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  1. This week's Twins minor league players of the week were both 2021 draft picks. On Monday, three more players taken in July's draft made their pro debuts in the FCL. We are down to the final weeks of the minor league seasons. See how the Twins minor league affiliates did this past week, where they are in their division standings, who played well (or didn't), and a Twins legendary executive was inducted into a Hall of Fame. Be sure to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday, and then jump into the minor league week. Before we get started, let’s check out the organization’s transactions and the FCL Twins game from Monday. TRANSACTIONS There were several announced transactions on Monday’s minor league off day. Several 2021 Twins draft picks debuted in the FCL on Monday. 10th round pick Ernie Yake from Gonzaga, 15th round pick Mikey Perez (UCLA) and 20th round pick Dillon Tatum (UC-Irvine) were activated and made their first starts. Ft. Myers shortstop Jesus Feliz was placed on the Injured List. RHP Steven Cruz was activated by the Mighty Mussels. FCL Twins Talk FCL Twins 9, FCL Braves 10 Box Score Ernie Yake led off and was the second baseman. He went 1-for-2 with three walks, two runs, an RBI and two stolen bases in his pro debut. Mikey Perez had a strong pro debut too. He played third base and batted fifth. He homered in his first pro at bat. He ended up going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Finally Dillon Tatum caught and batted ninth. He went 0-for-1 but walked in his first plate appearance. Endy Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a walk, his second double and his second home run, a three-run shot in the second inning. Niklas Rimmel started and gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out four batters. Giovahnney German came on and gave up three runs on four hits. In two innings, he walked two and struck out four. Elipidio Perez tossed two scoreless innings. He gave up a hit and a walk and struck out two batters. Jackson Hicks came on and was charged with five runs (2 earned) on three hits. He recorded just one out. Samuel Perez got five outs, two on strikeouts. He gave up just one hit. With that, let’s look at Week 18 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-4, @ Columbus), overall (55-53) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (2-4, @ Arkansas), overall (62-46) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (3-3, hosting Quad Cities), overall (59-49) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (2-4, hosting Bradenton), overall (52-52) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (2-4), overall (17-31) STANDINGS Triple-A East Midwest: Toledo 62-46, Omaha 61-47, St. Paul 55-53. Double-A Central North: Wichita 62-46, Arkansas 59-49, Tulsa 58-50. High-A Central West: Quad Cities 70-36, Cedar Rapids 59-49, Wisconsin 52-55. Low-A Southeast: Tampa 70-36, Bradenton 65-41, Ft. Myers 52-52. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: Saints Swept, Wichita Wins Propeller Series Who will be the Twins Top Prospect in 2023? Twins to Promote Olympic Medalist Joe Ryan, Slated to Start Wednesday Tuesday: Wichita Whacks, Louie Lights it up Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - August 2021 (Trey Cabbage) Wednesday: Saints Clip Columbus, Vallimonster Not Enough for Wichita Finding the Next Bailey Ober Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - August 2021 (Sawyer Gipson-Long) Thursday: Kernels Walk it off! A Celebration of Joe Ryan’s Hair Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - August 2021 (Ryan Shreve) Friday: Wind Surge Win Wild One Saturday: Simeon Woods Richardson Debuts Sunday: Close But No Sweep-gar Highlights We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 18 performances Twins Player of the Week: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Encarnacion-Strand was the Twins fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft after a strong junior season at Oklahoma State. This past week, he played in six games, went 14-for-27 and hit .538/.556/.808 (1.363) with a double, two homers and eight RBI. After spending two seasons at Yavapai College (Arizona), he played in 56 games this year for Oklahoma State. He hit .361/.442/.661 (1.103) with 17 doubles, three triples and 15 homers. Now in 12 total games with the Mighty Mussels, he has hit .420/.431/.700 (1.131) with two doubles and four homers. Twins Pitcher of the Week: David Festa, FCL Twins Festa was the Twins 13th round in 2021 out of Seton Hall. This week, he pitched once out of relief and threw three scoreless innings. He issued no walks and six strikeouts. Overall, he has made two appearances and has given up just one hit and struck out eight batters in eight scoreless innings. This year at Seton Hall, he went 6-4 with a 2.00 ERA. In 72 innings, he gave up just 44 hits, walked 33 and struck out 67 batters. Other Strong Performances this Week St. Paul Saints Charlie Barnes returned from his month with the Twins and had another strong showing for the Saints. In five scoreless innings, he gave up just two hits and walked one. He struck out three batters. Fellow lefty Bryan Sammons gave up only two unearned runs on four hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out four batters. Yennier Cano had an outing in which he gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Derek Law tossed two scoreless innings in his outing, which is good, but then he was DFAd over the weekend. Caleb Hamilton made his first appearance with the Saints. He played in just two games but went 2-for-5 with a home run. Drew Maggi played five games. He hit .333/.368/.722 (1.091) with a double, two homers and eight RBI. Wichita Wind Surge Simeon Woods-Richardson returned to the mound after not pitching since mid-July. He tossed 40 pitches in 1 1/3 innings. Tyler Beck came on in relief and threw five scoreless innings in relief. He struck out five batters. Jordan Gore struck out four batters over two scoreless innings. Zach Neff tossed 3 2/3 shutout innings. He didn’t even give up a hit. Chris Vallimont gave up one run over five innings in his start last week. While he walked four batters, he struck out nine. Ben Gross struck out seven batters over four innings in relief. He gave up one run. Stevie Berman came to the Twins organization from the Dodgers in exchange for Andrew Vasquez. In his first game, he hit a big, grand slam for the Wind Surge. Roy Morales played in all six games and hit .391/.462/.522 (.983) with three doubles. DJ Burt played in six games and hit .304. Cedar Rapids Kernels Aaron Rozek gave up one run on five hits over five innings. Louie Varland gave up one run on three hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out eight batters. Sawyer Gipson-Long gave up two runs on one hit and three walks over six innings. Michael Helman played in all six games. He hit .318/.400/.591 (.991) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. Alex Isola played four games and hit .278 with a double and two home runs. Also Seth Gray hit .333 (6-for-18) with a double and a triple. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Carlos Suniaga worked 3 2/3 one-hit innings and struck out four batters. Casey Legumina came on in relief and tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits and a walk. He struck out five batters. Regi Grace returned to the mound and gave up just one hit, one walk and one hit batter over three scoreless innings. He struck out five. Logan Campbell struck out five batters over three hitless, shutout frames. He walked one and struck out five batters. Willie Joe Garry played in four games and hit .250/.438/.583 (1.021) with a double and a homer. He walked three batters. Will Holland hit .278/.381/.611 (.992) with a double, a triple and a home run over five games. FCL Twins Develson Aria struck out six batters in three scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and one walk. Juan Mendez also tossed three scoreless innings, and struck out four batters. Lowlights We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches. St. Paul Saints Jason Garcia came up and made a start. In two innings, he gave up four runs on four hits and a walk. Ian Hamilton also gave up four runs over two innings. He gave up five hits and walked two batters. Vinny Nittoli made his return to the Saints. He gave up two runs on a walk and a home run. Chandler Shepherd gave up five runs over four innings in his start. He gave up eight hits and walked two batters. Sherman Johnson went 0-for-7. BJ Boyd went 2-for-14 (.143). Jimmy Kerrigan went 2-for-16 (.125) with a double. Trevor Larnach played in just one game before being placed in the IL with a hand contusion. Wichita Wind Surge Mitchell Osnowitz gave up four runs on two hits and three walks over just 1 1/3 innings. In five games, Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-16 (.125). Leobaldo Cabrera went 3-for-22 (.136) with 11 strikeouts in six games. Spencer Steer played six games and went 3-for-21 (.143) with 11 strikeouts. Ten of 13 Wichita hitters who played at all last week had a batting average under .200. Cedar Rapids Kernels The day that Twins Daily named Ryan Shreve the relief pitcher of the month, he gave up four runs on three walks and recorded just one out. Carlos Suniaga was called up and gave up five runs on four hits (2 homers) and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. Osiris German gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings. In his first High-A start, Sean Mooney gave up five runs on five hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out six batters. Jair Camargo went 2-for-12 (.167) with five strikeouts. Matt Wallner went 3-for-18 (.167) with nine strikeouts. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Over two appearances, AJ Labas gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in just 1 2/3 innings. Juan Pichardo gave up three runs on two hits (1 HR), a hit batter and two walks. Justin Washington went 0-for-9 with six strikeouts. Kole McKinnon went 1-for-8 (.125) with three strikeouts. In four games, Charles Mack went 1-for-13 (.077). Patrick Winkel went 2-for-15 (.133) with a double. Radcliff Enshrined in Professional Sports Hall of Fame On Friday in Ft. Myers Twins Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff was enshrined in the Killebrew Root Beer Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. He is the 16th person inducted into this group. He now has a plaque outside the main entrance at Hammond Stadium. To be considered for induction, a person should: Strong professional scouting background Represented the scouting community in a professional manner and made contributions to growing the game of baseball. Made a significant impact within their organization. Worked and resided in Florida for a significant portion of their career. Radcliff was hired by Terry Ryan in 1987 and remains in the organization. A Kansas City native and resident, he began as the team’s Midwest Area Scout. By 1993, he was named the team’s Scouting Director. He remained in that position until 2007 when he became the Vice President of Player Personnel. He was the scouting director during seasons in which the Twins selected players such as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, Denard Span, Todd Walker, Glen Perkins, Michael Cuddyer, AJ Pierzynski, Trevor Plouffe and many more players. Others in this Pro Scouts Hall of Fame include Terry Ryan and Larry Corrigan from the Twins organization, and Marty Scott who was involved in the early days of the St. Paul Saints. Of scouting, Radcliff said “What scouts can offer up most is the vetting of the player, the makeup of the player – what he’s about. His different personality traits are going to impact and affect how he applies his physical tools to the journey of developing. The best teams are incorporating all of that into one giant process. Hopefully we’re one of those teams.” Mike Radcliff is such a knowledgeable baseball man. It has always been enjoyable to see him on the back fields in Ft. Myers during minor league spring training, just observing players. He wasn’t afraid to answer questions about players, and very straight-forward. Always nice. Sometimes willing to offer a little more than you would think, and that’s fun. Congratulations to a man who has spent almost 35 years in this Twins organization and had a major impact on the various successes they have had over the years. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our updated Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 26 games, .255/.397/.408 (.805) with 6 doubles, 3 home runs, 17 RBI, 15 BB, 26 K. #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 18 GS, 87.1 IP, 94 H, 32 BB, 92 K, 3.61 ERA, 1.44 WHIP #4 - Simeon Woods-Richardson (Wichita) - 1 GS, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 3 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP. #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 107 games, .333/.396/.557 (.953) with 25 doubles, 25 homers, 76 RBI, 39 BB, 69 K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - St. Paul (2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), Minnesota (1 GS, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 5.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 5 GS, 21.0 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 43 K, 0.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP (IL, elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Has yet to pitch. #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 60 games, .233/.296/.301 (.597) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 89 K, 5 SB #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (IL, shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 54 games, .252/.339/.481 (.820) with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 35 RBI, 22 BB, 82 K. #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (28 games, .277/.376/.475 (.851) with 8 doubles, 4 homers, 19 RBI, 15 BB, 24 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 7 GS, 31.2 IP, 38 H, 16 BB, 26 K, 7.39 ERA, 1.71 WHIP. #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 14 games, .212/.300/.327 (.627) with three doubles, 1 homer, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 15 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minneapolis) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (39 games, .200/.299/.385 (.684) with 7 doubles, 6 homers, 10 RBI, 12 BB, 50 K) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th) #18 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 93 games, .188/.297/.288 (.586) with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers, 50 RBI, 51 BB, 75 K, 12 SB) #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 16 G, 15 GS, 63.1 IP, 51 H, 28 BB, 82 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 98 games, .255/.353/.496 (.849) with 15 doubles, 3 triples, 23 homers, 58 RBI, 51 BB, 95 K) LOOKING AHEAD Palm Beach @ Ft. Myers: (Zarion Sharpe, John Stankiewicz, Casey Legumina, Cade Povich, Regi Grace, TBD): Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin: TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD): NW Arkansas @ Wichita: (Cole Sands, Austin Schulfer, Simeon Woods-Richardson, TBD, TBD, TBD): Omaha @ St. Paul: (Bryan Sammons, Drew Strotman, Beau Burrows, Charlie Barnes, Andrew Albers, Bryan Sammons): Feel free to ask any questions you like. View full article
