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  1. The overachiever from St. Paul has proven doubters wrong at every stage of his professional journey thus far. The only remaining step is the most important one. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints Age: 25 (DOB: 12/9/1997) 2022 Stats: (AA/AAA): 126.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 ETA: 2023 2022 Ranking: 15 National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR | MLB: NR | ATH: NR | BP: NR Varland's big-league debut on September 7th was emblematic of his journey as a prospect, which earned him back-to-back Twins Minor League Player of the Year awards: he met a new challenge with poise and confidence, and he handled it brilliantly. You could hardly ask for more stressful introductory circumstances than stepping into Yankee Stadium to face MVP Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers on behalf of a team desperately clinging onto postseason hopes. Varland took it in stride. In his first match-up against Judge, he got a swinging strikeout with a beautifully executed righty-on-righty changeup. Varland went to pitch into the sixth inning, finishing with a final line (5.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB) that reflected his body of work in a five-start September stint with the Twins: 26 IP, 3.81 ERA, 21 K, 6 BB. Add in his outstanding work at Double-A and Triple-A prior to the promotion, and you've got a statement season that lends further legitimacy to the former 15th-round pick's pro credentials. As much as he's improved his stuff from where it was when he was drafted, Varland still lacks the pure velocity or secondary quality of other pitchers in the Twins' current rotation mix, and others on this top prospects list. But there's something to be said for having the confidence and pace to execute as consistently as he does on the mound, including pressure-packed situations. Another thing working for Varland, particularly in the context of Minnesota's current situation, is his dependability and durability. He's one of the few on this list (or currently in the majors) who's been able to reliably take the mound each fifth day without issue. Last year between the majors and minors he threw 150 innings, which is more than any Twins pitcher has totaled since 2019. This, as a 24-year-old with one pro season under his belt. Clearly there's a lot to like from this hometown hurler who has proven so much. So why isn't he higher than ninth on our list? That comes down to Varland's final proving point ahead. What's Left to Work On Varland's overachieving accomplishments have earned him organizational awards and an early arrival in the majors. But they haven't shifted the broader view of his future upside, which helps explain why he still doesn't appear on any global top prospect lists and – despite moving up six spots this year – remains behind eight players (including several pitchers) in our rankings. It comes down to the substance behind his performance. Varland's fastball plays up due to his extension and deceptive release point, and he's added a ton since his college days, but it still averages under 94 MPH, placing it on the lower side of today's MLB spectrum. None of his secondary pitches – the slider, cutter and change – have shown to be particularly outstanding offerings. The righty manages to make the most of his arsenal thanks to a good approach and situational fortitude – for example, he held opponents to a .643 OPS with runners on last year compared to .726 with the bases empty – but decades of evaluation have taught us there's a limit to how far you can go with this kind of raw stuff. Generally speaking, that's about a third or fourth starter. And that's what Varland has mostly looked like thus far, which is hardly an insult. There's plenty of value in a player with his consistency and reliability providing several cost-controlled seasons of roughly average performance from an MLB rotation. What's Next I don't think anyone in the organization would deny that Varland looks like a major-league pitcher. He could credibly be written into the back end of the Twins rotation on Opening Day, if needed, but the Twins have wisely stacked veteran depth to allow the 25-year-old righty to open up at Triple-A (where he's made four starts) so he can serve as a quality rotation reinforcement with a chance to lock down his spot as soon as the opportunity comes. Reaching the next level of MLB starting pitcher status would require fundamentally improving some of his pitches to overpower batters with more than a polished approach, but we're talking about a guy whose legendary work ethic led to adding nearly 10 MPH in fastball velocity and vastly upgrading his secondary repertoire since being drafted as a little-known 15th-rounder out of Concordia University. If anyone can do it, it'd be Louie Varland. Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. For more Twins Daily content on Louie Varland, click here. Previous Installments Honorable Mention Prospects 21-30 Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 Prospect #10: Austin Martin, SS Prospect #9: Louie Varland, RHP Prospect #8: Coming Wednesday! View full article
  2. Age: 25 (DOB: 12/9/1997) 2022 Stats: (AA/AAA): 126.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 ETA: 2023 2022 Ranking: 15 National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR | MLB: NR | ATH: NR | BP: NR Varland's big-league debut on September 7th was emblematic of his journey as a prospect, which earned him back-to-back Twins Minor League Player of the Year awards: he met a new challenge with poise and confidence, and he handled it brilliantly. You could hardly ask for more stressful introductory circumstances than stepping into Yankee Stadium to face MVP Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers on behalf of a team desperately clinging onto postseason hopes. Varland took it in stride. In his first match-up against Judge, he got a swinging strikeout with a beautifully executed righty-on-righty changeup. Varland went to pitch into the sixth inning, finishing with a final line (5.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB) that reflected his body of work in a five-start September stint with the Twins: 26 IP, 3.81 ERA, 21 K, 6 BB. Add in his outstanding work at Double-A and Triple-A prior to the promotion, and you've got a statement season that lends further legitimacy to the former 15th-round pick's pro credentials. As much as he's improved his stuff from where it was when he was drafted, Varland still lacks the pure velocity or secondary quality of other pitchers in the Twins' current rotation mix, and others on this top prospects list. But there's something to be said for having the confidence and pace to execute as consistently as he does on the mound, including pressure-packed situations. Another thing working for Varland, particularly in the context of Minnesota's current situation, is his dependability and durability. He's one of the few on this list (or currently in the majors) who's been able to reliably take the mound each fifth day without issue. Last year between the majors and minors he threw 150 innings, which is more than any Twins pitcher has totaled since 2019. This, as a 24-year-old with one pro season under his belt. Clearly there's a lot to like from this hometown hurler who has proven so much. So why isn't he higher than ninth on our list? That comes down to Varland's final proving point ahead. What's Left to Work On Varland's overachieving accomplishments have earned him organizational awards and an early arrival in the majors. But they haven't shifted the broader view of his future upside, which helps explain why he still doesn't appear on any global top prospect lists and – despite moving up six spots this year – remains behind eight players (including several pitchers) in our rankings. It comes down to the substance behind his performance. Varland's fastball plays up due to his extension and deceptive release point, and he's added a ton since his college days, but it still averages under 94 MPH, placing it on the lower side of today's MLB spectrum. None of his secondary pitches – the slider, cutter and change – have shown to be particularly outstanding offerings. The righty manages to make the most of his arsenal thanks to a good approach and situational fortitude – for example, he held opponents to a .643 OPS with runners on last year compared to .726 with the bases empty – but decades of evaluation have taught us there's a limit to how far you can go with this kind of raw stuff. Generally speaking, that's about a third or fourth starter. And that's what Varland has mostly looked like thus far, which is hardly an insult. There's plenty of value in a player with his consistency and reliability providing several cost-controlled seasons of roughly average performance from an MLB rotation. What's Next I don't think anyone in the organization would deny that Varland looks like a major-league pitcher. He could credibly be written into the back end of the Twins rotation on Opening Day, if needed, but the Twins have wisely stacked veteran depth to allow the 25-year-old righty to open up at Triple-A (where he's made four starts) so he can serve as a quality rotation reinforcement with a chance to lock down his spot as soon as the opportunity comes. Reaching the next level of MLB starting pitcher status would require fundamentally improving some of his pitches to overpower batters with more than a polished approach, but we're talking about a guy whose legendary work ethic led to adding nearly 10 MPH in fastball velocity and vastly upgrading his secondary repertoire since being drafted as a little-known 15th-rounder out of Concordia University. If anyone can do it, it'd be Louie Varland. Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. For more Twins Daily content on Louie Varland, click here. Previous Installments Honorable Mention Prospects 21-30 Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 Prospect #10: Austin Martin, SS Prospect #9: Louie Varland, RHP Prospect #8: Coming Wednesday!
  3. After an impressive debut in 2022, Louie Varland is set up to pitch a handful of innings for the Twins in 2023. Varland posted a 3.81 ERA and 20% strikeout rate in five starts, offering hope that he's ready to go when his name is called this summer. View full video
  4. After an impressive debut in 2022, Louie Varland is set up to pitch a handful of innings for the Twins in 2023. Varland posted a 3.81 ERA and 20% strikeout rate in five starts, offering hope that he's ready to go when his name is called this summer.
  5. The Twins have what looks to be much better depth in their starting pitching department this year. Surely some of their arms that start the year in the Triple-A rotation will make an impact in the big leagues this season. So how does this group of extra starters compare to the rest of the division? While many would argue that the starting rotation that breaks camp in late March is still lacking a true bonafide ace, there’s no arguing that the Twins have a much deeper class of pitchers than in recent years. Take the 2022 season as an example. As the campaign opened, the big-league starting corps consisted of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Chris Paddack, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Even with a six-man rotation, the depth was tested early on. When the calendar flipped to May, Gray, and Ober both found themselves on the IL, with Josh Winder getting the call to fill in on the now five-man rotation. Just two weeks later, Paddack succumbed to an elbow injury and was replaced by Devin Smeltzer. Just weeks after that, the Twins trotted out Cole Sands and Chi Chi Gonzalez to fill out an even more depleted staff. As you can see, things can go south rather quickly when nagging injuries rise to the surface. That’s why depth is a critical aspect of building a competitive team. And this year, the group looks much deeper on paper. Beyond their projected major-league rotation consisting of Gray, Ryan, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, and Kenta Maeda, they actually have a full staff of quality starter options stashed across the river in St. Paul. Rather than relying on the likes of Smeltzer, Gonzalez, or Sands when someone in the big-league rotation goes down, the Twins are on track to have a much stronger group of replacements. This includes top prospects Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 5 on Twins Daily’s prospect rankings), Louie Varland (No. 7) and hopefully a healthy Jordan Balazovic (No. 15). It would also presumably feature Ober and Winder, two exciting young arms that have shown flashes of belonging in the MLB despite notable injuries over the last two years. They could also look at Ronny Henriquez (No. 16) and Cole Sands in the Saints’ rotation, though both finished the 2022 campaign in the bullpen and may be best suited for that role going forward. After that collection, a group of non-roster invitees could theoretically stick around depending on what opportunities present themselves at the end of spring training. This class includes Jose De Leon, Randy Dobnak, and Dereck Rodriguez. None of these are expected to be big contributors to the big league roster, but then again, neither were Gonzalez, Sands and Aaron Sanchez in 2022. Nevertheless, this year’s crop of starting pitcher options at Triple-A looks better equipped to answer the call when the time comes. But how do they compare to the rest of the AL Central? The Cleveland Guardians have the best MLB rotation in the division thanks to staff aces Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie, as well as mid-rotation types such as Cal Quantrill, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac. But what if one or more go down with an injury? They’d be looking at the likes of Triple-A starters Xzavion Curry (their No. 23 ranked prospect according to Fangraphs), Hunter Gaddis (No. 37), and Konnor Pilkington. Each has already had a taste of MLB action, but none inspire much confidence. Other options include non-roster invitee Touki Toussaint, as well as Logan Allen (No. 4), but he would need to be added to their 40-man roster. On paper, the Chicago White Sox also have a strong MLB rotation to start the year. They’ll rely on stalwarts such as Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Dylan Cease, with Michael Kopech and Mike Clevinger (maybe?) rounding out their staff, albeit with less certainty due to an extensive injury history or off-the-field issues, respectively. Long story short, they have a likely chance of needing some reinforcements early on, and that’s where things get dicey on the south side. Next in line would be Davis Martin, Jonathan Stiever, and recent waiver-claim A.J. Alexy, who was just claimed from the Twins. All three have seen MLB action, but none have the prospect pedigree to suggest a breakout is imminent. Beyond that, the Sox are pretty short-handed thanks to a depleted farm system. The Detroit Tigers have many holes in their boat as they try to stay afloat after another front-office regime change. Starting pitching depth is among their biggest challenges. Their MLB rotation will most likely consist of Eduardo Rodriguez, Matthew Boyd, Michael Lorenzen, Matt Manning, and Spencer Turnbull. That staff would look a lot stronger if it included former top prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, but both are unlikely to be ready by opening day after having Tommy John and flexor tendon repair surgeries, respectively, in the second half of last year. Their Triple-A rotation will likely consist of Joey Wentz, Beau Brieske, Zach Logue, and Alex Faedo, who have each seen MLB action in the past year. After that, there really aren’t any top prospects or former big leaguers that project to be studying presences when the injury bug inevitably bites them. The Kansas City Royals may still be a few years away from competing for the division crown, but their starting rotation options are plentiful for the time being. Their opening day staff will likely consist of Zack Greinke, Jordan Lyles, Brady Singer, Ryan Yarbrough, and Brad Keller, pushing their younger options to Triple-A. These young arms consist of mostly high draft picks, including four pitchers that were all taken in 2018 and have made their MLB debuts. This class includes Daniel Lynch, Jonathan Heasley, Kris Bubic, and Jackson Kowar. Between them, they have combined for 674 innings at the MLB level, so they should be set when the time comes. As you can see from the rundown of the rest of the division, the Twins probably have the deepest starting pitcher corps even if it lacks the height seen in Cleveland or Chicago. The Royals have a similarly deep group at Triple-A, but their on-paper MLB rotation lacks the upside that can be seen in the Twins’ rotation. Does that mean the Twins are guaranteed to have the best pitching staff in the division? Absolutely not. But they are certainly better equipped to withstand a few injuries than they were last year. What do you think? Let us know in the comments whether you think the Twins’ pitching depth will be an asset or a liability this year. View full article
