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  1. Luke Bard, Right-Handed Pitcher Bard never pitched a game above Triple-A in the Twins system and he spent the majority of his age-26 season in the Lookouts bullpen. He was almost two years older than the competition in the Southern League and he didn’t really blow away the competition. For the year, he posted a 2.76 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. His 99 strikeouts in 65.1 innings were impressive and that’s probably why the Los Angeles Angles were willing to take a chance on him in the Rule 5 Draft. Minnesota’s bullpen looks strong this year and Bard hasn’t found enough success in the upper-levels of the minor leagues. Nick Burdi, Right-Handed Pitcher Burdi has been on quite the journey over the last calendar year. He underwent Tommy John surgery last May. He’s on track to be throwing off the mound near the conclusion of spring training. Burdi was left unprotected during the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies selected him and then he was traded to the Pirates. Burdi was dominant last season before his elbow injury. In 17 innings at Double-A, he posted a 0.53 ERA with a 0.77 WHIP and a 20 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio. Burdi will start the season on the 60-day DL and he will get time to make some rehab appearances before he needs to appear in a Pirates game. JT Chargois, Right-Handed Pitcher Chargois was a second-round pick back in 2012 and he quickly established himself as one of the best relief pitchers in the Twins system. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy as he has pitched just over 100 innings in his professional career. Essentially, he has missed almost three of the last five seasons. In what some considered a strange move, Minnesota placed him on waivers last week only to see him claimed by the Dodgers, the team with the final waiver pick based on last season’s records. He has one option remaining and he could be a dangerous relief option if he is healthy. The Dodgers were willing to take that chance. Daniel Palka, Outfielder One year after being named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, Palka is no longer part of the organization. Palka, a 26-year old slugger, has a chance to break camp with the White Sox in a designated hitter and outfield role. Last season, he hit .274/.329/.431 with 27 extra-base hits in 84 Triple-A games. This was a far cry from the .848 OPS he compiled between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. Palka’s lack of a defensive position and his age all factored into him ending up with a new organization. Randy Rosario, Left-Handed Pitcher Rosario pitched over 100 minor league games in the Twins system and posted a 3.37 ERA. The 2017 season marked his first as a full-time reliever. Last year, he made 34 appearances between High-A and Double-A and posted a 3.84 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Those numbers might not exactly jump off the page but he was able to hold left-handed batters to a .169 average during his Double-A appearances. As the old adage goes, Rosario is “left-handed and he has a pulse” so the Cubs might find a spot for him out of the bullpen this year. Nik Turley, Left-Handed Pitcher Turley only made 10 appearances in a Twins uniform as he allowed 22 earned runs in 17.2 innings. In the minors, he fared much better with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in almost 110 innings. The Pirates selected Turley off of waivers in November but they will have to wait a while for him to pitch in a game for their organization. At the end of January, Turley was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Ipamorelin. Engelb Vielma, Shortstop The last half of a year has been a crazy ride for Mr. Vielma. Over the last six months, he is now with his fifth different organization. He enters Orioles camp with a chance to compete for a utility spot at the big league level. In 87 Triple-A games last season, he hit .206 with 17 RBI but his defense has always been his calling card. The 23-year old was the best defensive infielder in the Twins system when they let him go. Minnesota currently has plenty of depth at the shortstop position with other players ranking higher than Vielma. Which player or players will the Twins miss the most in the coming season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  2. Hi friends! We have a new show for you. Chargois, Odorizzi, Aybar, and LoMo are on the docket for Twins topics. We also brought in Sean to talk about Eric Hosmer going to SD (pukes everywhere) and what that means for the Royals going forward. Check out this show, and all other shows using the link below, or search "Twins And Losses Supershow" on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Pocket Casts. #TampaBayTwins https://www.spreaker.com/show/twins-and-losses-supershow
  3. What Makes A Super Bullpen? https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/943632267708157957 The Rockies have been aggressive with their bullpen plan this offseason. Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee have both already been added in free agency. Greg Holland served as the team’s closer in 2017 and he could still return to Colorado. Adding other names like Addison Reed and Wade Davis could make them a force in late inning situations. In recent years, contending teams have tried their best to compile a “super bullpen.” The Yankees compiled the highest fWAR total in 2017. Their back-end was bolstered by Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Cleveland used the likes of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen on their way to over 100 wins. Other teams, like Houston and Los Angeles, relied heavily on their bullpen on the way to the World Series. If a team is going to contend, there must be reliable bullpen options. Planning Minnesota’s 2018 Bullpen Minnesota has already added Fernando Rodney this off-season. He will likely serve as the team’s closer but other pieces will need to be added around him to build Minnesota’s “super bullpen.” Derek Falvey and Thad Levine obviously see something in Tyler Kinley, the team’s Rule 5 Draft pick, because they allowed the likes of Nick Burdi and Luke Bard to be selected by other organizations. Some other young pieces also figure into the Twins plans this season. Trevor Hildenberger made his debut in 2017 and actually ended up leading the team in fWAR. Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Pressly will look to build off of positives from last season. Even with all of these players, it would be hard to call Minnesota’s bullpen a “super bullpen.” Some other options could figure into the equation for 2018. JT Chargois spent most of 2017 recovering from different arm injuries including a stress reaction on the outside of his elbow. Tyler Jay, a former first round pick, moved from starter to relief pitcher in 2017. He could debut in 2018 and be a piece that helps Minnesota’s bullpen become closer to being considered “super.” Wait And See Approach Free agent relief pitchers have been faring very well so far this off-season. This is probably why the Favley-Levine team has been waiting for the market to cool a little. Bullpen arms can be found in lots of different ways. Brandon Kintzler was able to become an All-Star in Minnesota and the club never paid him more than $3 million in a season. Relief pitchers can have a breakout season at any time. It’s up to the front office to identify the players who are ready to take the next step. Is the wait and see approach right for the front office? Who would you like to see the Twins add to the bullpen? Can they have a “super bullpen” in 2018? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. Bullpens have continued to evolve in recent years. Gone are the days of starters pitching eight or nine innings on a regular basis. This means bullpens are forced to pitch more often and for more innings. Late inning pitchers might be asked to pitch more than one inning. Some teams are ahead of others when it comes to the bullpen evolution. Minnesota’s bullpen has gone through some ups and downs in recent years. If the team wants to be in contention in 2018, things might need to change at the back end of games. How could the Twins build a “super bullpen?”What Makes A Super Bullpen? The Rockies have been aggressive with their bullpen plan this offseason. Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee have both already been added in free agency. Greg Holland served as the team’s closer in 2017 and he could still return to Colorado. Adding other names like Addison Reed and Wade Davis could make them a force in late inning situations. In recent years, contending teams have tried their best to compile a “super bullpen.” The Yankees compiled the highest fWAR total in 2017. Their back-end was bolstered by Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Cleveland used the likes of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen on their way to over 100 wins. Other teams, like Houston and Los Angeles, relied heavily on their bullpen on the way to the World Series. If a team is going to contend, there must be reliable bullpen options. Planning Minnesota’s 2018 Bullpen Minnesota has already added Fernando Rodney this off-season. He will likely serve as the team’s closer but other pieces will need to be added around him to build Minnesota’s “super bullpen.” Derek Falvey and Thad Levine obviously see something in Tyler Kinley, the team’s Rule 5 Draft pick, because they allowed the likes of Nick Burdi and Luke Bard to be selected by other organizations. Some other young pieces also figure into the Twins plans this season. Trevor Hildenberger made his debut in 2017 and actually ended up leading the team in fWAR. Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Pressly will look to build off of positives from last season. Even with all of these players, it would be hard to call Minnesota’s bullpen a “super bullpen.” Some other options could figure into the equation for 2018. JT Chargois spent most of 2017 recovering from different arm injuries including a stress reaction on the outside of his elbow. Tyler Jay, a former first round pick, moved from starter to relief pitcher in 2017. He could debut in 2018 and be a piece that helps Minnesota’s bullpen become closer to being considered “super.” Wait And See Approach Free agent relief pitchers have been faring very well so far this off-season. This is probably why the Favley-Levine team has been waiting for the market to cool a little. Bullpen arms can be found in lots of different ways. Brandon Kintzler was able to become an All-Star in Minnesota and the club never paid him more than $3 million in a season. Relief pitchers can have a breakout season at any time. It’s up to the front office to identify the players who are ready to take the next step. Is the wait and see approach right for the front office? Who would you like to see the Twins add to the bullpen? Can they have a “super bullpen” in 2018? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  5. So tonight is the first installment. Here are my choices for Twins prospects 41-50. Be sure to ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments after you’ve had a chance to read through this list. #50 LHP Jovani Moran The 20-year-old southpaw was the Twins seventh-round draft pick in 2015 out of Puerto Rico. He missed the 2016 season due to bone spurs in his elbow, but he had those cleaned up and went to Elizabethton in 2017. He was named the Twins Daily Short-Season Pitcher of the Year. In 24.2 innings, he walked six and struck out 45 (16.4 K/9). That didn’t include the playoffs where he starred for the Appy League champs. Will he remain in the bullpen? That’s to be determined. As E-Twins manager Ray Smith told Twins Daily, ““We didn’t want to force anything with Jovani due to his arm issues last year. I’ve never seen him being utilized in a starting role, but with this ‘stuff’ being so good, it might turn out to be his role once it’s decided that his arm will continue to be 100%”” #49 LHP Andrew Vasquez Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of Division III Westmost College where he teamed with Hector Lujan. The left-hander split his 2017 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He combined to post a 2.02 ERA. In his 58 innings, he walked 20 and struck out 85 batters. While he works in the low-90s, he’s got a lot of movement on his fastball and has a terrific slider that gets a lot of swings and misses. (Get to know Andrew Vasquez) #48 Alex Robinson There are a lot of quality relief pitcher prospects in the Twins system, and when it comes to pure ceiling, Robinson might be right at the top. The left-hander consistently hits 97-98 mph with his fastball and has a devastating slider. He was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Maryland, but he really fought his control. He spent 2015 and 2016 in Elizabethton where he struck out 67 batters in 45 innings, but he also walked 50! He began 2017 in Cedar Rapids and struck out 51 and walked 15 and struck out 51. He moved up to Ft. Myers and in 17.1 innings, he walked 13 and struck out 27. He turned 23 in August, so it is wise for the Twins to be as patient as necessary to maximize his immense talent. #47 Tom Hackimer Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2016 out of St. Johns. The side-winding right-hander profiles pretty similarly to Twins rookie of the year Trevor Hildenberger. He began 2017 in Cedar Rapids where he posted a 1.50 ERA and a miniscule 0.58 WHIP in 24 innings. He then worked 37.1 innings in Ft. Myers where he posted a 1.93 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Combined, he walked 22 and struck out 71 batters in 61.1 innings. He is now pitching the Arizona Fall League. (Get to know Tom Hackimer, and from last week, Catch Up with him in Arizona) #46 OF Jaylin Davis Jaylin Davis was the Twins 24th-round pick in 2015 out of Appalachian State. He ended the 2016 season with 52 games in Cedar Rapids. That’s where he began his 2017 season as well. In 66 games for the Kernels, he hit .267/.316/.486 (.802) with 13 doubles and 12 home runs. After helping the team to a first half playoff berth, he was promoted up to Ft. Myers where he played in 59 games. He struggled, hitting just .237 with three home runs. But his power is legit. He’s a good athlete who took to playing right field in 2017. (Get to know Jaylin) #45 JT Chargois If you were like me, you were hoping that the 2012 second-round pick would not be on this list. In fact, I had hopes that he would be the Twins closer by midseason. Instead, he fought elbow issues throughout the entire season and did not pitch outside of two games in late April in Rochester. His mid-to-upper 90s fastball, slider, and performance last September make him incredibly intriguing, and he should probably be higher on this list. He’ll turn 27 in December. (Get to know JT.) #44 Luke Bard Bard was the Twins second supplemental first-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. He has really only been healthy the last two seasons. In 2016, he was known to have one of the top spin rates in the Twins system. In 2017, he was a strikeout machine. In 52.1 innings at Chattanooga, he walked 20 and struck out 78 (13.4 K/9). He moved up to Rochester where he walked four and struck out 21 batters in 13 innings (14.5 K/9). He does struggle with control and command at times, but the soon-to-be-27-year-old should be considered for a 40-man roster spot in November. #43 OF Jean-Carlos Arias Arias returned to the GCL in 2017 after posting a mere .531 OPS there in 2016. He broke out, hitting .298/.359/.476 (.835) with seven doubles, four triples and five home runs. He also stole ten bases. Arias has a lot of tools. He’s got speed and a strong arm. He has the potential to hit for some average, but he also has the potential to grow and add more power. Arias will turn 20 in January and should move up to Elizabethton in 2018. #42 Trey Cabbage Cabbage was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Tennessee. He’s missed some time the last couple of years with injury. He returned to Elizabethton to start the Appy League season, but after just 13 games, he was promoted to the Kernels where he played left field and third base. A left-hander with a smooth swing, the 20-year-old is a terrific athlete, big and strong, with a lot of power potential. He’ll have to work to put the ball in play more, but as he grows, the talent is there to be quite good. (Get to know Trey, and Catch Up with him) #41 RHP Tyler Benninghoff 20-year-old Benninghoff was the Twins 11th-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Missouri. Almost immediately after signing, he underwent Tommy John surgery. He worked hard to rehab and returned to the GCL mound for his professional debut. He worked four innings in four outings. Benninghoff likely would have been a second or third round pick had he been healthy. He’s blessed with a strong arm and good offspeed pitches. So this ranking is fully based on projection. Hopefully he’ll be fully recovered and be able to get on the mound consistently in 2018. (Get to know Tyler) So there you have the first installment of my Top 50 Twins Prospects. That was prospects 41-50. In the coming days, the countdown will continue. Feel free to leave any questions or comments that you may have. By the way, there is a complete Organizational Depth chart in the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, along with much more. To pre-order your copy, click on the banner below. (And as a reminder, there's no reason to not download it since you get to name your price.)
