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  1. Looking forward to 2022, the Minnesota Twins need some serious roster turnover on the pitching side of things. Their rotation will be entirely new from how it started in 2021, and the bullpen will also have fresh faces. Who survives in relief? For much of the early part of 2021, the relief pitching let Rocco Baldelli’s club down. Alex Colome was no longer close to his career numbers, and Tyler Duffey had seen substantial regression. The guys expected to step up failed to do so, and the Twins were left searching for answers on a near-nightly basis. There are a few givens are going into 2022, but a couple of guys have made cases for themselves to stick around despite potentially being on the outs previously. Derek Falvey has his work cut out for him, but the more he can count on internally, the less turnover the roster will ultimately need to experience. Here’s how I see the group: The Veterans - Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey It looked like a near-certainty that Rogers would be dealt at the deadline. That was before injury put him on the shelf and ended his season. He’ll return in 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly be hoping that he returns to form as one of the best lefties in the game. Duffey’s 3.45 ERA is fine on its own, but it’s a far cry from the 1.88 mark he put up just a year ago. Strikeouts are down, and walks are way up. If the Twins have a better unit, they need his best during the final year of arbitration. The Surprises - Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya, Luke Farrell, Danny Coulombe Thielbar has been the best of this group. All but retired from baseball and moving onto coaching, he emerged as an option in 2020. This season hasn’t been quite as good, but the 11.2 K/9 is going to play. He’s given up too many dingers, but as a crafty lefty option, there’s plenty to like here. Minaya made his way back to the big leagues this season and has a career-best 2.70 ERA. He’s not dominant by any means, but as a middle-inning guy that’s gotten it done before, he certainly could stick. Both Farrell and Coulombe were depth types for the Twins. Each has seen stretches of effectiveness, and while their ceilings are admittedly limited, one could lay claim to a spot in 2022. The Youth - Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza, Jovani Moran Minnesota counted on Alcala to take a step forward this season. As a whole, the results have been underwhelming given the 4.20 ERA. However, his last 15 games have resulted in a 1.00 ERA and .501 OPS against. He has a 21/3 K/BB in his last 18 innings pitched. That’s the arm the Twins need out of the gate. Garza was a nice get from the Astros, and he’s been effective with the organization. His strikeout numbers are down some, but he’s looked the part of a middle reliever that can get big leaguers out. Moran isn’t yet established as a future fixture, but he dominated on the farm again this year, and getting a taste going into the offseason should help him prepare to stick in the future. Minnesota used 22 different relievers in 2021, and the pen was often constructed with eight or nine arms. They’ll need better depth and higher ceilings if there’s any interest in being a better unit a year from now. Maybe Alex Colome is asked back as well, but they’ll need to be picky with who is counted upon from a group that severely underwhelmed out of the gate. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. For much of the early part of 2021, the relief pitching let Rocco Baldelli’s club down. Alex Colome was no longer close to his career numbers, and Tyler Duffey had seen substantial regression. The guys expected to step up failed to do so, and the Twins were left searching for answers on a near-nightly basis. There are a few givens are going into 2022, but a couple of guys have made cases for themselves to stick around despite potentially being on the outs previously. Derek Falvey has his work cut out for him, but the more he can count on internally, the less turnover the roster will ultimately need to experience. Here’s how I see the group: The Veterans - Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey It looked like a near-certainty that Rogers would be dealt at the deadline. That was before injury put him on the shelf and ended his season. He’ll return in 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly be hoping that he returns to form as one of the best lefties in the game. Duffey’s 3.45 ERA is fine on its own, but it’s a far cry from the 1.88 mark he put up just a year ago. Strikeouts are down, and walks are way up. If the Twins have a better unit, they need his best during the final year of arbitration. The Surprises - Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya, Luke Farrell, Danny Coulombe Thielbar has been the best of this group. All but retired from baseball and moving onto coaching, he emerged as an option in 2020. This season hasn’t been quite as good, but the 11.2 K/9 is going to play. He’s given up too many dingers, but as a crafty lefty option, there’s plenty to like here. Minaya made his way back to the big leagues this season and has a career-best 2.70 ERA. He’s not dominant by any means, but as a middle-inning guy that’s gotten it done before, he certainly could stick. Both Farrell and Coulombe were depth types for the Twins. Each has seen stretches of effectiveness, and while their ceilings are admittedly limited, one could lay claim to a spot in 2022. The Youth - Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza, Jovani Moran Minnesota counted on Alcala to take a step forward this season. As a whole, the results have been underwhelming given the 4.20 ERA. However, his last 15 games have resulted in a 1.00 ERA and .501 OPS against. He has a 21/3 K/BB in his last 18 innings pitched. That’s the arm the Twins need out of the gate. Garza was a nice get from the Astros, and he’s been effective with the organization. His strikeout numbers are down some, but he’s looked the part of a middle reliever that can get big leaguers out. Moran isn’t yet established as a future fixture, but he dominated on the farm again this year, and getting a taste going into the offseason should help him prepare to stick in the future. Minnesota used 22 different relievers in 2021, and the pen was often constructed with eight or nine arms. They’ll need better depth and higher ceilings if there’s any interest in being a better unit a year from now. Maybe Alex Colome is asked back as well, but they’ll need to be picky with who is counted upon from a group that severely underwhelmed out of the gate. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Box Score Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes) HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2) Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Early Offense Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start. A Familiar Face Returns Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL. Ober The Hills And Far Away The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize. Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can! Where Did The Momentum Go? Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday. It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69 Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58 Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38 Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49 Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55 Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18 Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. The Twins followed up losing a close game on Saturday by… losing a less close game on Sunday. This one played out in a different way, but the result stayed the same. Read about what happened on Sunday here. Box Score Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes) HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2) Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Early Offense Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start. A Familiar Face Returns Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL. Ober The Hills And Far Away The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize. Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can! Where Did The Momentum Go? Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday. It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69 Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58 Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38 Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49 Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55 Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18 Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20 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
  5. If the Twins trade away veterans on expiring contract, they are going to need replacements until season’s end. Here is some of the roster shuffle that will occur as veterans are dealt. Injuries are obviously impacting multiple players listed below. In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to trade away all their veterans for valuable pieces, but almost nothing has gone perfectly for the Twins in 2021. That being said, here’s some of the roster shuffle that will occur over the next month. DH: Miguel Sano Replaces Nelson Cruz Miguel Sano seems destined to be the team’s DH throughout the remaining years on his contract. There are only a handful of contending teams that need help at DH, but the most logical choice might be the AL’s best team. Brent Rooker is another possibility to get some DH at-bats in the season’s second half. At Triple-A this year, he has an .861 OPS with 10 home runs and three doubles and it seems like he’s become Minnesota’s forgotten prospect. Moving Sano off first base also allows Alex Kirilloff to start getting more consistent reps at first, which is his expected long-term defensive position. SS: Jorge Polanco Replaces Andrelton Simmons Minnesota is likely hesitant to move Polanco back to shortstop, but the team’s other options are limited. Royce Lewis was supposed to be the heir apparent, but he’s out for the year. He likely won’t be ready at the beginning of 2022, so the Twins will be players in the best free agent shortstop class in baseball history. There are some benefits to moving Polanco back to short. This allows the team to get a longer look at Nick Gordon as the team has kept him on the active roster over Gilberto Celestino and Willians Astudillo. At Triple-A, J.T. Riddle has gotten most defensive starts at shortstop, but he only has .675 OPS and he’s not part of the team’s long-term plans. SP: [Break In Case of Emergency] Replaces Michael Pineda This is going to be the toughest spot to replace, because Twins pitching has be historically bad this season. Minnesota has already added Randy Dobnak and Bailey Ober to the rotation, but where does the team turn to next? Top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran was put on the IL this week with a strained right elbow, so it doesn’t seem likely for him to pitch bulk innings at the big-league level this season. Jordan Balazovic, the team’s other top pitching prospect, has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings so far in 2021. Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax can be given longer looks as rotational options, but these aren’t the exciting prospects fans have eagerly been waiting to see. RP: Jorge Alcala Replaces Hansel Robles Outside of Taylor Rogers, Robles has been the team’s most consistent reliever. To take over his late inning role, I’m all on board the Jorge Alcala train. He’s been working on increasing his changeup usage so he can be more effective versus left-handed batters. He has the potential to be a late-inning shutdown arm and the team needs to give him the opportunity to prove if he can sink or swim in this role. Minnesota’s bullpen will need an overhaul for 2022, but the team can use the rest of 2021 as a tryout for players in different roles. Can these play better than the players they are replacing? 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