  2. Be sure to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday, and then jump into the minor league week. Before we get started, let’s check out the organization’s transactions and the FCL Twins game from Monday. TRANSACTIONS There were several announced transactions on Monday’s minor league off day. Several 2021 Twins draft picks debuted in the FCL on Monday. 10th round pick Ernie Yake from Gonzaga, 15th round pick Mikey Perez (UCLA) and 20th round pick Dillon Tatum (UC-Irvine) were activated and made their first starts. Ft. Myers shortstop Jesus Feliz was placed on the Injured List. RHP Steven Cruz was activated by the Mighty Mussels. FCL Twins Talk FCL Twins 9, FCL Braves 10 Box Score Ernie Yake led off and was the second baseman. He went 1-for-2 with three walks, two runs, an RBI and two stolen bases in his pro debut. Mikey Perez had a strong pro debut too. He played third base and batted fifth. He homered in his first pro at bat. He ended up going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Finally Dillon Tatum caught and batted ninth. He went 0-for-1 but walked in his first plate appearance. Endy Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a walk, his second double and his second home run, a three-run shot in the second inning. Niklas Rimmel started and gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out four batters. Giovahnney German came on and gave up three runs on four hits. In two innings, he walked two and struck out four. Elipidio Perez tossed two scoreless innings. He gave up a hit and a walk and struck out two batters. Jackson Hicks came on and was charged with five runs (2 earned) on three hits. He recorded just one out. Samuel Perez got five outs, two on strikeouts. He gave up just one hit. With that, let’s look at Week 18 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-4, @ Columbus), overall (55-53) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (2-4, @ Arkansas), overall (62-46) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (3-3, hosting Quad Cities), overall (59-49) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (2-4, hosting Bradenton), overall (52-52) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (2-4), overall (17-31) STANDINGS Triple-A East Midwest: Toledo 62-46, Omaha 61-47, St. Paul 55-53. Double-A Central North: Wichita 62-46, Arkansas 59-49, Tulsa 58-50. High-A Central West: Quad Cities 70-36, Cedar Rapids 59-49, Wisconsin 52-55. Low-A Southeast: Tampa 70-36, Bradenton 65-41, Ft. Myers 52-52. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: Saints Swept, Wichita Wins Propeller Series Who will be the Twins Top Prospect in 2023? Twins to Promote Olympic Medalist Joe Ryan, Slated to Start Wednesday Tuesday: Wichita Whacks, Louie Lights it up Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - August 2021 (Trey Cabbage) Wednesday: Saints Clip Columbus, Vallimonster Not Enough for Wichita Finding the Next Bailey Ober Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - August 2021 (Sawyer Gipson-Long) Thursday: Kernels Walk it off! A Celebration of Joe Ryan’s Hair Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - August 2021 (Ryan Shreve) Friday: Wind Surge Win Wild One Saturday: Simeon Woods Richardson Debuts Sunday: Close But No Sweep-gar Highlights We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 18 performances Twins Player of the Week: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Encarnacion-Strand was the Twins fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft after a strong junior season at Oklahoma State. This past week, he played in six games, went 14-for-27 and hit .538/.556/.808 (1.363) with a double, two homers and eight RBI. After spending two seasons at Yavapai College (Arizona), he played in 56 games this year for Oklahoma State. He hit .361/.442/.661 (1.103) with 17 doubles, three triples and 15 homers. Now in 12 total games with the Mighty Mussels, he has hit .420/.431/.700 (1.131) with two doubles and four homers. Twins Pitcher of the Week: David Festa, FCL Twins Festa was the Twins 13th round in 2021 out of Seton Hall. This week, he pitched once out of relief and threw three scoreless innings. He issued no walks and six strikeouts. Overall, he has made two appearances and has given up just one hit and struck out eight batters in eight scoreless innings. This year at Seton Hall, he went 6-4 with a 2.00 ERA. In 72 innings, he gave up just 44 hits, walked 33 and struck out 67 batters. Other Strong Performances this Week St. Paul Saints Charlie Barnes returned from his month with the Twins and had another strong showing for the Saints. In five scoreless innings, he gave up just two hits and walked one. He struck out three batters. Fellow lefty Bryan Sammons gave up only two unearned runs on four hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out four batters. Yennier Cano had an outing in which he gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Derek Law tossed two scoreless innings in his outing, which is good, but then he was DFAd over the weekend. Caleb Hamilton made his first appearance with the Saints. He played in just two games but went 2-for-5 with a home run. Drew Maggi played five games. He hit .333/.368/.722 (1.091) with a double, two homers and eight RBI. Wichita Wind Surge Simeon Woods-Richardson returned to the mound after not pitching since mid-July. He tossed 40 pitches in 1 1/3 innings. Tyler Beck came on in relief and threw five scoreless innings in relief. He struck out five batters. Jordan Gore struck out four batters over two scoreless innings. Zach Neff tossed 3 2/3 shutout innings. He didn’t even give up a hit. Chris Vallimont gave up one run over five innings in his start last week. While he walked four batters, he struck out nine. Ben Gross struck out seven batters over four innings in relief. He gave up one run. Stevie Berman came to the Twins organization from the Dodgers in exchange for Andrew Vasquez. In his first game, he hit a big, grand slam for the Wind Surge. Roy Morales played in all six games and hit .391/.462/.522 (.983) with three doubles. DJ Burt played in six games and hit .304. Cedar Rapids Kernels Aaron Rozek gave up one run on five hits over five innings. Louie Varland gave up one run on three hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out eight batters. Sawyer Gipson-Long gave up two runs on one hit and three walks over six innings. Michael Helman played in all six games. He hit .318/.400/.591 (.991) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. Alex Isola played four games and hit .278 with a double and two home runs. Also Seth Gray hit .333 (6-for-18) with a double and a triple. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Carlos Suniaga worked 3 2/3 one-hit innings and struck out four batters. Casey Legumina came on in relief and tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits and a walk. He struck out five batters. Regi Grace returned to the mound and gave up just one hit, one walk and one hit batter over three scoreless innings. He struck out five. Logan Campbell struck out five batters over three hitless, shutout frames. He walked one and struck out five batters. Willie Joe Garry played in four games and hit .250/.438/.583 (1.021) with a double and a homer. He walked three batters. Will Holland hit .278/.381/.611 (.992) with a double, a triple and a home run over five games. FCL Twins Develson Aria struck out six batters in three scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and one walk. Juan Mendez also tossed three scoreless innings, and struck out four batters. Lowlights We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches. St. Paul Saints Jason Garcia came up and made a start. In two innings, he gave up four runs on four hits and a walk. Ian Hamilton also gave up four runs over two innings. He gave up five hits and walked two batters. Vinny Nittoli made his return to the Saints. He gave up two runs on a walk and a home run. Chandler Shepherd gave up five runs over four innings in his start. He gave up eight hits and walked two batters. Sherman Johnson went 0-for-7. BJ Boyd went 2-for-14 (.143). Jimmy Kerrigan went 2-for-16 (.125) with a double. Trevor Larnach played in just one game before being placed in the IL with a hand contusion. Wichita Wind Surge Mitchell Osnowitz gave up four runs on two hits and three walks over just 1 1/3 innings. In five games, Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-16 (.125). Leobaldo Cabrera went 3-for-22 (.136) with 11 strikeouts in six games. Spencer Steer played six games and went 3-for-21 (.143) with 11 strikeouts. Ten of 13 Wichita hitters who played at all last week had a batting average under .200. Cedar Rapids Kernels The day that Twins Daily named Ryan Shreve the relief pitcher of the month, he gave up four runs on three walks and recorded just one out. Carlos Suniaga was called up and gave up five runs on four hits (2 homers) and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. Osiris German gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings. In his first High-A start, Sean Mooney gave up five runs on five hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out six batters. Jair Camargo went 2-for-12 (.167) with five strikeouts. Matt Wallner went 3-for-18 (.167) with nine strikeouts. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Over two appearances, AJ Labas gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in just 1 2/3 innings. Juan Pichardo gave up three runs on two hits (1 HR), a hit batter and two walks. Justin Washington went 0-for-9 with six strikeouts. Kole McKinnon went 1-for-8 (.125) with three strikeouts. In four games, Charles Mack went 1-for-13 (.077). Patrick Winkel went 2-for-15 (.133) with a double. Radcliff Enshrined in Professional Sports Hall of Fame On Friday in Ft. Myers Twins Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff was enshrined in the Killebrew Root Beer Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. He is the 16th person inducted into this group. He now has a plaque outside the main entrance at Hammond Stadium. To be considered for induction, a person should: Strong professional scouting background Represented the scouting community in a professional manner and made contributions to growing the game of baseball. Made a significant impact within their organization. Worked and resided in Florida for a significant portion of their career. Radcliff was hired by Terry Ryan in 1987 and remains in the organization. A Kansas City native and resident, he began as the team’s Midwest Area Scout. By 1993, he was named the team’s Scouting Director. He remained in that position until 2007 when he became the Vice President of Player Personnel. He was the scouting director during seasons in which the Twins selected players such as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, Denard Span, Todd Walker, Glen Perkins, Michael Cuddyer, AJ Pierzynski, Trevor Plouffe and many more players. Others in this Pro Scouts Hall of Fame include Terry Ryan and Larry Corrigan from the Twins organization, and Marty Scott who was involved in the early days of the St. Paul Saints. Of scouting, Radcliff said “What scouts can offer up most is the vetting of the player, the makeup of the player – what he’s about. His different personality traits are going to impact and affect how he applies his physical tools to the journey of developing. The best teams are incorporating all of that into one giant process. Hopefully we’re one of those teams.” Mike Radcliff is such a knowledgeable baseball man. It has always been enjoyable to see him on the back fields in Ft. Myers during minor league spring training, just observing players. He wasn’t afraid to answer questions about players, and very straight-forward. Always nice. Sometimes willing to offer a little more than you would think, and that’s fun. Congratulations to a man who has spent almost 35 years in this Twins organization and had a major impact on the various successes they have had over the years. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our updated Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 26 games, .255/.397/.408 (.805) with 6 doubles, 3 home runs, 17 RBI, 15 BB, 26 K. #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 18 GS, 87.1 IP, 94 H, 32 BB, 92 K, 3.61 ERA, 1.44 WHIP #4 - Simeon Woods-Richardson (Wichita) - 1 GS, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 3 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP. #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 107 games, .333/.396/.557 (.953) with 25 doubles, 25 homers, 76 RBI, 39 BB, 69 K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - St. Paul (2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), Minnesota (1 GS, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 5.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 5 GS, 21.0 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 43 K, 0.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP (IL, elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Has yet to pitch. #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 60 games, .233/.296/.301 (.597) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 89 K, 5 SB #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (IL, shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 54 games, .252/.339/.481 (.820) with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 35 RBI, 22 BB, 82 K. #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (28 games, .277/.376/.475 (.851) with 8 doubles, 4 homers, 19 RBI, 15 BB, 24 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 7 GS, 31.2 IP, 38 H, 16 BB, 26 K, 7.39 ERA, 1.71 WHIP. #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 14 games, .212/.300/.327 (.627) with three doubles, 1 homer, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 15 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minneapolis) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (39 games, .200/.299/.385 (.684) with 7 doubles, 6 homers, 10 RBI, 12 BB, 50 K) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th) #18 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 93 games, .188/.297/.288 (.586) with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers, 50 RBI, 51 BB, 75 K, 12 SB) #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 16 G, 15 GS, 63.1 IP, 51 H, 28 BB, 82 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 98 games, .255/.353/.496 (.849) with 15 doubles, 3 triples, 23 homers, 58 RBI, 51 BB, 95 K) LOOKING AHEAD Palm Beach @ Ft. Myers: (Zarion Sharpe, John Stankiewicz, Casey Legumina, Cade Povich, Regi Grace, TBD): Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin: TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD): NW Arkansas @ Wichita: (Cole Sands, Austin Schulfer, Simeon Woods-Richardson, TBD, TBD, TBD): Omaha @ St. Paul: (Bryan Sammons, Drew Strotman, Beau Burrows, Charlie Barnes, Andrew Albers, Bryan Sammons): Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  3. Max Kepler is already in the conversation of best German-born baseball players of all time. A quick glance at the leader board shows that he is clearly in the Top 5 players born in Germany to play in the big leagues. His 419 games played ranks eighth. His 1,633 plate appearances rank sixth. More rankings: Hits (337) - 6th 2B (82) - 5th HR (56) - 3rd (22 home runs behind the leader, Mike Blowers) Runs (199) - 5th RBI (190) - 5th On these lists, Kepler ranks behind the likes of: 12-year big leaguer Glenn Hubbard who was born at Hahn Air Force Base 11-year big leaguer Mike Blowers who was born in Wurzburg. His step-father was in the army. 11-year big leaguer Jeff Baker who was born in Bad Kissinger. His father was Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. 