a very favorable contract. That combination would have more value to a lot of other teams than it does to the Twins, who wouldn't mind spending on an outfielder and already have a top-notch defender in center. A persistent inability to turn the corner offensively – outside of a short-lived breakout in 2019 – has made Kepler a frustrating player to follow. But when you look past that, he's an excellent athlete and quality regular, still a year short of 30 and under team control at reasonable rates for the next two seasons, with a $10M option in 2024. 8. Mitch Garver, C 2021 Ranking: 8 Garver's struggles with the bat in 2020 carried over into the beginning of 2021, where he slashed .151/.196/.321 through 17 games while striking out half the time. As the catcher's incredible 2019 faded further from view, many began to wonder if his approach was broken. Maybe it was, but Garver fixed it in a hurry. He homered twice in his last game of April, and pretty much never looked back, hitting .292/.406/.584 with 11 homers and 12 doubles in 51 games the rest of the way. Garver rediscovered his plate discipline, and as soon as that happened, he got back to dominating and basically out-homering the world (on a per-rate basis). It was a second consecutive season for Garver that was cut short by injuries. The punishment he's taken behind the plate, along with the increasingly evident need to have his bat in the lineup, could compel the Twins to start shifting Garver to different positions more. But that needs to be weighed against the tremendous advantage gained by writing him in at catcher. Since 2019 Garver ranks second among all MLB backstops in wOBA (min. 500 PA). He'd be higher on this list if not for his waning team control, with free agency only two seasons away. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Managing to secure Ryan in exchange for Nelson Cruz ahead of the trade deadline was a nifty bit of work by the front office, and one that probably doesn't get talked about often enough. As a 40-year-old designated hitter approaching free agency, Cruz had limited value, but the Twins leveraged Tampa's situation and were able to add an asset that immediately becomes a key part of their plans. The 25-year-old Ryan dominated at Triple-A this year, and translated his performance to the majors. In five starts for the Twins, he struck out six times as many batters as he walked, and allowed only 16 hits in 26 ⅓ innings. The right-hander cemented his spot in a needy rotation, and he's lined up to be an inexpensive fixture for years to come. All in return for an aging and expensive DH who didn't really help the Rays that much, and is now a free agent. In terms of asset upgrades, it doesn't get much better than what the Twins pulled off here. 6. Bailey Ober, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Like Ryan, Ober is a newcomer to the rankings and finds himself near the top. But unlike Ryan, he's not a newcomer to the system. The former 12th-round draft pick boosted his stock immensely over the past couple years by significantly increasing his velocity to shed the "soft-tossing" label. Aided by a more effective fastball, which plays up from his 6-foot-9 frame, Ober was highly impressive as a rookie. There was nothing particularly fluky about his performance for the Twins, although home runs were a bit of a recurring issue. He looks the part of a mid-rotation staple, and a guy you'd feel okay about starting in the playoffs. We've seen how difficult it is for the Twins to acquire impact pitching via free agency. Developing cost-controlled arms is instrumental to this front office's vision for success. That's why Ober and Ryan rank so highly on this list: the team's fate (especially in the short-term) is tied to them. Check back in on Wednesday when we wrap up these rankings with our picks for the top 5! 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
  9. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment, and also read up on our picks for #11-15. 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 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL From there, we crack into the top 10. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 6 through 10 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 2021 Ranking: 7 Two-way catchers are among the most valuable commodities in baseball. It's not yet clear that Jeffers will be one, but his young major-league career has offered promising signs. Defensively, Jeffers established himself as a strong pitcher framer and good overall backstop. His instincts and reaction speed enable him to make special plays. He seems to have the confidence of the pitching staff – no small feat for a 24-year-old who went from college to the majors in two years. Offensively, his rushed development has been evident. After an impressive rookie showing in 2020, Jeffers saw his OPS drop by 120 points as lacking plate discipline derailed his production. But while the .199 average and .270 on-base percentage were tough to stomach, Jeffers kept bringing the power with 14 home runs in 85 games. At worst, Jeffers looks like a good defensive catcher who can take one deep here and there. (A poor man's Salvador Perez, perhaps?) If he can evolve a bit in the batter's box, he'll become a highly coveted asset – the heralded two-way catcher. It's important to keep in mind Jeffers' age and experience; when Mitch Garver was 24, he was posting a .688 OPS in Single-A. 9. Max Kepler, RF 2021 Ranking: 3 Kepler is an average hitter and an elite defensive right fielder with a very favorable contract. That combination would have more value to a lot of other teams than it does to the Twins, who wouldn't mind spending on an outfielder and already have a top-notch defender in center. A persistent inability to turn the corner offensively – outside of a short-lived breakout in 2019 – has made Kepler a frustrating player to follow. But when you look past that, he's an excellent athlete and quality regular, still a year short of 30 and under team control at reasonable rates for the next two seasons, with a $10M option in 2024. 8. Mitch Garver, C 2021 Ranking: 8 Garver's struggles with the bat in 2020 carried over into the beginning of 2021, where he slashed .151/.196/.321 through 17 games while striking out half the time. As the catcher's incredible 2019 faded further from view, many began to wonder if his approach was broken. Maybe it was, but Garver fixed it in a hurry. He homered twice in his last game of April, and pretty much never looked back, hitting .292/.406/.584 with 11 homers and 12 doubles in 51 games the rest of the way. Garver rediscovered his plate discipline, and as soon as that happened, he got back to dominating and basically out-homering the world (on a per-rate basis). It was a second consecutive season for Garver that was cut short by injuries. The punishment he's taken behind the plate, along with the increasingly evident need to have his bat in the lineup, could compel the Twins to start shifting Garver to different positions more. But that needs to be weighed against the tremendous advantage gained by writing him in at catcher. Since 2019 Garver ranks second among all MLB backstops in wOBA (min. 500 PA). He'd be higher on this list if not for his waning team control, with free agency only two seasons away. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Managing to secure Ryan in exchange for Nelson Cruz ahead of the trade deadline was a nifty bit of work by the front office, and one that probably doesn't get talked about often enough. As a 40-year-old designated hitter approaching free agency, Cruz had limited value, but the Twins leveraged Tampa's situation and were able to add an asset that immediately becomes a key part of their plans. The 25-year-old Ryan dominated at Triple-A this year, and translated his performance to the majors. In five starts for the Twins, he struck out six times as many batters as he walked, and allowed only 16 hits in 26 ⅓ innings. The right-hander cemented his spot in a needy rotation, and he's lined up to be an inexpensive fixture for years to come. All in return for an aging and expensive DH who didn't really help the Rays that much, and is now a free agent. In terms of asset upgrades, it doesn't get much better than what the Twins pulled off here. 6. Bailey Ober, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Like Ryan, Ober is a newcomer to the rankings and finds himself near the top. But unlike Ryan, he's not a newcomer to the system. The former 12th-round draft pick boosted his stock immensely over the past couple years by significantly increasing his velocity to shed the "soft-tossing" label. Aided by a more effective fastball, which plays up from his 6-foot-9 frame, Ober was highly impressive as a rookie. There was nothing particularly fluky about his performance for the Twins, although home runs were a bit of a recurring issue. He looks the part of a mid-rotation staple, and a guy you'd feel okay about starting in the playoffs. We've seen how difficult it is for the Twins to acquire impact pitching via free agency. Developing cost-controlled arms is instrumental to this front office's vision for success. That's why Ober and Ryan rank so highly on this list: the team's fate (especially in the short-term) is tied to them. Check back in on Wednesday when we wrap up these rankings with our picks for the top 5! 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
