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  1. In November, the Minnesota Twins finally paid Byron Buxton. That was the right move all along, and it looks the part of a fair deal for both sides. One caveat to the talented centerfielder is his availability. With that in mind, do the Twins have a built-in insurance policy? Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. 2021 was not a great year for Twins fans. The Twins came into the 2021 season projected by PECOTA to win the division at 91-71. As we all know, that was not the case, as the Twins finished dead last in the AL Central at 73-89. However, a bad season like 2021 means getting to see some of the prospects we have heard about for so long finally make their Major League debuts. In 2021, 10 Twins made their Major League debuts with various amounts of success. Nonetheless, a lot of these guys could play major roles in contributing to the future success of the team. Let’s see how they did. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Even though Alex Kirilloff played a game in the playoffs in 2020, he didn’t officially make his major league debut until April 14, 2021. Kirilloff had a rough start at the plate, going 0-for-15 to start his career despite some bad batted-ball luck. In April, Kirilloff’s xSLG was an otherworldly .825 but his actual slugging percentage was only .400. His average exit velocity was 95.4 MPH in April and 93 MPH in May. However, on May 5, the Twins placed Kirilloff on the IL because of a wrist injury. Kirilloff returned to the lineup on May 21 and was not the same the rest of the season, only hitting .260/.316/.387 the rest of the year. On July 21, it was announced that Kirilloff would undergo season-ending wrist surgery. In 2021, Kirilloff hit .251/.299/.423 (.722) but a lot of that was impacted by his nagging wrist injury. Lately, Kirilloff has been taking batting practice and should be ready to go for the 2022 season. Kirilloff remains an extremely promising player and should be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Twins for years to come. Grade: B Ben Rortvedt, C After Ryan Jeffers started the season 5-for-34 with 18 strikeouts and only one extra base hit, the Twins called up left-handed hitting Ben Rortvedt to back up Mitch Garver. On April 30, Rortvedt made his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He recorded his first major league hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, hitting an RBI single off of Wade Davis to drive in Andrelton Simmons. Rortvedt was unimpressive at the plate in 2021, hitting .169/.229/.281 (.510) with three home runs in 98 plate appearances. Behind the plate, Rortvedt was a very good catcher. In only 256 innings, Rortvedt was worth five Defensive Runs Saved. This ranked 19th in all of MLB, and nobody else in the top 30 had less than 300 innings. Rortvedt also has a very good arm, throwing out 7 of 16 potential base stealers (44 percent). That was fourth in all of MLB among catchers with at least 200 innings. Rortvedt was a very good defensive catcher with subpar offensive abilities. If he can take a step forward with his bat, he has the potential to be an important part of the Twins future, especially if the Twins decide to trade Garver or Jeffers to acquire starting pitching. Grade: C Nick Gordon, UTIL Growing up in a baseball family, Nick Gordon had lofty expectations since being drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2014. Since then, he has had struggles with health and he became a bit of an afterthought in terms of Twins prospects. So when he made his Major League debut on May 6th, it was a feel good story for all. In his first plate appearance, he walked and then stole second on the next pitch. In his next plate appearance, he roped a single to right field for his first major league hit and then stole second base five pitches later. Gordon struck out his next plate appearance before being lifted for Jorge Polanco in the 8th inning. Gordon finished the day 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. On June 4, Gordon hit his first big league homer with his dad in the stands. Gordon was below-average with the bat, hitting .240/.292/.355 (.647). As the season progressed, Gordon greatly improved offensively. In September and October, Gordon had an OPS of .752 and a wRC+ of 103, meaning he was slightly above average in those months. He also was hitting the ball harder as the season progressed. Below is a graph of his hard hit rate by month. All season, Gordon’s hard hit rate hovered around 45 percent but in September it jumped to 63 percent. This is very encouraging to see from a young player. Gordon also was very versatile and showed he could move around the diamond which can be very beneficial for a team. He played at least 10 games at shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. He was also a good baserunner, going 10-for11 on stolen bases. He was in the 71st percentile of all players in sprint speed. Gordon could be a valuable asset for the Twins going forward if he continues to build off of his strong September and continues to be versatile. Grade: C+ Trevor Larnach, OF Ever since they drafted Trevor Larnach with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Twins have had high expectations for him. After an impressive 2019 season between High-A and AA, Larnach has looked ready for the big leagues. He finally got his wish on May 8th, when he was the starting left fielder against the Detroit Tigers. Larnach didn’t exactly have a debut to remember, going 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Larnach picked up his first hit on May 12, when he doubled off of former Twin Liam Hendriks. Larnach got off to a good start in the big leagues, hitting .262/.357/.436 with a 120 wRC+ through July 9. After that date, Larnach was abysmal at the plate. From that point on he had a wRC+ of 29 and struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances. He was not a great hitter against offspeed pitches. Among all MLB hitters with at least 50 plate appearances, Larnach had the highest whiff rate against sliders (56 percent) and the highest whiff rate against changeups (52 percent). The good news is that Larnach hit .362 with a .667 slugging percentage against fastballs. Teams figured out he had issues against offspeed and started throwing over 50 percent of pitches as offspeed pitches. Larnach showed some flashes of being a great hitter (max exit velocity in the 97th percentile), so if he adjusts to offspeed pitches he will be a cornerstone of the Twins lineup for years to come Grade: B- Bailey Ober, RHP At 6 feet 9 inches, Bailey Ober is the third tallest pitcher in Twins history behind Jon Rauch and Aaron Slegers. Ober and his imposing presence first appeared in the big leagues on May 18 against the Chicago White Sox. Ober went four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. He gave up home runs to Jake Lamb and Yasmani Grandal and struck out four. He got a no-decision and the Twins ended up winning 5-4 behind three Miguel Sano home runs. Ober made 20 starts in his rookie season, going 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA. Ober threw 92 innings and had a team high 5.05 K/BB ratio. This ratio was fifth best in the American League. Ober was in the 94th percentile of all pitchers in terms of walk rate and in the 85th percentile in terms of chase rate. Ober hardly threw pitches outside of the zone but when he did, hitters chased them at a high rate. Ober’s average fastball in 2021 was only 92 miles per hour, but his big frame causes the batters to have less reaction time because the ball is being released at around 52 feet from home plate, almost a foot closer than the average pitcher releases it from. This creates the illusion that Ober’s fastball is moving faster than it actually is. Despite having below average stuff (percentile rankings below), Ober’s large frame elevates him to being a good pitcher (102 ERA+) and if Ober can improve his stuff in the coming years he could be a fantastic pitcher for the Twins. Grade: A- Gilberto Celestino, OF With injuries to Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, and Rob Refsnyder early in 2021, the Twins needed a center fielder. They decided to call up Gilberto Celestino from AA, and he made his major league debut on June 2 against the Orioles. Celestino had a rather uneventful debut, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout in a 6-3 loss. Celestino recorded his first major league hit on June 9 against the Yankees. Over the 2021 season, Celestino mightily struggled at the plate with the Twins, hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466). It was clear Celestino was overmatched at the big league level, so they sent him down to AAA St. Paul after 22 games, and he hit well at the AAA level, having a wRC+ of 125 in 49 games there. In retrospect, Celestino wasn’t ready for the big leagues but is still a good ball player. Having some big league experience under his belt will help him going forward, and he could be Byron Buxton’s primary backup going forward so we probably will be seeing Celestino in the big leagues again at some point in 2022. Grade: D Griffin Jax, RHP On June 8, Griffin Jax made history. He became the first Air Force Academy graduate to play Major League Baseball. Jax was used in a mop-up role against the Yankees in the 9th inning when the Twins were down 5-3. Jax did not have a very good debut, going one inning while allowing three runs on home runs from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. He did record his first big league strikeout when he struck out Tyler Wade on a 2-2 slider. In 2021, Griffin Jax had a tough rookie season. He went 4-5 with a 6.37 ERA. He allowed 2.52 HR/ 9 innings which was the highest among all MLB pitchers (minimum 60 innings). That number is also the highest for a single season in Twins history (min. 60 IP). The big problem was his fastball. Jax’s fastball was the fifth worst fastball in all of baseball in terms of xSLG. Jax’s fastball got crushed in 2021, but he continued to throw it almost 50 percent of the time. Jax’s slider, on the other hand, could be a very good pitch. Jax’s .271 xwOBA against the slider is good and signals that it is a pitch he should be throwing more than just 30 percent of the time, maybe up to 50 percent. Despite a bad 2021, Jax could bounce back by relying more on his off-speed pitches and revamping his pitch arsenal going into 2022. Grade: D Charlie Barnes, LHP Charlie Barnes made his major league debut in the first game of a July 17 doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. After the first batter he faced (Robbie Grossman) went deep, Barnes was very good. Barnes went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out one. He recorded his first major league strikeout in the second inning when he struck out Zack Short on a changeup. In Barnes’s rookie season, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. Barnes made eight starts for the Twins and threw 38 total innings. Barnes