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  1. Entering the 2022 season, Minnesota Twins minor league starting pitcher was considered by many to be a borderline top 100 prospect and by most to be the top pitcher in the team’s farm system. However, a brutal campaign—which was delayed until mid-May due to a left knee strain—has dulled the Canadian’s once glistening sheen. Image courtesy of Theo Tollefson, Twins Daily Jordan Balazovic was held to a mere 70 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level where he posted a mind-numbingly poor 7.39 ERA, by far the worst of his career. His peripheral numbers weren’t much better. Below is a comparison of how Balazovic has performed in many key stats over his last three seasons. (He didn’t pitch in 2020 due to the pandemic.) Like many young arms with natural talent, Balazovic crushed the lower minors. However, as he ascended through the ranks, his performance has dipped, culminating in his forgettable 2022 season at Triple-A. It’s not uncommon for an individual’s stats to decline as he moves up the minor league ladder—each level consists of better and better players, after all—but Balazovic’s represent a relatively steep decline. What stands out the most is the increase in hard contact he has surrendered, particularly last season. As he has only appeared in the minors, we don’t have publicly available Statcast data for Balazovic, but at a certain point average exit velocities and hard-hit percentages aren’t needed. His BABIP against has increased nearly 40%, while his line drive percentage has gone up 81% and his home runs per fly ball by a staggering 471% from High-A to Triple-A. In short, his pitches are getting hit harder and harder by better and better hitters. Additionally, his walk rates have increased while his strikeout rates have simultaneously dropped from 2019 to 2022. Balazovic has never been one to have pinpoint command despite respectable strikeout numbers (see his K-BB%), and that lack of command has become more troublesome as the opposing batters’ patience has improved at each level. It would be interesting to see his opposing batter chase and whiff rates at all three levels—almost assuredly they would both decrease—but that data isn’t publicly available. So that belies the question: What can Balazovic due to improve his stuff and get back on the top prospect hype train? Well, I don’t know. At least not entirely. Pitching is a complex endeavor, both mentally and physically, so rarely is there a simple answer. But I do have a few ideas that my be helpful. Potential Option #1: Increase elbow flexion at foot plant This is something that the team of biomechanics wizards at Driveline has looked into quite a bit. Elbow flexion is measured by the degree of bend at the elbow. A fully extended elbow would have 0 degrees of flexion while a fully flexed elbow—biomechanically impossible—would be 180 degrees. Driveline has found that, on average, their most elite pitchers (i.e. fastest throwers) achieve 107 degrees of elbow flexion when the foot of their lead leg hits the ground. As seen in the picture above, Balazovic frequently fails to reach beyond 90 degrees of flexion, and at times seemingly doesn’t even reach 90 degrees. (Granted, it’s difficult to say with 100 percent certainty from the behind-the-mound camera angle, but this is the best option available to the public.) Potential Option #2: Decrease posterior trunk lean (i.e. extension) at foot plant Another Driveline favorite. They have found that most elite pitchers that train with them have, on average, negative 10 degrees of anterior trunk lean at foot plant. In English, that means that the best-of-the-best pitchers generally bend backwards slightly when their foot hits the ground. It’s difficult to put an angle on Balazovic without biomechanics tracking software, but eyeballing it, it seems as though he frequently leans too far back at foot plant. This can contribute to a number of flaws during the throwing motion, particularly making the arm “drag” behind, decreasing command. Potential Option #3: Increase knee extension power throughout arm swing All pitchers land with a certain degree of knee flexion (i.e. knee bend) at foot plant. The pitchers who through hardest are able to forcefully extend (i.e. straighten) the knee as they thrust their pitching arm forward. This creates a rigid lever that increases torque and, thus, pitch velocity. Last season, Balazovic seemingly struggled with this. Perhaps of note, his lead leg is his left and he was reportedly dealing with left knee discomfort all season. It’s possible that the lingering pain caused him to diminish his knee extension after foot plant, impacting his velocity and command. Potential Option #4: Increase efficient separation between his trunk and pelvis Watch the video below. The first frame resulted in a ball while the next three were strikes. See if you can parse a difference between Balazovic’s trunk and pelvis between the three pictures. balazovic 1.mov Ok, now here’s a video with my notes. balazovic 2.mov When Balazovic is able to get his hips pointing toward the plate at foot plant, he’s able to efficiently rotate his torso and throw strikes. When he isn’t his arm lags behind and the result is more often than not a ball. In short, in order for Balazovic to improve and become a solid MLB pitcher, I would argue that he needs to not only tighten up his mechanics but improve his motion's consistency. His windup consists of many long levers and moving parts, both of which serve to reduce consistency (and, theoretically increase strain on the low back; he's struggled with back pain at time during his brief career). The options I've laid out above may help accomplish the opposite. View full article
  2. Jordan Balazovic was held to a mere 70 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level where he posted a mind-numbingly poor 7.39 ERA, by far the worst of his career. His peripheral numbers weren’t much better. Below is a comparison of how Balazovic has performed in many key stats over his last three seasons. (He didn’t pitch in 2020 due to the pandemic.) Like many young arms with natural talent, Balazovic crushed the lower minors. However, as he ascended through the ranks, his performance has dipped, culminating in his forgettable 2022 season at Triple-A. It’s not uncommon for an individual’s stats to decline as he moves up the minor league ladder—each level consists of better and better players, after all—but Balazovic’s represent a relatively steep decline. What stands out the most is the increase in hard contact he has surrendered, particularly last season. As he has only appeared in the minors, we don’t have publicly available Statcast data for Balazovic, but at a certain point average exit velocities and hard-hit percentages aren’t needed. His BABIP against has increased nearly 40%, while his line drive percentage has gone up 81% and his home runs per fly ball by a staggering 471% from High-A to Triple-A. In short, his pitches are getting hit harder and harder by better and better hitters. Additionally, his walk rates have increased while his strikeout rates have simultaneously dropped from 2019 to 2022. Balazovic has never been one to have pinpoint command despite respectable strikeout numbers (see his K-BB%), and that lack of command has become more troublesome as the opposing batters’ patience has improved at each level. It would be interesting to see his opposing batter chase and whiff rates at all three levels—almost assuredly they would both decrease—but that data isn’t publicly available. So that belies the question: What can Balazovic due to improve his stuff and get back on the top prospect hype train? Well, I don’t know. At least not entirely. Pitching is a complex endeavor, both mentally and physically, so rarely is there a simple answer. But I do have a few ideas that my be helpful. Potential Option #1: Increase elbow flexion at foot plant This is something that the team of biomechanics wizards at Driveline has looked into quite a bit. Elbow flexion is measured by the degree of bend at the elbow. A fully extended elbow would have 0 degrees of flexion while a fully flexed elbow—biomechanically impossible—would be 180 degrees. Driveline has found that, on average, their most elite pitchers (i.e. fastest throwers) achieve 107 degrees of elbow flexion when the foot of their lead leg hits the ground. As seen in the picture above, Balazovic frequently fails to reach beyond 90 degrees of flexion, and at times seemingly doesn’t even reach 90 degrees. (Granted, it’s difficult to say with 100 percent certainty from the behind-the-mound camera angle, but this is the best option available to the public.) Potential Option #2: Decrease posterior trunk lean (i.e. extension) at foot plant Another Driveline favorite. They have found that most elite pitchers that train with them have, on average, negative 10 degrees of anterior trunk lean at foot plant. In English, that means that the best-of-the-best pitchers generally bend backwards slightly when their foot hits the ground. It’s difficult to put an angle on Balazovic without biomechanics tracking software, but eyeballing it, it seems as though he frequently leans too far back at foot plant. This can contribute to a number of flaws during the throwing motion, particularly making the arm “drag” behind, decreasing command. Potential Option #3: Increase knee extension power throughout arm swing All pitchers land with a certain degree of knee flexion (i.e. knee bend) at foot plant. The pitchers who through hardest are able to forcefully extend (i.e. straighten) the knee as they thrust their pitching arm forward. This creates a rigid lever that increases torque and, thus, pitch velocity. Last season, Balazovic seemingly struggled with this. Perhaps of note, his lead leg is his left and he was reportedly dealing with left knee discomfort all season. It’s possible that the lingering pain caused him to diminish his knee extension after foot plant, impacting his velocity and command. Potential Option #4: Increase efficient separation between his trunk and pelvis Watch the video below. The first frame resulted in a ball while the next three were strikes. See if you can parse a difference between Balazovic’s trunk and pelvis between the three pictures. balazovic 1.mov Ok, now here’s a video with my notes. balazovic 2.mov When Balazovic is able to get his hips pointing toward the plate at foot plant, he’s able to efficiently rotate his torso and throw strikes. When he isn’t his arm lags behind and the result is more often than not a ball. In short, in order for Balazovic to improve and become a solid MLB pitcher, I would argue that he needs to not only tighten up his mechanics but improve his motion's consistency. His windup consists of many long levers and moving parts, both of which serve to reduce consistency (and, theoretically increase strain on the low back; he's struggled with back pain at time during his brief career). The options I've laid out above may help accomplish the opposite.