  6. While many would argue that the starting rotation that breaks camp in late March is still lacking a true bonafide ace, there’s no arguing that the Twins have a much deeper class of pitchers than in recent years. Take the 2022 season as an example. As the campaign opened, the big-league starting corps consisted of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Chris Paddack, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Even with a six-man rotation, the depth was tested early on. When the calendar flipped to May, Gray, and Ober both found themselves on the IL, with Josh Winder getting the call to fill in on the now five-man rotation. Just two weeks later, Paddack succumbed to an elbow injury and was replaced by Devin Smeltzer. Just weeks after that, the Twins trotted out Cole Sands and Chi Chi Gonzalez to fill out an even more depleted staff. As you can see, things can go south rather quickly when nagging injuries rise to the surface. That’s why depth is a critical aspect of building a competitive team. And this year, the group looks much deeper on paper. Beyond their projected major-league rotation consisting of Gray, Ryan, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, and Kenta Maeda, they actually have a full staff of quality starter options stashed across the river in St. Paul. Rather than relying on the likes of Smeltzer, Gonzalez, or Sands when someone in the big-league rotation goes down, the Twins are on track to have a much stronger group of replacements. This includes top prospects Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 5 on Twins Daily’s prospect rankings), Louie Varland (No. 7) and hopefully a healthy Jordan Balazovic (No. 15). It would also presumably feature Ober and Winder, two exciting young arms that have shown flashes of belonging in the MLB despite notable injuries over the last two years. They could also look at Ronny Henriquez (No. 16) and Cole Sands in the Saints’ rotation, though both finished the 2022 campaign in the bullpen and may be best suited for that role going forward. After that collection, a group of non-roster invitees could theoretically stick around depending on what opportunities present themselves at the end of spring training. This class includes Jose De Leon, Randy Dobnak, and Dereck Rodriguez. None of these are expected to be big contributors to the big league roster, but then again, neither were Gonzalez, Sands and Aaron Sanchez in 2022. Nevertheless, this year’s crop of starting pitcher options at Triple-A looks better equipped to answer the call when the time comes. But how do they compare to the rest of the AL Central? The Cleveland Guardians have the best MLB rotation in the division thanks to staff aces Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie, as well as mid-rotation types such as Cal Quantrill, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac. But what if one or more go down with an injury? They’d be looking at the likes of Triple-A starters Xzavion Curry (their No. 23 ranked prospect according to Fangraphs), Hunter Gaddis (No. 37), and Konnor Pilkington. Each has already had a taste of MLB action, but none inspire much confidence. Other options include non-roster invitee Touki Toussaint, as well as Logan Allen (No. 4), but he would need to be added to their 40-man roster. On paper, the Chicago White Sox also have a strong MLB rotation to start the year. They’ll rely on stalwarts such as Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Dylan Cease, with Michael Kopech and Mike Clevinger (maybe?) rounding out their staff, albeit with less certainty due to an extensive injury history or off-the-field issues, respectively. Long story short, they have a likely chance of needing some reinforcements early on, and that’s where things get dicey on the south side. Next in line would be Davis Martin, Jonathan Stiever, and recent waiver-claim A.J. Alexy, who was just claimed from the Twins. All three have seen MLB action, but none have the prospect pedigree to suggest a breakout is imminent. Beyond that, the Sox are pretty short-handed thanks to a depleted farm system. The Detroit Tigers have many holes in their boat as they try to stay afloat after another front-office regime change. Starting pitching depth is among their biggest challenges. Their MLB rotation will most likely consist of Eduardo Rodriguez, Matthew Boyd, Michael Lorenzen, Matt Manning, and Spencer Turnbull. That staff would look a lot stronger if it included former top prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, but both are unlikely to be ready by opening day after having Tommy John and flexor tendon repair surgeries, respectively, in the second half of last year. Their Triple-A rotation will likely consist of Joey Wentz, Beau Brieske, Zach Logue, and Alex Faedo, who have each seen MLB action in the past year. After that, there really aren’t any top prospects or former big leaguers that project to be studying presences when the injury bug inevitably bites them. The Kansas City Royals may still be a few years away from competing for the division crown, but their starting rotation options are plentiful for the time being. Their opening day staff will likely consist of Zack Greinke, Jordan Lyles, Brady Singer, Ryan Yarbrough, and Brad Keller, pushing their younger options to Triple-A. These young arms consist of mostly high draft picks, including four pitchers that were all taken in 2018 and have made their MLB debuts. This class includes Daniel Lynch, Jonathan Heasley, Kris Bubic, and Jackson Kowar. Between them, they have combined for 674 innings at the MLB level, so they should be set when the time comes. As you can see from the rundown of the rest of the division, the Twins probably have the deepest starting pitcher corps even if it lacks the height seen in Cleveland or Chicago. The Royals have a similarly deep group at Triple-A, but their on-paper MLB rotation lacks the upside that can be seen in the Twins’ rotation. Does that mean the Twins are guaranteed to have the best pitching staff in the division? Absolutely not. But they are certainly better equipped to withstand a few injuries than they were last year. What do you think? Let us know in the comments whether you think the Twins’ pitching depth will be an asset or a liability this year.
  7. ROCHESTER – The premier Vikings Bar in the city of Rochester became a Twins Bar for the night as the Twins Winter Caravan’s final leg made a stop at Whistle Binkies on the Lake Monday night. Featured on this leg were Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, pitcher Louie Varland, hitting coach David Popkins, former Twins reliever and current Special Assistant to Baseball Operations LaTroy Hawkins, and radio play-by-play announcer Cory Provus. Popkins joined his first-ever Winter Caravan for the Twins on this leg and embraced more frigid temps than he had grown up with in San Diego. He joined the leg to spend more time with and bond with Baldelli as Popkins only joined the Twins in 2022. “We’re getting to be more comfortable here and our relationship is building to be pretty strong,” Popkins said. “The feeling-out period is over and now it's in that family period, which is where the fun stuff really happens. It's been a pleasure to get closer to him and he's an incredible person so we look forward to a pretty fun environment.” It had been 20 years for Hawkins since he had last been a part of a Twins Winter Caravan. Coming back to the Twin Cities for Twins Fest and hopping on the Caravan was just another round of trips that Hawkins has had all off-season. His latest trip before coming back to Minnesota was to Arizona for the MLB Dream Series. “It’s a three-day event over MLK weekend every year. We talk about baseball and show the kids that there are other jobs in Major League Baseball that you can get; umpiring, front office, content management, and just about anything with an organization,” Hawkins said. Another trip that Hawkins took this offseason was around his 50th birthday in December, an adventurous story he shared with the crowd at Whistle Binkies. “Through 2022, I had this notion that I wanted to go to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, and I wanted to summit it on my 50th birthday. I thought that would be the coolest thing. I spent two weeks in December in a village teaching young boys and girls baseball, a sport that they had no clue even existed, and that was the highlight of my 50th birthday,” Hawkins said. Before sharing his story on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and teaching kids about baseball for the first time in the country. Hawkins, Popkins, and Baldelli each shared their best advice on what parents can teach their own kids in the Rochester area about the game. “It's not actually about reaching the top of the pyramid, it's about learning all those good values that go into it,” Baldelli said. “It's not all cake and easy. But being positive and really having that determination inside you that you're never going away, you're never quitting. It's hard to beat someone that never quits.” One Twins pitcher that exemplifies those qualities is Varland, who provided the crowd and his coaches with a great perspective on how he approaches his roster situation for spring training. “I'm heading down to spring training, and I'm eager to learn but also very eager to compete. It's gonna be a really competitive spring training. My job is to make it really hard on Rocco and the decisions he will have to make,” Varland said. “Honestly, that is exactly the answer that you want to hear from one of your young players,” Baldelli responded to Varland. “This guy is going out there to compete. And he worries about the things that he can worry about.” The Twins crew made not only one but two kids' nights during the event as nine-year-old Noah Struss had the opportunity to ask the first question of the night and was invited to sit next to Varland for the rest of the night. Noah’s opening question for the panel was, “What is your favorite subject in school?” Varland was the only one to answer the question, and his answer was science. Noah only got the one answer as Provus invited him up to meet Varland and get a picture with him. “That was even more meaningful to see since my dad is a huge Twins fan and brought me to TwinsFest for many years,” Leah Struss, Noah’s mom said. “Oh it was so exciting to see,” added Bryan Struss, Noah’s dad. “He did such a great job. The other kid who had their night made was eight-year-old Emma Landherr, who had a pressing question about the team mascot “Can T.C. Bear talk?” she asked. This was the first time the Landherr attended a Winter Caravan stop as her dad Adam Landherr shared, “We're big Twins fans and usually get up for two or three games a year. We watch and listen all the time these two [Emma and her older brother] are a little older we’ll get to more each year.” The Twins Winter Caravan makes its final stop in Mason City, Iowa, tonight at Music Man Square.
  8. The Twins Winter Caravan made one last trip after Twins Fest to southeast Minnesota and Iowa to finish out the team's winter events. Image courtesy of Theo Tollefson ROCHESTER – The premier Vikings Bar in the city of Rochester became a Twins Bar for the night as the Twins Winter Caravan’s final leg made a stop at Whistle Binkies on the Lake Monday night. Featured on this leg were Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, pitcher Louie Varland, hitting coach David Popkins, former Twins reliever and current Special Assistant to Baseball Operations LaTroy Hawkins, and radio play-by-play announcer Cory Provus. Popkins joined his first-ever Winter Caravan for the Twins on this leg and embraced more frigid temps than he had grown up with in San Diego. He joined the leg to spend more time with and bond with Baldelli as Popkins only joined the Twins in 2022. “We’re getting to be more comfortable here and our relationship is building to be pretty strong,” Popkins said. “The feeling-out period is over and now it's in that family period, which is where the fun stuff really happens. It's been a pleasure to get closer to him and he's an incredible person so we look forward to a pretty fun environment.” It had been 20 years for Hawkins since he had last been a part of a Twins Winter Caravan. Coming back to the Twin Cities for Twins Fest and hopping on the Caravan was just another round of trips that Hawkins has had all off-season. His latest trip before coming back to Minnesota was to Arizona for the MLB Dream Series. “It’s a three-day event over MLK weekend every year. We talk about baseball and show the kids that there are other jobs in Major League Baseball that you can get; umpiring, front office, content management, and just about anything with an organization,” Hawkins said. Another trip that Hawkins took this offseason was around his 50th birthday in December, an adventurous story he shared with the crowd at Whistle Binkies. “Through 2022, I had this notion that I wanted to go to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, and I wanted to summit it on my 50th birthday. I thought that would be the coolest thing. I spent two weeks in December in a village teaching young boys and girls baseball, a sport that they had no clue even existed, and that was the highlight of my 50th birthday,” Hawkins said. Before sharing his story on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and teaching kids about baseball for the first time in the country. Hawkins, Popkins, and Baldelli each shared their best advice on what parents can teach their own kids in the Rochester area about the game. “It's not actually about reaching the top of the pyramid, it's about learning all those good values that go into it,” Baldelli said. “It's not all cake and easy. But being positive and really having that determination inside you that you're never going away, you're never quitting. It's hard to beat someone that never quits.” One Twins pitcher that exemplifies those qualities is Varland, who provided the crowd and his coaches with a great perspective on how he approaches his roster situation for spring training. “I'm heading down to spring training, and I'm eager to learn but also very eager to compete. It's gonna be a really competitive spring training. My job is to make it really hard on Rocco and the decisions he will have to make,” Varland said. “Honestly, that is exactly the answer that you want to hear from one of your young players,” Baldelli responded to Varland. “This guy is going out there to compete. And he worries about the things that he can worry about.” Noah’s opening question for the panel was, “What is your favorite subject in school?” “That was even more meaningful to see since my dad is a huge Twins fan and brought me to TwinsFest for many years,” Leah Struss, Noah’s mom said. “Oh it was so exciting to see,” added Bryan Struss, Noah’s dad. “He did such a great job. The other kid who had their night made was eight-year-old Emma Landherr, who had a pressing question about the team mascot “Can T.C. Bear talk?” she asked. This was the first time the Landherr attended a Winter Caravan stop as her dad Adam Landherr shared, “We're big Twins fans and usually get up for two or three games a year. We watch and listen all the time these two [Emma and her older brother] are a little older we’ll get to more each year.” The Twins Winter Caravan makes its final stop in Mason City, Iowa, tonight at Music Man Square. View full article
  9. Twins fans find themselves anxiously waiting for a starting pitcher to truly break out and lead the team to success. While veterans that were acquired from outside the organization such as Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda all have the ability to carry a rotation, many are craving a breakthrough from an arm on the prospect level. Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports When the Minnesota Twins hired Derek Falvey to lead their baseball operations department after the 2016 season, they were enticed by the successful pitching pipeline that he helped foster in Cleveland. His former team had just won the American League pennant on the backs of star pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco, as well as depth starters Mike Clevinger, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin. Six years later, that type of pitching pipeline is still taking shape in Minnesota. Many expected to see that door fully opened heading into year number seven, but instead, it appears to be hanging off of two hinges. Those hinges are Simeon Woods Richardson (Twins Daily’s No. 5 prospect) and Louie Varland (No. 7 prospect). That doesn’t mean that the team will require two rookies to lead them to the World Series in order to be successful. But if they fall flat in 2023, or break down, the entire door comes down with them. Two factors work in the Twins’ favor when taking this into account. First, as of today, neither Woods Richardson nor Varland is penciled into the opening day starting rotation. The club isn’t relying on them to make an immediate impact, so they should be able to fine-tune their stuff in Triple-A St. Paul until the club deems them ready. However, there should be an expectation that they play an integral role with the big league club by the second half of the season if all goes well. Second, both pitchers are coming off of very successful and healthy seasons in 2022. Starting with Varland, expectations started to rise last off-season after he was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He went on to dazzle at Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul, twirling 126 innings of 3.06 ERA ball before getting the call to the major leagues. With the Twins, he made five starts, most of which were quite promising. The lone hiccup was a five-inning effort against Cleveland where he allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks. The other four starts were enough to deem his debut cup of coffee as a very promising start to a hopefully long career with the Twins. Woods Richardson wasn’t the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2021 trade deadline, but he was a significant selling point. Austin Martin had more prospect shine at the time, but Woods Richardson’s inclusion pushed the deal across the finish line. This past season was his first full campaign in the Twins’ organization, and he made a really solid impression with his new club. In 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A, the tall righty pitched 107 innings with a sterling 2.77 ERA and 115 strikeouts. That earned him a call to the major leagues in the season’s final week, where he allowed two earned runs across five innings in his MLB debut. So what are reasonable expectations for these promising young starters as we head into a pivotal season for this front-office regime? According to Baseball Savant, Varland’s pitches shared many of the same characteristics as Cleveland’s breakout starter, Cal Quantrill, albeit with a slightly adjusted repertoire. The Guardians’ righty had a terrific 3.38 ERA across 32 starts last year. Does that mean that Varland should be a lock for these results? Of course not. But it’s interesting to see the comparison to somebody currently producing at the end of the pitching pipeline that the Twins are trying to emulate. So in that same vein, is there another pitcher in the Cleveland rotation that could be a possible comparison for Woods Richardson? One of the biggest breakout pitchers in 2022 was Triston McKenzie, who dazzled in 30 starts, pitching to the tune of a 2.96 ERA across 191 innings. It’s hard to expect anything like that out of Woods Richardson in 2023, but he could continue to develop into that caliber of pitcher as his career progresses. Steamer projects him to have a 4.69 ERA, with a 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 2023. His strikeout projection feels low seeing as he had a 9.6 K/9 in the minors just last year, but aside from that, this projection looks rather similar to McKenzie’s first full season at the MLB level in 2021. That year, he had a 4.95 ERA across 24 starts, with a 10.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. While rather unexciting on the surface, that comp feels far more fitting for the 23-year-old rookie. Sure, the Quantrill and McKenzie comparisons are far from perfect, but if Varland and Woods Richardson can prove that they are in a similar mold, it could convince many that the door to an effective pitching pipeline still works. These two are hardly the only promising arms in the Twins’ system. Players such as Jordan Balazovic, David Festa, and Marco Raya all offer different levels of hope that they could turn into contributors at the big league level. But Varland and Woods Richardson are on the cusp of tightening the screws and solidifying themselves in the club’s pitching corps. If they fall flat or succumb to significant injuries much like Josh Winder and Bailey Ober, the door may just fall off the frame. View full article