  6. Injuries are obviously impacting multiple players listed below. In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to trade away all their veterans for valuable pieces, but almost nothing has gone perfectly for the Twins in 2021. That being said, here’s some of the roster shuffle that will occur over the next month. DH: Miguel Sano Replaces Nelson Cruz Miguel Sano seems destined to be the team’s DH throughout the remaining years on his contract. There are only a handful of contending teams that need help at DH, but the most logical choice might be the AL’s best team. Brent Rooker is another possibility to get some DH at-bats in the season’s second half. At Triple-A this year, he has an .861 OPS with 10 home runs and three doubles and it seems like he’s become Minnesota’s forgotten prospect. Moving Sano off first base also allows Alex Kirilloff to start getting more consistent reps at first, which is his expected long-term defensive position. SS: Jorge Polanco Replaces Andrelton Simmons Minnesota is likely hesitant to move Polanco back to shortstop, but the team’s other options are limited. Royce Lewis was supposed to be the heir apparent, but he’s out for the year. He likely won’t be ready at the beginning of 2022, so the Twins will be players in the best free agent shortstop class in baseball history. There are some benefits to moving Polanco back to short. This allows the team to get a longer look at Nick Gordon as the team has kept him on the active roster over Gilberto Celestino and Willians Astudillo. At Triple-A, J.T. Riddle has gotten most defensive starts at shortstop, but he only has .675 OPS and he’s not part of the team’s long-term plans. SP: [Break In Case of Emergency] Replaces Michael Pineda This is going to be the toughest spot to replace, because Twins pitching has be historically bad this season. Minnesota has already added Randy Dobnak and Bailey Ober to the rotation, but where does the team turn to next? Top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran was put on the IL this week with a strained right elbow, so it doesn’t seem likely for him to pitch bulk innings at the big-league level this season. Jordan Balazovic, the team’s other top pitching prospect, has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings so far in 2021. Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax can be given longer looks as rotational options, but these aren’t the exciting prospects fans have eagerly been waiting to see. RP: Jorge Alcala Replaces Hansel Robles Outside of Taylor Rogers, Robles has been the team’s most consistent reliever. To take over his late inning role, I’m all on board the Jorge Alcala train. He’s been working on increasing his changeup usage so he can be more effective versus left-handed batters. He has the potential to be a late-inning shutdown arm and the team needs to give him the opportunity to prove if he can sink or swim in this role. Minnesota’s bullpen will need an overhaul for 2022, but the team can use the rest of 2021 as a tryout for players in different roles. Can these play better than the players they are replacing? 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
  7. Many relief pitchers can be successful by relying on two to three pitches. For instance, Taylor Rogers has found a lot of success at the big-league level by throwing a two-pitch mix with his fastball and a slider. Relievers can use their best pitches, because they don’t have to worry about facing a hitter multiple times in the same game. Some pitchers are forced to adjust their repertoire if they aren’t finding success. Jorge Alcalá was part of one of the biggest trades under the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime. He came to the Twins along with Gilberto Celestino as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. At the time of here is what Baseball America said, “Alcalá has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcalá looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” Alcalá has shown flashes on turning into a devastating bullpen option, but lefties have given him headaches during his big-league career. Entering play on Wednesday, left-handed hitters had posted a .306/.397/.629 (1.026) slash-line when facing Alcalá. Compare that to the .389 OPS righties had compiled against him and it’s easy to see that something was going to have to change if he was going to progress to being used in more high leverage situations. During his big-league tenure, Alcalá has focused on throwing a fastball and a slider and since that hadn’t worked against lefties, the Twins encouraged him to work on his changeup. He threw the pitch to lefties 24 times during the 2020 season and held them to a .125 BA and a .250 SLG. His changeup breaks down and in on lefties which can make it a tough pitch to square up if he is locating it. “(Alcalá is) making adjustments,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s going out there and figuring out that sometimes facing left-handed hitters as a whole and facing left-handers and right-handers is going to be different, and you’re going to have to have — I end up calling them tricks, sometimes, but you end up coming to have a different approach.” Alcalá is going to have to keep working with the pitch and he knows the importance of what it will mean for the future of his career. “What you practice is the result you get,” Alcalá told reporters through an interpreter. “If it’s working for me in the bullpen or in practice, I think it’s going to work for me during the game. That’s my mindset. His changeup is still a work in progress, but it is the pitch that might transform him from middle reliever into a dominant late-inning option. Do you think one pitch can make the difference for Alcalá? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Minnesota’s run of excellent closers stretches over much of the last two decades. From Joe Nathan to Glen Perkins and now Taylor Rogers, Twins fans have been privy to some great late inning arms. Now, one pitch might turn this pitcher into the Twins future closer. Many relief pitchers can be successful by relying on two to three pitches. For instance, Taylor Rogers has found a lot of success at the big-league level by throwing a two-pitch mix with his fastball and a slider. Relievers can use their best pitches, because they don’t have to worry about facing a hitter multiple times in the same game. Some pitchers are forced to adjust their repertoire if they aren’t finding success. Jorge Alcalá was part of one of the biggest trades under the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime. He came to the Twins along with Gilberto Celestino as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. At the time of here is what Baseball America said, “Alcalá has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcalá looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” Alcalá has shown flashes on turning into a devastating bullpen option, but lefties have given him headaches during his big-league career. Entering play on Wednesday, left-handed hitters had posted a .306/.397/.629 (1.026) slash-line when facing Alcalá. Compare that to the .389 OPS righties had compiled against him and it’s easy to see that something was going to have to change if he was going to progress to being used in more high leverage situations. During his big-league tenure, Alcalá has focused on throwing a fastball and a slider and since that hadn’t worked against lefties, the Twins encouraged him to work on his changeup. He threw the pitch to lefties 24 times during the 2020 season and held them to a .125 BA and a .250 SLG. His changeup breaks down and in on lefties which can make it a tough pitch to square up if he is locating it. “(Alcalá is) making adjustments,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s going out there and figuring out that sometimes facing left-handed hitters as a whole and facing left-handers and right-handers is going to be different, and you’re going to have to have — I end up calling them tricks, sometimes, but you end up coming to have a different approach.” Alcalá is going to have to keep working with the pitch and he knows the importance of what it will mean for the future of his career. “What you practice is the result you get,” Alcalá told reporters through an interpreter. “If it’s working for me in the bullpen or in practice, I think it’s going to work for me during the game. That’s my mindset. His changeup is still a work in progress, but it is the pitch that might transform him from middle reliever into a dominant late-inning option. Do you think one pitch can make the difference for Alcalá? Leave a COMMENT and star 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
  9. The 2021 Minnesota Twins have a very bad, beyond terrible, no-good bullpen. We all know that. Let's take a break from the 2021 Minnesota Twins Dumpsterfire Bullpen, and talk about something closely related, the Ryan Pressly trade. As part 1 in a series where we'll take a look back at trades "Falvine" made early in their tenure, and re-evaluate them, what's more fitting for right now than this deal that has an impact on Twins' bullpens of past, present, and future? The Trade: Houston Astros Receive: RP Ryan Pressly (MLB) Minnesota Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala (MiLB), OF Gilberto Celestino (MiLB) Twins' fans weren't fans of this one at first, especially as Pressly went on to be dominant down the stretch in 2018 posting a 1.49 FIP in 23.1 IP after his arrival in Houston. In 2019 he followed that performance up with an All-Star appearance in a season worth 1.7 WAR. All this and Twins' fans had yet to see Celestino or Alcala in the Majors. So at this point some of y'all may be saying "So if we weren't fans of it at first, why would we be fans now?" The answer, Jorge Alcala. He had a 3.79 xFIP in 2020 and has followed it up with a 3.80 xFIP so far in 2021 (although he has had some home-run-itis lately, but that should regress to the mean according to xFIP). He has started to become a quality reliever, and has just barely hit a year of service time. Oh, and don't forget the Twins' number 8 prospect according to MLB.com, and Buxton's heir apparent, Gilberto Celestino. He's not going to be Buxton, but he does profile as an eventual starting center fielder. So let's break down exactly what each team got in terms of production. Houston Astros: --Ryan Pressly 3.1 WAR paying $2,800,000 and eventually the right to overpay him by a LOT. Minnesota Twins: --Jorge Alcala 0.5 WAR paying minimum MLB salary, and 5 more years of team control. --Gilberto Celestino Nothing, yet. However he is the 8th best prospect the Twins have, which holds considerable value for the future Hey, it all seems okay. A trade where the Twins probably got more value, but the Astros got a reliever that helped them hold on to leads given to them by trash cans, leading them deep into the playoffs. All parties involved come away happy, the makings of a wonderful trade. All stats are thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs, photo is thanks to MLB.com