  6. As we await the end of the World Series, as well as the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook being available for download, I thought it would be fun to start on my preliminary 2018 Minnesota Twins Top 50 prospect list. As Cody mentioned in his article tonight, he and I, along with Tom and Jeremy, are diving heavily into the 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook. I like to do this preliminary ranking and then see how it changes after doing a ton of research and talking to several people.So tonight is the first installment. Here are my choices for Twins prospects 41-50. Be sure to ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments after you’ve had a chance to read through this list. #50 LHP Jovani Moran The 20-year-old southpaw was the Twins seventh-round draft pick in 2015 out of Puerto Rico. He missed the 2016 season due to bone spurs in his elbow, but he had those cleaned up and went to Elizabethton in 2017. He was named the Twins Daily Short-Season Pitcher of the Year. In 24.2 innings, he walked six and struck out 45 (16.4 K/9). That didn’t include the playoffs where he starred for the Appy League champs. Will he remain in the bullpen? That’s to be determined. As E-Twins manager Ray Smith told Twins Daily, ““We didn’t want to force anything with Jovani due to his arm issues last year. I’ve never seen him being utilized in a starting role, but with this ‘stuff’ being so good, it might turn out to be his role once it’s decided that his arm will continue to be 100%”” #49 LHP Andrew Vasquez Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of Division III Westmost College where he teamed with Hector Lujan. The left-hander split his 2017 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He combined to post a 2.02 ERA. In his 58 innings, he walked 20 and struck out 85 batters. While he works in the low-90s, he’s got a lot of movement on his fastball and has a terrific slider that gets a lot of swings and misses. (Get to know Andrew Vasquez) #48 Alex Robinson There are a lot of quality relief pitcher prospects in the Twins system, and when it comes to pure ceiling, Robinson might be right at the top. The left-hander consistently hits 97-98 mph with his fastball and has a devastating slider. He was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Maryland, but he really fought his control. He spent 2015 and 2016 in Elizabethton where he struck out 67 batters in 45 innings, but he also walked 50! He began 2017 in Cedar Rapids and struck out 51 and walked 15 and struck out 51. He moved up to Ft. Myers and in 17.1 innings, he walked 13 and struck out 27. He turned 23 in August, so it is wise for the Twins to be as patient as necessary to maximize his immense talent. #47 Tom Hackimer Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2016 out of St. Johns. The side-winding right-hander profiles pretty similarly to Twins rookie of the year Trevor Hildenberger. He began 2017 in Cedar Rapids where he posted a 1.50 ERA and a miniscule 0.58 WHIP in 24 innings. He then worked 37.1 innings in Ft. Myers where he posted a 1.93 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Combined, he walked 22 and struck out 71 batters in 61.1 innings. He is now pitching the Arizona Fall League. (Get to know Tom Hackimer, and from last week, Catch Up with him in Arizona) #46 OF Jaylin Davis Jaylin Davis was the Twins 24th-round pick in 2015 out of Appalachian State. He ended the 2016 season with 52 games in Cedar Rapids. That’s where he began his 2017 season as well. In 66 games for the Kernels, he hit .267/.316/.486 (.802) with 13 doubles and 12 home runs. After helping the team to a first half playoff berth, he was promoted up to Ft. Myers where he played in 59 games. He struggled, hitting just .237 with three home runs. But his power is legit. He’s a good athlete who took to playing right field in 2017. (Get to know Jaylin) #45 JT Chargois If you were like me, you were hoping that the 2012 second-round pick would not be on this list. In fact, I had hopes that he would be the Twins closer by midseason. Instead, he fought elbow issues throughout the entire season and did not pitch outside of two games in late April in Rochester. His mid-to-upper 90s fastball, slider, and performance last September make him incredibly intriguing, and he should probably be higher on this list. He’ll turn 27 in December. (Get to know JT.) #44 Luke Bard Bard was the Twins second supplemental first-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. He has really only been healthy the last two seasons. In 2016, he was known to have one of the top spin rates in the Twins system. In 2017, he was a strikeout machine. In 52.1 innings at Chattanooga, he walked 20 and struck out 78 (13.4 K/9). He moved up to Rochester where he walked four and struck out 21 batters in 13 innings (14.5 K/9). He does struggle with control and command at times, but the soon-to-be-27-year-old should be considered for a 40-man roster spot in November. #43 OF Jean-Carlos Arias Arias returned to the GCL in 2017 after posting a mere .531 OPS there in 2016. He broke out, hitting .298/.359/.476 (.835) with seven doubles, four triples and five home runs. He also stole ten bases. Arias has a lot of tools. He’s got speed and a strong arm. He has the potential to hit for some average, but he also has the potential to grow and add more power. Arias will turn 20 in January and should move up to Elizabethton in 2018. #42 Trey Cabbage Cabbage was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Tennessee. He’s missed some time the last couple of years with injury. He returned to Elizabethton to start the Appy League season, but after just 13 games, he was promoted to the Kernels where he played left field and third base. A left-hander with a smooth swing, the 20-year-old is a terrific athlete, big and strong, with a lot of power potential. He’ll have to work to put the ball in play more, but as he grows, the talent is there to be quite good. (Get to know Trey, and Catch Up with him) #41 RHP Tyler Benninghoff 20-year-old Benninghoff was the Twins 11th-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Missouri. Almost immediately after signing, he underwent Tommy John surgery. He worked hard to rehab and returned to the GCL mound for his professional debut. He worked four innings in four outings. Benninghoff likely would have been a second or third round pick had he been healthy. He’s blessed with a strong arm and good offspeed pitches. So this ranking is fully based on projection. Hopefully he’ll be fully recovered and be able to get on the mound consistently in 2018. (Get to know Tyler) So there you have the first installment of my Top 50 Twins Prospects. That was prospects 41-50. In the coming days, the countdown will continue. Feel free to leave any questions or comments that you may have. By the way, there is a complete Organizational Depth chart in the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, along with much more. To pre-order your copy, click on the banner below. (And as a reminder, there's no reason to not download it since you get to name your price.) Click here to view the article
  7. Last week, I began a review of my updated, midseason Top 40 Minnesota Twins prospects. In Part 1, we reviewed prospects 31-40. In Part 2, we looked at prospects 21-30. As we jump into the Top 20, we will briefly profile five players at a time. Today’s grouping of five is rather interesting. Two upper-level relief pitcher prospects. Two very young, but immensely talented arms. A former top prospect who has really struggled yet still profiles well by several reports. This group illustrates so much about pitching prospects. There are lots of young arms with huge upsides, but there is a reason that TINSTAAPP (There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect) is a thing in baseball circles. Some take off and become MLB starters. Some struggle with control, adding secondary pitches or injury and never reach their perceived potential. Some become relievers. Some relievers who throw really hard get hurt.Today’s group of prospects also illustrates why prospect rankings are so difficult. There is such a large range of talent, age, and potential. Some players are very young and have a lot of development to do. Others have pitched at the highest level. With that, I present Part 3 of my midseason Top 40 Prospect Rankings, prospects 16-20. 20. Huascar Ynoa, RHP, 19 Ynoa turned 19 years old on Memorial Day. He signed with the Twins in July of 2014 out of the Dominican Republic. His brother Michael is a reliever for the Chicago White Sox. After spending 2015 in the Dominican Summer League, he came to the States in 2016. He was the Twins Daily short-season minor league pitcher of the year. For the GCL Twins, he went 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts and 51 innings. He walked 12 and struck out 51. Ynoa throws hard, sitting 91-93 and touching 95. He’s got the makings of really good secondary pitches. He’ll likely pitch at Elizabethton this season. 19. Nick Burdi, RH RP, 24 After a long 2016 season in which he missed most of the season with a bone bruise in his elbow, things were looking good for Nick Burdi in 2017… at least until last week. Burdi had pitched 17 innings in 14 outings for Chattanooga. He had four walks and 20 strikeouts. He had given up just one run, on a solo homer. His ERA was 0.53 ,and his WHIP was 0.77. There was talk of him being ready for a promotion to Rochester, if not even directly to the Twins. He was hitting 100 with regularly. And then news came late last week that he has a torn UCL and will need Tommy John surgery which will put him out for the rest of the season. The Twins second-round pick in 2014 out of Louisville. 18. JT Chargois, RH RP, 25 The Twins second-round pick in 2012 out of Rice University, Chargois missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons with an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2015 and stayed healthy. Last year, he dominated the minor leagues and got a chance to pitch for the Twins. Early results were not good but he was terrific in September. His velocity (normally 95-98 on the fastball) was a little down this spring and he struggled, so he went down to Rochester. Unfortunately, he has pitched in just two games this year due to elbow concerns. Frankly, we haven’t heard anything on him in quite some time. But as we’ve seen, when he’s healthy, his fastball-slurvy thing-change up can be a late-inning threat for the Twins. 17. Kohl Stewart, RHP, 22 It’s been a difficult start to the 2017 season for Stewart, the Twins first-round pick in the 2013 draft. While he’s never been a big strikeout pitcher, he’s always done a good job of not giving up too many hits and not walking batters. He’s maintained low ERAs. However, he went 0-4 with a 5.62 ERA in six starts to begin the season. In just 24 innings, he walked 22 and struck out 14. He was placed on the disabled list with a ‘knee’ injury. Still just 22, there is no reason to give up on Stewart. He has great talent. He throws into the mid-90s. He’s got a good slider. He can have a good changeup. Let’s hope that he gets healthy and starts throwing strikes again, because if he’s got those things, he can still be a solid starter. 16. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, 18 When I posted a previous Top 40, I had Graterol ranked in the low-20s. I felt that might have been too low, but most readers told me I had him too high. I’m sticking to my thinking and have moved him up. While he hasn’t pitched in nearly two years, and that was just 11 innings over four starts in the DSL (also 1 walk, 17 strikeouts), Graterol is intriguing. The right-hander signed with the Twins in 2014, but after those 11 innings in 2015, he came to the States and had Tommy John. He missed all of 2016. but he was pitching (and hitting 100 mph) in Instructional League. Unfortunately, before spring training, he broke his hand and had to sit most of camp. But he’s back, and he’s often sitting 97-98 with his fastball. He’s also got some solid secondary pitches. Now he just needs to be healthy and start working some innings. So there you have my selections for Twins Prospects 16-20. Feel free to discuss, ask questions, debate, etc. Click here to view the article
  8. Today’s group of prospects also illustrates why prospect rankings are so difficult. There is such a large range of talent, age, and potential. Some players are very young and have a lot of development to do. Others have pitched at the highest level. With that, I present Part 3 of my midseason Top 40 Prospect Rankings, prospects 16-20. 20. Huascar Ynoa, RHP, 19 Ynoa turned 19 years old on Memorial Day. He signed with the Twins in July of 2014 out of the Dominican Republic. His brother Michael is a reliever for the Chicago White Sox. After spending 2015 in the Dominican Summer League, he came to the States in 2016. He was the Twins Daily short-season minor league pitcher of the year. For the GCL Twins, he went 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts and 51 innings. He walked 12 and struck out 51. Ynoa throws hard, sitting 91-93 and touching 95. He’s got the makings of really good secondary pitches. He’ll likely pitch at Elizabethton this season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zujYwEsJmFs 19. Nick Burdi, RH RP, 24 After a long 2016 season in which he missed most of the season with a bone bruise in his elbow, things were looking good for Nick Burdi in 2017… at least until last week. Burdi had pitched 17 innings in 14 outings for Chattanooga. He had four walks and 20 strikeouts. He had given up just one run, on a solo homer. His ERA was 0.53 ,and his WHIP was 0.77. There was talk of him being ready for a promotion to Rochester, if not even directly to the Twins. He was hitting 100 with regularly. And then news came late last week that he has a torn UCL and will need Tommy John surgery which will put him out for the rest of the season. The Twins second-round pick in 2014 out of Louisville. 18. JT Chargois, RH RP, 25 The Twins second-round pick in 2012 out of Rice University, Chargois missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons with an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2015 and stayed healthy. Last year, he dominated the minor leagues and got a chance to pitch for the Twins. Early results were not good but he was terrific in September. His velocity (normally 95-98 on the fastball) was a little down this spring and he struggled, so he went down to Rochester. Unfortunately, he has pitched in just two games this year due to elbow concerns. Frankly, we haven’t heard anything on him in quite some time. But as we’ve seen, when he’s healthy, his fastball-slurvy thing-change up can be a late-inning threat for the Twins. 17. Kohl Stewart, RHP, 22 It’s been a difficult start to the 2017 season for Stewart, the Twins first-round pick in the 2013 draft. While he’s never been a big strikeout pitcher, he’s always done a good job of not giving up too many hits and not walking batters. He’s maintained low ERAs. However, he went 0-4 with a 5.62 ERA in six starts to begin the season. In just 24 innings, he walked 22 and struck out 14. He was placed on the disabled list with a ‘knee’ injury. Still just 22, there is no reason to give up on Stewart. He has great talent. He throws into the mid-90s. He’s got a good slider. He can have a good changeup. Let’s hope that he gets healthy and starts throwing strikes again, because if he’s got those things, he can still be a solid starter. 16. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, 18 When I posted a previous Top 40, I had Graterol ranked in the low-20s. I felt that might have been too low, but most readers told me I had him too high. I’m sticking to my thinking and have moved him up. While he hasn’t pitched in nearly two years, and that was just 11 innings over four starts in the DSL (also 1 walk, 17 strikeouts), Graterol is intriguing. The right-hander signed with the Twins in 2014, but after those 11 innings in 2015, he came to the States and had Tommy John. He missed all of 2016. but he was pitching (and hitting 100 mph) in Instructional League. Unfortunately, before spring training, he broke his hand and had to sit most of camp. But he’s back, and he’s often sitting 97-98 with his fastball. He’s also got some solid secondary pitches. Now he just needs to be healthy and start working some innings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NitwR1NtDVw So there you have my selections for Twins Prospects 16-20. Feel free to discuss, ask questions, debate, etc.