  10. With the arrival of a new year, it's time to update my annual rankings of the top 20 player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization. This is my sixth year going through this exercise, and I think I can safely say it's never been harder. Read on to see where I landed on #16 through #20 for the list. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints These rankings are intended to provide a relative view of Twins players and prospects by appraising their big-picture value to the organization. The goal is to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? We account for age, contract, controllability, upside, etc. It's not strictly a ranking of trade value, because that would be more team-agnostic, where this list aims to capture a very Twins-specific POV. As such, players at areas of scarcity (i.e. pitching) get elevated while those at areas of abundance (i.e. lefty-swinging corner guys) get downgraded a bit. I always find compiling this list to be an interesting offseason exercise – one that surfaces unique conversations about Twins players, how we value them, and where the system's strengths and weaknesses truly lie. What made it so challenging this year is that, by design, these rankings are a snapshot in time – published at the start of January for no other reason than a new year feels like a good time to reset and reassess – and right now, it's very tough to get a read on the state of this organization and its talent. For one thing, it feels like we're in the midst of a slow-developing offseason journey with big twists still ahead. I have a strong feeling there will be noticeable changes to this list by March 30th. But even more, there is SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY with the players they already have. A snapshot at this midpoint of the offseason lacks clarity around key health-related details with massive implications. I struggled with many decisions, and they begin to crop up in this first installment. For example: If healthy, Tyler Mahle at $7.2 million is tremendously valuable, even with only one remaining year of team control. Can we safely operate under the assumption he'll be healthy and at full strength in 2023? (Spoiler alert: I decided no, and he just missed the cut.) Another example: If his latest surgery works and Alex Kirilloff returns to being roughly the player he was before his wrist affliction, he's a centerpiece in the lineup controlled for several years. Can you assume such a rare and complex surgery will take? (Spoiler alert: My cautious optimism got him on the list, but as you'll soon learn, not very high.) With that setup, let's kick off the countdown with my picks for the 16th through 20th most valuable assets in the Twins organization. First, you can check out my rankings from the past five years to see how the franchise's talent landscape has evolved: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2022 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 16 through 20 20. Matt Wallner, OF 2022 Ranking: NR On a list like this, Wallner has a few key things working against him. First, his player type – strikeout-prone LH corner bat with big power – is fairly abundant in baseball, as evidenced by the Twins signing the poster child in Joey Gallo for $11 million. Second, that player type happens to be especially abundant in the Twins organization. So long as Max Kepler remains camped in right field, Wallner lacks a direct path to the majors, even though his skill set looks ready. The reason he still makes the list, just barely, is because his abilities within that skill set are SO exceptional. Baseball America rates Wallner as the best power hitter and best outfield arm in the Twins system – tools that were on display during a September debut in the majors. Wallner didn't put up terribly impressive numbers in 18 games with the Twins but had some big moments, and if he's shown one thing during his ascent through the minors it's that he can quickly put a slow start at a new level behind him and start dominating once he gets comfortable. The Twins will hope that's exactly what happens to the 25-year-old, who can make a big impact on the team's (near) future as either a slugger in the middle of the order or highly marketable trade chip. 19. Louie Varland, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR Around this time last year, there was still a degree of widespread skepticism around Varland. Sure, he'd earned Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2021 with some truly dazzling numbers, but was this former 15th-round draft pick out of a D2 college the real deal, or a flash in the pan? He backed up his breakout with a 2022 campaign that saw him: Named Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year for a second consecutive year, posting a 3.06 ERA in 126 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Debut in the major leagues, where he showed the poise and ability of a seasoned vet. In five starts, Varland posted a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings, completing at least five frames in each turn. Skepticism remains regarding Varland's true ceiling, which is why he doesn't rank higher on this list, but he has solidified his standing as a turnkey mid-rotation starter with six years of team control. His durability and consistency stand out from the field of pitchers in the Twins organization. 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR As things currently stand, Gray is the only pitcher in the organization who can credibly be looked at as a dependable frontline starter for 2023. That, in a nutshell, is why I had to include him in these rankings, albeit near the back end because the status of his contract (one year remaining at $12.5 million) and checkered bill of health this past season. Gray has been around the block. He's made All-Star teams. He's started playoff games. He's been a featured rotation piece for several teams in a decade of big-league action, and he filled that role pretty well for the Twins last year. It was a bummer that recurring hamstring issues limited Gray to just 24 starts and 120 innings, but he doesn't have the same kind of looming health-related questions as fellow veteran starters Mahle and Kenta Maeda. When on the mound, his performance was pretty much everything you'd want: a bulldog who throws strikes, keeping runners off the bases and batted balls in the park. To whatever extent the Twins are successful in the coming season, it seems very likely that Gray will play a pivotal role. 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR As the 2022 season played out, the Twins recognized that in order to take the next step forward, they needed to buttress Jhoan Duran at the back of the bullpen with another dominating force. This revelation pushed the front office to do something they rarely do: invest big in a buy-high relief pitcher. The Twins gave up four prospects at the deadline to acquire Baltimore's All-Star closer, who was experiencing an instant breakthrough in his transition to full-time reliever. Lopez shook off his previous struggles as a starter and transformed into a convincing lights-out bullpen ace for the O's. His performance in Minnesota after the trade was far less inspiring, but unlike Mahle, there's no reason to believe anything is physically amiss for Lopez. His profile – heavy doses of whiffs and grounders with sinking upper-90s heat – is a pretty reliable formula for success. So long as he can get back to commanding his arsenal Lopez figures to be a key piece during his two remaining seasons of team control. 16. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2022 Ranking: 3 I'm an affirmed believe in Kirilloff. In five past iterations of these rankings, I've had him in the top five twice, including #2 in 2021 and #3 last year. I view his pedigree, IQ and ability as a hitter to be in a rarefied class. He's flashed it in brief glimpses on the field, and last year AK hammered home his hitting prowess during a hilariously productive month at Triple-A (.385/.477/.725 in 28 games). But on the big-league field, Kirilloff's success has always been fleeting, with each setback tied to a clear culprit. The wrist injury that sabotaged his elite swing, and has now required two surgeries, will define Kirilloff's career. He'll overcome it with help from this latest intervention, or join the long list of rising stars fell victim to the brutal physical toll of pro sports – forced to make do rather than make hay. I'm bullish on Kirilloff overcoming it. If for no other reason than that the Twins as a franchise, and especially Alex Kirilloff as person, are overdue for a good break. The guy also lost a full year of development to Tommy John surgery, and despite it all, finds himself firmly planted in the majors at age 25. His talent is not in question. A healthy and raking Kirilloff would be a radical difference-maker in the outlook for the 2023 Twins and beyond. Ranking him 16th on this list is an attempt to balance that simmering potential with the cold realities of the human body and its limits. View full article
  11. These rankings are intended to provide a relative view of Twins players and prospects by appraising their big-picture value to the organization. The goal is to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? We account for age, contract, controllability, upside, etc. It's not strictly a ranking of trade value, because that would be more team-agnostic, where this list aims to capture a very Twins-specific POV. As such, players at areas of scarcity (i.e. pitching) get elevated while those at areas of abundance (i.e. lefty-swinging corner guys) get downgraded a bit. I always find compiling this list to be an interesting offseason exercise – one that surfaces unique conversations about Twins players, how we value them, and where the system's strengths and weaknesses truly lie. What made it so challenging this year is that, by design, these rankings are a snapshot in time – published at the start of January for no other reason than a new year feels like a good time to reset and reassess – and right now, it's very tough to get a read on the state of this organization and its talent. For one thing, it feels like we're in the midst of a slow-developing offseason journey with big twists still ahead. I have a strong feeling there will be noticeable changes to this list by March 30th. But even more, there is SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY with the players they already have. A snapshot at this midpoint of the offseason lacks clarity around key health-related details with massive implications. I struggled with many decisions, and they begin to crop up in this first installment. For example: If healthy, Tyler Mahle at $7.2 million is tremendously valuable, even with only one remaining year of team control. Can we safely operate under the assumption he'll be healthy and at full strength in 2023? (Spoiler alert: I decided no, and he just missed the cut.) Another example: If his latest surgery works and Alex Kirilloff returns to being roughly the player he was before his wrist affliction, he's a centerpiece in the lineup controlled for several years. Can you assume such a rare and complex surgery will take? (Spoiler alert: My cautious optimism got him on the list, but as you'll soon learn, not very high.) With that setup, let's kick off the countdown with my picks for the 16th through 20th most valuable assets in the Twins organization. First, you can check out my rankings from the past five years to see how the franchise's talent landscape has evolved: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2022 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 16 through 20 20. Matt Wallner, OF 2022 Ranking: NR On a list like this, Wallner has a few key things working against him. First, his player type – strikeout-prone LH corner bat with big power – is fairly abundant in baseball, as evidenced by the Twins signing the poster child in Joey Gallo for $11 million. Second, that player type happens to be especially abundant in the Twins organization. So long as Max Kepler remains camped in right field, Wallner lacks a direct path to the majors, even though his skill set looks ready. The reason he still makes the list, just barely, is because his abilities within that skill set are SO exceptional. Baseball America rates Wallner as the best power hitter and best outfield arm in the Twins system – tools that were on display during a September debut in the majors. Wallner didn't put up terribly impressive numbers in 18 games with the Twins but had some big moments, and if he's shown one thing during his ascent through the minors it's that he can quickly put a slow start at a new level behind him and start dominating once he gets comfortable. The Twins will hope that's exactly what happens to the 25-year-old, who can make a big impact on the team's (near) future as either a slugger in the middle of the order or highly marketable trade chip. 19. Louie Varland, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR Around this time last year, there was still a degree of widespread skepticism around Varland. Sure, he'd earned Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2021 with some truly dazzling numbers, but was this former 15th-round draft pick out of a D2 college the real deal, or a flash in the pan? He backed up his breakout with a 2022 campaign that saw him: Named Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year for a second consecutive year, posting a 3.06 ERA in 126 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Debut in the major leagues, where he showed the poise and ability of a seasoned vet. In five starts, Varland posted a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings, completing at least five frames in each turn. Skepticism remains regarding Varland's true ceiling, which is why he doesn't rank higher on this list, but he has solidified his standing as a turnkey mid-rotation starter with six years of team control. His durability and consistency stand out from the field of pitchers in the Twins organization. 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR As things currently stand, Gray is the only pitcher in the organization who can credibly be looked at as a dependable frontline starter for 2023. That, in a nutshell, is why I had to include him in these rankings, albeit near the back end because the status of his contract (one year remaining at $12.5 million) and checkered bill of health this past season. Gray has been around the block. He's made All-Star teams. He's started playoff games. He's been a featured rotation piece for several teams in a decade of big-league action, and he filled that role pretty well for the Twins last year. It was a bummer that recurring hamstring issues limited Gray to just 24 starts and 120 innings, but he doesn't have the same kind of looming health-related questions as fellow veteran starters Mahle and Kenta Maeda. When on the mound, his performance was pretty much everything you'd want: a bulldog who throws strikes, keeping runners off the bases and batted balls in the park. To whatever extent the Twins are successful in the coming season, it seems very likely that Gray will play a pivotal role. 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR As the 2022 season played out, the Twins recognized that in order to take the next step forward, they needed to buttress Jhoan Duran at the back of the bullpen with another dominating force. This revelation pushed the front office to do something they rarely do: invest big in a buy-high relief pitcher. The Twins gave up four prospects at the deadline to acquire Baltimore's All-Star closer, who was experiencing an instant breakthrough in his transition to full-time reliever. Lopez shook off his previous struggles as a starter and transformed into a convincing lights-out bullpen ace for the O's. His performance in Minnesota after the trade was far less inspiring, but unlike Mahle, there's no reason to believe anything is physically amiss for Lopez. His profile – heavy doses of whiffs and grounders with sinking upper-90s heat – is a pretty reliable formula for success. So long as he can get back to commanding his arsenal Lopez figures to be a key piece during his two remaining seasons of team control. 16. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2022 Ranking: 3 I'm an affirmed believe in Kirilloff. In five past iterations of these rankings, I've had him in the top five twice, including #2 in 2021 and #3 last year. I view his pedigree, IQ and ability as a hitter to be in a rarefied class. He's flashed it in brief glimpses on the field, and last year AK hammered home his hitting prowess during a hilariously productive month at Triple-A (.385/.477/.725 in 28 games). But on the big-league field, Kirilloff's success has always been fleeting, with each setback tied to a clear culprit. The wrist injury that sabotaged his elite swing, and has now required two surgeries, will define Kirilloff's career. He'll overcome it with help from this latest intervention, or join the long list of rising stars fell victim to the brutal physical toll of pro sports – forced to make do rather than make hay. I'm bullish on Kirilloff overcoming it. If for no other reason than that the Twins as a franchise, and especially Alex Kirilloff as person, are overdue for a good break. The guy also lost a full year of development to Tommy John surgery, and despite it all, finds himself firmly planted in the majors at age 25. His talent is not in question. A healthy and raking Kirilloff would be a radical difference-maker in the outlook for the 2023 Twins and beyond. Ranking him 16th on this list is an attempt to balance that simmering potential with the cold realities of the human body and its limits.
