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  1. First-round picks carry a lot of weight in any organization. Some teams are consistently making strong picks but the art of drafting players can be a tough endeavor. If a team misses out multiple first-round picks, there can be a void near the top of an organization’s prospect rankings. In Twins Daily’s updated top-40 prospect list, two former first-round picks fall into the 21-25 range. Each of them was a top-10 prospect as recently as 2017. Their fall in the rankings is connected to multiple factors but each of them has the potential to help the Twins at some point in the future.25. Tyler Jay – LHP Age: 24 ETA: 2018 2018 Stats (AA): 1-1, 3.64 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 35 H, 12 BB, 26 K 2018 Ranking: 19 | 2017 Ranking: 5 Seth: 30 | Tom: 26 | Cody: 26 Jay was Minnesota’s first-round pick back in 2015 and he was taken with the intention of turning him into a starting pitcher. That plan didn’t work and he has since shifted to a bullpen role. His first 10 appearances (16.2 IP) this season resulted in a 1.62 ERA with a 13 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. Over his next eight appearances (13.0 IP), things haven’t gone as smoothly. He has allowed nine earned runs and opponents are hitting .321/.377/.571 against him. At the University of Illinois, Jay was a shutdown relief pitcher and he has the potential and pitches to get there again. However, fans haven’t seen that version of Jay in the Twins organization. 24. Felix Jorge – RHP Age: 24 ETA: 2017 2018 Stats (AA/GCL): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K 2018 Ranking: 20 | 2017 Ranking: 12 Seth: 37 | Tom: 24 | Cody: 18 We compiled these rankings prior to Jorge being designated for assignment. He's since been released. 23. Kohl Stewart – RHP Age: 23 ETA: 2018 2018 Stats (AA): 3-4, 4.76 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 68.0 IP, 84 H, 21 BB, 71 K 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: 8 Seth: 31 | Tom: 22 | Cody: 25 Minnesota took Stewart with the fourth pick of the 2013 MLB draft with hopes of turning this strong athlete into an elite pitcher. He has been slowly making his way through the Twins system and he even made one start with Rochester last season. Consistency has been the biggest issue for Stewart. His pitching performance has been up and down and he currently sits on the temporary inactive list after being limited to four starts in June. Stewart has his highest strikeout per nine total since his professional debut season (9.4 K/9) and his walks per nine is lower than his career average (2.8 BB/9). Stewart is still only 23 and he might finally be showing signs of putting it all together. 22. Landon Leach – RHP Age: 18 ETA: 2022 2018 Stats (Rookie): Has Not Played 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 28 | Tom: 25 | Cody: 20 Leach, a Canadian native, was taken by the Twins in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft and he made his pro debut with the GCL Twins. In five appearances (13.1 IP), he allowed five earned runs and posted a 10 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s on the GCL Twins roster now but he is starting the season on the disabled list. He throws hard with a mid-90s fastball and multiple off-speed offerings including a curve and a changeup. His secondary pitches need some work but he was a multi-star athlete in high school and his natural athleticism make him very projectable. 21. Jose Miranda – 2B/3B Age: 20 ETA: 2021 2018 Stats (Low-A): .255/.308/.405 (.713), 16-2B, 1-3B, 7-HR 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 17 | Tom: 18 | Cody: 30 Miranda debuted in the GCL after being drafted in the second round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Puerto Rico. With the E-Twins last season, he hit .283/.340/.484 with 21 extra-base hits in 54 games. This season he has played the entire year at Cedar Rapids where he has continued his trend of being over a year younger than the competition. He started this season slowly with the Kernels as he hit .170/.230/.259 through the team’s first 30 games. As a right-handed hitter, his OPS is over .800 against left-handed pitching so most of his issues have come against righties. He has started to come on as of late and he has plenty of power potential. What are your thoughts on the latest set of rankings? Who’s ranked too high? Who’s ranked too low? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  2. 25. Tyler Jay – LHP Age: 24 ETA: 2018 2018 Stats (AA): 1-1, 3.64 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 35 H, 12 BB, 26 K 2018 Ranking: 19 | 2017 Ranking: 5 Seth: 30 | Tom: 26 | Cody: 26 Jay was Minnesota’s first-round pick back in 2015 and he was taken with the intention of turning him into a starting pitcher. That plan didn’t work and he has since shifted to a bullpen role. His first 10 appearances (16.2 IP) this season resulted in a 1.62 ERA with a 13 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. Over his next eight appearances (13.0 IP), things haven’t gone as smoothly. He has allowed nine earned runs and opponents are hitting .321/.377/.571 against him. At the University of Illinois, Jay was a shutdown relief pitcher and he has the potential and pitches to get there again. However, fans haven’t seen that version of Jay in the Twins organization. 24. Felix Jorge – RHP Age: 24 ETA: 2017 2018 Stats (AA/GCL): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K 2018 Ranking: 20 | 2017 Ranking: 12 Seth: 37 | Tom: 24 | Cody: 18 We compiled these rankings prior to Jorge being designated for assignment. He's since been released. 23. Kohl Stewart – RHP Age: 23 ETA: 2018 2018 Stats (AA): 3-4, 4.76 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 68.0 IP, 84 H, 21 BB, 71 K 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: 8 Seth: 31 | Tom: 22 | Cody: 25 Minnesota took Stewart with the fourth pick of the 2013 MLB draft with hopes of turning this strong athlete into an elite pitcher. He has been slowly making his way through the Twins system and he even made one start with Rochester last season. Consistency has been the biggest issue for Stewart. His pitching performance has been up and down and he currently sits on the temporary inactive list after being limited to four starts in June. Stewart has his highest strikeout per nine total since his professional debut season (9.4 K/9) and his walks per nine is lower than his career average (2.8 BB/9). Stewart is still only 23 and he might finally be showing signs of putting it all together. 22. Landon Leach – RHP Age: 18 ETA: 2022 2018 Stats (Rookie): Has Not Played 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 28 | Tom: 25 | Cody: 20 Leach, a Canadian native, was taken by the Twins in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft and he made his pro debut with the GCL Twins. In five appearances (13.1 IP), he allowed five earned runs and posted a 10 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s on the GCL Twins roster now but he is starting the season on the disabled list. He throws hard with a mid-90s fastball and multiple off-speed offerings including a curve and a changeup. His secondary pitches need some work but he was a multi-star athlete in high school and his natural athleticism make him very projectable. 21. Jose Miranda – 2B/3B Age: 20 ETA: 2021 2018 Stats (Low-A): .255/.308/.405 (.713), 16-2B, 1-3B, 7-HR 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 17 | Tom: 18 | Cody: 30 Miranda debuted in the GCL after being drafted in the second round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Puerto Rico. With the E-Twins last season, he hit .283/.340/.484 with 21 extra-base hits in 54 games. This season he has played the entire year at Cedar Rapids where he has continued his trend of being over a year younger than the competition. He started this season slowly with the Kernels as he hit .170/.230/.259 through the team’s first 30 games. As a right-handed hitter, his OPS is over .800 against left-handed pitching so most of his issues have come against righties. He has started to come on as of late and he has plenty of power potential. What are your thoughts on the latest set of rankings? Who’s ranked too high? Who’s ranked too low? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. After seven seasons of managing the GCL Twins (and Extended Spring Training), Ramon Borrego moved up to manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle this year. The Twins brought in Dan Ramsey as their new manager. He had been the coach at Whitworth University in Washington. He had led his team to the national Division III tournament three times. Ramsey is joined by two pitching coaches. Richard Salazar is in his first season on the job. He was drafted in 2001 and played pro ball right up through the 2017 season. Frank Jagoda joins the organization in 2018 as another pitching coach. He’s had a variety of roles in recent years including coaching at Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia and USA Baseball the last couple of summers. The Twins also hired a couple of new hitting coaches for the GCL. Luis Rodriguez originally signed as a player with the Twins in 1997. He worked his way up and spent time with the Twins for parts of 2005 through 2007. He spent parts of three more season in the big leagues. This is his first coaching opportunity. Also, Matt Borgschulte comes to the Twins organization after coaching in the Cardinals system in 2017. Prospects To Watch While none of the GCL Twins ranked among the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects coming into the season, this is a very talented group. Landon Leach is a very hard-throwing pitcher who will do well when he’s activated. Tyler Benninghoff was another high-ceiling prep pick from the 2016 draft who has a chance to jump up prospect rankings this year. The pitcher from the DSL that gets talked about the most is Michael Montero. Willie Joe Garry has a ton of potential, but he’s very raw. He may take a few years to get going, but has a very high ceiling. RHP Regi Grace also signed for significantly over slot value in the 10th round forgoing a scholarship to Mississippi State. While he wasn't on the roster yet, he obviously will appear soon, and he's got a ton of potential. THE ROSTER The Pitchers LHP Petru Balan (22) - signed November 2016 from Moldova RHP Tyler Benninghoff (20) - 11th round pick in 2016 from high school in Missouri RHP Prelander Berroa (18) - signed July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic RHP Donny Breek (18) - signed September 2017 from the Netherlands RHP Amilcar Cruz (22) - signed May 2016 from the Dominican Republic RHP Steven Cruz (19) - signed March 2017 from the Dominican Republic RHP Osiris German (19) - signed July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic RHP Tanner Howell (23) - 35th round pick in 2018 from Dixie State (Utah) RHP Landon Leach (18) - 2nd round pick in 2017 (37th overall) from high school in Canada RHP Andriu Marin (19) - signed November 2014 from Venezuela RHP Michael Montero (18) - signed July 2016 from Venezuela RHP Junior Navas (18) - signed July 2016 from Venezuela RHP Joe Record (23) - 28th round in 2017 from UC-Santa Barbara RHP Niklas Rimmel (18) - signed September 2017 from Germany LHP Fredderi Soto (19) - signed January 2015 from the Dominican Republic RHP Dylan Stowell (23) - 34th round pick in 2018 from California Baptist RHP Kai-Wei Teng (19) - signed October 2017 from Taiwan RHP Frandy Torres (22) - signed May 2016 from the Dominican Republic As I noted yesterday, it’s hard to always know the roles of the pitchers. Because of innings limits and innings already thrown in Extended Spring Training, as well as giving people opportunities, roles can shift throughout the short-season. Joe Record missed the entire 2017 season with Tommy John surgery and will likely not pitch in 2018 either. Soto is also on the 60-Day Disabled List. Meanwhile, Landon Leach and Junior Lavas will also begin the season on the 7-Day Disabled List. Tyler Benninghoff came back late last year to pitch a couple of innings in the GCL. Drafted in 2016, he immediately had Tommy John surgery. He has a chance to really step it up in 2018. The GCL Twins is a melting pot. As you can see, it has players from six different countries. This rotation consists of several players that performed very well in the Dominican Summer League. Steven Cruz went 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. Andriu Marin went 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 47 1/3 innings. Michael Montero went 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 58 1/3 innings. Junior Navas went 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. Fredderi Soto was 1-1 with a 1.34 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. Frandy Torres went 6-0 with a 0.72 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. Along with 2018 draft picks Tanner Howell and Dylan Stowell, Donny Breek, Niklas Rimmel and Kai-Wei Teng will make their professional debuts the first time they step on the mound in a game. The Catchers Yeremi De La Cruz (20) - signed September 2015 from the Dominican Republic Yeison Perez (22) - signed May 2016 out of the Dominican Republic Kidany Salva (19) - 17th round in 2016 out of high school in Texas (via Puerto Rico) Janigson Villalobos (21) - acquired in trade with San Diego Padres in May 2018 Villalobos came to the Twins organization last month as part of the trade that sent Phil Hughes to the Padres. This is Salva’s third season in the GCL yet remains younger than the two catchers who came to the States from the DSL. De La Cruz hit .286 with an .811 OPS a year ago. The Infielders Yeltsin Encarnacion (19) - signed in February 2015 from the Dominican Republic Edgar Herrera (21) - signed July 2013 out of Venezuela Agustin Marte (19) - signed February 2016 from the Dominican Republic Emmanuel Morel (21) - signed July 2013 out of the Dominican Republic Gabe Snyder (23) - 21st round in 2018 from Wright State Victor Tademo (18) - signed September 2015 out of Venezuela Estamy Urena (19) - signed July 2016 from the Dominican Republic Victor Tademo is the one player in this group that spent the 2017 season in the GCL. He was one of the youngest players in the league, and he still will be in 2018. Herrera and Morel were actually both eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year, and last year, but they have fought injuries. Morel is on the DL to start this season again. Herrera missed a lot of time last year with a hamate bone injury. Gabe Snyder was a big bat in the middle of the Wright State lineup. The three players who are making their Stateside debut this year all are intriguing. Encarnacion hit .318/.408/.523 (.931) with nine doubles, eight triples and two homers. Agustin Marte hit .299/.366/.419 (.785) with 11 doubles, three triples and a homer. Estamy Urena hit .306/.369/.434 (.802) with seven doubles, three triples and three homers. Outfielders Willie Joe Garry (18) - 9th round draft pick in 2018 from high school in Mississippi Alberoni Nunez (19) - signed July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic Samuel Vasquez (21) - signed October 2015 from the Dominican Republic Tyler Webb (22) - 40th round draft pick in 2018 out of Memphis The Twins went over slot to sign Willie Joe Garry and keep him from college. Tyler Webb was the team’s final draft pick this year. He was the centerfielder and third hitter for Memphis this season. Alberoni Nunez hit .352/.420/.545 (.965) in the DSL last year with nine doubles, seven triples and three homers. Vasquez hit .301/.396/.398 (.793) with four doubles, three triples and two homers. So there you have it, the Opening Day roster of the Gulf Coast League Twins. There are 30 players listed above, and as mentioned, more will likely be added in coming days as more players (hopefully Charlie Mack, at least) sign. For more information on the 2018 Twins draft picks, please click here (links at bottom of article).