10-year big leaguer Bill Kuehne whose family immigrated to the United States when he was very young, played in the 1880s. Other MLB players born in Germany in military families include: Ron Gardenhire, Craig Lefferts, Edwin Jackson, Will Ohman, Bruce Maxwell, and Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr. With his recently-signed five-year contract extension, it is likely that Kepler will distance himself from the pack and be the best player ever born in Germany. Of note, he wasn’t just born in Germany, but he lived there his full life and was signed in Germany. The others moved to the States, be it for military transfers or family immigration in the 1800s and early 1900s. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Niklas Rimmel is a big, tall, right-hander pitcher from Berlin who the Twins signed after the 2017 season. He made his professional debut in 2018 with 14 innings pitched in the Gulf Coast League. He is likely to begin his 2019 season there as well. Rimmel began speaking with scouts when he was 15 and playing in international tournaments in Europe. “Basically the only way you can be scouted or seen is at a European, international tournament,” he said. He had several options for teams interested in signing him. “The whole minor league system of the Twins is really, really good. I like the way that they handle the players. It’s really good that they believe in me and gave me the chance. I really appreciate that.” He continued, “Kepler being with the Twins was kind of part of it. He was my role model.” While baseball remains a secondary sport in Germany, behind the likes of soccer, among baseball people in Europe, Max Kepler is very highly regarded. Rimmel noted last week, “In Germany, Kepler is the biggest role model everybody has. That’s why it’s such a great honor to play in the same organization as him. I like having the opportunity to step in his footprints. In ‘Baseball Germany’, he’s a really big name there.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------ With the help of the MLB's academies in Europe, players there do have some more opportunities to be signed than in the past. There are academies in Germany, Italy and The Netherlands. New ones pop up from time to time. As Rimmel noted, that is the main means of players being noticed by MLB scouts. While Kepler is a hero to kids who love and play baseball in Germany, soccer still easily remains the sport of choice. Twins Director of Player Personnel and former Director of Scouting Mike Radcliff noted, “Baseball has gained some footage in soccer-infatuated Europe. There are several academies where players are gaining important coaching and teaching in fundamentals.” Max Kepler came out of the academy in Regensburg, Germany. He told me that there is now one in Paderborn as well. Kepler sees things improving but notes that it still has a long ways to go. “It’s progressing, little by little, but I think they just lack the funds, and soccer and other sports are still the main focus. It hasn’t really progressed as much as I’d like to see. With time, maybe.” There was always value for the Twins, or potentially other organizations to sign the best players from countries where baseball was not as popular. The Twins have signed Vadim and Petr Balan from Moldova. Matej Hejma and Jakub Hatjmar signed from the Czech Republic. Hein Robb was from South Africa. Tom Stuifbergen signed from The Netherlands. Frederic Hanvi signed from France. Nik and Andrei Lobanov signed out of Russia. None of these players got to the big leagues. But the Twins name is known in each of those countries. The same can be said in Australia where the Twins have always been a top contender for the top talent. But even with the rise of Max Kepler to the big leagues, that alone can’t alter the thinking of a whole country. But again, in baseball circles, Kepler and the Twins are very popular. Radcliff remarked, “Not sure we expect exponential growth of baseball in Europe, but there are some initiatives and private resources that have spurred interest in recent history.” Kepler believes that baseball can continue to grow in Germany. It will take time, money and some work. “You need the interest in place when kids start playing at a young age. I can try to do some camps and clinics and such in the offseason and start gaining interest that way.” He has done it before in Berlin. He talked to some of his coaches and some of his former teammates. They sold out the camp with 100 kids. For those kids, and every kid who plays baseball in Germany, Max Kepler is the face of not only the Twins franchise, but of Major League Baseball right now.
  4. Last Friday in the lunch room of the Twins academy in Ft. Myers, players were eating after their morning workout and before their afternoon games against the Rays. Standing in the middle of the room were a couple of guys speaking to each other in German. Niklas Rimmel, a right-handed pitcher from Berlin that the Twins signed following the 2017 season, was meeting his role model, fellow Berlin native and Twins outfielder Max Kepler. It was the first time that the two had met and the conversation lasted just ten to 15 minutes, but they will talk again before the Twins leave Ft. Myers to start their 2019 season. Rimmel is the most recent player that the Twins have signed from Germany. When the Twins signed Kepler out of Berlin in 2009, he received a $700,000 bonus, at the time the largest ever signed by a German-born player. Raw at the time, Kepler grew and continued to develop. He was the Twins (and Twins Daily’s) Minor League Player of the Year in 2015. He helped the Chattanooga Lookouts to a Southern League championship and the next day made his Major League debut. He wasn’t on the Twins Opening Day roster in 2016, but he was called up soon after and has been up ever since. In 2018, he was the Twins choice for the Jim Kaat Award, handed out at the Diamond Awards to the top defensive player on the team. He also hit 20 home runs in 2018. Early in spring training, Kepler and his first baseball roommate, Jorge Polanco, were signed to long-term contracts. Kepler, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, signed a five year, $35 million contract with a couple of option years. While the Twins and their fans look for him to really take a step forward in his production on the diamond starting in 2019, Kepler has already risen up the charts in terms of the top players born in Germany to play in the big leagues. Today, we will show where Kepler ranks among German-born players, what his signing has meant for baseball in Germany, and how Kepler is viewed by young baseball players in his home country.Max Kepler is already in the conversation of best German-born baseball players of all time. A quick glance at the leader board shows that he is clearly in the Top 5 players born in Germany to play in the big leagues. His 419 games played ranks eighth. His 1,633 plate appearances rank sixth. More rankings: Hits (337) - 6th2B (82) - 5thHR (56) - 3rd (22 home runs behind the leader, Mike Blowers)Runs (199) - 5thRBI (190) - 5thOn these lists, Kepler ranks behind the likes of:12-year big leaguer Glenn Hubbard who was born at Hahn Air Force Base11-year big leaguer Mike Blowers who was born in Wurzburg. His step-father was in the army.11-year big leaguer Jeff Baker who was born in Bad Kissinger. His father was Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army.10-year big leaguer Bill Kuehne whose family immigrated to the United States when he was very young, played in the 1880s.Other MLB players born in Germany in military families include: Ron Gardenhire, Craig Lefferts, Edwin Jackson, Will Ohman, Bruce Maxwell, and Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr. With his recently-signed five-year contract extension, it is likely that Kepler will distance himself from the pack and be the best player ever born in Germany. Of note, he wasn’t just born in Germany, but he lived there his full life and was signed in Germany. The others moved to the States, be it for military transfers or family immigration in the 1800s and early 1900s. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Niklas Rimmel is a big, tall, right-hander pitcher from Berlin who the Twins signed after the 2017 season. He made his professional debut in 2018 with 14 innings pitched in the Gulf Coast League. He is likely to begin his 2019 season there as well. Rimmel began speaking with scouts when he was 15 and playing in international tournaments in Europe. “Basically the only way you can be scouted or seen is at a European, international tournament,” he said. He had several options for teams interested in signing him. “The whole minor league system of the Twins is really, really good. I like the way that they handle the players. It’s really good that they believe in me and gave me the chance. I really appreciate that.” He continued, “Kepler being with the Twins was kind of part of it. He was my role model.” While baseball remains a secondary sport in Germany, behind the likes of soccer, among baseball people in Europe, Max Kepler is very highly regarded. Rimmel noted last week, “In Germany, Kepler is the biggest role model everybody has. That’s why it’s such a great honor to play in the same organization as him. I like having the opportunity to step in his footprints. In ‘Baseball Germany’, he’s a really big name there.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------ With the help of the MLB's academies in Europe, players there do have some more opportunities to be signed than in the past. There are academies in Germany, Italy and The Netherlands. New ones pop up from time to time. As Rimmel noted, that is the main means of players being noticed by MLB scouts. While Kepler is a hero to kids who love and play baseball in Germany, soccer still easily remains the sport of choice. Twins Director of Player Personnel and former Director of Scouting Mike Radcliff noted, “Baseball has gained some footage in soccer-infatuated Europe. There are several academies where players are gaining important coaching and teaching in fundamentals.” Max Kepler came out of the academy in Regensburg, Germany. He told me that there is now one in Paderborn as well. Kepler sees things improving but notes that it still has a long ways to go. “It’s progressing, little by little, but I think they just lack the funds, and soccer and other sports are still the main focus. It hasn’t really progressed as much as I’d like to see. With time, maybe.” There was always value for the Twins, or potentially other organizations to sign the best players from countries where baseball was not as popular. The Twins have signed Vadim and Petr Balan from Moldova. Matej Hejma and Jakub Hatjmar signed from the Czech Republic. Hein Robb was from South Africa. Tom Stuifbergen signed from The Netherlands. Frederic Hanvi signed from France. Nik and Andrei Lobanov signed out of Russia. None of these players got to the big leagues. But the Twins name is known in each of those countries. The same can be said in Australia where the Twins have always been a top contender for the top talent. But even with the rise of Max Kepler to the big leagues, that alone can’t alter the thinking of a whole country. But again, in baseball circles, Kepler and the Twins are very popular. Radcliff remarked, “Not sure we expect exponential growth of baseball in Europe, but there are some initiatives and private resources that have spurred interest in recent history.” Kepler believes that baseball can continue to grow in Germany. It will take time, money and some work. “You need the interest in place when kids start playing at a young age. I can try to do some camps and clinics and such in the offseason and start gaining interest that way.” He has done it before in Berlin. He talked to some of his coaches and some of his former teammates. They sold out the camp with 100 kids. For those kids, and every kid who plays baseball in Germany, Max Kepler is the face of not only the Twins franchise, but of Major League Baseball right now. Click here to view the article