  12. When the Minnesota Twins hired Derek Falvey to lead their baseball operations department after the 2016 season, they were enticed by the successful pitching pipeline that he helped foster in Cleveland. His former team had just won the American League pennant on the backs of star pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco, as well as depth starters Mike Clevinger, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin. Six years later, that type of pitching pipeline is still taking shape in Minnesota. Many expected to see that door fully opened heading into year number seven, but instead, it appears to be hanging off of two hinges. Those hinges are Simeon Woods Richardson (Twins Daily’s No. 5 prospect) and Louie Varland (No. 7 prospect). That doesn’t mean that the team will require two rookies to lead them to the World Series in order to be successful. But if they fall flat in 2023, or break down, the entire door comes down with them. Two factors work in the Twins’ favor when taking this into account. First, as of today, neither Woods Richardson nor Varland is penciled into the opening day starting rotation. The club isn’t relying on them to make an immediate impact, so they should be able to fine-tune their stuff in Triple-A St. Paul until the club deems them ready. However, there should be an expectation that they play an integral role with the big league club by the second half of the season if all goes well. Second, both pitchers are coming off of very successful and healthy seasons in 2022. Starting with Varland, expectations started to rise last off-season after he was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He went on to dazzle at Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul, twirling 126 innings of 3.06 ERA ball before getting the call to the major leagues. With the Twins, he made five starts, most of which were quite promising. The lone hiccup was a five-inning effort against Cleveland where he allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks. The other four starts were enough to deem his debut cup of coffee as a very promising start to a hopefully long career with the Twins. Woods Richardson wasn’t the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2021 trade deadline, but he was a significant selling point. Austin Martin had more prospect shine at the time, but Woods Richardson’s inclusion pushed the deal across the finish line. This past season was his first full campaign in the Twins’ organization, and he made a really solid impression with his new club. In 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A, the tall righty pitched 107 innings with a sterling 2.77 ERA and 115 strikeouts. That earned him a call to the major leagues in the season’s final week, where he allowed two earned runs across five innings in his MLB debut. So what are reasonable expectations for these promising young starters as we head into a pivotal season for this front-office regime? According to Baseball Savant, Varland’s pitches shared many of the same characteristics as Cleveland’s breakout starter, Cal Quantrill, albeit with a slightly adjusted repertoire. The Guardians’ righty had a terrific 3.38 ERA across 32 starts last year. Does that mean that Varland should be a lock for these results? Of course not. But it’s interesting to see the comparison to somebody currently producing at the end of the pitching pipeline that the Twins are trying to emulate. So in that same vein, is there another pitcher in the Cleveland rotation that could be a possible comparison for Woods Richardson? One of the biggest breakout pitchers in 2022 was Triston McKenzie, who dazzled in 30 starts, pitching to the tune of a 2.96 ERA across 191 innings. It’s hard to expect anything like that out of Woods Richardson in 2023, but he could continue to develop into that caliber of pitcher as his career progresses. Steamer projects him to have a 4.69 ERA, with a 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 2023. His strikeout projection feels low seeing as he had a 9.6 K/9 in the minors just last year, but aside from that, this projection looks rather similar to McKenzie’s first full season at the MLB level in 2021. That year, he had a 4.95 ERA across 24 starts, with a 10.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. While rather unexciting on the surface, that comp feels far more fitting for the 23-year-old rookie. Sure, the Quantrill and McKenzie comparisons are far from perfect, but if Varland and Woods Richardson can prove that they are in a similar mold, it could convince many that the door to an effective pitching pipeline still works. These two are hardly the only promising arms in the Twins’ system. Players such as Jordan Balazovic, David Festa, and Marco Raya all offer different levels of hope that they could turn into contributors at the big league level. But Varland and Woods Richardson are on the cusp of tightening the screws and solidifying themselves in the club’s pitching corps. If they fall flat or succumb to significant injuries much like Josh Winder and Bailey Ober, the door may just fall off the frame.
  13. As we approach the end of 2022 and look forward to what 2023 will bring, let's take a look back at 2022 and remember what some of the biggest topics were for Twins fans. To do so, we will look at the top 20 most viewed articles this year. 2022 was many things for a baseball fan and specifically fans of the Minnesota Twins. The year began with the players locked out by the owners. They reached an agreement in early March and spring training soon began. The Twins were incredibly busy after the lockout ended, signing players left and right. No one could have anticipated the Twins signing Carlos Correa to a record contract. The season began with some optimism, hoping that the 2022 season was the anomaly. Things started well. The team was fairly healthy and found themselves in first place. They remained in that spot until late August when things went downhill in a hurry and injuries caught up. But, we did starting seeing some quality pitching prospects emerge in 2022. Griffin Jax adjusted very well to the bullpen while Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder made the opening day squad. As the season progressed, we saw more and more pitchers debut. In addition, Luis Arraez got some notoriety. He was the AL Batting Average champion, went to his first All-Star game, was a nominee for a Gold Glove, and won his first Silver Slugger Award. Byron Buxton went to his first All Star Game, started and homered. And finally, the offseason has clearly been frustrating for many Twins fan so far. Fortunately, it can still be salvaged. Things went well for Twins Daily as well. After a few years of Covid, and then a lockout, it was difficult to drum up interest in the club. However, our fantastic writing staff put out a ton of excellent content all year and Twins fans found their way here. We had some nice numbers throughout the summer, but December has been a very good month. So, let's take a look back at the Twins 2022 season by looking at which articles were viewed by the most people. It's not an exact representation, but it does take a look at some hot-button topics, some intriguing questions, lots of transactions and analysis and much more that intrigued us all year long. With that, in part 1 we will look back at the articles ranked 16-20 according to Page Views. Share your thoughts and memories on them below. #20 Louie Varland will Make his MLB Debut for Twins on Wednesday September 5 Seth Stohs Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 when he put up great numbers in Low-A Ft. Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids. He began the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita. In early August, he was promoted to Triple-A and had the opportunity to pitch in his hometown, for the St. Paul Saints. He made a handful of starts for the Saints when the Twins had a need for a spot starter. We learned a couple of days ahead of time that Varland would be making his MLB debut for the Twins in Yankees Stadium. We were excited with the news. Twins fans were excited. And Varland came through with a fantastic debut against the Yankees. His first big-league strikeout victim was MVP Aaron Judge. His first big-league home run allowed was to MVP Aaron Judge. All things considered, it was a fantastic debut for Varland. He went 5 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven batters. He left the game with a runner on and one out in the sixth inning. Griffin Jax came on and got Judge to pop out, but Gleyber Torres homered to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. The Twins came back to tie the game and sent it to extra games. Unfortunately, the Yankees won 5-4 in 12 innings. #19 Minnesota’s Return for Berrios Continues to Look Better June 30 Ted Schwerzler As the trade deadline was approaching, Ted took a look back one year to when the Twins traded All Star right-hander Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson. While Martin hasn’t raced to the big leagues as quickly as many thought he might when he was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, but the talent and athleticism is certainly still there. He missed time with injury but made up for it with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Woods Richardson had a strange 2021 season, but after a normal offseason and spring training, he got off to a fast start in 2022. He didn’t give up an earned run for the first month of the season. He missed about a month due to Covid, but he came back strong. Late in the year, he was promoted to Triple-A, and he made one start for the Twins in the season’s final week. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks over five innings. However, he gave up two runs in a rough first inning and settled in well. On the other side of the spectrum, it was a tough season for Jose Berrios. He went 12-7 despite an ERA of 5.23 and a WHIP of 1.46. He made all 32 starts and worked 172 innings. He led the league in both hits allowed (199) and in earned runs allowed (100). That came after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension with the Blue Jays. He will be the team’s #4 starter heading into the 2023 season, but it is likely he will be much better as well. #18 Too Many Outfielders, Another Perplexing Acquisition for the Twins December 8 Sherry Cerny Sherry was writing for herself, expressing her frustrations with a few of the Twins offseason moves so far. Certainly the article resonated with a large quantity of Twins fans who are equally frustrated. First there was the trade of one of the team’s more consistent, productive and healthy players in Gio Urshela. Then they signed strikeout-prone outfielder Joey Gallo for a similar contract while they already have several left-handed hitting corner outfielders. Thankfully the offseason is not complete. It will be interesting to see how the roster looks in early March. But for now, it’s been difficult to see the direction. #17 What’s Next for Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli September 14 Ted Schwerzler It’s one of those questions that some fans feel the need to ask when their favorite team is not winning ballgames? Should the manager be fired? Forget the injuries? Forget the slumps and struggles? The reality is managers probably get too much credit when their team wins, and they certainly take too much blame when the team loses. The Twins were in first place into late August, but at that point their pitching staff was decimated. Max Kepler missed the final month. Byron Buxton was out. Ryan Jeffers was out, replaced by Sandy Leon. Along with Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle also ended the season on the Injured List. The Twins lineup often included Nick Gordon hitting cleanup. Gordon had a nice year, but that tells you a lot. Again, when things go bad, it’s obviously a question that has to be asked. #16 The Minnesota Twins Front Office Played Themselves December 15 Matthew Taylor No question, the Twins clear top priority this offseason was bringing back Carlos Correa. It sure appeared to be Plan A, Plan B and maybe Plan C. Sure, they were able to sign Christian Vazquez to a three-year contract, but while waiting for the Correa situation to play out, several quality pitchers signed elsewhere. You can question whether or not Scott Boras and Carlos Correa played the Twins, using them as leverage to get a bigger contract. Matthew also thinks that the Twins front office played itself this offseason. Judge for yourself. Hopefully you have enjoyed this look back at 2022. Be sure to check back tomorrow for articles that ranked 11-14th. View full article
  14. 2022 was many things for a baseball fan and specifically fans of the Minnesota Twins. The year began with the players locked out by the owners. They reached an agreement in early March and spring training soon began. The Twins were incredibly busy after the lockout ended, signing players left and right. No one could have anticipated the Twins signing Carlos Correa to a record contract. The season began with some optimism, hoping that the 2022 season was the anomaly. Things started well. The team was fairly healthy and found themselves in first place. They remained in that spot until late August when things went downhill in a hurry and injuries caught up. But, we did starting seeing some quality pitching prospects emerge in 2022. Griffin Jax adjusted very well to the bullpen while Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder made the opening day squad. As the season progressed, we saw more and more pitchers debut. In addition, Luis Arraez got some notoriety. He was the AL Batting Average champion, went to his first All-Star game, was a nominee for a Gold Glove, and won his first Silver Slugger Award. Byron Buxton went to his first All Star Game, started and homered. And finally, the offseason has clearly been frustrating for many Twins fan so far. Fortunately, it can still be salvaged. Things went well for Twins Daily as well. After a few years of Covid, and then a lockout, it was difficult to drum up interest in the club. However, our fantastic writing staff put out a ton of excellent content all year and Twins fans found their way here. We had some nice numbers throughout the summer, but December has been a very good month. So, let's take a look back at the Twins 2022 season by looking at which articles were viewed by the most people. It's not an exact representation, but it does take a look at some hot-button topics, some intriguing questions, lots of transactions and analysis and much more that intrigued us all year long. With that, in part 1 we will look back at the articles ranked 16-20 according to Page Views. Share your thoughts and memories on them below. #20 Louie Varland will Make his MLB Debut for Twins on Wednesday September 5 Seth Stohs Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 when he put up great numbers in Low-A Ft. Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids. He began the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita. In early August, he was promoted to Triple-A and had the opportunity to pitch in his hometown, for the St. Paul Saints. He made a handful of starts for the Saints when the Twins had a need for a spot starter. We learned a couple of days ahead of time that Varland would be making his MLB debut for the Twins in Yankees Stadium. We were excited with the news. Twins fans were excited. And Varland came through with a fantastic debut against the Yankees. His first big-league strikeout victim was MVP Aaron Judge. His first big-league home run allowed was to MVP Aaron Judge. All things considered, it was a fantastic debut for Varland. He went 5 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven batters. He left the game with a runner on and one out in the sixth inning. Griffin Jax came on and got Judge to pop out, but Gleyber Torres homered to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. The Twins came back to tie the game and sent it to extra games. Unfortunately, the Yankees won 5-4 in 12 innings. #19 Minnesota’s Return for Berrios Continues to Look Better June 30 Ted Schwerzler As the trade deadline was approaching, Ted took a look back one year to when the Twins traded All Star right-hander Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson. While Martin hasn’t raced to the big leagues as quickly as many thought he might when he was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, but the talent and athleticism is certainly still there. He missed time with injury but made up for it with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Woods Richardson had a strange 2021 season, but after a normal offseason and spring training, he got off to a fast start in 2022. He didn’t give up an earned run for the first month of the season. He missed about a month due to Covid, but he came back strong. Late in the year, he was promoted to Triple-A, and he made one start for the Twins in the season’s final week. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks over five innings. However, he gave up two runs in a rough first inning and settled in well. On the other side of the spectrum, it was a tough season for Jose Berrios. He went 12-7 despite an ERA of 5.23 and a WHIP of 1.46. He made all 32 starts and worked 172 innings. He led the league in both hits allowed (199) and in earned runs allowed (100). That came after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension with the Blue Jays. He will be the team’s #4 starter heading into the 2023 season, but it is likely he will be much better as well. #18 Too Many Outfielders, Another Perplexing Acquisition for the Twins December 8 Sherry Cerny Sherry was writing for herself, expressing her frustrations with a few of the Twins offseason moves so far. Certainly the article resonated with a large quantity of Twins fans who are equally frustrated. First there was the trade of one of the team’s more consistent, productive and healthy players in Gio Urshela. Then they signed strikeout-prone outfielder Joey Gallo for a similar contract while they already have several left-handed hitting corner outfielders. Thankfully the offseason is not complete. It will be interesting to see how the roster looks in early March. But for now, it’s been difficult to see the direction. #17 What’s Next for Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli September 14 Ted Schwerzler It’s one of those questions that some fans feel the need to ask when their favorite team is not winning ballgames? Should the manager be fired? Forget the injuries? Forget the slumps and struggles? The reality is managers probably get too much credit when their team wins, and they certainly take too much blame when the team loses. The Twins were in first place into late August, but at that point their pitching staff was decimated. Max Kepler missed the final month. Byron Buxton was out. Ryan Jeffers was out, replaced by Sandy Leon. Along with Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle also ended the season on the Injured List. The Twins lineup often included Nick Gordon hitting cleanup. Gordon had a nice year, but that tells you a lot. Again, when things go bad, it’s obviously a question that has to be asked. #16 The Minnesota Twins Front Office Played Themselves December 15 Matthew Taylor No question, the Twins clear top priority this offseason was bringing back Carlos Correa. It sure appeared to be Plan A, Plan B and maybe Plan C. Sure, they were able to sign Christian Vazquez to a three-year contract, but while waiting for the Correa situation to play out, several quality pitchers signed elsewhere. You can question whether or not Scott Boras and Carlos Correa played the Twins, using them as leverage to get a bigger contract. Matthew also thinks that the Twins front office played itself this offseason. Judge for yourself. Hopefully you have enjoyed this look back at 2022. Be sure to check back tomorrow for articles that ranked 11-14th.
  15. The Twins have multiple young players on the cusp of impacting the big-league level. So, which players have a chance to insert themselves into the AL Rookie of the Year conversation? Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota has yet to have an AL Rookie of the Year winner since Marty Cordova took home the hardware in 1995. Other winners in team history include Tony Oliva (1964), Rod Carew (1967), John Castino (1979), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991). The five candidates below will attempt to end the Twins' nearly three-decade drought without a ROY winner. 5. Royce Lewis, SS Lewis is the highest-ranking prospect on this list, but his Rookie of the Year candidacy is complicated. Following his second ACL surgery, Lewis won't be on the field until the second half of 2022, and that's why he is lower on this list. He can return and significantly impact the line-up, especially if the team doesn't sign one of the top free-agent shortstops. If the Twins are in contention, Lewis can provide a second-half boost that might make it hard for voters to ignore. 4. Edouard Julien, 2B Julien was arguably Minnesota's highest-rising prospect during the 2022 season, and the team has already added him to the 40-man roster. In 113 games at Double-A, he hit .300/.441/.490 (931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His hot hitting continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.248 OPS with five doubles and five home runs in 21 games. He was named the AFL Breakout Player of the Year, and it looks like his bat is big-league-ready. Julien ranks lower on this list because other players are ahead of him on the depth chart, and he has yet to play at Triple-A. 3. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Woods Richardson is the organization's highest-ranked pitching prospect who projects to pitch significant big-league innings next season. In 107 1/3 innings last season, he posted a 2.93 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 115 strikeouts. He only faced younger batters in 14 plate appearances this season since he didn't turn 22 years old until September. He's been a step behind other pitchers in the organizational depth chart, and that's why he sits at this spot in the rankings. 2. Louie Varland, SP Last season, Varland became the Twins' first back-to-back Minor League Pitcher of the Year since Jose Berrios. In 24 minor league appearances, he posted a 3.06 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. Currently, Varland is scheduled to start the year at Triple-A, but there are questions about the health of other Twins starters. If others are healthy, it might be more challenging for him to accumulate the innings needed to put himself in the ROY conversation. 1. Matt Wallner, OF Wallner is an exciting name to consider when examining the Twins' future. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were considered better prospects than Wallner, but he may have passed them over the last year. His power profile comes with many swings and misses, with strikeouts in over 37% of his minor league at-bats last season. Still, Wallner's power is legitimate, as he combined for 35 doubles and 29 home runs between three levels last season. Wallner may not start the year in the big leagues, but he will be one of the team's first call-ups. Who has the best chance to win the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Award? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  16. Minnesota has yet to have an AL Rookie of the Year winner since Marty Cordova took home the hardware in 1995. Other winners in team history include Tony Oliva (1964), Rod Carew (1967), John Castino (1979), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991). The five candidates below will attempt to end the Twins' nearly three-decade drought without a ROY winner. 5. Royce Lewis, SS Lewis is the highest-ranking prospect on this list, but his Rookie of the Year candidacy is complicated. Following his second ACL surgery, Lewis won't be on the field until the second half of 2022, and that's why he is lower on this list. He can return and significantly impact the line-up, especially if the team doesn't sign one of the top free-agent shortstops. If the Twins are in contention, Lewis can provide a second-half boost that might make it hard for voters to ignore. 4. Edouard Julien, 2B Julien was arguably Minnesota's highest-rising prospect during the 2022 season, and the team has already added him to the 40-man roster. In 113 games at Double-A, he hit .300/.441/.490 (931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His hot hitting continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.248 OPS with five doubles and five home runs in 21 games. He was named the AFL Breakout Player of the Year, and it looks like his bat is big-league-ready. Julien ranks lower on this list because other players are ahead of him on the depth chart, and he has yet to play at Triple-A. 3. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Woods Richardson is the organization's highest-ranked pitching prospect who projects to pitch significant big-league innings next season. In 107 1/3 innings last season, he posted a 2.93 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 115 strikeouts. He only faced younger batters in 14 plate appearances this season since he didn't turn 22 years old until September. He's been a step behind other pitchers in the organizational depth chart, and that's why he sits at this spot in the rankings. 2. Louie Varland, SP Last season, Varland became the Twins' first back-to-back Minor League Pitcher of the Year since Jose Berrios. In 24 minor league appearances, he posted a 3.06 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. Currently, Varland is scheduled to start the year at Triple-A, but there are questions about the health of other Twins starters. If others are healthy, it might be more challenging for him to accumulate the innings needed to put himself in the ROY conversation. 1. Matt Wallner, OF Wallner is an exciting name to consider when examining the Twins' future. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were considered better prospects than Wallner, but he may have passed them over the last year. His power profile comes with many swings and misses, with strikeouts in over 37% of his minor league at-bats last season. Still, Wallner's power is legitimate, as he combined for 35 doubles and 29 home runs between three levels last season. Wallner may not start the year in the big leagues, but he will be one of the team's first call-ups. Who has the best chance to win the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Award? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. The season ended nearly two months ago. Our Twins Daily minor-league writers voted on the various awards including the Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Stars. Today we unveil those choices. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints (Woods Richardson, Helman, Varland, Wallner, Sisk) Read through our choices for each position. Check back at past Twins Daily Minor League All-Stars. Then discuss and cast your votes as well. Potentially more in 2022 than in most previous years, most of our All-Star selections spent time in the upper-levels of the minor league system. That is especially encouraging when you consider how many young players there are on the MLB roster. Now the key is to get everyone healthy and let them keep on working to earn more shots in the big leagues. Let’s get started. The Twins Daily 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Star Team Catcher: Noah Cardenas (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (8th Round) from UCLA 2022 Stats: .261/.421/.413 (.834) with 18 doubles, 9 home runs, and 43 RBI. In 2022, Cardenas was an on-base machine for the Mighty Mussels. Isolated Discipline is simply On-Base Percentage minus Batting Average. An Isolated Discipline of 0.160 is huge. He had 73 walks to just 70 strikeouts. However, he isn’t just a passive hitter, he bashed 28 extra-base hits around the diamond. He also does a nice job defensively and has taken to some of the new catching techniques well. He’s got a strong arm. To learn much more about Cardenas, please watch his recent Twins Spotlight interview. For more Twins Daily content on Noah Cardenas, click here. ETA - June 2025 First Base: Chris Williams (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson 2022 Stats: .246/.343/.500 (.843) with 21 doubles, 28 home runs, and 89 RBI. The Twins drafted Williams as a catcher, though he spent a lot of time at first base at Clemson after an elbow injury. He has continued to work as a catcher and can play there, but he has spent most of his time playing first base. In 2022, he made 81 starts at first base and 21 starts behind the plate. But Williams makes this team due to his powerful bat. He started the season with 75 games in Wichita where he hit .277/.372/.542 (.915) with 16 doubles and 18 home runs. He finished the season with 42 games in St. Paul. He hit .192, but he maintained the power. He had 10 more homers. There will be strikeouts, but there will also be walks, and there is the potential for a lot of power. For more Twins Daily content on Chris Williams, click here. ETA - July 2023 Second Base: Edouard Julien (Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (17th Round) from Auburn 2022 Stats:.300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, and 67 RBI The Quebec native had a breakout in his pro debut in 2021. Between Low-A and High-A, he played 112 games and hit .267/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles and 18 triples. He also had 34 stolen bases and his 110 walks led all of minor-league baseball. He played all over the place. In 2022 at Double-A, you can see that he was even better. His 98 walks ranked sixth and his .441 OBP ranked fourth in minor-league ball. He went to the Arizona Fall League and played in the Fall Stars game and was named the league’s Breakout Player. Earlier this week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. Want to see some bat speed? For more Twins Daily content on Edouard Julien, click here. ETA: May 2023 Third Base: Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent 2022 Stats: .278/.370/.536 (.907) with 17 doubles, 19 home runs, and 65 RBI. As a youth, Severino was such an impressive prospect, he received two seven-figure signing bonuses. In 2022, he was limited to 83 games by a midseason injury, but he put together a strong season. In 46 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .283/.398/.572 (.970) with nine doubles, two triples, and 11 home runs. He finished the season with 37 games in Wichita where he hit .273/.338/.497 (.834) with eight doubles and eight home runs. The Twins left him off of their 40-man roster, and after putting up solid numbers in Double-A, a team could have interest and think he’d be ready for some role. For more Twins Daily content on Yunior Severino, click here. ETA: July 2024 Shortstop: Jermaine Palacios (St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Signed as minor league free agent 2022 Stats: .252/.354/.456 (.810) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 16 homers, and 50 RBI Palacios became a Top 10 Twins prospect with the Twins, and then he was traded to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi. Before the 2021 season, he came back to the Twins as a minor-league free agent. He had a solid season at Wichita, hitting .259 with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. He quickly re-signed with the Twins. He spent most of the season with the Saints and did a nice job getting on base and showing some pop. He made his MLB debut on May 31st, playing shortstop in both games of a doubleheader. He made eight straight starts at short while Carlos Correa was on the Covid-IL. He earned a spot on the 40-man roster in September. In his first 16 games of the month, he went a combined 0-for-33 before a three-hit game in Detroit. He ended the season by hitting his first two homers in the final two games of the year. Following the season, he was claimed by the Tigers who then elected free agency. For more Twins Daily content on Jermaine Palacios, click here. ETA: May 2022 Left fielder: Anthony Prato (Cedar Rapids, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th round) from the University of Connecticut 2022 Stats: .285/.383/.444 (.827) with 30 doubles, 8 triples, 10 home runs, 64 RBI. The scouting report on Prato might tell us that he doesn’t have a lot of tools that immediately jump out, but when you watch him on a regular basis for a while, you start to realize that he can do a lot of things well. His approach is ideal for a top-of-the-lineup hitter. He knows the strike zone and is willing to take walks. But he also has an aggressive swing that produced nearly 50 extra-base hits this year. In 45 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .271/.349/.486 (.836). In 87 games in Wichita, he hit .294/.403/.419 (.822). He was a shortstop at UConn. In pro ball, he’s played several positions. In 2022, he played 60 games in left field, 34 games at second base, and 22 more games at third base. For more Twins Daily content on Anthony Prato, click here. ETA: August 2024 Center fielder: Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: Signed as international free agent in July 2019 2022 Stats: .