bounced back and forth between the Twins and the minor leagues quite a bit, so he never really got the chance to establish himself at the big league level. On December 23, Barnes signed with the Lotte Giants in Korea, so we wish him the best of luck in Korea as he pursues professional baseball there. Grade: D Joe Ryan, RHP Any prospect who yields a player as good as Nelson Cruz should be good enough to make an impact in the big leagues for a long time. On September 1st, Joe Ryan gave us a taste of what he will be like for years to come. Ryan had a solid major league debut, going five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five batters. He got his first career strikeout in the first inning when he struck out Ian Happ with a high fastball. Ryan had a solid debut season for the Twins, only throwing 26 innings, but going 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA. However, Ryan had some bad luck, as his xERA was 2.99. He also had 10.1 K/9 and only 1.7 BB/9. This 10.1 K/9 rate is the highest by any rookie starter in Twins history (min. 25 IP). Ryan relied on a very good high fastball/slider combination to get strikeouts. Going into 2022, Ryan is one of three starters the Twins have in the rotation. His role on the team will depend on if the Twins make any more pitching acquisitions, but expect Ryan to be a fixture in the Twins rotation next year. Grade: A- Jovani Moran, LHP Jovani Moran was very limited in year one, but he should be a fixture in the Twins bullpen in years to come. Moran made his major league debut on September 12 and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters. He collected his first major league strikeout when he got Nicky Lopez to chase a devastating changeup. Jovani Moran only threw eight innings for the Twins in 2021, and at first glance you wouldn’t think he was very good. He had an ERA of 7.88 and walked seven guys in eight innings. If you look deeper, Moran was unlucky. He had an xERA of 3.84, meaning he had some awful batted-ball luck. He also throws one of the best swing-and-miss pitches in the Twins organization, a disgusting changeup. His whiff rate on that pitch was an astounding 51.4 percent, meaning that over half of the swings on that pitch were misses. This changeup whiff rate was the fourth highest for any pitcher in the league. Moran was impressive in his limited work in 2021, and I am excited to see him and his changeup in the 2022 bullpen. Grade: B Final Thoughts Despite a rough season, the Twins gave us a glimpse into their future. We saw a lot to like out of some of the Twins young players in 2021 and if these players can take a step forward in 2022 and continue to develop, the Twins should be able to contend for the AL Central in the near future. What do you think of these grades? How would you grade these players for their rookie seasons? Which of these players are you most excited to watch in 2022? Who is the most likely of these players to succeed going forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  4. The 2021 season didn't go precisely as the Twins envisioned, but the calendar will shortly turn to 2022. Here is a look back at some of the biggest stories at Twins Daily over the last year. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  5. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. In 2021, 10 Twins made their Major League debuts with various amounts of success. Nonetheless, a lot of these guys could play major roles in contributing to the future success of the team. Let’s see how they did. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Even though Alex Kirilloff played a game in the playoffs in 2020, he didn’t officially make his major league debut until April 14, 2021. Kirilloff had a rough start at the plate, going 0-for-15 to start his career despite some bad batted-ball luck. In April, Kirilloff’s xSLG was an otherworldly .825 but his actual slugging percentage was only .400. His average exit velocity was 95.4 MPH in April and 93 MPH in May. However, on May 5, the Twins placed Kirilloff on the IL because of a wrist injury. Kirilloff returned to the lineup on May 21 and was not the same the rest of the season, only hitting .260/.316/.387 the rest of the year. On July 21, it was announced that Kirilloff would undergo season-ending wrist surgery. In 2021, Kirilloff hit .251/.299/.423 (.722) but a lot of that was impacted by his nagging wrist injury. Lately, Kirilloff has been taking batting practice and should be ready to go for the 2022 season. Kirilloff remains an extremely promising player and should be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Twins for years to come. Grade: B Ben Rortvedt, C After Ryan Jeffers started the season 5-for-34 with 18 strikeouts and only one extra base hit, the Twins called up left-handed hitting Ben Rortvedt to back up Mitch Garver. On April 30, Rortvedt made his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He recorded his first major league hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, hitting an RBI single off of Wade Davis to drive in Andrelton Simmons. Rortvedt was unimpressive at the plate in 2021, hitting .169/.229/.281 (.510) with three home runs in 98 plate appearances. Behind the plate, Rortvedt was a very good catcher. In only 256 innings, Rortvedt was worth five Defensive Runs Saved. This ranked 19th in all of MLB, and nobody else in the top 30 had less than 300 innings. Rortvedt also has a very good arm, throwing out 7 of 16 potential base stealers (44 percent). That was fourth in all of MLB among catchers with at least 200 innings. Rortvedt was a very good defensive catcher with subpar offensive abilities. If he can take a step forward with his bat, he has the potential to be an important part of the Twins future, especially if the Twins decide to trade Garver or Jeffers to acquire starting pitching. Grade: C Nick Gordon, UTIL Growing up in a baseball family, Nick Gordon had lofty expectations since being drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2014. Since then, he has had struggles with health and he became a bit of an afterthought in terms of Twins prospects. So when he made his Major League debut on May 6th, it was a feel good story for all. In his first plate appearance, he walked and then stole second on the next pitch. In his next plate appearance, he roped a single to right field for his first major league hit and then stole second base five pitches later. Gordon struck out his next plate appearance before being lifted for Jorge Polanco in the 8th inning. Gordon finished the day 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. On June 4, Gordon hit his first big league homer with his dad in the stands. Gordon was below-average with the bat, hitting .240/.292/.355 (.647). As the season progressed, Gordon greatly improved offensively. In September and October, Gordon had an OPS of .752 and a wRC+ of 103, meaning he was slightly above average in those months. He also was hitting the ball harder as the season progressed. Below is a graph of his hard hit rate by month. All season, Gordon’s hard hit rate hovered around 45 percent but in September it jumped to 63 percent. This is very encouraging to see from a young player. Gordon also was very versatile and showed he could move around the diamond which can be very beneficial for a team. He played at least 10 games at shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. He was also a good baserunner, going 10-for11 on stolen bases. He was in the 71st percentile of all players in sprint speed. Gordon could be a valuable asset for the Twins going forward if he continues to build off of his strong September and continues to be versatile. Grade: C+ Trevor Larnach, OF Ever since they drafted Trevor Larnach with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Twins have had high expectations for him. After an impressive 2019 season between High-A and AA, Larnach has looked ready for the big leagues. He finally got his wish on May 8th, when he was the starting left fielder against the Detroit Tigers. Larnach didn’t exactly have a debut to remember, going 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Larnach picked up his first hit on May 12, when he doubled off of former Twin Liam Hendriks. Larnach got off to a good start in the big leagues, hitting .262/.357/.436 with a 120 wRC+ through July 9. After that date, Larnach was abysmal at the plate. From that point on he had a wRC+ of 29 and struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances. He was not a great hitter against offspeed pitches. Among all MLB hitters with at least 50 plate appearances, Larnach had the highest whiff rate against sliders (56 percent) and the highest whiff rate against changeups (52 percent). The good news is that Larnach hit .362 with a .667 slugging percentage against fastballs. Teams figured out he had issues against offspeed and started throwing over 50 percent of pitches as offspeed pitches. Larnach showed some flashes of being a great hitter (max exit velocity in the 97th percentile), so if he adjusts to offspeed pitches he will be a cornerstone of the Twins lineup for years to come Grade: B- Bailey Ober, RHP At 6 feet 9 inches, Bailey Ober is the third tallest pitcher in Twins history behind Jon Rauch and Aaron Slegers. Ober and his imposing presence first appeared in the big leagues on May 18 against the Chicago White Sox. Ober went four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. He gave up home runs to Jake Lamb and Yasmani Grandal and struck out four. He got a no-decision and the Twins ended up winning 5-4 behind three Miguel Sano home runs. Ober made 20 starts in his rookie season, going 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA. Ober threw 92 innings and had a team high 5.05 K/BB ratio. This ratio was fifth best in the American League. Ober was in the 94th percentile of all pitchers in terms of walk rate and in the 85th percentile in terms of chase rate. Ober hardly threw pitches outside of the zone but when he did, hitters chased them at a high rate. Ober’s average fastball in 2021 was only 92 miles per hour, but his big frame causes the batters to have less reaction time because the ball is being released at around 52 feet from home plate, almost a foot closer than the average pitcher releases it from. This creates the illusion that Ober’s fastball is moving faster than it actually is. Despite having below average stuff (percentile rankings below), Ober’s large frame elevates him to being a good pitcher (102 ERA+) and if Ober can improve his stuff in the coming years he could be a fantastic pitcher for the Twins. Grade: A- Gilberto Celestino, OF With injuries to Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, and Rob Refsnyder early in 2021, the Twins needed a center fielder. They decided to call up Gilberto Celestino from AA, and he made his major league debut on June 2 against the Orioles. Celestino had a rather uneventful debut, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout in a 6-3 loss. Celestino recorded his first