  9. Florida sun and baseball in April I can't complain, on Friday I was able to catch the first half of the Twins vs Red Sox Extended Spring Training game before going into the office. The game was started by RHP Moises Gomez who went 3 innings and struck out three, his fastball was 92-94 mph with good movement and a slider 83-85 mph. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhaLBQCFKJk Gomez was relieved by RHP JT Chargois. JT pitched 1 1/3 IP throwing 25 pitches and yielding 2 K. His fastball velocity was 94-96 mph, topping at 97 while his slider was 84-86 mph. He was a little wild, he apparently was pitching with shoulder soreness in spring training and was trying to hide it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_0PqaZ0chs Lineup for Friday 4/14/17 at JetBlue I took video of 19 year old switch hitting OF Humber Maldonado, who stands at 6'4 200lbs and hails from San Pedro de Marcois, DR (home of many great baseball players -Sosa, Alf Soriano) getting his first look in the States. I talked to him a little bit on Saturday as well as Mario Calcano (6'4 215 20yo Dominican) through translation by Roni Tapia and Jean Carlos Arias. The new Latin players absolutely loved the Twin Minor League Prospect and wanted to know if they were in there. I had to tell them not until they reach the GCL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bsBw8T90u8 2015 draft pick 16 rounder OF Lean Marrero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgJacNeFQHU On Saturday, the Twins hosted the Sox on Bill Smith Field at Centurylink SportsComplex where newly signed Chris Anderson got the start. Anderson went 3ip, giving up 1 er, 2 hits, 1 bb, 2 k. His fastball velocity sat at 91- 93 mph with a slider 83-85 mph, a changeup 77-79 mph. In the 3 innings, he threw 50 pitches, 32 of which were strikes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRqaXH-qp-8 He was followed up by 2016 draft 28th Rounder LHP Matt Jones who threw, 2 ip and striking out 3 k. Jones' fastball was 84-88, sitting 86-87 with good movement. His curveball was plus at times with a slow looping 72-74 mph. He also flashed a passable 76-77 change and 78-79 mph slider https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYSTtM8Aokw Then 2014 draft 13th rounder RHP Zach Tillery whose fastball was 92-93 and slider was 84-85. Tillery looked very good in his limited action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu42ZRKvcMs Then 2016 draft 31st rounder pick RHP Juan Gamez, converted catcher, who fastball was 90-92 and slider was 76-79 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RArsiiJOQA Lastly was Blair Lakso, undrafted free agent 2016, who was probably the most impressive of the bunch for the day. His fastball sat 92-94 mph with a hard biting slider84-86 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HBCd-Y1ir8 The game was 3-2 in the 7th before Bradley Strong came up and belted a 2 run triple just out of the reach of the centerfielder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kydGT5Ay9FI 2016 7th Rounder Matt Albanese hitting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY7W61K86Cg 2016 draft 22nd Rounder OF Hank Morrison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkojr9_MUfs
  10. Each of the awards below has been named after someone that optimizes that award for the Twins organization. There are legends from the past and all have had a significant place in Twins lore. Harmon Killebrew MVP: Brian Dozier, 2B Ideally, the Twins hope there is a young core of players that battle Brian Dozier for the team's top award. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, or Max Kepler could all take big steps to put themselves in the end of the year discussion. That being said, Dozier is coming off a monster year and he has the opportunity to show that these numbers weren't a fluke. It's hard to imagine him clubbing 40+ home runs for the second straight year and he has been prone to offensive slumps in the past. I've also been critical of Dozier's defense in recent years. All of these things could hurt his chances. If there was a betting line in Las Vegas for this award, the money would be on Dozier to win. Johan Santana Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Gibson, RHP Two years ago, Gibson looked ready to be a mainstay in the Twins rotation. Last season, he took a step back while dealing with multiple injuries. To counteract some of these issues, Gibson took on a unique throwing plan this off-season. Reports out of Fort Myers have his slider looking great and this pitch could help him to reach the next level. There will be other pitchers in the discussion as well. Ervin Santana was the team's best pitcher a year ago by posting his best ERA in three seasons. He's 34-years old and there's no guarantees that he will be on the roster after the July trade deadline. It would also be great to see Phil Hughes return to form or Jose Berrios have a breakout season but my money is on Gibson. Rick Aguilera Relief Pitcher of the Year: JT Chargois, RHP The Twins bullpen is thoroughly unimpressive to start the season. Minnesota is bringing 13 pitchers north and JT Chargois isn't one of them. This still doesn't mean he can't be the team's best relief arm by season's end. Chargois has been dominant in the minor leagues even though he hasn't found a lot of big league success. I think he's ready to take a big jump while being used in high leverage situations. Brandon Kintzler will start the year as the team's closer but he hardly has a strangle-hold on the position. The hope is to get former All-Star Glen Perkins back at some point this season but it's hard to know what he will look like when he returns. Rule-5 pick Justin Haley could provide some value and Taylor Rogers is another name to watch this year. Rod Carew Rookie of the Year: Daniel Palka, OF/DH Minnesota has seen a lot of big names use up their rookie eligibility over the last two seasons. This leaves a wide-open race for the 2017 Rookie of the Year. Palka destroyed the ball in the minor leagues last season and he could battle his way into the Twins long-term plans. This would likely mean an injury to one of the club's corner outfielders but a lot of things happen in a long baseball season. Tyler Jay's shift to the bullpen could mean he ends up in Minnesota at some point this summer. If he has a big impact on the team's second half, he could end up in the discussion as well. With a lackluster bullpen to start the year, there will be other names that could slide into the conversation. Other top prospects are a little further away from Target Field so Palka has a good chance to make his mark in 2017. Who would be your pre-season picks? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. Today we look at the Rochester Red Wings players and coaching staff. We try to figure out a solid everyday lineup, and discuss the top prospects. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on the team or roster, and ask as many questions as you would like. COACHING STAFF Mike Quade returns to the Red Wings for his third year as manager. The former Cubs manager has led the Wings to a 158-130 record over the last two seasons. Because of the car accident he was involved in in Ft. Myers this spring, he had rotator cuff surgery and will not be able to coach third base this season. That job will go to Toby Gardenhire, who was brought in to be a coach in the GCL. He will have other duties with the coaching staff as well. Chad Allen is back for his second season as the Red Wings hitting coach. Stu Cliburn returns as the pitching coach for the second straight season, though he also was their pitching coach from 2006 to 2008. He’s been a pitching coach in the Twins organization dating back to 1993. ROSTER Here is a look at the Red Wings Opening Day roster. 16 of these 26 players have spent at least some time in the big leagues. 17 of the players spent at least some time with the Red Wings last year. Eight players are on the 40-man roster. Note that this is a tentative roster and can be updated before their season starts on Thursday. HITTERS Catchers: Mitch Garver, John Ryan Murphy Infielders: Byungho Park, Ben Paulsen, Kennys Vargas, Tommy Field, Matt Hague, Bengie Gonzalez, Niko Goodrum, Leonardo Reginnato, Outfielders: Quintin Berry, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, JB Shuck, Ryan Strausborger PITCHERS Starting Pitchers: Jose Berrios, David Hurlbut, Aaron Slegers, Nick Tepesch, Jason Wheeler, Yohan Pino (DL), Nick Greenwood (DL) Relief Pitchers: DJ Baxendale, Buddy Boshers, Alan Busenitz, JT Chargois, Trevor Hildenberger, Jake Reed, Drew Rucinski, Alex Wimmers, Zack Jones (DL-shoulder) POTENTIAL LINEUP CF - Zack Granite RF - JB Shuck 1B - Byungho Park LF - Daniel Palka DH -Kennys Vargas C - Mitch Garver 3B - Matt Hague SS - Niko Goodrum 2B - Tommy Field TOP PROSPECTS JT Chargois - Needs to work on command, but should have a big future in late innings. Mitch Garver - Needs to play most every day. He’s close to ready. Daniel Palka - Huge power, needs to put the ball in play a bit more because he hurts the ball when he does. Zack Granite - His game is more impressive than his numbers. He does so many things well. Jake Reed - Gets great movement on his fastball and slider. Should debut in 2017. Aaron Slegers - Also seems more impressive than his numbers. Sits 90-92, touches 94. Trevor Hildenberger - He has put up video game numbers the last two season in the minors. Funky delivery, should debut this season. Niko Goodrum - Could have been a free agent. Returned. Performed well in big league spring. Can play all over the diamond. STORIES TO WATCH When will Kennys Vargas and Byungho Park get moved up to Minnesota. Could someone else be called up when the Twins go from 13 to 12 pitchers… sometime? Daniel Palka was Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2016. Zack Granite was the Twins choice for Minor League Player of the Year. Both were added to the 40-man roster this offseason. They are almost polar opposite in terms of player type, but both could surface with the Twins in 2017. The Red Wings bullpen could provide the Twins with some much needed depth throughout the season. JT Chargois needs to harness his control. Jake Reed injured his side and could miss a couple of weeks, but his stuff can be very good too. Trevor Hildenberger has been incredible and should surface with the Twins this year. DJ Baxendale will spend his first full season as a reliever after a strong showing in the 2nd half of the Red Wings ‘pen last year. Alex Wimmers was arguably the Twins best reliever this spring and should get another opportunity with the big league club. Alan Busenitz throws hard too. Mitch Garver and John Ryan Murphy are both on the 40-man roster. Jason Castro is around for the next three years, but Chris Gimenez was added to the 40-man roster. Gimenez’s ability to play other positions mean that the Twins could, at times, go with another catcher. Can Jose Berrios improve his command. I mean, that’s the biggest question there is for Twins fans. His ability to find any semblance of command will determine when (or if) he will become a solid MLB starter. Please feel free to discuss this roster. Ask lots of questions and check back often. What stories will you be following?
  12. In 2016, the Rochester Red Wings went 81-63. However, they finished third in their division and just shy of a playoff spot. The 2017 Red Wings will again have a good combination of prospects and veterans. It is a team that has the potential to put the Red Wings back in playoff contention while providing the Minnesota Twins with players to help as they look to improve.Today we look at the Rochester Red Wings players and coaching staff. We try to figure out a solid everyday lineup, and discuss the top prospects. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on the team or roster, and ask as many questions as you would like. COACHING STAFF Mike Quade returns to the Red Wings for his third year as manager. The former Cubs manager has led the Wings to a 158-130 record over the last two seasons. Because of the car accident he was involved in in Ft. Myers this spring, he had rotator cuff surgery and will not be able to coach third base this season. That job will go to Toby Gardenhire, who was brought in to be a coach in the GCL. He will have other duties with the coaching staff as well. Chad Allen is back for his second season as the Red Wings hitting coach. Stu Cliburn returns as the pitching coach for the second straight season, though he also was their pitching coach from 2006 to 2008. He’s been a pitching coach in the Twins organization dating back to 1993. ROSTER Here is a look at the Red Wings Opening Day roster. 16 of these 26 players have spent at least some time in the big leagues. 17 of the players spent at least some time with the Red Wings last year. Eight players are on the 40-man roster. Note that this is a tentative roster and can be updated before their season starts on Thursday. HITTERS Catchers: Mitch Garver, John Ryan Murphy Infielders: Byungho Park, Ben Paulsen, Kennys Vargas, Tommy Field, Matt Hague, Bengie Gonzalez, Niko Goodrum, Leonardo Reginnato, Outfielders: Quintin Berry, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, JB Shuck, Ryan Strausborger PITCHERS Starting Pitchers: Jose Berrios, David Hurlbut, Aaron Slegers, Nick Tepesch, Jason Wheeler, Yohan Pino (DL), Nick Greenwood (DL) Relief Pitchers: DJ Baxendale, Buddy Boshers, Alan Busenitz, JT Chargois, Trevor Hildenberger, Jake Reed, Drew Rucinski, Alex Wimmers, Zack Jones (DL-shoulder) POTENTIAL LINEUP CF - Zack Granite RF - JB Shuck 1B - Byungho Park LF - Daniel Palka DH -Kennys Vargas C - Mitch Garver 3B - Matt Hague SS - Niko Goodrum 2B - Tommy Field TOP PROSPECTS JT Chargois - Needs to work on command, but should have a big future in late innings.Mitch Garver - Needs to play most every day. He’s close to ready.Daniel Palka - Huge power, needs to put the ball in play a bit more because he hurts the ball when he does.Zack Granite - His game is more impressive than his numbers. He does so many things well.Jake Reed - Gets great movement on his fastball and slider. Should debut in 2017.Aaron Slegers - Also seems more impressive than his numbers. Sits 90-92, touches 94.Trevor Hildenberger - He has put up video game numbers the last two season in the minors. Funky delivery, should debut this season.Niko Goodrum - Could have been a free agent. Returned. Performed well in big league spring. Can play all over the diamond.STORIES TO WATCHWhen will Kennys Vargas and Byungho Park get moved up to Minnesota. Could someone else be called up when the Twins go from 13 to 12 pitchers… sometime?Daniel Palka was Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2016. Zack Granite was the Twins choice for Minor League Player of the Year. Both were added to the 40-man roster this offseason. They are almost polar opposite in terms of player type, but both could surface with the Twins in 2017.The Red Wings bullpen could provide the Twins with some much needed depth throughout the season. JT Chargois needs to harness his control. Jake Reed injured his side and could miss a couple of weeks, but his stuff can be very good too. Trevor Hildenberger has been incredible and should surface with the Twins this year. DJ Baxendale will spend his first full season as a reliever after a strong showing in the 2nd half of the Red Wings ‘pen last year. Alex Wimmers was arguably the Twins best reliever this spring and should get another opportunity with the big league club. Alan Busenitz throws hard too.Mitch Garver and John Ryan Murphy are both on the 40-man roster. Jason Castro is around for the next three years, but Chris Gimenez was added to the 40-man roster. Gimenez’s ability to play other positions mean that the Twins could, at times, go with another catcher.Can Jose Berrios improve his command. I mean, that’s the biggest question there is for Twins fans. His ability to find any semblance of command will determine when (or if) he will become a solid MLB starter.Please feel free to discuss this roster. Ask lots of questions and check back often. What stories will you be following? Click here to view the article
  13. Back in October, I wrote about the righty's heater, which measured up against some of the game's best in 2016. A glance at what others on that list managed to achieve on the mound is beyond encouraging. Among those who were able to throw that hard while avoiding tons of walks, there was basically universal success. Hitters aren't going to do much with consistent 97 MPH fastballs that find the zone, especially if there's any secondary pitch to play them up. Chargois has that: a hard slider that registers in the upper-80s and keeps hitters from keying on his red-hot fastball. He also has shown the ability to keep both in the zone, though that wavers. His command certainly wasn't there in a disastrous MLB debut last June that saw him cough up five earned runs while recording only two outs and throwing less than half of his 30 pitches for strikes. Ask the righty about that Saturday afternoon, and his easygoing smile evaporates. "That kind of performance is not acceptable," Chargois said. "I don’t feel like that’s who I am, it’s not what I’m about." What went wrong? "Everything. Your dream’s coming true right in front of your eyes, and I have to do my job? That seems impossible." The moment Chargois had long dreamed of quickly turned into a nightmare as a loaded Red Sox lineup turned a one-run ninth-inning lead into a blowout. Following a brilliant two-month run in the minors that earned him his promotion, he couldn't find any answers. The 25-year-old faced eight batters and six reached base as a carousel spun around him on the Target Field mound: three singles, two walks, a hit batsman, a run-scoring wild pitch. Immediately after the game, he was optioned back to the minors. In Rochester, he picked up where he left off by limiting hits, missing bats and – most importantly – throwing strikes. In 17 outings after returning to the Red Wings, he walked only four of 93 batters faced. Two months later, he was back up in the big leagues and this time he was ready to show what he was about. Appearing 24 times the rest of the way, he posted a 2.82 ERA, and finished strong by allowing just one run on six hits in his final 13 trips to the hill. The impressive rebound put Chargois in a position where he now has a very realistic shot at winning a bullpen job this spring. But unsurprisingly, the manager wants to see more consistency and efficiency. "We saw a little bit of both sides of that last year," Paul Molitor noted. "Strike thrower and aggressive, and the results were usually pretty good. And other times, you look up and he’s at 28 pitches to get through an inning." This issue has nagged at Chargois at times in Grapefruit League play. Last Monday, he came on in relief of starter Justin Haley in the third inning and got two quick strikeouts, but things began to drag with several deep counts and an HBP before he finally wrapped it up. "We had him slated to pitch two today," Molitor said afterward, "but he had a long inning, so I didn’t send him back out there for just seven or eight pitches." Pitch economy was rarely a problem for Chargois after he made it his focus last year. Following that clunker debut, he averaged fewer than five pitches per out recorded the rest of the way, in both the minors and majors. That's where he wants to live. If he does, he can certainly set his sights on a late-inning role – perhaps the most coveted one. Glen Perkins is destined to start the year on the shelf. While there is a general assumption that incumbent Brandon Kintzler will open as closer, Molitor has been reluctant to make that official. "I'm not going there yet," the skipper responded when I asked him about it last weekend. One wonders if the door is being left open for Chargois. In one sense, his level of experience lags behind guys like Kintzler and Ryan Pressly, who've spent much more time in the majors. But in another sense, he has a significant edge. Kintzler had never recorded a big-league save prior to 2016 and his pitch repertoire is hardly tailored to the gig, though he performed admirably when called upon last summer. Pressly brings gas but has no closing experience and Molitor seems disinclined to mess with the setup role where he proved capable. Chargois, meanwhile, is a closer through and through. He dominated in that capacity as a junior for Rice University, and in the Cape Cod League, before the Twins made him the 72nd overall draft pick in 2012. Though he was selected during a time period where Minnesota was infatuated with trying to turn collegiate relievers into starters (they did so with Rice co-closer Tyler Duffey, whom they drafted three rounds later), there were never such inklings with Chargois. After signing, he went to Elizabethton and closed. Injuries cost him the next two seasons, but when he returned in 2015 he went to Fort Myers and closed, then moved up to Chattanooga and did the same. Last year, he recorded 16 saves in Double-A and Triple-A. So it was fitting that his ill-fated first taste of the majors came in the ninth inning. Sooner or later, it feels inevitable that Chargois will own the final frame for the Twins. And if the precedents set by other MLB closers who bring velocity in the same range – such as Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Edwin Diaz and Ken Giles – are any indication, he could become one of the league's best. But before he lands the job, he must prove that he can tame that big heat, and the key to doing so might be keeping his cool. Luckily, that seems to come naturally to Chargois.