  5. Yesterday became a whirlwind as the hours and minutes counted down to the Twins making the first overall selection. No experts or reporters were able to crack the Twins front office and figure out who the club would be taking at the top of the draft. It really did feel like it was coming down to the wire. Eventually, the Twins decided on prep shortstop Royce Lewis. He wasn't the highest ranked prospect on many draft boards so why did he end up in Minnesota? Did the Twins have a different plan with the first pick?Most predictions leading into Monday night had the Twins going after college pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay. Multiple reports surfaced on Monday that McKay was the target for the Twins but he declined the offer the Twins had on the table. McKay would fall to the Tampa Bay Rays with the fourth overall pick. It might have come down to the dollar amount. The assigned value for the first overall pick is $7,770,700 but team's rarely hand out the total amount of that bonus. For the fourth pick, the assigned value was $6,153,600 which is over $1.6 million less than the top spot. It also looks like the Twins offer to Lewis could save the team up to $1.3 million. In interviews last night, McKay made it clear that the Twins had approached him with an offer. He said, "They had offered a number that we felt that we could get a better offer from another team." The Twins saved some money on the top pick and wanted to transfer that savings to later picks in the draft. It's just hard to imagine their offer to McKay would have been less than the value of the fourth pick. Another reasons McKay might have turned down the Twins was his on field position. McKay had told different media outlets that the Twins preferred him as a pitcher. When the Rays called McKay's name, he was announced as a first baseman. He clearly likes playing both positions and there's a possibility that some teams were taking a harder stance on him playing one position over another. Teams could float the idea of him doing both during his time after he signs. "It could be just for that initial summer," said McKay, "but it'd be fun to be able to do both and see where it takes you." The possibility of a true two-way player could be intriguing but it seems like a very hard path to follow to the big leagues. No one will ever know what type of conversations happened between the Twins and the top players in the draft. There is a lot of posturing that happens with the top players in the draft. However, the Twins are saying all the right things when it comes to Lewis, "We see this guy as an impact player on both sides of the ball," Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president of player personnel, said. "He also has a unique ability to impact the clubhouse and the community. This guy gets it. He's got that 'it' factor that a No. 1 pick needs to survive and move forward and have success at the end of the journey. He checked all the boxes for us." We will never know if the Twins got the top player on their board but it's clear that an offer was made to McKay. Did the Twins miss out on their top pick? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  6. Most predictions leading into Monday night had the Twins going after college pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay. Multiple reports surfaced on Monday that McKay was the target for the Twins but he declined the offer the Twins had on the table. https://twitter.com/jimcallisMLB/status/874402552879734784 McKay would fall to the Tampa Bay Rays with the fourth overall pick. It might have come down to the dollar amount. The assigned value for the first overall pick is $7,770,700 but team's rarely hand out the total amount of that bonus. For the fourth pick, the assigned value was $6,153,600 which is over $1.6 million less than the top spot. It also looks like the Twins offer to Lewis could save the team up to $1.3 million. In interviews last night, McKay made it clear that the Twins had approached him with an offer. He said, "They had offered a number that we felt that we could get a better offer from another team." The Twins saved some money on the top pick and wanted to transfer that savings to later picks in the draft. It's just hard to imagine their offer to McKay would have been less than the value of the fourth pick. Another reasons McKay might have turned down the Twins was his on field position. McKay had told different media outlets that the Twins preferred him as a pitcher. When the Rays called McKay's name, he was announced as a first baseman. He clearly likes playing both positions and there's a possibility that some teams were taking a harder stance on him playing one position over another. Teams could float the idea of him doing both during his time after he signs. "It could be just for that initial summer," said McKay, "but it'd be fun to be able to do both and see where it takes you." The possibility of a true two-way player could be intriguing but it seems like a very hard path to follow to the big leagues. No one will ever know what type of conversations happened between the Twins and the top players in the draft. There is a lot of posturing that happens with the top players in the draft. However, the Twins are saying all the right things when it comes to Lewis, "We see this guy as an impact player on both sides of the ball," Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president of player personnel, said. "He also has a unique ability to impact the clubhouse and the community. This guy gets it. He's got that 'it' factor that a No. 1 pick needs to survive and move forward and have success at the end of the journey. He checked all the boxes for us." We will never know if the Twins got the top player on their board but it's clear that an offer was made to McKay. Did the Twins miss out on their top pick? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Like most, I was sitting at my desk at work on Monday morning. At about 11:20, I checked my e-mail and there it was, “Minnesota Twins Announce General Manager Terry Ryan Has Been Relieved of His Duties.” Like most, my attention was on that topic for much of the rest of the day. My mind was racing, so many thoughts, ideas and questions running through my mind. In the afternoon, CEO Jim Pohlad and President Dave St. Peter spoke to the media at Target Field. After reading and hearing their comments, there wasn’t any more clarity. There were, however, more questions.Before we get to the questions, I’m going to take a moment to share some thoughts on Terry Ryan. As you’ve noticed, most people who know Ryan or have worked in any capacity start discussions today with what a terrific person that he is. Then they go on to, typically, state that despite that, the Twins needed to make a change. It’s hard to argue with any of that. Terry Ryan has always treated me with the utmost respect and been upfront and as honest as he can be. He has been very helpful to me and accepting of Twins Daily. I have always enjoyed each opportunity and I have had to converse with Ryan and feel like I learn something each time whether or not we’re even talking about baseball. For me, Terry Ryan was always someone I admired. I look at what he did in the late 90s to set up the success the Twins had for most of the decade of 2000. Signing veterans and then trading them to acquire more young talent. Building a farm system and building a winner on a budget. As a blogger who started in 2003, I enjoyed seeing the transactions and trying to figure out what Ryan was doing. I recall seemingly any time I wrote something about the Twins being out of it, they would find a way to get themselves back into contention. Unfortunately, since his return, the Twins have had many low moments, and there have been fewer positive turn-arounds. When Ryan reclaimed the GM position, I sent him a quick note. He responded relatively quickly and noted “we won’t take any shortcuts.” He set out to help re-establish and repopulate the Twins minor league system. And you know what… he did just that. The last few years, the Twins have been one of the top three minor league organizations by most who rank those types of things. In the last couple of seasons, we have begun to see some of the talented players who have helped the Twins to those rankings. And the farm system is still stacked with terrific talent. Think about it for a moment. Ryan made the focus of the organization development of the minor league system. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco all have a lot of room to grow as players. Jose Berrios will take off at some point, and within the next two or three years the likes of Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Jay, Felix Jorge, Fernando Romero and some others have a chance to round out a solid rotation. Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Michael Tonkin and Ryan Pressly are developing this year and will lead the way as JT Chargois, Nick Burdi, Mason Melotakis and Trevor Hildenberger are on their way. In some ways, I think that whoever takes over as the next Twins general manager is going to look pretty smart when so many of these young, talented players reach their potential. Will Terry Ryan get credit when this team takes off thanks to the core of young players that developed under his watch? That’s one question I have, and here are some more questions I have after today. What’s up with the timing of this decision? My first organizational thought after my initial surprise at the Twins move was, why did they make this decision less than two weeks from this year’s August 1st trade deadline? That certainly puts Rob Antony, who was named the interim GM, in a tough position. Then again, he will be supported by the Twins current front office, scouts and player personnel staff. Will Rob Antony get a legitimate shot to have the interim-label removed? All indications from Monday’s discussions seem to indicate that the Twins will look to hire someone from outside the organization. However, the track record of the organization would certainly indicate that he will be given an opportunity. How he handled the trade deadline and, frankly, how the team performs may be his interview for the job. Maybe that is why Terry Ryan resigned when he did, to give Antony an opportunity to show what he can do, his style, etc. Should Rob Antony get a legitimate shot at the full-time GM job? Among Twins fans, the general sentiment seems to be that they have to go outside the organization to change the culture. When Antony’s name comes up, fans like to bring up the spring training when Antony took over the reigns when Ryan was working through his cancer treatments and recovery. They like to bring up the decision to keep Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett on the Opening Day roster. First, that’s a very small sample size. All other reports indicate that Antony has done a nice job as Ryan’s assistant GM. He is well respected among players and scouts for his negotiations in arbitration and free agencies. He’s being given a lot of credit, by Eduardo Nunez, for bringing him to the Twins. And yes, he has been involved in the current ‘regime,’ but that doesn’t mean that things would be exactly the same under Antony’s leadership. Maybe they would be, but my assumption is that Antony would be willing to do some things differently. In general, I just don’t like the idea that it has to be someone from outside the organization. Should the Twins go outside the organization for their GM hire? To appease the fan base, it is probably a good idea to hire someone from outside. While the Twins have implemented many more systems throughout the minor leagues and added more statistical analysis, it is never a bad idea to look elsewhere for new and fresh ideas. If nothing else, the Twins ownership group needs to take time to consider what is happening in other organizations and reassess their own expectations for a GM or other roles in the organization. So, who will make the hire? Who will sit in on the interviews? From various interviews, it does appear that the Twins could use a search firm to develop a list or candidates or even make a recommendation. However, it will be Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter who will have the final say. St. Peter even said that he would likely talk about candidates with Tom Kelly. I’m not a huge fan of search firms, but I don’t know that Pohlad and St. Peter are necessarily the right people to make the decision on the next General Manager. I have my doubts. More important, what are these two looking for in a GM? In May, I wrote up many of the roles, responsibilities and requirements for a GM. I would hope that the owner and president would provide a search firm a very, very detailed list of exactly what they are looking for in the next GM. Will Rob Antony be given full rein to do as he sees best for the Twins organization during this trade deadline? We are being told that he will not be limited. We are told that they have complete confidence in Antony to do what is best for the organization. This is such a big trade deadline with some very difficult decisions to make. Which players will or should be traded? How will he do in terms of negotiating prospect returns? The tough part of this is that those trades really can’t be graded for several years. The unfortunate thing for Antony is that he will be trading veterans and getting back non-big name prospects. Most fans will respond to any Twins trade returns with “Who is that?” Some will say, “That’s all Antony was able to get for (insert Nunez, Kintzler, Abad, Escobar, Santana, Nolasco here)?” He could trade Brian Dozier for a bigger return and make a bigger splash, but then critics will question that decision as well. It’s a tough situation for Antony to be thrust into, but again it’s probably the only option to give him some experience to add to his resume. Should the Twins wait until after the season to decide? Well, Pohlad has said that they are going to start their search right away and would like to name their new GM even before the season ends. Is this wise? There are only 30 MLB General Manager jobs available. Each year, maybe one, possibly two GM jobs are available (if that many), so these jobs don’t come around real often. By starting this process and making a decision early, they will get a headstart on other GM jobs that may open up in the offseason (if any). The downside is that there may be playoff-contending teams that won’t let their employees apply or interview for this job until after their seasons. In other words, it’s possible that a couple of potential candidates may not be available for this reason. Is the Twins General Manager a desirable position that candidates should seek? It absolutely should be a job that people would want. As I wrote earlier, the talent accumulated by Ryan and Company will make the next GM look really smart over the next couple of years. There is a lot of talent. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, there are only 30 Major League GM jobs available. These jobs don’t come along, so there should be plenty of strong options for Pohlad and St. Peter to consider. Finally, if the team has any form of success with the GM, the organization is very loyal. It’s a job that could come with a lot of leeway. How does this affect the rest of the Twins front office? For the short-term, it doesn’t. Rob Antony takes over as interim GM. They continue in their roles, supporting Antony. But if someone else is chosen as the General Manager, you would think that he (or she) would come with some of his own personnel. I personally hope that the new GM would be open to keeping at least some of the current staff. Would a new GM expand upon Jack Goin’s current analytical group, or would he bring in his own people? How will Mike Radcliff, the Twins director of player personnel and long-time employee who, like Ryan, has given up several opportunities to be with other organizations, fit into the organization? Does Deron Johnson remain the team’s scouting director? Does Brad Steil remain the Twins minor league director? I don’t think we know. Pohlad has said that Paul Molitor will be the Twins manager in 2017 regardless of who the GM is. Why would he do that? How does it affect the on-field coaching staff? I have no idea why Pohlad would say that a GM can't make decide on his own manager 2017, year one of his or her tenure. Look at any sport and a new GM will almost always want to insert his own choice for manager or coach. Often, he will allow the current coach to stick around, but he is basically a lame duck and it doesn’t take long for a new coaching staff to be brought in. For the remainder of 2016, the coaching staff is most likely safe. The manager appears safe for at least the start of 2017, but beyond that I can’t imagine the coaching staff has a lot of job security. Will the Twins bring back Terry Ryan in some capacity sometime in the future? It is certainly possible that Ryan will come back to the Twins in some capacity, similar to Ron Gardenhire or Bill Smith? Obviously there is no way to know that answer right now. Pohlad and St. Peter indicate that they believe Ryan will seek a job elsewhere at this time. And he should. He is likely to have several offers to be a scout down the stretch for a winning team, or maybe a scouting director for a team as we go forward. I get that there is a strong percentage of fandom that hates that they would bring back the likes of Smith or Gardenhire. I’m certainly on the complete opposite end of that spectrum. Bill Smith was a very good employee for the Twins for 20-25 years before his stint as the GM. He had a lot of strong qualities. Why would an organization not take advantage of those qualities. Since his return, he has been used in roles away from the baseball operations group. He has been very instrumental in the renovations at Hammond Stadium, the player academy in Ft. Myers, and will be key in the development of the new academy in the Dominican Republic. Gardenhire had a lot of success as a coach and a manager in the organization. He has a lot of knowledge to share, or can be an ear for minor league managers to talk to. After taking some time off, his return has been appreciated throughout the system. I don’t know why an organization wouldn’t want smart baseball people involved in the organization if they are still interested. And, for me, I would want to work in a culture where people like that are welcomed back. To me, it says a lot (positively) about the Twins culture brought about through the leadership of Terry Ryan. If Ryan would ever be willing to come back in an advisory role in the scouting department, I’d certainly be willing to bring him back. I don’t know that he would want that though. That is a bunch of questions after the dismissal of Terry Ryan. And you may have more in mind. Please feel free to ask more questions or answer some of these in the Comments below. Click here to view the article
  8. Before we get to the questions, I’m going to take a moment to share some thoughts on Terry Ryan. As you’ve noticed, most people who know Ryan or have worked in any capacity start discussions today with what a terrific person that he is. Then they go on to, typically, state that despite that, the Twins needed to make a change. It’s hard to argue with any of that. Terry Ryan has always treated me with the utmost respect and been upfront and as honest as he can be. He has been very helpful to me and accepting of Twins Daily. I have always enjoyed each opportunity and I have had to converse with Ryan and feel like I learn something each time whether or not we’re even talking about baseball. For me, Terry Ryan was always someone I admired. I look at what he did in the late 90s to set up the success the Twins had for most of the decade of 2000. Signing veterans and then trading them to acquire more young talent. Building a farm system and building a winner on a budget. As a blogger who started in 2003, I enjoyed seeing the transactions and trying to figure out what Ryan was doing. I recall seemingly any time I wrote something about the Twins being out of it, they would find a way to get themselves back into contention. Unfortunately, since his return, the Twins have had many low moments, and there have been fewer positive turn-arounds. When Ryan reclaimed the GM position, I sent him a quick note. He responded relatively quickly and noted “we won’t take any shortcuts.” He set out to help re-establish and repopulate the Twins minor league system. And you know what… he did just that. The last few years, the Twins have been one of the top three minor league organizations by most who rank those types of things. In the last couple of seasons, we have begun to see some of the talented players who have helped the Twins to those rankings. And the farm system is still stacked with terrific talent. Think about it for a moment. Ryan made the focus of the organization development of the minor league system. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco all have a lot of room to grow as players. Jose Berrios will take off at some point, and within the next two or three years the likes of Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Jay, Felix Jorge, Fernando Romero and some others have a chance to round out a solid rotation. Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Michael Tonkin and Ryan Pressly are developing this year and will lead the way as JT Chargois, Nick Burdi, Mason Melotakis and Trevor Hildenberger are on their way. In some ways, I think that whoever takes over as the next Twins general manager is going to look pretty smart when so many of these young, talented players reach their potential. Will Terry Ryan get credit when this team takes off thanks to the core of young players that developed under his watch? That’s one question I have, and here are some more questions I have after today. What’s up with the timing of this decision? My first organizational thought after my initial surprise at the Twins move was, why did they make this decision less than two weeks from this year’s August 1st trade deadline? That certainly puts Rob Antony, who was named the interim GM, in a tough position. Then again, he will be supported by the Twins current front office, scouts and player personnel staff. Will Rob Antony get a legitimate shot to have the interim-label removed? All indications from Monday’s discussions seem to indicate that the Twins will look to hire someone from outside the organization. However, the track record of the organization would certainly indicate that he will be given an opportunity. How he handled the trade deadline and, frankly, how the team performs may be his interview for the job. Maybe that is why Terry Ryan resigned when he did, to give Antony an opportunity to show what he can do, his style, etc. Should Rob Antony get a legitimate shot at the full-time GM job? Among Twins fans, the general sentiment seems to be that they have to go outside the organization to change the culture. When Antony’s name comes up, fans like to bring up the spring training when Antony took over the reigns when Ryan was working through his cancer treatments and recovery. They like to bring up the decision to keep Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett on the Opening Day roster. First, that’s a very small sample size. All other reports indicate that Antony has done a nice job as Ryan’s assistant GM. He is well respected among players and scouts for his negotiations in arbitration and free agencies. He’s being given a lot of credit, by Eduardo Nunez, for bringing him to the Twins. And yes, he has been involved in the current ‘regime,’ but that doesn’t mean that things would be exactly the same under Antony’s leadership. Maybe they would be, but my assumption is that Antony would be willing to do some things differently. In general, I just don’t like the idea that it has to be someone from outside the organization. Should the Twins go outside the organization for their GM hire? To appease the fan base, it is probably a good idea to hire someone from outside. While the Twins have implemented many more systems throughout the minor leagues and added more statistical analysis, it is never a bad idea to look elsewhere for new and fresh ideas. If nothing else, the Twins ownership group needs to take time to consider what is happening in other organizations and reassess their own expectations for a GM or other roles in the organization. So, who will make the hire? Who will sit in on the interviews? From various interviews, it does appear that the Twins could use a search firm to develop a list or candidates or even make a recommendation. However, it will be Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter who will have the final say. St. Peter even said that he would likely talk about candidates with Tom Kelly. I’m not a huge fan of search firms, but I don’t know that Pohlad and St. Peter are necessarily the right people to make the decision on the next General Manager. I have my doubts. More important, what are these two looking for in a GM? In May, I wrote up many of the roles, responsibilities and requirements for a GM. I would hope that the owner and president would provide a search firm a very, very detailed list of exactly what they are looking for in the next GM. Will Rob Antony be given full rein to do as he sees best for the Twins organization during this trade deadline? We are being told that he will not be limited. We are told that they have complete confidence in Antony to do what is best for the organization. This is such a big trade deadline with some very difficult decisions to make. Which players will or should be traded? How will he do in terms of negotiating prospect returns? The tough part of this is that those trades really can’t be graded for several years. The unfortunate thing for Antony is that he will be trading veterans and getting back non-big name prospects. Most fans will respond to any Twins trade returns with “Who is that?” Some will say, “That’s all Antony was able to get for (insert Nunez, Kintzler, Abad, Escobar, Santana, Nolasco here)?” He could trade Brian Dozier for a bigger return and make a bigger splash, but then critics will question that decision as well. It’s a tough situation for Antony to be thrust into, but again it’s probably the only option to give him some experience to add to his resume. Should the Twins wait until after the season to decide? Well, Pohlad has said that they are going to start their search right away and would like to name their new GM even before the season ends. Is this wise? There are only 30 MLB General Manager jobs available. Each year, maybe one, possibly two GM jobs are available (if that many), so these jobs don’t come around real often. By starting this process and making a decision early, they will get a headstart on other GM jobs that may open up in the offseason (if any). The downside is that there may be playoff-contending teams that won’t let their employees apply or interview for this job until after their seasons. In other words, it’s possible that a couple of potential candidates may not be available for this reason. Is the Twins General Manager a desirable position that candidates should seek? It absolutely should be a job that people would want. As I wrote earlier, the talent accumulated by Ryan and Company will make the next GM look really smart over the next couple of years. There is a lot of talent. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, there are only 30 Major League GM jobs available. These jobs don’t come along, so there should be plenty of strong options for Pohlad and St. Peter to consider. Finally, if the team has any form of success with the GM, the organization is very loyal. It’s a job that could come with a lot of leeway. How does this affect the rest of the Twins front office? For the short-term, it doesn’t. Rob Antony takes over as interim GM. They continue in their roles, supporting Antony. But if someone else is chosen as the General Manager, you would think that he (or she) would come with some of his own personnel. I personally hope that the new GM would be open to keeping at least some of the current staff. Would a new GM expand upon Jack Goin’s current analytical group, or would he bring in his own people? How will Mike Radcliff, the Twins director of player personnel and long-time employee who, like Ryan, has given up several opportunities to be with other organizations, fit into the organization? Does Deron Johnson remain the team’s scouting director? Does Brad Steil remain the Twins minor league director? I don’t think we know. Pohlad has said that Paul Molitor will be the Twins manager in 2017 regardless of who the GM is. Why would he do that? How does it affect the on-field coaching staff? I have no idea why Pohlad would say that a GM can't make decide on his own manager 2017, year one of his or her tenure. Look at any sport and a new GM will almost always want to insert his own choice for manager or coach. Often, he will allow the current coach to stick around, but he is basically a lame duck and it doesn’t take long for a new coaching staff to be brought in. For the remainder of 2016, the coaching staff is most likely safe. The manager appears safe for at least the start of 2017, but beyond that I can’t imagine the coaching staff has a lot of job security. Will the Twins bring back Terry Ryan in some capacity sometime in the future? It is certainly possible that Ryan will come back to the Twins in some capacity, similar to Ron Gardenhire or Bill Smith? Obviously there is no way to know that answer right now. Pohlad and St. Peter indicate that they believe Ryan will seek a job elsewhere at this time. And he should. He is likely to have several offers to be a scout down the stretch for a winning team, or maybe a scouting director for a team as we go forward. I get that there is a strong percentage of fandom that hates that they would bring back the likes of Smith or Gardenhire. I’m certainly on the complete opposite end of that spectrum. Bill Smith was a very good employee for the Twins for 20-25 years before his stint as the GM. He had a lot of strong qualities. Why would an organization not take advantage of those qualities. Since his return, he has been used in roles away from the baseball operations group. He has been very instrumental in the renovations at Hammond Stadium, the player academy in Ft. Myers, and will be key in the development of the new academy in the Dominican Republic. Gardenhire had a lot of success as a coach and a manager in the organization. He has a lot of knowledge to share, or can be an ear for minor league managers to talk to. After taking some time off, his return has been appreciated throughout the system. I don’t know why an organization wouldn’t want smart baseball people involved in the organization if they are still interested. And, for me, I would want to work in a culture where people like that are welcomed back. To me, it says a lot (positively) about the Twins culture brought about through the leadership of Terry Ryan. If Ryan would ever be willing to come back in an advisory role in the scouting department, I’d certainly be willing to bring him back. I don’t know that he would want that though. That is a bunch of questions after the dismissal of Terry Ryan. And you may have more in mind. Please feel free to ask more questions or answer some of these in the Comments below.