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs and 25 RBI. Rodriguez was a big prospect out of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, he was unable to play in 2020 but the Twins pushed him to the FCL in 2021. He hit just .214 in 37 games, but he got on base 35% of the time and he had five doubles, two triples, and 10 home runs. He was certainly a prospect but in 2022, he broke out in a big way in Ft. Myers. He continued to strike out, but incredibly, he walked more than he struck out, and he got on base nearly 50% of the time. Just as impressive he hit for a lot of power in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee and surgery ended his season. In mid-September, he was the #1 overall pick of Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League and has hit a couple more home runs with them already. For more Twins Daily content on Emmanuel Rodriguez, click here. ETA: August 2024 Right fielder - Matt Wallner (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (1st Round, Comp Balance A) from Southern Mississippi 2022 Stats: .277/.412/.542 (.953), with 32 doubles, 4 triples, 27 home runs and 95 RBI. After missing a couple of months of the 2021 season with a broken hamate bone, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit six home runs in 18 games. If there were question marks surrounding the Forest Lake native entering the 2022 season, but less than a year later, it is clear he has a big-league future. He began with 78 games in Wichita where he hit .299/.436/.597 (1.033) with 15 doubles and 21 homers. He moved up to St. Paul in August. In 50 games, he hit .247/. 376/.463 (.839) with 17 doubles, three triples and six homers. He hit for the cycle in one game. He was named the Twins and Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year. He ended the season with 18 games for the Twins in which he hit .228/.323/.386 (.709) with three doubles and two homers. Is he a finished product? Not at all, which is really exciting if you are a Twins fan. For much more Twins Daily content on Matt Wallner, click here. ETA: September 2022 Designated Hitter: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2021 Draft (4th Round) from Oklahoma State 2022 Stats: 302/.374/.612 (.987) with 25 doubles, 4 triples, 25 home runs, and 85 RBI Matt Wallner was the easy choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year, but if Encarnacion-Strand had not been traded at the deadline, it could have been a very tight race. Drafted from Oklahoma State, where his head coach was Robin Ventura and his hitting coach was Matt Holliday, he is a hitting machine. In 74 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .296/.370/.599 (.968) with 23 doubles and 20 home runs. He was our Hitter of the Month in both April and June. He moved up to Wichita and in just 13 games he hit .333/.400/.685 (1.085) with two doubles, a triple, and five home runs. After being traded to the Reds and in 35 games, he hit ..309/.351/.522 (.874) with six doubles and seven homers. While it is likely he will wind up at first base, he continues to play at the hot corner. He was traded to the Reds in the Tyler Mahle deal in early August. For more Twins Daily content on Christian Encarnacion-Strand, click here. ETA: August 2023 Utility Player: Michael Helman (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2018 Draft (11th Round) from Texas A&M 2022 Stats: .258/.337/.432 (.769) with 23 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs, and 60 RBI Something clicked for Michael Helman in Cedar Rapids in 2021, and he added some pop to his game. He also began playing all over the diamond. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season to continue the progress. He began 2022 with 39 games in Wichita where he hit .278/.368/.472 (.840) with six doubles and six homers. He moved up to St. Paul where he finished the season with 96 games played. He hit .250/.325/.416 (.741) with 17 doubles and 14 home runs. In addition, he stole a combined 40 bases in 45 attempts. On the season, he played 43 games in center field, 41 games at second base, 29 games at third base, and 11 games at first base. In 2021, he made 64 starts between left field and right field. He has become an intriguing utility player with some right-handed pop and speed as well. For more Twins Daily content on Michael Helman, click here. ETA: May 2023 Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (15th Round) from Concordia-St. Paul 2022 Stats: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 12.4 K/9 Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 after pitching in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. Despite moving up, Varland pitched all in both Wichita and St. Paul not only earned him the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year again in 2022, but he earned a handful of big-league starts late in the season. In 20 games (19 starts) with Wichita, he went 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. In 105 innings, he struck out 119 batters with just 39 walks. He moved up to his hometown St. Paul Saints and made five starts. In five starts, he went 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA. It was at that point that he made his MLB debut in Yankees Stadium, and on the final day of the season, he earned his first MLB win. For much more Twins Daily content on Louie Varland, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Blue Jays with Austin Martin for Jose Berrios (July 2021) 2022 Stats: 5-3, 2.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 107.1 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.6 K/9 2021 was a strange season for Woods Richardson, but he returned in 2022 and had a fantastic season. He began 2020 as a 20-year-old in Double-A, but early on he was named to Team USA and then went to the Olympics where he earned a Silver Medal. While in Japan, he was traded to the Twins. Woods Richardson got off to a strong start in Wichita. In 16 games (15 starts), he went 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA. He had 77 strikeouts (and 26 walks) in 70 2/3 innings. He moved up to St. Paul where he made seven starts and went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA. He had 38 strikeouts (to just 10 walks) in 36 2/3 innings. When the Saints season finished, Woods Richardson was called up to the Twins for one start in which he gave up three runs (2 earned) in five innings. For more Twins Daily content on Simeon Woods Richardson, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: David Festa (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (13th Round) from Seton Hall 2022 Stats: 9-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 2/3 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 Last offseason, reports surfaced that Festa was hitting 97 mph in the Instructional League. He began his first full pro season with the Mighty Mussels, but he needed just five starts to prove he was ready to move up to Hi-A. He went 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA. In 24 innings, he had 33 strikeouts to go with just six walks. He pitched in 16 games (13 starts) for Cedar Rapids and went 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA. He added 75 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. As impressive, he was clocked over 99 mph on several occasions and even his secondary pitches showed improvement. He is another good example of the scouting department finding guys in the later rounds and the Twins pitcher development working with them to make them intriguing prospects. For more Twins Daily content on David Festa, click here. ETA: June 2024 Starting Pitcher: Brent Headrick (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th Round) from Illinois State 2022 Stats: 10-5, 3.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 108.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 11.3 K/9 Headrick stands 6-6. He’s long and lean, and a lefty. After missing some time in 2021 with some shoulder issues, Headrick began the 2022 season in Cedar Rapids. In 15 starts, he went 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. He was promoted to Wichita where he made 10 appearances (8 starts). He went 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. However, most of the damage came in his Double-A debut when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Over his final nine appearances, he went 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA. He had at least six strikeouts in each of his final seven starts. Headrick sits 90-92 with the fastball, though he can hit 94 at times. He’s found an ability to miss bats despite throwing a ton of strikes. Last week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. For more Twins Daily content on Brent Headrick, click here. ETA: July 2024 Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (14th round) from the University of Maine 2022 Stats: 6-0, 1 save, 1.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 10.6 K/9 He ended the season by making starts in Double-A, but Laweryson spent most of the season working out of the bullpen. In all, he pitched in 35 games and made 10 starts. He pitched in 16 games for the Kernels and went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He ended the season with 19 games in Wichita (8 starts) and went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. As you can see, Laweryson throws strikes, but he’s also got an unusual delivery and misses a lot of bats. He played in the Arizona Fall League in 2021 and pitched very well. For more Cody Laweryson content at Twins Daily, click here. ETA: August 2024 Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Evan Sisk (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Cardinals with John Gant for J.A. Happ (July 2021) 2022 MiLB Stats: 5-1, 1 save, 1.57 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.9 K/9 Fair to say that when the Twins got anything at the July 2021 trade deadline for J.A. Happ. John Gant came to the Twins and was able to eat up some innings at the end of a long, frustrating season, but they also got Sisk, a Double-A left-handed reliever too. After 13 games with Wichita, the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League. He began 2022 with 19 more games for the Wind Surge. He went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He moved up to Triple-A and was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 31 appearances. In 63 combined innings, he had an impressive 76 strikeouts. His 29 walks were too many, but then he gave up just 5.0 hits per nine innings which is incredible. Sisk sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but it is his breaking stuff that makes him really good. He throws from an angle that could make left-handed batters think that the ball starts behind them, but then breaks over the strike zone. He can be devastating against same-siders. He was left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft and is certainly someone that the Twins could lose at that time. For more Evan Sisk content from Twins Daily, click here. ETA: June 2023 ------------------------------------------------------------------ PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker, RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos. Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2019 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Jaylin Davis, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff Looking Back: 2021 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Jeferson Morales, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Trey Cabbage, BJ Boyd, Mark Contreras, DH: Edouard Julien, UT: Michael Helman, SP (4): Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic, RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. View full article