  14. With his long curly locks and laid back attitude, JT Chargois fits the description you'd expect for a guy with the nickname Shaggy. On the surface, though, he doesn't quite match the prototype for an imposing late-inning reliever. At least, until he lets loose that incredible fastball.Back in October, I wrote about the righty's heater, which measured up against some of the game's best in 2016. A glance at what others on that list managed to achieve on the mound is beyond encouraging. Among those who were able to throw that hard while avoiding tons of walks, there was basically universal success. Hitters aren't going to do much with consistent 97 MPH fastballs that find the zone, especially if there's any secondary pitch to play them up. Chargois has that: a hard slider that registers in the upper-80s and keeps hitters from keying on his red-hot fastball. He also has shown the ability to keep both in the zone, though that wavers. His command certainly wasn't there in a disastrous MLB debut last June that saw him cough up five earned runs while recording only two outs and throwing less than half of his 30 pitches for strikes. Ask the righty about that Saturday afternoon, and his easygoing smile evaporates. "That kind of performance is not acceptable," Chargois said. "I don’t feel like that’s who I am, it’s not what I’m about." What went wrong? "Everything. Your dream’s coming true right in front of your eyes, and I have to do my job? That seems impossible." The moment Chargois had long dreamed of quickly turned into a nightmare as a loaded Red Sox lineup turned a one-run ninth-inning lead into a blowout. Following a brilliant two-month run in the minors that earned him his promotion, he couldn't find any answers. The 25-year-old faced eight batters and six reached base as a carousel spun around him on the Target Field mound: three singles, two walks, a hit batsman, a run-scoring wild pitch. Immediately after the game, he was optioned back to the minors. In Rochester, he picked up where he left off by limiting hits, missing bats and – most importantly – throwing strikes. In 17 outings after returning to the Red Wings, he walked only four of 93 batters faced. Two months later, he was back up in the big leagues and this time he was ready to show what he was about. Appearing 24 times the rest of the way, he posted a 2.82 ERA, and finished strong by allowing just one run on six hits in his final 13 trips to the hill. The impressive rebound put Chargois in a position where he now has a very realistic shot at winning a bullpen job this spring. But unsurprisingly, the manager wants to see more consistency and efficiency. "We saw a little bit of both sides of that last year," Paul Molitor noted. "Strike thrower and aggressive, and the results were usually pretty good. And other times, you look up and he’s at 28 pitches to get through an inning." This issue has nagged at Chargois at times in Grapefruit League play. Last Monday, he came on in relief of starter Justin Haley in the third inning and got two quick strikeouts, but things began to drag with several deep counts and an HBP before he finally wrapped it up. "We had him slated to pitch two today," Molitor said afterward, "but he had a long inning, so I didn’t send him back out there for just seven or eight pitches." Pitch economy was rarely a problem for Chargois after he made it his focus last year. Following that clunker debut, he averaged fewer than five pitches per out recorded the rest of the way, in both the minors and majors. That's where he wants to live. If he does, he can certainly set his sights on a late-inning role – perhaps the most coveted one. Glen Perkins is destined to start the year on the shelf. While there is a general assumption that incumbent Brandon Kintzler will open as closer, Molitor has been reluctant to make that official. "I'm not going there yet," the skipper responded when I asked him about it last weekend. One wonders if the door is being left open for Chargois. In one sense, his level of experience lags behind guys like Kintzler and Ryan Pressly, who've spent much more time in the majors. But in another sense, he has a significant edge. Kintzler had never recorded a big-league save prior to 2016 and his pitch repertoire is hardly tailored to the gig, though he performed admirably when called upon last summer. Pressly brings gas but has no closing experience and Molitor seems disinclined to mess with the setup role where he proved capable. Chargois, meanwhile, is a closer through and through. He dominated in that capacity as a junior for Rice University, and in the Cape Cod League, before the Twins made him the 72nd overall draft pick in 2012. Though he was selected during a time period where Minnesota was infatuated with trying to turn collegiate relievers into starters (they did so with Rice co-closer Tyler Duffey, whom they drafted three rounds later), there were never such inklings with Chargois. After signing, he went to Elizabethton and closed. Injuries cost him the next two seasons, but when he returned in 2015 he went to Fort Myers and closed, then moved up to Chattanooga and did the same. Last year, he recorded 16 saves in Double-A and Triple-A. So it was fitting that his ill-fated first taste of the majors came in the ninth inning. Sooner or later, it feels inevitable that Chargois will own the final frame for the Twins. And if the precedents set by other MLB closers who bring velocity in the same range – such as Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Edwin Diaz and Ken Giles – are any indication, he could become one of the league's best. But before he lands the job, he must prove that he can tame that big heat, and the key to doing so might be keeping his cool. Luckily, that seems to come naturally to Chargois. Click here to view the article
  15. The Twins put together a bullpen game, started by Rule 5 pick Justin Haley. Niko Goodrum’s three-run, second-inning homer tied it at three. After that, the Twins took advantage of some miscues but also ran the bases aggressively on the way to a 9-4 win over the Rays. The team had won eight straight spring games before both sides of a split-double header lost on Sunday afternoon. If the Twins can win on Wednesday when the Cardinals come to town, it could be called another streak.With Trevor May likely out for the 2017 season, the Twins gave Rule 5 pick Justin Haley an opportunity to start for them on Monday afternoon against the Rays. He was going on two-days rest, so it was planned that he wouldn’t go more than two innings. What he was able to do was work on all of his pitches. Haley said, “In two innings, I threw all four pitches several times. Got a good feel for all of them. Threw a couple good changeups. Got a strikeout. Threw a couple of good curveballs. Really wanted to work on the slider today, and I feel like I did that. I feel like I accomplished that.” He saw mixed results. He flashed a fastball that sat between 90 and 92 mph. He has a solid changeup that comes in around 84. And then he drops a slow curveball in the mid-70s. It’s a pitch mix that can and has worked for big league starters many times in the past. His manager noted, “He did OK. Wasn’t consistent with his command today. Obviously two-out, two-run homers are not a thing anyone gets too excited about,” he continued “I don’t think he was as crisp as some other outings today, but it was the first time he’d started too.” Haley has been a starter throughout his full career, so getting an opportunity to start was nice. “I’ve done both (starting and relieving). I enjoy both. It was definitely nice to go through a full warm up. I’m definitely more used to that. But I am just getting used to warming up in a half-inning.” He gave up one run in the first inning. Mallex Smith pushed a perfect bunt past a drawn-in Danny Santana at third base. Haley threw to first baseman Niko Goodrum who missed the throw, allowing Smith to advance to second base. Tim Beckham flew out to right field which was deep enough to advance Smith to third. He then scored when Jake Bauers hit a fly ball to Zack Granite in center. Mallex Smith came up big in the bottom of the first inning as well. Joe Mauer crushed a pitch just to the left of center field. Smith went back to the wall, jumped and made the catch, likely robbing Mauer of a home run. With two outs in the second inning, Haley gave up a first-pitch homer to outfielder Shane Peterson on a curveball. It was a blast to dead center fielder. “I can form into whatever role they need me to. I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well. I hope they appreciate that, as much as I’m putting into it, and looking to earn a spot.” Haley went two innings and gave up the three runs (two earned) on three hits. He didn’t walk any, and he struck out one. With Trevor May’s injury, Haley doesn’t want to overthink today’s start. “If they ask me to do it, I’ll do it and I’ll certainly give it my best. I think I’d be a good candidate, but until they ask me to do it, I can’t say what's going to come of it. Today was a reliever day, and I got chosen to start the reliever day.” Molitor said, “Next time we’ll try to get him more extended.” The Twins had the opportunity to face Rays right-hander Jose De Leon. I would guess that Twins Daily readers are familiar with the right-hander. He was the pitcher offered to the Twins from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier rumors that only died when De Leon was traded to the Rays for second baseman Logan Forsythe. De Leon sat between 90-92 with his fastball, usually closer to 90. His changeup and his slider were both in the mid-80s. He came into the game having only recorded two outs this spring due to minor injury. Paul Molitor said afterward, “Guys were talking about his changeup more than anything. They thought it was a hard pitch to pick up. He threw the ball fairly well.” In the bottom of the second, he gave up a single to Robbie Grossman and then walked Jason Castro. Niko Goodrum came to the plate and on a 1-1 count, he crushed a long home run beyond the wall in right center field wall. Goodrum was asked after the game if he got all of that pitch or something just a little bit less than all of it. His response, with a big grin, “I got all of it!” He continued, “He started me with a changeup that I was just out in front of a little. Then on 1-1, he tried to throw me a fastball.” Before joining the Twins coaching staff and then becoming the manager, Paul Molitor was an instructor in the Twins minor league system. Of Goodrum, he noted, “It seems like he’s been here a long time. I remember him as a youngster coming in as a prospect, a switch-hitter guy who could play (several positions). His body developed, but he had some injuries and things along the way. He has re-emerged and found himself back on the map. I told him after the (second) inning he was +2, gave up one and drove in three. He hasn’t had a ton of playing time because of a little shoulder issue that’s plaguing him a bit, but he’s taken good at-bats when he gets the chance.” He got the start at first base, a position he’d played just eight game at in his seven minor league seasons. He spent the second half of the game in left field. Before the game, I asked him how many gloves he has to bring to the park. He said he has five different gloves. I asked him if he’d ever need a catcher’s mitt. He chuckled and said clearly. “NO!” JT Chargois came in for the third inning for the Twins. He looked strong. His fastball was sitting 95 and touching 96. He struck out the first two batters, both on sliders (at 87 and 88 mph). He gave up a broken bat double to Jake Bauers and then hit Steven Souza (both on 3-2 counts). He got a grounder to short to end the inning. It had the makings of a strong, efficient inning, but getting the third out took some work. Efficiency has been a problem for him in his short major league career. As Molitor said after the game, “When he is a strike thrower and aggressive, the results usually are pretty good. And other times, you look up and he needs 28-pitches to get through an inning.” Alex Wimmers worked two innings. He gave up a run on a couple of doubles in his second inning of work. He did strike out three batters. Ryan O’Rourke pitched a scoreless inning despite an infield single and a tailor-made double play ball turned error. Buddy Boshers pitched the eighth inning. He worked a 1-2-3 inning with a lot of help from his friends. The final out came on a diving play by Leonardo Reginnato. He got up and threw to first where Matt Hague had to stretch and scoop to finish the play and the inning. Asked if any of the lefties competing for a spot have separated themselves at this stage of camp, Molitor said, “I think you go Breslow, O’Rourke and Boshers. They’ve kind of had good outing-bad outing. They’ve all battled. I don’t think it’s separating itself enough to where I’m leaning one way or another.” Randy Rosario pitched the ninth inning. He showed a fastball at 93-96 and a slider at 87. After getting a groundout and a fly out, he gave up a slap-double to left field, he got Justin Williams to strike out. Following the game, the Twins sent two more players down to minor league camp. Read more about those players, including comments from Paul Molitor, in this article. SANTANA TO JOIN DOMINICAN WBC TEAM Ervin Santana will be joining the Dominican Republic team in the WBC tournament. According to Molitor, it was confirmed yesterday morning. Santana was at Hammond Stadium last night packing. He headed to Miami last night and chartered with the team to San Diego this morning. Molitor said that his gut feel is that Santana was recruited a bit. “Players on those teams probably talk a lot. Besides management people, GMs and managers, I think players reached out to him. That’s kind of my feeling. C’mon, man. Come have some fun with us.” Santana is expected to pitch on Wednesday for the Dominican team. As it relates to the Twins, Molitor noted, “He was going to throw five innings in a minor league game here tomorrow.” “Part of the conversations, from what I understand, were that we wanted him to stay as close to his schedule as he could. For us, that means Tuesday or Wednesday. Once it gets past a couple of days, it starts making it tricky to do what we need to do before now and Opening Day.” PERKINS UPDATE The Twins have an off day on Tuesday. Glen Perkins will throw another bullpen on Wednesday. Molitor said, “His pitches aren’t really getting extended much. I think the next one’s going to be 20-25 (pitches), depending on how he feels. He’s still not facing hitters yet, and we’re getting to the end of March.” TUESDAY OFF DAY The Twins don't get many off days during spring training, but Tuesday is one of them. There will be no players or coaches at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday. I will be spending the day down on the minor league fields. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and I'll try to get them answered for you. Click here to view the article
  16. With Trevor May likely out for the 2017 season, the Twins gave Rule 5 pick Justin Haley an opportunity to start for them on Monday afternoon against the Rays. He was going on two-days rest, so it was planned that he wouldn’t go more than two innings. What he was able to do was work on all of his pitches. Haley said, “In two innings, I threw all four pitches several times. Got a good feel for all of them. Threw a couple good changeups. Got a strikeout. Threw a couple of good curveballs. Really wanted to work on the slider today, and I feel like I did that. I feel like I accomplished that.” He saw mixed results. He flashed a fastball that sat between 90 and 92 mph. He has a solid changeup that comes in around 84. And then he drops a slow curveball in the mid-70s. It’s a pitch mix that can and has worked for big league starters many times in the past. His manager noted, “He did OK. Wasn’t consistent with his command today. Obviously two-out, two-run homers are not a thing anyone gets too excited about,” he continued “I don’t think he was as crisp as some other outings today, but it was the first time he’d started too.” Haley has been a starter throughout his full career, so getting an opportunity to start was nice. “I’ve done both (starting and relieving). I enjoy both. It was definitely nice to go through a full warm up. I’m definitely more used to that. But I am just getting used to warming up in a half-inning.” He gave up one run in the first inning. Mallex Smith pushed a perfect bunt past a drawn-in Danny Santana at third base. Haley threw to first baseman Niko Goodrum who missed the throw, allowing Smith to advance to second base. Tim Beckham flew out to right field which was deep enough to advance Smith to third. He then scored when Jake Bauers hit a fly ball to Zack Granite in center. Mallex Smith came up big in the bottom of the first inning as well. Joe Mauer crushed a pitch just to the left of center field. Smith went back to the wall, jumped and made the catch, likely robbing Mauer of a home run. With two outs in the second inning, Haley gave up a first-pitch homer to outfielder Shane Peterson on a curveball. It was a blast to dead center fielder. “I can form into whatever role they need me to. I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well. I hope they appreciate that, as much as I’m putting into it, and looking to earn a spot.” Haley went two innings and gave up the three runs (two earned) on three hits. He didn’t walk any, and he struck out one. With Trevor May’s injury, Haley doesn’t want to overthink today’s start. “If they ask me to do it, I’ll do it and I’ll certainly give it my best. I think I’d be a good candidate, but until they ask me to do it, I can’t say what's going to come of it. Today was a reliever day, and I got chosen to start the reliever day.” Molitor said, “Next time we’ll try to get him more extended.” The Twins had the opportunity to face Rays right-hander Jose De Leon. I would guess that Twins Daily readers are familiar with the right-hander. He was the pitcher offered to the Twins from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier rumors that only died when De Leon was traded to the Rays for second baseman Logan Forsythe. De Leon sat between 90-92 with his fastball, usually closer to 90. His changeup and his slider were both in the mid-80s. He came into the game having only recorded two outs this spring due to minor injury. Paul Molitor said afterward, “Guys were talking about his changeup more than anything. They thought it was a hard pitch to pick up. He threw the ball fairly well.” In the bottom of the second, he gave up a single to Robbie Grossman and then walked Jason Castro. Niko Goodrum came to the plate and on a 1-1 count, he crushed a long home run beyond the wall in right center field wall. Goodrum was asked after the game if he got all of that pitch or something just a little bit less than all of it. His response, with a big grin, “I got all of it!” He continued, “He started me with a changeup that I was just out in front of a little. Then on 1-1, he tried to throw me a fastball.” Before joining the Twins coaching staff and then becoming the manager, Paul Molitor was an instructor in the Twins minor league system. Of Goodrum, he noted, “It seems like he’s been here a long time. I remember him as a youngster coming in as a prospect, a switch-hitter guy who could play (several positions). His body developed, but he had some injuries and things along the way. He has re-emerged and found himself back on the map. I told him after the (second) inning he was +2, gave up one and drove in three. He hasn’t had a ton of playing time because of a little shoulder issue that’s plaguing him a bit, but he’s taken good at-bats when he gets the chance.” He got the start at first base, a position he’d played just eight game at in his seven minor league seasons. He spent the second half of the game in left field. Before the game, I asked him how many gloves he has to bring to the park. He said he has five different gloves. I asked him if he’d ever need a catcher’s mitt. He chuckled and said clearly. “NO!” JT Chargois came in for the third inning for the Twins. He looked strong. His fastball was sitting 95 and touching 96. He struck out the first two batters, both on sliders (at 87 and 88 mph). He gave up a broken bat double to Jake Bauers and then hit Steven Souza (both on 3-2 counts). He got a grounder to short to end the inning. It had the makings of a strong, efficient inning, but getting the third out took some work. Efficiency has been a problem for him in his short major league career. As Molitor said after the game, “When he is a strike thrower and aggressive, the results usually are pretty good. And other times, you look up and he needs 28-pitches to get through an inning.” Alex Wimmers worked two innings. He gave up a run on a couple of doubles in his second inning of work. He did strike out three batters. Ryan O’Rourke pitched a scoreless inning despite an infield single and a tailor-made double play ball turned error. Buddy Boshers pitched the eighth inning. He worked a 1-2-3 inning with a lot of help from his friends. The final out came on a diving play by Leonardo Reginnato. He got up and threw to first where Matt Hague had to stretch and scoop to finish the play and the inning. Asked if any of the lefties competing for a spot have separated themselves at this stage of camp, Molitor said, “I think you go Breslow, O’Rourke and Boshers. They’ve kind of had good outing-bad outing. They’ve all battled. I don’t think it’s separating itself enough to where I’m leaning one way or another.” Randy Rosario pitched the ninth inning. He showed a fastball at 93-96 and a slider at 87. After getting a groundout and a fly out, he gave up a slap-double to left field, he got Justin Williams to strike out. Following the game, the Twins sent two more players down to minor league camp. Read more about those players, including comments from Paul Molitor, in this article. SANTANA TO JOIN DOMINICAN WBC TEAM Ervin Santana will be joining the Dominican Republic team in the WBC tournament. According to Molitor, it was confirmed yesterday morning. Santana was at Hammond Stadium last night packing. He headed to Miami last night and chartered with the team to San Diego this morning. Molitor said that his gut feel is that Santana was recruited a bit. “Players on those teams probably talk a lot. Besides management people, GMs and managers, I think players reached out to him. That’s kind of my feeling. C’mon, man. Come have some fun with us.” Santana is expected to pitch on Wednesday for the Dominican team. As it relates to the Twins, Molitor noted, “He was going to throw five innings in a minor league game here tomorrow.” “Part of the conversations, from what I understand, were that we wanted him to stay as close to his schedule as he could. For us, that means Tuesday or Wednesday. Once it gets past a couple of days, it starts making it tricky to do what we need to do before now and Opening Day.” PERKINS UPDATE The Twins have an off day on Tuesday. Glen Perkins will throw another bullpen on Wednesday. Molitor said, “His pitches aren’t really getting extended much. I think the next one’s going to be 20-25 (pitches), depending on how he feels. He’s still not facing hitters yet, and we’re getting to the end of March.” TUESDAY OFF DAY The Twins don't get many off days during spring training, but Tuesday is one of them. There will be no players or coaches at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday. I will be spending the day down on the minor league fields. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and I'll try to get them answered for you.