major league hit on June 9 against the Yankees. Over the 2021 season, Celestino mightily struggled at the plate with the Twins, hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466). It was clear Celestino was overmatched at the big league level, so they sent him down to AAA St. Paul after 22 games, and he hit well at the AAA level, having a wRC+ of 125 in 49 games there. In retrospect, Celestino wasn’t ready for the big leagues but is still a good ball player. Having some big league experience under his belt will help him going forward, and he could be Byron Buxton’s primary backup going forward so we probably will be seeing Celestino in the big leagues again at some point in 2022. Grade: D Griffin Jax, RHP On June 8, Griffin Jax made history. He became the first Air Force Academy graduate to play Major League Baseball. Jax was used in a mop-up role against the Yankees in the 9th inning when the Twins were down 5-3. Jax did not have a very good debut, going one inning while allowing three runs on home runs from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. He did record his first big league strikeout when he struck out Tyler Wade on a 2-2 slider. In 2021, Griffin Jax had a tough rookie season. He went 4-5 with a 6.37 ERA. He allowed 2.52 HR/ 9 innings which was the highest among all MLB pitchers (minimum 60 innings). That number is also the highest for a single season in Twins history (min. 60 IP). The big problem was his fastball. Jax’s fastball was the fifth worst fastball in all of baseball in terms of xSLG. Jax’s fastball got crushed in 2021, but he continued to throw it almost 50 percent of the time. Jax’s slider, on the other hand, could be a very good pitch. Jax’s .271 xwOBA against the slider is good and signals that it is a pitch he should be throwing more than just 30 percent of the time, maybe up to 50 percent. Despite a bad 2021, Jax could bounce back by relying more on his off-speed pitches and revamping his pitch arsenal going into 2022. Grade: D Charlie Barnes, LHP Charlie Barnes made his major league debut in the first game of a July 17 doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. After the first batter he faced (Robbie Grossman) went deep, Barnes was very good. Barnes went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out one. He recorded his first major league strikeout in the second inning when he struck out Zack Short on a changeup. In Barnes’s rookie season, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. Barnes made eight starts for the Twins and threw 38 total innings. Barnes bounced back and forth between the Twins and the minor leagues quite a bit, so he never really got the chance to establish himself at the big league level. On December 23, Barnes signed with the Lotte Giants in Korea, so we wish him the best of luck in Korea as he pursues professional baseball there. Grade: D Joe Ryan, RHP Any prospect who yields a player as good as Nelson Cruz should be good enough to make an impact in the big leagues for a long time. On September 1st, Joe Ryan gave us a taste of what he will be like for years to come. Ryan had a solid major league debut, going five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five batters. He got his first career strikeout in the first inning when he struck out Ian Happ with a high fastball. Ryan had a solid debut season for the Twins, only throwing 26 innings, but going 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA. However, Ryan had some bad luck, as his xERA was 2.99. He also had 10.1 K/9 and only 1.7 BB/9. This 10.1 K/9 rate is the highest by any rookie starter in Twins history (min. 25 IP). Ryan relied on a very good high fastball/slider combination to get strikeouts. Going into 2022, Ryan is one of three starters the Twins have in the rotation. His role on the team will depend on if the Twins make any more pitching acquisitions, but expect Ryan to be a fixture in the Twins rotation next year. Grade: A- Jovani Moran, LHP Jovani Moran was very limited in year one, but he should be a fixture in the Twins bullpen in years to come. Moran made his major league debut on September 12 and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters. He collected his first major league strikeout when he got Nicky Lopez to chase a devastating changeup. Jovani Moran only threw eight innings for the Twins in 2021, and at first glance you wouldn’t think he was very good. He had an ERA of 7.88 and walked seven guys in eight innings. If you look deeper, Moran was unlucky. He had an xERA of 3.84, meaning he had some awful batted-ball luck. He also throws one of the best swing-and-miss pitches in the Twins organization, a disgusting changeup. His whiff rate on that pitch was an astounding 51.4 percent, meaning that over half of the swings on that pitch were misses. This changeup whiff rate was the fourth highest for any pitcher in the league. Moran was impressive in his limited work in 2021, and I am excited to see him and his changeup in the 2022 bullpen. Grade: B Final Thoughts Despite a rough season, the Twins gave us a glimpse into their future. We saw a lot to like out of some of the Twins young players in 2021 and if these players can take a step forward in 2022 and continue to develop, the Twins should be able to contend for the AL Central in the near future. What do you think of these grades? How would you grade these players for their rookie seasons? Which of these players are you most excited to watch in 2022? Who is the most likely of these players to succeed going forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  7. This winter, one of Minnesota's most significant question marks is who will be taking over the team's shortstop duties in 2022. Will there be a veteran signing? Or will a prospect take the reins? Current Shortstop: TBD If the season started today, Jorge Polanco might be the team's only option at shortstop. Minnesota doesn't want to move Polanco back to shortstop, so they need to add a veteran shortstop when the lockout ends. Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are two of the top available free-agent options, but it will take a ton of money to sign either of these players. Other players like Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Villar are options on much cheaper deals to be placeholders to some of the team's top prospects. 40-Man Roster Options There are defensive question marks around both of the team's shortstop options on the 40-man roster. A former first-round pick, Nick Gordon played shortstop throughout his professional career. However, the Twins were hesitant to use him at that position throughout his rookie campaign. In 73 games last year, Gordon made eight starts at shortstop. He posted a .647 OPS with 10 steals in 11 chances. He has the opportunity to fill a utility role with the club, but being the team's starting shortstop seems out of the question. Royce Lewis could very well be the organization's shortstop of the future, but there have been questions about his defensive position throughout his professional career. He may have been able to put some of those questions to rest in 2021, but a knee injury leading into spring training cost him the entire season. The last time Lewis was on the field, he was winning MVP in the Arizona Fall League, but that was coming on the heels of a season where he posted to a .661 OPS. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's shortstop depth. Minnesota has multiple shortstop options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. With Lewis working his way back, Minnesota has another top-prospect in Austin Martin in the upper minors. The Twins acquired Martin as part of the Jose Berrios trade, and he posted a .796 OPS in 93 Double-A games last season. Like Lewis, there are questions about his future defensive home as the Twins used him at shortstop and center field. At this point, it seems most likely for him to be an outfielder for the long term. Wander Javier is another familiar name to many Twins fans as he has been in the organization since he signed in 2015. At one point, he was considered one of the organization's top prospects, including being on Baseball America's Top-100 list leading into 2018. However, he has struggled through injuries and poor play as he moved up the organizational ladder. Last year at High-A, he hit .225/.280/.413 (.693) with 37 extra-base hits and 141 strikeouts in 96 games. Minnesota left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, and a rebuilding team could take a flyer on him as a utility option. Will Holland played all of the 2021 season at Low-A, where he was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. He combined to hit .214/.336/.401 (.736) with 26 extra-base hits. Joining Holland at Fort Myers was former first-round pick Keoni Cavaco, who combined for a .598 OPS in 60 games. Holland should move up to High-A while Cavaco seems likely to return to Low-A. There are multiple teenage options in the organization's rookie leagues too. Noah Miller was the 36th overall pick in 2021 out of high school in Wisconsin. He played in 22 games for the FCL Twins and hit .238/.316/.369 (.685) with six extra-base hits. Danny De Andrade and Fredy Michel were both 2021 international signees that made their professional debuts in the Dominican Summer League. In 50 games, De Andrade hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits, while Michel posted a .583 OPS with 62 strikeouts in 43 games. Overall, Minnesota has question marks at the big-league level and with it's two biggest prospects. What do you think about the organization's shortstop depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base View full article