  3. Derek Falvey was touted for his pitching pipeline in Cleveland. Can the Twins start seeing results from their own pitching pipeline? Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022. Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022) Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024) Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery. Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024) The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season. Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025) In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success. Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022. Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022) Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024) Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery. Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024) The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season. Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025) In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success. Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Not much went right for Jordan Balazovic during the 2022 season. Thankfully, he finished the season strongly with an eye toward 2023. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints Baseball development is not a linear path. Prospects can look great one month and then spiral downward later in the same year. Organizations with the greatest success level can minimize slumps and help their prospects improve before reaching their ultimate goal. The Twins drafted Jordan Balazovic in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was a high school pitcher from Ontario, Canada, which isn’t exactly a hotbed of MLB talent. Minnesota liked his frame and projectability, and those scouting reports looked true as he began his professional career. Since he was 17 years old, Minnesota kept Balazovic in the GCL for two seasons to start acclimating to the professional ranks. He posted a 3.61 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP, but he was adding to his frame and making adjustments to help him as he moved up the organizational ladder. His first full season came in 2018 at Cedar Rapids, where he posted an 11.4 K/9 with a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.94 ERA. At the time, he was nearly three years younger than the average age of the competition in the Midwest League. The 2019 season put Balazovic on the prospect map as he continued to be young for his level. In 18 appearances (93 2/3 innings), he posted a 2.69 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP and a 129-to-25 strikeout to walk ratio. He represented the Twins at the 2019 Futures Game, and it looked like the Twins had developed a top-of-the-rotation starter. Baseball America and MLB.com placed him in their top-100 lists entering the 2020 season. Coming out of the lost COVID season, Minnesota sent Balazovic to Double-A, and he made 20 starts in the Wind Surge rotation. He continued to strike out more than a batter per inning (9.5 K/9), but he also started giving up more hits (9.1 H/9) and walks (3.5 BB/9). By the season’s end, he had a 3.62 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP as over 81% of his at-bats came against older batters. The 2022 season was setting up to be a critical turning point in Balazovic’s development. Balazovic entered the 2022 season as a borderline top-100 prospect, with Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus including him on their list. At Twins Daily, he was the fourth overall prospect in the Twins organization and the highest-rated pitcher. He had success in the upper minors and was projected to make his big-league debut, but that plan didn’t work out. During spring training, Balazovic suffered a back injury that forced him to begin the 2022 season on the injured list. His first appearance came in May for Fort Myers as he worked his way back. By May 7th, he was in the Saints rotation, but there were struggles to start the year. Through his first nine starts, he posted a 9.24 ERA as batters accumulated a 1.141 OPS with eight home runs against him. His next eight starts slightly improved as his ERA dropped to 8.88, but he continued to surrender too many home runs. It looked like a lost season for Balazovic, but something clicked near the season’s end. During September, Balazovic had his best month of the season. He posted a 3.43 ERA in five starts with 30 strikeouts and ten walks in 21 innings. Batters still hit four home runs, but two of those home runs came in the same game. For the month, batters hit .247/.330/.469 (.799) as he filled the strike zone with a 62% strike rate. It had to be a satisfying end to a season that didn’t go as planned for Balazovic. Entering 2023, Balazovic won’t make any top-100 lists, and he will drop on Twins prospect rankings. However, he has something to build off of for 2023. Sometimes struggles are part of the development process, and Minnesota hopes Balazovic can learn from a rough 2022 season. What are your thoughts on Balazovic’s 2022 season? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  6. Baseball development is not a linear path. Prospects can look great one month and then spiral downward later in the same year. Organizations with the greatest success level can minimize slumps and help their prospects improve before reaching their ultimate goal. The Twins drafted Jordan Balazovic in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was a high school pitcher from Ontario, Canada, which isn’t exactly a hotbed of MLB talent. Minnesota liked his frame and projectability, and those scouting reports looked true as he began his professional career. Since he was 17 years old, Minnesota kept Balazovic in the GCL for two seasons to start acclimating to the professional ranks. He posted a 3.61 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP, but he was adding to his frame and making adjustments to help him as he moved up the organizational ladder. His first full season came in 2018 at Cedar Rapids, where he posted an 11.4 K/9 with a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.94 ERA. At the time, he was nearly three years younger than the average age of the competition in the Midwest League. The 2019 season put Balazovic on the prospect map as he continued to be young for his level. In 18 appearances (93 2/3 innings), he posted a 2.69 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP and a 129-to-25 strikeout to walk ratio. He represented the Twins at the 2019 Futures Game, and it looked like the Twins had developed a top-of-the-rotation starter. Baseball America and MLB.com placed him in their top-100 lists entering the 2020 season. Coming out of the lost COVID season, Minnesota sent Balazovic to Double-A, and he made 20 starts in the Wind Surge rotation. He continued to strike out more than a batter per inning (9.5 K/9), but he also started giving up more hits (9.1 H/9) and walks (3.5 BB/9). By the season’s end, he had a 3.62 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP as over 81% of his at-bats came against older batters. The 2022 season was setting up to be a critical turning point in Balazovic’s development. Balazovic entered the 2022 season as a borderline top-100 prospect, with Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus including him on their list. At Twins Daily, he was the fourth overall prospect in the Twins organization and the highest-rated pitcher. He had success in the upper minors and was projected to make his big-league debut, but that plan didn’t work out. During spring training, Balazovic suffered a back injury that forced him to begin the 2022 season on the injured list. His first appearance came in May for Fort Myers as he worked his way back. By May 7th, he was in the Saints rotation, but there were struggles to start the year. Through his first nine starts, he posted a 9.24 ERA as batters accumulated a 1.141 OPS with eight home runs against him. His next eight starts slightly improved as his ERA dropped to 8.88, but he continued to surrender too many home runs. It looked like a lost season for Balazovic, but something clicked near the season’s end. During September, Balazovic had his best month of the season. He posted a 3.43 ERA in five starts with 30 strikeouts and ten walks in 21 innings. Batters still hit four home runs, but two of those home runs came in the same game. For the month, batters hit .247/.330/.469 (.799) as he filled the strike zone with a 62% strike rate. It had to be a satisfying end to a season that didn’t go as planned for Balazovic. Entering 2023, Balazovic won’t make any top-100 lists, and he will drop on Twins prospect rankings. However, he has something to build off of for 2023. Sometimes struggles are part of the development process, and Minnesota hopes Balazovic can learn from a rough 2022 season. What are your thoughts on Balazovic’s 2022 season? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Frontline starting pitching was the Twins' most significant need this winter, and the club decided to double down on young pitchers being ready to contribute. Clearly, the pitching pipeline plan failed for 2022, but is there hope for the future? Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints Last winter, it was clear to anyone looking at the Twins roster that the team needed frontline starting pitching. There were other off-season needs, but they only had Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober penciled into the rotation and many other question marks. Minnesota had the financial flexibility to sign frontline starting pitching, but the club decided to go in a different direction. With the pending lockout, the Twins front office watched most frontline free agent starters ink contracts with other organizations. Minnesota's lone signing before the lockout was Dylan Bundy, who figured to fit into the rotation's back half. It was tough to decipher how the Twins expected to fill the rotation, but the team's plan became clear as spring training inched closer. Following the lockout, Sonny Gray was the Twins' biggest offseason pitching acquisition. He was a clear frontline starter and pitched that way during the 2022 season. The team added Chris Archer to join Bundy at the back of the rotation, and Chris Paddack joined the club in a last-minute deal before Opening Day. All these arms impacted the 2022 Twins, but the club wanted to rely on the young pitching in the system to supplement the veteran arms. Derek Falvey was brought to Minnesota because of his experience with the Cleveland organization. During his Cleveland tenure, one of his calling cards was cultivating young pitching, which has been a staple of the Guardians organization. Minnesota was going to start the 2022 campaign with Ryan and Ober in the rotation, but there were expectations that other young pitchers would join their ranks. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and Minnesota's pitching pipeline may have taken a step back this season. As the season began, it looked like the Twins had plenty of pitching prospects in the upper minors that had the potential to impact the roster. Minnesota had five upper minors starting pitchers ranked in their top-10 prospects, and others rounded out their top-20 list. Ryan had an up-and-down season as a rookie, but he is on pace to set the team's rookie record for strikeouts. Josh Winder and Cole Sands have combined to pitch just over 80 big league innings, with both missing games due to injury. Louie Varland saw his stock rise the most out of this group as he pitched well in the upper minors before making his big league debut in September. Matt Canterino and Jordan Balazovic were arguably the team's top pitching prospects entering the 2022 campaign, but it was a lost season for both. Canterino dominated on the mound in 13 appearances, but he needed Tommy John surgery before the season's end. Balazovic was on pace to debut in 2022, but he struggled at Triple-A and is now getting back on track. Besides Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson helped his stock the most this season, and he deserves to make some starts for the Twins down the stretch. Many will blame injuries for the Twins' failures during the 2022 season. However, the lack of contributions from the pitching pipeline is also concerning. Not every pitching prospect can be successful throughout their professional careers, and there is hope that some of these arms will get healthy in the offseason. As Minnesota's focus turns to 2023, the front office might not be able to rely as heavily on the pitching pipeline when building next year's roster. Did the pitching pipeline plan fail in 2022? Is there hope for improvement in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  8. Last winter, it was clear to anyone looking at the Twins roster that the team needed frontline starting pitching. There were other off-season needs, but they only had Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober penciled into the rotation and many other question marks. Minnesota had the financial flexibility to sign frontline starting pitching, but the club decided to go in a different direction. With the pending lockout, the Twins front office watched most frontline free agent starters ink contracts with other organizations. Minnesota's lone signing before the lockout was Dylan Bundy, who figured to fit into the rotation's back half. It was tough to decipher how the Twins expected to fill the rotation, but the team's plan became clear as spring training inched closer. Following the lockout, Sonny Gray was the Twins' biggest offseason pitching acquisition. He was a clear frontline starter and pitched that way during the 2022 season. The team added Chris Archer to join Bundy at the back of the rotation, and Chris Paddack joined the club in a last-minute deal before Opening Day. All these arms impacted the 2022 Twins, but the club wanted to rely on the young pitching in the system to supplement the veteran arms. Derek Falvey was brought to Minnesota because of his experience with the Cleveland organization. During his Cleveland tenure, one of his calling cards was cultivating young pitching, which has been a staple of the Guardians organization. Minnesota was going to start the 2022 campaign with Ryan and Ober in the rotation, but there were expectations that other young pitchers would join their ranks. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and Minnesota's pitching pipeline may have taken a step back this season. As the season began, it looked like the Twins had plenty of pitching prospects in the upper minors that had the potential to impact the roster. Minnesota had five upper minors starting pitchers ranked in their top-10 prospects, and others rounded out their top-20 list. Ryan had an up-and-down season as a rookie, but he is on pace to set the team's rookie record for strikeouts. Josh Winder and Cole Sands have combined to pitch just over 80 big league innings, with both missing games due to injury. Louie Varland saw his stock rise the most out of this group as he pitched well in the upper minors before making his big league debut in September. Matt Canterino and Jordan Balazovic were arguably the team's top pitching prospects entering the 2022 campaign, but it was a lost season for both. Canterino dominated on the mound in 13 appearances, but he needed Tommy John surgery before the season's end. Balazovic was on pace to debut in 2022, but he struggled at Triple-A and is now getting back on track. Besides Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson helped his stock the most this season, and he deserves to make some starts for the Twins down the stretch. Many will blame injuries for the Twins' failures during the 2022 season. However, the lack of contributions from the pitching pipeline is also concerning. Not every pitching prospect can be successful throughout their professional careers, and there is hope that some of these arms will get healthy in the offseason. As Minnesota's focus turns to 2023, the front office might not be able to rely as heavily on the pitching pipeline when building next year's roster. Did the pitching pipeline plan fail in 2022? Is there hope for improvement in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. If the Minnesota Twins are going to bounce back next year, it will take more than savvy offseason moves from the front office. Impact veterans help but, as we've seen with Carlos Correa, they can't do it all. The Twins were partly derailed this year by a lack of expected contributions from key players in the system, including the following three premier talents. Unfortunately, their setback seasons will cast a shadow forward onto 2023. Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge (Austin Martin) Coming into the 2022 season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin, Jordan Balazovic and Matt Canterino as the first, fourth, and sixth best prospects in the organization, respectively. Not only were they high-caliber talents with polish and big upside, but they were all more or less on the precipice of major-league readiness. In each case, things hardly could've gone worse. Whether performance, injury, or a combination, each of these critical assets saw his stock nosedive over the past summer, and it adds another layer of complexity for a front office trying to build its way back to contention. With that said, hope isn't lost for any of these three. Let's take a look at each of their campaigns so far, as things come close to wrapping up here in September. Austin Martin and the power that never came. The prize of last year's José Berríos trade at the deadline, Martin was billed as a near-ready prospect right out of the gates. It was warranted, after he led all of Double-A in on-base percentage during his first pro season. Despite his resounding success, Minnesota sent Martin back to the same level this year, no doubt hoping he'd shore up his biggest weakness from 2022 – an absence of power to complement the excellent OBP – and earn a quick call-up to Triple-A or even the majors. That didn't happen. Martin's power trended the wrong direction this year. After slugging .382 with a .127 ISO and five home runs in 418 PAs between New Hampshire and Wichita, this year he's slugging .317 with an .074 ISO and two home runs in 406 PAs at Wichita. Martin has kept his on-base skills steady, with a .367 OBP despite the crummy .241 average, but his lack of ability to drive the ball with any authority almost renders it moot. Posting a .685 OPS as a 23-year-old in your second turn at Double-A, with no apparent underlying injury, is nothing short of disastrous. Given all the injuries the Twins have faced this season, it's likely Martin would've gotten a chance at some point if he'd even modestly improved his production from a year ago. His drop-off eliminated that possibility and will leave him as something of an afterthought heading into 2023. Martin's going to tank on national prospect lists, where he ranked around #50 by consensus coming into the season. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Martin would hardly be the first player to develop significant power rapidly in his mid-20s. In fact, two "shortstop" prospects who came before him in the Twins system serve as optimistic precedents: Brain Dozier totaled 14 home runs in 317 games through his first three minor-league seasons. Five years later he would set an American League record by launching 42 as a second baseman in 2016. Jorge Polanco hit 35 total home runs total in 598 minor-league games, and could barely muster an XBH in his early days. He hit 33 home runs for the Twins last year. Jordan Balazovic's puzzling struggles in St. Paul. We had Balazovic ranked as the #1 pitcher in the system coming into this year, following a strong campaign at Double-A where he posted a 3.62 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate as a 22-year-old. Relative to other arms in the system, Balazovic had a more consistent track record and more established workload base, which is why it seemed feasible to envision him playing a significant role in the Twins rotation this year. His abominable performance at Triple-A has done away with that notion entirely. Balazovic started a month late with the Saints due to a knee strain. While he ostensibly put that behind him, staying healthy enough to take the mound each sixth day, he has never seemed right at any point. The right-hander's performance with St. Paul has been beyond awful. In 62 ⅔ innings across 20 appearances, he's 0-6 with a 7.47 ERA. Opponents have slashed .342/.412/.625 against him, as both his walk and home run rates have spiraled out of control. Balazovic has made 19 starts for the Saints and completed five innings ONCE. In late June, Balazovic told Dean Spiros of the Pioneer Press his struggles were "like a puzzle; every day it’s something new." "I’ve never pitched like this,” Balazovic said. “Last year (at Double-A Wichita) my numbers started to get worse in the second half because I was working on stuff. That’s kind of carried over to this season a little bit, but not to where it should be affecting me this bad.” The big 6-foot-5 righty boiled his issues down to consistency and execution, but expressed hope he was getting closer to solving the puzzle. "I’m still hoping for that day," he said, "and I’m hoping that day is tomorrow." It wasn't. The following day he needed 60 pitches to get through 2 ⅔ innings against the Iowa Cubs, allowing five hits (two homers) and two walks. His next time out he coughed up five earned runs in three innings against Omaha. These have been typical results for Balazovic this year, and as a result he's slid down a pitching pipeline hierarchy that's already been depleted by the Chase Petty trade and the development we'll look at next. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Balazovic didn't quite follow through on his "hoping that day is tomorrow" goal, but he might not have been far off? While he bombed in his next two starts, he's been on a bit of a roll ever since, posting a 2.52 ERA and 29-to-11 K/BB ratio with just three homers allowed over 25 innings in his past six starts. Sometimes guys need to experience their worst to unlock their best. Balazovic has plenty of talent to rebound and get back on track. Matt Canterino and the elbow that finally gave way. Canterino's elbow is the only thing that's stood in his way. Drafted 54th overall in 2019 after blowing people away at Rice University for three years, the hard-throwing righty immediately started doing the same to professional hitters. In a 25-inning debut between rookie ball and Low-A, he posted a 1.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed. Then, the pandemic happened and wiped out the 2020 season. In 2021, he was limited to 23 total innings by a forearm strain (he posted a 0.78 ERA when he was able to pitch). This year, his elbow soreness re-emerged and while the Twins continually tried to navigate around it, treating surgery as a last resort, they eventually ran out of options. "It felt like we didn't have anymore stones to turn over," said assistant GM Jeremy Zoll. Unfortunately, the efforts to avoid surgery only delayed it, and now Canterino's prospective impact has also been pushed well down the line. Since he didn't undergo Tommy John until last month, Canterino will likely miss all of next year rehabbing, meaning that by the time he's ready to fully return to the mound, he'll be a 26-year-old with fewer than 100 innings as a pro. It's really difficult to come back from that. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Difficult, but not impossible. The biggest cost of all this lost time would theoretically be missed development for a guy who's barely been able to get in-game reps since being drafted three years ago. For Canterino, I'm not sure it matters as much. He's basically always looked like a guy ready for the majors when he's pitched, with raw stuff that speaks for itself. So long as that stuff remains mostly intact after the surgery, he'll have a chance to get back up to speed quickly and make his long-awaited impact on the bullpen, even if it's not until 2024. Feeling bummed out? I hear you! Make sure to check back tomorrow when I break down the most uplifting developments on the farm for the Twins this year ... Good news: I couldn't manage to limit that list to just three. View full article
  10. After winning Game 1 of their postseason series last night, the Wichita Wind Surge were traveling on Wednesday. That left the St. Paul Saints as the only affiliate in action, and unfortunately, they fell short on the road. TRANSACTIONS RHP Austin Schulfer placed on 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul C David Banuelos activated from 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 7, St. Paul 1 Box Score Jordan Balazovic drew the start today for St. Paul and was chased after three innings. He allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four. Balazovic did give up a walk and was burned by two homers. A five-run 3rd inning by Indianapolis put St. Paul in a bad spot early. They gave up two more in the 6th inning and before recording their first run, the Saints were staring at a seven-run deficit. Ryan Jeffers, still working his way back on a Major League rehab assignment, hit a homer in the 8th inning to make sure the Saints wouldn’t be shut out. Trevor Larnach, also rehabbing, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the designated hitter. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Melvi Acosta (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K Hitter of the Day – Chris Williams (St. Paul) - 1-2, 2 BB PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - Twins Play Wednesday night in Kansas City. #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily Short Season Hitter of the Year View full article
  11. TRANSACTIONS RHP Austin Schulfer placed on 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul C David Banuelos activated from 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 7, St. Paul 1 Box Score Jordan Balazovic drew the start today for St. Paul and was chased after three innings. He allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four. Balazovic did give up a walk and was burned by two homers. A five-run 3rd inning by Indianapolis put St. Paul in a bad spot early. They gave up two more in the 6th inning and before recording their first run, the Saints were staring at a seven-run deficit. Ryan Jeffers, still working his way back on a Major League rehab assignment, hit a homer in the 8th inning to make sure the Saints wouldn’t be shut out. Trevor Larnach, also rehabbing, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the designated hitter. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Melvi Acosta (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K Hitter of the Day – Chris Williams (St. Paul) - 1-2, 2 BB PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - Twins Play Wednesday night in Kansas City. #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily Short Season Hitter of the Year