  9. When you look at him, you wouldn’t realize that Max Kepler was a cold-blooded killer. Behind the laid-back, polite, innocent-looking demeanor is a 23 year old who is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of murdering Southern League pitching. By now, most are familiar with Kepler’s intriguing backstory – a player signed as a teenager from the baseball boondocks of Berlin. His makeup and athleticism wowed Twins scouts to the point that they were willing to make him the highest paid European amateur signing, in spite of the fact that Kepler had played more soccer than he had baseball. His lack of experience was apparent upon his introduction to a better pool of competition. “You watched him back in the Gulf Coast League and Cedar Rapids, he didn’t know what he was doing,” said Mike Radcliff, the Twins Vice President of Player Personnel. “He had a great body and a great swing and he had tools. He had no idea.” That was then. Now, Max Kepler is the reigning Southern League MVP. He essentially forced the Twins into giving him a September call-up. How did the 22-year-old suddenly flip the switch?Kepler says it was frustration with the status quo that prompted him to reevaluate his approach at the plate. In 2014 he was coming off a season where he slugged just .393 with Fort Myers. That was several points higher than the league’s average, to be sure, and the Florida State League with its sweltering, oppressive humidity in the summer months has a way of zapping power from many promising prospects. That being said, he was certainly not creating the type of power expected from a corner outfielder with a six-foot-four frame. “I was rehabbing with Fort Myers and I started with the same approach that I had in '14 and I wasn't happy with it,” Kepler explains. “I was just hitting singles and I wasn't generating much power, which I was looking for in '15. And then, kind of on my own, I just started to raise my leg a little more and sit back on my backside. Which wasn't really a leg kick yet but I had momentum going in my swing.” Since he began the 2015 season late and was assigned with the Miracle as what amounted to a rehab stint, his use in the lineup was sporadic and his at-bats were limited. The inconsistency combined with the new swing did not produce much. It was in Chattanooga that Kepler’s 2015 season began its upward trajectory. Working with Lookouts hitting coach Chad Allen, he says, gave him the guidance to improve his swing as well as confidence to keep using it, in spite of some initial struggles during his introduction to the Southern League. “Chad Allen told me, you know, why not just mingle with the leg kick and see what happens for a week or two. The first week, I struggled and kept [the leg kick] low and then the second week, I felt really comfortable, balanced. It got bigger.” After 12 games into his Chattanooga career, Kepler had a dozen hits, sprinkling in a double and a pair of triples in almost 50 at-bats. The results seemed very similar to his output in Fort Myers. Then, in the final game of a series against the Jackson Generals, he hit two doubles. Something clicked and the floodgates opened. Over the next five games, he hit another five doubles. Kepler said he did not model his swing after any particular hitter but he has studied the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez and his leg work. “I try to be as quiet and soft as he is in the landing,” Kepler says. http://i.imgur.com/aWtUQBM.gif http://i.imgur.com/BWAb7Sz.gif Obviously Gonzalez was a much more polished hitter entering professional baseball (as opposed to Kepler who honed his skills in the baseball hotbed of Germany), and Gonzalez has the good fortune to call Coors Field home where balls travels in the high altitude, but it’s not difficult to envision Kepler adding more home runs to his resume this season. Evaluators say that it is not just what Kepler has done physically with his swing but he has also made improvements in his ability to handle the game between the ears. The mental side that Allen instilled, Kepler says, was to stop obsessing about the count and quit worrying about when pitchers get ahead. Just let it fly. “He told me to be more aggressive. I was more of a patient hitter, didn't like striking out a lot. I was more of a slap hitter once I got a strike on me.” Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky, who says he views Kepler’s minor league development last season as one of the organization’s biggest accomplishments of the year, also had a hand in getting Kepler to pull the ball with authority. “I told Chad, I said his job is to get Max to pull the ball the right way,” he said. “Max has always been able to barrel the ball, put it to left field, left center. Pulling was always a struggle for him.” Contrary to what most believe about the Minnesota Twins’ curation of hitters, inside the organization coaches and instructors work diligently on trying to maximize power potential, not reduce it. This may not have always been the case but there is a renewed emphasis on developing power. The message from the top of the minor league development chain is to drive balls, show aggression and, yes, pull the ball. Kepler, who says he used to “inside out a lot of balls” earlier in his career, has shifted his approach to pulling the ball rather than focusing on dumping a fastball to left field. “You don’t beat up the Southern League and become an MVP like he did without pulling the ball,” Brunansky remarked. “To Max and Chad’s credit, he learned how to pull the ball the right way. You see that coming back into camp this year, which is good. The ball jumps off his bat, he’s got a real quick back.” Some wondered if Kepler’s other offensive skill sets would erode with the focus on generating more power. Would the message to be more aggressive translate into swinging at more pitches out of the zone? Would his strikeouts skyrocket into Adam Walker territory? Interestingly enough, even with the more aggressive mindset, Kepler actually reduced his strikeout rate in Double-A (from 15 to 13 percent of plate appearances). What’s more, as the season progressed and he continued to hammer the ball, pitchers began to respect his power and pitch around him. The naturally patient Kepler was savvy enough to accept a free pass to first. He went from walking in 8 percent of his plate appearances to 14 percent. Those numbers are trending in a mighty fine direction. **** No, Max Kepler was not going to beat out any of the existing outfielders for a spot to start the 2016 season but the move is a blessing in disguise. The crowded roster will give Kepler the time to find out if his revamped approach will hold up against theoretically better pitching in Triple-A. With the minor leagues, baseball has one of the best filtration processes and, as Brunansky says, pitchers will give you instant feedback whether or not an approach will work. If it doesn’t work, Kepler will have to make more adjustments. On the other hand, if he embarrasses International League pitching the way he did the Southern League’s pitchers, he won’t be down for too long. Click here to view the article
  10. Kepler says it was frustration with the status quo that prompted him to reevaluate his approach at the plate. In 2014 he was coming off a season where he slugged just .393 with Fort Myers. That was several points higher than the league’s average, to be sure, and the Florida State League with its sweltering, oppressive humidity in the summer months has a way of zapping power from many promising prospects. That being said, he was certainly not creating the type of power expected from a corner outfielder with a six-foot-four frame. “I was rehabbing with Fort Myers and I started with the same approach that I had in '14 and I wasn't happy with it,” Kepler explains. “I was just hitting singles and I wasn't generating much power, which I was looking for in '15. And then, kind of on my own, I just started to raise my leg a little more and sit back on my backside. Which wasn't really a leg kick yet but I had momentum going in my swing.” Since he began the 2015 season late and was assigned with the Miracle as what amounted to a rehab stint, his use in the lineup was sporadic and his at-bats were limited. The inconsistency combined with the new swing did not produce much. It was in Chattanooga that Kepler’s 2015 season began its upward trajectory. Working with Lookouts hitting coach Chad Allen, he says, gave him the guidance to improve his swing as well as confidence to keep using it, in spite of some initial struggles during his introduction to the Southern League. “Chad Allen told me, you know, why not just mingle with the leg kick and see what happens for a week or two. The first week, I struggled and kept [the leg kick] low and then the second week, I felt really comfortable, balanced. It got bigger.” After 12 games into his Chattanooga career, Kepler had a dozen hits, sprinkling in a double and a pair of triples in almost 50 at-bats. The results seemed very similar to his output in Fort Myers. Then, in the final game of a series against the Jackson Generals, he hit two doubles. Something clicked and the floodgates opened. Over the next five games, he hit another five doubles. Kepler said he did not model his swing after any particular hitter but he has studied the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez and his leg work. “I try to be as quiet and soft as he is in the landing,” Kepler says. http://i.imgur.com/aWtUQBM.gif http://i.imgur.com/BWAb7Sz.gif Obviously Gonzalez was a much more polished hitter entering professional baseball (as opposed to Kepler who honed his skills in the baseball hotbed of Germany), and Gonzalez has the good fortune to call Coors Field home where balls travels in the high altitude, but it’s not difficult to envision Kepler adding more home runs to his resume this season. Evaluators say that it is not just what Kepler has done physically with his swing but he has also made improvements in his ability to handle the game between the ears. The mental side that Allen instilled, Kepler says, was to stop obsessing about the count and quit worrying about when pitchers get ahead. Just let it fly. “He told me to be more aggressive. I was more of a patient hitter, didn't like striking out a lot. I was more of a slap hitter once I got a strike on me.” Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky, who says he views Kepler’s minor league development last season as one of the organization’s biggest accomplishments of the year, also had a hand in getting Kepler to pull the ball with authority. “I told Chad, I said his job is to get Max to pull the ball the right way,” he said. “Max has always been able to barrel the ball, put it to left field, left center. Pulling was always a struggle for him.” Contrary to what most believe about the Minnesota Twins’ curation of hitters, inside the organization coaches and instructors work diligently on trying to maximize power potential, not reduce it. This may not have always been the case but there is a renewed emphasis on developing power. The message from the top of the minor league development chain is to drive balls, show aggression and, yes, pull the ball. Kepler, who says he used to “inside out a lot of balls” earlier in his career, has shifted his approach to pulling the ball rather than focusing on dumping a fastball to left field. “You don’t beat up the Southern League and become an MVP like he did without pulling the ball,” Brunansky remarked. “To Max and Chad’s credit, he learned how to pull the ball the right way. You see that coming back into camp this year, which is good. The ball jumps off his bat, he’s got a real quick back.” Some wondered if Kepler’s other offensive skill sets would erode with the focus on generating more power. Would the message to be more aggressive translate into swinging at more pitches out of the zone? Would his strikeouts skyrocket into Adam Walker territory? Interestingly enough, even with the more aggressive mindset, Kepler actually reduced his strikeout rate in Double-A (from 15 to 13 percent of plate appearances). What’s more, as the season progressed and he continued to hammer the ball, pitchers began to respect his power and pitch around him. The naturally patient Kepler was savvy enough to accept a free pass to first. He went from walking in 8 percent of his plate appearances to 14 percent. Those numbers are trending in a mighty fine direction. **** No, Max Kepler was not going to beat out any of the existing outfielders for a spot to start the 2016 season but the move is a blessing in disguise. The crowded roster will give Kepler the time to find out if his revamped approach will hold up against theoretically better pitching in Triple-A. With the minor leagues, baseball has one of the best filtration processes and, as Brunansky says, pitchers will give you instant feedback whether or not an approach will work. If it doesn’t work, Kepler will have to make more adjustments. On the other hand, if he embarrasses International League pitching the way he did the Southern League’s pitchers, he won’t be down for too long.