  8. Current Shortstop: TBD If the season started today, Jorge Polanco might be the team's only option at shortstop. Minnesota doesn't want to move Polanco back to shortstop, so they need to add a veteran shortstop when the lockout ends. Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are two of the top available free-agent options, but it will take a ton of money to sign either of these players. Other players like Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Villar are options on much cheaper deals to be placeholders to some of the team's top prospects. 40-Man Roster Options There are defensive question marks around both of the team's shortstop options on the 40-man roster. A former first-round pick, Nick Gordon played shortstop throughout his professional career. However, the Twins were hesitant to use him at that position throughout his rookie campaign. In 73 games last year, Gordon made eight starts at shortstop. He posted a .647 OPS with 10 steals in 11 chances. He has the opportunity to fill a utility role with the club, but being the team's starting shortstop seems out of the question. Royce Lewis could very well be the organization's shortstop of the future, but there have been questions about his defensive position throughout his professional career. He may have been able to put some of those questions to rest in 2021, but a knee injury leading into spring training cost him the entire season. The last time Lewis was on the field, he was winning MVP in the Arizona Fall League, but that was coming on the heels of a season where he posted to a .661 OPS. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's shortstop depth. Minnesota has multiple shortstop options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. With Lewis working his way back, Minnesota has another top-prospect in Austin Martin in the upper minors. The Twins acquired Martin as part of the Jose Berrios trade, and he posted a .796 OPS in 93 Double-A games last season. Like Lewis, there are questions about his future defensive home as the Twins used him at shortstop and center field. At this point, it seems most likely for him to be an outfielder for the long term. Wander Javier is another familiar name to many Twins fans as he has been in the organization since he signed in 2015. At one point, he was considered one of the organization's top prospects, including being on Baseball America's Top-100 list leading into 2018. However, he has struggled through injuries and poor play as he moved up the organizational ladder. Last year at High-A, he hit .225/.280/.413 (.693) with 37 extra-base hits and 141 strikeouts in 96 games. Minnesota left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, and a rebuilding team could take a flyer on him as a utility option. Will Holland played all of the 2021 season at Low-A, where he was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. He combined to hit .214/.336/.401 (.736) with 26 extra-base hits. Joining Holland at Fort Myers was former first-round pick Keoni Cavaco, who combined for a .598 OPS in 60 games. Holland should move up to High-A while Cavaco seems likely to return to Low-A. There are multiple teenage options in the organization's rookie leagues too. Noah Miller was the 36th overall pick in 2021 out of high school in Wisconsin. He played in 22 games for the FCL Twins and hit .238/.316/.369 (.685) with six extra-base hits. Danny De Andrade and Fredy Michel were both 2021 international signees that made their professional debuts in the Dominican Summer League. In 50 games, De Andrade hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits, while Michel posted a .583 OPS with 62 strikeouts in 43 games. Overall, Minnesota has question marks at the big-league level and with it's two biggest prospects. What do you think about the organization's shortstop depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base
  9. Last season, Jorge Polanco was the Twins' Most Valuable Player after he shifted to being a full-time second baseman. Even with Polanco, what does the future of second base look like in the Twins organization? Current Second Baseman: Jorge Polanco Entering last season, Polanco struggled through parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He dealt with ankle issues that required surgery in back-to-back offseasons. Minnesota shifted him to second base, putting together his most valuable season in his big-league career. In 152 games, he hit .269/.323/.503 (.826) with 35 doubles and 33 home runs. Defensively, he finished the season as the AL's fourth highest-ranked second baseman, according to SDI. Minnesota used him occasionally at shortstop, but it's in the team's best interest to keep him at second base. 40-Man Roster Options Luis Arráez and Nick Gordon are two potential second basemen on the 40-man roster. However, both players fit better into a utility role for the team. Last season, Arráez posted a 105 OPS+, and he was one of the league's best defenders at third base. Gordon, a former first-round pick, made his big-league debut in 2021, but he is already 25-years-old. He showed some defensive flexibility that may be valuable in a bench role, and he hit .240/.292/.355 (.647) in 73 games. Arráez and Gordon can fill in at second base to keep Polanco's ankles healthy if the need arises. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's second base depth. Minnesota has multiple second-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Spencer Steer was a third-round pick in 2019, and he has shown defensive flexibility throughout his professional career, including playing over 40 games at both second and third base last season. In 2021, he split time between High- and Double-A while hitting .254/.348/.484 with 45 extra-base hits in 110 games. Next season, he will be 24 years old, and he should see time at Triple-A by the season's end. At Double-A, there are a pair of intriguing young options. Minnesota signed Yunior Severino for over $2.5 million after MLB penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market. Last year, he split time between Low- and High-A with a .802 OPS. At 21-years-old, he was young for both levels, but the Twins left him unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Edouard Julien made his professional debut last year and hit .266/.434/.480 (.914) between Low- and High-A. He collected 110 walks in 112 games and stole 34 bases while only being caught five times. Anthony Prato was the organization's 7th round pick in 2019, and he played at three different levels last season. As a 23-year-old, he was older than the average age of the competition at each level, and he was limited to 47 games due to a broken hamate. Minnesota drafted Alerick Soularie in the second round in 2020, but his pro-debut was delayed because of a broken foot. After returning from injury, he posted a .668 OPS in 28 games in Fort Myers. The Twins took Mikey Perez in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and he went 16-for-30 with six extra-base hits in his pro-debut. Overall, Minnesota has multiple strong options at the MLB level with a few prospects that should move up the ladder during the 2022 campaign. What do you think about the organization's depth at second base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base View full article
  10. Current Second Baseman: Jorge Polanco Entering last season, Polanco struggled through parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He dealt with ankle issues that required surgery in back-to-back offseasons. Minnesota shifted him to second base, putting together his most valuable season in his big-league career. In 152 games, he hit .269/.323/.503 (.826) with 35 doubles and 33 home runs. Defensively, he finished the season as the AL's fourth highest-ranked second baseman, according to SDI. Minnesota used him occasionally at shortstop, but it's in the team's best interest to keep him at second base. 40-Man Roster Options Luis Arráez and Nick Gordon are two potential second basemen on the 40-man roster. However, both players fit better into a utility role for the team. Last season, Arráez posted a 105 OPS+, and he was one of the league's best defenders at third base. Gordon, a former first-round pick, made his big-league debut in 2021, but he is already 25-years-old. He showed some defensive flexibility that may be valuable in a bench role, and he hit .240/.292/.355 (.647) in 73 games. Arráez and Gordon can fill in at second base to keep Polanco's ankles healthy if the need arises. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's second base depth. Minnesota has multiple second-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Spencer Steer was a third-round pick in 2019, and he has shown defensive flexibility throughout his professional career, including playing over 40 games at both second and third base last season. In 2021, he split time between High- and Double-A while hitting .254/.348/.484 with 45 extra-base hits in 110 games. Next season, he will be 24 years old, and he should see time at Triple-A by the season's end. At Double-A, there are a pair of intriguing young options. Minnesota signed Yunior Severino for over $2.5 million after MLB penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market. Last year, he split time between Low- and High-A with a .802 OPS. At 21-years-old, he was young for both levels, but the Twins left him unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Edouard Julien made his professional debut last year and hit .266/.434/.480 (.914) between Low- and High-A. He collected 110 walks in 112 games and stole 34 bases while only being caught five times. Anthony Prato was the organization's 7th round pick in 2019, and he played at three different levels last season. As a 23-year-old, he was older than the average age of the competition at each level, and he was limited to 47 games due to a broken hamate. Minnesota drafted Alerick Soularie in the second round in 2020, but his pro-debut was delayed because of a broken foot. After returning from injury, he posted a .668 OPS in 28 games in Fort Myers. The Twins took Mikey Perez in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and he went 16-for-30 with six extra-base hits in his pro-debut. Overall, Minnesota has multiple strong options at the MLB level with a few prospects that should move up the ladder during the 2022 campaign. What do you think about the organization's depth at second base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base
  11. Aside from pitching, the position for the Twins with the biggest question mark on who will start there Opening Day is shortstop. The Twins are among free agency rumors in seeking a short term shortstop to fill the position, yet they have many options within the organization that could also play shortstop on Opening Day. What is the best option for the Twins to pursue? With the World Series having concluded, fans of teams that have been sitting out most of October have already begun their prediction lists for the upcoming free agent class. Minnesota Twins fans are a part of this yearly “tradition” and rumors have speculated that the Twins will once again be going after a shortstop in free agency to improve the left side of the infield’s defense. As nice as it would be for the Twins to land a player like Javier Baez or Trevor Story from the stacked 2021-22 free agent shortstop class, they don't necessarily need to pursue a shortstop. There are several reasons why the Twins should not pursue a shortstop this offseason, and the lessons learned from signing Andrelton Simmons last offseason is an example why they should not. As always, the top priority that the Twins need to pursue this offseason is top quality starting pitching. Going after another high-cost shortstop will take away needed funds for the Twins to get a top free agent starter, such as Marcus Stroman or Kevin Gausman, within their budget. Even a one-year, $10 million deal offered to the likes of Jonathan Villar or Chris Taylor could easily take away needed money for one starting pitcher. Another reason for the Twins not to pursue any free agent shortstops is that they already have enough shortstops within the organization to work with. Jorge Polanco is likely to be the everyday second baseman in 2022. There will be some days where Polanco might see action at shortstop. There are also a couple of top prospects that could be the