  4. On Monday, the GCL Twins began their 2018 season with a win against the GCL Orioles. After previewing the Elizabethton Twinsyesterday, today we preview the Gulf Coast League Twins.After seven seasons of managing the GCL Twins (and Extended Spring Training), Ramon Borrego moved up to manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle this year. The Twins brought in Dan Ramsey as their new manager. He had been the coach at Whitworth University in Washington. He had led his team to the national Division III tournament three times. Ramsey is joined by two pitching coaches. Richard Salazar is in his first season on the job. He was drafted in 2001 and played pro ball right up through the 2017 season. Frank Jagoda joins the organization in 2018 as another pitching coach. He’s had a variety of roles in recent years including coaching at Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia and USA Baseball the last couple of summers. The Twins also hired a couple of new hitting coaches for the GCL. Luis Rodriguez originally signed as a player with the Twins in 1997. He worked his way up and spent time with the Twins for parts of 2005 through 2007. He spent parts of three more season in the big leagues. This is his first coaching opportunity. Also, Matt Borgschulte comes to the Twins organization after coaching in the Cardinals system in 2017. Prospects To Watch While none of the GCL Twins ranked among the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects coming into the season, this is a very talented group. Landon Leach is a very hard-throwing pitcher who will do well when he’s activated. Tyler Benninghoff was another high-ceiling prep pick from the 2016 draft who has a chance to jump up prospect rankings this year. The pitcher from the DSL that gets talked about the most is Michael Montero. Willie Joe Garry has a ton of potential, but he’s very raw. He may take a few years to get going, but has a very high ceiling. RHP Regi Grace also signed for significantly over slot value in the 10th round forgoing a scholarship to Mississippi State. While he wasn't on the roster yet, he obviously will appear soon, and he's got a ton of potential. THE ROSTER The Pitchers LHP Petru Balan (22) - signed November 2016 from Moldova RHP Tyler Benninghoff (20) - 11th round pick in 2016 from high school in Missouri RHP Prelander Berroa (18) - signed July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic RHP Donny Breek (18) - signed September 2017 from the Netherlands RHP Amilcar Cruz (22) - signed May 2016 from the Dominican Republic RHP Steven Cruz (19) - signed March 2017 from the Dominican Republic RHP Osiris German (19) - signed July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic RHP Tanner Howell (23) - 35th round pick in 2018 from Dixie State (Utah) RHP Landon Leach (18) - 2nd round pick in 2017 (37th overall) from high school in Canada RHP Andriu Marin (19) - signed November 2014 from Venezuela RHP Michael Montero (18) - signed July 2016 from Venezuela RHP Junior Navas (18) - signed July 2016 from Venezuela RHP Joe Record (23) - 28th round in 2017 from UC-Santa Barbara RHP Niklas Rimmel (18) - signed September 2017 from Germany LHP Fredderi Soto (19) - signed January 2015 from the Dominican Republic RHP Dylan Stowell (23) - 34th round pick in 2018 from California Baptist RHP Kai-Wei Teng (19) - signed October 2017 from Taiwan RHP Frandy Torres (22) - signed May 2016 from the Dominican Republic As I noted yesterday, it’s hard to always know the roles of the pitchers. Because of innings limits and innings already thrown in Extended Spring Training, as well as giving people opportunities, roles can shift throughout the short-season. Joe Record missed the entire 2017 season with Tommy John surgery and will likely not pitch in 2018 either. Soto is also on the 60-Day Disabled List. Meanwhile, Landon Leach and Junior Lavas will also begin the season on the 7-Day Disabled List. Tyler Benninghoff came back late last year to pitch a couple of innings in the GCL. Drafted in 2016, he immediately had Tommy John surgery. He has a chance to really step it up in 2018. The GCL Twins is a melting pot. As you can see, it has players from six different countries. This rotation consists of several players that performed very well in the Dominican Summer League. Steven Cruz went 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. Andriu Marin went 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 47 1/3 innings. Michael Montero went 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 58 1/3 innings. Junior Navas went 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. Fredderi Soto was 1-1 with a 1.34 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. Frandy Torres went 6-0 with a 0.72 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. Along with 2018 draft picks Tanner Howell and Dylan Stowell, Donny Breek, Niklas Rimmel and Kai-Wei Teng will make their professional debuts the first time they step on the mound in a game. The Catchers Yeremi De La Cruz (20) - signed September 2015 from the Dominican Republic Yeison Perez (22) - signed May 2016 out of the Dominican Republic Kidany Salva (19) - 17th round in 2016 out of high school in Texas (via Puerto Rico) Janigson Villalobos (21) - acquired in trade with San Diego Padres in May 2018 Villalobos came to the Twins organization last month as part of the trade that sent Phil Hughes to the Padres. This is Salva’s third season in the GCL yet remains younger than the two catchers who came to the States from the DSL. De La Cruz hit .286 with an .811 OPS a year ago. The Infielders Yeltsin Encarnacion (19) - signed in February 2015 from the Dominican Republic Edgar Herrera (21) - signed July 2013 out of Venezuela Agustin Marte (19) - signed February 2016 from the Dominican Republic Emmanuel Morel (21) - signed July 2013 out of the Dominican Republic Gabe Snyder (23) - 21st round in 2018 from Wright State Victor Tademo (18) - signed September 2015 out of Venezuela Estamy Urena (19) - signed July 2016 from the Dominican Republic Victor Tademo is the one player in this group that spent the 2017 season in the GCL. He was one of the youngest players in the league, and he still will be in 2018. Herrera and Morel were actually both eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year, and last year, but they have fought injuries. Morel is on the DL to start this season again. Herrera missed a lot of time last year with a hamate bone injury. Gabe Snyder was a big bat in the middle of the Wright State lineup. The three players who are making their Stateside debut this year all are intriguing. Encarnacion hit .318/.408/.523 (.931) with nine doubles, eight triples and two homers. Agustin Marte hit .299/.366/.419 (.785) with 11 doubles, three triples and a homer. Estamy Urena hit .306/.369/.434 (.802) with seven doubles, three triples and three homers. Outfielders Willie Joe Garry (18) - 9th round draft pick in 2018 from high school in Mississippi Alberoni Nunez (19) - signed July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic Samuel Vasquez (21) - signed October 2015 from the Dominican Republic Tyler Webb (22) - 40th round draft pick in 2018 out of Memphis The Twins went over slot to sign Willie Joe Garry and keep him from college. Tyler Webb was the team’s final draft pick this year. He was the centerfielder and third hitter for Memphis this season. Alberoni Nunez hit .352/.420/.545 (.965) in the DSL last year with nine doubles, seven triples and three homers. Vasquez hit .301/.396/.398 (.793) with four doubles, three triples and two homers. So there you have it, the Opening Day roster of the Gulf Coast League Twins. There are 30 players listed above, and as mentioned, more will likely be added in coming days as more players (hopefully Charlie Mack, at least) sign. For more information on the 2018 Twins draft picks, please click here (links at bottom of article). Click here to view the article
  5. Players that didn’t make a full-season team’s Opening Day roster will remain, for an extended time, in spring training in Ft. Myers. They call this, creatively, extended spring training. These players will continue to work out, practice, play games against other teams five or six times a week, and generally just keep ready. Some are getting ready for when there is a need at Cedar Rapids or even Ft. Myers (such as Alex Robles, or Carlos Suniaga who has already moved up to the Miracle and then went to Cedar Rapids). Some are waiting for the short-season leagues to start in late June, and they head to Elizabethton, Tennessee, or remain in Ft. Myers and play in the GCL. Today we’ll take a quick look at the players who remain in Ft. Myers for extended spring training. Which do you think will surface in Cedar Rapids? Who are the prospects? There is a little bit of everything in this group. What do the guys do in extended spring training (EST)? It is very similar to regular spring training. Each morning there is a workout/practice. Approximately five days a week, they will play a game in the afternoon against EST teams of the Red Sox, Orioles or Rays. Most weeks, there will be one day where they will just practice and work out. They get Sundays off. You’ll see a lot of these guys go watch the Miracle games at night when they are at home. Players are able to take English and Spanish classes at the player academy. COACHING STAFFS Ray Smith will again be the manager of the Elizabethton Twins. It is his 32nd season with the Elizabethton Twins, and the 25th as manager. A few of the years he was a coach so that the Twins could have another manager work with and learn from him. He has a managerial record of 977-648. He has won seven Appalachian League titles, including the 2017 championship. He originally signed with the Twins in 1977, and he played in 83 big league games for the Twins between 1981 and 1983. His hitting coach for the 17th straight season by Jeff Reed. Reed was the Twins first round pick in 1980 and played in 93 games for the Twins from 1984 through 1986. The catcher went on to play a total of 17 seasons in the big leagues. Smith and Reed are not yet at EST. Luis Ramirez is back for his fourth season as the E-Twins pitching coach. He had coached in the GCL the two previous years. He also spent eight seasons as the Twins pitching coordinator in their Venezuelan Academy. Takashi Miyoshi was added as the fourth E-Twins coach. After a long playing career, he has been coaching in the independent leagues. After seven seasons of managing the GCL Twins (and EST), Ramon Borrego moved up to manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. The Twins brought in Dan Ramsey who had been the coach at Whitworth University in Washington. He had led his team to the national Division III tournament three times. He is joined by two pitching coaches. Virgil Vasquez is in his fourth season on the job. He spent big league time with the Tigers and Pirates, and he played for the Twins AA and AAA teams in 2013 and 2014. Frank Jagoda joins the organization in 2018 as another pitching coach. He’s had a variety of roles in recent years including coaching at Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia and USA Baseball the last couple of summers. The Twins also hired a couple of new hitting coaches for the GCL. Luis Rodriguez originally signed as a player with the Twins in 1997. He worked his way up and spent time with the Twins for parts of 2005 through 2007. He spent parts of three more season in the big leagues. This is his first coaching opportunity. Also, Matt Borgschulte comes to the Twins organization after coaching in the Cardinals system in 2017. ROSTER Catchers: Kerby Camacho, Andy Cosgrove, Yeremi De La Cruz, Robert Molina, Kidany Salva, Colton Waltner Infielders: Carson Crites, Ricky De La Torre, Wander Javier, Kolton Kendrick, Ariel Montesino, Emmanuel Morel, Robby Rinn, JJ Robinson, Yunior Severino, Victor Tademo Outfielders: Jared Akins, Matt Albanese, Jean-Carlos Arias (Called up to Cedar Rapids on Monday), Colton Burns, TJ Dixon, Edgar Herrera, Lean Marrero, Jacob Pearson Pitchers: Melvi Acosta, Dean Aldridge, Yancarlos Baez, Petru Balan, Jordan Balazovic, Tyler Benninghoff, Christian Broussard, Zack Featherstone, Juan Gamez, Pedro Garcia, David Gerics, Brusdar Graterol, Matt Jones, Tanner Kiest, Blair Lakso, Landon Leach, Andriu Marin, Michael Montero, Bailey Ober, Johan Quezada, Rickey Ramirez, Kai-Wei Teng,Ryley Widell. Adam Bray (Rehab) TOP PROSPECTS Wander Javier - Immensely talented, Javier will likely soon move up to Cedar Rapids after missing time with a shoulder injury. Javier has five-tool potential and could stick at shortstop. Twins Daily’s #6 Prospect. Brusdar Graterol - High upside right-hander, works into the upper-90s. 2017 was his first season back after Tommy John surgery. He will likely be pitching for Cedar Rapids by the time the short-seasons start. Twins Daily’s #9 Prospect. Yunior Severino - came to the Twins this offseason after MLB declared him-and other Braves prospects-free agents. Played last year in the GCL and should spend this summer playing in Elizabethton. Twins Daily’s #18 Prospect. Landon Leach - second-round pick in 2017 out of high school in Canada, Leach throws really hard, into the mid-90s.. He’s raw as he hasn’t been pitching for long, but he has a ton of potential. . Jacob Pearson - Pearson was the Angels third-round pick last year out of high school in Louisiana. The Angels needed international dollars in their attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani, so the Twins traded a million of international funds for Pearson. He’s an athletic outfielder with speed and some pop in his bat. Get to Know: Jacob Pearson. Victor Tademo - While Tademo hit just .199 last year in the GCL, he was one of its youngest players. He’s got the ability to play shortstop, though he’s already playing mostly third base. Michael Montero - At 17 years old, Montero debuted in 2017 in the DSL. In 58 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 64. A tall, right-hander, he is one to watch this season, likely in the GCL. Ricky De La Torre - A year ago, there was thought that De La Torre could be a first-round draft pick. The Twins drafted him in the sixth round out of school in Puerto Rico. A great athlete, De La Torre is another guy who could stick at shortstop. Tyler Benninghoff - Twins 11th-round pick in 2016 out of high school, he immediately had Tommy John surgery. He’s recently started throwing bullpens off a mound. Could possibly pitch very late in GCL season. STORIES TO WATCH How quickly will Brusdar Graterol and Wander Javier get to Cedar Rapids. Based on how many games the Kernels have already lost this season, it’s pretty clear that it was best to keep them both in Florida. Javier missed time in spring training with a shoulder injury, otherwise he likely would have started the year with the Kernels. Graterol will likely be on a fairly strict innings (and/or pitch) count in 2018. I would guess they will both be in Iowa by mid-May. It’s always interesting to see which players the team has move up from EST to the Miracle when they have a need. Already this year, RHP Carlos Suniaga has been up twice, and infielder Alex Robles has started the last two days for the Miracle. On Monday, outfielder Jean Carlos Arias moved up to Cedar Rapids. The Twins have always had players from around the globe. The current EST roster includes players from the following countries: Dominican Republic (9), Venezuela (7), Puerto Rico (4), Canada (3), and one each from Australia, Moldova and Taiwan. (Those numbers do not include players on the disabled list of full-season teams.) The oldest players on EST rosters are both first basemen. JJ Robinson, the Twins 33rd-round draft pick last year out of Lewis-Clark State, is 25 until mid-October. Robinson is six days older than Robbie Rinn who was acquired from the Royals during spring training. On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Montero is 18 years old, born just after New Years Day in 2000. He is about two months younger than Yunior Severino. Landon Leach, Victor Tademo and Ricky De La Torre were all born within a two-week period in July of 1999. Feel free to discuss the talent that the Twins have in Extended Spring Training. You can ask as many questions as you’d like and we’ll try to get them answered.