  10. 2021 was not a great year for Twins fans. The Twins came into the 2021 season projected by PECOTA to win the division at 91-71. As we all know, that was not the case, as the Twins finished dead last in the AL Central at 73-89. However, a bad season like 2021 means getting to see some of the prospects we have heard about for so long finally make their Major League debuts. In 2021, 10 Twins made their Major League debuts with various amounts of success. Nonetheless, a lot of these guys could play major roles in contributing to the future success of the team. Let’s see how they did. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Even though Alex Kirilloff played a game in the playoffs in 2020, he didn’t officially make his major league debut until April 14, 2021. Kirilloff had a rough start at the plate, going 0-for-15 to start his career despite some bad batted-ball luck. In April, Kirilloff’s xSLG was an otherworldly .825 but his actual slugging percentage was only .400. His average exit velocity was 95.4 MPH in April and 93 MPH in May. However, on May 5, the Twins placed Kirilloff on the IL because of a wrist injury. Kirilloff returned to the lineup on May 21 and was not the same the rest of the season, only hitting .260/.316/.387 the rest of the year. On July 21, it was announced that Kirilloff would undergo season-ending wrist surgery. In 2021, Kirilloff hit .251/.299/.423 (.722) but a lot of that was impacted by his nagging wrist injury. Lately, Kirilloff has been taking batting practice and should be ready to go for the 2022 season. Kirilloff remains an extremely promising player and should be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Twins for years to come. Grade: B Ben Rortvedt, C After Ryan Jeffers started the season 5-for-34 with 18 strikeouts and only one extra base hit, the Twins called up left-handed hitting Ben Rortvedt to back up Mitch Garver. On April 30, Rortvedt made his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He recorded his first major league hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, hitting an RBI single off of Wade Davis to drive in Andrelton Simmons. Rortvedt was unimpressive at the plate in 2021, hitting .169/.229/.281 (.510) with three home runs in 98 plate appearances. Behind the plate, Rortvedt was a very good catcher. In only 256 innings, Rortvedt was worth five Defensive Runs Saved. This ranked 19th in all of MLB, and nobody else in the top 30 had less than 300 innings. Rortvedt also has a very good arm, throwing out 7 of 16 potential base stealers (44 percent). That was fourth in all of MLB among catchers with at least 200 innings. Rortvedt was a very good defensive catcher with subpar offensive abilities. If he can take a step forward with his bat, he has the potential to be an important part of the Twins future, especially if the Twins decide to trade Garver or Jeffers to acquire starting pitching. Grade: C Nick Gordon, UTIL Growing up in a baseball family, Nick Gordon had lofty expectations since being drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2014. Since then, he has had struggles with health and he became a bit of an afterthought in terms of Twins prospects. So when he made his Major League debut on May 6th, it was a feel good story for all. In his first plate appearance, he walked and then stole second on the next pitch. In his next plate appearance, he roped a single to right field for his first major league hit and then stole second base five pitches later. Gordon struck out his next plate appearance before being lifted for Jorge Polanco in the 8th inning. Gordon finished the day 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. On June 4, Gordon hit his first big league homer with his dad in the stands. Gordon was below-average with the bat, hitting .240/.292/.355 (.647). As the season progressed, Gordon greatly improved offensively. In September and October, Gordon had an OPS of .752 and a wRC+ of 103, meaning he was slightly above average in those months. He also was hitting the ball harder as the season progressed. Below is a graph of his hard hit rate by month. All season, Gordon’s hard hit rate hovered around 45 percent but in September it jumped to 63 percent. This is very encouraging to see from a young player. Gordon also was very versatile and showed he could move around the diamond which can be very beneficial for a team. He played at least 10 games at shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. He was also a good baserunner, going 10-for11 on stolen bases. He was in the 71st percentile of all players in sprint speed. Gordon could be a valuable asset for the Twins going forward if he continues to build off of his strong September and continues to be versatile. Grade: C+ Trevor Larnach, OF Ever since they drafted Trevor Larnach with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Twins have had high expectations for him. After an impressive 2019 season between High-A and AA, Larnach has looked ready for the big leagues. He finally got his wish on May 8th, when he was the starting left fielder against the Detroit Tigers. Larnach didn’t exactly have a debut to remember, going 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Larnach picked up his first hit on May 12, when he doubled off of former Twin Liam Hendriks. Larnach got off to a good start in the big leagues, hitting .262/.357/.436 with a 120 wRC+ through July 9. After that date, Larnach was abysmal at the plate. From that point on he had a wRC+ of 29 and struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances. He was not a great hitter against offspeed pitches. Among all MLB hitters with at least 50 plate appearances, Larnach had the highest whiff rate against sliders (56 percent) and the highest whiff rate against changeups (52 percent). The good news is that Larnach hit .362 with a .667 slugging percentage against fastballs. Teams figured out he had issues against offspeed and started throwing over 50 percent of pitches as offspeed pitches. Larnach showed some flashes of being a great hitter (max exit velocity in the 97th percentile), so if he adjusts to offspeed pitches he will be a cornerstone of the Twins lineup for years to come Grade: B- Bailey Ober, RHP At 6 feet 9 inches, Bailey Ober is the third tallest pitcher in Twins history behind Jon Rauch and Aaron Slegers. Ober and his imposing presence first appeared in the big leagues on May 18 against the Chicago White Sox. Ober went four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. He gave up home runs to Jake Lamb and Yasmani Grandal and struck out four. He got a no-decision and the Twins ended up winning 5-4 behind three Miguel Sano home runs. Ober made 20 starts in his rookie season, going 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA. Ober threw 92 innings and had a team high 5.05 K/BB ratio. This ratio was fifth best in the American League. Ober was in the 94th percentile of all pitchers in terms of walk rate and in the 85th percentile in terms of chase rate. Ober hardly threw pitches outside of the zone but when he did, hitters chased them at a high rate. Ober’s average fastball in 2021 was only 92 miles per hour, but his big frame causes the batters to have less reaction time because the ball is being released at around 52 feet from home plate, almost a foot closer than the average pitcher releases it from. This creates the illusion that Ober’s fastball is moving faster than it actually is. Despite having below average stuff (percentile rankings below), Ober’s large frame elevates him to being a good pitcher (102 ERA+) and if Ober can improve his stuff in the coming years he could be a fantastic pitcher for the Twins. Grade: A- Gilberto Celestino, OF With injuries to Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, and Rob Refsnyder early in 2021, the Twins needed a center fielder. They decided to call up Gilberto Celestino from AA, and he made his major league debut on June 2 against the Orioles. Celestino had a rather uneventful debut, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout in a 6-3 loss. Celestino recorded his first major league hit on June 9 against the Yankees. Over the 2021 season, Celestino mightily struggled at the plate with the Twins, hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466). It was clear Celestino was overmatched at the big league level, so they sent him down to AAA St. Paul after 22 games, and he hit well at the AAA level, having a wRC+ of 125 in 49 games there. In retrospect, Celestino wasn’t ready for the big leagues but is still a good ball player. Having some big league experience under his belt will help him going forward, and he could be Byron Buxton’s primary backup going forward so we probably will be seeing Celestino in the big leagues again at some point in 2022. Grade: D Griffin Jax, RHP On June 8, Griffin Jax made history. He became the first Air Force Academy graduate to play Major League Baseball. Jax was used in a mop-up role against the Yankees in the 9th inning when the Twins were down 5-3. Jax did not have a very good debut, going one inning while allowing three runs on home runs from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. He did record his first big league strikeout when he struck out Tyler Wade on a 2-2 slider. In 2021, Griffin Jax had a tough rookie season. He went 4-5 with a 6.37 ERA. He allowed 2.52 HR/ 9 innings which was the highest among all MLB pitchers (minimum 60 innings). That number is also the highest for a single season in Twins history (min. 60 IP). The big problem was his fastball. Jax’s fastball was the fifth worst fastball in all of baseball in terms of xSLG. Jax’s fastball got crushed in 2021, but he continued to throw it almost 50 percent of the time. Jax’s slider, on the other hand, could be a very good pitch. Jax’s .271 xwOBA against the slider is good and signals that it is a pitch he should be throwing more than just 30 percent of the time, maybe up to 50 percent. Despite a bad 2021, Jax could bounce back by relying more on his off-speed pitches and revamping his pitch arsenal going into 2022. Grade: D Charlie Barnes, LHP Charlie Barnes made his major league debut in the first game of a July 17 doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. After the first batter he faced (Robbie Grossman) went deep, Barnes was very good. Barnes went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out one. He recorded his first major league strikeout in the second inning when he struck out Zack Short on a changeup. In Barnes’s rookie season, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. Barnes made eight starts for the Twins and threw 38 total innings. Barnes bounced back and forth between the Twins and the minor leagues quite a bit, so he never really got the chance to establish himself at the big league level. On December 23, Barnes signed with the Lotte Giants in Korea, so we wish him the best of luck in Korea as he pursues professional baseball there. Grade: D Joe Ryan, RHP Any prospect who yields a player as good as Nelson Cruz should be good enough to make an impact in the big leagues for a long time. On September 1st, Joe Ryan gave us a taste of what he will be like for years to come. Ryan had a solid major league debut, going five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five batters. He got his first career strikeout in the first inning when he struck out Ian Happ with a high fastball. Ryan had a solid debut season for the Twins, only throwing 26 innings, but going 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA. However, Ryan had some bad luck, as his xERA was 2.99. He also had 10.1 K/9 and only 1.7 BB/9. This 10.1 K/9 rate is the highest by any rookie starter in Twins history (min. 25 IP). Ryan relied on a very good high fastball/slider combination to get strikeouts. Going into 2022, Ryan is one of three starters the Twins have in the rotation. His role on the team will depend on if the Twins make any more pitching acquisitions, but expect Ryan to be a fixture in the Twins rotation next year. Grade: A- Jovani Moran, LHP Jovani Moran was very limited in year one, but he should be a fixture in the Twins bullpen in years to come. Moran made his major league debut on September 12 and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters. He collected his first major league strikeout when he got Nicky Lopez to chase a devastating changeup. Jovani Moran only threw eight innings for the Twins in 2021, and at first glance you wouldn’t think he was very good. He had an ERA of 7.88 and walked seven guys in eight innings. If you look deeper, Moran was unlucky. He had an xERA of 3.84, meaning he had some awful batted-ball luck. He also throws one of the