long term shortstop for the Minnesota Twins; Royce Lewis and Austin Martin. Now, the timeframe in which either Martin or Lewis could be called up for their MLB debuts is still uncertain, yet the likelihood of them making their debuts in 2022 seems high. With the two top prospects in the Twins system (according to TwinsDaily) being shortstops, why would the Twins bother looking into signing a new one? On top of all these other factors, the infield depth for the Minnesota Twins is fairly stable as is without signing any of the shortstops in this year’s free agent class. Nick Gordon, finally made his MLB debut in 2021, proved he may be worthy of some starting time in 2022. Gordon was limited to 200 at bats this season, but if the Twins need someone to platoon at the position prior to calling up Martin or Lewis. The 2021-22 offseason is still in its infancy and there will be many transactions made between now and the hopeful Opening Day of 2022. One thing that the Twins could still do between now and then is sign another shortstop from free agency. The Twins have players from within the organization that could help fill the role of an everyday shortstop however, most of these players are not ones who are used to playing there every day anymore. As discussed before, Polanco looks to be the new everyday second baseman for the Twins, and Gordon a super utility player in training that looks to improve in 2022. MLB is now in the era of baseball where no player has the guarantee of remaining at one position for their entire career, let alone an entire season. Polanco is a perfect case of that along with Luis Arraez. Martin too could be seeing a role similar to Arraez where he could be platooning multiple positions when called up, and a position such as center field could take priority for Martin over shortstop. For the Opening Day roster (as of right now), the best move for the Twins might be to find a player within the organization that can start at the position. With Polanco set to be at second base every day and Arraez at third when Josh Donaldson DHs, the guy to go with at shortstop is Nick Gordon. The Twins first pick from the 2014 MLB Draft has put in years of work to finally make the big leagues, almost seven years after being drafted. It’s only fair that the Twins give him a chance to start his first Opening Day when their top priority isn’t finding a new shortstop this offseason. If the Twins do not decide to go with Gordon, there is one man who has been in the minor leagues much longer that is just as deserving as Gordon to deserve a spot on the Twins Opening Day roster in 2022; Drew Maggi. 11 seasons in the minors and getting the callup in September by the Twins only to not play a single game. It’s only fair that Maggi gets some consideration for Opening Day 2022. Of course, he is currently a minor league free agent, but the Twins could certainly bring him back. Do you agree? Should the Twins hand the starting shortstop job to an internal candidate such as Nick Gordon, or bring back Drew Maggi and give him an opportunity? Or, should they get a mid-tier shortstop? Or, should they just pony up and add an elite shortstop and forget about adding pitching? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  12. With the World Series having concluded, fans of teams that have been sitting out most of October have already begun their prediction lists for the upcoming free agent class. Minnesota Twins fans are a part of this yearly “tradition” and rumors have speculated that the Twins will once again be going after a shortstop in free agency to improve the left side of the infield’s defense. As nice as it would be for the Twins to land a player like Javier Baez or Trevor Story from the stacked 2021-22 free agent shortstop class, they don't necessarily need to pursue a shortstop. There are several reasons why the Twins should not pursue a shortstop this offseason, and the lessons learned from signing Andrelton Simmons last offseason is an example why they should not. As always, the top priority that the Twins need to pursue this offseason is top quality starting pitching. Going after another high-cost shortstop will take away needed funds for the Twins to get a top free agent starter, such as Marcus Stroman or Kevin Gausman, within their budget. Even a one-year, $10 million deal offered to the likes of Jonathan Villar or Chris Taylor could easily take away needed money for one starting pitcher. Another reason for the Twins not to pursue any free agent shortstops is that they already have enough shortstops within the organization to work with. Jorge Polanco is likely to be the everyday second baseman in 2022. There will be some days where Polanco might see action at shortstop. There are also a couple of top prospects that could be the long term shortstop for the Minnesota Twins; Royce Lewis and Austin Martin. Now, the timeframe in which either Martin or Lewis could be called up for their MLB debuts is still uncertain, yet the likelihood of them making their debuts in 2022 seems high. With the two top prospects in the Twins system (according to TwinsDaily) being shortstops, why would the Twins bother looking into signing a new one? On top of all these other factors, the infield depth for the Minnesota Twins is fairly stable as is without signing any of the shortstops in this year’s free agent class. Nick Gordon, finally made his MLB debut in 2021, proved he may be worthy of some starting time in 2022. Gordon was limited to 200 at bats this season, but if the Twins need someone to platoon at the position prior to calling up Martin or Lewis. The 2021-22 offseason is still in its infancy and there will be many transactions made between now and the hopeful Opening Day of 2022. One thing that the Twins could still do between now and then is sign another shortstop from free agency. The Twins have players from within the organization that could help fill the role of an everyday shortstop however, most of these players are not ones who are used to playing there every day anymore. As discussed before, Polanco looks to be the new everyday second baseman for the Twins, and Gordon a super utility player in training that looks to improve in 2022. MLB is now in the era of baseball where no player has the guarantee of remaining at one position for their entire career, let alone an entire season. Polanco is a perfect case of that along with Luis Arraez. Martin too could be seeing a role similar to Arraez where he could be platooning multiple positions when called up, and a position such as center field could take priority for Martin over shortstop. For the Opening Day roster (as of right now), the best move for the Twins might be to find a player within the organization that can start at the position. With Polanco set to be at second base every day and Arraez at third when Josh Donaldson DHs, the guy to go with at shortstop is Nick Gordon. The Twins first pick from the 2014 MLB Draft has put in years of work to finally make the big leagues, almost seven years after being drafted. It’s only fair that the Twins give him a chance to start his first Opening Day when their top priority isn’t finding a new shortstop this offseason. If the Twins do not decide to go with Gordon, there is one man who has been in the minor leagues much longer that is just as deserving as Gordon to deserve a spot on the Twins Opening Day roster in 2022; Drew Maggi. 11 seasons in the minors and getting the callup in September by the Twins only to not play a single game. It’s only fair that Maggi gets some consideration for Opening Day 2022. Of course, he is currently a minor league free agent, but the Twins could certainly bring him back. Do you agree? Should the Twins hand the starting shortstop job to an internal candidate such as Nick Gordon, or bring back Drew Maggi and give him an opportunity? Or, should they get a mid-tier shortstop? Or, should they just pony up and add an elite shortstop and forget about adding pitching? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  13. With the calendar turning to November, we have reached the time of the year where a focus is placed on giving thanks. The 2021 Minnesota Twins didn’t see much to be thankful for in the results column, but there’s a few areas worth highlighting along the way. As the season turned pear-shaped on the Rocco Baldelli led Twins, it became about building for the future. The hope would be a turnaround in 2022, but we have yet to see how the front office will architect the path forward. For now, these are a few key things that Minnesota fans can count as worthy of thanks. The Opportunity to Pay Byron Buxton There’s plenty of reason to be sad about Byron Buxton routinely falling short of completing an entire season. His injury issues have been well documented, and while some have been undoubtedly fluky, others are a microcosm of the tenacity with which he plays the game. Regardless of his health, it’s become wildly apparent that Minnesota’s centerfielder is among the best players in the game. He posted a 4.2 fWAR in just 61 games this season which totals out to an 11.1 fWAR per 162 game pace. Trea Turner’s 6.9 fWAR paced baseball this season, and only 19 players in history have ever surpassed 11.1 fWAR in a single season. The caveat on Buxton is availability, but that’s also the sole reason he’s even an option for the Twins future. If Buxton was healthy and playing at the level he is, a $300 million contract could be waiting for him from a host of suitors immediately upon hitting the open market. Derek Falvey is afforded the opportunity to get an otherworldly talent at a discount entirely because of his injury history. The Twins would have an option to trade Buxton whether they found themselves able to pay him or not, but retaining his services isn’t something this organization should be in a position to do. They are and would be wise to capitalize on it. The Development of Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan If there’s something that failed Baldelli this season, it was the pitching staff. Starters flopped, then the bullpen flopped, then they took turns. Minnesota has to see development going forward on the bump, and that process started with the emergence of both Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. The former was an internal draft selection that had quietly risen the ranks and earned his due. Ober’s ability is not a mistake, and as he reached the upper levels, it became clear he had the stuff to compete in the big leagues. The latter was an absolute coup of a return in exchange for just months of Nelson Cruz. Ryan looked the part of a top-half starter, and Minnesota needs arms to restock the rotation. There has to be another wave coming for the Twins, and some of their top prospects find themselves housed in that group. Being able to benefit from previously unexpected sources is a massive boost. Either Ryan or Ober would be the front runner to start on Opening Day as things stand, but that should change before the regular season. The Debut of Nick Gordon I’m not sure