  6. The full-season minor league affiliates are full go. Weather caused many postponements. Rochester’s opening three-game series was snowed out. The Kernels played again on Friday after not playing for a week due to weather and the Beloit field. The Lookouts and the Miracle have been playing most days. However, there is another group of Twins minor leaguers that remain in Ft. Myers at Extended Spring Training. On Tuesday, the Twins' extended spring training team will take on a team from Baseball Canada.Players that didn’t make a full-season team’s Opening Day roster will remain, for an extended time, in spring training in Ft. Myers. They call this, creatively, extended spring training. These players will continue to work out, practice, play games against other teams five or six times a week, and generally just keep ready. Some are getting ready for when there is a need at Cedar Rapids or even Ft. Myers (such as Alex Robles, or Carlos Suniaga who has already moved up to the Miracle and then went to Cedar Rapids). Some are waiting for the short-season leagues to start in late June, and they head to Elizabethton, Tennessee, or remain in Ft. Myers and play in the GCL. Today we’ll take a quick look at the players who remain in Ft. Myers for extended spring training. Which do you think will surface in Cedar Rapids? Who are the prospects? There is a little bit of everything in this group. What do the guys do in extended spring training (EST)? It is very similar to regular spring training. Each morning there is a workout/practice. Approximately five days a week, they will play a game in the afternoon against EST teams of the Red Sox, Orioles or Rays. Most weeks, there will be one day where they will just practice and work out. They get Sundays off. You’ll see a lot of these guys go watch the Miracle games at night when they are at home. Players are able to take English and Spanish classes at the player academy. COACHING STAFFS Ray Smith will again be the manager of the Elizabethton Twins. It is his 32nd season with the Elizabethton Twins, and the 25th as manager. A few of the years he was a coach so that the Twins could have another manager work with and learn from him. He has a managerial record of 977-648. He has won seven Appalachian League titles, including the 2017 championship. He originally signed with the Twins in 1977, and he played in 83 big league games for the Twins between 1981 and 1983. His hitting coach for the 17th straight season by Jeff Reed. Reed was the Twins first round pick in 1980 and played in 93 games for the Twins from 1984 through 1986. The catcher went on to play a total of 17 seasons in the big leagues. Smith and Reed are not yet at EST. Luis Ramirez is back for his fourth season as the E-Twins pitching coach. He had coached in the GCL the two previous years. He also spent eight seasons as the Twins pitching coordinator in their Venezuelan Academy. Takashi Miyoshi was added as the fourth E-Twins coach. After a long playing career, he has been coaching in the independent leagues. After seven seasons of managing the GCL Twins (and EST), Ramon Borrego moved up to manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. The Twins brought in Dan Ramsey who had been the coach at Whitworth University in Washington. He had led his team to the national Division III tournament three times. He is joined by two pitching coaches. Virgil Vasquez is in his fourth season on the job. He spent big league time with the Tigers and Pirates, and he played for the Twins AA and AAA teams in 2013 and 2014. Frank Jagoda joins the organization in 2018 as another pitching coach. He’s had a variety of roles in recent years including coaching at Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia and USA Baseball the last couple of summers. The Twins also hired a couple of new hitting coaches for the GCL. Luis Rodriguez originally signed as a player with the Twins in 1997. He worked his way up and spent time with the Twins for parts of 2005 through 2007. He spent parts of three more season in the big leagues. This is his first coaching opportunity. Also, Matt Borgschulte comes to the Twins organization after coaching in the Cardinals system in 2017. ROSTER Catchers: Kerby Camacho, Andy Cosgrove, Yeremi De La Cruz, Robert Molina, Kidany Salva, Colton Waltner Infielders: Carson Crites, Ricky De La Torre, Wander Javier, Kolton Kendrick, Ariel Montesino, Emmanuel Morel, Robby Rinn, JJ Robinson, Yunior Severino, Victor Tademo Outfielders: Jared Akins, Matt Albanese, Jean-Carlos Arias (Called up to Cedar Rapids on Monday), Colton Burns, TJ Dixon, Edgar Herrera, Lean Marrero, Jacob Pearson Pitchers: Melvi Acosta, Dean Aldridge, Yancarlos Baez, Petru Balan, Jordan Balazovic, Tyler Benninghoff, Christian Broussard, Zack Featherstone, Juan Gamez, Pedro Garcia, David Gerics, Brusdar Graterol, Matt Jones, Tanner Kiest, Blair Lakso, Landon Leach, Andriu Marin, Michael Montero, Bailey Ober, Johan Quezada, Rickey Ramirez, Kai-Wei Teng,Ryley Widell. Adam Bray (Rehab) TOP PROSPECTS Wander Javier - Immensely talented, Javier will likely soon move up to Cedar Rapids after missing time with a shoulder injury. Javier has five-tool potential and could stick at shortstop. Twins Daily’s #6 Prospect.Brusdar Graterol - High upside right-hander, works into the upper-90s. 2017 was his first season back after Tommy John surgery. He will likely be pitching for Cedar Rapids by the time the short-seasons start. Twins Daily’s #9 Prospect.Yunior Severino - came to the Twins this offseason after MLB declared him-and other Braves prospects-free agents. Played last year in the GCL and should spend this summer playing in Elizabethton. Twins Daily’s #18 Prospect.Landon Leach - second-round pick in 2017 out of high school in Canada, Leach throws really hard, into the mid-90s.. He’s raw as he hasn’t been pitching for long, but he has a ton of potential. .Jacob Pearson - Pearson was the Angels third-round pick last year out of high school in Louisiana. The Angels needed international dollars in their attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani, so the Twins traded a million of international funds for Pearson. He’s an athletic outfielder with speed and some pop in his bat. Get to Know: Jacob Pearson.Victor Tademo - While Tademo hit just .199 last year in the GCL, he was one of its youngest players. He’s got the ability to play shortstop, though he’s already playing mostly third base.Michael Montero - At 17 years old, Montero debuted in 2017 in the DSL. In 58 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 64. A tall, right-hander, he is one to watch this season, likely in the GCL.Ricky De La Torre - A year ago, there was thought that De La Torre could be a first-round draft pick. The Twins drafted him in the sixth round out of school in Puerto Rico. A great athlete, De La Torre is another guy who could stick at shortstop.Tyler Benninghoff - Twins 11th-round pick in 2016 out of high school, he immediately had Tommy John surgery. He’s recently started throwing bullpens off a mound. Could possibly pitch very late in GCL season.STORIES TO WATCHHow quickly will Brusdar Graterol and Wander Javier get to Cedar Rapids. Based on how many games the Kernels have already lost this season, it’s pretty clear that it was best to keep them both in Florida. Javier missed time in spring training with a shoulder injury, otherwise he likely would have started the year with the Kernels. Graterol will likely be on a fairly strict innings (and/or pitch) count in 2018. I would guess they will both be in Iowa by mid-May.It’s always interesting to see which players the team has move up from EST to the Miracle when they have a need. Already this year, RHP Carlos Suniaga has been up twice, and infielder Alex Robles has started the last two days for the Miracle. On Monday, outfielder Jean Carlos Arias moved up to Cedar Rapids.The Twins have always had players from around the globe. The current EST roster includes players from the following countries: Dominican Republic (9), Venezuela (7), Puerto Rico (4), Canada (3), and one each from Australia, Moldova and Taiwan. (Those numbers do not include players on the disabled list of full-season teams.)The oldest players on EST rosters are both first basemen. JJ Robinson, the Twins 33rd-round draft pick last year out of Lewis-Clark State, is 25 until mid-October. Robinson is six days older than Robbie Rinn who was acquired from the Royals during spring training.On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Montero is 18 years old, born just after New Years Day in 2000. He is about two months younger than Yunior Severino. Landon Leach, Victor Tademo and Ricky De La Torre were all born within a two-week period in July of 1999.Feel free to discuss the talent that the Twins have in Extended Spring Training. You can ask as many questions as you’d like and we’ll try to get them answered. Click here to view the article
  7. I spent eight full days in Ft. Myers, and for at least some of each day, I spent time down on the minor league side of things. When there was a big league game, I would maybe only spend a couple of hours watching practice. When the big league team was on the road, I would spend as much as seven hours watching practices and games. There is a lot of talent in the Twins minor league system. Today I wanted to highlight a handful of players who caught my eye, specifically with guys who are not often found on prospect sheets.I don’t know if you want to call them sleepers or just guys that stood out to one observer, me, but there were several players that I didn’t necessarily rank real high on Twins prospect lists. This isn’t an article to say that suddenly these guys will jump into my Top 10 or even my Top 30. But every year there are a couple of players that do good enough work throughout the time I’m there (admittedly a small sample) to get noticed. At the same time, Royce Lewis is a standout. Brent Rooker's approach and swing at the plate are eye-popping. Akil Baddoo is impressive at the plate, on the bases and in the field. Alex Kirilloff’s swing is so smooth. Blayne Enlow appears to be as advertised. Brusdar Graterol throws gas and looks the part of a starter. Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves look close to big-league ready. We already know that. That’s why those guys are top ten types of prospects. Today I want to highlight some guys that maybe you haven’t heard a lot about. Maybe some of them will end up being Top 20 guys by season’s end. Maybe some of them won’t be with the organization in September. I don’t know. But it’s fun to observe, and in some ways, play amateur scout. While I was in Ft. Myers, I watch a lot. I love watching bullpens. I love watching infielders take group balls. I love pop up drills. I love watching guys take game at bats against live pitching because that is often different than batting practice swinging, which is also fun to watch. In my time down there, I had the chance to briefly talk to Mike Radcliff, and I met Deron Johnson for the first time. I only wish I had their abilities to scout and evaluate players not only for what they are today, but what they might be in three years, or five years. Scouting is a tough job. And maybe this little exercise will highlight that. So let’s get to it. Here are five guys (non-Top 20 types) who stood out in my mind having watched them over the course of my eight days in Ft. Myers. Ben Rodriguez Ben Rodriguez was the Twins 38th-round pick last June out of Pepperdine where he had played for four years. Drafted as a catcher, Rodriguez stands 6-6 and about 230 pounds. After being drafted, he played 50 games in the GCL where he hit .290/.399/. 457 (.856) with 17 extra base hits. While I did see him working on a few drills with the catchers, Rodriguez spent the majority of his time at first base. What is noteworthy is that he spent most of spring training with the Ft. Myers group that is starting the season in Cedar Rapids. He essentially passed by the likes of Kolton Kendrick and JJ Robinson who played first base at Elizabethton last season. He’s had some swing-and-miss in his game, but as you would guess from his size, he has a ton of power and power potential. We’ll see if it comes to fruition, but in my mind, that was a great late-round pick. Rodriguez is very athletic, strong and has potential that makes him intriguing. Andrew Vasquez Vasquez is kind of a late bloomer on this list. The left-hander was the Twins 32nd- round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College in California. He’s been moved fairly slowly, but he ended 2017 strong. After starting in Cedar Rapids, he moved up to Ft. Myers. Combined, he posted a 1.55 ERA and struck out 85 batters in 58 innings of work. He ended the season with an invitation to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 14 batters in 12.2 innings (1.42 ERA). I first noticed him in the spring of 2017 when I watched him throw a bullpen. Actually, I heard him throw a bullpen. Just warming up, the ball could be heard as it went by. While his velocity wasn’t too high, it was a heavy fastball. This year, I watched him pitch in a couple of spring games. As I was taking in pitches from the side, and seeing hitters’ knees buckle, I decided to go stand behind home plate and watch. I’d obviously heard about the slider of Vasquez, but to see it is something else. After watching a couple, I looked at Twins assistant minor league pitching coordinator JP Martinez and he just shook his head at me and said, “I wish I could take credit for that.” We watched a couple more of his sliders dart into the strike zone, and it made his fastball appear even faster than its low-90s velocity was. He’s a two-pitch pitcher, and both pitches are really good. Tanner English 2017 was a forgettable year for Tanner English. He began the season by spending about a month in Chattanooga, but he just couldn’t get his bat going. He moved back to Ft. Myers and continued to struggle with the bat. He will begin 2018 with the Lookouts again, looking to take his career to the next level. You may recall the big league spring training game that English played hero in just over a week ago. He entered the game in the 8th inning as a pinch runner and then hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game. While he’s not a big guy, English has good tools. The first one you notice is his speed. He’s a good base runner and base stealer. He really shines in center field. English can cover a lot of ground, and he possesses a very strong arm. While he hasn’t hit for average, English puts together really good at-bats. He knows the strike zone and he understands the value of getting on base. And again, despite the lack of size, English has a bit of pop in his bat. The spring training big league home run landed near the top of the berm in left center field at Hammond Stadium. 2018 is a big year for him, and a solid offensive year, with his defense, could make him a candidate for a fourth or fifth outfielder job. Taylor Grzelakowski Grzelakowski went undrafted last year after his four years at Madonna University in Michigan. After the draft, “Gelly” was set to play in the United Shores Professional Baseball League, but after playing in 29 games, the Twins signed him. He went to the GCL where he played in 12 games. He spent this offseason continuing to work on his body. He noted that he lost 20 pounds since the end of last season, and he has now lost 62 pounds since entering college. All that is a nice back story, but Grzelakowski was impressive this spring. Though he played in the GCL last year, he has made the Ft. Myers Opening Day roster because he had such a strong camp. He’s got a smooth, but strong, left-handed swing. He knows the strike zone. Defensively, he’s got work to do behind the plate, but his improved physique has made him much more agile on balls in the dirt. His footwork has improved a lot. And, he’s always had a strong arm. With Mitchell Kranson and Caleb Hamilton also in Ft. Myers, it will be interesting to see how playing time is allocated. Kranson and Hamilton both have the ability to play multiple positions. Landon Leach Leach was ranked in the 20s among Twins prospects by most ranking sources. That was probably too low if only based on him being a second-round pick. Leach will begin the season in extended spring training, but he does have a lot of potential. People are excited about the Twins 2017 draft, but generally the focus is turned to Royce Lewis, Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow. Leach isn’t talked about as often. However, after seeing him work in the bullpen and in games, I’m convinced he will be very good too. Drafted out of high school in Canada, the term “helium” was appropriate as the draft approached. He may be a bit more raw than some, in part due to cooler climate, but he also has only been pitching for a couple of years after being a catcher before that. Leach is a big, tall kid with a strong frame. He was clocked at 96 in a game, but he sat 94. He’ll have to continue to work to improve his secondary pitches, but he’s got a huge arm and will continue to grow. Like Brusdar Graterol, Leach could be a guy who gets to Cedar Rapids before the short season leagues start. Just a few more… Shortstop depth is good. Even after trading Jermaine Palacios, the Twins have Nick Gordon, Royce Lewis and Wander Javier at the position. And Sean Miller was named the Twins organization’s best minor league infielder for 2017. At Extended Spring Training, the Twins will have 2017 draft pick Ricky De La Torre and international signings Victor Tademo and Yunior Severino. All three were impressive with the glove and the bat.Centerfield defense is also an important trait, it seems, throughout the Twins system. Byron Buxton. Zack Granite. Tanner English. Aaron Whitefield. Akil Baddoo. Having watched 2017 draft pick TJ Dixon man centre field, they may have another. And Jacob Pearson can also play center field, though he played mostly right field.While watching the Astros/Orioles game last night, the announcer pointed out that Carlos Correa was clocked at 97 mph from the hole at shortstop to first base. That’s pretty impressive. Twins fifth-round pick in 2017, Andrew Bechtold, told me that before he came to spring training, he was clocked at 101 mph on a throw across the infield. While he has a good approach at the plate and some power potential, his defense is a big positive in his game.Along with all of the new coordinators and other positions in the minor leagues, the Twins have also added a fourth coach at each of the minor league levels. In the past, each affiliate would have a manager, a hitting coach and a pitching coach. One more coach can only be a positive.A little over a week ago in a minor league spring training game, Felix Jorge took a laser liner to the knee. While it is not believed to be serious, it is the reason he’s starting the season on the Disabled List.While the Twins added minor leaguer pitcher Adam Bray and first baseman Robbie Rinn in trades, the Twins also traded catcher Rainis Silva to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash.Losing weight was an important offseason activity for several Twins minor leaguers besides Taylor Grzelakowski. RHP Tyler Wells lost nearly 30 pounds over the winter. After losing about 25 pounds last offseason, catcher Mitchell Kranson said he lost about 10 more this offseason. And outfielder Shane Carrier, who had a fantastic second half in 2017, lost about 20 pounds as well. And he did so without losing any power as he launched a couple of the longest home runs I've seen.Roster Previews Kernels Class of 2018 “Should Be Pretty Entertaining” - Steve Buhr Ft. Myers Miracle Preview - Tuesday Night Chattanooga Lookouts Preview - Wednesday Night Rochester Red Wings Preview - Thursday Night Click here to view the article