  18. Read through our choices for each position. Check back at past Twins Daily Minor League All-Stars. Then discuss and cast your votes as well. Potentially more in 2022 than in most previous years, most of our All-Star selections spent time in the upper-levels of the minor league system. That is especially encouraging when you consider how many young players there are on the MLB roster. Now the key is to get everyone healthy and let them keep on working to earn more shots in the big leagues. Let’s get started. The Twins Daily 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Star Team Catcher: Noah Cardenas (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (8th Round) from UCLA 2022 Stats: .261/.421/.413 (.834) with 18 doubles, 9 home runs, and 43 RBI. In 2022, Cardenas was an on-base machine for the Mighty Mussels. Isolated Discipline is simply On-Base Percentage minus Batting Average. An Isolated Discipline of 0.160 is huge. He had 73 walks to just 70 strikeouts. However, he isn’t just a passive hitter, he bashed 28 extra-base hits around the diamond. He also does a nice job defensively and has taken to some of the new catching techniques well. He’s got a strong arm. To learn much more about Cardenas, please watch his recent Twins Spotlight interview. For more Twins Daily content on Noah Cardenas, click here. ETA - June 2025 First Base: Chris Williams (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson 2022 Stats: .246/.343/.500 (.843) with 21 doubles, 28 home runs, and 89 RBI. The Twins drafted Williams as a catcher, though he spent a lot of time at first base at Clemson after an elbow injury. He has continued to work as a catcher and can play there, but he has spent most of his time playing first base. In 2022, he made 81 starts at first base and 21 starts behind the plate. But Williams makes this team due to his powerful bat. He started the season with 75 games in Wichita where he hit .277/.372/.542 (.915) with 16 doubles and 18 home runs. He finished the season with 42 games in St. Paul. He hit .192, but he maintained the power. He had 10 more homers. There will be strikeouts, but there will also be walks, and there is the potential for a lot of power. For more Twins Daily content on Chris Williams, click here. ETA - July 2023 Second Base: Edouard Julien (Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (17th Round) from Auburn 2022 Stats:.300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, and 67 RBI The Quebec native had a breakout in his pro debut in 2021. Between Low-A and High-A, he played 112 games and hit .267/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles and 18 triples. He also had 34 stolen bases and his 110 walks led all of minor-league baseball. He played all over the place. In 2022 at Double-A, you can see that he was even better. His 98 walks ranked sixth and his .441 OBP ranked fourth in minor-league ball. He went to the Arizona Fall League and played in the Fall Stars game and was named the league’s Breakout Player. Earlier this week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. Want to see some bat speed? For more Twins Daily content on Edouard Julien, click here. ETA: May 2023 Third Base: Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent 2022 Stats: .278/.370/.536 (.907) with 17 doubles, 19 home runs, and 65 RBI. As a youth, Severino was such an impressive prospect, he received two seven-figure signing bonuses. In 2022, he was limited to 83 games by a midseason injury, but he put together a strong season. In 46 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .283/.398/.572 (.970) with nine doubles, two triples, and 11 home runs. He finished the season with 37 games in Wichita where he hit .273/.338/.497 (.834) with eight doubles and eight home runs. The Twins left him off of their 40-man roster, and after putting up solid numbers in Double-A, a team could have interest and think he’d be ready for some role. For more Twins Daily content on Yunior Severino, click here. ETA: July 2024 Shortstop: Jermaine Palacios (St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Signed as minor league free agent 2022 Stats: .252/.354/.456 (.810) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 16 homers, and 50 RBI Palacios became a Top 10 Twins prospect with the Twins, and then he was traded to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi. Before the 2021 season, he came back to the Twins as a minor-league free agent. He had a solid season at Wichita, hitting .259 with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. He quickly re-signed with the Twins. He spent most of the season with the Saints and did a nice job getting on base and showing some pop. He made his MLB debut on May 31st, playing shortstop in both games of a doubleheader. He made eight straight starts at short while Carlos Correa was on the Covid-IL. He earned a spot on the 40-man roster in September. In his first 16 games of the month, he went a combined 0-for-33 before a three-hit game in Detroit. He ended the season by hitting his first two homers in the final two games of the year. Following the season, he was claimed by the Tigers who then elected free agency. For more Twins Daily content on Jermaine Palacios, click here. ETA: May 2022 Left fielder: Anthony Prato (Cedar Rapids, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th round) from the University of Connecticut 2022 Stats: .285/.383/.444 (.827) with 30 doubles, 8 triples, 10 home runs, 64 RBI. The scouting report on Prato might tell us that he doesn’t have a lot of tools that immediately jump out, but when you watch him on a regular basis for a while, you start to realize that he can do a lot of things well. His approach is ideal for a top-of-the-lineup hitter. He knows the strike zone and is willing to take walks. But he also has an aggressive swing that produced nearly 50 extra-base hits this year. In 45 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .271/.349/.486 (.836). In 87 games in Wichita, he hit .294/.403/.419 (.822). He was a shortstop at UConn. In pro ball, he’s played several positions. In 2022, he played 60 games in left field, 34 games at second base, and 22 more games at third base. For more Twins Daily content on Anthony Prato, click here. ETA: August 2024 Center fielder: Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: Signed as international free agent in July 2019 2022 Stats: .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs and 25 RBI. Rodriguez was a big prospect out of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, he was unable to play in 2020 but the Twins pushed him to the FCL in 2021. He hit just .214 in 37 games, but he got on base 35% of the time and he had five doubles, two triples, and 10 home runs. He was certainly a prospect but in 2022, he broke out in a big way in Ft. Myers. He continued to strike out, but incredibly, he walked more than he struck out, and he got on base nearly 50% of the time. Just as impressive he hit for a lot of power in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee and surgery ended his season. In mid-September, he was the #1 overall pick of Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League and has hit a couple more home runs with them already. For more Twins Daily content on Emmanuel Rodriguez, click here. ETA: August 2024 Right fielder - Matt Wallner (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (1st Round, Comp Balance A) from Southern Mississippi 2022 Stats: .277/.412/.542 (.953), with 32 doubles, 4 triples, 27 home runs and 95 RBI. After missing a couple of months of the 2021 season with a broken hamate bone, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit six home runs in 18 games. If there were question marks surrounding the Forest Lake native entering the 2022 season, but less than a year later, it is clear he has a big-league future. He began with 78 games in Wichita where he hit .299/.436/.597 (1.033) with 15 doubles and 21 homers. He moved up to St. Paul in August. In 50 games, he hit .247/. 376/.463 (.839) with 17 doubles, three triples and six homers. He hit for the cycle in one game. He was named the Twins and Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year. He ended the season with 18 games for the Twins in which he hit .228/.323/.386 (.709) with three doubles and two homers. Is he a finished product? Not at all, which is really exciting if you are a Twins fan. For much more Twins Daily content on Matt Wallner, click here. ETA: September 2022 Designated Hitter: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2021 Draft (4th Round) from Oklahoma State 2022 Stats: 302/.374/.612 (.987) with 25 doubles, 4 triples, 25 home runs, and 85 RBI Matt Wallner was the easy choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year, but if Encarnacion-Strand had not been traded at the deadline, it could have been a very tight race. Drafted from Oklahoma State, where his head coach was Robin Ventura and his hitting coach was Matt Holliday, he is a hitting machine. In 74 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .296/.370/.599 (.968) with 23 doubles and 20 home runs. He was our Hitter of the Month in both April and June. He moved up to Wichita and in just 13 games he hit .333/.400/.685 (1.085) with two doubles, a triple, and five home runs. After being traded to the Reds and in 35 games, he hit ..309/.351/.522 (.874) with six doubles and seven homers. While it is likely he will wind up at first base, he continues to play at the hot corner. He was traded to the Reds in the Tyler Mahle deal in early August. For more Twins Daily content on Christian Encarnacion-Strand, click here. ETA: August 2023 Utility Player: Michael Helman (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2018 Draft (11th Round) from Texas A&M 2022 Stats: .258/.337/.432 (.769) with 23 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs, and 60 RBI Something clicked for Michael Helman in Cedar Rapids in 2021, and he added some pop to his game. He also began playing all over the diamond. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season to continue the progress. He began 2022 with 39 games in Wichita where he hit .278/.368/.472 (.840) with six doubles and six homers. He moved up to St. Paul where he finished the season with 96 games played. He hit .250/.325/.416 (.741) with 17 doubles and 14 home runs. In addition, he stole a combined 40 bases in 45 attempts. On the season, he played 43 games in center field, 41 games at second base, 29 games at third base, and 11 games at first base. In 2021, he made 64 starts between left field and right field. He has become an intriguing utility player with some right-handed pop and speed as well. For more Twins Daily content on Michael Helman, click here. ETA: May 2023 Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (15th Round) from Concordia-St. Paul 2022 Stats: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 12.4 K/9 Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 after pitching in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. Despite moving up, Varland pitched all in both Wichita and St. Paul not only earned him the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year again in 2022, but he earned a handful of big-league starts late in the season. In 20 games (19 starts) with Wichita, he went 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. In 105 innings, he struck out 119 batters with just 39 walks. He moved up to his hometown St. Paul Saints and made five starts. In five starts, he went 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA. It was at that point that he made his MLB debut in Yankees Stadium, and on the final day of the season, he earned his first MLB win. For much more Twins Daily content on Louie Varland, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Blue Jays with Austin Martin for Jose Berrios (July 2021) 2022 Stats: 5-3, 2.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 107.1 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.6 K/9 2021 was a strange season for Woods Richardson, but he returned in 2022 and had a fantastic season. He began 2020 as a 20-year-old in Double-A, but early on he was named to Team USA and then went to the Olympics where he earned a Silver Medal. While in Japan, he was traded to the Twins. Woods Richardson got off to a strong start in Wichita. In 16 games (15 starts), he went 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA. He had 77 strikeouts (and 26 walks) in 70 2/3 innings. He moved up to St. Paul where he made seven starts and went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA. He had 38 strikeouts (to just 10 walks) in 36 2/3 innings. When the Saints season finished, Woods Richardson was called up to the Twins for one start in which he gave up three runs (2 earned) in five innings. For more Twins Daily content on Simeon Woods Richardson, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: David Festa (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (13th Round) from Seton Hall 2022 Stats: 9-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 2/3 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 Last offseason, reports surfaced that Festa was hitting 97 mph in the Instructional League. He began his first full pro season with the Mighty Mussels, but he needed just five starts to prove he was ready to move up to Hi-A. He went 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA. In 24 innings, he had 33 strikeouts to go with just six walks. He pitched in 16 games (13 starts) for Cedar Rapids and went 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA. He added 75 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. As impressive, he was clocked over 99 mph on several occasions and even his secondary pitches showed improvement. He is another good example of the scouting department finding guys in the later rounds and the Twins pitcher development working with them to make them intriguing prospects. For more Twins Daily content on David Festa, click here. ETA: June 2024 Starting Pitcher: Brent Headrick (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th Round) from Illinois State 2022 Stats: 10-5, 3.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 108.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 11.3 K/9 Headrick stands 6-6. He’s long and lean, and a lefty. After missing some time in 2021 with some shoulder issues, Headrick began the 2022 season in Cedar Rapids. In 15 starts, he went 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. He was promoted to Wichita where he made 10 appearances (8 starts). He went 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. However, most of the damage came in his Double-A debut when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Over his final nine appearances, he went 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA. He had at least six strikeouts in each of his final seven starts. Headrick sits 90-92 with the fastball, though he can hit 94 at times. He’s found an ability to miss bats despite throwing a ton of strikes. Last week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. For more Twins Daily content on Brent Headrick, click here. ETA: July 2024 Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (14th round) from the University of Maine 2022 Stats: 6-0, 1 save, 1.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 10.6 K/9 He ended the season by making starts in Double-A, but Laweryson spent most of the season working out of the bullpen. In all, he pitched in 35 games and made 10 starts. He pitched in 16 games for the Kernels and went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He ended the season with 19 games in Wichita (8 starts) and went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. As you can see, Laweryson throws strikes, but he’s also got an unusual delivery and misses a lot of bats. He played in the Arizona Fall League in 2021 and pitched very well. For more Cody Laweryson content at Twins Daily, click here. ETA: August 2024 Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Evan Sisk (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Cardinals with John Gant for J.A. Happ (July 2021) 2022 MiLB Stats: 5-1, 1 save, 1.57 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.9 K/9 Fair to say that when the Twins got anything at the July 2021 trade deadline for J.A. Happ. John Gant came to the Twins and was able to eat up some innings at the end of a long, frustrating season, but they also got Sisk, a Double-A left-handed reliever too. After 13 games with Wichita, the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League. He began 2022 with 19 more games for the Wind Surge. He went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He moved up to Triple-A and was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 31 appearances. In 63 combined innings, he had an impressive 76 strikeouts. His 29 walks were too many, but then he gave up just 5.0 hits per nine innings which is incredible. Sisk sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but it is his breaking stuff that makes him really good. He throws from an angle that could make left-handed batters think that the ball starts behind them, but then breaks over the strike zone. He can be devastating against same-siders. He was left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft and is certainly someone that the Twins could lose at that time. For more Evan Sisk content from Twins Daily, click here. ETA: June 2023 ------------------------------------------------------------------ PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker, RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos. Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2019 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Jaylin Davis, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff Looking Back: 2021 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Jeferson Morales, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Trey Cabbage, BJ Boyd, Mark Contreras, DH: Edouard Julien, UT: Michael Helman, SP (4): Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic, RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran.