  11. When the Minnesota Twins signed Max Kepler to a $800,000 bonus, the organization knew they had a project on their hands. The raw German-born player would have a longer development timeline than most transforming from the toolsy teenager to a polished prospect. Unlike his compatriots in the Western Hemisphere, Kepler lacked the reps and the game awareness that comes from playing against the pool of competition on this side of the globe as a youth. That shortcoming would be on display in his introduction to professional baseball. If you watched Max Kepler this year or happened to have glanced at his stats in Double-A, however, you would have no idea that he came from a baseball-deficient part of the world. Does he have a chance to see playing time in Minnesota this season?Offensively, this season has been different for Kepler. He has gotten more athletic, more aggressive with his swing and Chattanooga’s hitting coach, former Twin Chad Allen, says that is no accident. “We made him do that,” Allen said referring to Kepler’s remodeled swing with a newly incorporated leg kick. There was an emphasis placed on getting him to drive the ball to the pull side without selling out, increasing his power but without sacrificing his contact abilities. Kepler’s swing has come leaps and bounds since his days honing his craft in Berlin. At 16 years old, his mechanics were a crude iteration of what a baseball swing should be. His body lurched out over his front foot to get to the ball. The Twins worked hard to get him to stay back and wait for the ball to come to him. That resulted in a swing like the one he displayed while with the 2013 Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, as seen below. Kepler would use the toe-tap method while keeping his weight back. The current version is one with an aggressive lower-half that is seeking to drive ball rather than just meet it. If you watch the progression, Kepler develops from a toolsy hack into an athletic and collected power hitter over the course of five years. http://i.imgur.com/DTGsXWG.gif http://i.imgur.com/5isgBaW.gif http://i.imgur.com/oM6PqBY.gif “The first day we worked together this year, we kinda jumped him a bit and got on him pretty hard,” Allen admitted. “He had to realize that his potential. He’s got a high ceiling. We just made him aggressive. Not necessarily a pull hitter but more aggressive to the pull side and just understanding that he’s got to go up with the mentality that ‘I’m a pretty good hitter and I’m going to think that and when I go to the plate, I’m thinking I’m going to drive the ball every time.’” Within the front office, the Twins’ staff was more or less anticipating this delayed learning curve. Mike Radcliff, the organization’s Vice President of Player Personnel, said that this offensive outburst is just the culmination of his development. He noted that international players like Kepler who do not come from Latin American countries like the Dominican or Venezuela that have leagues for players in that country prior to being brought into the United States system -- guys from Australia or Europe -- are often far behind in the game’s development curve. This season, he believes, was Kepler finally catching up to the rest. “His [development] was limited out of Germany,” said Radcliff. “Played a lot more soccer games than he did baseball games before he was signed. It takes patience and we have a lot of that in our organization, thankfully.” Even when their prized European prospect failed to produce an OPS over 740 in all but one of his first five professional seasons, the Twins evaluators never lost hope. “We all assumed, figured, projected he would hit eventually,” Radcliff continued. “This is the year it is showing up on the box score for sure.” His box score numbers in Double-A have been ridiculous so far this year. Among those hitters who have compiled 400 or more plate appearances at that level, Kepler has the highest OPS (.994) by a large margin. His .569 slugging percentage tops Double-A with teammate Adam Brett Walker coming in a close but not that close second (.506). But while Walker has struck out in an eye-popping 176 of his plate appearance, Kepler managed to strike out in just 57 trips to the plate. “For him to produce, something had to click. He’s doing something different and better,” Radcliff believes. “He’s more in tune to the game. He has more focus, he has more concentration, he knows how to react. Most of it is mental. He’s been physically impressive for a long time.” Allen agreed that he has seen a maturing kid with not only an increased level of confidence but an expanding aptitude for the game. The mental aspect of his game is now catching up with his physical side. “You see him doing stuff at the plate now -- and it’s not all the time -- but for instance every once in a while he’ll hit a lefty down the left field line with two strikes,” Allen explained. “That’s something you can’t necessarily teach to a lot of kids but he has the mental capacity to understand that even though I’m being aggressive to the pull side if you can still go the other way and flick a ball down the line, left-on-left, that showing you that the kid has some mental awareness of what is going on with the game and how the guy is pitching to him.” That is another area of his game that has developed rapidly: Kepler has vastly improved against left-handed pitching. Just two seasons ago, he posted a .117 average off of lefties. He managed just seven hits in 60 at-bats and just one for extra bases. A switch flipped for him, perhaps because of confidence or because of the mechanical changes but this season he has compiled a .364 average versus left-handed pitching, or 28 hits in 77 at-bats. The approach that Allen was describing has paid dividends. Kepler’s progress this season goes beyond the numbers as well. Earlier in August, Kepler was ejected from a game after an umpire failed to acknowledge that he was hit on the arm in an at-bat, instead calling it a foul ball. Kepler showed the mark the ball caused to the umpire and was promptly excused for the rest of the day. To Allen, this is a significant milestone. He and the Lookouts coaching staff view that as a sign of confidence. “In reality, Max has been a very laid back guy. A really, really laid back guy,” Allen said. “What really makes us as a staff smile is that he is now showing emotion. And to us, that is one of the biggest things that made us perk our ears up and go ‘oh wow, now we really got something’. He wants to do better, he wants to succeed. I’m not saying you have to show emotion all the time but when he gets pissed off, when he gets mad at a call that to us is saying that son of a buck is competing. When you have a guy that is competing every single day and gets pissed off when he doesn’t have a call go his way or doesn’t get a hit, that’s a big leap for us.” With major league rosters expanding in September, there is an outside chance that Kepler is added as a left-handed bat with outfield and first base capabilities. “I think hitting-wise, he’s there,” Allen assessed regarding Kepler’s current ability to handle major league pitching. “I think the biggest thing that Max is gonna have to learn like everybody learns when they get to the big leagues is that they gotta mentally stay strong when you go up there because the biggest thing that a young player is gonna have to deal with is learning to deal with failure in the big leagues. And if you can't deal with failure in the big leagues, you probably not going to be there very long.” Radcliff is more conservative when it comes to Kepler’s timeline. Despite the outstanding stat line, he believes there are elements of his game that need some refinement. “He’s not ready to be an average major league player tomorrow. He’s along that path. He’s doing good things, he’s produced. He’s hitting .340 but he still doesn’t take at-bats and swing at strikes and handle breaking balls like he is going to have to do to be an average hitter in the major leagues,” said Radcliff. “So there’s way more things that the eyeball picks up along with all the numbers that he is producing that is part of the evaluation process and part of the process for him to make that next to the 25-man roster.” Radcliff noted that he did not want to sound disparaging when he offered up the things Kepler still needed to work on. After all every minor league prospect has things they need to work on before they stick in the major leagues for good. He mentioned Byron Buxton, a mega-prospect, who still needs to improve at the plate. But from his evaluation stance, after years of simply catching up to the rest of the field, Kepler has positioned himself on the fast track headed for Minnesota. “You watched him back in the GCL and Cedar Rapids, he didn’t know what he was doing,” said Radcliff. “He had a great body and a great swing and he had tools. He had no idea. Now, well now, he is starting to understand what he is doing everyday, and every swing and every at bat.” Click here to view the article
  12. Offensively, this season has been different for Kepler. He has gotten more athletic, more aggressive with his swing and Chattanooga’s hitting coach, former Twin Chad Allen, says that is no accident. “We made him do that,” Allen said referring to Kepler’s remodeled swing with a newly incorporated leg kick. There was an emphasis placed on getting him to drive the ball to the pull side without selling out, increasing his power but without sacrificing his contact abilities. Kepler’s swing has come leaps and bounds since his days honing his craft in Berlin. At 16 years old, his mechanics were a crude iteration of what a baseball swing should be. His body lurched out over his front foot to get to the ball. The Twins worked hard to get him to stay back and wait for the ball to come to him. That resulted in a swing like the one he displayed while with the 2013 Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, as seen below. Kepler would use the toe-tap method while keeping his weight back. The current version is one with an aggressive lower-half that is seeking to drive ball rather than just meet it. If you watch the progression, Kepler develops from a toolsy hack into an athletic and collected power hitter over the course of five years. http://i.imgur.com/DTGsXWG.gif http://i.imgur.com/5isgBaW.gif http://i.imgur.com/oM6PqBY.gif “The first day we worked together this year, we kinda jumped him a bit and got on him pretty hard,” Allen admitted. “He had to realize that his potential. He’s got a high ceiling. We just made him aggressive. Not necessarily a pull hitter but more aggressive to the pull side and just understanding that he’s got to go up with the mentality that ‘I’m a pretty good hitter and I’m going to think that and when I go to the plate, I’m thinking I’m going to drive the ball every time.’” Within the front office, the Twins’ staff was more or less anticipating this delayed learning curve. Mike Radcliff, the organization’s Vice President of Player Personnel, said that this offensive outburst is just the culmination of his development. He noted that international players like Kepler who do not come from Latin American countries like the Dominican or Venezuela that have leagues for players in that country prior to being brought into the United States system -- guys from Australia or Europe -- are often far behind in the game’s development curve. This season, he believes, was Kepler finally catching up to the rest. “His [development] was limited out of Germany,” said Radcliff. “Played a lot more soccer games than he did baseball games before he was signed. It takes patience and we have a lot of that in our organization, thankfully.” Even when their prized European prospect failed to produce an OPS over 740 in all but one of his first five professional seasons, the Twins evaluators never lost hope. “We all assumed, figured, projected he would hit eventually,” Radcliff continued. “This is the year it is showing up on the box score for sure.” His box score numbers in Double-A have been ridiculous so far this year. Among those hitters who have compiled 400 or more plate appearances at that level, Kepler has the highest OPS (.994) by a large margin. His .569 slugging percentage tops Double-A with teammate Adam Brett Walker coming in a close but not that close second (.506). But while Walker has struck out in an eye-popping 176 of his plate appearance, Kepler managed to strike out in just 57 trips to the plate. “For him to produce, something had to click. He’s doing something different and better,” Radcliff believes. “He’s more in tune to the game. He has more focus, he has more concentration, he knows how to react. Most of it is mental. He’s been physically impressive for a long time.” Allen agreed that he has seen a maturing kid with not only an increased level of confidence but an expanding aptitude for the game. The mental aspect of his game is now catching up with his physical side. “You see him doing stuff at the plate now -- and it’s not all the time -- but for instance every once in a while he’ll hit a lefty down the left field line with two strikes,” Allen explained. “That’s something you can’t necessarily teach to a lot of kids but he has the mental capacity to understand that even though I’m being aggressive to the pull side if you can still go the other way and flick a ball down the line, left-on-left, that showing you that the kid has some mental awareness of what is going on with the game and how the guy is pitching to him.” That is another area of his game that has developed rapidly: Kepler has vastly improved against left-handed pitching. Just two seasons ago, he posted a .117 average off of lefties. He managed just seven hits in 60 at-bats and just one for extra bases. A switch flipped for him, perhaps because of confidence or because of the mechanical changes but this season he has compiled a .364 average versus left-handed pitching, or 28 hits in 77 at-bats. The approach that Allen was describing has paid dividends. Kepler’s progress this season goes beyond the numbers as well. Earlier in August, Kepler was ejected from a game after an umpire failed to acknowledge that he was hit on the arm in an at-bat, instead calling it a foul ball. Kepler showed the mark the ball caused to the umpire and was promptly excused for the rest of the day. https://twitter.com/parkerhageman/status/629673557442736128 To Allen, this is a significant milestone. He and the Lookouts coaching staff view that as a sign of confidence. “In reality, Max has been a very laid back guy. A really, really laid back guy,” Allen said. “What really makes us as a staff smile is that he is now showing emotion. And to us, that is one of the biggest things that made us perk our ears up and go ‘oh wow, now we really got something’. He wants to do better, he wants to succeed. I’m not saying you have to show emotion all the time but when he gets pissed off, when he gets mad at a call that to us is saying that son of a buck is competing. When you have a guy that is competing every single day and gets pissed off when he doesn’t have a call go his way or doesn’t get a hit, that’s a big leap for us.” With major league rosters expanding in September, there is an outside chance that Kepler is added as a left-handed bat with outfield and first base capabilities. “I think hitting-wise, he’s there,” Allen assessed regarding Kepler’s current ability to handle major league pitching. “I think the biggest thing that Max is gonna have to learn like everybody learns when they get to the big leagues is that they gotta mentally stay strong when you go up there because the biggest thing that a young player is gonna have to deal with is learning to deal with failure in the big leagues. And if you can't deal with failure in the big leagues, you probably not going to be there very long.” Radcliff is more conservative when it comes to Kepler’s timeline. Despite the outstanding stat line, he believes there are elements of his game that need some refinement. “He’s not ready to be an average major league player tomorrow. He’s along that path. He’s doing good things, he’s produced. He’s hitting .340 but he still doesn’t take at-bats and swing at strikes and handle breaking balls like he is going to have to do to be an average hitter in the major leagues,” said Radcliff. “So there’s way more things that the eyeball picks up along with all the numbers that he is producing that is part of the evaluation process and part of the process for him to make that next to the 25-man roster.” Radcliff noted that he did not want to sound disparaging when he offered up the things Kepler still needed to work on. After all every minor league prospect has things they need to work on before they stick in the major leagues for good. He mentioned Byron Buxton, a mega-prospect, who still needs to improve at the plate. But from his evaluation stance, after years of simply catching up to the rest of the field, Kepler has positioned himself on the fast track headed for Minnesota. “You watched him back in the GCL and Cedar Rapids, he didn’t know what he was doing,” said Radcliff. “He had a great body and a great swing and he had tools. He had no idea. Now, well now, he is starting to understand what he is doing everyday, and every swing and every at bat.”