  8. I don’t know if you want to call them sleepers or just guys that stood out to one observer, me, but there were several players that I didn’t necessarily rank real high on Twins prospect lists. This isn’t an article to say that suddenly these guys will jump into my Top 10 or even my Top 30. But every year there are a couple of players that do good enough work throughout the time I’m there (admittedly a small sample) to get noticed. At the same time, Royce Lewis is a standout. Brent Rooker's approach and swing at the plate are eye-popping. Akil Baddoo is impressive at the plate, on the bases and in the field. Alex Kirilloff’s swing is so smooth. Blayne Enlow appears to be as advertised. Brusdar Graterol throws gas and looks the part of a starter. Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves look close to big-league ready. We already know that. That’s why those guys are top ten types of prospects. Today I want to highlight some guys that maybe you haven’t heard a lot about. Maybe some of them will end up being Top 20 guys by season’s end. Maybe some of them won’t be with the organization in September. I don’t know. But it’s fun to observe, and in some ways, play amateur scout. While I was in Ft. Myers, I watch a lot. I love watching bullpens. I love watching infielders take group balls. I love pop up drills. I love watching guys take game at bats against live pitching because that is often different than batting practice swinging, which is also fun to watch. In my time down there, I had the chance to briefly talk to Mike Radcliff, and I met Deron Johnson for the first time. I only wish I had their abilities to scout and evaluate players not only for what they are today, but what they might be in three years, or five years. Scouting is a tough job. And maybe this little exercise will highlight that. So let’s get to it. Here are five guys (non-Top 20 types) who stood out in my mind having watched them over the course of my eight days in Ft. Myers. Ben Rodriguez Ben Rodriguez was the Twins 38th-round pick last June out of Pepperdine where he had played for four years. Drafted as a catcher, Rodriguez stands 6-6 and about 230 pounds. After being drafted, he played 50 games in the GCL where he hit .290/.399/. 457 (.856) with 17 extra base hits. While I did see him working on a few drills with the catchers, Rodriguez spent the majority of his time at first base. What is noteworthy is that he spent most of spring training with the Ft. Myers group that is starting the season in Cedar Rapids. He essentially passed by the likes of Kolton Kendrick and JJ Robinson who played first base at Elizabethton last season. He’s had some swing-and-miss in his game, but as you would guess from his size, he has a ton of power and power potential. We’ll see if it comes to fruition, but in my mind, that was a great late-round pick. Rodriguez is very athletic, strong and has potential that makes him intriguing. Andrew Vasquez Vasquez is kind of a late bloomer on this list. The left-hander was the Twins 32nd- round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College in California. He’s been moved fairly slowly, but he ended 2017 strong. After starting in Cedar Rapids, he moved up to Ft. Myers. Combined, he posted a 1.55 ERA and struck out 85 batters in 58 innings of work. He ended the season with an invitation to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 14 batters in 12.2 innings (1.42 ERA). I first noticed him in the spring of 2017 when I watched him throw a bullpen. Actually, I heard him throw a bullpen. Just warming up, the ball could be heard as it went by. While his velocity wasn’t too high, it was a heavy fastball. This year, I watched him pitch in a couple of spring games. As I was taking in pitches from the side, and seeing hitters’ knees buckle, I decided to go stand behind home plate and watch. I’d obviously heard about the slider of Vasquez, but to see it is something else. After watching a couple, I looked at Twins assistant minor league pitching coordinator JP Martinez and he just shook his head at me and said, “I wish I could take credit for that.” We watched a couple more of his sliders dart into the strike zone, and it made his fastball appear even faster than its low-90s velocity was. He’s a two-pitch pitcher, and both pitches are really good. Tanner English 2017 was a forgettable year for Tanner English. He began the season by spending about a month in Chattanooga, but he just couldn’t get his bat going. He moved back to Ft. Myers and continued to struggle with the bat. He will begin 2018 with the Lookouts again, looking to take his career to the next level. You may recall the big league spring training game that English played hero in just over a week ago. He entered the game in the 8th inning as a pinch runner and then hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game. While he’s not a big guy, English has good tools. The first one you notice is his speed. He’s a good base runner and base stealer. He really shines in center field. English can cover a lot of ground, and he possesses a very strong arm. While he hasn’t hit for average, English puts together really good at-bats. He knows the strike zone and he understands the value of getting on base. And again, despite the lack of size, English has a bit of pop in his bat. The spring training big league home run landed near the top of the berm in left center field at Hammond Stadium. 2018 is a big year for him, and a solid offensive year, with his defense, could make him a candidate for a fourth or fifth outfielder job. Taylor Grzelakowski Grzelakowski went undrafted last year after his four years at Madonna University in Michigan. After the draft, “Gelly” was set to play in the United Shores Professional Baseball League, but after playing in 29 games, the Twins signed him. He went to the GCL where he played in 12 games. He spent this offseason continuing to work on his body. He noted that he lost 20 pounds since the end of last season, and he has now lost 62 pounds since entering college. All that is a nice back story, but Grzelakowski was impressive this spring. Though he played in the GCL last year, he has made the Ft. Myers Opening Day roster because he had such a strong camp. He’s got a smooth, but strong, left-handed swing. He knows the strike zone. Defensively, he’s got work to do behind the plate, but his improved physique has made him much more agile on balls in the dirt. His footwork has improved a lot. And, he’s always had a strong arm. With Mitchell Kranson and Caleb Hamilton also in Ft. Myers, it will be interesting to see how playing time is allocated. Kranson and Hamilton both have the ability to play multiple positions. Landon Leach Leach was ranked in the 20s among Twins prospects by most ranking sources. That was probably too low if only based on him being a second-round pick. Leach will begin the season in extended spring training, but he does have a lot of potential. People are excited about the Twins 2017 draft, but generally the focus is turned to Royce Lewis, Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow. Leach isn’t talked about as often. However, after seeing him work in the bullpen and in games, I’m convinced he will be very good too. Drafted out of high school in Canada, the term “helium” was appropriate as the draft approached. He may be a bit more raw than some, in part due to cooler climate, but he also has only been pitching for a couple of years after being a catcher before that. Leach is a big, tall kid with a strong frame. He was clocked at 96 in a game, but he sat 94. He’ll have to continue to work to improve his secondary pitches, but he’s got a huge arm and will continue to grow. Like Brusdar Graterol, Leach could be a guy who gets to Cedar Rapids before the short season leagues start. Just a few more… Shortstop depth is good. Even after trading Jermaine Palacios, the Twins have Nick Gordon, Royce Lewis and Wander Javier at the position. And Sean Miller was named the Twins organization’s best minor league infielder for 2017. At Extended Spring Training, the Twins will have 2017 draft pick Ricky De La Torre and international signings Victor Tademo and Yunior Severino. All three were impressive with the glove and the bat. Centerfield defense is also an important trait, it seems, throughout the Twins system. Byron Buxton. Zack Granite. Tanner English. Aaron Whitefield. Akil Baddoo. Having watched 2017 draft pick TJ Dixon man centre field, they may have another. And Jacob Pearson can also play center field, though he played mostly right field. While watching the Astros/Orioles game last night, the announcer pointed out that Carlos Correa was clocked at 97 mph from the hole at shortstop to first base. That’s pretty impressive. Twins fifth-round pick in 2017, Andrew Bechtold, told me that before he came to spring training, he was clocked at 101 mph on a throw across the infield. While he has a good approach at the plate and some power potential, his defense is a big positive in his game. Along with all of the new coordinators and other positions in the minor leagues, the Twins have also added a fourth coach at each of the minor league levels. In the past, each affiliate would have a manager, a hitting coach and a pitching coach. One more coach can only be a positive. A little over a week ago in a minor league spring training game, Felix Jorge took a laser liner to the knee. While it is not believed to be serious, it is the reason he’s starting the season on the Disabled List. While the Twins added minor leaguer pitcher Adam Bray and first baseman Robbie Rinn in trades, the Twins also traded catcher Rainis Silva to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash. Losing weight was an important offseason activity for several Twins minor leaguers besides Taylor Grzelakowski. RHP Tyler Wells lost nearly 30 pounds over the winter. After losing about 25 pounds last offseason, catcher Mitchell Kranson said he lost about 10 more this offseason. And outfielder Shane Carrier, who had a fantastic second half in 2017, lost about 20 pounds as well. And he did so without losing any power as he launched a couple of the longest home runs I've seen. Roster Previews Kernels Class of 2018 “Should Be Pretty Entertaining” - Steve Buhr Ft. Myers Miracle Preview - Tuesday Night Chattanooga Lookouts Preview - Wednesday Night Rochester Red Wings Preview - Thursday Night
  9. Thanks for following the updates throughout the day. It was fun to keep tabs on the goings on in the Twins minor leagues throughout the day. So for those who are seeing this for the first time, the format is obviously quite different from what you normally see here, but more frequent updates can be good too. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Buffalo 3 (FINAL) Box Score Aaron Slegers starts for the Red Wings at 12:35. At 76-57, the Red Wings have been eliminated from winning their division. However, they have a two game lead over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the Wild Card race. Their magic number coming into the day is 8. 12:47 UPDATE: In the top of the first inning, Slegers hit the leadoff batter. With two outs, 1B Rowdy Tellez doubles in the runner to give the Bisons a 1-0 lead. 12:58 UPDATE: In the top of the second inning, Slegers gave up a solo home run to SS Shane Opitz. Red Wings down 2-0. 1:04 UPDATE: Following Niko Goodrum getting hit by a pitch, Leonardo Reginnato doubled him in to put the Red Wings on the scoreboard. Through two innings, Red Wings 1, Bisons 2. 1:30 UPDATE: With two on and one out in the 4th, Slegers gave up a run-scoring single to Opitz to make the score 3-1 Bisons. While he's given up three runs, Slegers does have six strikeouts, including the third out of this inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd. 2:16 UPDATE: With two outs, and just after Chad Allen got ejected, Anthony Recker singled in Niko Goodrum to cut the Red Wings deficit to 3-2. Goodrum had singled and stolen second base. It was his 11th steal of the game. 2:24 UPDATE: He's at 89 pitches, so I don't know if he's done, but after two strikeouts in the 7th, Aaron Slegers now has nine strikeouts in the game. 2:35 UPDATE: Engelb Vielma led off the 7th with a walk. Two outs later, Daniel Palka singled him in and after an error, he also scored to give the Red Wings a 4-3 lead. Here it is... an absolutely crazy "Little League Home Run." https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/901894690072657920 2:40 UPDATE: Aaron Slegers' 102nd pitch gave him his 10th strikeout of the game. He's likely done, having given up only those three early runs. A very impressive outing. 2:52 UPDATE: Michael Tonkin coming in for the ninth to protect a 4-3 Red Wings lead. 2:57 UPDATE: Tonkin had a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his fifth save. Aaron Slegers is now 14-4 (he was 4-4 at one point) on the season. https://twitter.com/JoshWhetzel/status/901902396468727808 Multi-Hit Games: Leonardo Reginnato (2-3, walk, 2B (14), Anthony Recker (2-4)) PLAYOFF UPDATE: The Red Wings won. Lehigh Valley was shutout/one-hit on Sunday, so the Red Wings Magic Number drops to six. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 0, Jackson 3 (FINAL) Box Score Dereck Rodriguez starts for the Lookouts. Game starts at 2:05. After going 42-28 and clinching a playoff berth in the first half, the Lookouts are now 43-18 in the 2nd half. They have a seven game lead in the division with a magic number of 3. 2:45 UPDATE: Jackson starter Brad Keller is yet to give up a hit through three innings. He's struck out three and walked one. Dereck Rodriguez has been hittable (4 hits), but equaled Keller with three zeroes on the board. Rodriguez is at 34 pitches while Keller is at 36 pitches through three innings. 3:03 UPDATE: Through five innings, Brad Keller still has not given up a hit. Only base runner has been LaMonte Wade, who walked. 3:09 UPDATE: In the bottom of the 5th, Rodriguez gave up a solo home run to Daniel Lockhart, his first AA home run. A couple of batters later, long-time part-time big leaguer Emelio Bonafacio hit his first AA homer of the year. He started the season with Atlanta. 3:24 UPDATE: No hit for the Lookouts through six innings for Brad Keller so far today. 3:32 UPDATE: Dereck Rodriguez gave up two singles to start the bottom of the 6th. After coaxing a pop-up, he walked a batter to load the bases. At that point, Randy Rosario came in to replace him. 3:38 UPDATE: The first batter rolled a ball toward third base. TJ White's only play was to first base. Another run scored off of Rodriguez. A walk re-loaded the bases. Rosario got a strikeout for the third out. Final line for Dereck Rodriguez: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. 3:44 UPDATE: Jonathan Rodriguez singled off of Keller, the first hit of the game (in the 7th inning) against Keller. 4:15 UPDATE: Mason McCullough replaced Keller. He issued a walk in the 8th inning, but that was it. Nick Anderson replaces Randy Rosario in the bottom of the 8th inning. Rosario gave up two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Just one of the three runners he inherited in the sixth inning scored. 4:22 UPDATE: One hit, but no runs for Nick Anderson in the 8th inning. The Lookouts need to score three runs off of Joey Krehbiel in the 9th to tie the game. 4:29 UPDATE: Edgar Corcino led off the ninth with a double, his 17th. But the next three batters got out, ending the game. Multi-Hit Games: I mean, the team only had two hits, so there were no multi-hit games. PLAYOFF UPDATE: The Lookouts Magic Number remains three. Montgomery plays tonight. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers, Charlotte (Doubleheader Postponed) Box Score Lewis Thorpe starts game one at 1:00. The Miracle went 33-35 in the first half, third in their division. However, in the second half, they have taken off. They are 39-21, four games ahead of Charlotte. Their magic number is six, so a double header sweep could do wonders. 12:30 UPDATE: The Miracle have announced that rain and poor field conditions have force the doubleheader to be delayed. They said that the gates will not open until at least 3:00 central time. Hopefully they can get the games in. 2:45 UPDATE: Press release from the Miracle regarding today's postponement and what it means for the upcoming schedule. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Quad Cities 9 (FINAL) Box Score Tyler Beardsley is on the mound for the Kernels. Game time is 1:15. The Kernels clinched a playoff spot by finishing second in their division in the first half with a 39-31 record. In the second half, they are 32-30, tied for second place in their division with Peoria, eight games back of first place. 1:20 UPDATE: Batting second, Travis Blankenhorn hit his 12th home run of the season for the Kernels to give them a 1-0 lead. 1:26 UPDATE: With two outs, Lewin Diaz singled, and then Caleb Hamilton scored him with a triple, his fourth of the season. 1:50 UPDATE: Shane Carrier and Travis Blankenhorn walked in the 2nd inning, with a Jordan Gore single in between. Carrier scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Aaron Whitefield. Lewin Diaz then singled to score Gore with the second run of the inning. Diaz then stole second and when the throw was mishandled, Whitefield scored from third. Kernels 5-0 after 1 1/2 inning. 2:19 UPDATE: Tyler Beardsley cruised through the first two innings, but with one out in the third, he gave up a three-run homer to catcher Chuckie Robinson, his 15th of the season for Quad Cities. 2:22 UPDATE: Abraham Toro-Hernandez followed with his ninth home run, cutting the Kernels lead to 5-4. 3:04 UPDATE: Tyler Beardley's day is done with one out in the fifth inning and a pair of RBI singles has put the Kernels down 6-5. Logan Lombana comes in with runners on first and second. 3:12 UPDATE: Lombana threw a wild pitch to advance the runners. He got the third out, but not before a sacrifice fly made it 7-5 Cedar Rapids. Tyler Beardsley's final line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 1 K. 3:21 UPDATE: The Kernels responded with a run in the top of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, Aaron Whitefield grounded into a double play, but Jordan Gore scored to make it 7-6. 3:37 UPDATE: Lombana gave up two runs on three singles in the bottom of the 6th inning. 3:49 UPDATE: Eddie Del Rosario replaces Lombana. Lombana is charged with two runs on three hits over 1.2 innings. 4:08 UPDATE: Rosario has thrown two perfect innings. They head to the ninth inning with the Kernels needing to score three runs to keep it going. 4:18 UPDATE: The Kernels had one base runner, but they were unable to score in the top of the ninth inning and fall 9-6. Multi-Hit Games: Lewin Diaz 3-4, BB - Trey Cabbage 2-4, BB - Jordan Gore 2-5. Travis Blankenhorn added his 12th homer and walked twice. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 6, Greeneville 2 (FINAL) Box Score Edwar Colina was named to the Appy League All Star team this week. At 5:00, he'll take the mound again for the Twins. On Saturday night, the E-Twins clinched a playoff berth again. They are 38-25 and 4 1/2 games ahead of Johnson City in the division. 5:50 UPDATE: It took until the fourth inning, but the E-Twins got on the scoreboard first. Carson Crites singled in the top of the inning. Nick Brown started (not Colina) and has given up just one hit through the first three innings. 5:57 UPDATE: Still in the top of the fourth frame, Gorge Munoz cleared the bases with a double to put the Twins up 4-0. Munoz then scored on an Akil Baddoo single to make it 5-0. 6:03 UPDATE: Yes, it's still the fourth frame, and here's another update. Following a pitching change, Jose Miranda singled in Akil Baddoo, who had stolen second base. 6-0 Twins. 6:12 UPDATE: Not as much fun to report or write about, but I suppose I should. Nick Brown gave up two runs (1 earned) in the bottom of the fourth inning. It's now 6-2 through four innings. 6:34 UPDATE: In the top of the 6th inning, there were one-out singles from Gorge Munoz and Akil Baddoo. Ariel Montesino grounded to third, but Munoz scored on the fielder's choice when the throw was bad. Then Baddoo scored when Jose Miranda flew out to deep-enough left field. 8-2 Twins. 6:45 UPDATE: The E-Twins have clinched the division title: https://twitter.com/AppyLeague/status/901953767406481408 7:02 UPDATE: Nick Brown was done after six innings. Two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He walked one and struck out two. Jared Finkel came on for the 7th. 7:27 UPDATE: Jared Finkel got the final nine outs for the three-inning save. He gave up two hits and struck out two. Multi-Hit Games: Akil Baddoo, 2-4, BB - Gorge Munoz, 2-3, BB, 2B (1) - Rainis Silva, 2-5. PLAYOFF UPDATE: On Saturday, they clinched a playoff spot. On Sunday, they clinched the top spot in their division. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins Box Score No Game Scheduled on Sundays in the GCL. In a little news, Twins 2nd round pick RHP Landon Leach has left the team and joined the Canadian U18 team at the World Cup. In previous years, Lachlan Wells and Lewis Thorpe have left the team to play in the World Cup as well. The GCL Twins are currently 31-21 and hold a 5 1/2 game lead in their division. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is just three. Additionally, the Twins Dominican Summer League team is 49-22 and they clinched a playoff berth last week. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Aaron Slegers, Rochester Red Wings Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Lewin Diaz, Cedar Rapids Kernels MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes Barre (6:05 CST) - RHP Felix Jorge Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05 CST) - RHP DJ Baxendale Ft. Myers @ St. Lucie (5:30 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:35 CST) - LHP Bryan Sammons Elizabethton @ Greeneville (6:00 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina GCL Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  10. Sunday's minor league report looks a bit different than normal. Maybe you've been following along all day, but if not, this article was live-blogged throughout the day on Sunday with updates when there were scores, or other events. There has been some talk about how strong Twins affiliates have been this season. All seven Twins minor league affiliates either have already clinched a playoff berth or currently are the team in the lead for a playoff spot. The minor league seasons will all be complete on Labor Day. The Twins front office and manager have continued to say that they are thrilled with the minor league success, but the big league club will be the priority. We've seen that already as the Twins have called up the likes of Kennys Vargas, Mitch Garver, Zack Granite and John Curtiss within the last week from Rochester to help the big league club despite the Red Wings having a chance to make the playoffs. Below, you will be able to see where each of the affiliates currently stands in their playoff hopes. (before the game, but after each game, they've been updated, when needed) At this point, we know of no transactions in the organization on Sunday.Thanks for following the updates throughout the day. It was fun to keep tabs on the goings on in the Twins minor leagues throughout the day. So for those who are seeing this for the first time, the format is obviously quite different from what you normally see here, but more frequent updates can be good too. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Buffalo 3 (FINAL) Box Score Aaron Slegers starts for the Red Wings at 12:35. At 76-57, the Red Wings have been eliminated from winning their division. However, they have a two game lead over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the Wild Card race. Their magic number coming into the day is 8. 12:47 UPDATE: In the top of the first inning, Slegers hit the leadoff batter. With two outs, 1B Rowdy Tellez doubles in the runner to give the Bisons a 1-0 lead. 12:58 UPDATE: In the top of the second inning, Slegers gave up a solo home run to SS Shane Opitz. Red Wings down 2-0. 1:04 UPDATE: Following Niko Goodrum getting hit by a pitch, Leonardo Reginnato doubled him in to put the Red Wings on the scoreboard. Through two innings, Red Wings 1, Bisons 2. 1:30 UPDATE: With two on and one out in the 4th, Slegers gave up a run-scoring single to Opitz to make the score 3-1 Bisons. While he's given up three runs, Slegers does have six strikeouts, including the third out of this inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd. 2:16 UPDATE: With two outs, and just after Chad Allen got ejected, Anthony Recker singled in Niko Goodrum to cut the Red Wings deficit to 3-2. Goodrum had singled and stolen second base. It was his 11th steal of the game. 2:24 UPDATE: He's at 89 pitches, so I don't know if he's done, but after two strikeouts in the 7th, Aaron Slegers now has nine strikeouts in the game. 2:35 UPDATE: Engelb Vielma led off the 7th with a walk. Two outs later, Daniel Palka singled him in and after an error, he also scored to give the Red Wings a 4-3 lead. Here it is... an absolutely crazy "Little League Home Run." 7:02 UPDATE: Nick Brown was done after six innings. Two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He walked one and struck out two. Jared Finkel came on for the 7th. 7:27 UPDATE: Jared Finkel got the final nine outs for the three-inning save. He gave up two hits and struck out two. Multi-Hit Games: Akil Baddoo, 2-4, BB - Gorge Munoz, 2-3, BB, 2B (1) - Rainis Silva, 2-5. PLAYOFF UPDATE: On Saturday, they clinched a playoff spot. On Sunday, they clinched the top spot in their division. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins Box Score No Game Scheduled on Sundays in the GCL. In a little news, Twins 2nd round pick RHP Landon Leach has left the team and joined the Canadian U18 team at the World Cup. In previous years, Lachlan Wells and Lewis Thorpe have left the team to play in the World Cup as well. The GCL Twins are currently 31-21 and hold a 5 1/2 game lead in their division. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is just three. Additionally, the Twins Dominican Summer League team is 49-22 and they clinched a playoff berth last week. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Aaron Slegers, Rochester Red Wings Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Lewin Diaz, Cedar Rapids Kernels MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes Barre (6:05 CST) - RHP Felix Jorge Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05 CST) - RHP DJ Baxendale Ft. Myers @ St. Lucie (5:30 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:35 CST) - LHP Bryan Sammons Elizabethton @ Greeneville (6:00 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina GCL Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games. Click here to view the article
  11. Saturday had a little bit of everything. A big win. A big loss. A close loss. Some big home runs by power-hitting prospects, including a grand slam. Some big errors. Good pitching, and some really bad pitching. Such is life in the minor leagues. You see the good, and you see the bad. The Kernels made a fun stop on their way to Wisconsin. In case you missed any of them you can read the Twins Daily July minor league hitter and pitchers of the month here: Hitter of the Month: Jonathan Rodriguez, Chattanooga LookoutsStarting Pitcher of the Month: Aaron Slegers, Rochester Red WingsRelief Pitcher of the Month: Nick Anderson, Chattanooga LookoutsFind out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday. Let’s start with the transaction of the day: As you know, Kyle Gibson was added back to the Twins roster. It was Zack Granite returning to the Red Wings.Shane Carrier is returning to Cedar Rapids. The outfielder who received strong consideration for July Minor League Hitter of the Month began the season with the Kernels. He returned to Elizabethton where he has raked.For the GCL Twins, Edgar Herrera was activated from the disabled list. He had been out with a broken hamate.RED WINGS REPORTRochester 4, Syracuse 9 Box Score The Red Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. However, they gave up five in the bottom of the inning and were unable to come back. David Hurlbut made the start. The southpaw gave up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits. He struck out four and walked none. Hurlbut pitched to three batters in the fourth, but he was unable to record an out. DJ Baxendale came on to replace him. He allowed one inherited runner to score and one more. He was charged with one run on one hit and one walk over three innings. He struck out four. Mason Melotakis came in and worked the final two innings. He gave up one run on four hits. He struck out four without walking anyone. Mitch Garver got things going right in the first inning when he knocked his 16th home run. Garver went 3-5 in the game. Kennys Vargas was 2-4 with his fifth and sixth doubles. Niko Goodrum was also 2-4. Byungho Park, Daniel Palka and Engelb VIelma each had a double in the game. Zack Granite was 0-5 in his return to the Wings. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 3, Jackson 14 Box Score Kohl Stewart was on the mound, and he actually pitched fairly well. Unfortunately, the Lookouts bullpen - which has been so strong all season - had a hiccup, a really big hiccup. The offense had plenty of base runners. While they had just five hits, they also walked seven times. Stewart gave up just one run on five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five. When he left the game, the Lookouts had a 2-1 lead. However, Raul Fernandez came on for the seventh. He got two outs and was charged with four runs (three earned) on four hits. He walked two and struck one out. Randy Rosario was charged with seven runs on four hits and three walks in 0.2 innings. Luke Bard got the final two outs of the eighth inning and the three ninth inning outs. He was charged with two runs on three hits and a walk. He struck out three. Max Murphy, Ryan Walker, Carlos Paulino and Travis Harrison each had one hit and walked once. Harrison hit his 20th double. Andy Wilkins walked twice. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 10, Jupiter 4 Box Score The Miracle had a much-needed offensive outburst. Jaylin Davis went 3-4 with three runs scored. He also threw out a runner at the plate. Nelson Molina went 2-3 with a walk and his seventh double. Mitchell Kranson drove in two runs. Brent Rooker had the big hit, though. The 2017 pick hit a grand slam. It was his third homer with the Miracle, and his tenth as a pro. Randy LeBlanc made the start for the Miracle. He went three innings and gave up just one run on three hits and three walks. He struck out two. Anthony McIver was tasked with the next three innings. He gave up five hits, but no runs, and struck out two. Keaton Steele gave up three hits but no runs in his two innings. Alex Robinson got the ninth. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks, though he did strike out two. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 6 Box Score The Kernels made the road trip from Cedar Rapids to Appleton, Wisconsin. On their way, the team stopped by Dyersville, Iowa, to check out the Field of Dreams movie site. It’s a must-see for baseball fans, a bucket list item, if you will. Anthony Marzi was on the mound for the Kernels. The lefty gave up two run (one earned) on six hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out six. Max Cordy came in and was charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out two. Hector Lujan pitched an inning and gave up a solo home run. Not much offense for the Kernels on this night. Hank Morrison hit his sixth double. Joe Cronin went 1-2 with a walk. The big hit came off the bat of the newest Kernel, Jordan Gore. The shortstop hit his first Kernels homer, a two-run shot. He had one homer in Elizabethton shortly before being called up to the Midwest League. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 3, Burlington 4 Box Score The E-Twins have been the comeback team through the year, but on this night, they took the one-run loss. Akil Baddoo led the offense. He went 3-5 with his fourth and fifth doubles. Carson Crites went 3-4 with his eighth double. Kolton Kendrick was 1-3 with a walk and his fourth double. Bailey Ober made the start for the Twins. He gave up one run on two hits over four innings. He walked one and struck out six. Blair Lakso came on and threw two scoreless innings despite giving up a hit and walking two. He struck out two. Rickey Ramirez gave up one run on two hits and a walk over his two innings. Jose Martinez threw the ninth and gave up one run on one hit. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 12, GCL Red Sox 4 Box Score This was a strong all-around game for the Twins, a good way to end their work week. They got offense and solid pitching on their way to a big win. Jean Carlos Arias led the offensive attack. He went 3-3 with a walk, his fourth double and his third home run. He drove in two runs, and he is now hitting .330 on the season. After a slow start, he’s really come on. In his last 16 games, he’s hit .386. Alex Robles went 2-2 with a walk and two runs driven in. He is hitting .342 on the year. Edgar Herrera made his first appearance in the States. After three years in the Dominican Summer League, he came to the States. Unfortunately, he broke his hamate bone and missed two months. He went 1-2 with two RBI in his first game. Taylor Grzelakowski made his Twins debut. He was signed last week from the USPBL. In this game, he DHd and batted sixth. He went 1-4 with a walk and two RBI. Michael Kohn made another rehab appearance. He gave up one hit over a scoreless first inning. He struck out one. Landon Leach came on for his second pro appearance. He worked three innings and gave up one run on four hits. He struck out three without issuing a walk. He was happy with the performance. “It felt great! Better than the last outing. Felt a lot more comfortable and had a good pace. I haven't thrown this amount of innings in a while, so it was good to see how I did, and it went really well. Can't wait to get back out there again.” Next up was recently-signed Kevin Marnon. He was charged with three unearned runs on three hits and a walk over two innings. He struck out two. Derek Molina recorded a save. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three over three innings. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Kohl Stewart, Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jean Carlos Arias, GCL Twins SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Syracuse (12:05 CST) - RHP Aaron Slegers Jackson @ Chattanooga (1:15 CST) - RHP Zack Littell Jupiter @ Ft. Myers (10:05am CST) - RHP Sean Poppen Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (1:05 CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes Burlington @ Elizabethton (5:05 CST) - TBD GCL Twins - No Game Scheduled Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games. Click here to view the article