  17. Perhaps the biggest area of uncertainty when it comes to a baseball team's future financial obligations is arbitration salaries. In some cases, teams will "buy out" a player's arbitration years by signing him to an extension in order to ensure cost certainty. The Twins saved themselves a good chunk of change by doing exactly that with Brian Dozier prior to the 2015 season, signing him to a four-year, $20M extension. Sometimes this strategy doesn't work out so well (see Singleton, Jon).We already know teams will delay calling up prospects in an effort to gain an extra year of team of control/delay a player's arbitration eligibility, but should they also make an effort to keep players affordable in their arbitration seasons? Are they already doing this? Counting stats still weigh heavily in arbitration cases, and one of the biggest gaps in arbitration salaries is between relievers with saves and those without. A lot of Twins fans are holding out hope that J.T. Chargois can elevate himself to be the team's closer at some point in 2017. But if that were to happen, and Chargois spends something like two and a half seasons as a closer, he's going to be very expensive by the time he becomes arbitration eligible. Brandon Kintzler is still in arbitration as well, so in terms of future salary considerations, Glen Perkins taking back over as closer would be the ideal scenario. The Twins have a $6.5M option on Perkins for 2018 whether he gets four saves or 40. Even going forward from next year and beyond, this issue of whether or not to put a pre-arb or arb-elligible pitcher in the closer role will be interesting to follow. Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Twins have a number of relievers in the minors who should be ready to make an impact soon. Will the team thrust one of them into the ninth inning, or opt to sign affordable vetetans to fill that role instead? Maybe by then it's not going to matter. The case of Betances v. Yankees On Friday, there's a baseball player in Florida who is challenging the system. It's not at a spring training complex, but rather at an arbitration hearing. Yankee reliever Dellin Betances became arbitration eligible for the first time this off season. He filed for $5 million, the team for $3 million. Often these differences are resolved and both parties agree to a salary somewhere in the middle (as the Twins did with all their arb guys), but not in this case. In an arbitration hearing, one side wins the other loses. There is no compromise in the middle. Typically another team's arbitration case wouldn't garner even the faintest interest from me, but I've been looking forward to this one. Having guys like David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman around have made it pretty difficult for Betances to get saves. He has 22 of them over his career. It's clear by looking at his ERA and ratios that Betances is a rare bird no matter what inning he pitches, but those things don't typically play up in arbitration. Back in 2014, Kenley Jansen asked the Dodgers for $5.05M in his first year of arbitration, they offered $3.5M. Jansen eventually agreed to a $4.3M contract. Given the similarities of 2014 Kenley Jansen and current day Betances, I'd say it's a good bet he could have gotten $4.3M. But Betances has dug in his heels, and even delayed his arrival at spring training (with approval from the team) so he can prepare for and attend his hearing. If he wins, it could represent a victory for setup men and middle relievers across the league. There aren't many other pitchers on Betances' level, but a rising tide lifts all boats. Click here to view the article
  18. We already know teams will delay calling up prospects in an effort to gain an extra year of team of control/delay a player's arbitration eligibility, but should they also make an effort to keep players affordable in their arbitration seasons? Are they already doing this? Counting stats still weigh heavily in arbitration cases, and one of the biggest gaps in arbitration salaries is between relievers with saves and those without. A lot of Twins fans are holding out hope that J.T. Chargois can elevate himself to be the team's closer at some point in 2017. But if that were to happen, and Chargois spends something like two and a half seasons as a closer, he's going to be very expensive by the time he becomes arbitration eligible. Brandon Kintzler is still in arbitration as well, so in terms of future salary considerations, Glen Perkins taking back over as closer would be the ideal scenario. The Twins have a $6.5M option on Perkins for 2018 whether he gets four saves or 40. Even going forward from next year and beyond, this issue of whether or not to put a pre-arb or arb-elligible pitcher in the closer role will be interesting to follow. Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Twins have a number of relievers in the minors who should be ready to make an impact soon. Will the team thrust one of them into the ninth inning, or opt to sign affordable vetetans to fill that role instead? Maybe by then it's not going to matter. The case of Betances v. Yankees On Friday, there's a baseball player in Florida who is challenging the system. It's not at a spring training complex, but rather at an arbitration hearing. Yankee reliever Dellin Betances became arbitration eligible for the first time this off season. He filed for $5 million, the team for $3 million. Often these differences are resolved and both parties agree to a salary somewhere in the middle (as the Twins did with all their arb guys), but not in this case. In an arbitration hearing, one side wins the other loses. There is no compromise in the middle. Typically another team's arbitration case wouldn't garner even the faintest interest from me, but I've been looking forward to this one. Having guys like David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman around have made it pretty difficult for Betances to get saves. He has 22 of them over his career. It's clear by looking at his ERA and ratios that Betances is a rare bird no matter what inning he pitches, but those things don't typically play up in arbitration. Back in 2014, Kenley Jansen asked the Dodgers for $5.05M in his first year of arbitration, they offered $3.5M. Jansen eventually agreed to a $4.3M contract. Given the similarities of 2014 Kenley Jansen and current day Betances, I'd say it's a good bet he could have gotten $4.3M. But Betances has dug in his heels, and even delayed his arrival at spring training (with approval from the team) so he can prepare for and attend his hearing. If he wins, it could represent a victory for setup men and middle relievers across the league. There aren't many other pitchers on Betances' level, but a rising tide lifts all boats.
  19. If you missed any of the other parts in this series, you can find them here: The Catchers, The Outfielders, The Middle Infielders, The Corner Infielders, and The Starting Pitchers. Minnesota Twins RHP - Brandon Kintzler (32), JT Chargois (26), Ryan Pressly (28), Matt Belisle (36), Tyler Duffey (26), Trevor May (27), Justin Haley (25), Ryan Vogelsong (39), Michael Tonkin (27) LHP - Taylor Rogers (26), Ryan O’Rourke (28), Craig Breslow (36), Glen Perkins (33-DL) The Givens: All right, let’s try to clear this up, if even just a little. These pitchers are ‘Givens’ to make the Opening Day roster, assuming health. Brandon Kintzler will likely start the season as the closer. Maybe he’s not the prototype for a big league closer, but he survived (and maybe even thrived?) in the role in the second half. Matt Belisle signed recently and is also a given to fill a role in the Twins bullpen. Ryan Pressly is a given. He was pretty solid in the 8th inning last year until he got overused. The other given is lefty Taylor Rogers who had a very solid rookie season last year. In my mind, JT Chargois should be a given. I don’t think that he necessarily is, but he needs to be in the big leagues. To Start Or Relieve: Tyler Duffey and Trevor May head to spring training with the same set of circumstances. Both have started in the past, and both have spent a lot of time in the big leagues. Duffey has started. May has primarily been in the bullpen the last couple of seasons. Both could be in the rotation. Both should probably be in the big leagues. However, each has an option remaining which could be used if the new regime thinks that they could develop into solid starters by spending any time in the bullpen. To Start Or Relieve (Part 2): The Twins have a few more players who could start or relieve, though the odds of starting are lower. Justin Haley was the Twins Rule 5 pick. As you know, that means that he has to stick on the Twins 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Red Sox (or kept via a trade). Veteran Ryan Vogelsong was signed to a minor league deal. The 39-year-old could fit into the fifth starter competition or, like Haley, he could fill a long-relief type of role. The Lefties: There should be some good competition for the second lefty in the bullpen, alongside Taylor Rogers. If Glen Perkins is healthy and able, he will be in the bullpen, a given. More likely, he’ll start the season on the disabled list or rehabbing. Ryan O’Rourke is the best lefty in the organization against left-handed batters. If used in that role, he has a ton of value. However, depending on how well the starters pitch in 2017, the team may decide to go with someone else. Buddy Boshers signed out of the indy leagues last offseason and pitched well through 2016. Mason Melotakis will be ready at some point in 2017. It’s also possible that due to numbers the team could go with just one left-hander. Rochester Red Wings RHP - Jake Reed (24), Alex Wimmers (28), Trevor Hildenberger (26), Alan Busenitz (26), DJ Baxendale (26), Jim Miller (34) LHP - Buddy Boshers (28), Mason Melotakis (25) There are some guys coming through the system that we should see in 2017 (as we said in 2016). It will be interesting to see which guys come up, and in what order. Of the eight names mentioned here, only Boshers and Melotakis are currently on the 40-man roster, and they both have a legitimate chance to make the big league roster. Melotakis is at about the same point in his post-Tommy John surgery that JT Chargois was last year. Wimmers’ road to the big leagues was long and winding, but he got there last August and pitched pretty well the final month of the season. He came off the 40-man roster, but he signed back with the team quite quickly. Jim Miller has big league time with the Orioles, Rockies, A’s and Yankees going back to 2008. The 35-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Twins recently. DJ Baxendale could get another opportunity to start, but he pitched very well out of the bullpen once he was promoted to Rochester. It’s a role that fits his stuff well. Alan Busenitz came to the Twins last August 1st in the trade that sent Alex Meyer and Ricky Nolasco to the Angels. Busenitz isn’t a big guy, but he has the ability to reach 100 mph at times. Jake Reed and Trevor Hildenberger are the two that we’ll likely be hearing a lot about early in the season. They are two guys who could be ready at any time to help in the big leagues. Both were drafted in 2014, Reed in the fifth round and Hildenberger in the 22nd round. Hildenberger was the Twins Daily Relief PItcher of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. Chattanooga Lookouts RHP - Nick Burdi (23), Raul Fernandez (26), John Curtiss (23), Ryan Eades (25), Brandon Peterson (25), Luke Bard (26), Alex Muren (25), Todd Van Steensel (26), Matt Tracy (28), Zack Jones (26 - DL) LHP - Nik Turley (27), Cam Booser (24) 2016 was a very frustrating season for Nick Burdi. If healthy, he will likely return to the Lookouts to start over in 2017. Also if healthy, he has a good chance to debut in 2017. Speaking of healthy returns, Alex Muren missed the 2016 season after having thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Zack Jones unfortunately will miss the 2017 season (or at least a large part of it) after shoulder surgery. Matt Tracy signed as a free agent. He pitched in one game for the Yankees in 2015. Raul Fernandez re-signed with the Twins this year and got an invitation to big league camp. He split 2016 between Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. The same can be said of Brandon Peterson, the Minnesotan, who has been one of the best relievers in the Twins system since he was drafted in 2013. Luke Bard spent some time with the Lookouts last year as well. His fastball reaches 97 mph, so with some improved control he could move up as well. Todd Van Steensel finally got called up to AA at the end of the 2016 season. He will be pitching for Team Australia in the upcoming WBC. Ryan Eades pitched for the Lookouts last year. Halfway through the season he moved into the bullpen. While he could still start, his stuff may play out well for him in the 'pen. John Curtiss suffered through a couple of injuries in 2015. He began 2016 in Cedar Rapids, but after dominating for a month, he moved up to Ft. Myers. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League as well. Ft. Myers Miracle RHP - Nick Anderson (26), Williams Ramirez (24), Michael Cederoth (24), Thomas Hackimer (22), Confesor Lara (26), Max Cordy (23), Zach Tillery (24), Logan Lombana (22) LHP - Michael Theofanopoulos (24), Anthony McIver (24), Sam Clay (23) Nick Anderson signed late in the 2015 season out of the independent leagues. The Brainerd area native has pitched very well since signing and came on strong late in 2016 with the Miracle. Thomas Hackimer was a closer at St. John’s. After signing, he spent the remainder of last season with the Kernels. He should make the move up to Ft. Myers. Michael Cederoth stayed healthy in Cedar Rapids and is now ready to move up. Williams Ramirez came on last year with the Kernels and has the ability to throw very hard with a good slider. Max Cordy throws 95 as well, and he did well after moving up from extended spring. Zach Tillery missed most of the 2016 season with injury, but he’ll need to make the move up to Ft. Myers. Logan Lombana served a 50-game suspension last year. Late in the season, he moved up and ended the season with the Miracle. Confesor Lara signed with the Twins for the last couple of weeks of the season after being let go by the Tigers organization. Michael Theofanopoulos repeated in Cedar Rapids during the first half of the 2016 season. He pitched well and then did well in the second half with the Miracle. McIver spent the season with the Kernels and very quietly put together a strong season. Sam Clay pitched in the Midwest League All-Star Game for the Kernels. He did move up to Ft. Myers to end the season. Drafted out of Georgia Tech where he was a reliever, it’s likely Clay moves to the bullpen at some point during the season. Cedar Rapids Kernels RHP - Colton Davis (23), Johan Quezada (22), Alex Schik (22), Clark Beeker (24), Patrick McGuff (22), Quin Grogan (23), Hector Lujan (22) LHP - Andrew Vasquez (23), Alex Robinson (22) It becomes really difficult to project who will be in the lower level bullpens. Several of these pitchers were starters in college at this time last year. That group includes Colton Davis, Alex Schik, Clark Beeker, Patrick McGuff and Quin Grogan. Davis and Beeker ended the season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen. McGuff joined the Kernels for their playoff run last year after dominating the GCL and at Elizabethton. Johan Quezada became quite popular last year when it came out that he grew a bunch and started throwing fastballs that occasionally touched triple digits. Hector Lujan was a 2015 draft pick. He pitched in Elizabethton, and he actually made one appearance in Ft. Myers too. Andrew Vasquez made a couple of appearances in Elizabethton before moving up to Cedar Rapids where he dominated.. In 38.1 innings, he struck out 51 batters (12.4 per nine). Alex Robinson was used as a starter at the start of the 2016 E-Twins season, but he completely lacked control. He’s likely a bullpen guy, but he’ll have to get a lot better control to do that. Extended Spring Training RHP - Moises Gomez (20), Juan Gamez (22), Blair Lasko (23), Callan Pearce (21), Matz Schutte (19), Garrett Kelly (22), Zach Strecker (23), Vadim Balan (23), Petru Balan (20) LHP - Domenick Carlini (23), Austin Tribby (22) Unlike many years, the Twins signed several undrafted players after the draft. Zach Strecker went to Kentucky and then pitched out of the GCL bullpen. Blair Lasko couldn’t throw strikes at Buffalo, but he found some control in the summer league and threw well, and hard, and the Twins took a shot. Garrett Kelly went to Wake Forest where he was a catcher, but he moved to the mound. He throws 95, but he’s got a lot of room to grow. Juan Gamez was drafted in 2016, but he has a similar story. He was a catcher in college, but the Twins quickly moved him to the mound as well. This offseason, the Twins signed Petru Balan, the younger brother of the Vadim Balan. The two are from Moldova. Vadim Balan pitched just a couple of times in the GCL in 2015 before having some back issues that caused him to miss all of 2016. Callan Pearce, from South Africa, has pitched in the GCL the last three years. He’ll jump up to Elizabethton. Matz Schutte is from The Netherlands and has pitched in the GCL the last two years. The 20-year-old Moises Gomez pitched the last two seasons in the GCL. In 2016, he was 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA. Lefties Domenick Carlini and Austin Tribby were drafted in 2016 and pitched in Elizabethton. They could pitch in Cedar Rapids in 2017 as well. Top Prospects 1.) JT Chargois 2.) Jake Reed 3.) Nick Burdi 4.) Trevor Hildenberger 5.) Mason Melotakis 6.) Thomas Hackimer 7.) John Curtiss 8.) Andrew Vasquez 9.) Alan Busenitz 10.) Alex Wimmers So what do you think? Who will comprise the Twins bullpen, and how will things trickle down the system? Which prospects are you most looking forward to seeing perform in 2017?
