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  1. The Twins have a Jhoan Duran problem. Or, at least, they are about to have one. The stud prospect possesses a triple-digit fastball, nasty breaking stuff, and the coolest name in the entire farm system, but injuries (and a non-existent minor league season in 2020) have limited him to just 16 innings over the last two seasons. Let's get him back on track. The team has not yet announced that Duran will miss the rest of 2021, but, given the nature of elbow strains, I find it difficult to see him returning to the mound in any meaningful way. There's just no decent reason to push him. Now, 2022 will be about rebuilding (essentially) two years of missed time while juggling playing time at both the AAA and major league levels. That sounds like quite a challenge. Fortunately, there is another player that the Twins can mimic in how they build Duran back up. Unfortunately, that player is on a rival squad. Michael Kopech; you probably know him. The White Sox brought him over with Yoán Moncada when they traded scissors-enthusiast Chris Sale to Boston as a kick-start to their rebuild. Kopech debuted in 2018 with mild success-barely any walks, but a ton of homers-and emerged as something of a budding ace. The following two years were less kind. Kopech missed all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, and then he opted out of the 2020 season for 'personal reasons'. Kopech was still more-or-less as talented as when he debuted, but he faced an uphill climb in 2021 to build back the stamina needed to be a successful starter. What has been the plan? Use him as a reliever, of course. Kopech has started just three games against 27 relief appearances as of August 23rd. Oddly enough, Chicago immediately threw Kopech into the heat of battle-eight of his first ten appearances lasted longer than one inning-before reining him in afterward. Since May 18th, he has thrown multiple innings just three times, with none of those outings lasting longer than two innings. Perhaps part of that is caution. MLB teams are notorious for treating young pitchers like buried treasure, but I think there's a somewhat different philosophy at play here. Yes, the White Sox want to be careful with Kopech, but they want to get him cheap playing time. Relief pitchers are much easier to command because the manager can control the situations they find themselves in. Do you want to avoid using a guy in a high-leverage context? Then don't. Do you want to get him multiple innings? Go right ahead. The reliever moniker allows the team to be flexible in a way that starters cannot be. I believe that the Twins should follow suit with Duran. His lack of innings perfectly mirrors the situation Kopech was in, and the 2021 season has been fantastic for Chicago's righty (I wrote this sentence before he gave up five earned runs in one inning, whoops.) The team should use Duran as a sort of swingman or as a piggybacker at the major league level as soon as they can. Forcing Duran to burn time at AAA in a vain effort to build back his stamina will only cause the team to avoid utilizing one of their most exciting pitching prospects. "But Matt," you say, "why not just keep him as a starter in AAA? Why force him into the bullpen? What difference does it make?" These are fair questions. The Twins will strongly limit Duran in 2022. My guess is 80 innings-it could be more but likely not by much. Why, then, should Duran waste innings at AAA when he could instead get accustomed to major league talent while also building back his innings? The team will not be competitive in 2022, so Duran taking his occasional licks will hurt no one. Keep in mind that Duran will be 24 when the 2022 season begins, and if they keep him as a starter that season, he likely will not be up in any significant fashion until 2023, when he's 25. That's far from old, but he's getting to the point where his prospect status needs to become actual tangible major league ability. The Twins should be looking solely to prep Duran for 2023, and I see a spot in the major league bullpen as a better alternative than more time at AAA. View full article
  2. The team has not yet announced that Duran will miss the rest of 2021, but, given the nature of elbow strains, I find it difficult to see him returning to the mound in any meaningful way. There's just no decent reason to push him. Now, 2022 will be about rebuilding (essentially) two years of missed time while juggling playing time at both the AAA and major league levels. That sounds like quite a challenge. Fortunately, there is another player that the Twins can mimic in how they build Duran back up. Unfortunately, that player is on a rival squad. Michael Kopech; you probably know him. The White Sox brought him over with Yoán Moncada when they traded scissors-enthusiast Chris Sale to Boston as a kick-start to their rebuild. Kopech debuted in 2018 with mild success-barely any walks, but a ton of homers-and emerged as something of a budding ace. The following two years were less kind. Kopech missed all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, and then he opted out of the 2020 season for 'personal reasons'. Kopech was still more-or-less as talented as when he debuted, but he faced an uphill climb in 2021 to build back the stamina needed to be a successful starter. What has been the plan? Use him as a reliever, of course. Kopech has started just three games against 27 relief appearances as of August 23rd. Oddly enough, Chicago immediately threw Kopech into the heat of battle-eight of his first ten appearances lasted longer than one inning-before reining him in afterward. Since May 18th, he has thrown multiple innings just three times, with none of those outings lasting longer than two innings. Perhaps part of that is caution. MLB teams are notorious for treating young pitchers like buried treasure, but I think there's a somewhat different philosophy at play here. Yes, the White Sox want to be careful with Kopech, but they want to get him cheap playing time. Relief pitchers are much easier to command because the manager can control the situations they find themselves in. Do you want to avoid using a guy in a high-leverage context? Then don't. Do you want to get him multiple innings? Go right ahead. The reliever moniker allows the team to be flexible in a way that starters cannot be. I believe that the Twins should follow suit with Duran. His lack of innings perfectly mirrors the situation Kopech was in, and the 2021 season has been fantastic for Chicago's righty (I wrote this sentence before he gave up five earned runs in one inning, whoops.) The team should use Duran as a sort of swingman or as a piggybacker at the major league level as soon as they can. Forcing Duran to burn time at AAA in a vain effort to build back his stamina will only cause the team to avoid utilizing one of their most exciting pitching prospects. "But Matt," you say, "why not just keep him as a starter in AAA? Why force him into the bullpen? What difference does it make?" These are fair questions. The Twins will strongly limit Duran in 2022. My guess is 80 innings-it could be more but likely not by much. Why, then, should Duran waste innings at AAA when he could instead get accustomed to major league talent while also building back his innings? The team will not be competitive in 2022, so Duran taking his occasional licks will hurt no one. Keep in mind that Duran will be 24 when the 2022 season begins, and if they keep him as a starter that season, he likely will not be up in any significant fashion until 2023, when he's 25. That's far from old, but he's getting to the point where his prospect status needs to become actual tangible major league ability. The Twins should be looking solely to prep Duran for 2023, and I see a spot in the major league bullpen as a better alternative than more time at AAA.