  12. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday. Let’s start with the transaction of the day: As you know, Kyle Gibson was added back to the Twins roster. It was Zack Granite returning to the Red Wings. Shane Carrier is returning to Cedar Rapids. The outfielder who received strong consideration for July Minor League Hitter of the Month began the season with the Kernels. He returned to Elizabethton where he has raked. For the GCL Twins, Edgar Herrera was activated from the disabled list. He had been out with a broken hamate. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Syracuse 9 Box Score The Red Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. However, they gave up five in the bottom of the inning and were unable to come back. David Hurlbut made the start. The southpaw gave up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits. He struck out four and walked none. Hurlbut pitched to three batters in the fourth, but he was unable to record an out. DJ Baxendale came on to replace him. He allowed one inherited runner to score and one more. He was charged with one run on one hit and one walk over three innings. He struck out four. Mason Melotakis came in and worked the final two innings. He gave up one run on four hits. He struck out four without walking anyone. Mitch Garver got things going right in the first inning when he knocked his 16th home run. Garver went 3-5 in the game. Kennys Vargas was 2-4 with his fifth and sixth doubles. Niko Goodrum was also 2-4. Byungho Park, Daniel Palka and Engelb VIelma each had a double in the game. Zack Granite was 0-5 in his return to the Wings. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 3, Jackson 14 Box Score Kohl Stewart was on the mound, and he actually pitched fairly well. Unfortunately, the Lookouts bullpen - which has been so strong all season - had a hiccup, a really big hiccup. The offense had plenty of base runners. While they had just five hits, they also walked seven times. Stewart gave up just one run on five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five. When he left the game, the Lookouts had a 2-1 lead. However, Raul Fernandez came on for the seventh. He got two outs and was charged with four runs (three earned) on four hits. He walked two and struck one out. Randy Rosario was charged with seven runs on four hits and three walks in 0.2 innings. Luke Bard got the final two outs of the eighth inning and the three ninth inning outs. He was charged with two runs on three hits and a walk. He struck out three. Max Murphy, Ryan Walker, Carlos Paulino and Travis Harrison each had one hit and walked once. Harrison hit his 20th double. Andy Wilkins walked twice. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 10, Jupiter 4 Box Score The Miracle had a much-needed offensive outburst. Jaylin Davis went 3-4 with three runs scored. He also threw out a runner at the plate. Nelson Molina went 2-3 with a walk and his seventh double. Mitchell Kranson drove in two runs. Brent Rooker had the big hit, though. The 2017 pick hit a grand slam. It was his third homer with the Miracle, and his tenth as a pro. Randy LeBlanc made the start for the Miracle. He went three innings and gave up just one run on three hits and three walks. He struck out two. Anthony McIver was tasked with the next three innings. He gave up five hits, but no runs, and struck out two. Keaton Steele gave up three hits but no runs in his two innings. Alex Robinson got the ninth. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks, though he did strike out two. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 6 Box Score The Kernels made the road trip from Cedar Rapids to Appleton, Wisconsin. On their way, the team stopped by Dyersville, Iowa, to check out the Field of Dreams movie site. It’s a must-see for baseball fans, a bucket list item, if you will. Anthony Marzi was on the mound for the Kernels. The lefty gave up two run (one earned) on six hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out six. Max Cordy came in and was charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out two. Hector Lujan pitched an inning and gave up a solo home run. Not much offense for the Kernels on this night. Hank Morrison hit his sixth double. Joe Cronin went 1-2 with a walk. The big hit came off the bat of the newest Kernel, Jordan Gore. The shortstop hit his first Kernels homer, a two-run shot. He had one homer in Elizabethton shortly before being called up to the Midwest League. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 3, Burlington 4 Box Score The E-Twins have been the comeback team through the year, but on this night, they took the one-run loss. Akil Baddoo led the offense. He went 3-5 with his fourth and fifth doubles. Carson Crites went 3-4 with his eighth double. Kolton Kendrick was 1-3 with a walk and his fourth double. Bailey Ober made the start for the Twins. He gave up one run on two hits over four innings. He walked one and struck out six. Blair Lakso came on and threw two scoreless innings despite giving up a hit and walking two. He struck out two. Rickey Ramirez gave up one run on two hits and a walk over his two innings. Jose Martinez threw the ninth and gave up one run on one hit. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 12, GCL Red Sox 4 Box Score This was a strong all-around game for the Twins, a good way to end their work week. They got offense and solid pitching on their way to a big win. Jean Carlos Arias led the offensive attack. He went 3-3 with a walk, his fourth double and his third home run. He drove in two runs, and he is now hitting .330 on the season. After a slow start, he’s really come on. In his last 16 games, he’s hit .386. Alex Robles went 2-2 with a walk and two runs driven in. He is hitting .342 on the year. Edgar Herrera made his first appearance in the States. After three years in the Dominican Summer League, he came to the States. Unfortunately, he broke his hamate bone and missed two months. He went 1-2 with two RBI in his first game. Taylor Grzelakowski made his Twins debut. He was signed last week from the USPBL. In this game, he DHd and batted sixth. He went 1-4 with a walk and two RBI. Michael Kohn made another rehab appearance. He gave up one hit over a scoreless first inning. He struck out one. Landon Leach came on for his second pro appearance. He worked three innings and gave up one run on four hits. He struck out three without issuing a walk. He was happy with the performance. “It felt great! Better than the last outing. Felt a lot more comfortable and had a good pace. I haven't thrown this amount of innings in a while, so it was good to see how I did, and it went really well. Can't wait to get back out there again.” Next up was recently-signed Kevin Marnon. He was charged with three unearned runs on three hits and a walk over two innings. He struck out two. Derek Molina recorded a save. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three over three innings. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Kohl Stewart, Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jean Carlos Arias, GCL Twins SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Syracuse (12:05 CST) - RHP Aaron Slegers Jackson @ Chattanooga (1:15 CST) - RHP Zack Littell Jupiter @ Ft. Myers (10:05am CST) - RHP Sean Poppen Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (1:05 CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes Burlington @ Elizabethton (5:05 CST) - TBD GCL Twins - No Game Scheduled Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games.
  13. Be sure to read the first Q&A with Landon Leach, but now enjoy a new conversation with the catcher-turned-pitcher. Cory: First off, happy early birthday (Landon’s birthday is July 12) Landon: Thanks! Cory: What was your draft experience like? Where were you when you were drafted? Landon: I was at home. It was like any other night. I wasn’t paying super close attention as I was projected to be a 3rd round pick. My mom told me to go to bed about ten minutes before I got the call from my agent, and my dad was already in bed. It was a shock when I got the call from my agent (because I was projected to be a 3rd round pick) and I had like 20 seconds to make a decision. Cory: What was that 20 seconds like? Landon: It was a shock, but very exciting! Cory: Ok, so why baseball? Why did you choose baseball as your sport? Landon: I’ll start from the beginning. I tried t-ball at age 4, and quit at that point because the competition was not good. I started baseball again at age 8, along with a number of other sports (football, Lacrosse, downhill skiing, hockey, along with volleyball). I have always loved baseball too, but quit playing competitive hockey at age 13 to mostly focus on baseball as a potential career. Cory: Ok, so growing up, did you have a favorite team or favorite player(s) for baseball? Or, maybe more so, are there any specific players you try to emulate or compare yourself to now? Landon: Growing up, I cheered for different teams, but not really specific players. Now, since I have been pitching, I try to follow and pitch like (Cory) Kluber. I love his mentality, his body type is similar to mine in a sense, and his cutter/2 seamer. Cory: Ok, tell me about your pitch arsenal. What do you throw, and what do you try to do with your specific pitches? Landon: I have a 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, slider and a changeup. My 4-seam can get up to 96, and my slider is definitely my out pitch. I’m confident in my fastball(s) and my slider, and my changeup is getting there, for sure, since I have had to use it more in the last year as I was facing professionals while pitching for the Canadian national team. Cory: You only started pitching maybe two years ago. You were always a catcher before that point. Do you miss catching or are you happy with the change? Landon: I miss catching to an extent. Switching to pitching started when I was 15, and our team was warming up/training with long toss, and I was throwing it further than anyone else. That’s when my coaches asked if I would be ok trying pitching full time because of my arm. I had to get that ok’d by my parents, but once I/we made that decision, it has been a great one. Cory: What is a typical day like for you now, since you have become a professional? Landon: Not much different than before really, except I’m not in school anymore. Workout, eat a lot, rest and throw. Graduation for school is this Friday, and then my visa is getting worked out so I should be down in Florida in a week to a week-and-a-half. Cory: So do you anticipate beginning your career with the Gulf Coast League in Fort Myers? Landon: Yes, that is the plan. Cory: So, going back to the draft and turning pro, was it a difficult decision to forego college and become a professional baseball player? Landon: The University of Texas is a great school, and they have a great baseball program and a high-quality education. But at the end of the day, I wanted to start my professional baseball career, and I am excited for that opportunity. Cory: One last question; since being drafted and now signing, how has it been with you and your parents/family? Are your parents excited for you? Were they wanting you to go to college? What has that been like for you? Landon: My parents were obviously excited for this. My family is pretty low key but I will say my dad is wearing lots of Twins gear lately, and he is excited to have people ask him why he is a Twins fan. He is pretty proud, excited to say that his son was drafted by the Twins. Cory: Thank you so much for your time! I appreciate it, and good luck going forward with your career with the Twins! Have a great day! Landon: Thanks, have a great day too! ----------------------------------------------------- Thank you to Landon for taking time, a couple of times, to respond to questions for Twins Daily. Hopefully his visa will arrive soon, and he'll get to Florida and start working! Feel free to ask questions below, and/or wish him Good Luck! ------------------------------------------------------ If you missed any of the other Q&As with Twins 2017 draft picks, you can check them here: #1 - Royce Lewis #1 Comp - Brent Rooker #2 - Landon Leach, Part 1 #3 - Blayne Enlow
  14. Before he kicks off the next phase of his baseball life, I caught up with Landon Leach to ask a few questions. --------------------------------------------------------- Off The Baggy: Let's start with the organization, what is your knowledge of the Twins and Minnesota at this point? Landon Leach: During my first showcase as a pitcher (at 15), Walt Burrows (Twins Canadian Scout) came up to me and was saying positive things about my body type and that they'd keep in touch in the future. That ended up being true as he's the one who signed me. That was really the first contact I had with the Twins. My visit to Minneapolis and Target Field was just a great experience. It's a very nice city; very quiet compared to Toronto, I found. I have much more knowledge now about the organization than before the draft. OTB: Describe your pitching presence to me. What pitches do you throw? What do you rely on? How do you attack hitters? LL: This is actually just my second year pitching, after moving from catcher. My pitches are fastball (4 and 2 seam), changeup, and slider. I can reach 96 with my fastball, so I can rely on that. My out pitch is my slider, which is above average. My changeup is still in the making, just need to perfect it for strikes. Having been used to coming out of the pen, I'll soon get used to starting. I'm going to need to attack hitters with my fastball, and as the lineup turns over, I'll need to change looks and use offspeed stuff. OTB: Being from Canada, are you a Justin Morneau fan, or who are some of your big league influences? LL: Actually, Morneau was one of my coaches for my team Canada trip. I know him fairly well, definitely a great player for the Twins. I feel like my game right now, my body and my arm angle, I'm more of a Corey Kluber kind of guy. I like how he pitches and what he does for his team. OTB: In making the leap to pro ball, what's the area of your game you think is going to set you a part? What requires the most work yet? LL: Most amount of work, like I said, I haven't pitched many innings. Getting more innings under my belt is going to be the early focus. I feel like a strength is that I've played against many professional players having been with team Canada. We've gone to extended spring training and instructional leagues to against guys from the Dominican and Cuba, so I have a good idea what the level of competition looks like. I feel comfortable playing against those types of players. OTB: What's the one thing you want Twins fans to know about you as a person, and also as a pitcher? LL: I love when people interact with me face to face. I've had a lot of support in my classroom and school, and seeing Twins fans continue that support would be great. As a baseball player, I'd do anything to get to the major leagues. The work ethic is there, and I'll do anything for my teammates. --------------------------------------- Ready to get going down in Fort Myers, Leach is going to be a player that's absolutely worth keeping an eye on in the coming years. As he continues to grow into a pitcher as a professional, it will be exciting to watch the Twins organization help him come into his own. He should be making starts in short order for the GCL squad, and seeing him rise the ranks is something Twins Territorians can get behind.