  19. The Twins had a handful starting pitching prospects that made brief appearances in the big leagues during the 2022 season. Three of these pitchers, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Josh Winder, are likely to make appearances for the Twins during the 2023 season. Which of these three is most likely to spend the most time in the Twins' starting rotation? Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel, USA Today Sports Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Josh Winder all made their MLB debuts during the 2022 season. Winder was the only one of the trio to exceed his rookie status this season. Right now, the Twins projected 2023 Opening Day rotation is made up of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, and Bailey Ober, dependent largely on health. There is the possibility the Twins could roll out a six-man rotation as they did this season, but it is too early to tell if that will be the case for 2023. All three of these pitchers will likely make starts for the Twins during the 2023 season whether by earning a spot in the rotation or filling in for an injured starter. Based on what was seen from these pitchers during the 2022 season, here is my ranking of who will make the most starts. 1. Louie Varland The Twins two-time Minor League Pitcher of the Year showed great promise in his five late-season starts in September. Varland posted a 3.81 ERA in 26 innings and earned his first big-league win on the season's final day. Earning the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award will also help Varland’s case to start the season with the Twins either as the Twins fifth/sixth starter or long reliever. If Varland is not in the back end of the Twins' starting rotation for Opening Day, he will surely be the first guy to be added in for another due to injury. Varland made 23 minor-league starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He remained healthy and made the most starts of any pitcher on this list. With how many injuries the 2022 Twins suffered, it would not be a surprise if the front office gives the North St. Paul native a similar role as Bailey Ober/Chris Paddack had as the team’s sixth starter to start the season. To put an estimation on how many starts Twins fans could expect from Varland in 2023, it’s safe to guess he will take anywhere from 10-15 starts along with a few appearances out of the bullpen. 2. Simeon Woods Richardson Twins fans were fortunate to see one start from Woods Richardson before the regular season ended. He had five innings of work in his start against the Detroit Tigers and allowed two earned runs. Woods Richardson also missed time last year due to COVID-19. He made 22 minor-league starts prior to his one with the Twins. His best stretch came during his stint in St. Paul, where he made seven starts and posted a 2.21 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, striking out 38 batters in 36 2/3 IP. Woods Richardson turned 22 on September 27, meaning age is on his side to start his 2023 season at Triple-A St. Paul. His best chance of making the Opening Day roster appears to depend on the health of others. It is likely he will make anywhere between eight and 12 starts this upcoming season, maybe more.. 3. Josh Winder Josh Winder struggled the most out of these three pitchers this season as he was just one of the many Twins who missed time due to injury. He exceeded his rookie status with his 67 big-league innings pitched. As a starter, Winder struggled at both the major league and minor league levels. He posted a 4.79 ERA across 50 2/3 IP in his 11 starts with the Twins. In the minors, he posted a 5.00 ERA across six starts (one rehab in Ft. Myers) with the Saints. Winder’s injuries affected his performance this season and given his workload and results, it’s possible the Twins could convert him into a full-time long reliever. They would likely make him a long relief man with the opportunity to turn into a high leverage reliever as Griffin Jax was this season for the Twins. Winder’s pitch usage is also similar to that of Jax’s during the 2021 season as both were throwing mostly fastballs, 40.1% for Winder in 2022 compared to 45.9% for Jax in 2021. With the slider as their go-to breaking ball, 33.3% for Winder in '22 compared to 31.1% for Jax in '21, Jax turned his slider into his go-to pitch throwing it 48.4% of the time this year according to FanGraphs. The Twins may have a second reclamation project with a former top prospect in Winder as they did in Jax this year. If the Twins opt for this route, then don’t expect any starts from Winder, but since that is only speculation as of now, expect five or fewer starts from Winder in 2023. Three Other Options Three young pitchers to keep an eye on to possibly be added into the Twins rotation at some point in the season are Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, and Cole Sands. However, given the depth ahead of them on this list, it is looking unlikely they serve more than relief roles if and when they pitch for the 2022 Twins. Balazovic struggled mightily throughout the 2022 season with the Saints and only began to see success toward the end of the year after battling a nagging knee injury all year. He will surely start his 2023 season with the Saints. Both Henriquez and Sands saw time with the Twins this year, mainly as long relievers. Sands had a stretch of three starts for the Twins from May 31 to June 12, but pitched much more effectively as a reliever. Henriquez only pitched out of the bullpen in three relief appearances for the Twins. He made 14 starts with the Saints over the summer but was found to be more effective piggybacking with the starter. Balazovic is the most likely to make a start for the Twins next season. If the Twins see great success in either Henriquez or Sands, they will be given another chance as a starter. However, it is more likely that if those two are making starts, the rotation depth is in dire straits. Conclusion All three of these young pitchers will play more important roles with the Twins pitching staff in 2023 than they did in 2022. Twins fans can expect to see them all at different points of the season. And hopefully, when Varland, Winder, and Woods Richardson arrive on the Twins roster, it is because of their earning a spot rather than constantly replacing an injured teammate. View full article
  20. Outside of Jose Berrios, the Twins have failed to develop top-of-the-rotation starters over the last decade or more. So, do the Twins currently have any prospects on the path to becoming an ace? Image courtesy of William Parmeter, Fort Myers Miracle Defining what constitutes an ace is something fans have debated throughout baseball history. Some might view it as baseball's top 10-15 pitchers, while others might characterize it as the top pitcher for each team. As Nick wrote about earlier this week, Sonny Gray currently represents the top of Minnesota's rotational threshold, and some might not call him an ace. He is the team's best starting pitcher, and an off-season acquisition should be better or equal to him. So, does Minnesota currently have a pitcher in the system with ace potential? It could be easy to look at the Twins' prospect rankings and gauge ace potential by those rankings. However, pitching prospect development rarely follows a linear path. At this point last season, Simeon Woods Richardson saw his stock drop as he struggled at Double-A. Now, he is back on the prospect radar and has the potential to be an ace. Below there are five candidates that have varying levels of ace potential. Connor Prielipp, LHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4th ETA: 2025 Ace Potential: High Prielipp has the best chance to be an ace out of all the pitchers in the Twins organization. Minnesota was lucky to have him fall to them with the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball and slider are both MLB-ready pitches, and his changeup also projects to be above average. The Twins were confident enough in his pre-draft workouts to go over slot value to sign him. Minnesota will work him back slowly in 2023, but he has all the traits necessary to be an ace pitcher. (Click here for more Connor Prielipp articles at Twins Daily.) Marco Raya, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 9th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Medium Raya made his organizational debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. He impressed with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 65 innings. Over 82% of his at-bats came against older batters, which he held to a .571 OPS. According to MLB.com, he has four pitches that grade at 50 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale. The biggest thing holding him back from being an ace is his size, as he is six feet tall and weighs around 165-pounds. Players like Jose Berrios and Marcus Stroman have shown ace potential while being his size, so there is plenty of hope for him to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. (Click here for more Marco Raya articles at Twins Daily.) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Medium Woods Richardson has the best potential to be an ace pitcher out of the prospects in the mix for 2023. He turned 22 in September, and he already made his big-league debut. Woods Richardson struggled mightily during the 2021 season but bounced back nicely in 2022. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 115-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 107 1/3 minor league innings. He likely starts next season at Triple-A, where he only made seven starts this season. His age, pitch mix, and prospect status give him a shot at becoming an ace. (Click here for more Simeon Woods Richardson articles at Twins Daily.) Louie Varland, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 7th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Low Varland has been named the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in back-to-back seasons. For most organizations, a pitcher winning that award multiple times would point to ace potential. However, it might also result from other pitchers in the organization not performing well. Varland dominated the upper minors on the way to making an impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He has three above-average pitches, which can help him fit into the Twins' rotation for multiple years. It still seems unlikely for him to ever be considered the best pitcher in a rotation, even if he reaches his ceiling. (Click here for more Louie Varland articles at Twins Daily.) Matt Canterino, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 14th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Low Canterino's potential has been hard to project throughout his professional career because he hasn't stayed healthy. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August, so he will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season. Minnesota hopes this surgery can get Canterino back on track, as he was one of the team's top pitching prospects entering the season. When on the mound, Canterino has dominated with a true four-pitch mix and a fastball in the upper-90s. He arguably has the best stuff in the system, so his ace potential is tied to his ability to stay healthy, and remaining a starter. (Click here for more Matt Canterino articles at Twins Daily.) Who do you think has the best chance to be an ace? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  21. Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Josh Winder all made their MLB debuts during the 2022 season. Winder was the only one of the trio to exceed his rookie status this season. Right now, the Twins projected 2023 Opening Day rotation is made up of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, and Bailey Ober, dependent largely on health. There is the possibility the Twins could roll out a six-man rotation as they did this season, but it is too early to tell if that will be the case for 2023. All three of these pitchers will likely make starts for the Twins during the 2023 season whether by earning a spot in the rotation or filling in for an injured starter. Based on what was seen from these pitchers during the 2022 season, here is my ranking of who will make the most starts. 1. Louie Varland The Twins two-time Minor League Pitcher of the Year showed great promise in his five late-season starts in September. Varland posted a 3.81 ERA in 26 innings and earned his first big-league win on the season's final day. Earning the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award will also help Varland’s case to start the season with the Twins either as the Twins fifth/sixth starter or long reliever. If Varland is not in the back end of the Twins' starting rotation for Opening Day, he will surely be the first guy to be added in for another due to injury. Varland made 23 minor-league starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He remained healthy and made the most starts of any pitcher on this list. With how many injuries the 2022 Twins suffered, it would not be a surprise if the front office gives the North St. Paul native a similar role as Bailey Ober/Chris Paddack had as the team’s sixth starter to start the season. To put an estimation on how many starts Twins fans could expect from Varland in 2023, it’s safe to guess he will take anywhere from 10-15 starts along with a few appearances out of the bullpen. 2. Simeon Woods Richardson Twins fans were fortunate to see one start from Woods Richardson before the regular season ended. He had five innings of work in his start against the Detroit Tigers and allowed two earned runs. Woods Richardson also missed time last year due to COVID-19. He made 22 minor-league starts prior to his one with the Twins. His best stretch came during his stint in St. Paul, where he made seven starts and posted a 2.21 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, striking out 38 batters in 36 2/3 IP. Woods Richardson turned 22 on September 27, meaning age is on his side to start his 2023 season at Triple-A St. Paul. His best chance of making the Opening Day roster appears to depend on the health of others. It is likely he will make anywhere between eight and 12 starts this upcoming season, maybe more.. 3. Josh Winder Josh Winder struggled the most out of these three pitchers this season as he was just one of the many Twins who missed time due to injury. He exceeded his rookie status with his 67 big-league innings pitched. As a starter, Winder struggled at both the major league and minor league levels. He posted a 4.79 ERA across 50 2/3 IP in his 11 starts with the Twins. In the minors, he posted a 5.00 ERA across six starts (one rehab in Ft. Myers) with the Saints. Winder’s injuries affected his performance this season and given his workload and results, it’s possible the Twins could convert him into a full-time long reliever. They would likely make him a long relief man with the opportunity to turn into a high leverage reliever as Griffin Jax was this season for the Twins. Winder’s pitch usage is also similar to that of Jax’s during the 2021 season as both were throwing mostly fastballs, 40.1% for Winder in 2022 compared to 45.9% for Jax in 2021. With the slider as their go-to breaking ball, 33.3% for Winder in '22 compared to 31.1% for Jax in '21, Jax turned his slider into his go-to pitch throwing it 48.4% of the time this year according to FanGraphs. The Twins may have a second reclamation project with a former top prospect in Winder as they did in Jax this year. If the Twins opt for this route, then don’t expect any starts from Winder, but since that is only speculation as of now, expect five or fewer starts from Winder in 2023. Three Other Options Three young pitchers to keep an eye on to possibly be added into the Twins rotation at some point in the season are Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, and Cole Sands. However, given the depth ahead of them on this list, it is looking unlikely they serve more than relief roles if and when they pitch for the 2022 Twins. Balazovic struggled mightily throughout the 2022 season with the Saints and only began to see success toward the end of the year after battling a nagging knee injury all year. He will surely start his 2023 season with the Saints. Both Henriquez and Sands saw time with the Twins this year, mainly as long relievers. Sands had a stretch of three starts for the Twins from May 31 to June 12, but pitched much more effectively as a reliever. Henriquez only pitched out of the bullpen in three relief appearances for the Twins. He made 14 starts with the Saints over the summer but was found to be more effective piggybacking with the starter. Balazovic is the most likely to make a start for the Twins next season. If the Twins see great success in either Henriquez or Sands, they will be given another chance as a starter. However, it is more likely that if those two are making starts, the rotation depth is in dire straits. Conclusion All three of these young pitchers will play more important roles with the Twins pitching staff in 2023 than they did in 2022. Twins fans can expect to see them all at different points of the season. And hopefully, when Varland, Winder, and Woods Richardson arrive on the Twins roster, it is because of their earning a spot rather than constantly replacing an injured teammate.
  22. Defining what constitutes an ace is something fans have debated throughout baseball history. Some might view it as baseball's top 10-15 pitchers, while others might characterize it as the top pitcher for each team. As Nick wrote about earlier this week, Sonny Gray currently represents the top of Minnesota's rotational threshold, and some might not call him an ace. He is the team's best starting pitcher, and an off-season acquisition should be better or equal to him. So, does Minnesota currently have a pitcher in the system with ace potential? It could be easy to look at the Twins' prospect rankings and gauge ace potential by those rankings. However, pitching prospect development rarely follows a linear path. At this point last season, Simeon Woods Richardson saw his stock drop as he struggled at Double-A. Now, he is back on the prospect radar and has the potential to be an ace. Below there are five candidates that have varying levels of ace potential. Connor Prielipp, LHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4th ETA: 2025 Ace Potential: High Prielipp has the best chance to be an ace out of all the pitchers in the Twins organization. Minnesota was lucky to have him fall to them with the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball and slider are both MLB-ready pitches, and his changeup also projects to be above average. The Twins were confident enough in his pre-draft workouts to go over slot value to sign him. Minnesota will work him back slowly in 2023, but he has all the traits necessary to be an ace pitcher. (Click here for more Connor Prielipp articles at Twins Daily.) Marco Raya, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 9th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Medium Raya made his organizational debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. He impressed with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 65 innings. Over 82% of his at-bats came against older batters, which he held to a .571 OPS. According to MLB.com, he has four pitches that grade at 50 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale. The biggest thing holding him back from being an ace is his size, as he is six feet tall and weighs around 165-pounds. Players like Jose Berrios and Marcus Stroman have shown ace potential while being his size, so there is plenty of hope for him to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. (Click here for more Marco Raya articles at Twins Daily.) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Medium Woods Richardson has the best potential to be an ace pitcher out of the prospects in the mix for 2023. He turned 22 in September, and he already made his big-league debut. Woods Richardson struggled mightily during the 2021 season but bounced back nicely in 2022. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 115-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 107 1/3 minor league innings. He likely starts next season at Triple-A, where he only made seven starts this season. His age, pitch mix, and prospect status give him a shot at becoming an ace. (Click here for more Simeon Woods Richardson articles at Twins Daily.) Louie Varland, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 7th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Low Varland has been named the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in back-to-back seasons. For most organizations, a pitcher winning that award multiple times would point to ace potential. However, it might also result from other pitchers in the organization not performing well. Varland dominated the upper minors on the way to making an impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He has three above-average pitches, which can help him fit into the Twins' rotation for multiple years. It still seems unlikely for him to ever be considered the best pitcher in a rotation, even if he reaches his ceiling. (Click here for more Louie Varland articles at Twins Daily.) Matt Canterino, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 14th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Low Canterino's potential has been hard to project throughout his professional career because he hasn't stayed healthy. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August, so he will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season. Minnesota hopes this surgery can get Canterino back on track, as he was one of the team's top pitching prospects entering the season. When on the mound, Canterino has dominated with a true four-pitch mix and a fastball in the upper-90s. He arguably has the best stuff in the system, so his ace potential is tied to his ability to stay healthy, and remaining a starter. (Click here for more Matt Canterino articles at Twins Daily.) Who do you think has the best chance to be an ace? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. Derek Falvey was touted for his pitching pipeline in Cleveland. Can the Twins start seeing results from their own pitching pipeline? Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022. Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022) Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024) Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery. Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024) The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season. Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025) In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success. Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  24. At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022. Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022) Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024) Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery. Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024) The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season. Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025) In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success. Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. Here are my picks for Minnesota Twins minor league award winners and all-stars, featuring Minnesotans Matt Wallner and Louie Varland.
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