  3. On the field, there was a great pitching matchup in Birmingham that actually proved true. A pitching prospect to watch came back from a stint on the DL and impressed. Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves both made their third starts since their returns. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Wednesday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS Check out the transactions through the minor league system on Wednesday: Following another rough game for the Twins and specifically their bullpen, the Twins made a couple more moves. Ryan Pressly was optioned to Rochester, and Jason Wheeler was designated for assignment. Twins Daily has learned that Alex Wimmers will be joining the Twins in Anaheim on Thursday. He will need to be added to the 40-man roster, taking Wheeler’s spot. It also appears that lefty Randy Rosario will be promoted from Chattanooga. He’s in his second option year and this will be his first promotion. (You’ll see him mentioned in the Relief Pitcher of the Month article coming soon.) Chris Paul was placed on the disabled list with a wrist injury. Trey Vavra comes off the DL to take his place. Tyler Wells returned from the DL for the Kernels (and pitched well). To make room, Tom Hackimer was promoted to Ft. Myers. Cam Booser was sent back to extended spring training. In addition, we also learned that Nick Burdi had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday: https://twitter.com/DevanFink/status/870104357785698304 And just one more transaction of sorts... Congratulations to Chattanooga outfielder Edgar Corcino who became an American citizen today. https://twitter.com/Travharrison17/status/870011247017721856 RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 1, Durham 5 Box Score Blake Snell began the 2017 season with the Rays after a solid 19 starts in his rookie season. However, he’s back in the International League. He started against the Red Wings on Wednesday night. The lefty gave up just one run on five hits and two walks in 6.2 innings of work. He struck out eight. Kennys Vargas had a double off of him. John Ryan Murphy went 1-2 with two walks in the game. Byungho Park went 1-3 with a walk. Yohan Pino made his first start for the Red Wings in this, his third stint with the organization. He gave up three runs on six hits over 5.2 innings. He struck out eight without issuing a walk. Adam Wilk came on and got the final seven outs but not before giving up two runs on four hits and two walks. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Montgomery 2 Box Score It was billed as a strong pitching matchup. Michael Kopech was on the mound for the Barons while Stephen Gonsalves was making his third start of the season for the Lookouts. Neither pitcher disappointed. The White Sox hurler gave up only an unearned run on four hits in 5.2 innings. He walked four and struck out ten. Gonsalves was up for the challenge. He was charged with two runs on three hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight. With one out in the fourth inning, Gonsalves gave up a solo home run to the Barons #3 hitter. The next batter hit a towering fly ball to right field, a ball that Ryan Strausborger never saw until it was about to hit the ground. It fell for a double. A single drove in their second run, a run that proved to be the game winner. The Lookouts managed just four hits. They walked five times, but they struck 17 times in the game. Nick Gordon went 1-3 with a walk and drove in the lone Lookouts run of the game on a line drive single to left. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 0, Bradenton 1 Box Score Lewis Thorpe was back on the mound for the Miracle, his third start since coming back. The left-hander was the tough-luck loser in this game. He gave up only an unearned run on one hit over the first five innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Just 49 of his 84 pitches were strikes. The one unearned run was of his own doing. In the 4th, he walked the first batter and then had a throwing error, trying to pick off the runner. It was followed by a run-scoring single. Sam Clay came on and gave up two hits and two walks over two scoreless innings. He struck out four. Nick Anderson worked a perfect eighth inning. The Miracle managed only two hits in the game. They walked once and struck out ten times. Nelson Molina had the lone extra-base hit, his third double. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Quad Cities 0 Box Score Tyler Wells returned to the Kernels after missing three weeks with biceps tendinitis. He came back strong. The right-hander threw four shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out ten. 45 of his 74 pitches were strikes. Colton Davis came on and gave up one hit and two walks over two scoreless innings. He was followed by Alex Robinson who walked one and struck out two in his inning. Andrew Vasquez gave up a hit and struck out two in the eighth inning. Hector Lujan recorded his second save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth. The Kernels had just four hits in the game. In fact, for the second straight game, they did not record their first hit until at least the sixth inning. Tonight, it was an infield single from Aaron Whitefield that broke up the no-hitter. He later scored on a Lewin Diaz sacrifice fly. Diaz added another RBI with his 20th double and scored on a wild pitch. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Wells, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Lewin Diaz, Cedar Rapids THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Durham (6:05 CST) - LHP Nik Turley Chattanooga @ Birmingham (7:05 CST) - LHP Matt Tracy Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30 CST) - RHP Brady Anderson Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Wednesday’s games.