  12. Coming into the 2022 season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin, Jordan Balazovic and Matt Canterino as the first, fourth, and sixth best prospects in the organization, respectively. Not only were they high-caliber talents with polish and big upside, but they were all more or less on the precipice of major-league readiness. In each case, things hardly could've gone worse. Whether performance, injury, or a combination, each of these critical assets saw his stock nosedive over the past summer, and it adds another layer of complexity for a front office trying to build its way back to contention. With that said, hope isn't lost for any of these three. Let's take a look at each of their campaigns so far, as things come close to wrapping up here in September. Austin Martin and the power that never came. The prize of last year's José Berríos trade at the deadline, Martin was billed as a near-ready prospect right out of the gates. It was warranted, after he led all of Double-A in on-base percentage during his first pro season. Despite his resounding success, Minnesota sent Martin back to the same level this year, no doubt hoping he'd shore up his biggest weakness from 2022 – an absence of power to complement the excellent OBP – and earn a quick call-up to Triple-A or even the majors. That didn't happen. Martin's power trended the wrong direction this year. After slugging .382 with a .127 ISO and five home runs in 418 PAs between New Hampshire and Wichita, this year he's slugging .317 with an .074 ISO and two home runs in 406 PAs at Wichita. Martin has kept his on-base skills steady, with a .367 OBP despite the crummy .241 average, but his lack of ability to drive the ball with any authority almost renders it moot. Posting a .685 OPS as a 23-year-old in your second turn at Double-A, with no apparent underlying injury, is nothing short of disastrous. Given all the injuries the Twins have faced this season, it's likely Martin would've gotten a chance at some point if he'd even modestly improved his production from a year ago. His drop-off eliminated that possibility and will leave him as something of an afterthought heading into 2023. Martin's going to tank on national prospect lists, where he ranked around #50 by consensus coming into the season. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Martin would hardly be the first player to develop significant power rapidly in his mid-20s. In fact, two "shortstop" prospects who came before him in the Twins system serve as optimistic precedents: Brain Dozier totaled 14 home runs in 317 games through his first three minor-league seasons. Five years later he would set an American League record by launching 42 as a second baseman in 2016. Jorge Polanco hit 35 total home runs total in 598 minor-league games, and could barely muster an XBH in his early days. He hit 33 home runs for the Twins last year. Jordan Balazovic's puzzling struggles in St. Paul. We had Balazovic ranked as the #1 pitcher in the system coming into this year, following a strong campaign at Double-A where he posted a 3.62 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate as a 22-year-old. Relative to other arms in the system, Balazovic had a more consistent track record and more established workload base, which is why it seemed feasible to envision him playing a significant role in the Twins rotation this year. His abominable performance at Triple-A has done away with that notion entirely. Balazovic started a month late with the Saints due to a knee strain. While he ostensibly put that behind him, staying healthy enough to take the mound each sixth day, he has never seemed right at any point. The right-hander's performance with St. Paul has been beyond awful. In 62 ⅔ innings across 20 appearances, he's 0-6 with a 7.47 ERA. Opponents have slashed .342/.412/.625 against him, as both his walk and home run rates have spiraled out of control. Balazovic has made 19 starts for the Saints and completed five innings ONCE. In late June, Balazovic told Dean Spiros of the Pioneer Press his struggles were "like a puzzle; every day it’s something new." "I’ve never pitched like this,” Balazovic said. “Last year (at Double-A Wichita) my numbers started to get worse in the second half because I was working on stuff. That’s kind of carried over to this season a little bit, but not to where it should be affecting me this bad.” The big 6-foot-5 righty boiled his issues down to consistency and execution, but expressed hope he was getting closer to solving the puzzle. "I’m still hoping for that day," he said, "and I’m hoping that day is tomorrow." It wasn't. The following day he needed 60 pitches to get through 2 ⅔ innings against the Iowa Cubs, allowing five hits (two homers) and two walks. His next time out he coughed up five earned runs in three innings against Omaha. These have been typical results for Balazovic this year, and as a result he's slid down a pitching pipeline hierarchy that's already been depleted by the Chase Petty trade and the development we'll look at next. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Balazovic didn't quite follow through on his "hoping that day is tomorrow" goal, but he might not have been far off? While he bombed in his next two starts, he's been on a bit of a roll ever since, posting a 2.52 ERA and 29-to-11 K/BB ratio with just three homers allowed over 25 innings in his past six starts. Sometimes guys need to experience their worst to unlock their best. Balazovic has plenty of talent to rebound and get back on track. Matt Canterino and the elbow that finally gave way. Canterino's elbow is the only thing that's stood in his way. Drafted 54th overall in 2019 after blowing people away at Rice University for three years, the hard-throwing righty immediately started doing the same to professional hitters. In a 25-inning debut between rookie ball and Low-A, he posted a 1.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed. Then, the pandemic happened and wiped out the 2020 season. In 2021, he was limited to 23 total innings by a forearm strain (he posted a 0.78 ERA when he was able to pitch). This year, his elbow soreness re-emerged and while the Twins continually tried to navigate around it, treating surgery as a last resort, they eventually ran out of options. "It felt like we didn't have anymore stones to turn over," said assistant GM Jeremy Zoll. Unfortunately, the efforts to avoid surgery only delayed it, and now Canterino's prospective impact has also been pushed well down the line. Since he didn't undergo Tommy John until last month, Canterino will likely miss all of next year rehabbing, meaning that by the time he's ready to fully return to the mound, he'll be a 26-year-old with fewer than 100 innings as a pro. It's really difficult to come back from that. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Difficult, but not impossible. The biggest cost of all this lost time would theoretically be missed development for a guy who's barely been able to get in-game reps since being drafted three years ago. For Canterino, I'm not sure it matters as much. He's basically always looked like a guy ready for the majors when he's pitched, with raw stuff that speaks for itself. So long as that stuff remains mostly intact after the surgery, he'll have a chance to get back up to speed quickly and make his long-awaited impact on the bullpen, even if it's not until 2024. Feeling bummed out? I hear you! Make sure to check back tomorrow when I break down the most uplifting developments on the farm for the Twins this year ... Good news: I couldn't manage to limit that list to just three.
  13. TRANSACTIONS C Kyle Schmidt activated (Wichita) INF Ernie Yake placed on 7-day IL (Wichita) OF Trevor Larnach begins rehab assignment (St. Paul) Saints Sentinel St. Paul 2, Louisville 5 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Elliot Soto (2-for-3, R, BB) St. Paul lost quietly to Louisville on Thursday. Jordan Balazovic pitched well, allowing a single earned run with six strikeouts over four innings; that punchout is good for his second-highest of the season. It’s been an up-and-down year—with far more downs than anyone wished to see—but Balazovic has turned a corner late in the season, and it has been great to see. The bats couldn’t find any momentum, only scratching out two runs off technically old friend Justin Nicolino before shutting down against the Bats’ bullpen. Elliot Soto’s three times on base represented the best of any batter. Both runs scored on a Dalton Shuffield double. Jake Jewell carried the pitching effort, striking out three over 2 ⅓ scoreless innings of work; Brad Peacock tagged in with a shutout frame of his own. Trevor Larnach singled and struck out in his first rehab game. Mike Siani—the 26th ranked prospect in the Reds system—leads the Bats; he singled in four plate appearances. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 8, Midland 6 Box Score Brent Headrick: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI), Yunior Severino (2-for-4, RBI, BB), DaShawn Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5), Leobaldo Cabrera (2-for-4, 2 R, BB) Wichita won a barn burner on Thursday. The bats came alive early; Wichita scored five runs off a flurry of hits in the 2nd inning and never looked back. Dillon Tatum, Austin Martin, Edouard Julien, and Yunior Severino all earned an RBI for their efforts. Martin doubled in another run in the 4th inning; Alex Isola singled one home in the 6th. The bullpen carried the day as their incredible effort—spearheaded by scoreless outings from Hunter McMahon and Casey Legumina—saved the game. The collection of arms pitched five innings in relief of Brent Headrick, allowing two runs with six strikeouts. Martin stole his 34th base of the season; DaShawn Keirsey Jr. nabbed his 41st. Tyler Soderstrom—the Athletics’ 2nd ranked prospect according to MLB.com— leads the RockHounds. Soderstrom singled, walked, and scored a pair of runs. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 5, South Bend 3 Box Score Travis Adams: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Wander Javier (1) Multi-hit games: Brooks Lee (2-for-4, 2 2B, R) The Kernels won on Thursday to knot the playoff series at 1. No one hitter dominated the batter’s box; Cedar Rapids rode a steady stream of walks—seven of them, to be precise—to five runs, just enough to win the game. The 5th inning proved especially fruitful, as the team scored three runs off a walk, a hit by pitch, and a balk. The team went 0-7 with runners in scoring position. Travis Adams didn’t have his A-stuff; the righty allowed six hits and three runs over four innings, with runs scoring in three separate innings. Fortunately, his bullpen had his back, as Jaylen Nowlin, Miguel Rodriguez, and Ryan Shreve combined for five scoreless innings, allowing a sole hit with seven strikeouts. Brooks Lee clubbed a pair of doubles; Wander Javier blasted a solo homer. Pete Crow-Armstrong—the Cubs' top prospect according to MLB.com, and the son of Ashley Crow, the actress who played the mom in Little Big League, leads the Cubs. He had a single in four trips to the plate. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 7, Dunedin 5 Box Score Marco Raya: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Keoni Cavaco (1) Multi-hit games: Ben Ross (2-for-3, 2 R, BB), Tanner Schobel (2-for-4, R), Kala’i Rosario (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI) The Mighty Mussels won with a late comeback on Thursday. It all started with an 8th-inning movement; Fort Myers stood at a 2-5 deficit, staring up the Blue Jays as Dunedin appeared set to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Ben Ross walked, Noah Miller singled, and Kala’i Rosario brought the Mighty Mussels one run closer with an RBI single. Ian Churchill—working to become the most well-known man with that surname—walked Misael Urbina, bringing Keoni Cavaco to the plate with the bases full. Cavaco wasted no time, stepped into the first pitch, and drove a grand slam deep out to left-center field. Marco Raya worked a tough but admirable game; the righty allowed three 1st inning runs—never an ideal start for a pitcher—but dialed himself in, and held the Blue Jays scoreless in the three following frames. Kyle Jones was probably the most important pitcher in Thursday’s effort as he pitched three innings without an earned run while striking out two. 2022 draft picks carried the game in general; Ben Ross and Tanner Schobel both clocked in multi-hit performances. Josh Kasevich and Cade Doughty—the 10th and 11th ranked prospects for the Blue Jays, respectively—lead the Dunedin club. Kasevich walked twice and singled; Doughty singled and struck out twice. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic, St. Paul Saints Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Keoni Cavaco, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, 2 2B, R #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, R, K #8 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-4, BB, 2 K #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI, 2 KP #18 - Tanner Schobel (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, R #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI, K FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:07 PM) - RHP Mario Sanchez Wichita @ Midland (7:00 PM) - RHP Daniel Gossett South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM) - RHP Orlano Rodriguez (Game 3 in Best of 3 series) Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM) - LHP Jordan Carr (Game 3 in Best of 3 series)
  14. You forgot Larnach existed, didn't you? And maybe don't forget about a couple of other former Top 10 Twins prospects who came up big for their teams on Thursday night. Image courtesy of William Parmeter / Mighty Mussels TRANSACTIONS C Kyle Schmidt activated (Wichita) INF Ernie Yake placed on 7-day IL (Wichita) OF Trevor Larnach begins rehab assignment (St. Paul) Saints Sentinel St. Paul 2, Louisville 5 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Elliot Soto (2-for-3, R, BB) St. Paul lost quietly to Louisville on Thursday. Jordan Balazovic pitched well, allowing a single earned run with six strikeouts over four innings; that punchout is good for his second-highest of the season. It’s been an up-and-down year—with far more downs than anyone wished to see—but Balazovic has turned a corner late in the season, and it has been great to see. The bats couldn’t find any momentum, only scratching out two runs off technically old friend Justin Nicolino before shutting down against the Bats’ bullpen. Elliot Soto’s three times on base represented the best of any batter. Both runs scored on a Dalton Shuffield double. Jake Jewell carried the pitching effort, striking out three over 2 ⅓ scoreless innings of work; Brad Peacock tagged in with a shutout frame of his own. Trevor Larnach singled and struck out in his first rehab game. Mike Siani—the 26th ranked prospect in the Reds system—leads the Bats; he singled in four plate appearances. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 8, Midland 6 Box Score Brent Headrick: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI), Yunior Severino (2-for-4, RBI, BB), DaShawn Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5), Leobaldo Cabrera (2-for-4, 2 R, BB) Wichita won a barn burner on Thursday. The bats came alive early; Wichita scored five runs off a flurry of hits in the 2nd inning and never looked back. Dillon Tatum, Austin Martin, Edouard Julien, and Yunior Severino all earned an RBI for their efforts. Martin doubled in another run in the 4th inning; Alex Isola singled one home in the 6th. The bullpen carried the day as their incredible effort—spearheaded by scoreless outings from Hunter McMahon and Casey Legumina—saved the game. The collection of arms pitched five innings in relief of Brent Headrick, allowing two runs with six strikeouts. Martin stole his 34th base of the season; DaShawn Keirsey Jr. nabbed his 41st. Tyler Soderstrom—the Athletics’ 2nd ranked prospect according to MLB.com— leads the RockHounds. Soderstrom singled, walked, and scored a pair of runs. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 5, South Bend 3 Box Score Travis Adams: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Wander Javier (1) Multi-hit games: Brooks Lee (2-for-4, 2 2B, R) The Kernels won on Thursday to knot the playoff series at 1. No one hitter dominated the batter’s box; Cedar Rapids rode a steady stream of walks—seven of them, to be precise—to five runs, just enough to win the game. The 5th inning proved especially fruitful, as the team scored three runs off a walk, a hit by pitch, and a balk. The team went 0-7 with runners in scoring position. Travis Adams didn’t have his A-stuff; the righty allowed six hits and three runs over four innings, with runs scoring in three separate innings. Fortunately, his bullpen had his back, as Jaylen Nowlin, Miguel Rodriguez, and Ryan Shreve combined for five scoreless innings, allowing a sole hit with seven strikeouts. Brooks Lee clubbed a pair of doubles; Wander Javier blasted a solo homer. Pete Crow-Armstrong—the Cubs' top prospect according to MLB.com, and the son of Ashley Crow, the actress who played the mom in Little Big League, leads the Cubs. He had a single in four trips to the plate. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 7, Dunedin 5 Box Score Marco Raya: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Keoni Cavaco (1) Multi-hit games: Ben Ross (2-for-3, 2 R, BB), Tanner Schobel (2-for-4, R), Kala’i Rosario (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI) The Mighty Mussels won with a late comeback on Thursday. It all started with an 8th-inning movement; Fort Myers stood at a 2-5 deficit, staring up the Blue Jays as Dunedin appeared set to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Ben Ross walked, Noah Miller singled, and Kala’i Rosario brought the Mighty Mussels one run closer with an RBI single. Ian Churchill—working to become the most well-known man with that surname—walked Misael Urbina, bringing Keoni Cavaco to the plate with the bases full. Cavaco wasted no time, stepped into the first pitch, and drove a grand slam deep out to left-center field. Marco Raya worked a tough but admirable game; the righty allowed three 1st inning runs—never an ideal start for a pitcher—but dialed himself in, and held the Blue Jays scoreless in the three following frames. Kyle Jones was probably the most important pitcher in Thursday’s effort as he pitched three innings without an earned run while striking out two. 2022 draft picks carried the game in general; Ben Ross and Tanner Schobel both clocked in multi-hit performances. Josh Kasevich and Cade Doughty—the 10th and 11th ranked prospects for the Blue Jays, respectively—lead the Dunedin club. Kasevich walked twice and singled; Doughty singled and struck out twice. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic, St. Paul Saints Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Keoni Cavaco, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, 2 2B, R #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, R, K #8 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-4, BB, 2 K #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI, 2 KP #18 - Tanner Schobel (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, R #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI, K FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:07 PM) - RHP Mario Sanchez Wichita @ Midland (7:00 PM) - RHP Daniel Gossett South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM) - RHP Orlano Rodriguez (Game 3 in Best of 3 series) Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM) - LHP Jordan Carr (Game 3 in Best of 3 series) View full article
  15. The Minnesota Twins finished off a sweep of Kansas City behind homers from Carlos Correa and Nick Gordon in addition to a great performance from the bullpen. Down in the minors, both Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids stayed alive, winning their playoff games. With his team down and facing elimination, Keoni Cavaco blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning. Brooks Lee had a pair of doubles for the Kernels and scored the game-tying run. Also featured in tonight's highlights are Jordan Balazovic, Trevor Larnach and Austin Martin.