best swing-and-miss pitches in the Twins organization, a disgusting changeup. His whiff rate on that pitch was an astounding 51.4 percent, meaning that over half of the swings on that pitch were misses. This changeup whiff rate was the fourth highest for any pitcher in the league. Moran was impressive in his limited work in 2021, and I am excited to see him and his changeup in the 2022 bullpen. Grade: B Final Thoughts Despite a rough season, the Twins gave us a glimpse into their future. We saw a lot to like out of some of the Twins young players in 2021 and if these players can take a step forward in 2022 and continue to develop, the Twins should be able to contend for the AL Central in the near future. What do you think of these grades? How would you grade these players for their rookie seasons? Which of these players are you most excited to watch in 2022? Who is the most likely of these players to succeed going forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  11. Fangraphs released their annual ZiPS projections for the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday morning, one of the most widely-respected computer projection systems in baseball. Here are five takeaways from their projections of the Twins in 2022. ZiPS is a computer projection system that was created by senior writer at Fangraphs, Dan Szymborski in the early 2000s. ZiPS uses a mixture of past performance, similar player comparisons as well as aging curve to project out how a player will perform that next season. Important to note, ZiPS does not project playing time for each individual player, but rather gives numbers for what a player's statistics would be if they were named the starter on the team. 1. Miranda Mania Coming? 2022 ZiPS Projection: .272/.316/.432 No. 1 Player Comp: Mike Lowell Jose Miranda had one of the best Minor League seasons in Minnesota Twins history in 2021 and the hype for his 2022 season is starting to pick up. While it’s no sure thing that Jose Miranda will start the season with the Twins, these ZiPS projections seem to think that he could hold his own in the Big Leagues. Szymborski’s projections have Miranda projected with an OPS+ of 103, which would have been the 6th best OPS+ on the 2021 Twins. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even a top-10 prospect heading into last season. Miranda’s number one player comp will definitely draw some looks as well, Mike Lowell. Lowell was a four-time all-star and also won a gold glove during his time with the Marlins and Red Sox. 2. Keep an Eye on Kerrigan 2022 ZiPS Projection: .221/.272/.373, 14 DRS A prospect name that hasn’t been included in many Twins conversations over the past year has been outfielder prospect, Jimmy Kerrigan. In Szymborski’s 2022 projections, Kerrigan was pegged with a defensive projection of 14 defensive runs saved. In the 2021 season just four players in all of baseball accumulated at least 14 defensive runs saved. Kerrigan’s glove is real, but the X-Factor in Kerrigan’s development as a prospect will be his bat. ZiPS only pegs Kerrigan as a .645 OPS batter, however that is a number higher than Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave and Andrelton Simmons produced in 2021. In 398 plate appearances with the St. Paul Saints in 2021, Kerrigan posted a .814 OPS with 19 home runs. 3. Projections Don’t Love Royce Lewis 2022 ZiPS Projection: .227/.270/.342 No. 1 Player Comp: Jhonny Perez While the ZiPS projections are excited about the potential of Jose Miranda and Jimmy Kerrigan, they are equally down on the potential of Royce Lewis in 2022. Szymborski’s system has Lewis pegged for a lowly .612 OPS and a negative defensive contribution. Royce Lewis is in for a pivotal season in 2022, as he has not truly played baseball since 2019 and hasn’t played well since 2018. 4. The Computers Are Just As Pessimistic about the Twins’ Starting Rotation as You Are Much has been said and written about the Minnesota Twins lack of action on the free agent starting pitching market this offseason. The front office’s lack of activity has left the Twins with a starting rotation featuring Randy Dobnak, Dylan Bundy, and a host of rookies. As a result, the projections for the Twins’s starting rotation are quite poor. While ZiPS is fairly optimistic on both Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober (4.11 and 4.22 ERAs, respectively), not a single pitcher in the Twins’ rotation is projected to eclipse 2.1 WAR in 2022. By comparison, the 2019 Twins had four different pitchers produce an fWAR above 2.1. 5. Fangraphs Doesn’t Think Jorge Polanco’s 2021 Season Was a Fluke The MVP of the 2021 Minnesota Twins unquestionably was Jorge Polanco. In a season where almost nothing went right, Polanco completely dominated the season and put up the best numbers in his career. While it’s natural to think that Polanco might regress in 2022, the ZiPS projections think that Polanco will actually improve at the plate next season. These projections peg Polanco for pacing the Twins in fWAR and posting the second best OPS on the team after Byron Buxton. What stands out to you from these ZiPS projections. What player projections are the most promising and worrying? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! View full article
  12. In the final week of 2021, it’s time to turn the page. Derek Falvey fell short. Rocco Baldelli fell short. The Minnesota Twins fell short. To set for better outcomes in the year ahead, we can look internally at opportunities for improvement. There’s no better place to start than on the mound. The Minnesota Twins pitching staff was 24th in baseball when combining all arms, and the starters alone were a spot lower at 25th. There’s no denying that the group needs to be much better, and right now, the group is made up of three arms. There’s more depth behind them, and there’s a man in charge that once led a strong rotation. That’s where much of this focus should come. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober These two need to establish that they are solid major-league starters. They looked the part a year ago, and continuing that growth in 2022 is a must. Ryan made just a handful of starts but held his own, even looking dominant at times. Ober saw teams multiple times and was able to make adjustments. When looking at the farm last winter, both would have been unexpected contributors, and that’s the kind of breakouts any organization loves to have. Dylan Bundy Proving he’s not 2021 bad would be a great start. The former top prospect is not the 3.29 ERA he posted in 2020, but he’s also not the 6.06 ERA he had a season ago. For what Minnesota paid him, and where the Twins need him in the rotation, Bundy being a low 4.00 ERA guy is a must. The strikeouts need to move back up over one per inning and allowing two longballs per nine can’t continue to be a thing. There’s a solid pitcher here and maybe a very good one in terms of a mid-rotation arm. Find that. Wes Johnson Back to the overall numbers of this starting staff. Johnson coached his group last season to the fifth-worst finish in baseball. In 2020, the Twins staff was the third-best. In 2019, the rotation came in fourth. Johnson has shown an ability to work with pitchers and get the most out of them. Michael Pineda became arguably the best version of himself, Kenta Maeda took steps forward, and something was made out of nothing in a couple of situations. Johnson is seen as a velocity savant but can impact much more than that. Minnesota may have the least talented group they’ve had during his tenure when 2022 starts, but Wes getting more out of each of them remains a must. Randy Dobnak You don’t make it to the majors by mistake, and you certainly don’t start a Postseason game by luck. Dobnak’s 7.64 ERA last season was as much his ineffectiveness as it was Minnesota’s indecisiveness. Having worked entirely as a starter during 2020, Dobnak was used as one in less than half his appearances a year ago. The talk of velocity boosts and missed bats in Spring Training was never present, and I’d imagine his confidence was consistently shaken with no set role. Work him back as a starter, implore him to get the job done, and utilize him the same way that bore fruit previously. Stay tuned for the next installment, where the bullpen comes under fire. 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
  13. In 2021, 10 Twins made their Major League debuts with various amounts of success. Nonetheless, a lot of these guys could play major roles in contributing to the future success of the team. Let’s see how they did. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Even though Alex Kirilloff played a game in the playoffs in 2020, he didn’t officially make his major league debut until April 14, 2021. Kirilloff had a rough start at the plate, going 0-for-15 to start his career despite some bad batted-ball luck. In April, Kirilloff’s xSLG was an otherworldly .825 but his actual slugging percentage was only .400. His average exit velocity was 95.4 MPH in April and 93 MPH in May. However, on May 5, the Twins placed Kirilloff on the IL because of a wrist injury. Kirilloff returned to the lineup on May 21 and was not the same the rest of the season, only hitting .260/.316/.387 the rest of the year. On July 21, it was announced that Kirilloff would undergo season-ending wrist surgery. In 2021, Kirilloff hit .251/.299/.423 (.722) but a lot of that was impacted by his nagging wrist injury. Lately, Kirilloff has been taking batting practice and should be ready to go for the 2022 season. Kirilloff remains an extremely promising player and should be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Twins for years to come. Grade: B Ben Rortvedt, C After Ryan Jeffers started the season 5-for-34 with 18 strikeouts and only one extra base hit, the Twins called up left-handed hitting Ben Rortvedt to back up Mitch Garver. On April 30, Rortvedt made his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He recorded his first major league hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, hitting an RBI single off of Wade Davis to drive in Andrelton Simmons. Rortvedt was unimpressive at the plate in 2021, hitting .169/.229/.281 (.510) with three home runs in 98 plate appearances. Behind the plate, Rortvedt was a very good catcher. In only 256 innings, Rortvedt was worth five Defensive Runs Saved. This ranked 19th in all of MLB, and nobody else in the top 30 had less than 300 innings. Rortvedt also has a very good arm, throwing out 7 of 16 potential base stealers (44 percent). That was fourth in all of MLB among catchers with at least 200 innings. Rortvedt was a very good defensive catcher with subpar offensive abilities. If he can take a step forward with his bat, he has the potential to be an important part of the Twins future, especially if the Twins decide to trade Garver or Jeffers to acquire starting pitching. Grade: C Nick Gordon, UTIL Growing up in a baseball family, Nick Gordon had lofty expectations since being drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2014. Since then, he has had struggles