  15. Today we share our sixth Minnesota Twins minor league affiliate roster preview, for the Gulf Coast League Twins. It is an interesting group of players including the top pick in the 2017 MLB draft, and some of the other top young talent in the system. Last Friday night the Elizabethton played their Opening Night game, a day after it was scheduled, so it became a doubleheader. We previewed their roster here. Then on Monday afternoon (well, morning in Minnesota time), the Gulf Coast League Twins played their first game of the season. You might have heard, a certain #1 overall draft pick started his career with a bang! Today, we will preview the GCL Twins roster.The Gulf Coast League has an interesting blend of players. There are kids who signed after being drafted out of high school. There are players in their first year or two from another country There are some late-round college picks. This year, there aren’t any undrafted free agents (yet) to help fill out the roster, but that’s still possible. Like the E-Town roster, it allows for many more players, 35, to be exact. The roster is also subject to quite a lot of change as more players sign, or if some players move up and down from Elizabethton. The team plays at noon six days a week (Sundays off). The playing time is generally split a little more equally, generally, with the exception of the guys who are considered the priority prospects. Same thing at Elizabethton. Look at the number of plate appearances and games played to see who the top prospects likely are. With that mini intro, let’s get to the GCL roster. The team is managed by Ramon Borrego. He is assisted by extra coaching since these rookie leagues are all about player development. The hitting coaches last year were Javier Valentin and Steve Singleton, but they have moved up to Chattanooga and Ft. Myers, respectively. Toby Gardenhire was hired to be a hitting coach in the GCL after coaching at UW-Stout the last several years. He spent the first half up in Rochester, coaching third base after manager Mike Quade hurt his shoulder in a spring training car accident. The pitching coaches are Virgil Vazquez (third year) and Cibney Bello (second year). GCL Twins Roster Catchers: Jhon Alvarez (21), Kidany Salva (18), Kerby Camacho (19), Darling Cuestro (19). Alvarez signed in 2012 and spent three seasons in the DSL. Last year in the GCL, he hit .259/.371/.293 (.665) with two doubles. Salva was the Twins 17th-round pick last year out of high school in Texas where he spent one year after moving from Puerto Rico. Camacho was drafted by the Twins in 2015, but he missed the 2016 season after a 80-game suspension. Cuestro comes over from the DSL where he hit .245/.376/.315 (.690). Infielders: Dane Hutcheon (22), Emmanuel Morel (20), Roni Tapia (20), Mariano Calcano (20), Victor Tademo (17), Royce Lewis (18), Ricardo de La Torre (17), Benjamin Rodriguez (22), Alex Robles (21), Edgar Herrera (DL-20). The big name in this list, of course, is Royce Lewis, the #1 overall draft pick in the June draft. He’s got speed and as we’ve already seen his power potential. He’ll play a lot of shortstop. It will be interesting to see how well he plays, how quickly he develops and just when the Twins will push him up to Elizabethton. Dane Hutcheon is a middle infielder, drafted out of college in 2016. Alex Robles was the Twins 30th-round pick this year from Austin Peay. Benjamin Rodriguez was drafted as a catcher out of Pepperdine. He will likely play quite a bit of first base. Ricky De La Torre is an exciting shortstop prospect from Puerto Rico drafted in the sixth round this year. Some projected him as a early-round pick early in the season, though he fell back a little bit. Emmanuel Morel and Roni Tapia spent time in the GCL last year after signing out of the Dominican Republic. Morel hit just .116 in 104 plate appearances. Tapia hit just .127, although three of his seven hits were home runs. Both are still just 20. Mariano Calcano and Victor Tademo came over to the States from the Dominican Summer League. Calcano is a first baseman who hit .206/.287/.386 last year in the DSL as a 19-year-old. Tademo was probably the most intriguing DSL Twins player in 2016. As a 16-year-old, he hit .311/.388/.429 with 16 doubles, a triple and a homer last year. Edgar Herrera is out with a fractured hamate bone. He hit .317 last year in the DSL. Outfielders: Jean Carlos Arias (19), Akil Baddoo (18), Humber Maldonado (19), Jared Akins (20), Colton Burns (21). Akil Baddoo was the first of back-to-back supplemental picks for the Twins following the second round of the 2016 draft. Jose Miranda was the other one, and he’s up in Elizabethton. Maybe that’s where Baddoo will end up, but the outfielder will start in the GCL. Jean-Carlos Arias is a big kid, young, but very talented. Last year in the GCL, he hit .202/.265/.266, but he should take a big step forward this year. Jared Akins was the team’s 13th-round pick this month out of Fresno State. Colton Burns was selected in the 18th round this year out of UC-Santa Barbara. It is possible one of these guys will move up to E-Town when Brent Rooker moves up in a week or two. Humberto Maldonado is a big kid with lots of power potential. He’s quite raw, but he hit .283/.363/.404 (.766) with 11 doubles, three triples and a homer. Pitchers: Vadim Balan (24), Petru Balan (20), Jordan Balazovic (18), Brusdar Graterol (18), Matz Schutte (19), Jose Bermudez (19), Amilcar Cruz (21), Pedro Garcia (21), Matt Jones (18), Juan Mojica (21), Landon Leach (17), Blayne Enlow (18), Derek Molina (19), Austin Dizzle (22), Zach Featherstone (21). Let’s start with the starting pitchers. Jordan Balazovic was drafted in the seventh round last year. Many thought he might go up to Elizabethton to start the season, and maybe the Canadian will get there, but he’ll start in the GCL. Brusdar Graterol, coming off of Tommy John surgery and a broken hand, pitched on Opening Day. He’s got a huge arm. Juan Mojica, Pedro Garcia and Carlos Suniaga will start the season in the team’s starting rotation after pitching last year in the DSL. Garcia was 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He had 69 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. Mojica was 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA. He had 73 strikeouts in 62 innings. Finally, Suniaga was 7-3 with a 2.03 ERA. In his 57.2 innings, he had 58 strikeouts. (Tyler Benninghoff was the team’s 11th-round pick a year ago out of high school in Kansas. He immediately had Tommy John surgery and could pitch some in 2017.) Twins tird-round pick Blayne Enlow will also start the season in the rotation, though they may stretch him out before he works too many innings. Second-round pick Landon Leach signed last week. He is still working with the Twins to get his visa. When he arrives, he’ll be stretched out as well. Speaking of 2017 pick, 40th-round selection Austin Bizzle will be working out of the bullpen. 14th rounder Derek Molina is going to have his season start late due to a back strain. I think one of the more interesting roster spot here is the last one listed, Zach Featherstone. He was drafted in 2016 as a first base/outfielder. Just a few weeks ago, he began the transition to pitching. Matt Jones, like Balozovic, was a Canadian prep pitcher drafted last year. He signed later last season and will work out of the bullpen initially as well. The Moldovan Brothers are both starting with the GCL Twins. On Monday, elder brother Vadim Balanpitched in a game for the first time in two years due to a back injury. He gave up just one hit over 2.2 scoreless innings. Left-hander Petru Balan is going to make his professional debut with the GCL squad as well. Other bullpen arms who have come to the States from the Dominican Summer League include Jose Bermudez and Amilcar Cruz. Matz Schutte is in his third season out of The Netherlands and still won’t turn 20 until a month after the season. So there you have it… a current look at the Gulf Coast League team roster. The youngest player on this roster is 17 (Victor Tademo) while the oldest just recently turned 24. (Vadim Balan, and that's because he's missed two years with injury) It’s a diverse group in terms of number of countries represented as well. It’s always a fun roster to follow and they’ve now gotten one game under their belts. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, though I may need Jeremy Nygaard’s thoughts on some of the 2017 draft picks. Click here to view the article
  16. The Gulf Coast League has an interesting blend of players. There are kids who signed after being drafted out of high school. There are players in their first year or two from another country There are some late-round college picks. This year, there aren’t any undrafted free agents (yet) to help fill out the roster, but that’s still possible. Like the E-Town roster, it allows for many more players, 35, to be exact. The roster is also subject to quite a lot of change as more players sign, or if some players move up and down from Elizabethton. The team plays at noon six days a week (Sundays off). The playing time is generally split a little more equally, generally, with the exception of the guys who are considered the priority prospects. Same thing at Elizabethton. Look at the number of plate appearances and games played to see who the top prospects likely are. With that mini intro, let’s get to the GCL roster. The team is managed by Ramon Borrego. He is assisted by extra coaching since these rookie leagues are all about player development. The hitting coaches last year were Javier Valentin and Steve Singleton, but they have moved up to Chattanooga and Ft. Myers, respectively. Toby Gardenhire was hired to be a hitting coach in the GCL after coaching at UW-Stout the last several years. He spent the first half up in Rochester, coaching third base after manager Mike Quade hurt his shoulder in a spring training car accident. The pitching coaches are Virgil Vazquez (third year) and Cibney Bello (second year). GCL Twins Roster Catchers: Jhon Alvarez (21), Kidany Salva (18), Kerby Camacho (19), Darling Cuestro (19). Alvarez signed in 2012 and spent three seasons in the DSL. Last year in the GCL, he hit .259/.371/.293 (.665) with two doubles. Salva was the Twins 17th-round pick last year out of high school in Texas where he spent one year after moving from Puerto Rico. Camacho was drafted by the Twins in 2015, but he missed the 2016 season after a 80-game suspension. Cuestro comes over from the DSL where he hit .245/.376/.315 (.690). Infielders: Dane Hutcheon (22), Emmanuel Morel (20), Roni Tapia (20), Mariano Calcano (20), Victor Tademo (17), Royce Lewis (18), Ricardo de La Torre (17), Benjamin Rodriguez (22), Alex Robles (21), Edgar Herrera (DL-20). The big name in this list, of course, is Royce Lewis, the #1 overall draft pick in the June draft. He’s got speed and as we’ve already seen his power potential. He’ll play a lot of shortstop. It will be interesting to see how well he plays, how quickly he develops and just when the Twins will push him up to Elizabethton. Dane Hutcheon is a middle infielder, drafted out of college in 2016. Alex Robles was the Twins 30th-round pick this year from Austin Peay. Benjamin Rodriguez was drafted as a catcher out of Pepperdine. He will likely play quite a bit of first base. Ricky De La Torre is an exciting shortstop prospect from Puerto Rico drafted in the sixth round this year. Some projected him as a early-round pick early in the season, though he fell back a little bit. Emmanuel Morel and Roni Tapia spent time in the GCL last year after signing out of the Dominican Republic. Morel hit just .116 in 104 plate appearances. Tapia hit just .127, although three of his seven hits were home runs. Both are still just 20. Mariano Calcano and Victor Tademo came over to the States from the Dominican Summer League. Calcano is a first baseman who hit .206/.287/.386 last year in the DSL as a 19-year-old. Tademo was probably the most intriguing DSL Twins player in 2016. As a 16-year-old, he hit .311/.388/.429 with 16 doubles, a triple and a homer last year. Edgar Herrera is out with a fractured hamate bone. He hit .317 last year in the DSL. Outfielders: Jean Carlos Arias (19), Akil Baddoo (18), Humber Maldonado (19), Jared Akins (20), Colton Burns (21). Akil Baddoo was the first of back-to-back supplemental picks for the Twins following the second round of the 2016 draft. Jose Miranda was the other one, and he’s up in Elizabethton. Maybe that’s where Baddoo will end up, but the outfielder will start in the GCL. Jean-Carlos Arias is a big kid, young, but very talented. Last year in the GCL, he hit .202/.265/.266, but he should take a big step forward this year. Jared Akins was the team’s 13th-round pick this month out of Fresno State. Colton Burns was selected in the 18th round this year out of UC-Santa Barbara. It is possible one of these guys will move up to E-Town when Brent Rooker moves up in a week or two. Humberto Maldonado is a big kid with lots of power potential. He’s quite raw, but he hit .283/.363/.404 (.766) with 11 doubles, three triples and a homer. Pitchers: Vadim Balan (24), Petru Balan (20), Jordan Balazovic (18), Brusdar Graterol (18), Matz Schutte (19), Jose Bermudez (19), Amilcar Cruz (21), Pedro Garcia (21), Matt Jones (18), Juan Mojica (21), Landon Leach (17), Blayne Enlow (18), Derek Molina (19), Austin Dizzle (22), Zach Featherstone (21). Let’s start with the starting pitchers. Jordan Balazovic was drafted in the seventh round last year. Many thought he might go up to Elizabethton to start the season, and maybe the Canadian will get there, but he’ll start in the GCL. Brusdar Graterol, coming off of Tommy John surgery and a broken hand, pitched on Opening Day. He’s got a huge arm. Juan Mojica, Pedro Garcia and Carlos Suniaga will start the season in the team’s starting rotation after pitching last year in the DSL. Garcia was 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He had 69 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. Mojica was 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA. He had 73 strikeouts in 62 innings. Finally, Suniaga was 7-3 with a 2.03 ERA. In his 57.2 innings, he had 58 strikeouts. (Tyler Benninghoff was the team’s 11th-round pick a year ago out of high school in Kansas. He immediately had Tommy John surgery and could pitch some in 2017.) Twins tird-round pick Blayne Enlow will also start the season in the rotation, though they may stretch him out before he works too many innings. Second-round pick Landon Leach signed last week. He is still working with the Twins to get his visa. When he arrives, he’ll be stretched out as well. Speaking of 2017 pick, 40th-round selection Austin Bizzle will be working out of the bullpen. 14th rounder Derek Molina is going to have his season start late due to a back strain. I think one of the more interesting roster spot here is the last one listed, Zach Featherstone. He was drafted in 2016 as a first base/outfielder. Just a few weeks ago, he began the transition to pitching. Matt Jones, like Balozovic, was a Canadian prep pitcher drafted last year. He signed later last season and will work out of the bullpen initially as well. The Moldovan Brothers are both starting with the GCL Twins. On Monday, elder brother Vadim Balan pitched in a game for the first time in two years due to a back injury. He gave up just one hit over 2.2 scoreless innings. Left-hander Petru Balan is going to make his professional debut with the GCL squad as well. Other bullpen arms who have come to the States from the Dominican Summer League include Jose Bermudez and Amilcar Cruz. Matz Schutte is in his third season out of The Netherlands and still won’t turn 20 until a month after the season. So there you have it… a current look at the Gulf Coast League team roster. The youngest player on this roster is 17 (Victor Tademo) while the oldest just recently turned 24. (Vadim Balan, and that's because he's missed two years with injury) It’s a diverse group in terms of number of countries represented as well. It’s always a fun roster to follow and they’ve now gotten one game under their belts. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, though I may need Jeremy Nygaard’s thoughts on some of the 2017 draft picks.