  20. Over the last two weeks, we’ve been making some roster projections for the teams from the Twins down to extended spring training. We predicted the starting pitchers earlier this week. Today we tackle the bullpen arms. Of course, there will be some crossover, especially in the lower levels. As always, the Twins brought in several additional pitchers on minor league contracts. Some will compete for a big league job. Some have opt-outs. Some are competing for AAA jobs, and others are competing to keep their careers going. There are few relievers who are absolutely guaranteed to be in the bullpen on Opening Day (pending injury), so there are a lot of questions. The same is true throughout the system, so let’s take a look at some of the names you’ll be hearing over the next six weeks.If you missed any of the other parts in this series, you can find them here: The Catchers, The Outfielders, The Middle Infielders, The Corner Infielders, and The Starting Pitchers. Minnesota Twins RHP - Brandon Kintzler (32), JT Chargois (26), Ryan Pressly (28), Matt Belisle (36), Tyler Duffey (26), Trevor May (27), Justin Haley (25), Ryan Vogelsong (39), Michael Tonkin (27) LHP - Taylor Rogers (26), Ryan O’Rourke (28), Craig Breslow (36), Glen Perkins (33-DL) The Givens: All right, let’s try to clear this up, if even just a little. These pitchers are ‘Givens’ to make the Opening Day roster, assuming health. Brandon Kintzler will likely start the season as the closer. Maybe he’s not the prototype for a big league closer, but he survived (and maybe even thrived?) in the role in the second half. Matt Belisle signed recently and is also a given to fill a role in the Twins bullpen. Ryan Pressly is a given. He was pretty solid in the 8th inning last year until he got overused. The other given is lefty Taylor Rogers who had a very solid rookie season last year. In my mind, JT Chargois should be a given. I don’t think that he necessarily is, but he needs to be in the big leagues. To Start Or Relieve: Tyler Duffey and Trevor May head to spring training with the same set of circumstances. Both have started in the past, and both have spent a lot of time in the big leagues. Duffey has started. May has primarily been in the bullpen the last couple of seasons. Both could be in the rotation. Both should probably be in the big leagues. However, each has an option remaining which could be used if the new regime thinks that they could develop into solid starters by spending any time in the bullpen. To Start Or Relieve (Part 2): The Twins have a few more players who could start or relieve, though the odds of starting are lower. Justin Haley was the Twins Rule 5 pick. As you know, that means that he has to stick on the Twins 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Red Sox (or kept via a trade). Veteran Ryan Vogelsong was signed to a minor league deal. The 39-year-old could fit into the fifth starter competition or, like Haley, he could fill a long-relief type of role. The Lefties: There should be some good competition for the second lefty in the bullpen, alongside Taylor Rogers. If Glen Perkins is healthy and able, he will be in the bullpen, a given. More likely, he’ll start the season on the disabled list or rehabbing. Ryan O’Rourke is the best lefty in the organization against left-handed batters. If used in that role, he has a ton of value. However, depending on how well the starters pitch in 2017, the team may decide to go with someone else. Buddy Boshers signed out of the indy leagues last offseason and pitched well through 2016. Mason Melotakis will be ready at some point in 2017. It’s also possible that due to numbers the team could go with just one left-hander. Rochester Red Wings RHP - Jake Reed (24), Alex Wimmers (28), Trevor Hildenberger (26), Alan Busenitz (26), DJ Baxendale (26), Jim Miller (34) LHP - Buddy Boshers (28), Mason Melotakis (25) There are some guys coming through the system that we should see in 2017 (as we said in 2016). It will be interesting to see which guys come up, and in what order. Of the eight names mentioned here, only Boshers and Melotakis are currently on the 40-man roster, and they both have a legitimate chance to make the big league roster. Melotakis is at about the same point in his post-Tommy John surgery that JT Chargois was last year. Wimmers’ road to the big leagues was long and winding, but he got there last August and pitched pretty well the final month of the season. He came off the 40-man roster, but he signed back with the team quite quickly. Jim Miller has big league time with the Orioles, Rockies, A’s and Yankees going back to 2008. The 35-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Twins recently. DJ Baxendale could get another opportunity to start, but he pitched very well out of the bullpen once he was promoted to Rochester. It’s a role that fits his stuff well. Alan Busenitz came to the Twins last August 1st in the trade that sent Alex Meyer and Ricky Nolasco to the Angels. Busenitz isn’t a big guy, but he has the ability to reach 100 mph at times. Jake Reed and Trevor Hildenberger are the two that we’ll likely be hearing a lot about early in the season. They are two guys who could be ready at any time to help in the big leagues. Both were drafted in 2014, Reed in the fifth round and Hildenberger in the 22nd round. Hildenberger was the Twins Daily Relief PItcher of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. Chattanooga Lookouts RHP - Nick Burdi(23), Raul Fernandez (26), John Curtiss (23), Ryan Eades (25), Brandon Peterson (25), Luke Bard (26), Alex Muren (25), Todd Van Steensel (26), Matt Tracy (28), Zack Jones (26 - DL) LHP - Nik Turley (27), Cam Booser (24) 2016 was a very frustrating season for Nick Burdi. If healthy, he will likely return to the Lookouts to start over in 2017. Also if healthy, he has a good chance to debut in 2017. Speaking of healthy returns, Alex Muren missed the 2016 season after having thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Zack Jones unfortunately will miss the 2017 season (or at least a large part of it) after shoulder surgery. Matt Tracy signed as a free agent. He pitched in one game for the Yankees in 2015. Raul Fernandez re-signed with the Twins this year and got an invitation to big league camp. He split 2016 between Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. The same can be said of Brandon Peterson, the Minnesotan, who has been one of the best relievers in the Twins system since he was drafted in 2013. Luke Bard spent some time with the Lookouts last year as well. His fastball reaches 97 mph, so with some improved control he could move up as well. Todd Van Steensel finally got called up to AA at the end of the 2016 season. He will be pitching for Team Australia in the upcoming WBC. Ryan Eades pitched for the Lookouts last year. Halfway through the season he moved into the bullpen. While he could still start, his stuff may play out well for him in the 'pen. John Curtiss suffered through a couple of injuries in 2015. He began 2016 in Cedar Rapids, but after dominating for a month, he moved up to Ft. Myers. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League as well. Ft. Myers Miracle RHP - Nick Anderson (26), Williams Ramirez (24), Michael Cederoth (24), Thomas Hackimer (22), Confesor Lara (26), Max Cordy (23), Zach Tillery (24), Logan Lombana (22) LHP - Michael Theofanopoulos (24), Anthony McIver (24), Sam Clay(23) Nick Anderson signed late in the 2015 season out of the independent leagues. The Brainerd area native has pitched very well since signing and came on strong late in 2016 with the Miracle. Thomas Hackimer was a closer at St. John’s. After signing, he spent the remainder of last season with the Kernels. He should make the move up to Ft. Myers. Michael Cederoth stayed healthy in Cedar Rapids and is now ready to move up. Williams Ramirez came on last year with the Kernels and has the ability to throw very hard with a good slider. Max Cordy throws 95 as well, and he did well after moving up from extended spring. Zach Tillery missed most of the 2016 season with injury, but he’ll need to make the move up to Ft. Myers. Logan Lombana served a 50-game suspension last year. Late in the season, he moved up and ended the season with the Miracle. Confesor Lara signed with the Twins for the last couple of weeks of the season after being let go by the Tigers organization. Michael Theofanopoulos repeated in Cedar Rapids during the first half of the 2016 season. He pitched well and then did well in the second half with the Miracle. McIver spent the season with the Kernels and very quietly put together a strong season. Sam Clay pitched in the Midwest League All-Star Game for the Kernels. He did move up to Ft. Myers to end the season. Drafted out of Georgia Tech where he was a reliever, it’s likely Clay moves to the bullpen at some point during the season. Cedar Rapids Kernels RHP - Colton Davis (23), Johan Quezada (22), Alex Schik (22), Clark Beeker(24), Patrick McGuff (22), Quin Grogan(23), Hector Lujan (22) LHP - Andrew Vasquez (23), Alex Robinson (22) It becomes really difficult to project who will be in the lower level bullpens. Several of these pitchers were starters in college at this time last year. That group includes Colton Davis, Alex Schik, Clark Beeker, Patrick McGuff and Quin Grogan. Davis and Beeker ended the season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen. McGuff joined the Kernels for their playoff run last year after dominating the GCL and at Elizabethton. Johan Quezada became quite popular last year when it came out that he grew a bunch and started throwing fastballs that occasionally touched triple digits. Hector Lujan was a 2015 draft pick. He pitched in Elizabethton, and he actually made one appearance in Ft. Myers too. Andrew Vasquez made a couple of appearances in Elizabethton before moving up to Cedar Rapids where he dominated.. In 38.1 innings, he struck out 51 batters (12.4 per nine). Alex Robinson was used as a starter at the start of the 2016 E-Twins season, but he completely lacked control. He’s likely a bullpen guy, but he’ll have to get a lot better control to do that. Extended Spring Training RHP - Moises Gomez (20), Juan Gamez (22), Blair Lasko (23), Callan Pearce (21), Matz Schutte (19), Garrett Kelly (22), Zach Strecker (23), Vadim Balan (23), Petru Balan (20) LHP - Domenick Carlini (23), Austin Tribby (22) Unlike many years, the Twins signed several undrafted players after the draft. Zach Strecker went to Kentucky and then pitched out of the GCL bullpen. Blair Lasko couldn’t throw strikes at Buffalo, but he found some control in the summer league and threw well, and hard, and the Twins took a shot. Garrett Kelly went to Wake Forest where he was a catcher, but he moved to the mound. He throws 95, but he’s got a lot of room to grow. Juan Gamez was drafted in 2016, but he has a similar story. He was a catcher in college, but the Twins quickly moved him to the mound as well. This offseason, the Twins signed Petru Balan, the younger brother of the Vadim Balan. The two are from Moldova. Vadim Balan pitched just a couple of times in the GCL in 2015 before having some back issues that caused him to miss all of 2016. Callan Pearce, from South Africa, has pitched in the GCL the last three years. He’ll jump up to Elizabethton. Matz Schutte is from The Netherlands and has pitched in the GCL the last two years. The 20-year-old Moises Gomez pitched the last two seasons in the GCL. In 2016, he was 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA. Lefties Domenick Carlini and Austin Tribby were drafted in 2016 and pitched in Elizabethton. They could pitch in Cedar Rapids in 2017 as well. Top Prospects 1.) JT Chargois 2.) Jake Reed 3.) Nick Burdi 4.) Trevor Hildenberger 5.) Mason Melotakis 6.) Thomas Hackimer 7.) John Curtiss 8.) Andrew Vasquez 9.) Alan Busenitz 10.) Alex Wimmers So what do you think? Who will comprise the Twins bullpen, and how will things trickle down the system? Which prospects are you most looking forward to seeing perform in 2017? Click here to view the article
  21. Many Twins players and Twins minor leaguers are already in Ft. Myers. On Tuesday, pitchers and catchers report. Yesterday, Nick began the Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Rankings by providing us with more information on our choices for Twins prospects 16-20. Today, we continue to count them down with our choices for Twins Prospects 11-15. This group includes a potential closer, and a total of four guys who will be in big league spring training this year. This is an exciting group of players with the potential to play in the big leagues as early as 2017.Let’s get to the list, and please feel free to discuss our choices and how they may rank on your personal top 10 or top 20 lists. 15. LaMonte Wade - OF Age: 23 2016 Stats (A/Hi-A): .293/.402/.438 (.841), 8 HR, 51 RBI, 49 R, 6/10 SB ETA: 2019 Wade fell to the ninth round of the 2015 season, in part due to an injury that cost half of his junior season at Maryland. Since signing, he has been a very productive hitter. In 2015 in Elizabethton, he .312/.428/.506 (.934) with eight doubles, five triples and nine home runs in 62 games. He stole 12 out of 13 bases, and he walked 46 times with just 34 strikeouts. He continued those patterns in his first full season. In 56 games in Cedar Rapids to start the season, he hit .280/.410/.396 (.806) with 13 extra-base hits. He walked 44 times with just 27 strikeouts. He was a Midwest League All Star and was moved up to Ft. Myers where he began on the DL. In 32 games with the Miracle, he hit .318/.386/.518 (.904) with 13 extra-base hits. Wade primarily played center field throughout 2016, though he is most likely to be a corner outfielder as he moves up. Injuries curtailed his 2016, but he’s healthy and looking to take the next step in 2017. 14. Daniel Palka - OF Age: 25 2016 Stats (AA/AAA): .254/.327/.521 (.848), 34 HR, 90 RBI, 73 R, 9/14 SB ETA: 2017 Palka is a South Carolina native who was the third-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013 out of Georgia Tech. He had a strong 2015 season in High-A when he hit .280/.352/.532 (.885) with 36 doubles and 29 homers. Following that season, he came to the Twins in exchange for Chris Herrmann. He made quite the impression quickly on the Twins organization. In his first big league spring training game, he hit homers in his first two at-bats. He went to Chattanooga and hit .270/.348/.547 (.894) with 12 doubles and 21 homers. In July he was promoted to AAA Rochester and hit .232/.296/.483 (.799) with 12 doubles and 13 home runs. He was added to the 40-man roster following the season. 13. JT Chargois - RH RP Age: 26 2016 MiLB Stats (AA/AAA): 46.2 IP, 2-1, 16 Saves, 1.35 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 55/13 K/BB 2016 MLB Stats (Twins): 23.0 IP, 1-1, 0 Saves, 4.70 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 17/12 K/BB ETA: 2016 The Twins drafted Chargois in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Rice University where he had been a closer and played some first base. He spent that summer in Elizabethton. However, he missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to elbow issues and Tommy John surgery. Chargois returned in 2015 and pitched well in Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. By season’s end, he was the closer for the Lookouts through their Southern League championship run. He returned to Chattanooga to start 2016 and completely dominated before moving up to Rochester where there was more domination. He made his big league debut in June, and it didn’t go as planned. He gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in just 0.2 innings. He returned to the big leagues in mid-August. Once September came, he took off and showed the type of pitcher that he can be in the late innings… Dominant! 12. Felix Jorge - RHP Age: 23 2016 Stats (Hi-A, AA): 167.1 IP, 12-8, 2.69 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 109/23 K/BB ETA: 2018 Signed in February of 2011 Jorge has gradually worked his way up the Twins system. The last two years, he has turned himself from a suspect to a prospect and for his efforts he was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November. In 2014, he was sent back to Elizabethton from Cedar Rapids after some real struggles. He was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year. In 2015, he went 6-7 with a 2.79 ERA in Cedar Rapids. He is remarkably consistent. Of his 22 starts, he worked at least six innings in 20 of them. In 2016, 13 of his 14 starts in Ft. Myers were at least six innings. He found some struggles in Chattanooga, but even then eight of 11 starts went six innings. The other three went at least five. Jorge is very aggressive in the strike zone with good stuff in the low-90s. He hits 93, but his very smooth delivery makes it jump on batters. He’s got a very good changeup and a slider that doesn’t move a lot, but enough so that hitters can’t barrel it. 11. Mitch Garver - C Age: 26 2016 Stats (AA/AAA): .270/.342/.422 (.764), 12 HR, 74 RBI, 50 R, 1/4 SB ETA: 2017 Garver was the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2013 after four years at the University of New Mexico. In 2014, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year after a strong first full season in Cedar Rapids. He played in Ft. Myers in 2015. After a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League, he began 2016 in Chattanooga. For the Lookouts, he hit .257/.334/.419 (.753) with 25 doubles and 11 homers. He participated in the Southern League All-Star Game. He spent most of the final month of the season in Rochester where he hit .329/.381/.434 (.815) with five doubles and a homer in just 22 games. Known more for his offense, Garver has worked very hard on his defense the last few years. The hard work has begun to pay off. He is now considered ready to be a quality receiver in the big leagues. His pitch framing numbers were strong, and he threw out nearly 50% of would-be base stealers. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November and should receive a legitimate shot to compete for an Opening Day roster spot. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments about Twins Daily's choices for prospects 11-15. Stop by next week when we start out Top 10 Countdown. Click here to view the article