with health and he became a bit of an afterthought in terms of Twins prospects. So when he made his Major League debut on May 6th, it was a feel good story for all. In his first plate appearance, he walked and then stole second on the next pitch. In his next plate appearance, he roped a single to right field for his first major league hit and then stole second base five pitches later. Gordon struck out his next plate appearance before being lifted for Jorge Polanco in the 8th inning. Gordon finished the day 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. On June 4, Gordon hit his first big league homer with his dad in the stands. Gordon was below-average with the bat, hitting .240/.292/.355 (.647). As the season progressed, Gordon greatly improved offensively. In September and October, Gordon had an OPS of .752 and a wRC+ of 103, meaning he was slightly above average in those months. He also was hitting the ball harder as the season progressed. Below is a graph of his hard hit rate by month. All season, Gordon’s hard hit rate hovered around 45 percent but in September it jumped to 63 percent. This is very encouraging to see from a young player. Gordon also was very versatile and showed he could move around the diamond which can be very beneficial for a team. He played at least 10 games at shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. He was also a good baserunner, going 10-for11 on stolen bases. He was in the 71st percentile of all players in sprint speed. Gordon could be a valuable asset for the Twins going forward if he continues to build off of his strong September and continues to be versatile. Grade: C+ Trevor Larnach, OF Ever since they drafted Trevor Larnach with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Twins have had high expectations for him. After an impressive 2019 season between High-A and AA, Larnach has looked ready for the big leagues. He finally got his wish on May 8th, when he was the starting left fielder against the Detroit Tigers. Larnach didn’t exactly have a debut to remember, going 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Larnach picked up his first hit on May 12, when he doubled off of former Twin Liam Hendriks. Larnach got off to a good start in the big leagues, hitting .262/.357/.436 with a 120 wRC+ through July 9. After that date, Larnach was abysmal at the plate. From that point on he had a wRC+ of 29 and struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances. He was not a great hitter against offspeed pitches. Among all MLB hitters with at least 50 plate appearances, Larnach had the highest whiff rate against sliders (56 percent) and the highest whiff rate against changeups (52 percent). The good news is that Larnach hit .362 with a .667 slugging percentage against fastballs. Teams figured out he had issues against offspeed and started throwing over 50 percent of pitches as offspeed pitches. Larnach showed some flashes of being a great hitter (max exit velocity in the 97th percentile), so if he adjusts to offspeed pitches he will be a cornerstone of the Twins lineup for years to come Grade: B- Bailey Ober, RHP At 6 feet 9 inches, Bailey Ober is the third tallest pitcher in Twins history behind Jon Rauch and Aaron Slegers. Ober and his imposing presence first appeared in the big leagues on May 18 against the Chicago White Sox. Ober went four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. He gave up home runs to Jake Lamb and Yasmani Grandal and struck out four. He got a no-decision and the Twins ended up winning 5-4 behind three Miguel Sano home runs. Ober made 20 starts in his rookie season, going 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA. Ober threw 92 innings and had a team high 5.05 K/BB ratio. This ratio was fifth best in the American League. Ober was in the 94th percentile of all pitchers in terms of walk rate and in the 85th percentile in terms of chase rate. Ober hardly threw pitches outside of the zone but when he did, hitters chased them at a high rate. Ober’s average fastball in 2021 was only 92 miles per hour, but his big frame causes the batters to have less reaction time because the ball is being released at around 52 feet from home plate, almost a foot closer than the average pitcher releases it from. This creates the illusion that Ober’s fastball is moving faster than it actually is. Despite having below average stuff (percentile rankings below), Ober’s large frame elevates him to being a good pitcher (102 ERA+) and if Ober can improve his stuff in the coming years he could be a fantastic pitcher for the Twins. Grade: A- Gilberto Celestino, OF With injuries to Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, and Rob Refsnyder early in 2021, the Twins needed a center fielder. They decided to call up Gilberto Celestino from AA, and he made his major league debut on June 2 against the Orioles. Celestino had a rather uneventful debut, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout in a 6-3 loss. Celestino recorded his first major league hit on June 9 against the Yankees. Over the 2021 season, Celestino mightily struggled at the plate with the Twins, hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466). It was clear Celestino was overmatched at the big league level, so they sent him down to AAA St. Paul after 22 games, and he hit well at the AAA level, having a wRC+ of 125 in 49 games there. In retrospect, Celestino wasn’t ready for the big leagues but is still a good ball player. Having some big league experience under his belt will help him going forward, and he could be Byron Buxton’s primary backup going forward so we probably will be seeing Celestino in the big leagues again at some point in 2022. Grade: D Griffin Jax, RHP On June 8, Griffin Jax made history. He became the first Air Force Academy graduate to play Major League Baseball. Jax was used in a mop-up role against the Yankees in the 9th inning when the Twins were down 5-3. Jax did not have a very good debut, going one inning while allowing three runs on home runs from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. He did record his first big league strikeout when he struck out Tyler Wade on a 2-2 slider. In 2021, Griffin Jax had a tough rookie season. He went 4-5 with a 6.37 ERA. He allowed 2.52 HR/ 9 innings which was the highest among all MLB pitchers (minimum 60 innings). That number is also the highest for a single season in Twins history (min. 60 IP). The big problem was his fastball. Jax’s fastball was the fifth worst fastball in all of baseball in terms of xSLG. Jax’s fastball got crushed in 2021, but he continued to throw it almost 50 percent of the time. Jax’s slider, on the other hand, could be a very good pitch. Jax’s .271 xwOBA against the slider is good and signals that it is a pitch he should be throwing more than just 30 percent of the time, maybe up to 50 percent. Despite a bad 2021, Jax could bounce back by relying more on his off-speed pitches and revamping his pitch arsenal going into 2022. Grade: D Charlie Barnes, LHP Charlie Barnes made his major league debut in the first game of a July 17 doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. After the first batter he faced (Robbie Grossman) went deep, Barnes was very good. Barnes went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out one. He recorded his first major league strikeout in the second inning when he struck out Zack Short on a changeup. In Barnes’s rookie season, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. Barnes made eight starts for the Twins and threw 38 total innings. Barnes bounced back and forth between the Twins and the minor leagues quite a bit, so he never really got the chance to establish himself at the big league level. On December 23, Barnes signed with the Lotte Giants in Korea, so we wish him the best of luck in Korea as he pursues professional baseball there. Grade: D Joe Ryan, RHP Any prospect who yields a player as good as Nelson Cruz should be good enough to make an impact in the big leagues for a long time. On September 1st, Joe Ryan gave us a taste of what he will be like for years to come. Ryan had a solid major league debut, going five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five batters. He got his first career strikeout in the first inning when he struck out Ian Happ with a high fastball. Ryan had a solid debut season for the Twins, only throwing 26 innings, but going 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA. However, Ryan had some bad luck, as his xERA was 2.99. He also had 10.1 K/9 and only 1.7 BB/9. This 10.1 K/9 rate is the highest by any rookie starter in Twins history (min. 25 IP). Ryan relied on a very good high fastball/slider combination to get strikeouts. Going into 2022, Ryan is one of three starters the Twins have in the rotation. His role on the team will depend on if the Twins make any more pitching acquisitions, but expect Ryan to be a fixture in the Twins rotation next year. Grade: A- Jovani Moran, LHP Jovani Moran was very limited in year one, but he should be a fixture in the Twins bullpen in years to come. Moran made his major league debut on September 12 and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters. He collected his first major league strikeout when he got Nicky Lopez to chase a devastating changeup. Jovani Moran only threw eight innings for the Twins in 2021, and at first glance you wouldn’t think he was very good. He had an ERA of 7.88 and walked seven guys in eight innings. If you look deeper, Moran was unlucky. He had an xERA of 3.84, meaning he had some awful batted-ball luck. He also throws one of the best swing-and-miss pitches in the Twins organization, a disgusting changeup. His whiff rate on that pitch was an astounding 51.4 percent, meaning that over half of the swings on that pitch were misses. This changeup whiff rate was the fourth highest for any pitcher in the league. Moran was impressive in his limited work in 2021, and I am excited to see him and his changeup in the 2022 bullpen. Grade: B Final Thoughts Despite a rough season, the Twins gave us a glimpse into their future. We saw a lot to like out of some of the Twins young players in 2021 and if these players can take a step forward in 2022 and continue to develop, the Twins should be able to contend for the AL Central in the near future. What do you think of these grades? How would you grade these players for their rookie seasons? Which of these players are you most excited to watch in 2022? Who is the most likely of these players to succeed going forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  14. Minnesota Twins rookie starting pitchers Bailay Ober and Joe Ryan both showed reasons to be optimistic about their futures but both are still so inexperienced. Twins fans seem to be placing hefty expectations on them, and given the current status of the rest of the rotation, what else are we supposed to do? The reality is, however, that development isn't always linear. This franchise desperately needs these two to build off their impressive debuts, but that's not always how things work out.