  13. The suspension could not have come at a worse point along his development timeline. Rosario was starting to gain attention as a hitter and, after a line drive that caught him in the face and required plates to be inserted in 2012, he already needed to play catch up. Beyond the lost time due to the injury, the Twins were trying to see if his path to the majors could be accelerated by moving to second base -- another hurdle. “Losing 50 games, that’s a huge setback,” general manager Terry Ryan told the Minneapolis Star Tribune at the time of his suspension. “That’s a lot of development time, a lot of learning that he’ll miss. It sets back his progression going up to the big leagues.” When he returned in 2014, based on his numbers and reports from scouts, his time away from the game appeared to stunt his development. Shifted back to the outfield because of the emergence of Brian Dozier at second, Rosario struggled to square the ball as frequently as he did in the past. He finished the season with the worst line of his career, turning in a .243/.286/.387 mark between High-A and Double-A. With the New Britain Rock Cats in June, Baseball Prospectus’ scouts reported he was a “at first player” and believed that he was “not likely to stick as long-term regular” after watching him for two games. They also questioned his hustle. In July another member of the Baseball Prospectus’ team, Jason Parks, concluded that “[w]ith his bat control and bat speed, he could really develop into a good hitter if he works the gaps and takes advantage of his strengths instead playing into his weaknesses. He’s a tweener for me right now, more a hit tool/speed type than a complete player.” Recognizing the need to get one of their more advanced prospects additional at-bats, Rosario was sent to the Arizona Fall League. In the desert -- while wearing the obsolete Twins pinstripe uniform and facing the game’s top prospect talent -- he started to hit again. The same type that earned him the reputation as one of the best hitters for average. Perhaps it was clicking at the right time or just a burst of small-sample size magic but the Twins’ Vice President of Player Personnel says that it may be due to re-engaging with the game. “I think the biggest thing is that he’s gone through a year of turmoil,” Radcliff said reflecting on Rosario’s offensive success in Arizona. “A year ago today it wasn’t good for him. He had a lot of things going on that weren’t good. Most of that is in the rearview mirror now and he has a different frame of mind. He concentrates and focuses on baseball and that’s allowed him to get back on track.” Where the regular season showed Rosario trying to do too much at the plate and unnecessarily swinging for the fences, the fall league was a profile of a more collected hitter. Many of the same points that have been raised about his swing still exist -- tons of pre-swing hand movement, stepping open with his front foot on his stride, drops his back shoulder at times, chases stuff down in the zone and so on -- but the positive aspects were on display as well. Rosario possesses extremely quick hands and, once he gets to his load point, he strikes like a cobra. The open stride which seemingly leaves him susceptible to the outer-half has not affected him as he covers the zone surprisingly well, keeping his front hip closed. A lot of the aforementioned traits can be seen in this clip from the AFL Championship Game: http://i.imgur.com/bopEWKq.gif The excessive hand movement. The front foot stride. Staying closed. Quick hands. Zone coverage. Yes, he pulls the ball too often instead of going with the pitch while his selection and patience will wreak havoc on his on-base percentage. As an aggressive hitter, he is unlikely to put up robust walk totals. He elevates too many fly balls with too little power, a factor that will likely impact his major league average, yet if you watched the final AFL game Rosario went 4-for-5 and hit everything on the screws. No lofted fly balls, these were hard, smashed line drives. Even the out he made was a shot to right field. “He’s refocused, he’s reenergized, he understands who he is now and where he is at and what his future is,” Radcliff said. “He got suspended, it took him a while to clean all that stuff up and play during the summer months. I think there is probably hope involved because there was a lot that has gone on in the last year and a half. I think that we hope that what we saw in the last 100 at-bats was more indicative of what is ahead for him that what we saw in those at-bats during the summer.” Performance at the plate is one thing, in the field is another. When creating his top 25 prospect from the Arizona Fall League list, MLB.com columnist Jim Callis noted that Rosario’s positional unknown looms as a big question mark. Radcliff and the Twins see that differently. Rosario has shown the ability to play anywhere at least at an adequate level, providing flexibility. “Versatility is a good thing when you are trying to break into a 25-man roster,” Radcliff said. But the clear vacancy right now is in left field for the Twins and Rosario has seen plenty of time in that area of the outfield. Is it possible he could be an option for 2015? “He can do a lot of things, he’s an advanced hitter for his experience level and where he is from,” said Radcliff. “He’s right on the cusp of being a good hitter, his power is probably down the road. All the little things: base-running, stolen bases, arm accuracy, technique, angles, routes in the outfield, those things progress, improve and get better along the way. Is he about ready to impact the major leagues? Yeah, I’d think most of us would agree with that. What role and how quick, that will all be determined in the coming months. He’s close, he’s right there on the edge.” Added to the team's 40-man roster on Thursday, when summarizing Rosario’s chances of reaching the highest level in the near future, Radcliff seemed to invoke personal responsibility for the talented 23-year-old. Possibly hinting at both his on and off the field performance: “It’s all up to him now.”
  14. When Mike Radcliff returned from Arizona he was hopeful with what he had seen from Eddie Rosario. Among the organization’s prospects playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League was the recently rehabilitated Rosario. The 23-year-old had served a fifty game suspension due to a failed marijuana test -- his second such offense. In the grand scheme, with a nation heading towards increasing tolerance and two major league cities allowing use of the recreational drug, it appeared less of a concern than the use of performance enhancing drugs to inflate his numbers. Nevertheless, rules were rules and Rosario had broken them. Twice.The suspension could not have come at a worse point along his development timeline. Rosario was starting to gain attention as a hitter and, after a line drive that caught him in the face and required plates to be inserted in 2012, he already needed to play catch up. Beyond the lost time due to the injury, the Twins were trying to see if his path to the majors could be accelerated by moving to second base -- another hurdle. “Losing 50 games, that’s a huge setback,” general manager Terry Ryan told the Minneapolis Star Tribune at the time of his suspension. “That’s a lot of development time, a lot of learning that he’ll miss. It sets back his progression going up to the big leagues.” When he returned in 2014, based on his numbers and reports from scouts, his time away from the game appeared to stunt his development. Shifted back to the outfield because of the emergence of Brian Dozier at second, Rosario struggled to square the ball as frequently as he did in the past. He finished the season with the worst line of his career, turning in a .243/.286/.387 mark between High-A and Double-A. With the New Britain Rock Cats in June, Baseball Prospectus’ scouts reported he was a “at first player” and believed that he was “not likely to stick as long-term regular” after watching him for two games. They also questioned his hustle. In July another member of the Baseball Prospectus’ team, Jason Parks, concluded that “[w]ith his bat control and bat speed, he could really develop into a good hitter if he works the gaps and takes advantage of his strengths instead playing into his weaknesses. He’s a tweener for me right now, more a hit tool/speed type than a complete player.” Recognizing the need to get one of their more advanced prospects additional at-bats, Rosario was sent to the Arizona Fall League. In the desert -- while wearing the obsolete Twins pinstripe uniform and facing the game’s top prospect talent -- he started to hit again. The same type that earned him the reputation as one of the best hitters for average. Perhaps it was clicking at the right time or just a burst of small-sample size magic but the Twins’ Vice President of Player Personnel says that it may be due to re-engaging with the game. “I think the biggest thing is that he’s gone through a year of turmoil,” Radcliff said reflecting on Rosario’s offensive success in Arizona. “A year ago today it wasn’t good for him. He had a lot of things going on that weren’t good. Most of that is in the rearview mirror now and he has a different frame of mind. He concentrates and focuses on baseball and that’s allowed him to get back on track.” Where the regular season showed Rosario trying to do too much at the plate and unnecessarily swinging for the fences, the fall league was a profile of a more collected hitter. Many of the same points that have been raised about his swing still exist -- tons of pre-swing hand movement, stepping open with his front foot on his stride, drops his back shoulder at times, chases stuff down in the zone and so on -- but the positive aspects were on display as well. Rosario possesses extremely quick hands and, once he gets to his load point, he strikes like a cobra. The open stride which seemingly leaves him susceptible to the outer-half has not affected him as he covers the zone surprisingly well, keeping his front hip closed. A lot of the aforementioned traits can be seen in this clip from the AFL Championship Game: http://i.imgur.com/bopEWKq.gif The excessive hand movement. The front foot stride. Staying closed. Quick hands. Zone coverage. Yes, he pulls the ball too often instead of going with the pitch while his selection and patience will wreak havoc on his on-base percentage. As an aggressive hitter, he is unlikely to put up robust walk totals. He elevates too many fly balls with too little power, a factor that will likely impact his major league average, yet if you watched the final AFL game Rosario went 4-for-5 and hit everything on the screws. No lofted fly balls, these were hard, smashed line drives. Even the out he made was a shot to right field. “He’s refocused, he’s reenergized, he understands who he is now and where he is at and what his future is,” Radcliff said. “He got suspended, it took him a while to clean all that stuff up and play during the summer months. I think there is probably hope involved because there was a lot that has gone on in the last year and a half. I think that we hope that what we saw in the last 100 at-bats was more indicative of what is ahead for him that what we saw in those at-bats during the summer.” Performance at the plate is one thing, in the field is another. When creating his top 25 prospect from the Arizona Fall League list, MLB.com columnist Jim Callis noted that Rosario’s positional unknown looms as a big question mark. Radcliff and the Twins see that differently. Rosario has shown the ability to play anywhere at least at an adequate level, providing flexibility. “Versatility is a good thing when you are trying to break into a 25-man roster,” Radcliff said. But the clear vacancy right now is in left field for the Twins and Rosario has seen plenty of time in that area of the outfield. Is it possible he could be an option for 2015? “He can do a lot of things, he’s an advanced hitter for his experience level and where he is from,” said Radcliff. “He’s right on the cusp of being a good hitter, his power is probably down the road. All the little things: base-running, stolen bases, arm accuracy, technique, angles, routes in the outfield, those things progress, improve and get better along the way. Is he about ready to impact the major leagues? Yeah, I’d think most of us would agree with that. What role and how quick, that will all be determined in the coming months. He’s close, he’s right there on the edge.” Added to the team's 40-man roster on Thursday, when summarizing Rosario’s chances of reaching the highest level in the near future, Radcliff seemed to invoke personal responsibility for the talented 23-year-old. Possibly hinting at both his on and off the field performance: “It’s all up to him now.” Click here to view the article
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