  10. Minnesota’s bullpen has been a mess to start the year, but Rocco Baldelli is going to need to rely on arms with some important up-coming series. Who is in the bullpen circle of trust? 1. Taylor Rogers Much like in 2019, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few options Baldelli can trust in the late innings of games. At season’s start, it seemed like Rogers would be used in more of a set-up role with Colomé getting more of the closing opportunities. Until Colomé can figure it out, Rogers will be used as the closer and he has the team’s highest level of trust. 2. Hansel Robles Robles was brought in to help add veteran depth to the bullpen and he has made a good impression so far this year. His xBA ranks in the 82nd percentile and his wOBA ranks in the top 7% of the league. One of the biggest changes for him this season is his pitch usage. From 2015-18, he used his changeup less than 10% of the time. So far in 2021, he has used his changeup over 50% with his fastball usage dropping from 45% in 2020 to 31% in 2021. 3. Tyler Duffey Duffey has been one of the baseball’s best relievers over the last two seasons. In fact, MLB Network had him in their top-10 relievers entering the season. So far this year, he hasn’t looked like his dominating self as he ranks in the 24th percentile or lower in nearly every Statcast metric. Baldelli still shows trust in Duffey with the hope that he can make some adjustments moving forward. 4. Cody Stashak Stashak is striking out batters at the highest rate of his career with a K% north of 36% that ranks him in the top 6% of the league. On the other hand, batters are barreling up the ball against him quite regularly. His 20 barrel% is in the bottom 1% of the league and it is 6.5 percentage points higher than his previous career high. 5. Jorge Alcala Alcala might have the best raw stuff in the Twins bullpen and an argument can be made for him being given more high leverage spots as the season progresses. One of the toughest things for Alcala has been his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. For his career, lefties have a 1.178 OPS against him in 55 plate appearances. If he wants to earn more high leverage appearances, he needs to improve against southpaws. 6. Caleb Thielbar With Rogers moving into the closer role, Thielbar will be critical for when the team is facing lefties before the ninth inning. Since rejoining the Twins last year, he has posted a 2.53 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings. 7. St. Paul Train (Derek Law, Luke Farrell, Devin Smeltzer) The Twins will likely continue to shuffle through players at the backend of the bullpen, especially if a player pitches multiple innings the previous day. These players aren’t going to be relied on for high leverage situations, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of trust in using them. 8. Alexander Colomé Colomé’s start to the season has been disastrous. Until he shows signs of improvement, the teams should have little trust in him. How would you rank the bullpen by level of trust? 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
  11. 1. Taylor Rogers Much like in 2019, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few options Baldelli can trust in the late innings of games. At season’s start, it seemed like Rogers would be used in more of a set-up role with Colomé getting more of the closing opportunities. Until Colomé can figure it out, Rogers will be used as the closer and he has the team’s highest level of trust. 2. Hansel Robles Robles was brought in to help add veteran depth to the bullpen and he has made a good impression so far this year. His xBA ranks in the 82nd percentile and his wOBA ranks in the top 7% of the league. One of the biggest changes for him this season is his pitch usage. From 2015-18, he used his changeup less than 10% of the time. So far in 2021, he has used his changeup over 50% with his fastball usage dropping from 45% in 2020 to 31% in 2021. 3. Tyler Duffey Duffey has been one of the baseball’s best relievers over the last two seasons. In fact, MLB Network had him in their top-10 relievers entering the season. So far this year, he hasn’t looked like his dominating self as he ranks in the 24th percentile or lower in nearly every Statcast metric. Baldelli still shows trust in Duffey with the hope that he can make some adjustments moving forward. 4. Cody Stashak Stashak is striking out batters at the highest rate of his career with a K% north of 36% that ranks him in the top 6% of the league. On the other hand, batters are barreling up the ball against him quite regularly. His 20 barrel% is in the bottom 1% of the league and it is 6.5 percentage points higher than his previous career high. 5. Jorge Alcala Alcala might have the best raw stuff in the Twins bullpen and an argument can be made for him being given more high leverage spots as the season progresses. One of the toughest things for Alcala has been his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. For his career, lefties have a 1.178 OPS against him in 55 plate appearances. If he wants to earn more high leverage appearances, he needs to improve against southpaws. 6. Caleb Thielbar With Rogers moving into the closer role, Thielbar will be critical for when the team is facing lefties before the ninth inning. Since rejoining the Twins last year, he has posted a 2.53 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings. 7. St. Paul Train (Derek Law, Luke Farrell, Devin Smeltzer) The Twins will likely continue to shuffle through players at the backend of the bullpen, especially if a player pitches multiple innings the previous day. These players aren’t going to be relied on for high leverage situations, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of trust in using them. 8. Alexander Colomé Colomé’s start to the season has been disastrous. Until he shows signs of improvement, the teams should have little trust in him. How would you rank the bullpen by level of trust? 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
  12. Plenty of things have gone wrong for the Twins so far including some important members of the bullpen struggling mightily out of the gate. While others will be relied on for late innings, one reliever might be the key to turning the bullpen around.Following a strong rookie campaign, Jorge Alcalá logically had higher expectations entering the 2021 campaign. Things haven’t gone perfectly to start the year, but with a couple of small changes, Alcalá might be the key to turning the Twins bullpen around. Last season, Alcalá appeared in 16 games and posted a 2.63 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP. He struck out nearly 29% of the batters he faced and posted a 163 ERA+. He ranked in the 75th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard hit %, barrel %, and K %. Based on those numbers, it was easy to envision Alcalá taking on a high leverage role at some point during the 2021 season. Alcalá has made seven appearances so far in 2021 and only two of those appearances have come in a Twins win. In fact, both of those wins were by six runs or more, so his role hasn’t been in the high leverage situations. On Sunday, Alcalá got five strikeouts in two innings including nine whiffs on 14 swings. This was a welcome sight after he entered play with a 20 K%, which was well below his career average. MLB Statcast has him ranked in the 40th percentile or lower in max exit velocity, hard hit %, xERA, xWOBA, xSLG. The most disturbing stat might be the fact that his barrel % ranks in the bottom 4% of the league as batters are barreling up the ball against him 17.6% of the time. One of the biggest reasons for these poor numbers so far this year might be tied to his pitch usage. During the 2020 season, Alcalá used his fastball and slider for nearly the same percentage of pitches. He used his four-seamer 46.4% of the time, while his slider was used 44.7% of the time. There has been a large increase in his fastball usage this year as he is up to 55%, which means his slider usage has dropped nearly seven points. It seems like increasing his slider usage would be a natural solution for avoiding more barrels. There’s no reason to throw Alcalá directly into a late inning role, especially with some of the other names ahead of him in the bullpen pecking order. That being said, he has been used in mostly low leverage situations or when the team was up big early in the season. He’s less experienced than other bullpen options, but look for his role to increase as the season progresses. Rocco Baldelli needs some arms he can rely on in the bullpen and Alcalá just might be the man to help turn the bullpen around in 2021. What do you think Alcalá can provide to the Twins? What should his role be moving forward? 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 Click here to view the article
  13. Following a strong rookie campaign, Jorge Alcalá logically had higher expectations entering the 2021 campaign. Things haven’t gone perfectly to start the year, but with a couple of small changes, Alcalá might be the key to turning the Twins bullpen around. Last season, Alcalá appeared in 16 games and posted a 2.63 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP. He struck out nearly 29% of the batters he faced and posted a 163 ERA+. He ranked in the 75th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard hit %, barrel %, and K %. Based on those numbers, it was easy to envision Alcalá taking on a high leverage role at some point during the 2021 season. Alcalá has made seven appearances so far in 2021 and only two of those appearances have come in a Twins win. In fact, both of those wins were by six runs or more, so his role hasn’t been in the high leverage situations. On Sunday, Alcalá got five strikeouts in two innings including nine whiffs on 14 swings. This was a welcome sight after he entered play with a 20 K%, which was well below his career average. MLB Statcast has him ranked in the 40th percentile or lower in max exit velocity, hard hit %, xERA, xWOBA, xSLG. The most disturbing stat might be the fact that his barrel % ranks in the bottom 4% of the league as batters are barreling up the ball against him 17.6% of the time. One of the biggest reasons for these poor numbers so far this year might be tied to his pitch usage. During the 2020 season, Alcalá used his fastball and slider for nearly the same percentage of pitches. He used his four-seamer 46.4% of the time, while his slider was used 44.7% of the time. There has been a large increase in his fastball usage this year as he is up to 55%, which means his slider usage has dropped nearly seven points. It seems like increasing his slider usage would be a natural solution for avoiding more barrels. There’s no reason to throw Alcalá directly into a late inning role, especially with some of the other names ahead of him in the bullpen pecking order. That being said, he has been used in mostly low leverage situations or when the team was up big early in the season. He’s less experienced than other bullpen options, but look for his role to increase as the season progresses. Rocco Baldelli needs some arms he can rely on in the bullpen and Alcalá just might be the man to help turn the bullpen around in 2021. What do you think Alcalá can provide to the Twins? What should his role be moving forward? 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