  16. The Minnesota Twins finished off a sweep of Kansas City behind homers from Carlos Correa and Nick Gordon in addition to a great performance from the bullpen. Down in the minors, both Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids stayed alive, winning their playoff games. With his team down and facing elimination, Keoni Cavaco blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning. Brooks Lee had a pair of doubles for the Kernels and scored the game-tying run. Also featured in tonight's highlights are Jordan Balazovic, Trevor Larnach and Austin Martin. View full video
  17. The Minnesota Twins had a weather delay in their game with the Guardians so most of the focus in tonight's video is on the minor league action. Jordan Balazovic had his best game of the season, striking out nine batters while not giving up an earned run over five innings for the Saints. Also, Yunior Severino and Will Holland continued their impressive starts with Wichita.
  18. The Minnesota Twins had a weather delay in their game with the Guardians so most of the focus in tonight's video is on the minor league action. Jordan Balazovic had his best game of the season, striking out nine batters while not giving up an earned run over five innings for the Saints. Also, Yunior Severino and Will Holland continued their impressive starts with Wichita. View full video
  19. I mean, was Matt Wallner not going to hit? TRANSACTIONS OF Carlos Aguiar reinstated from 7-day IL at Ft. Myers Cedar Rapids placed RHP Luis Rijo on 7-day IL LHP Jovani Moran optioned to St. Paul Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Omaha 4 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: Chris Williams (8) Multi-hit games: Matt Wallner (3-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, 1 BB), Cole Sturgeon (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, BB) St. Paul won decisively on Saturday. It was an all-around offensive breakout; eight batters scored a run in an 11-hit, seven-walk effort. Matt Wallner may have collected the most RBIs, but this was a democratic affair; the lone hitter to not score a run drove one in. Chris Williams swatted a solo home run. Jordan Balazovic pitched arguably his best outing on Saturday; the righty struck out six while allowing a lone run over his four innings of work. It may not be the most impressive start ever, but a step in the right direction is always welcome. Michael Feliz netted four outs with one strikeout; Williams’ AAA OPS is now over 1.000. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 2, Springfield 8 Box Score Brent Headrick: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (2-for-4), Anthony Prato (2-for-4, 2B) Wichita played a game to forget on Saturday. The defense was the major bugaboo; the team committed five errors, with two blunders attributed to Yunior Severino and three stemming from Jair Camargo. It’s difficult to win many games with that sort of performance. Brent Headrick worked around his fielders in admirable fashion, allowing two earned runs over five innings with seven strikeouts. The lefty has 42 strikeouts over 29 innings since the beginning of August. Both runs scored late as Ernie Yake singled home a runner in the 7th, and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. brought one in with a 9th inning sacrifice fly. Keirsey also sto le two bases, giving him 37 on the season. Blayne Enlow struck out four over two innings; Anthony Prato’s double was the sole extra-base hit. Kernels Nuggets The rain ended this game before it could start; the Kernels will play a doubleheader on Sunday. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 3 Box Score Tomas Cleto: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K HR: Nate Baez (1) Multi-hit games: Kala’i Rosario (2-for-4, 2 R), Nate Baez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI) The Mighty Mussels won a tame game on Saturday. Nate Baez dominated the story; the catcher cracked a double and blasted a homer on his way to three RBIs. He hasn’t played much this year—the 2022 draft pick has just 47 at-bats—but more games like this could set the foundation for a phenomenal 2023 season. Kala’i Rosario was the Robin to Baez’s Batman, drumming a double and scoring a pair of runs in Saturday’s effort. Tomas Cleto was effectively wild. The starter allowed a single hit but walked four in his scoreless outing, perhaps even flummoxing himself regarding pitch location. It was no matter; Cleto walked away with a sparkling ERA, and that is all the Mighty Mussels could ask for. Noah Miller tripled for the 4th time this season; Niklas Rimmel pitched two scoreless innings to end the game. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Brent Headrick Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Matt Wallner PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-4 #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-5, 3B, K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 3-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, 1 BB #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-3, BB, 2 K #15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, 2 R SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Omaha @ St. Paul (5:07 PM) - RHP Josh Winder Wichita @ Springfield (6:05 PM) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ Dayton (12:09 PM) - TBD Fort Myers @ Bradenton (11:00 AM) - LHP Jordan Carr View full article
  20. TRANSACTIONS OF Carlos Aguiar reinstated from 7-day IL at Ft. Myers Cedar Rapids placed RHP Luis Rijo on 7-day IL LHP Jovani Moran optioned to St. Paul Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Omaha 4 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: Chris Williams (8) Multi-hit games: Matt Wallner (3-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, 1 BB), Cole Sturgeon (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, BB) St. Paul won decisively on Saturday. It was an all-around offensive breakout; eight batters scored a run in an 11-hit, seven-walk effort. Matt Wallner may have collected the most RBIs, but this was a democratic affair; the lone hitter to not score a run drove one in. Chris Williams swatted a solo home run. Jordan Balazovic pitched arguably his best outing on Saturday; the righty struck out six while allowing a lone run over his four innings of work. It may not be the most impressive start ever, but a step in the right direction is always welcome. Michael Feliz netted four outs with one strikeout; Williams’ AAA OPS is now over 1.000. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 2, Springfield 8 Box Score Brent Headrick: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (2-for-4), Anthony Prato (2-for-4, 2B) Wichita played a game to forget on Saturday. The defense was the major bugaboo; the team committed five errors, with two blunders attributed to Yunior Severino and three stemming from Jair Camargo. It’s difficult to win many games with that sort of performance. Brent Headrick worked around his fielders in admirable fashion, allowing two earned runs over five innings with seven strikeouts. The lefty has 42 strikeouts over 29 innings since the beginning of August. Both runs scored late as Ernie Yake singled home a runner in the 7th, and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. brought one in with a 9th inning sacrifice fly. Keirsey also sto le two bases, giving him 37 on the season. Blayne Enlow struck out four over two innings; Anthony Prato’s double was the sole extra-base hit. Kernels Nuggets The rain ended this game before it could start; the Kernels will play a doubleheader on Sunday. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 3 Box Score Tomas Cleto: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K HR: Nate Baez (1) Multi-hit games: Kala’i Rosario (2-for-4, 2 R), Nate Baez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI) The Mighty Mussels won a tame game on Saturday. Nate Baez dominated the story; the catcher cracked a double and blasted a homer on his way to three RBIs. He hasn’t played much this year—the 2022 draft pick has just 47 at-bats—but more games like this could set the foundation for a phenomenal 2023 season. Kala’i Rosario was the Robin to Baez’s Batman, drumming a double and scoring a pair of runs in Saturday’s effort. Tomas Cleto was effectively wild. The starter allowed a single hit but walked four in his scoreless outing, perhaps even flummoxing himself regarding pitch location. It was no matter; Cleto walked away with a sparkling ERA, and that is all the Mighty Mussels could ask for. Noah Miller tripled for the 4th time this season; Niklas Rimmel pitched two scoreless innings to end the game. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Brent Headrick Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Matt Wallner PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-4 #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-5, 3B, K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 3-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, 1 BB #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-3, BB, 2 K #15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, 2 R SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Omaha @ St. Paul (5:07 PM) - RHP Josh Winder Wichita @ Springfield (6:05 PM) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ Dayton (12:09 PM) - TBD Fort Myers @ Bradenton (11:00 AM) - LHP Jordan Carr
  21. The Minnesota Twins may have lost 13-0, they may have had multiple position players pitch, but they didn't get no-hit by the White Sox. Luis Arraez, the hero of today's quest, broke up Dylan Cease's no-no with two outs in the ninth inning. Tonight's recap also features some Jordan Balazovic highlights and a rundown of the standings across the system.