  4. It might be an exaggeration to say that there were more transactions on Wednesday throughout the Minnesota Twins system than hits in the Twins minor league system. The exaggeration would only be slight. The Twins recent bullpen struggles have forced GM Thad Levine and Twins Minor League Director Brad Steil to keep busy in recent days.On the field, there was a great pitching matchup in Birmingham that actually proved true. A pitching prospect to watch came back from a stint on the DL and impressed. Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves both made their third starts since their returns. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Wednesday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS Check out the transactions through the minor league system on Wednesday: Following another rough game for the Twins and specifically their bullpen, the Twins made a couple more moves. Ryan Pressly was optioned to Rochester, and Jason Wheeler was designated for assignment.Twins Daily has learned that Alex Wimmers will be joining the Twins in Anaheim on Thursday. He will need to be added to the 40-man roster, taking Wheeler’s spot. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 1, Durham 5 Box Score Blake Snell began the 2017 season with the Rays after a solid 19 starts in his rookie season. However, he’s back in the International League. He started against the Red Wings on Wednesday night. The lefty gave up just one run on five hits and two walks in 6.2 innings of work. He struck out eight. Kennys Vargas had a double off of him. John Ryan Murphy went 1-2 with two walks in the game. Byungho Park went 1-3 with a walk. Yohan Pino made his first start for the Red Wings in this, his third stint with the organization. He gave up three runs on six hits over 5.2 innings. He struck out eight without issuing a walk. Adam Wilk came on and got the final seven outs but not before giving up two runs on four hits and two walks. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Montgomery 2 Box Score It was billed as a strong pitching matchup. Michael Kopech was on the mound for the Barons while Stephen Gonsalves was making his third start of the season for the Lookouts. Neither pitcher disappointed. The White Sox hurler gave up only an unearned run on four hits in 5.2 innings. He walked four and struck out ten. Gonsalves was up for the challenge. He was charged with two runs on three hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight. With one out in the fourth inning, Gonsalves gave up a solo home run to the Barons #3 hitter. The next batter hit a towering fly ball to right field, a ball that Ryan Strausborger never saw until it was about to hit the ground. It fell for a double. A single drove in their second run, a run that proved to be the game winner. The Lookouts managed just four hits. They walked five times, but they struck 17 times in the game. Nick Gordon went 1-3 with a walk and drove in the lone Lookouts run of the game on a line drive single to left. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 0, Bradenton 1 Box Score Lewis Thorpe was back on the mound for the Miracle, his third start since coming back. The left-hander was the tough-luck loser in this game. He gave up only an unearned run on one hit over the first five innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Just 49 of his 84 pitches were strikes. The one unearned run was of his own doing. In the 4th, he walked the first batter and then had a throwing error, trying to pick off the runner. It was followed by a run-scoring single. Sam Clay came on and gave up two hits and two walks over two scoreless innings. He struck out four. Nick Anderson worked a perfect eighth inning. The Miracle managed only two hits in the game. They walked once and struck out ten times. Nelson Molina had the lone extra-base hit, his third double. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Quad Cities 0 Box Score Tyler Wells returned to the Kernels after missing three weeks with biceps tendinitis. He came back strong. The right-hander threw four shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out ten. 45 of his 74 pitches were strikes. Colton Davis came on and gave up one hit and two walks over two scoreless innings. He was followed by Alex Robinson who walked one and struck out two in his inning. Andrew Vasquez gave up a hit and struck out two in the eighth inning. Hector Lujan recorded his second save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth. The Kernels had just four hits in the game. In fact, for the second straight game, they did not record their first hit until at least the sixth inning. Tonight, it was an infield single from Aaron Whitefield that broke up the no-hitter. He later scored on a Lewin Diaz sacrifice fly. Diaz added another RBI with his 20th double and scored on a wild pitch. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Wells, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Lewin Diaz, Cedar Rapids THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Durham (6:05 CST) - LHP Nik Turley Chattanooga @ Birmingham (7:05 CST) - LHP Matt Tracy Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30 CST) - RHP Brady Anderson Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Wednesday’s games. Click here to view the article
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