  15. 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
  16. The Minnesota Twins pitching staff was 24th in baseball when combining all arms, and the starters alone were a spot lower at 25th. There’s no denying that the group needs to be much better, and right now, the group is made up of three arms. There’s more depth behind them, and there’s a man in charge that once led a strong rotation. That’s where much of this focus should come. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober These two need to establish that they are solid major-league starters. They looked the part a year ago, and continuing that growth in 2022 is a must. Ryan made just a handful of starts but held his own, even looking dominant at times. Ober saw teams multiple times and was able to make adjustments. When looking at the farm last winter, both would have been unexpected contributors, and that’s the kind of breakouts any organization loves to have. Dylan Bundy Proving he’s not 2021 bad would be a great start. The former top prospect is not the 3.29 ERA he posted in 2020, but he’s also not the 6.06 ERA he had a season ago. For what Minnesota paid him, and where the Twins need him in the rotation, Bundy being a low 4.00 ERA guy is a must. The strikeouts need to move back up over one per inning and allowing two longballs per nine can’t continue to be a thing. There’s a solid pitcher here and maybe a very good one in terms of a mid-rotation arm. Find that. Wes Johnson Back to the overall numbers of this starting staff. Johnson coached his group last season to the fifth-worst finish in baseball. In 2020, the Twins staff was the third-best. In 2019, the rotation came in fourth. Johnson has shown an ability to work with pitchers and get the most out of them. Michael Pineda became arguably the best version of himself, Kenta Maeda took steps forward, and something was made out of nothing in a couple of situations. Johnson is seen as a velocity savant but can impact much more than that. Minnesota may have the least talented group they’ve had during his tenure when 2022 starts, but Wes getting more out of each of them remains a must. Randy Dobnak You don’t make it to the majors by mistake, and you certainly don’t start a Postseason game by luck. Dobnak’s 7.64 ERA last season was as much his ineffectiveness as it was Minnesota’s indecisiveness. Having worked entirely as a starter during 2020, Dobnak was used as one in less than half his appearances a year ago. The talk of velocity boosts and missed bats in Spring Training was never present, and I’d imagine his confidence was consistently shaken with no set role. Work him back as a starter, implore him to get the job done, and utilize him the same way that bore fruit previously. Stay tuned for the next installment, where the bullpen comes under fire. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. 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
  18. ZiPS is a computer projection system that was created by senior writer at Fangraphs, Dan Szymborski in the early 2000s. ZiPS uses a mixture of past performance, similar player comparisons as well as aging curve to project out how a player will perform that next season. Important to note, ZiPS does not project playing time for each individual player, but rather gives numbers for what a player's statistics would be if they were named the starter on the team. 1. Miranda Mania Coming? 2022 ZiPS Projection: .272/.316/.432 No. 1 Player Comp: Mike Lowell Jose Miranda had one of the best Minor League seasons in Minnesota Twins history in 2021 and the hype for his 2022 season is starting to pick up. While it’s no sure thing that Jose Miranda will start the season with the Twins, these ZiPS projections seem to think that he could hold his own in the Big Leagues. Szymborski’s projections have Miranda projected with an OPS+ of 103, which would have been the 6th best OPS+ on the 2021 Twins. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even a top-10 prospect heading into last season. Miranda’s number one player comp will definitely draw some looks as well, Mike Lowell. Lowell was a four-time all-star and also won a gold glove during his time with the Marlins and Red Sox. 2. Keep an Eye on Kerrigan 2022 ZiPS Projection: .221/.272/.373, 14 DRS A prospect name that hasn’t been included in many Twins conversations over the past year has been outfielder prospect, Jimmy Kerrigan. In Szymborski’s 2022 projections, Kerrigan was pegged with a defensive projection of 14 defensive runs saved. In the 2021 season just four players in all of baseball accumulated at least 14 defensive runs saved. Kerrigan’s glove is real, but the X-Factor in Kerrigan’s development as a prospect will be his bat. ZiPS only pegs Kerrigan as a .645 OPS batter, however that is a number higher than Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave and Andrelton Simmons produced in 2021. In 398 plate appearances with the St. Paul Saints in 2021, Kerrigan posted a .814 OPS with 19 home runs. 3. Projections Don’t Love Royce Lewis 2022 ZiPS Projection: .227/.270/.342 No. 1 Player Comp: Jhonny Perez While the ZiPS projections are excited about the potential of Jose Miranda and Jimmy Kerrigan, they are equally down on the potential of Royce Lewis in 2022. Szymborski’s system has Lewis pegged for a lowly .612 OPS and a negative defensive contribution. Royce Lewis is in for a pivotal season in 2022, as he has not truly played baseball since 2019 and hasn’t played well since 2018. 4. The Computers Are Just As Pessimistic about the Twins’ Starting Rotation as You Are Much has been said and written about the Minnesota Twins lack of action on the free agent starting pitching market this offseason. The front office’s lack of activity has left the Twins with a starting rotation featuring Randy Dobnak, Dylan Bundy, and a host of rookies. As a result, the projections for the Twins’s starting rotation are quite poor. While ZiPS is fairly optimistic on both Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober (4.11 and 4.22 ERAs, respectively), not a single pitcher in the Twins’ rotation is projected to eclipse 2.1 WAR in 2022. By comparison, the 2019 Twins had four different pitchers produce an fWAR above 2.1. 5. Fangraphs Doesn’t Think Jorge Polanco’s 2021 Season Was a Fluke The MVP of the 2021 Minnesota Twins unquestionably was Jorge Polanco. In a season where almost nothing went right, Polanco completely dominated the season and put up the best numbers in his career. While it’s natural to think that Polanco might regress in 2022, the ZiPS projections think that Polanco will actually improve at the plate next season. These projections peg Polanco for pacing the Twins in fWAR and posting the second best OPS on the team after Byron Buxton. What stands out to you from these ZiPS projections. What player projections are the most promising and worrying? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
  19. Minnesota expects Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan to be penciled into the back of the club's rotation during the 2022 season. As with any young players, especially pitchers, expectations need to be tempered when making projections for their impact on the team next season. 2021 Recap Last season, Bailey Ober surprised many during his rookie campaign. He made 20 starts and posted a 4.19 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and 9.4 K/9. He was a welcome addition to a Twins rotation that needed plenty of replacements in the season's second half. Twins Daily named him the club's Rookie of the Year, even in a season that saw top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach make their debuts. Joe Ryan was one of the key pieces Minnesota received in return for Nelson Cruz. With the Twins, he made five starts and posted a 4.05 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP and 10.1 K/9. His numbers look even better if you take out his final start, where he allowed six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He pounded the strike zone with over 70% strike rate and held batters to a .168/.210/.347 slash line. It was a small sample size, but the results were impressive. Minor League Retrospective Minnesota selected Ober with their 12th round pick back in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. Back in 2019, he posted some very impressive numbers between three different levels in the Twins system. Ober finished that season with a 0.69 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. It certainly put him on the prospect map entering the 2021 season. Ryan joined the Twins from the pitching-rich Tampa Bay organization. Initially, the Rays selected him with their 7th round pick back in 2018. He dominated at three different levels in 2019 with a 1.96 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP while striking out 13.3 batters per nine innings. Baseball America named him a top-100 prospect entering the 2020 campaign. Ober and Ryan have impressive numbers, but neither player has thrown more than 125 innings in any professional season. Ober's career-high was last season when he combined for 108 1/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors. Ryan threw 123 2/3 innings back in 2019 and, like Ober, didn't pitch at all in 2020. Last year, Ryan compiled 66 innings in the minors to go with his 26 2/3 innings with the Twins. Both pitchers are expected to throw more innings next season, but they don't seem likely to approach 180+ innings. Projecting the 2022 Campaign Multiple projection systems can help fans better understand what to expect from Ober and Ryan next season. FanGraphs lists Ober's Steamer projection has him making 28 starts and pitching 158 innings with a 4.51 ERA and 157 strikeouts. Baseball-Reference projects Ober to throw 106 innings with a 4.16 ERA and 109 strikeouts. Both of those outcomes seem reasonable, but getting to 160 innings pitched should be one of Ober's goals. Ryan is a little harder to project because it's uncertain what the Twins will do this winter. Does he start the year in the minors? Steamer projections have him throwing 166 innings with a 4.36 ERA and 173 strikeouts. That seems like a big jump in innings for a young pitcher. Baseball-Reference goes the opposite direction in their projection model, with Ryan limited to 73 innings. During those innings, they project him having a 4.19 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and 76 strikeouts. Minnesota needs plenty of starting pitching depth for 2022, but Ober and Ryan's expectations need to be kept in check for both players. Neither player should be relied on as a top of the rotation starter, especially based on their limited big-league track record. What do you think realistic expectations should be for Ober and Ryan 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 emai View full article