  14. Jorge Alcala, RHP Alcala has 18 big league games under his belt, but the 2021 season can be an opportunity to prove he belongs in Minnesota’s long-term relief plans. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli already showed confidence in Alcala by using him in the seventh inning or later in every September appearance last season. Minnesota’s bullpen looks different for 2021 and this can allow Alcala to take on an even more important role. When the Twins acquired Alcala, he was still being used as a starter, but his transition to reliever has come with excellent results. Minnesota’s bullpen pecking order will likely fluctuate throughout the 2021 season with players serving in different roles depending on the situation. Can Alcala move up the depth chart throughout the season? Jhoan Duran, RHP Last winter, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said that he expected Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to both make their MLB debuts in 2020. Obviously, the shortened season stopped that from happening, but both players seem primed for a debut in 2021. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the highest ranked pitcher in our annual top-20 prospect list and there is plenty to be excited about when thinking about what he can add to the Twins starting staff. He might be the most exciting starting pitching prospect to come through the Twins system in quite some time. With an electric fastball and improving off-speed offerings, Duran can provide a mid-season boost for the Twins, especially if the White Sox are hot on their tails. The question is, how high is his ceiling? Shaun Anderson, RHP Matt Wisler was a breakout pitcher for the Twins last season after the team brought him in and told him to concentrate even more on throwing his slider. He threw it over 83% of the time and found remarkable success. Minnesota felt comfortable enough with finding a Wisler replacement that they let him walk this winter. This season, Shaun Anderson hopes to follow a similar trajectory as Wisler. In 2020, Anderson threw his slider 53% of the time, so there is certainly room for him to use this pitch on a more consistent basis. However, there is a major difference between Wisler and Anderson as Anderson’s fastball averages 94 mph. He also ranks in the 92nd percentile when it comes to fastball spin. Working with Wes Johnson might allow Anderson to find the right mixture of these two pitches. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B While Duran moved up our rankings to the number one pitching spot, Kirilloff and Royce Lewis both can make a claim as the team’s top overall prospect. At some point in 2021, he is going to take over as a starting outfielder and the Twins hope he stays there for most of the next decade. Back in 2018, he was one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball, but the 2019 season saw injuries take a toll. He was able to homer four times in five playoff games that season, so the power potential is there. His hit tool separates him from the crowd as he can spray the ball to all fields. As I have previously written, his minor league spray charts should be hung in a museum. His advanced approach at the plate should help him to transition to the big-league level. Kirilloff avoids swings and misses and he should pencil into the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for years to come. Who do you think will breakout for the Twins in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. As we kick off our countdown of the Minnesota Twins' top 20 player assets, this first batch features a little of everything: from a raw and unproven teenaged prospect to a highly paid MVP-winning veteran. Let us begin.First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 16th-through-20th most valuable assets under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 2020 Ranking: NR The 20th spot in these rankings is one I always wrestle with most. There are so many different players with good arguments to appear on the list; this selection becomes a battle between many semi-critical assets, whose competing qualities are fundamental to this exercise. Which is more indispensable to the Twins' plans: a proven MLB commodity with a relatively low ceiling (i.e. Randy Dobnak, Jake Cave), versus a near-ready prospect with moderate upside (i.e. Travis Blankenhorn, Edwar Colina), versus a more distant and uncertain project with game-changing potential? Ultimately, I landed on the latter, best represented in the system by Keoni Cavaco. No, he hasn't done anything of note as a professional yet, posting a paltry .470 OPS in his first turn at rookie ball in 2019. But the Twins believed in him enough to take him 13th overall – the highest pick this regime has made outside of Royce Lewis (No. 1) in 2017 – because they so value Cavaco's athleticism and long-term ceiling. I have no special insight or information on the 19-year-old, especially coming off a lost minor-league season, but frankly I trust this front office enough to consider him an important part of the big picture going forward. Needless to say, 2021 will be a key year for Cavaco. 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 2020 Ranking: NR The former first-round pick reached the majors in 2020, just three years after being drafted, and was exactly as advertised: an advanced bat with big bop, exhibiting no signs of intimidation against MLB pitching. Rooker has factors working against him in the context of this list – namely, a lack of asset scarcity. Big, immobile sluggers who can only play first base and corner outfield are not hard to come by. He also happens to be a bit extreme in the traditional flaws of this profile: a sub-par defender and extremely strikeout prone. But on the flip side (pun intended), his raw power is at the highest end of the spectrum and Rooker shows potential to develop into a reasonably disciplined hitter. Although he only made 21 plate appearances as a rookie before breaking his forearm, he made a strong enough impression to solidify his place in the club's plans going forward. Rooker is inexpensively controllable for years to come. 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 2020 Ranking: NR Donaldson signed after this list came out last year, so I didn't have to struggle with the challenging task of ranking him as an asset. It goes without saying he would've been higher at that point then he is now. The first year of Donaldson's historic contract was theoretically supposed to deliver the greatest value for the Twins, but was mostly a bust. Now, he's entering his age 35 season with magnified durability concerns, still owed $70 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. In the scope of this discussion, Donaldson's huge salary is a significant drawback, limiting the front office's ability to build around him within payroll constraints. The need to prioritize adding depth behind him, due to his unreliable health, is also a negative. And yet ... to an extent, this is all counterbalanced by the monumental impact he's capable of making. Donaldson is the only former MVP on the roster, and someone who was elite both offensively and defensively just two years ago. He showed signs of being that same player while on the field in 2020. It's possible no other team would take on Donaldson's contract at this moment if they had the chance, which is why he ranks as low as he does here. But his presence will be crucial if Minnesota's is to capitalize on the current championship window. 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2020 Ranking: 12 One year ago, Rogers was a top-end closer, set to earn less than $5 million, yet he still didn't crack the top 10 in these rankings. That says a lot about the relative value of relief pitchers, who are – for better or worse – among the game's most fungible assets. (The Twins, having made a habit of letting quality bullpen arms walk, seem to live by this credo.) Rogers is now a year older and closer to free agency, although the Twins still control him for two more seasons. He's also coming off a tough campaign, albeit it a shortened one where his peripherals and underlying indicators remained strong. Set to earn $6 million, he's no longer the clear-cut bargain he once was. The lefty's value has surely dropped but his price isn't unreasonable, all things considered, and he remains an integral piece of this bullpen – especially with Trevor May moving on, and guys like Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard (for now) out of the picture. 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 2020 Ranking: NR Like Rogers, Alcala has shown the ability to dominate out of the bullpen. The similarities end there. Whereas Rogers is a polished, experienced, time-tested relief fixture, Alcala is an up-and-comer with a sparse MLB track record. But that track record has yielded a 2.45 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate in 25 ⅔ innings. The right-hander didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He was a big-ticket international signing by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, and was the prospect headliner in a trade that sent Ryan Pressly to Houston in 2018. Though he predictably fizzled out as a starter, Alcala shows all the signs of a quality back-end reliever, and he's under team control for the next five seasons. If he can firmly establish himself as a lights-out setup man or closer in 2021, he'll move up this list. THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 11-15: Coming tomorrow! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  16. First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 16th-through-20th most valuable assets under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 2020 Ranking: NR The 20th spot in these rankings is one I always wrestle with most. There are so many different players with good arguments to appear on the list; this selection becomes a battle between many semi-critical assets, whose competing qualities are fundamental to this exercise. Which is more indispensable to the Twins' plans: a proven MLB commodity with a relatively low ceiling (i.e. Randy Dobnak, Jake Cave), versus a near-ready prospect with moderate upside (i.e. Travis Blankenhorn, Edwar Colina), versus a more distant and uncertain project with game-changing potential? Ultimately, I landed on the latter, best represented in the system by Keoni Cavaco. No, he hasn't done anything of note as a professional yet, posting a paltry .470 OPS in his first turn at rookie ball in 2019. But the Twins believed in him enough to take him 13th overall – the highest pick this regime has made outside of Royce Lewis (No. 1) in 2017 – because they so value Cavaco's athleticism and long-term ceiling. I have no special insight or information on the 19-year-old, especially coming off a lost minor-league season, but frankly I trust this front office enough to consider him an important part of the big picture going forward. Needless to say, 2021 will be a key year for Cavaco. 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 2020 Ranking: NR The former first-round pick reached the majors in 2020, just three years after being drafted, and was exactly as advertised: an advanced bat with big bop, exhibiting no signs of intimidation against MLB pitching. Rooker has factors working against him in the context of this list – namely, a lack of asset scarcity. Big, immobile sluggers who can only play first base and corner outfield are not hard to come by. He also happens to be a bit extreme in the traditional flaws of this profile: a sub-par defender and extremely strikeout prone. But on the flip side (pun intended), his raw power is at the highest end of the spectrum and Rooker shows potential to develop into a reasonably disciplined hitter. Although he only made 21 plate appearances as a rookie before breaking his forearm, he made a strong enough impression to solidify his place in the club's plans going forward. Rooker is inexpensively controllable for years to come. 