  22. Let’s get to the list, and please feel free to discuss our choices and how they may rank on your personal top 10 or top 20 lists. 15. LaMonte Wade - OF Age: 23 2016 Stats (A/Hi-A): .293/.402/.438 (.841), 8 HR, 51 RBI, 49 R, 6/10 SB ETA: 2019 Wade fell to the ninth round of the 2015 season, in part due to an injury that cost half of his junior season at Maryland. Since signing, he has been a very productive hitter. In 2015 in Elizabethton, he .312/.428/.506 (.934) with eight doubles, five triples and nine home runs in 62 games. He stole 12 out of 13 bases, and he walked 46 times with just 34 strikeouts. He continued those patterns in his first full season. In 56 games in Cedar Rapids to start the season, he hit .280/.410/.396 (.806) with 13 extra-base hits. He walked 44 times with just 27 strikeouts. He was a Midwest League All Star and was moved up to Ft. Myers where he began on the DL. In 32 games with the Miracle, he hit .318/.386/.518 (.904) with 13 extra-base hits. Wade primarily played center field throughout 2016, though he is most likely to be a corner outfielder as he moves up. Injuries curtailed his 2016, but he’s healthy and looking to take the next step in 2017. 14. Daniel Palka - OF Age: 25 2016 Stats (AA/AAA): .254/.327/.521 (.848), 34 HR, 90 RBI, 73 R, 9/14 SB ETA: 2017 Palka is a South Carolina native who was the third-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013 out of Georgia Tech. He had a strong 2015 season in High-A when he hit .280/.352/.532 (.885) with 36 doubles and 29 homers. Following that season, he came to the Twins in exchange for Chris Herrmann. He made quite the impression quickly on the Twins organization. In his first big league spring training game, he hit homers in his first two at-bats. He went to Chattanooga and hit .270/.348/.547 (.894) with 12 doubles and 21 homers. In July he was promoted to AAA Rochester and hit .232/.296/.483 (.799) with 12 doubles and 13 home runs. He was added to the 40-man roster following the season. 13. JT Chargois - RH RP Age: 26 2016 MiLB Stats (AA/AAA): 46.2 IP, 2-1, 16 Saves, 1.35 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 55/13 K/BB 2016 MLB Stats (Twins): 23.0 IP, 1-1, 0 Saves, 4.70 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 17/12 K/BB ETA: 2016 The Twins drafted Chargois in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Rice University where he had been a closer and played some first base. He spent that summer in Elizabethton. However, he missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to elbow issues and Tommy John surgery. Chargois returned in 2015 and pitched well in Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. By season’s end, he was the closer for the Lookouts through their Southern League championship run. He returned to Chattanooga to start 2016 and completely dominated before moving up to Rochester where there was more domination. He made his big league debut in June, and it didn’t go as planned. He gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in just 0.2 innings. He returned to the big leagues in mid-August. Once September came, he took off and showed the type of pitcher that he can be in the late innings… Dominant! 12. Felix Jorge - RHP Age: 23 2016 Stats (Hi-A, AA): 167.1 IP, 12-8, 2.69 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 109/23 K/BB ETA: 2018 Signed in February of 2011 Jorge has gradually worked his way up the Twins system. The last two years, he has turned himself from a suspect to a prospect and for his efforts he was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November. In 2014, he was sent back to Elizabethton from Cedar Rapids after some real struggles. He was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year. In 2015, he went 6-7 with a 2.79 ERA in Cedar Rapids. He is remarkably consistent. Of his 22 starts, he worked at least six innings in 20 of them. In 2016, 13 of his 14 starts in Ft. Myers were at least six innings. He found some struggles in Chattanooga, but even then eight of 11 starts went six innings. The other three went at least five. Jorge is very aggressive in the strike zone with good stuff in the low-90s. He hits 93, but his very smooth delivery makes it jump on batters. He’s got a very good changeup and a slider that doesn’t move a lot, but enough so that hitters can’t barrel it. 11. Mitch Garver - C Age: 26 2016 Stats (AA/AAA): .270/.342/.422 (.764), 12 HR, 74 RBI, 50 R, 1/4 SB ETA: 2017 Garver was the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2013 after four years at the University of New Mexico. In 2014, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year after a strong first full season in Cedar Rapids. He played in Ft. Myers in 2015. After a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League, he began 2016 in Chattanooga. For the Lookouts, he hit .257/.334/.419 (.753) with 25 doubles and 11 homers. He participated in the Southern League All-Star Game. He spent most of the final month of the season in Rochester where he hit .329/.381/.434 (.815) with five doubles and a homer in just 22 games. Known more for his offense, Garver has worked very hard on his defense the last few years. The hard work has begun to pay off. He is now considered ready to be a quality receiver in the big leagues. His pitch framing numbers were strong, and he threw out nearly 50% of would-be base stealers. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November and should receive a legitimate shot to compete for an Opening Day roster spot. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments about Twins Daily's choices for prospects 11-15. Stop by next week when we start out Top 10 Countdown.
  23. You can find the previous breakdowns by unit through the links below: Infielders Outfielders Starting Pitchers For this edition, our criteria for inclusion will be that the reliever pitched in at least 20 games with the Twins and remains in the organization presently. Each player on the list will at least be a candidate to make the bullpen out of spring training, if not a lock. Of course, not listed is longtime mainstay Glen Perkins, whose season ended after two appearances. His uncertain future is reflective of a relief corps that carries many question marks as a whole. Let's wrap this up: Buddy Boshers, LHP 2016 Stats: 36 IP, 4.25 ERA, 37 K, 7 BB, 1.16 WHIP, 2.84 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 I was particularly intrigued by Boshers when the Twins signed him: a former fourth-round pick with big strikeout rates in the minors who had latched on with an independent team and dominated before resurfacing. It had the makings of a pretty good story. And that it was. Ignoring the inflated ERA – entirely the result of one August outing where he allowed six earned runs (and went on the disabled list immediately after) – Boshers pitched brilliantly. His K/BB ratio was sterling and he allowed only three homers in 37 appearances. He went from facing washed out pros in the Atlantic League the previous summer to taking on big-league hitters, and barely missed a beat. Unleashing a filthy curveball and routinely hitting his spots, Boshers put up the highest swinging strike rate on the team outside of Trevor May. In 60 match-ups against lefties, he allowed only three extra-base hits (all doubles) and two walks. 2016 Grade: A- 2017 Outlook: His lack of a track record may work against him, but Boshers showed plenty in 2016 to punch his ticket for next year's bullpen. Given the relatively small sample, will he have to back it up in spring training? J.T. Chargois, RHP 2016 Stats: 23 IP, 4.70 ERA, 17 K, 12 BB, 1.61 WHIP, 3.36 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Four years after being drafted in the second round out of Rice University, Chargois arrived in the majors with special heat that has rarely been seen from a Minnesota Twin. In fact, the rookie had one of the 15 hardest fastballs in the majors . He coupled it with a zippy slider in the mid-80s for a repertoire that exuded dominant potential. He was far from dominant in his MLB debut, on June 11th. The 25-year-old had been eviscerating hitters in Double-A and Triple-A, but on that date, he received a very rude welcome to the majors from the Red Sox. Chargois came on to pitch the ninth inning of a blowout loss, and his sequence looked like this: lineout, single, single, groundout, HBP, single, walk, run-scoring wild pitch, walk, removal. Five runs charged in total. Ouch. Chargois was demoted right after the game, but would return two months later with renewed confidence and determination. He made 24 appearances in August and September, and posted a 2.82 ERA. His control gradually improved to the point where he issued only one walk in his final 10 outings. The overall numbers weren't great, and it would have been nice to see his high-powered arsenal produce more strikeouts (he whiffed only 17 percent of MLB hitters after fanning nearly 30 percent in AA/AAA), but all in all Chargois had the kind of year you're looking for from a highly regarded first-year player getting through his initial big-league speed bumps. 2016 Grade: C+ 2017 Outlook: Chargois is poised to make a big jump forward in his second season, and should be in line for a setup job with the Twins out of the gates. There's a pretty decent chance he's closing games by year's end. Brandon Kintzler, RHP 2016 Stats: 54.1 IP, 3.15 ERA, 17 SV, 35 K, 8 BB, 1.23 WHIP, 3.61 FIP Contract Status: Under contract for ~$2.5 million (arbitration estimate) In 2013 and 2014, Kintzler was a reliably solid sinkerballing middle reliever for the Brewers. In 2015, a knee tendon issue that had long bothered him required surgery, costing him nearly the entire season. Milwaukee decided to move on from the 31-year-old and Minnesota snagged him on a minor-league contract. Kintzler came back, completely recapturing his previous form and then some with a 1.3 BB/9 rate that ranked sixth in the majors among relievers and a 61.9 percent grounder rate that ranked ninth. That was a recipe for consistently solid results, and the righty thrived for a long time after assuming the closer role in June. Kintzler converted 13 of his first 14 save attempts while regularly turning in clean and efficient innings. But his high contact rate left the door open for opposing lineups to string together hits, and it eventually caught up with him. In his final 12 appearances he gave up 22 knocks over 12 2/3 innings, blew two saves, and sparked the worst bullpen meltdown of the year against Kansas City on September 6th when the unit turned a 3-3 tie into a 10-3 loss. The ugly finish does not, however, overly diminish a resurgent campaign for the veteran right-hander. 2016 Grade: B+ 2017 Outlook: He may reclaim the closer role simply because he's the incumbent, but flaws that showed through during an ugly final month cannot be ignored. As an efficient grounder machine, Kintzler seems better suited for a role that involves pitching multiple middle innings. Trevor May, RHP 2016 Stats: 42.2 IP, 5.27 ERA, 60 K, 17 BB, 1.31 WHIP, 3.80 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 The hope that May's pitches would play up in shorter bullpen stints was certainly fulfilled. The righty gained zip on all of his offerings and boasted impressive swing-and-miss stuff. His 12.7 K/9 rate ranked 10th among big-leaguers with 40-plus innings. But the increase in power came attached to a dramatic decrease in command. May's walk rate nearly doubled from the previous year and he astonishingly uncorked 10 wild pitches in 44 appearances. Outside of his occasional ugly hiccups, though, May was largely effective on the mound. His biggest problem was an inability to stay there. Recurring back problems cost him a month in the middle of the season, and most of August and September. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture near the end of the year, but should be fine with an offseason to heal. 2016 Grade: C- 2017 Outlook: It's not totally clear the switch in routine was responsible for May's physical breakdown, but it likely played a part given his record of durability in the past. Though he showed all the qualities of an impact late-inning reliever, and looked the part at times, he deserves another shot at starting and it sounds like he'll get it. Ryan O'Rourke, LHP 2016 Stats: 25 IP, 3.96 ERA, 24 K, 10 BB, 1.12 WHIP, 4.11 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Throughout the minor leagues, O'Rourke was nearly invincible against left-handed hitters. This skill was on display as a rookie in 2015 (.560 OPS vs. LHB) and even more so this year, as he held same-sided opponents to a measly .077/.167/.192 slash line. For some reason, however, he faced twice as many righties, against whom he was far less effective (though not disastrous). He was designated for assignment in early May, but made it through waivers and returned to the Twins in August, finishing with a good six weeks. During his time in Rochester, he was straight-up deadly (1.93 ERA). When strategically deployed in the right spots, O'Rourke is capable of being one of the league's better bullpen specialists and he proved that again this year. 2016 Grade: B- 2017 Outlook: Given that he was removed from the 40-man roster at one point this summer, O'Rourke is probably behind Boshers and Taylor Rogers in the southpaw reliever pecking order. But his ability to dispatch lefty hitters has been superior to both. His status depends on what type of bullpen Paul Molitor – and his higher-ups – wish to go with. Ryan Pressly, RHP 2016 Stats: 75.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 67 K, 23 BB, 1.35 WHIP, 3.74 FIP Contract Status: Contract Status: Under contract for ~$1.5 million (arbitration estimate) In his first year with the Twins after they acquired him in the Rule 5 draft, Pressly was a nice surprise, posting a 3.87 ERA over 49 appearances as a rookie. Three years later, he was sporting about 3 extra MPH on all of his pitches, and he nearly doubled his K-rate to 20.4 percent. Yet, the results were pretty much the same. He was a perfectly serviceable seventh inning guy who was thrust into a higher-leverage role due to injuries elsewhere. "Good, not great" seems a very fair description of his season. 2016 Grade: B 2017 Outlook: Bringing a 95 MPH heater and, on some days, truly shutdown stuff, Pressly is a nice weapon to have in the middle innings. But in a good bullpen he should be the third or fourth option, and so the goal should be to build that kind of quality depth ahead of him. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2016 Stats: 61.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 64 K, 16 BB, 1.29 WHIP, 3.57 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Though he came up through the minors as a starter, it was always fairly evident Rogers would wind up in the bullpen due to his ineffectiveness against righties. Perhaps having learned from the Brian Duensing experience, the Twins skipped the step of having Rogers fail in the big-league rotation, instead using him exclusively in relief and reaping the benefits. Rogers spent most of his year in Minnesota, operating as a trustworthy situational weapon (.547 OPS vs. LHB). His weakness against those swinging from the other side was glaringly visible, though, as righties knocked him around for a .291/.349/.462 line in 172 plate appearances. Much like O'Rourke, he was damaged by misuse, but it was generally an encouraging first year in the majors for the 26-year-old. 2016 Grade: B 2017 Outlook: Rogers should be entrenched, having spent the majority of 2016 in Molitor's bullpen with strong output. All he needs to do is repeat his rookie performance to be a very helpful contributor. Michael Tonkin, RHP 2016 Stats: 71.2 IP, 5.02 ERA, 80 K, 24 BB, 1.45 WHIP, 4.40 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Finally receiving an overdue prolonged look in the majors, Tonkin showed some nice signs. His potent fastball/slider combo produced plenty of strikeouts. In fact, his 80 whiffs were the most by a Twins reliever since Joe Nathan notched 89 back in 2009. The strikeouts didn't do enough for him though. When opponents made contact it was loud, leading to an .831 OPS and 13 home runs. Tonkin's performance especially unraveled in the final leg of the campaign. Personally, I tend to think this related to the former Triple-A closer's ill-fitting assignment as a long reliever, but in any case, he finished with poor numbers pretty much across the board. 2016 Grade: D+ 2017 Outlook: I'd be curious to see what Tonkin and his big fastball could do in a more traditional one-inning relief role. Will Molitor and the new front office feel the same way? With no minor-league options remaining, Tonkin will face an uphill battle to remain in the organization in March.