  20. 2021 Recap Last season, Bailey Ober surprised many during his rookie campaign. He made 20 starts and posted a 4.19 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and 9.4 K/9. He was a welcome addition to a Twins rotation that needed plenty of replacements in the season's second half. Twins Daily named him the club's Rookie of the Year, even in a season that saw top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach make their debuts. Joe Ryan was one of the key pieces Minnesota received in return for Nelson Cruz. With the Twins, he made five starts and posted a 4.05 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP and 10.1 K/9. His numbers look even better if you take out his final start, where he allowed six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He pounded the strike zone with over 70% strike rate and held batters to a .168/.210/.347 slash line. It was a small sample size, but the results were impressive. Minor League Retrospective Minnesota selected Ober with their 12th round pick back in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. Back in 2019, he posted some very impressive numbers between three different levels in the Twins system. Ober finished that season with a 0.69 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. It certainly put him on the prospect map entering the 2021 season. Ryan joined the Twins from the pitching-rich Tampa Bay organization. Initially, the Rays selected him with their 7th round pick back in 2018. He dominated at three different levels in 2019 with a 1.96 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP while striking out 13.3 batters per nine innings. Baseball America named him a top-100 prospect entering the 2020 campaign. Ober and Ryan have impressive numbers, but neither player has thrown more than 125 innings in any professional season. Ober's career-high was last season when he combined for 108 1/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors. Ryan threw 123 2/3 innings back in 2019 and, like Ober, didn't pitch at all in 2020. Last year, Ryan compiled 66 innings in the minors to go with his 26 2/3 innings with the Twins. Both pitchers are expected to throw more innings next season, but they don't seem likely to approach 180+ innings. Projecting the 2022 Campaign Multiple projection systems can help fans better understand what to expect from Ober and Ryan next season. FanGraphs lists Ober's Steamer projection has him making 28 starts and pitching 158 innings with a 4.51 ERA and 157 strikeouts. Baseball-Reference projects Ober to throw 106 innings with a 4.16 ERA and 109 strikeouts. Both of those outcomes seem reasonable, but getting to 160 innings pitched should be one of Ober's goals. Ryan is a little harder to project because it's uncertain what the Twins will do this winter. Does he start the year in the minors? Steamer projections have him throwing 166 innings with a 4.36 ERA and 173 strikeouts. That seems like a big jump in innings for a young pitcher. Baseball-Reference goes the opposite direction in their projection model, with Ryan limited to 73 innings. During those innings, they project him having a 4.19 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and 76 strikeouts. Minnesota needs plenty of starting pitching depth for 2022, but Ober and Ryan's expectations need to be kept in check for both players. Neither player should be relied on as a top of the rotation starter, especially based on their limited big-league track record. What do you think realistic expectations should be for Ober and Ryan 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 emai
  21. With the calendar turning to November, we have reached the time of the year where a focus is placed on giving thanks. The 2021 Minnesota Twins didn’t see much to be thankful for in the results column, but there’s a few areas worth highlighting along the way. As the season turned pear-shaped on the Rocco Baldelli led Twins, it became about building for the future. The hope would be a turnaround in 2022, but we have yet to see how the front office will architect the path forward. For now, these are a few key things that Minnesota fans can count as worthy of thanks. The Opportunity to Pay Byron Buxton There’s plenty of reason to be sad about Byron Buxton routinely falling short of completing an entire season. His injury issues have been well documented, and while some have been undoubtedly fluky, others are a microcosm of the tenacity with which he plays the game. Regardless of his health, it’s become wildly apparent that Minnesota’s centerfielder is among the best players in the game. He posted a 4.2 fWAR in just 61 games this season which totals out to an 11.1 fWAR per 162 game pace. Trea Turner’s 6.9 fWAR paced baseball this season, and only 19 players in history have ever surpassed 11.1 fWAR in a single season. The caveat on Buxton is availability, but that’s also the sole reason he’s even an option for the Twins future. If Buxton was healthy and playing at the level he is, a $300 million contract could be waiting for him from a host of suitors immediately upon hitting the open market. Derek Falvey is afforded the opportunity to get an otherworldly talent at a discount entirely because of his injury history. The Twins would have an option to trade Buxton whether they found themselves able to pay him or not, but retaining his services isn’t something this organization should be in a position to do. They are and would be wise to capitalize on it. The Development of Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan If there’s something that failed Baldelli this season, it was the pitching staff. Starters flopped, then the bullpen flopped, then they took turns. Minnesota has to see development going forward on the bump, and that process started with the emergence of both Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. The former was an internal draft selection that had quietly risen the ranks and earned his due. Ober’s ability is not a mistake, and as he reached the upper levels, it became clear he had the stuff to compete in the big leagues. The latter was an absolute coup of a return in exchange for just months of Nelson Cruz. Ryan looked the part of a top-half starter, and Minnesota needs arms to restock the rotation. There has to be another wave coming for the Twins, and some of their top prospects find themselves housed in that group. Being able to benefit from previously unexpected sources is a massive boost. Either Ryan or Ober would be the front runner to start on Opening Day as things stand, but that should change before the regular season. The Debut of Nick Gordon I’m not sure what expectations should have been for Gordon at this point, but the debut in the big leagues was a feel-good story. As a former first-round pick, he’s lost luster as much more than a regular contributor. For the Twins, that may be a stretch, but he should have the chops to be a utility man at the very least. After suffering through stomach issues, Covid, missed action, and a plethora of other complications, seeing Gordon take the field in Minnesota was worthy of a big smile. He made a solid impression showing an ability to play all over the diamond, but there are still questions about his bat. His minor league track record has displayed an ability to improve in the second year of a specific level. If that can stick in the big leagues, expecting more in 2022 is a fair bet. Gordon will need to hit for average, and while power will never be his game, there’s also the speed asset on the base paths. A long-term home may not be in this organization, but he’s begun to carve out a Major League role. The Emergence of Jose Miranda It was supposed to be Royce Lewis, and then it was supposed to be Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic. The Twins top prospects were all expected to show out after being hidden commodities during the lost season. None of those realities truly came to fruition, however, and Jose Miranda took the spotlight. This didn’t come entirely out of nowhere, as he was a second-round pick back in 2016. In 2019 though, Miranda posted just a .671 OPS across 119 games. After going unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, he turned on the rocket boosters. This season, Miranda picked up the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year award and continued his dominance through Triple-A. He looks big-league ready and should be able to contribute on both sides of the diamond. Power potential plays, as does a greatly-improved discipline at the plate, and while his path for playing time is cloudy, I wouldn’t bet against him forcing the Twins hand. The Health of Jorge Polanco In 2019, Jorge Polanco blasted 22 dingers and posted an .841 OPS while being miscast as a shortstop for the Twins. He flopped hard last season and struggled to the tune of a .658 OPS. Now with healthy ankles after another offseason surgery, Polanco has slid over to second base, and he turned in the most complete season of his career. Minnesota opted to bring in a true shortstop affording Polanco both health and defensive focus. He responded with an .826 OPS and a career-high 33 home runs. He’s still settling into the new position defensively, but it suits his arm strength much more favorably, and he’s among the best hitters in the majors at the position. In 2019, Minnesota extended Polanco, and now those vesting options in 2024 and 2025 look much more desirable than they did coming off of last season's results. Again, the season couldn’t have gone more awry than it did in the results column, but these are just a few takeaways that should have Twins fans thankful for 2022 and beyond. For More Twins content: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  22. As the season turned pear-shaped on the Rocco Baldelli led Twins, it became about building for the future. The hope would be a turnaround in 2022, but we have yet to see how the front office will architect the path forward. For now, these are a few key things that Minnesota fans can count as worthy of thanks. The Opportunity to Pay Byron Buxton There’s plenty of reason to be sad about Byron Buxton routinely falling short of completing an entire season. His injury issues have been well documented, and while some