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 2020 Ranking: NR Donaldson signed after this list came out last year, so I didn't have to struggle with the challenging task of ranking him as an asset. It goes without saying he would've been higher at that point then he is now. The first year of Donaldson's historic contract was theoretically supposed to deliver the greatest value for the Twins, but was mostly a bust. Now, he's entering his age 35 season with magnified durability concerns, still owed $70 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. In the scope of this discussion, Donaldson's huge salary is a significant drawback, limiting the front office's ability to build around him within payroll constraints. The need to prioritize adding depth behind him, due to his unreliable health, is also a negative. And yet ... to an extent, this is all counterbalanced by the monumental impact he's capable of making. Donaldson is the only former MVP on the roster, and someone who was elite both offensively and defensively just two years ago. He showed signs of being that same player while on the field in 2020. It's possible no other team would take on Donaldson's contract at this moment if they had the chance, which is why he ranks as low as he does here. But his presence will be crucial if Minnesota's is to capitalize on the current championship window. 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2020 Ranking: 12 One year ago, Rogers was a top-end closer, set to earn less than $5 million, yet he still didn't crack the top 10 in these rankings. That says a lot about the relative value of relief pitchers, who are – for better or worse – among the game's most fungible assets. (The Twins, having made a habit of letting quality bullpen arms walk, seem to live by this credo.) Rogers is now a year older and closer to free agency, although the Twins still control him for two more seasons. He's also coming off a tough campaign, albeit it a shortened one where his peripherals and underlying indicators remained strong. Set to earn $6 million, he's no longer the clear-cut bargain he once was. The lefty's value has surely dropped but his price isn't unreasonable, all things considered, and he remains an integral piece of this bullpen – especially with Trevor May moving on, and guys like Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard (for now) out of the picture. 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 2020 Ranking: NR Like Rogers, Alcala has shown the ability to dominate out of the bullpen. The similarities end there. Whereas Rogers is a polished, experienced, time-tested relief fixture, Alcala is an up-and-comer with a sparse MLB track record. But that track record has yielded a 2.45 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate in 25 ⅔ innings. The right-hander didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He was a big-ticket international signing by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, and was the prospect headliner in a trade that sent Ryan Pressly to Houston in 2018. Though he predictably fizzled out as a starter, Alcala shows all the signs of a quality back-end reliever, and he's under team control for the next five seasons. If he can firmly establish himself as a lights-out setup man or closer in 2021, he'll move up this list. THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 11-15: Coming tomorrow!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. It’s been just over two years since the Twins traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for two young prospects. Minnesota is just now seeing the results of that trade with Jorge Alcala joining the Twins bullpen. Gilberto Celestino, the other player included in the trade, is part of the Twins 60-man player pool. After two years, how have the Twins fared in the Ryan Pressly trade?Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said, "We had ranked all the relievers that we had interest in a few weeks ago taking a really deep look at all of them (and) we felt Pressly was the best combination for stuff, control — how much time he would be with us — and acquisition cost and ability to plug right into our bullpen. We like his stuff a lot." At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Eduardo Escobar trade and the Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Alcala was still starting in the Astros organization at the time of the trade. Here is what Baseball America said, “Alcala has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcala looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” When looking at Celestino, Baseball America projected him to “end up as a plus defender in center with the ability to hit .270 with 15-20 home runs, with a fourth-outfield future as a decent fallback option.” When the Twins acquired them, Alcala and Celestino were among the top-15 prospects in the Astros' farm system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Pressly’s Houston Success Pressly has pitched a grand total of 78 1/3 innings in an Astros uniform over the course of three seasons. He was a first-time All-Star last season at the age of 30 after posting a 1.36 ERA in the first half. During that same stretch, he held opponents to a .176/.208/.282 slash-line with 47 strikeouts compared to six walks. He was one of the best relievers in the game, but things haven’t gone as perfectly since then. In 2019’s second half, Pressly ran into some struggles and dealt with an injury. His ERA jumped to 4.91 and his WHIP rose from 0.78 in the first half to 1.23 in the second half. He was forced to undergo arthroscopic right knee surgery and didn’t pitch in a game from August 15-September 21. He’d make the team’s postseason roster, but his ERA was 9.00 or higher in every round of the playoffs. So far in 2020, Pressly was in line to become Houston’s closer in place of Roberto Osuna. Pressly had a finger blister during Summer Camp and he has been dealing with elbow soreness. He left his only appearance of the year early with a cut on the cuticle above his thumbnail. The team seems optimistic that he will be able to avoid any extended time on the injured list. Minnesota’s Trade Return Jorge Alcala split time as a starter and reliever in 2019 and the Twins were aggressive with him after switching him to the bullpen. He made six relief appearances (10 2/3 innings) at Double-A and allowed two earned runs while holding opponents to a .502 OPS. At Triple-A, he did even better as he didn’t allow an earned run and he struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings. He made two big league appearances as a September call-up and only allowed one hit. Since switching to the bullpen, Alcala has been able to focus on using his best two pitches, his fastball and his slider. His fastball is constantly in the mid-90s and so far this season it is averaging 96.8 mph. His slider has also ticked up a few miles per hour from 85.9 mph last year to 88.0 mph in 2020. He’s looking like he could be Minnesota’s closer of the future. Gilberto Celestino was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season after a breakout season. He was always seen as a strong defender, but his offensive improvements helped put him on the prospect map. He changed his base at the plate and started his swing earlier after working with Kernels hitting coach Ryan Smith. From May 9 through season’s end, he hit .303/.374/.464 with 38 extra-base hits in 98 games. Who Won the Trade? It will probably be multiple years before Twins fans will know if the organization “won” this trade. Houston got what they wanted out of the deal with Pressly turning into one of baseball’s best right-handed relief pitchers. He set an MLB record for consecutive appearances without giving up a run, the team has signed him to an extension, and he could be the team’s closer this season if he proves to be healthy. Minnesota got two players in return that could impact the big-league roster for multiple years. MLB.com updated their top-30 prospects this week and both Alcala (27) and Celestino (16) make the list. Alcala missed more bats than previous seasons and seems destined for a bullpen role. Celestino is one of the best defenders in the Twins system, but if his offensive improvements could make him an impact player at the big-league level. Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said, "We had ranked all the relievers that we had interest in a few weeks ago taking a really deep look at all of them (and) we felt Pressly was the best combination for stuff, control — how much time he would be with us — and acquisition cost and ability to plug right into our bullpen. We like his stuff a lot." At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Eduardo Escobar trade and the Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Alcala was still starting in the Astros organization at the time of the trade. Here is what Baseball America said, “Alcala has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcala looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” When looking at Celestino, Baseball America projected him to “end up as a plus defender in center with the ability to hit .270 with 15-20 home runs, with a fourth-outfield future as a decent fallback option.” When the Twins acquired them, Alcala and Celestino were among the top-15 prospects in the Astros' farm system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Pressly’s Houston Success Pressly has pitched a grand total of 78 1/3 innings in an Astros uniform over the course of three seasons. He was a first-time All-Star last season at the age of 30 after posting a 1.36 ERA in the first half. During that same stretch, he held opponents to a .176/.208/.282 slash-line with 47 strikeouts compared to six walks. He was one of the best relievers in the game, but things haven’t gone as perfectly since then. In 2019’s second half, Pressly ran into some struggles and dealt with an injury. His ERA jumped to 4.91 and his WHIP rose from 0.78 in the first half to 1.23 in the second half. He was forced to undergo arthroscopic right knee surgery and didn’t pitch in a game from August 15-September 21. He’d make the team’s postseason roster, but his ERA was 9.00 or higher in every round of the playoffs. So far in 2020, Pressly was in line to become Houston’s closer in place of Roberto Osuna. Pressly had a finger blister during Summer Camp and he has been dealing with elbow soreness. He left his only appearance of the year early with a cut on the cuticle above his thumbnail. The team seems optimistic that he will be able to avoid any extended time on the injured list. Minnesota’s Trade Return Jorge Alcala split time as a starter and reliever in 2019 and the Twins were aggressive with him after switching him to the bullpen. He made six relief appearances (10 2/3 innings) at Double-A and allowed two earned runs while holding opponents to a .502 OPS. At Triple-A, he did even better as he didn’t allow an earned run and he struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings. He made two big league appearances as a September call-up and only allowed one hit. Since switching to the bullpen, Alcala has been able to focus on using his best two pitches, his fastball and his slider. His fastball is constantly in the mid-90s and so far this season it is averaging 96.8 mph. His slider has also ticked up a few miles per hour from 85.9 mph last year to 88.0 mph in 2020. He’s looking like he could be Minnesota’s closer of the future. Gilberto Celestino was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season after a breakout season. He was always seen as a strong defender, but his offensive improvements helped put him on the prospect map. He changed his base at the plate and started his swing earlier after working with Kernels hitting coach Ryan Smith. From May 9 through season’s end, he hit .303/.374/.464 with 38 extra-base hits in 98 games. Who Won the Trade? It will probably be multiple years before Twins fans will know if the organization “won” this trade. Houston got what they wanted out of the deal with Pressly turning into one of baseball’s best right-handed relief pitchers. He set an MLB record for consecutive appearances without giving up a run, the team has signed him to an extension, and he could be the team’s closer this season if he proves to be healthy. Minnesota got two players in return that could impact the big-league roster for multiple years. MLB.com updated their top-30 prospects this week and both Alcala (27) and Celestino (16) make the list. Alcala missed more bats than previous seasons and seems destined for a bullpen role. Celestino is one of the best defenders in the Twins system, but if his offensive improvements could make him an impact player at the big-league level. Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Back in 2016, the Twins revamped their front office by hiring Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. One of their biggest tasks in their first year on the job was preparing to have the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. That draft was just the start of how they were able to add to Minnesota’s well stocked farm system. Minnesota’s current crop of regulars was moving through the system back in 2015-16 and that’s why the farm system ranked so highly. The new front office crew saw some of their impact after the 2017 MLB Draft and that continued into the following year’s draft. The results of their time at the helm are already being felt at the big-league level. 2017 Draft There were multiple options with the top overall pick back in 2017 with names like Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright all in the discussion. Minnesota decided Royce Lewis was the best option and he has been the organization’s highest-ranking prospect since he was drafted. Last season, Lewis finished at Double-A and under normal circumstances, he might have made his big-league debut this season. Lewis wasn’t the only strong pick in this draft. Brent Rooker was recently called up and he has been contributing to a team in the middle of a pennant race. Time will tell if he can develop into a big league regular, but his powerful swing should keep him on the roster. In the same draft, Minnesota had to offer Blayne Enlow a big signing bonus to lure him away from LSU and now he is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. He might be a couple years away from debuting, but he add to the depth of the farm system. 2018 Draft Coming off a surprise run to the playoffs, the Twins had a much lower draft pick in 2018, but that didn’t stop them from finding players to restock the farm. Trevor Larnach was the team’s first round selection and he has developed into one of the best hitting prospects in the organization. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year and the Florida State League Player of the Year. He finished last year at Double-A and now he has been part of the team’s 60-man roster that is working out in St. Paul. Another player from this draft, Ryan Jeffers, has played a pivotal role with the club due to Mitch Garver’s injury. When he was drafted, he was seen as a bat-only catcher, but he was given very little coaching on his catching defense throughout his collegiate career. Now, his 51.2% strike rate has him in the top-20 among all MLB backstops when it comes to catcher framing. Trades Add Depth Making trades is another way to stock a farm system and the Twins front office has already seen some of the rewards of those trades. Zack Littell was acquired back at the 2017 trade deadline as part of the Jaime Garcia trade and he has fit nicely into the Twins bullpen when healthy. At that same deadline, Minnesota added LHP Tyler Watson who pitched all last season at High-A with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. The 2018 trade deadline was where Minnesota was able to revamp the farm. Trading Eduardo Escobar to the Diamondbacks got the Twins back a trio of prospects including RHP Jhoan Duran, who is considered one of the team’s top pitching prospects. Also, Minnesota traded away Ryan Pressly for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Alcala has shown electric stuff out of the Twins bullpen this year and Celestino could become a regular at the big-league level in the years ahead. For the Twins, this trade could pay dividends for multiple years into the future. How do you feel about the Twins consistency in their farm system? 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
  20. Before we get too deep into things, let’s step back for a quick reminder of how the Twins acquired pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers. JHOAN DURAN The 22-year-old Duran is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Diamondbacks in December 2014 and worked his way up the ladder. In late July of 2018, he came to the Twins organization with outfielders Ernie de la Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal. Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell was the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Player Development for eight years. He said of trading Duran, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization.” Get to know Jhoan Duran from this story from January, shortly after he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. At that time, he spoke of his best pitches. ““Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” DAKOTA CHALMERS Dakota Chalmers was the 3rd round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. The highly-touted, hard-throwing prospect showed great stuff, but early in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery. In August of 2018, the Twins traded veteran closer Fernando Rodney to the A’s for Chalmers, knowing he would not be able to pitch until at least the second half of the 2019 season. He began making rehab appearances last July, and on July 30th, he debuted with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After a rough first start, he was really good in his final four starts before the end of the regular season. He then went up to Pensacola and pitched for them in the playoffs. And after that, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings. Like Duran, Chalmers became an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after the season. We caught up with the 23-year-old at Twins Fest as well for this Get to Know him story. --------------------------------------- Now, back to their performances on Sunday. For each, it was their first appearance in Summer Camp intra-squad games. Hard to know what to expect. As pitching coach Wes Johnson pointed out, they weren’t necessarily looking for results. “I told those guys that it wasn’t, for me, as much about balls and strikes - as crazy as that sounds - it was How was their presence? We gave them some different situations. We started their second innings with runners on.” But it was hard not to notice that they each threw two scoreless innings, despite those situations. Also, Johnson added, “Both of those guys had to go through the heart of our order. That’s not easy. In my opinion, we have the best offense in baseball.” https://twitter.com/HagemanParker/status/1284955121277964296 Johnson said that Nelson Cruz provided the biggest compliment, “Nelson Cruz came up to me and said ‘Hey, both of those guys who just threw, they impressed me. They looked like they belonged, and they were in control.’ And I 100% agree with Nelson obviously.” Following Sunday’s game, Rocco Baldelli excitedly discussed Duran, Chalmers, and also hard-throwing reliever Jorge Alcala. He said, "I think all three of those guys are going to be impacting us at the big league level, and probably soon... The type of stuff we're talking about is the type of stuff that impacts major league games." Duran hit triple digits multiple times in 2019 in Ft. Myers and Pensacola. Chalmers has reached 97 at times. Alcala works 94 to 97 too. But for each of them, they have multiple pitches that could become, and maybe soon, plus pitches. Will that happen in 2020? While Duran and Chalmers have the stuff and the potential to be big league, impact starters, they are young. Also, in 2020, it becomes about opportunity. The Twins have a veteran pitching staff. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey would appear to be the starting five at the beginning of the season. In addition, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe all showed something in 2019 in the big leagues and give the team major-league-ready starting pitcher depth. So for 2020, especially the shortened 2020 season, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they get the call to start this year. However, as Wes Johnson pointed out, “Crazy things happen, as you guys know. It’s crazy times. It’s going to be tough to answer that question. There’s always that possibility. We wouldn't have them here if we didn’t think that if we needed to we could call on them and bring them up.” Maybe even more important, these pitchers indicate that the Twins player development, and specifically, their pitcher development has come a long way. It also speaks to their pro scouting department to tout these guys as targets in that large group of late 2018 trades. Baldelli is excited about what they can be. “Those guys are going to help us win for a very long time.They don't just have pretty good stuff. They don't just have pretty good ability. They have elite traits that are going to allow them to get a lot of outs, a lot of swings and misses.” The reigning AL Manager of the Year specifically mentioned one of Duran’s pitches that he thinks can be great. “I don't even know what anyone wants to call the pitch Duran throws, as well, the splinker pitch, or I don't even know what to call it, but it's coming in hot. It moves and just kind of disappears.” https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1284997265300566018 While it is OK to question the plate discipline of Eddie Rosario, just watch the movement of that Jhoan Duran pitch from Sunday again. That’s not a pitch that can be hit, certainly not with any authority. The future is bright for the Twins, and specifically for these high-upside Twins pitchers. Remember that Jordan Balazovic isn’t even in the current Twins 60-player pool. Baldelli thinks this group is going to be special, and more importantly, it really continues to enforce just how much depth the Twins have on the mound. Baldelli noted, "What we're watching is not typical. You could watch some really good major league baseball and not see some of the stuff those guys threw out there today." So while Dakota Chalmers and Jhoan Duran are unlikely to make starts for the Twins in 2020, it’s not impossible to think that they could contribute out of the bullpen for stints if needed. And, it’s exciting to think of what they can become - and what it means for the health of the Twins organization - if they continue to develop and gain consistency moving forward. Their futures are quite bright.