  24. Having charged through the infield, outfield and rotation in our player-by-player review of the 2016 Minnesota Twins, let's round out this series with a look at the bullpen. This one won't be nearly as rough as the starters.You can find the previous breakdowns by unit through the links below: InfieldersOutfieldersStarting PitchersFor this edition, our criteria for inclusion will be that the reliever pitched in at least 20 games with the Twins and remains in the organization presently. Each player on the list will at least be a candidate to make the bullpen out of spring training, if not a lock. Of course, not listed is longtime mainstay Glen Perkins, whose season ended after two appearances. His uncertain future is reflective of a relief corps that carries many question marks as a whole. Let's wrap this up: Buddy Boshers, LHP 2016 Stats: 36 IP, 4.25 ERA, 37 K, 7 BB, 1.16 WHIP, 2.84 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 I was particularly intrigued by Boshers when the Twins signed him: a former fourth-round pick with big strikeout rates in the minors who had latched on with an independent team and dominated before resurfacing. It had the makings of a pretty good story. And that it was. Ignoring the inflated ERA – entirely the result of one August outing where he allowed six earned runs (and went on the disabled list immediately after) – Boshers pitched brilliantly. His K/BB ratio was sterling and he allowed only three homers in 37 appearances. He went from facing washed out pros in the Atlantic League the previous summer to taking on big-league hitters, and barely missed a beat. Unleashing a filthy curveball and routinely hitting his spots, Boshers put up the highest swinging strike rate on the team outside of Trevor May. In 60 match-ups against lefties, he allowed only three extra-base hits (all doubles) and two walks. 2016 Grade: A- 2017 Outlook: His lack of a track record may work against him, but Boshers showed plenty in 2016 to punch his ticket for next year's bullpen. Given the relatively small sample, will he have to back it up in spring training? J.T. Chargois, RHP 2016 Stats: 23 IP, 4.70 ERA, 17 K, 12 BB, 1.61 WHIP, 3.36 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Four years after being drafted in the second round out of Rice University, Chargois arrived in the majors with special heat that has rarely been seen from a Minnesota Twin. In fact, the rookie had one of the 15 hardest fastballs in the majors . He coupled it with a zippy slider in the mid-80s for a repertoire that exuded dominant potential. He was far from dominant in his MLB debut, on June 11th. The 25-year-old had been eviscerating hitters in Double-A and Triple-A, but on that date, he received a very rude welcome to the majors from the Red Sox. Chargois came on to pitch the ninth inning of a blowout loss, and his sequence looked like this: lineout, single, single, groundout, HBP, single, walk, run-scoring wild pitch, walk, removal. Five runs charged in total. Ouch. Chargois was demoted right after the game, but would return two months later with renewed confidence and determination. He made 24 appearances in August and September, and posted a 2.82 ERA. His control gradually improved to the point where he issued only one walk in his final 10 outings. The overall numbers weren't great, and it would have been nice to see his high-powered arsenal produce more strikeouts (he whiffed only 17 percent of MLB hitters after fanning nearly 30 percent in AA/AAA), but all in all Chargois had the kind of year you're looking for from a highly regarded first-year player getting through his initial big-league speed bumps. 2016 Grade: C+ 2017 Outlook: Chargois is poised to make a big jump forward in his second season, and should be in line for a setup job with the Twins out of the gates. There's a pretty decent chance he's closing games by year's end. Brandon Kintzler, RHP 2016 Stats: 54.1 IP, 3.15 ERA, 17 SV, 35 K, 8 BB, 1.23 WHIP, 3.61 FIP Contract Status: Under contract for ~$2.5 million (arbitration estimate) In 2013 and 2014, Kintzler was a reliably solid sinkerballing middle reliever for the Brewers. In 2015, a knee tendon issue that had long bothered him required surgery, costing him nearly the entire season. Milwaukee decided to move on from the 31-year-old and Minnesota snagged him on a minor-league contract. Kintzler came back, completely recapturing his previous form and then some with a 1.3 BB/9 rate that ranked sixth in the majors among relievers and a 61.9 percent grounder rate that ranked ninth. That was a recipe for consistently solid results, and the righty thrived for a long time after assuming the closer role in June. Kintzler converted 13 of his first 14 save attempts while regularly turning in clean and efficient innings. But his high contact rate left the door open for opposing lineups to string together hits, and it eventually caught up with him. In his final 12 appearances he gave up 22 knocks over 12 2/3 innings, blew two saves, and sparked the worst bullpen meltdown of the year against Kansas City on September 6th when the unit turned a 3-3 tie into a 10-3 loss. The ugly finish does not, however, overly diminish a resurgent campaign for the veteran right-hander. 2016 Grade: B+ 2017 Outlook: He may reclaim the closer role simply because he's the incumbent, but flaws that showed through during an ugly final month cannot be ignored. As an efficient grounder machine, Kintzler seems better suited for a role that involves pitching multiple middle innings. Trevor May, RHP 2016 Stats: 42.2 IP, 5.27 ERA, 60 K, 17 BB, 1.31 WHIP, 3.80 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 The hope that May's pitches would play up in shorter bullpen stints was certainly fulfilled. The righty gained zip on all of his offerings and boasted impressive swing-and-miss stuff. His 12.7 K/9 rate ranked 10th among big-leaguers with 40-plus innings. But the increase in power came attached to a dramatic decrease in command. May's walk rate nearly doubled from the previous year and he astonishingly uncorked 10 wild pitches in 44 appearances. Outside of his occasional ugly hiccups, though, May was largely effective on the mound. His biggest problem was an inability to stay there. Recurring back problems cost him a month in the middle of the season, and most of August and September. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture near the end of the year, but should be fine with an offseason to heal. 2016 Grade: C- 2017 Outlook: It's not totally clear the switch in routine was responsible for May's physical breakdown, but it likely played a part given his record of durability in the past. Though he showed all the qualities of an impact late-inning reliever, and looked the part at times, he deserves another shot at starting and it sounds like he'll get it. Ryan O'Rourke, LHP 2016 Stats: 25 IP, 3.96 ERA, 24 K, 10 BB, 1.12 WHIP, 4.11 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Throughout the minor leagues, O'Rourke was nearly invincible against left-handed hitters. This skill was on display as a rookie in 2015 (.560 OPS vs. LHB) and even more so this year, as he held same-sided opponents to a measly .077/.167/.192 slash line. For some reason, however, he faced twice as many righties, against whom he was far less effective (though not disastrous). He was designated for assignment in early May, but made it through waivers and returned to the Twins in August, finishing with a good six weeks. During his time in Rochester, he was straight-up deadly (1.93 ERA). When strategically deployed in the right spots, O'Rourke is capable of being one of the league's better bullpen specialists and he proved that again this year. 2016 Grade: B- 2017 Outlook: Given that he was removed from the 40-man roster at one point this summer, O'Rourke is probably behind Boshers and Taylor Rogers in the southpaw reliever pecking order. But his ability to dispatch lefty hitters has been superior to both. His status depends on what type of bullpen Paul Molitor – and his higher-ups – wish to go with. Ryan Pressly, RHP 2016 Stats: 75.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 67 K, 23 BB, 1.35 WHIP, 3.74 FIP Contract Status: Contract Status: Under contract for ~$1.5 million (arbitration estimate) In his first year with the Twins after they acquired him in the Rule 5 draft, Pressly was a nice surprise, posting a 3.87 ERA over 49 appearances as a rookie. Three years later, he was sporting about 3 extra MPH on all of his pitches, and he nearly doubled his K-rate to 20.4 percent. Yet, the results were pretty much the same. He was a perfectly serviceable seventh inning guy who was thrust into a higher-leverage role due to injuries elsewhere. "Good, not great" seems a very fair description of his season. 2016 Grade: B 2017 Outlook: Bringing a 95 MPH heater and, on some days, truly shutdown stuff, Pressly is a nice weapon to have in the middle innings. But in a good bullpen he should be the third or fourth option, and so the goal should be to build that kind of quality depth ahead of him. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2016 Stats: 61.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 64 K, 16 BB, 1.29 WHIP, 3.57 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Though he came up through the minors as a starter, it was always fairly evident Rogers would wind up in the bullpen due to his ineffectiveness against righties. Perhaps having learned from the Brian Duensing experience, the Twins skipped the step of having Rogers fail in the big-league rotation, instead using him exclusively in relief and reaping the benefits. Rogers spent most of his year in Minnesota, operating as a trustworthy situational weapon (.547 OPS vs. LHB). His weakness against those swinging from the other side was glaringly visible, though, as righties knocked him around for a .291/.349/.462 line in 172 plate appearances. Much like O'Rourke, he was damaged by misuse, but it was generally an encouraging first year in the majors for the 26-year-old. 2016 Grade: B 2017 Outlook: Rogers should be entrenched, having spent the majority of 2016 in Molitor's bullpen with strong output. All he needs to do is repeat his rookie performance to be a very helpful contributor. Michael Tonkin, RHP 2016 Stats: 71.2 IP, 5.02 ERA, 80 K, 24 BB, 1.45 WHIP, 4.40 FIP Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control for ~$550K in 2017 Finally receiving an overdue prolonged look in the majors, Tonkin showed some nice signs. His potent fastball/slider combo produced plenty of strikeouts. In fact, his 80 whiffs were the most by a Twins reliever since Joe Nathan notched 89 back in 2009. The strikeouts didn't do enough for him though. When opponents made contact it was loud, leading to an .831 OPS and 13 home runs. Tonkin's performance especially unraveled in the final leg of the campaign. Personally, I tend to think this related to the former Triple-A closer's ill-fitting assignment as a long reliever, but in any case, he finished with poor numbers pretty much across the board. 2016 Grade: D+ 2017 Outlook: I'd be curious to see what Tonkin and his big fastball could do in a more traditional one-inning relief role. Will Molitor and the new front office feel the same way? With no minor-league options remaining, Tonkin will face an uphill battle to remain in the organization in March. Click here to view the article
  25. As you watch, review and remember these great Twins moments (and individuals' moments), consider your favorite Twins moments in 2016 on the field. Share yours in the comments below. BRIAN DOZIER What a season 2016 was for the Twins second baseman. After struggling mightily through the season’s first two months, Dozier was baseball’s best hitter the final four months of the season. On September 5th, he had his first three-home run game of his career. Against the Royals, he hit a home run into the first deck, the second deck and the third deck to become the first Twins player not named Harmon Killebrew to surpass 35 home runs in a season. One week later, Dozier took a high fastball in Detroit and launched a home run to left field, just beyond a leaping Justin Upton to join the 40-home run club. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Fswv0jvuc0 MAX KEPLER On the final day of the 2015 season, Max Kepler singled off of Johnny Cueto to record his first major league hit. He began 2016 in Rochester, but he wasn’t there for long. He was called up within a week of the start of the 2016 season. He played rarely for three weeks before being sent back to Rochester. When he came back up, he took off. On June 12 at Target Field, Kepler came up with runners on second and third and nobody out in the 10th inning of a tie game against the Red Sox. On an 0-2 pitch, he crushed a 98-mph fastball to dead center for his first home run in the big leagues. What a moment, as the blast also was his first walk-off for the Twins. It was on August 1st that Kepler really had his coming out party. In Cleveland, he had his first three-home run game. The first two came off of Danny Salazar. He had six RBIs in the game. JORGE POLANCO Polanco had a couple of cups of coffee in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he finally got more opportunities to get consistent playing time. He responded well. On May 15 in Cleveland, Polanco came to the plate to face righty Trevor Bauer. On a 2-2 pitch, Polanco knocked his first major league home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning. JUAN CENTENO Like Polanco, Centeno had been up to the big leagues a couple of times the previous two seasons. On May 14 in Cleveland, the Twins were down 1-0 to Corey Kluber. With a runner on base Centeno launched his first MLB homer to put the Twins into the lead. Centeno went on to hit three more homers the rest of the season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkQQjprquYg JAMES BERESFORD It was the story of the year for the Minnesota Twins. Beresford, who had signed with the Twins in 2005, was called up to the Twins for September. Just a couple of days later, his parents flew in to Minneapolis from Australia to surprise their son. It was 24-hours worth of travel, and with the help of long-time friend Brian Dozier, the Twins were able to surprise Beresford before the game. Little did they know that the next night, their son made their MLB debut, at third base for the Twins. He made a couple of nice defensive plays, and later in the game, he came through with his first MLB hit. JOSE BERRIOS There is one more first major league hit that we’ll bring to you today. In mid-September, the Twins made a trip to New York to play the Mets. It was an interesting pitching matchup with Berrios facing 42-year-old Bartolo Colon. In his first at-bat as a big leaguer, Berrios singled to right field. It was also the Twins first hit of the game. However, it wasn’t the hitting of Berrios that had Twins fans most excited. His debut was anticipated and many hoped it would have happened a year earlier, but Berrios was up before May. Just 21 at the time, Berrios struck out five in his MLB debut, though he didn’t complete five innings. His first strikeout was Jason Kipnis, the second batter he faced. TAYLOR ROGERS Within the first week of the season, Glen Perkins went on the disabled list and Rogers was called up. On April 14, Rogers made his major league debut. He faced three White Sox batters and got two of them out. A couple of days later, he pitched two innings in relief of Ricky Nolasco. He gave up a couple of runs, but he also recorded his first two strikeouts. The first was JP Martinez. Rogers was a key part of the Twins bullpen as the season went on. He’ll be an even more important piece as we move forward. He has the ability to be really dominant against left-handed batters as he showed in this early July game against the Rangers when he struck out the side, facing three left-handers. PAT DEAN Many were surprised when the Twins added Pat Dean to the 40-man roster in November of 2015. In early May, the Twins needed another pitcher and Dean was summoned from Rochester. He made his debut in Baltimore against the Orioles, coming in to the game to replace Phil Hughes in a big deficit. He struck out three in 2.2 innings, including Joey Rickard for his first strikeout. JT CHARGOIS JT Chargois’ MLB debut in June didn’t go as he would have hoped (5 ER in ⅔ of an inning), but by September, he was showing his potential to dominate hitters in the late innings. Check out his slider on this big strikeout in the 12th inning of a September 10th game against Cleveland. Chargois’ first strikeout came in his first game back from Rochester. It was Tony Kemp. ADALBERTO MEJIA Mejia came to the Twins organization in the Eduardo Nunez trade in late June. The left-hander was in Baseball America’s Top 100 midseason prospects. On August 10th, the Twins were desperate for arms. Mejia was called up to work in relief. He replaced Hector Santiago with the Twins already down 8-0 in the 5th inning against the Royals. Mejia gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in 2.2 innings. He didn’t record a strikeout, but he did make this play on a hard-hit ball back at him. ALEX WIMMERS As good as the story was when James Beresford was called up for September, the Alex Wimmers story was very good too. Wimmers was the top pick of the Twins in 2010 out of Ohio State. He overcame the yips and Tommy John surgery, and in late August, he earned the promotion to the big leagues. On August 26th, he came in for his MLB debut against the Blue Jays with the Twins down 15-7. He got a ground out which was followed by strikeouts of Justin Smoak and Ezequiel Carrera. In a season full of disappointments and losses, what were some of your favorite moments?
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