have been undoubtedly fluky, others are a microcosm of the tenacity with which he plays the game. Regardless of his health, it’s become wildly apparent that Minnesota’s centerfielder is among the best players in the game. He posted a 4.2 fWAR in just 61 games this season which totals out to an 11.1 fWAR per 162 game pace. Trea Turner’s 6.9 fWAR paced baseball this season, and only 19 players in history have ever surpassed 11.1 fWAR in a single season. The caveat on Buxton is availability, but that’s also the sole reason he’s even an option for the Twins future. If Buxton was healthy and playing at the level he is, a $300 million contract could be waiting for him from a host of suitors immediately upon hitting the open market. Derek Falvey is afforded the opportunity to get an otherworldly talent at a discount entirely because of his injury history. The Twins would have an option to trade Buxton whether they found themselves able to pay him or not, but retaining his services isn’t something this organization should be in a position to do. They are and would be wise to capitalize on it. The Development of Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan If there’s something that failed Baldelli this season, it was the pitching staff. Starters flopped, then the bullpen flopped, then they took turns. Minnesota has to see development going forward on the bump, and that process started with the emergence of both Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. The former was an internal draft selection that had quietly risen the ranks and earned his due. Ober’s ability is not a mistake, and as he reached the upper levels, it became clear he had the stuff to compete in the big leagues. The latter was an absolute coup of a return in exchange for just months of Nelson Cruz. Ryan looked the part of a top-half starter, and Minnesota needs arms to restock the rotation. There has to be another wave coming for the Twins, and some of their top prospects find themselves housed in that group. Being able to benefit from previously unexpected sources is a massive boost. Either Ryan or Ober would be the front runner to start on Opening Day as things stand, but that should change before the regular season. The Debut of Nick Gordon I’m not sure what expectations should have been for Gordon at this point, but the debut in the big leagues was a feel-good story. As a former first-round pick, he’s lost luster as much more than a regular contributor. For the Twins, that may be a stretch, but he should have the chops to be a utility man at the very least. After suffering through stomach issues, Covid, missed action, and a plethora of other complications, seeing Gordon take the field in Minnesota was worthy of a big smile. He made a solid impression showing an ability to play all over the diamond, but there are still questions about his bat. His minor league track record has displayed an ability to improve in the second year of a specific level. If that can stick in the big leagues, expecting more in 2022 is a fair bet. Gordon will need to hit for average, and while power will never be his game, there’s also the speed asset on the base paths. A long-term home may not be in this organization, but he’s begun to carve out a Major League role. The Emergence of Jose Miranda It was supposed to be Royce Lewis, and then it was supposed to be Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic. The Twins top prospects were all expected to show out after being hidden commodities during the lost season. None of those realities truly came to fruition, however, and Jose Miranda took the spotlight. This didn’t come entirely out of nowhere, as he was a second-round pick back in 2016. In 2019 though, Miranda posted just a .671 OPS across 119 games. After going unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, he turned on the rocket boosters. This season, Miranda picked up the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year award and continued his dominance through Triple-A. He looks big-league ready and should be able to contribute on both sides of the diamond. Power potential plays, as does a greatly-improved discipline at the plate, and while his path for playing time is cloudy, I wouldn’t bet against him forcing the Twins hand. The Health of Jorge Polanco In 2019, Jorge Polanco blasted 22 dingers and posted an .841 OPS while being miscast as a shortstop for the Twins. He flopped hard last season and struggled to the tune of a .658 OPS. Now with healthy ankles after another offseason surgery, Polanco has slid over to second base, and he turned in the most complete season of his career. Minnesota opted to bring in a true shortstop affording Polanco both health and defensive focus. He responded with an .826 OPS and a career-high 33 home runs. He’s still settling into the new position defensively, but it suits his arm strength much more favorably, and he’s among the best hitters in the majors at the position. In 2019, Minnesota extended Polanco, and now those vesting options in 2024 and 2025 look much more desirable than they did coming off of last season's results. Again, the season couldn’t have gone more awry than it did in the results column, but these are just a few takeaways that should have Twins fans thankful for 2022 and beyond. For More Twins content: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Rookie players’ performances can be a roller-coaster ride as teams and the league adjust to unproven players. Following a turbulent 2021 season, here are the five Twins rookies with the most long-term value. Minnesota saw some solid performances from rookie players this season. However, their current value might not match up perfectly with their long-term value. 5. Bailey Ober, SP Ober was one of the most critical rookies for the 2021 Twins. In fact, earlier this week he was named the team's Best Rookie by Twins Daily. He stepped into the rotation that saw multiple players dealt away at the trade deadline. Ober has never ranked as one of the team’s top prospects, but his 2021 performance proves he can be a back-end of the rotation starter for multiple years. This provides value to the club, especially since the 2022 Twins have many rotational holes to fill. 4. Ryan Jeffers, C Like many Twins players, Jeffers had a disappointing 2021 season, but he is a prime candidate to rebound in 2022. Minnesota drafted Jeffers as a hit-first catcher with defensive skills that the Twins scouts believed in more than national publications. His defense has vastly improved since joining the Twins organization. Also, Jeffers is only 24-years-old, and he won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2024. There is a lot of defensive value associated with catchers, and Jeffers has to be average at the plate to provide long-term value. 3. Joe Ryan, SP Ryan was the top pitching prospect acquired from the Rays for Nelson Cruz, and he was impressive during his first taste of the big leagues. He pitched five innings or more in four of his five starts and allowed three runs or fewer. His most impressive start came in Chicago, where Ryan struck out 11 Cubs batters in five innings. Like Ober, Minnesota likely has Ryan penciled into the back-end of the rotation for 2022, but he has the chance to be a top-half of the rotation starter. 2. Trevor Larnach, OF In his rookie season, things didn’t go perfectly for Larnach. After a strong start, the team demoted him after some mid-season struggles. Things didn’t go much better in St. Paul where he hit .176/.323/.373 (.695) in 14 games. Larnach was a first-round pick for a reason, and he showcased his high-ceiling during the 2019 season when he posted an .842 OPS between High-A and Double-A. That performance led him to be named the 2019 Twins Daily Minor League Player of the Year. He can get back to that level and hit in the middle of the line-up for most of the next decade. 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Kirilloff was impressive in the middle months of the season as he posted an OPS of .760 or higher in May and June. In July, a wrist injury sapped some of his power, and he underwent season-ending wrist surgery. MLB Pipeline thinks Kirilloff has one of the highest long-term values among all 2021 rookies. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his professional career. If Minnesota moves him to first base, he will be an above-average hitter and defender for the majority of his big-league career. How would you rank this year’s rookies when it comes to future value? 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
  24. May the court come to order: Here we will seek to determine the rightful Twins 2021 top rookie. Many worthy contenders will be considered but only one shall be crowned. Let us begin the proceedings. JUDGE: It is my understanding that six different parties would like to have their petitions heard before us. Is that correct? COLLECTIVE MURMURING: Yah JUDGE [fidgeting with reading glasses]: Okay, first name I have here is ... Ryan Jeffers, catcher. [JEFFERS REP APPROACHES THE PODIUM, SHUFFLES PAPERS] JEFFERS REP: Ahem. Your Honor. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Good evening. My client Ryan Jeffers might have won this award last year, but dang it folks he deserves it once again. He still technically qualified as a rookie and he was a very reliable one, starting nearly half the team's games at catcher and putting up some very strong defensive metrics! Jeffers was also an offensive force, launching 13 home runs ... OPPOSING COUNCIL: Objection, Your Honor! [Glances at data sheet] Jeffers batted .199 with a .270 on-base percentage, negating much of the value from his power. JEFFERS REP: Ah, be that as it may ... OPPOSING COUNCIL [heightening intensity]: Furthermore, Your Honor, Jeffers struck out at the highest rate on the team and his OPS+ of 83 shows he was in fact substantially below-average as an offensive producer. JUDGE [banging gavel]: I've heard enough! Thank you Mr. Jeffers, but you've had your day in this spotlight, you may move along. Who's next? [LARNACH'S REP LOOKS UP FROM FILES, SLOWLY STEPS TO PODIUM AND BEGINS SPEAKING] LARNACH REP: Production speaks for itself folks. And my client, Trevor Larnach, is a producer, despite his lack of experience. He came up far earlier than expected and proved he's a major-league player. In his first 50 games with the Twins, Mr. Larnach batted .261 with a .361 on-base percentage and .445 slugging. By this time his advanced and mature approach at the plate was earning him regular appearances at the No. 3 spot in the batting order. A remarkable rookie effort without question, and as such, I rest my case. JUDGE [peering skeptically]: Mm-hm. And as for the period following this 50-game sample? LARNACH REP: Come again, Your Honor? JUDGE: Your case seemed to conspicuously exclude any results beyond July the 7th, when your client hit his last home run. I'm just wondering what happened afterward. LARNACH REP: ... Afterward? Well [chuckles nervously] OPPOSING COUNCIL: If I may, Your Honor, I have the numbers here. [Starts reading] Following the date of July 7th: 29 games, a .156 batting average and .188 slugging percentage, with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks. This stretch lowered Mr. Larnach's overall OPS to a decidedly sub par .672, prompting a demotion to Triple-A in mid-August. JUDGE [considers briefly]: Mmm, yes. A promising showing in some regards but not the stuff Rookies of the Year are made of. Thank you, Mr. Larnach, you may depart. [Glances at agenda] It sounds as if a Mr. Ryan would like to be heard? [SILENCE] JUDGE [gazes around room, looks back at list]: A Mister ... Joe Ryan? [INCREASINGLY AWKWARD SILENCE] JUDGE [taps finger impatiently]: Well, if Mr. Ryan's case is not ready ... [RYAN'S REP BURSTS THROUGH DOOR, SHIRT HALF-TUCKED AND TIE HANGING LOOSELY ASTRAY] RYAN REP: Your Honor! Fine people of the jury! How are you all doing. Listen, I know I'm a little late, and that's true of my client as well. Let's get down to brass tacks. Was Joe Ryan a member of the Twins organization in March? No he wasn't. Was he here in June? He was not folks! Was Mr. Ryan in the big leagues in August, even? [Locks eyes with random elderly woman in jury] Was he Doris? Was he?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY SHAKES HEAD] RYAN REP: He wasn't! My client did not receive an opportunity in the majors until the month of September! But that's only because he was busy representing our wonderful country in the world's greatest international competition, the Olympics. And you know what? He kicked some ass. For America! Do you love America or don't you, Doris?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY NODS] RYAN REP: Then all he did was come back, acclimate instantly to a new organization, debut with amazing poise, flirt with a perfect game in his second MLB start, strike out seven straight men in his fourth, and altogether rack up six times as many walks as strikeouts. That fastball is something, ain't it! [SPORADIC APPLAUSE RISES FROM COURTROOM] JUDGE [bangs gavel]: Order, ORDER! You said your client made how many major-league starts this year? RYAN REP: I didn't, Your Honor, but thanks for inquiring! OPPOSING COUNCIL: Five starts, Your Honor. Twenty-six total innings. JUDGE: Too little volume for legitimate consideration I'm afraid, Mr. Ryan. But please, try again next year. Who do we have next? [GORDON REP STANDS, CLEARS THROAT] GORDON REP: What is a Rookie of the Year, really? Is it the player who has the best stats? The guy with the gaudy heralded status who brings all the buzz? Is this award made for the silver spoon prospect who's been on cruise control through the minors and into majors? Or are we trying to recognize the underdog who overcame the odds and silenced the doubters? The kid who went through hell and was written off, only to re-emerge as a legitimate factor in the team's plans. My client, Nick Gordon, did everything that was asked of him, even learning entirely new positions on the fly. He sat silently while less deserving players got opportunities. He fought and clawed his way to at-bats and increasingly made the most of them, posting a .752 OPS in September while earning the team's confidence at shortstop. He brought speed and athleticism to a team that was sorely lacking in both, stealing 10 bases on 11 tries. If that's not a Rookie of the Year, well I don't know what is. JUDGE [leans back in chair pensively]: You make a good argument, and recent trends work in your favor. The young man certainly looked more impressive as time passed. However, it is this court's duty to look at the full body of evidence and so we cannot ignore that a .647 overall OPS is rather lackluster. And while Mr. Gordon's versatility is noted, it doesn't seem clear to me that he truly excelled at any of these positions. I'm afraid that this worthy candidate cannot be our choice. Thus it comes down to the final two. [KIRILLOFF REP PACES BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE, FINALLY WALKS TO PODIUM, SETS STACK OF NOTES FACE-DOWN] KIRILLOFF REP: May I ask you a question, Your Honor? JUDGE [impatiently]: You may not. On with it, please. KIRILLOFF REP: Oh. Fine then. Well if I WERE to ask you a question I'd inquire about how well you could bang your little gavel there with a torn tendon in your wrist, and I bet the answer would be, not very well! My client, Alex Kirilloff, carried enormous expectations as the team's No. 1 prospect and he was sure making good on them before this whole wrist thing came along and threw a wrench. Prior to that he was launching missiles all over the field and lighting up the Statcast charts. Mr. Kirilloff slugged .500 in his first 18 MLB games and that's WITH an 0-for-14 start to his career! He looked good in left, and like an absolute natural at first base. Even while hampered by the wrist injury, he posted an OPS+ of 99 overall, meaning he was basically a league-average MLB hitter at age 23 despite no real experience at Triple-A. Pretty good, right? JUDGE: Pretty good indeed. There's a lot to like here. I just wonder about the lack of total volume combined with numbers that can only be described as ordinary. Fifty-nine games and an average OPS? What's special about this season? I'd like to hear the final case. [OBER'S REP STRIDES UP CONFIDENTLY] OBER REP: Good day Your Honor. And to all of you in the jury as well. What we have here is really an open-and-shut case. While many of the previous candidates we've heard from showed positive signs and offered heartwarming stories this year, could any of their seasons really be described as 'good'? Let's be honest with ourselves. The data is clear on this matter. [PULLS UP A POWERPOINT THAT SIMPLY LISTS TWINS ROOKIES AND THEIR WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT FOR 2022] OBER REP: As we can see, according to the website FanGraphs.com, my client Bailey Ober was worth one full win above a replacement player this year, a mark that no other rookie came close to matching. After stepping into a needy rotation in early June, he took the ball every fifth day, becoming a stable and steadfast presence in a unit that otherwise lacked for one entirely. Mr. Ober's 5.05 K/BB ratio was one of the best in major-league history for a first-year starter. All this from a former 12th-round pick who wasn't on the prospect radar prior to this season. Whether you want to talk about situational impact, inspirational narrative, long-term implications, or simply pure performance, my client is the obvious choice for best Twins rookie. Thank you. JUDGE [deliberates briefly]: I don't think we're even going to need to send this one to the jury. I agree with the ultimately conclusion that Mr. Ober is a clear choice for this award. Congratulations sir on this well deserved honor. This court is now adjourned ... We'll see you all tomorrow when we convene to settle upon a Most Improved Twin of 2021. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder 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
  25. Minnesota saw some solid performances from rookie players this season. However, their current value might not match up perfectly with their long-term value. 5. Bailey Ober, SP Ober was one of the most critical rookies for the 2021 Twins. In fact, earlier this week he was named the team's Best Rookie by Twins Daily. He stepped into the rotation that saw multiple players dealt away at the trade deadline. Ober has never ranked as one of the team’s top prospects, but his 2021 performance proves he can be a back-end of the rotation starter for multiple years. This provides value to the club, especially since the 2022 Twins have many rotational holes to fill. 4. Ryan Jeffers, C Like many Twins players, Jeffers had a disappointing 2021 season, but he is a prime candidate to rebound in 2022. Minnesota drafted Jeffers as a hit-first catcher with defensive skills that the Twins scouts believed in more than national publications. His defense has vastly improved since joining the Twins organization. Also, Jeffers is only 24-years-old, and he won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2024. There is a lot of defensive value associated with catchers, and Jeffers has to be average at the plate to provide long-term value. 3. Joe Ryan, SP Ryan was the top pitching prospect acquired from the Rays for Nelson Cruz, and he was impressive during his first taste of the big leagues. He pitched five innings or more in four of his five starts and allowed three runs or fewer. His most impressive start came in Chicago, where Ryan struck out 11 Cubs batters in five innings. Like Ober, Minnesota likely has Ryan penciled into the back-end of the rotation for 2022, but he has the chance to be a top-half of the rotation starter. 2. Trevor Larnach, OF In his rookie season, things didn’t go perfectly for Larnach. After a strong start, the team demoted him after some mid-season struggles. Things didn’t go much better in St. Paul where he hit .176/.323/.373 (.695) in 14 games. Larnach was a first-round pick for a reason, and he showcased his high-ceiling during the 2019 season when he posted an .842 OPS between High-A and Double-A. That performance led him to be named the 2019 Twins Daily Minor League Player of the Year. He can get back to that level and hit in the middle of the line-up for most of the next decade. 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Kirilloff was impressive in the middle months of the season as he posted an OPS of .760 or higher in May and June. In July, a wrist injury sapped some of his power, and he underwent season-ending wrist surgery. MLB Pipeline thinks Kirilloff has one of the highest long-term values among all 2021 rookies. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his professional career. If Minnesota moves him to first base, he will be an above-average hitter and defender for the majority of his big-league career. How would you rank this year’s rookies when it comes to future value? 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
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