  21. If you watched Sunday afternoon’s Minnesota Twins intra-squad game, you got to see two innings on the mound for two of the team’s top pitching prospects. And, I think it is fair to say that they both impressed!Before we get too deep into things, let’s step back for a quick reminder of how the Twins acquired pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers. JHOAN DURAN The 22-year-old Duran is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Diamondbacks in December 2014 and worked his way up the ladder. In late July of 2018, he came to the Twins organization with outfielders Ernie de la Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal. Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell was the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Player Development for eight years. He said of trading Duran, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization.” Get to know Jhoan Duran from this story from January, shortly after he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. At that time, he spoke of his best pitches. ““Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” DAKOTA CHALMERS Dakota Chalmers was the 3rd round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. The highly-touted, hard-throwing prospect showed great stuff, but early in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery. In August of 2018, the Twins traded veteran closer Fernando Rodney to the A’s for Chalmers, knowing he would not be able to pitch until at least the second half of the 2019 season. He began making rehab appearances last July, and on July 30th, he debuted with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After a rough first start, he was really good in his final four starts before the end of the regular season. He then went up to Pensacola and pitched for them in the playoffs. And after that, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings. Like Duran, Chalmers became an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after the season. We caught up with the 23-year-old at Twins Fest as well for this Get to Know him story. --------------------------------------- Now, back to their performances on Sunday. For each, it was their first appearance in Summer Camp intra-squad games. Hard to know what to expect. As pitching coach Wes Johnson pointed out, they weren’t necessarily looking for results. “I told those guys that it wasn’t, for me, as much about balls and strikes - as crazy as that sounds - it was How was their presence? We gave them some different situations. We started their second innings with runners on.” But it was hard not to notice that they each threw two scoreless innings, despite those situations. Also, Johnson added, “Both of those guys had to go through the heart of our order. That’s not easy. In my opinion, we have the best offense in baseball.” While it is OK to question the plate discipline of Eddie Rosario, just watch the movement of that Jhoan Duran pitch from Sunday again. That’s not a pitch that can be hit, certainly not with any authority. The future is bright for the Twins, and specifically for these high-upside Twins pitchers. Remember that Jordan Balazovic isn’t even in the current Twins 60-player pool. Baldelli thinks this group is going to be special, and more importantly, it really continues to enforce just how much depth the Twins have on the mound. Baldelli noted, "What we're watching is not typical. You could watch some really good major league baseball and not see some of the stuff those guys threw out there today." So while Dakota Chalmers and Jhoan Duran are unlikely to make starts for the Twins in 2020, it’s not impossible to think that they could contribute out of the bullpen for stints if needed. And, it’s exciting to think of what they can become - and what it means for the health of the Twins organization - if they continue to develop and gain consistency moving forward. Their futures are quite bright. Click here to view the article
  22. First, some background. The “couple other guys” Johnson referenced were Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. All three were optioned to the minor league side this week but all are highly touted arms in the organization. Chalmers, who was acquired in the Fernando Rodney trade in 2018, impressed in the Arizona Fall League. He flashed a mid-90s fastball and, what one American League scout told Baseball America, the best curveball in the fall league. He has swing-and-miss stuff, the critical lifeblood to becoming a successful modern pitcher. In 17.2 innings facing the game’s most promising prospects, Chalmers struck out 25. That said, he also walked 12 in that same time. Johnson referenced velocity when comparing Chalmers to Alcala and Duran. The latter two have seen their fastballs touch triple-digit territory while Chalmers has not. Johnson says there is a mechanical reason for this. Here are the three pitchers from their 2019 season: Chalmers differs in his delivery in the use of his lower half, beginning with his feet. This is the critical component of a pitcher’s mechanics as pitchers who have the tendency to get to their toes limit their velocity ceilings. This is something that Jose Berrios' has wrestled with last season using quad-dominant mechanics. Johnson spoke extensively about the subject last spring, noting how having contact into the ground through the heel (but really the entire foot) aids in creating additional hip speed by engaging the gluteus muscle along with the quadriceps muscle. Here are shots of the pitchers’ feet. Notice that Chalmers’ foot is entirely on his toe while Alcala and Duran maintain more contact throughout. Chalmers gets quad dominant quickly. This leads to reduced hip speed which leads to lower peak velocity. Velocity, it is said, comes from the ground up. More issues can spring from these mechanics. When using predominately the quad muscle, less velocity and more stress is put on the arm. It may be one of the reasons Chalmers required Tommy John surgery in April 2018 while with Oakland, placing additional strain on the UCL. Another factor is command. When rotating from a stable full-foot, there is consistency in the mechanics. The Twins aren’t guessing on all this either. Sure, they can look at the video or watch a bullpen session and see this happening, but with the various array technological devices at their disposal, they can break down exactly what these movements mean to the pitcher. Starting with the release and working backwards, the Twins have available to them the standard pitch flight data systems available, like Trackman and Rapsodo devices, which measure the velocity and spin rates. They can track release point consistency as well. They have a legion of Edgertronic cameras which isolate all or small portions of the delivery, including how the ball comes out of the hand. These programs have now been widely utilized throughout baseball. Even some high school programs have invested in that equipment. Here is where things start getting advanced. From the ground up, the Twins recently invested in Newtforce ground plates. These data-collect mounds allows the Twins to capture how much pressure and where during the delivery process it is being created or applied. They can tell a pitcher just how much force they are generating from their back leg. On the field, the Twins have a Simi Motion system installed at Target Field and now at Hammond Stadium. This system can feed the team’s analysts information on components like hip speed, the driving factor in velocity, or valgus stress applied on the elbow (which could be an indicator of potential injury risk). In short, the Twins are no longer just visually assessing pitchers and telling them to make changes. They come armed with more data than NASA. The Twins players themselves are not necessarily diving into all the data after every pitch or every outing. Taylor Rogers says that he does not look at the information unless a coach notices something is off. Others have used the numbers to improve. Trevor May spent last season adding to his velocity and cited hip speed as a factor. The key has been having a coaching staff and analytic department that has worked together to identify and deliver the message to the player in ways that can help them understand how it will help them on the field. The other aspect is implementing the plan that the Twins create for their pitchers. Chalmers, for example, could be told exactly what he needs to do -- i.e. stay in his heel more and engage his glute more -- and be on board with the plan, but that specific movement may require additional physical preparation on Chalmers’ part. A pitcher could lack some hip mobility that would restrict his movements. The Twins training staff assesses all their players to figure out how their bodies move and then creates a plan to help them reach optimal movements. Chalmers told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs that he had spent the off-season working on strengthening his core and lower half to stabilize his delivery. Still, given Johnson’s quotes this spring, the Twins haven’t seen Chalmers incorporate those changes in his mechanics just yet. Furthermore, Chalmers will be on an innings restriction so his work this spring has been varied from that of Alcala and Duran. If he does, we may see an uptick in his velocity, command and health this season. When contemplating the immediate potential of the three arms just sent down to the minor league camp, Johnson says the Twins are looking for swing-and-misses to add to the big league staff. “Those are the guys that impact your bullpen. We don't need ground ball guys coming in out of the 'pen.” Swings and misses can come from breaking balls, such as on Chalmers’ impressive bender, but velocity always helps play it up. 96 is cool but 99 is really cool. While this is a story of just one minor league pitcher’s journey, the real takeaway is how impressive the Twins development system has become in a short period of time. With numerous tools and minds at their disposal, the Minnesota Twins could soon be a pitcher development factory unrivaled in the game.