  17. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/Episode_316_Draft_DRAFT_DRAFT.mp3
  18. In a special midweek show, Aaron and John dissect the Twins' draft picks and draft strategy, beginning with no. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis and the outrage that followed, plus Brent Rooker, Landon Leach, and Blayne Enlow, all while visiting Sisyphus Brewing. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Click here to view the article
  19. Does either outfielder Brent Rooker or RHP Landon Leach equate to a "big plan?" Only time will tell. Here is a very brief description of each. Comp Round A; 35th overall - Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker put up video game numbers after re-entering the draft after not signing with the Twins last year. I'd expect Rooker to make his way to Cedar Rapids this year and could move relatively quickly. Not a pick that should command much of extra bonus money. Rooker reminds me a bit of a right-handed version of Daniel Palka. 2nd round; 37th overall - Landon Leach, RHP, Ontario (Canada) prep A big-bodied (6' 4", 220 lb) prep, Leach is projectable and currently features a three-pitch mix which includes a low-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup, Leach has had success while competing on a Canadian national team. Leach is committed to Texas. Minnesota prep pitcher Sam Carlson has likely priced himself out of getting drafted in the Top 10 rounds. It appears likely that he'll head to Florida. (EDIT: Interestingly, Carlson was drafted by the Mariners 55th overall. This is a puzzling one... if he's signable here, what gives...?) Greg Deichmann, who was drafted by the Twins last year but instead returned to LSU, was taken in the second round. The Twins will be first on the clock tomorrow afternoon when the 3rd round starts with the 76th overall pick. So what do you think after three picks?
  20. The Twins made a somewhat surprising choice at 1-1 by selecting SS/CF Royce Lewis, who is represented by Scott Boras. The rumor was that it was a money-saving pick. And Mike Radcliff said the Twins had big plans at 35 and 37. So we spent the next nearly three hours watching the names that might be tumbling down the draft boards.Does either outfielder Brent Rooker or RHP Landon Leach equate to a "big plan?" Only time will tell. Here is a very brief description of each. Comp Round A; 35th overall - Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker put up video game numbers after re-entering the draft after not signing with the Twins last year. I'd expect Rooker to make his way to Cedar Rapids this year and could move relatively quickly. Not a pick that should command much of extra bonus money. Rooker reminds me a bit of a right-handed version of Daniel Palka. 2nd round; 37th overall - Landon Leach, RHP, Ontario (Canada) prep A big-bodied (6' 4", 220 lb) prep, Leach is projectable and currently features a three-pitch mix which includes a low-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup, Leach has had success while competing on a Canadian national team. Leach is committed to Texas. Minnesota prep pitcher Sam Carlson has likely priced himself out of getting drafted in the Top 10 rounds. It appears likely that he'll head to Florida. (EDIT: Interestingly, Carlson was drafted by the Mariners 55th overall. This is a puzzling one... if he's signable here, what gives...?) Greg Deichmann, who was drafted by the Twins last year but instead returned to LSU, was taken in the second round. The Twins will be first on the clock tomorrow afternoon when the 3rd round starts with the 76th overall pick. So what do you think after three picks? Click here to view the article
  21. For a lot of people (just under 95 percent according to an MLB Trade Rumors poll), the Minnesota Twins' selection of California shortstop Royce Lewis with the first pick in the 2017 MLB Draft was a surprise. It shouldn't have been. Most knew there was no consensus number one pick in this draft. There were five potential number ones. The Twins took one of the five. This was originally published at FoulPlaybyPlay.com, a community for foul-mouthed, sports broadcasters providing uncensored, commercial-free play-by-play. Follow us at @FoulPlaybyPlay. Lewis can play anywhere and received the highest possible grade for his speed. Unsurprisingly, the Twins might have found another impact center fielder. Lewis already has a swing that stays in the zone a long time and allows him to barrel up a lot of balls. He struck out just seven times in 116 plate appearances this season. The mental makeup is everything you want in a player -- natural, born leader. He is still years away from the majors, so Byron Buxton fans need not worry. Many Twins fans bemoaned the pick, hoping for high school shortstop/pitcher Hunter Greene or college first baseman/pitcher Brendan McKay. Those fans shouldn't be disappointed. The Twins likely saved nearly $1 million by taking Lewis number one overall, which allowed new chief of baseball operations Derek Falvey to allocate more money to later picks. Since the Twins also selected at 35 and 37 overall, Falvey could use that money to sign more expensive or harder-to-sign draft picks that fell out of the first round. Falvey was rewarded with the best college hitter of the year. Mississippi State outfielder Brent Rooker (great baseball name) had a 1.371 OPS in 2017. He's set to become only the second player ever (Rafael Palmeiro) to win the SEC Triple Crown, batting .387/.495/.810. Some were surprised Rooker got past Oakland with the sixth pick. Then, Falvey scored Canadian high school right-handed pitcher Landon Leach. Leach is committed to Texas but could be persuaded to sign with Minnesota given the money the Twins have to offer. The approximate pick value is $1.8 million. You could say the Twins should have gone with pitching at number one overall, but that would have severely limited Falvey when offering Rooker and Leach contracts. And there's a lot of draft to go. The Twins next picks are 76 and 106. They will pick first in each of the next 36 rounds of the 2017 MLB Draft. I fully expect Falvey to target high school pitching he can develop, since that's sort of his thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if he takes Oregon State starter Jake Thompson if he's there at 76. Other pitchers ranked around that 76th pick for the Twins are right-handed pitcher Kyle Hurt (another great baseball name), and lefty Daniel Tillo, who the Twins drafted in 2015. Jackson Rutledge is interesting at 106. He's six-foot-eight and throws 94 mph with an expectation for more. While I can understand Twins fans' frustrations given the downfall of their pitching staff, there's no solution to that problem in the draft. Even Brendan McKay would likely be a year away from the majors, and perhaps more if given the time to adjust at the plate as well as on the mound. Hunter Greene has even more development time ahead of him. Evaluating a draft that can't be evaluated for at least three years is completely pointless. Reacting as if the Twins organization was "cheap" is incorrect. The Twins were "frugal," and it's already paying off.
  22. Saving money on the first overall pick is a common strategy for MLB teams and has been used with much success. Drafting Lewis, who was considered along with Kyle Wright and Brendan McKay, to be a half step below Hunter Greene in terms of talent, could essentially give the Twins extra quality in some of their following picks. Again, click on the tweet for the details. So Lewis was the surprise pick at #1, but we heard reports that he was the pick because he gave the Twins a discount which they could use to essentially accumulate higher picks later in the draft. That’s a solid strategy; additional quality picks helps both with risk mitigation and with higher upside. And it costs nothing but a little negotiation. Plus, selfishly, it makes the rest of the night that much more fun. The Twins had two more picks last night, the 35th and 37th picks and lots of leftover money. Signing Lewis “below slot” gave them the opportunity to sign some higher ranked players who seemed to “tumble” down the draft board, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they wanted more money than teams above the Twins in the draft (but below them in leftover money) could offer. What’s more, the most obvious of those players was a high school pitcher from Burnsville. Sam Carlson was projected to be a mid-first round pick. He’s a pitcher. He’s a hometown boy. And the fact that he was available at pick 35 made it seem like the Twins and he had conspired to allow him to fall into the Twins lap. Except that isn’t what happened. The Twins picked a college outfielder, Brent Rooker at 35. They picked a prep (Canadian) pitcher, Landon Leach, at 37. Both are legitimate top 100 prospects, but neither was a top 20 or even perceived to be a top 30 pick. In fact, one could reasonably project that both of them could also sign “under slot.” Carlson ended up going 55th to the Mariners who don’t seem to have the money to sign him. So WTF happened? We won’t find out all the signing amounts for several days, but I’ll float some scenarios, and you can add your own in the comment below. 1. Lewis didn’t sign for less than slot. I think that it’s already been reported that he did, but these moves make a lot more sense if Lewis' agent, Scott Boras, didn’t let Lewis sign for less than slot, or something happened that the Twins weren’t sure they had that extra money. 2. The Twins got sniped before #35. Whoever the Twins targeted with the 35th pick, was taken before they got their pick. Which would mean that either the player’s agent was incompetent, or the Twins didn’t get word to the player to make sure teams knew they needed to pass, or another team called their bluff or figured out a way to get their own leftover money. 3. A Carlson deal fell through. But they why do the Mariners take him at #55? They have to know they can sign him if they're going to use their second round pick on him, right? 4. The Twins have no intention of using their whole $14M draft budget. They saved money to save money. This just seems crazy. It would be a complete betrayal. 5. They're going to use the money on Day 2. OK, but now the top picks are already done. (Late add: track the Day 2 moves on Twins Daily's Day 2 Thread!) We are all left scratching our heads. Perhaps we'll get more information that clarifies what we witnessed. Or maybe this is the mess it appears to be.
  23. We set a record for page views yesterday, approaching 100,000. A lot of that was on our Day 1 Draft Day thread. And starting at about the 500th comment or so, the reaction could be summarized in three letters: W. T. F. To the community’s credit, that was not the thought process immediately, when the Twins surprised everyone by picking prep shortstop Royce Lewis first overall. That’s because a good chunk of the wonks on this site understand there is a strategy that can accompany just such a pick, one which I explained in a series of tweets, starting with this one, yesterday afternoon. You can click through, but I’ll give the gist…Saving money on the first overall pick is a common strategy for MLB teams and has been used with much success. Drafting Lewis, who was considered along with Kyle Wright and Brendan McKay, to be a half step below Hunter Greene in terms of talent, could essentially give the Twins extra quality in some of their following picks. Again, click on the tweet for the details. So Lewis was the surprise pick at #1, but we heard reports that he was the pick because he gave the Twins a discount which they could use to essentially accumulate higher picks later in the draft. That’s a solid strategy; additional quality picks helps both with risk mitigation and with higher upside. And it costs nothing but a little negotiation. Plus, selfishly, it makes the rest of the night that much more fun. The Twins had two more picks last night, the 35th and 37th picks and lots of leftover money. Signing Lewis “below slot” gave them the opportunity to sign some higher ranked players who seemed to “tumble” down the draft board, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they wanted more money than teams above the Twins in the draft (but below them in leftover money) could offer. What’s more, the most obvious of those players was a high school pitcher from Burnsville. Sam Carlson was projected to be a mid-first round pick. He’s a pitcher. He’s a hometown boy. And the fact that he was available at pick 35 made it seem like the Twins and he had conspired to allow him to fall into the Twins lap. Except that isn’t what happened. The Twins picked a college outfielder, Brent Rooker at 35. They picked a prep (Canadian) pitcher, Landon Leach, at 37. Both are legitimate top 100 prospects, but neither was a top 20 or even perceived to be a top 30 pick. In fact, one could reasonably project that both of them could also sign “under slot.” Carlson ended up going 55th to the Mariners who don’t seem to have the money to sign him. So WTF happened? We won’t find out all the signing amounts for several days, but I’ll float some scenarios, and you can add your own in the comment below. 1. Lewis didn’t sign for less than slot. I think that it’s already been reported that he did, but these moves make a lot more sense if Lewis' agent, Scott Boras, didn’t let Lewis sign for less than slot, or something happened that the Twins weren’t sure they had that extra money. 2. The Twins got sniped before #35. Whoever the Twins targeted with the 35th pick, was taken before they got their pick. Which would mean that either the player’s agent was incompetent, or the Twins didn’t get word to the player to make sure teams knew they needed to pass, or another team called their bluff or figured out a way to get their own leftover money. 3. A Carlson deal fell through. But they why do the Mariners take him at #55? They have to know they can sign him if they're going to use their second round pick on him, right? 4. The Twins have no intention of using their whole $14M draft budget. They saved money to save money. This just seems crazy. It would be a complete betrayal. 5. They're going to use the money on Day 2. OK, but now the top picks are already done. (Late add: track the Day 2 moves on Twins Daily's Day 2 Thread!) We are all left scratching our heads. Perhaps we'll get more information that clarifies what we witnessed. Or maybe this is the mess it appears to be. Click here to view the article
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