  22. The Minnesota Twins may have lost 13-0, they may have had multiple position players pitch, but they didn't get no-hit by the White Sox. Luis Arraez, the hero of today's quest, broke up Dylan Cease's no-no with two outs in the ninth inning. Tonight's recap also features some Jordan Balazovic highlights and a rundown of the standings across the system. View full video
  23. The Minnesota Twins were probably hoping to have a top pitching prospect emerge from Triple-A St. Paul to look like a future rotation mainstay this year. It’s hard to say it hasn’t happened, but it wasn’t who you expected. Last season the Twins saw Canadian right-hander Jordan Balazovic show up on multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was a sleeper pick to rocket up those same rankings in 2022, and there’s no denying Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had dreams of him slotting into Rocco Baldelli’s rotation. Balazovic started the season late after a knee injury, and nothing has gone right since. There’s been no indication that he’s still injured, but you certainly have to hope that something has been off. The former 5th round pick in 2016 now owns a 9.06 ERA across 49 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, and he’s gone from a double-digit strikeout pitcher to one with declining numbers and the ball leaving the park at an alarming rate. No matter how the rest of the string plays out, Minnesota has to figure out a way for Balazovic to get right next season. In his place, you could have assumed Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino or any number of other top prospects in the upper levels may have stepped up. Instead, the arm that won Minnesota’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago just kept going about his business. Louie Varland was grabbed in the 15th round during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Concordia St. Paul is a Division 2 school right down the street from Target Field. Gus Varland, Louie’s brother, was selected a year earlier by the Oakland Athletics. Bryan Lippincott and Jake Schmidt were drafted from legendary coach Mark McKenzie’s program before them. It’s maybe not the most glorious path, but with talent, it won’t ever matter. Varland has been a lunch-pail type of pitcher since the moment he joined the Twins organization. He posted a 2.10 ERA across his first 100 professional innings in Single-A ball, and followed it up with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 105 innings this season. Now knocking on the doorstep playing for the St. Paul Saints, Varland has been nothing short of magical in three turns. With 17 Triple-A innings under his belt, Varland has a 24/3 K/BB while allowing just three runs (two earned) on 11 hits. He’s never been one to give up the long ball, he’ll mow down batters in bunches, and he’s remained stingy with free passes. There isn’t a ton of deception at play here either, and Varland has worked to push his velocity into the triple-digits during offseason workouts. Nearing a 25th birthday it’s fair to understand that Varland doesn’t have the luster brought on by some of the teenage hitting prospects. He is about to capture a second-straight Minor League Pitcher of the Year award though, and it will be because he’s earned it in the most dominating fashion. With Minnesota needing to infuse the starting rotation with homegrown talent, it’s hard to get better than a kid from their own backyard, that’s taken the path less traveled, and beaten the odds. Maybe the organization can right whatever went wrong with Balazovic this season, but they have to be ecstatic with the found money and developmental progress Varland has displayed. The next stop will be on a mound with slightly more fans than Barnes Field. View full article
  24. Every season some prospects break out to move into a team's long-term plans. Unfortunately, other prospects struggle, and their stock significantly falls. Here are three of the team's top prospects that have struggled in 2022. Getting to the major leagues can be challenging even for baseball's best prospects. Some players work their entire lives to reach the big leagues, and others make their debut before their 20th birthday. All three names below had the potential to impact the Twins roster during the 2022 season, but poor performance and injuries have cast doubt on their top prospect rankings. Minnesota's farm system continues to drop in national rankings, and these three players take a small portion of the blame for the fall. So which prospects have seen their stock drop the most this season? Austin Martin, SS/OF TD Preseason Ranking: 1 Many national rankings pegged Martin as the Twins' top prospect entering the 2022 season. All three national prospect rankings placed him in their top-60 prospects, but he has fallen off those lists as they have been updated this season. Martin is repeating Double-A this season as a 23-year-old, where he is over a year younger than the average age of the competition. His biggest concern is the lack of power development throughout his professional career. Martin posted a 1.007 OPS in college, and his OPS dropped to .676 in 2022. Martin still has all of the tools to be an above-average hitter, and he needs to continue making adjustments in the minors' upper levels. Jordan Balazovic, SP TD Preseason Ranking: 4 Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus included Balazovic at the backend of the top-100 lists entering the season. Balazovic missed time to start the 2022 season with a knee injury and has never looked right on the mound. In his first 17 appearances, he has allowed 50 earned runs in 49 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate is down (8.3 K/9), and his walk rate is up (4.7 BB/9). He is on the 40-man roster, but he has struggled so much at Triple-A that the Twins haven't been able to call him up. Luckily, he is over four years younger than the average age of the competition at Triple-A. Hopefully, he can call 2022 a lost season and get back on track this winter for an improved 2023. Matt Canterino, SP TD Preseason Ranking: 6 Canterino may never be ranked as a top-100 prospect, but he may have the best stuff and highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in the organization. He has been unhittable with 13.8 K/9 and a 1.48 ERA in his career when on the mound. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to pitch more than 37 innings in any season since turning pro due to various injuries. His 2022 season ended abruptly when the Twins announced Canterino would undergo Tommy John surgery. This injury means he will miss the rest of 2022 and the majority of 2023. Plenty of pitchers have come back strong after this surgery, and the Twins have to hope he can stay healthy moving forward. Are you worried about the future of these three players? Can they bounce back from poor 2022 campaigns? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  25. Last season the Twins saw Canadian right-hander Jordan Balazovic show up on multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was a sleeper pick to rocket up those same rankings in 2022, and there’s no denying Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had dreams of him slotting into Rocco Baldelli’s rotation. Balazovic started the season late after a knee injury, and nothing has gone right since. There’s been no indication that he’s still injured, but you certainly have to hope that something has been off. The former 5th round pick in 2016 now owns a 9.06 ERA across 49 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, and he’s gone from a double-digit strikeout pitcher to one with declining numbers and the ball leaving the park at an alarming rate. No matter how the rest of the string plays out, Minnesota has to figure out a way for Balazovic to get right next season. In his place, you could have assumed Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino or any number of other top prospects in the upper levels may have stepped up. Instead, the arm that won Minnesota’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago just kept going about his business. Louie Varland was grabbed in the 15th round during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Concordia St. Paul is a Division 2 school right down the street from Target Field. Gus Varland, Louie’s brother, was selected a year earlier by the Oakland Athletics. Bryan Lippincott and Jake Schmidt were drafted from legendary coach Mark McKenzie’s program before them. It’s maybe not the most glorious path, but with talent, it won’t ever matter. Varland has been a lunch-pail type of pitcher since the moment he joined the Twins organization. He posted a 2.10 ERA across his first 100 professional innings in Single-A ball, and followed it up with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 105 innings this season. Now knocking on the doorstep playing for the St. Paul Saints, Varland has been nothing short of magical in three turns. With 17 Triple-A innings under his belt, Varland has a 24/3 K/BB while allowing just three runs (two earned) on 11 hits. He’s never been one to give up the long ball, he’ll mow down batters in bunches, and he’s remained stingy with free passes. There isn’t a ton of deception at play here either, and Varland has worked to push his velocity into the triple-digits during offseason workouts. Nearing a 25th birthday it’s fair to understand that Varland doesn’t have the luster brought on by some of the teenage hitting prospects. He is about to capture a second-straight Minor League Pitcher of the Year award though, and it will be because he’s earned it in the most dominating fashion. With Minnesota needing to infuse the starting rotation with homegrown talent, it’s hard to get better than a kid from their own backyard, that’s taken the path less traveled, and beaten the odds. Maybe the organization can right whatever went wrong with Balazovic this season, but they have to be ecstatic with the found money and developmental progress Varland has displayed. The next stop will be on a mound with slightly more fans than Barnes Field.
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