  23. Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson assigned homework to the local media this week. 'I’ll challenge you with this, then,' he told no one specifically in the media scrum. 'Go back and watch what [Dakota] Chalmers did. He didn't throw one over 96. We've had a couple other guys hit 100. There's one big, distinct difference between those three guys. I'll let y'all find that one out.' Here’s what we found.First, some background. The “couple other guys” Johnson referenced were Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. All three were optioned to the minor league side this week but all are highly touted arms in the organization. Chalmers, who was acquired in the Fernando Rodney trade in 2018, impressed in the Arizona Fall League. He flashed a mid-90s fastball and, what one American League scout told Baseball America, the best curveball in the fall league. He has swing-and-miss stuff, the critical lifeblood to becoming a successful modern pitcher. In 17.2 innings facing the game’s most promising prospects, Chalmers struck out 25. That said, he also walked 12 in that same time. Johnson referenced velocity when comparing Chalmers to Alcala and Duran. The latter two have seen their fastballs touch triple-digit territory while Chalmers has not. Johnson says there is a mechanical reason for this. Here are the three pitchers from their 2019 season: Download attachment: FSFrameGIFImage (2).gif Chalmers differs in his delivery in the use of his lower half, beginning with his feet. This is the critical component of a pitcher’s mechanics as pitchers who have the tendency to get to their toes limit their velocity ceilings. This is something that Jose Berrios' has wrestled with last season using quad-dominant mechanics. Johnson spoke extensively about the subject last spring, noting how having contact into the ground through the heel (but really the entire foot) aids in creating additional hip speed by engaging the gluteus muscle along with the quadriceps muscle. Here are shots of the pitchers’ feet. Notice that Chalmers’ foot is entirely on his toe while Alcala and Duran maintain more contact throughout. Chalmers gets quad dominant quickly. This leads to reduced hip speed which leads to lower peak velocity. Velocity, it is said, comes from the ground up. Download attachment: IMG_5412.jpg More issues can spring from these mechanics. When using predominately the quad muscle, less velocity and more stress is put on the arm. It may be one of the reasons Chalmers required Tommy John surgery in April 2018 while with Oakland, placing additional strain on the UCL. Another factor is command. When rotating from a stable full-foot, there is consistency in the mechanics. The Twins aren’t guessing on all this either. Sure, they can look at the video or watch a bullpen session and see this happening, but with the various array technological devices at their disposal, they can break down exactly what these movements mean to the pitcher. Starting with the release and working backwards, the Twins have available to them the standard pitch flight data systems available, like Trackman and Rapsodo devices, which measure the velocity and spin rates. They can track release point consistency as well. They have a legion of Edgertronic cameras which isolate all or small portions of the delivery, including how the ball comes out of the hand. These programs have now been widely utilized throughout baseball. Even some high school programs have invested in that equipment. Here is where things start getting advanced. From the ground up, the Twins recently invested in Newtforce ground plates. These data-collect mounds allows the Twins to capture how much pressure and where during the delivery process it is being created or applied. They can tell a pitcher just how much force they are generating from their back leg. On the field, the Twins have a Simi Motion system installed at Target Field and now at Hammond Stadium. This system can feed the team’s analysts information on components like hip speed, the driving factor in velocity, or valgus stress applied on the elbow (which could be an indicator of potential injury risk). In short, the Twins are no longer just visually assessing pitchers and telling them to make changes. They come armed with more data than NASA. The Twins players themselves are not necessarily diving into all the data after every pitch or every outing. Taylor Rogers says that he does not look at the information unless a coach notices something is off. Others have used the numbers to improve. Trevor May spent last season adding to his velocity and cited hip speed as a factor. The key has been having a coaching staff and analytic department that has worked together to identify and deliver the message to the player in ways that can help them understand how it will help them on the field. The other aspect is implementing the plan that the Twins create for their pitchers. Chalmers, for example, could be told exactly what he needs to do -- i.e. stay in his heel more and engage his glute more -- and be on board with the plan, but that specific movement may require additional physical preparation on Chalmers’ part. A pitcher could lack some hip mobility that would restrict his movements. The Twins training staff assesses all their players to figure out how their bodies move and then creates a plan to help them reach optimal movements. Chalmers told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs that he had spent the off-season working on strengthening his core and lower half to stabilize his delivery. Still, given Johnson’s quotes this spring, the Twins haven’t seen Chalmers incorporate those changes in his mechanics just yet. Furthermore, Chalmers will be on an innings restriction so his work this spring has been varied from that of Alcala and Duran. If he does, we may see an uptick in his velocity, command and health this season. When contemplating the immediate potential of the three arms just sent down to the minor league camp, Johnson says the Twins are looking for swing-and-misses to add to the big league staff. “Those are the guys that impact your bullpen. We don't need ground ball guys coming in out of the 'pen.” Swings and misses can come from breaking balls, such as on Chalmers’ impressive bender, but velocity always helps play it up. 96 is cool but 99 is really cool. While this is a story of just one minor league pitcher’s journey, the real takeaway is how impressive the Twins development system has become in a short period of time. With numerous tools and minds at their disposal, the Minnesota Twins could soon be a pitcher development factory unrivaled in the game. Click here to view the article
  24. From the album: Blue Wahoos Photos

    Luis Arraez and friends sing karaoke Photo: Daniel Venn
  25. Before we look at the 2020 Honorable Mentions, a quick look at last year’s Honorable Mentions shows that 2019 Twins Top Rookie Luis Arraez was mentioned, referred to as a “Hit Machine.” Also, Jordan Balazovic went from Honorable Mention to, well, you’ll see him profiled soon. So which players who received votes this year will climb the prospect ladder in 2020? ALREADY DEBUTED Four players who made their MLB debuts in 2019. These players may not have super-stardom in their futures, but as we saw last year, they absolutely can be contributors to winning teams. Randy Dobnak went from non-drafted free agent who spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids to a guy who pitched well at four levels in the Twins system in 2019, including at the big league level, on his way to the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Likewise, Devin Smeltzer pitched in some big games and performed well at various times throughout the year. LaMonte Wade debuted mid-summer, and after an injury, he played most every day in September. Hard-throwing Jorge Alcala moved from a starting role to the bullpen late in the season and received a mid-September promotion to the big leagues. OTHERS ON 40-MAN ROSTER Along with those four players, a few other Honorable Mention players are on the Twins 40-man roster. Nick Gordon was added after the 2018 season. This past November, the Twins added Luke Raley and Dakota Chalmers to their 40-man roster, putting them one call away from the big leagues. In addition, Luis Rijo and Griffin Jax were two guys that Twins fans (and probably the Twins too) were worried about potentially losing in the Rule 5 draft. They were not selected, but as we know, both have the potential to move up this list. RETURNING FROM INJURIES Injuries are a part of the game, any game, and several Twins prospects fought injuries in 2019. Injuries can mean missed time and fewer development opportunities. They can sometimes be played through and affect performance. Ben Rortvedt suffered a knee injury late in the season, but he had surgery and should return at 100% in 2020. Akil Baddoo’s season ended in mid-May. He had Tommy John surgery and is excited to return to the field. Nick Gordon’s season started late due to a stomach ailment. His season ended early because of a knee injury. In between, he played well in Rochester. Luke Raley got off to a fast start for the Red Wings in April but at the end of the month he hurt his ankle and had surgery. He returned for the Arizona Fall League. Bailey Ober fought elbow injuries at times during the season, but when he took the mound, he was great. Yunior Severino fractured his thumb early in the season for Cedar Rapids. He was able to return in August. And Dakota Chalmers returned in the second half from his Tommy John surgery. You see the names, and you know several of them were previously Top 20 prospects, some even Top 10 guys. If healthy, their talent could push them quickly back up the rankings. WE HARDLY KNOW YE Spencer Steer had a strong first impression in pro ball. The Twins third-round pick from Oregon played for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in his debut. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins organization along with Sergio Romo (and cash) from the Miami Marlins for Lewin Diaz at the trade deadline. He’s got a big fastball and a solid pitch mix. Willie Joe Garry was a Twins draft pick in 2018 out of high school from Mississippi. He is a tremendous athlete with great speed and improving power. He’s got all the tools and is one to watch in 2020. DEADLINE TRADES 2018 The Twins were not good in 2018, and at the deadline, the front office traded several expiring contracts (and 1 1/4 seasons of Ryan Pressly) for a plethora of prospects. A couple of those prospects will be profiled later in this series, but a lot of them received votes and would appear in the 21 through 35 range of Twins prospect. Clearly that flurry of trade activity has much helped the Twins' prospect depth. From the Dodgers for Brian Dozier, the Twins received both Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley. From the Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar, the Twins received Gabriel Maciel. From the Yankees for Lance Lynn, the Twins received Luis Rijo. From the Astros for Ryan Pressly, the Twins acquired Jorge Alcala. From the A’s for Fernando Rodney, the Twins acquired Dakota Chalmers. Tomorrow, we will begin our look into the Top 20 Twins prospects with prospects 16-20. Be sure to check every day to see where your favorite Twins prospects rank. And feel free to ask questions and leave your comments below. 2020 MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECT HANDBOOK For more information on these Honorable Mentions, pick up a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF (for immediate download). Order your copies today! 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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