what expectations should have been for Gordon at this point, but the debut in the big leagues was a feel-good story. As a former first-round pick, he’s lost luster as much more than a regular contributor. For the Twins, that may be a stretch, but he should have the chops to be a utility man at the very least. After suffering through stomach issues, Covid, missed action, and a plethora of other complications, seeing Gordon take the field in Minnesota was worthy of a big smile. He made a solid impression showing an ability to play all over the diamond, but there are still questions about his bat. His minor league track record has displayed an ability to improve in the second year of a specific level. If that can stick in the big leagues, expecting more in 2022 is a fair bet. Gordon will need to hit for average, and while power will never be his game, there’s also the speed asset on the base paths. A long-term home may not be in this organization, but he’s begun to carve out a Major League role. The Emergence of Jose Miranda It was supposed to be Royce Lewis, and then it was supposed to be Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic. The Twins top prospects were all expected to show out after being hidden commodities during the lost season. None of those realities truly came to fruition, however, and Jose Miranda took the spotlight. This didn’t come entirely out of nowhere, as he was a second-round pick back in 2016. In 2019 though, Miranda posted just a .671 OPS across 119 games. After going unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, he turned on the rocket boosters. This season, Miranda picked up the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year award and continued his dominance through Triple-A. He looks big-league ready and should be able to contribute on both sides of the diamond. Power potential plays, as does a greatly-improved discipline at the plate, and while his path for playing time is cloudy, I wouldn’t bet against him forcing the Twins hand. The Health of Jorge Polanco In 2019, Jorge Polanco blasted 22 dingers and posted an .841 OPS while being miscast as a shortstop for the Twins. He flopped hard last season and struggled to the tune of a .658 OPS. Now with healthy ankles after another offseason surgery, Polanco has slid over to second base, and he turned in the most complete season of his career. Minnesota opted to bring in a true shortstop affording Polanco both health and defensive focus. He responded with an .826 OPS and a career-high 33 home runs. He’s still settling into the new position defensively, but it suits his arm strength much more favorably, and he’s among the best hitters in the majors at the position. In 2019, Minnesota extended Polanco, and now those vesting options in 2024 and 2025 look much more desirable than they did coming off of last season's results. Again, the season couldn’t have gone more awry than it did in the results column, but these are just a few takeaways that should have Twins fans thankful for 2022 and beyond. For More Twins content: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  14. As the season turned pear-shaped on the Rocco Baldelli led Twins, it became about building for the future. The hope would be a turnaround in 2022, but we have yet to see how the front office will architect the path forward. For now, these are a few key things that Minnesota fans can count as worthy of thanks. The Opportunity to Pay Byron Buxton There’s plenty of reason to be sad about Byron Buxton routinely falling short of completing an entire season. His injury issues have been well documented, and while some have been undoubtedly fluky, others are a microcosm of the tenacity with which he plays the game. Regardless of his health, it’s become wildly apparent that Minnesota’s centerfielder is among the best players in the game. He posted a 4.2 fWAR in just 61 games this season which totals out to an 11.1 fWAR per 162 game pace. Trea Turner’s 6.9 fWAR paced baseball this season, and only 19 players in history have ever surpassed 11.1 fWAR in a single season. The caveat on Buxton is availability, but that’s also the sole reason he’s even an option for the Twins future. If Buxton was healthy and playing at the level he is, a $300 million contract could be waiting for him from a host of suitors immediately upon hitting the open market. Derek Falvey is afforded the opportunity to get an otherworldly talent at a discount entirely because of his injury history. The Twins would have an option to trade Buxton whether they found themselves able to pay him or not, but retaining his services isn’t something this organization should be in a position to do. They are and would be wise to capitalize on it. The Development of Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan If there’s something that failed Baldelli this season, it was the pitching staff. Starters flopped, then the bullpen flopped, then they took turns. Minnesota has to see development going forward on the bump, and that process started with the emergence of both Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. The former was an internal draft selection that had quietly risen the ranks and earned his due. Ober’s ability is not a mistake, and as he reached the upper levels, it became clear he had the stuff to compete in the big leagues. The latter was an absolute coup of a return in exchange for just months of Nelson Cruz. Ryan looked the part of a top-half starter, and Minnesota needs arms to restock the rotation. There has to be another wave coming for the Twins, and some of their top prospects find themselves housed in that group. Being able to benefit from previously unexpected sources is a massive boost. Either Ryan or Ober would be the front runner to start on Opening Day as things stand, but that should change before the regular season. The Debut of Nick Gordon I’m not sure what expectations should have been for Gordon at this point, but the debut in the big leagues was a feel-good story. As a former first-round pick, he’s lost luster as much more than a regular contributor. For the Twins, that may be a stretch, but he should have the chops to be a utility man at the very least. After suffering through stomach issues, Covid, missed action, and a plethora of other complications, seeing Gordon take the field in Minnesota was worthy of a big smile. He made a solid impression showing an ability to play all over the diamond, but there are still questions about his bat. His minor league track record has displayed an ability to improve in the second year of a specific level. If that can stick in the big leagues, expecting more in 2022 is a fair bet. Gordon will need to hit for average, and while power will never be his game, there’s also the speed asset on the base paths. A long-term home may not be in this organization, but he’s begun to carve out a Major League role. The Emergence of Jose Miranda It was supposed to be Royce Lewis, and then it was supposed to be Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic. The Twins top prospects were all expected to show out after being hidden commodities during the lost season. None of those realities truly came to fruition, however, and Jose Miranda took the spotlight. This didn’t come entirely out of nowhere, as he was a second-round pick back in 2016. In 2019 though, Miranda posted just a .671 OPS across 119 games. After going unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, he turned on the rocket boosters. This season, Miranda picked up the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year award and continued his dominance through Triple-A. He looks big-league ready and should be able to contribute on both sides of the diamond. Power potential plays, as does a greatly-improved discipline at the plate, and while his path for playing time is cloudy, I wouldn’t bet against him forcing the Twins hand. The Health of Jorge Polanco In 2019, Jorge Polanco blasted 22 dingers and posted an .841 OPS while being miscast as a shortstop for the Twins. He flopped hard last season and struggled to the tune of a .658 OPS. Now with healthy ankles after another offseason surgery, Polanco has slid over to second base, and he turned in the most complete season of his career. Minnesota opted to bring in a true shortstop affording Polanco both health and defensive focus. He responded with an .826 OPS and a career-high 33 home runs. He’s still settling into the new position defensively, but it suits his arm strength much more favorably, and he’s among the best hitters in the majors at the position. In 2019, Minnesota extended Polanco, and now those vesting options in 2024 and 2025 look much more desirable than they did coming off of last season's results. Again, the season couldn’t have gone more awry than it did in the results column, but these are just a few takeaways that should have Twins fans thankful for 2022 and beyond. For More Twins content: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. This upcoming season the Minnesota Twins have plenty to decide when it comes to their middle infield. They need a shortstop, and while that could be Jorge Polanco, I’d advise them looking elsewhere. Where, though, does that leave rookie Nick Gordon? Playing in 73 games and getting exactly 200 plate appearances, Gordon found himself getting a good amount of run for Rocco Baldelli’s squad. There should have been more opportunity had Andrelton Simmons not clogged things for the entirety of the season, but nonetheless Gordon was given a glimpse. For the past few seasons, I have wondered whether Gordon’s time would come with Minnesota at all. He has a track record of performing well when repeating a level for the second time, and despite missing 2020 with the minor league shutdown, he showed up ready to go in 2021. Miscast as a shortstop, and lacking the power for a second basemen, Gordon needed to reinvent himself. He proved capable of that this season, but where does that leave him going forward? As a fielder, Gordon saw action at six different positions this past season. The bulk of his playing time came in centerfield (34 G), and his true home of second base was doubled up (17 G). He also made 14 appearances at shortstop, where he’d contest is home, and 12 in the corner outfield with two cameos at third base. Because of his versatility, he was routinely an option for the Twins and fantasy managers alike. From an all encompassing perspective, it was a jack of all trades, master of none approach. To be fair, that’s ultimately what a utility player is. Gordon adapting to the outfield on the fly should be seen as an incredible boost for the Twins, and something definitely working in his favor. Recording just over 220 innings in centerfield, Gordon posted a -1 DRS there with a -0.8 UZR. It’s too small of a sample size to take much from, but he did also record 1 DRS in 110 innings at second base. Ultimately, I think that Nick Gordon proved he can be useful anywhere on the diamond. The question still remains if Minnesota should want him in that capacity. On the offensive side of things, the former first round pick slashed .240/.292/.355 for a .647 OPS and a 79 OPS+. Minnesota’s last two utility players posted a 94 OPS+ (Marwin Gonzalez) and a 103 OPS+ (Ehire Adrianza) during the final full year that was 2019. Both were terrible in 2020, but I’d imagine that’s not the bar the Twins are looking to clear. Gordon’s additional strength is that he can run. The Twins haven’t had much of a stolen base threat outside of Byron Buxton in recent seasons. They definitely have not had a capable pinch runner on their bench. Swiping ten bags and being caught just once, Gordon displayed an ability to generate runs on the basepaths this season. If that’s a skill or advantage Minnesota is looking for, he’s the cheapest option. I’m not sure if Gordon makes the 26-man to start 2022 or not, but he’s certainly made his case better than it was at any other point coming into his career. There’s not a ton to hope on future development here, but if Minnesota wants to make use of their former first round pick, then it’s seeming like they’ve got a path to get it done. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  16. May the court come to order: Here we will seek to determine the rightful Twins 2021 top rookie. Many worthy contenders will be considered but only one shall be crowned. Let us begin the proceedings. JUDGE: It is my understanding that six different parties would like to have their petitions heard before us. Is that correct? COLLECTIVE MURMURING: Yah JUDGE [fidgeting with reading glasses]: Okay, first name I have here is ... Ryan Jeffers, catcher. [JEFFERS REP APPROACHES THE PODIUM, SHUFFLES PAPERS] JEFFERS REP: Ahem. Your Honor. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Good evening. My client Ryan Jeffers might have won this award last year, but dang it folks he deserves it once again. He still technically qualified as a rookie and he was a very reliable one, starting nearly half the team's games at catcher and putting up some very strong defensive metrics! Jeffers was also an offensive force, launching 13 home runs ... OPPOSING COUNCIL: Objection, Your Honor! [Glances at data sheet] Jeffers batted .199 with a .270 on-base percentage, negating much of the value from his power. JEFFERS REP: Ah, be that as it may ... OPPOSING COUNCIL [heightening intensity]: Furthermore, Your Honor, Jeffers struck out at the highest rate on the team and his OPS+ of 83 shows he was in fact substantially below-average as an offensive producer. JUDGE [banging gavel]: I've heard enough! Thank you Mr. Jeffers, but you've had your day in this spotlight, you may move along. Who's next? [LARNACH'S REP LOOKS UP FROM FILES, SLOWLY STEPS TO PODIUM AND BEGINS SPEAKING] LARNACH REP: Production speaks for itself folks. And my client, Trevor Larnach, is a producer, despite his lack of experience. He came up far earlier than expected and proved he's a major-league player. In his first 50 games with the Twins, Mr. Larnach batted .261 with a .361 on-base percentage and .445 slugging. By this time his advanced and mature approach at the plate was earning him regular appearances at the No. 3 spot in the batting order. A remarkable rookie effort without question, and as such, I rest my case. JUDGE [peering skeptically]: Mm-hm. And as for the period following this 50-game sample? LARNACH REP: Come again, Your Honor? JUDGE: Your case seemed to conspicuously exclude any results beyond July the 7th, when your client hit his last home run. I'm just wondering what happened afterward. LARNACH REP: ... Afterward? Well [chuckles nervously] OPPOSING COUNCIL: If I may, Your Honor, I have the numbers here. [Starts reading] Following the date of July 7th: 29 games, a .156 batting average and .188 slugging percentage, with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks. This stretch lowered Mr. Larnach's overall OPS to a decidedly sub par .672, prompting a demotion to Triple-A in mid-August. JUDGE [considers briefly]: Mmm, yes. A promising showing in some regards but not the stuff Rookies of the Year are made of. Thank you, Mr. Larnach, you may depart. [Glances at agenda] It sounds as if a Mr. Ryan would like to be heard? [SILENCE] JUDGE [gazes around room, looks back at list]: A Mister ... Joe Ryan? [INCREASINGLY AWKWARD SILENCE] JUDGE [taps finger impatiently]: Well, if Mr. Ryan's case is not ready ... [RYAN'S REP BURSTS THROUGH DOOR, SHIRT HALF-TUCKED AND TIE HANGING LOOSELY ASTRAY] RYAN REP: Your Honor! Fine people of the jury! How are you all doing. Listen, I know I'm a little late, and that's true of my client as well. Let's get down to brass tacks. Was Joe Ryan a member of the Twins organization in March? No he wasn't. Was he here in June? He was not folks! Was Mr. Ryan in the big leagues in August, even? [Locks eyes with random elderly woman in jury] Was he Doris? Was he?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY SHAKES HEAD] RYAN REP: He wasn't! My client did not receive an opportunity in the majors until the month of September! But that's only because he was busy representing our wonderful country in the world's greatest international competition, the Olympics. And you know what? He kicked some ass. For America! Do you love America or don't you, Doris?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY NODS] RYAN REP: Then all he did was come back, acclimate instantly to a new organization, debut with amazing poise, flirt with a perfect game in his second MLB start, strike out seven straight men in his fourth, and altogether rack up six times as many walks as strikeouts. That fastball is something, ain't it! [SPORADIC APPLAUSE RISES FROM COURTROOM] JUDGE [bangs gavel]: Order, ORDER! You said your client made how many major-league starts this year? RYAN REP: I didn't, Your Honor, but thanks for inquiring! OPPOSING COUNCIL: Five starts, Your Honor. Twenty-six total innings. JUDGE: Too little volume for legitimate consideration I'm afraid, Mr. Ryan. But please, try again next year. Who do we have next? [GORDON REP STANDS, CLEARS THROAT] GORDON REP: What is a Rookie of the Year, really? Is it the player who has the best stats? The guy with the gaudy heralded status who brings all the buzz? Is this award made for the silver spoon prospect who's been on cruise control through the minors and into majors? Or are we trying to recognize the underdog who overcame the odds and silenced the doubters? The kid who went through hell and was written off, only to re-emerge as a legitimate factor in the team's plans. My client, Nick Gordon, did everything that was asked of him, even learning entirely new positions on the fly. He sat silently while less deserving players got opportunities. He fought and clawed his way to at-bats and increasingly made the most of them, posting a .752 OPS in September while earning the team's confidence at shortstop. He brought speed and athleticism to a team that was sorely lacking in both, stealing 10 bases on 11 tries. If that's not a Rookie of the Year, well I don't know what is. JUDGE [leans back in chair pensively]: You make a good argument, and recent trends work in your favor. The young man certainly looked more impressive as time passed. However, it is this court's duty to look at the full body of evidence and so we cannot ignore that a .647 overall OPS is rather lackluster. And while Mr. Gordon's versatility is noted, it doesn't seem clear to me that he truly excelled at any of these positions. I'm afraid that this worthy candidate cannot be our choice. Thus it comes down to the final two. [KIRILLOFF REP PACES BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE, FINALLY WALKS TO PODIUM, SETS STACK OF NOTES FACE-DOWN] KIRILLOFF REP: May I ask you a question, Your Honor? JUDGE [impatiently]: You may not. On with it, please. KIRILLOFF REP: Oh. Fine then. Well if I WERE to ask you a question I'd inquire about how well you could bang your little gavel there with a torn tendon in your wrist, and I bet the answer would be, not very well! My client, Alex Kirilloff, carried enormous expectations as the team's No. 1 prospect and he was sure making good on them before this whole wrist thing came along and threw a wrench. Prior to that he was launching missiles all over the field and lighting up the Statcast charts. Mr. Kirilloff slugged .500 in his first 18 MLB games and that's WITH an 0-for-14 start to his career! He looked good in left, and like an absolute natural at first base. Even while hampered by the wrist injury, he posted an OPS+ of 99 overall, meaning he was basically a league-average MLB hitter at age 23 despite no real experience at Triple-A. Pretty good, right? JUDGE: Pretty good indeed. There's a lot to like here. I just wonder about the lack of total volume combined with numbers that can only be described as ordinary. Fifty-nine games and an average OPS? What's special about this season? I'd like to hear the final case. [OBER'S REP STRIDES UP CONFIDENTLY] OBER REP: Good day Your Honor. And to all of you in the jury as well. What we have here is really an open-and-shut case. While many of the previous candidates we've heard from showed positive signs and offered heartwarming stories this year, could any of their seasons really be described as 'good'? Let's be honest with ourselves. The data is clear on this matter. [PULLS UP A POWERPOINT THAT SIMPLY LISTS TWINS ROOKIES AND THEIR WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT FOR 2022] OBER REP: As we can see, according to the website FanGraphs.com, my client Bailey Ober was worth one full win above a replacement player this year, a mark that no other rookie came close to matching. After stepping into a needy rotation in early June, he took the ball every fifth day, becoming a stable and steadfast presence in a unit that otherwise lacked for one entirely. Mr. Ober's 5.05 K/BB ratio was one of the best in major-league history for a first-year starter. All this from a former 12th-round pick who wasn't on the prospect radar prior to this season. Whether you want to talk about situational impact, inspirational narrative, long-term implications, or simply pure performance, my client is the obvious choice for best Twins rookie. Thank you. JUDGE [deliberates briefly]: I don't think we're even going to need to send this one to the jury. I agree with the ultimately conclusion that Mr. Ober is a clear choice for this award. Congratulations sir on this well deserved honor. This court is now adjourned ... We'll see you all tomorrow when we convene to settle upon a Most Improved Twin of 2021. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  17. JUDGE: It is my understanding that six different parties would like to have their petitions heard before us. Is that correct? COLLECTIVE MURMURING: Yah JUDGE [fidgeting with reading glasses]: Okay, first name I have here is ... Ryan Jeffers, catcher. [JEFFERS REP APPROACHES THE PODIUM, SHUFFLES PAPERS] JEFFERS REP: Ahem. Your Honor. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Good evening. My client Ryan Jeffers might have won this award last year, but dang it folks he deserves it once again. He still technically qualified as a rookie and he was a very reliable one, starting nearly half the team's games at catcher and putting up some very strong defensive metrics! Jeffers was also an offensive force, launching 13 home runs ... OPPOSING COUNCIL: Objection, Your Honor! [Glances at data sheet] Jeffers batted .199 with a .270 on-base percentage, negating much of the value from his power. JEFFERS REP: Ah, be that as it may ... OPPOSING COUNCIL [heightening intensity]: Furthermore, Your Honor, Jeffers struck out at the highest rate on the team and his OPS+ of 83 shows he was in fact substantially below-average as an offensive producer. JUDGE [banging gavel]: I've heard enough! Thank you Mr. Jeffers, but you've had your day in this spotlight, you may move along. Who's next? [LARNACH'S REP LOOKS UP FROM FILES, SLOWLY STEPS TO PODIUM AND BEGINS SPEAKING] LARNACH REP: Production speaks for itself folks. And my client, Trevor Larnach, is a producer, despite his lack of experience. He came up far earlier than expected and proved he's a major-league player. In his first 50 games with the Twins, Mr. Larnach batted .261 with a .361 on-base percentage and .445 slugging. By this time his advanced and mature approach at the plate was earning him regular appearances at the No. 3 spot in the batting order. A remarkable rookie effort without question, and as such, I rest my case. JUDGE [peering skeptically]: Mm-hm. And as for the period following this 50-game sample? LARNACH REP: Come again, Your Honor? JUDGE: Your case seemed to conspicuously exclude any results beyond July the 7th, when your client hit his last home run. I'm just wondering what happened afterward. LARNACH REP: ... Afterward? Well [chuckles nervously] OPPOSING COUNCIL: If I may, Your Honor, I have the numbers here. [Starts reading] Following the date of July 7th: 29 games, a .156 batting average and .188 slugging percentage, with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks. This stretch lowered Mr. Larnach's overall OPS to a decidedly sub par .672, prompting a demotion to Triple-A in mid-August. JUDGE [considers briefly]: Mmm, yes. A promising showing in some regards but not the stuff Rookies of the Year are made of. Thank you, Mr. Larnach, you may depart. [Glances at agenda] It sounds as if a Mr. Ryan would like to be heard? [SILENCE] JUDGE [gazes around room, looks back at list]: A Mister ... Joe Ryan? [INCREASINGLY AWKWARD SILENCE] JUDGE [taps finger impatiently]: Well, if Mr. Ryan's case is not ready ... [RYAN'S REP BURSTS THROUGH DOOR, SHIRT HALF-TUCKED AND TIE HANGING LOOSELY ASTRAY] RYAN REP: Your Honor! Fine people of the jury! How are you all doing. Listen, I know I'm a little late, and that's true of my client as well. Let's get down to brass tacks. Was Joe Ryan a member of the Twins organization in March? No he wasn't. Was he here in June? He was not folks! Was Mr. Ryan in the big leagues in August, even? [Locks eyes with random elderly woman in jury] Was he Doris? Was he?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY SHAKES HEAD] RYAN REP: He wasn't! My client did not receive an opportunity in the majors until the month of September! But that's only because he was busy representing our wonderful country in the world's greatest international competition, the Olympics. And you know what? He kicked some ass. For America! Do you love America or don't you, Doris?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY NODS] RYAN REP: Then all he did was come back, acclimate instantly to a new organization, debut with amazing poise, flirt with a perfect game in his second MLB start, strike out seven straight men in his fourth, and altogether rack up six times as many walks as strikeouts. That fastball is something, ain't it! [SPORADIC APPLAUSE RISES FROM COURTROOM] JUDGE [bangs gavel]: Order, ORDER! You said your client made how many major-league starts this year? RYAN REP: I didn't, Your Honor, but thanks for inquiring! OPPOSING COUNCIL: Five starts, Your Honor. Twenty-six total innings. JUDGE: Too little volume for legitimate consideration I'm afraid, Mr. Ryan. But please, try again next year. Who do we have next? [GORDON REP STANDS, CLEARS THROAT] GORDON REP: What is a Rookie of the Year, really? Is it the player who has the best stats? The guy with the gaudy heralded status who brings all the buzz? Is this award made for the silver spoon prospect who's been on cruise control through the minors and into majors? Or are we trying to recognize the underdog who overcame the odds and silenced the doubters? The kid who went through hell and was written off, only to re-emerge as a legitimate factor in the team's plans. My client, Nick Gordon, did everything that was asked of him, even learning entirely new positions on the fly. He sat silently while less deserving players got opportunities. He fought and clawed his way to at-bats and increasingly made the most of them, posting a .752 OPS in September while earning the team's confidence at shortstop. He brought speed and athleticism to a team that was sorely lacking in both, stealing 10 bases on 11 tries. If that's not a Rookie of the Year, well I don't know what is. JUDGE [leans back in chair pensively]: You make a good argument, and recent trends work in your favor. The young man certainly looked more impressive as time passed. However, it is this court's duty to look at the full body of evidence and so we cannot ignore that a .647 overall OPS is rather lackluster. And while Mr. Gordon's versatility is noted, it doesn't seem clear to me that he truly excelled at any of these positions. I'm afraid that this worthy candidate cannot be our choice. Thus it comes down to the final two. [KIRILLOFF REP PACES BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE, FINALLY WALKS TO PODIUM, SETS STACK OF NOTES FACE-DOWN] KIRILLOFF REP: May I ask you a question, Your Honor? JUDGE [impatiently]: You may not. On with it, please. KIRILLOFF REP: Oh. Fine then. Well if I WERE to ask you a question I'd inquire about how well you could bang your little gavel there with a torn tendon in your wrist, and I bet the answer would be, not very well! My client, Alex Kirilloff, carried enormous expectations as the team's No. 1 prospect and he was sure making good on them before this whole wrist thing came along and threw a wrench. Prior to that he was launching missiles all over the field and lighting up the Statcast charts. Mr. Kirilloff slugged .500 in his first 18 MLB games and that's WITH an 0-for-14 start to his career! He looked good in left, and like an absolute natural at first base. Even while hampered by the wrist injury, he posted an OPS+ of 99 overall, meaning he was basically a league-average MLB hitter at age 23 despite no real experience at Triple-A. Pretty good, right? JUDGE: Pretty good indeed. There's a lot to like here. I just wonder about the lack of total volume combined with numbers that can only be described as ordinary. Fifty-nine games and an average OPS? What's special about this season? I'd like to hear the final case. [OBER'S REP STRIDES UP CONFIDENTLY] OBER REP: Good day Your Honor. And to all of you in the jury as well. What we have here is really an open-and-shut case. While many of the previous candidates we've heard from showed positive signs and offered heartwarming stories this year, could any of their seasons really be described as 'good'? Let's be honest with ourselves. The data is clear on this matter. [PULLS UP A POWERPOINT THAT SIMPLY LISTS TWINS ROOKIES AND THEIR WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT FOR 2022] OBER REP: As we can see, according to the website FanGraphs.com, my client Bailey Ober was worth one full win above a replacement player this year, a mark that no other rookie came close to matching. After stepping into a needy rotation in early June, he took the ball every fifth day, becoming a stable and steadfast presence in a unit that otherwise lacked for one entirely. Mr. Ober's 5.05 K/BB ratio was one of the best in major-league history for a first-year starter. All this from a former 12th-round pick who wasn't on the prospect radar prior to this season. Whether you want to talk about situational impact, inspirational narrative, long-term implications, or simply pure performance, my client is the obvious choice for best Twins rookie. Thank you. JUDGE [deliberates briefly]: I don't think we're even going to need to send this one to the jury. I agree with the ultimately conclusion that Mr. Ober is a clear choice for this award. Congratulations sir on this well deserved honor. This court is now adjourned ... We'll see you all tomorrow when we convene to settle upon a Most Improved Twin of 2021. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. The Minnesota Twins are creeping up on the 90-loss mark with one week left to go, and are all but assured of a last-place finish, but a modest four-game winning streak and a few encouraging individual showings provided glimmers of positivity as the light dims on this forgettable 2021 campaign. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/20 thru Sun, 9/26 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 69-87) Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: -109) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (19.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 151 | MIN 9, CHC 5: Twins Notch 16 Hits in Wrigley Game 152 | MIN 5, CHC 4: Ryan Fans 11 as Kepler Powers Offense Game 153 | MIN 7, TOR 2: Gordon Goes Off, Twins Top Jays Game 154 | MIN 3, TOR 1: Ober and Bullpen Shut Down Toronto Game 155 | TOR 6, MIN 1: Ray Shuts Down Twins, Snaps Win Streak Game 156 | TOR 5, MIN 2: Bats Go Silent Once Again NEWS & NOTES Before he had a single chance to appear in a big-league ballgame, Drew Maggi was optioned back to Triple-A on Monday, sucking some steam out of the fun 32-year-old rookie narrative. Replacing him on the roster was Mitch Garver, fully recovered from a back strain. Garver's return also bumped Ben Rortvedt back to St. Paul, with Andrelton Simmons reactivated from the restricted list. John Gant's stay on the Injured List was brief, as the abdominal strain he suffered was evidently quite minor. He was activated on Saturday, just after the 10-day minimum, and started against the Blue Jays that night, allowing one earned run over three innings of work. HIGHLIGHTS Yet another highly encouraging week for the dynamic rookie duo in the Twins rotation. It's no exaggeration to say that, with all of the starting pitching setbacks Minnesota has experienced this year, the emergences of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober have been season-saving developments. Ryan continues to flat-out dominate as a 25-year-old getting his first taste of MLB competition. On Wednesday against the Cubs, the right-hander struck out 11 over five innings of two-run ball, including the last seven men he faced. As usual, he relied on a fastball-heavy mix, with stellar command compensating for so-so velocity. The rookie now owns a 2.45 ERA, 0.59 WHIP and 25-to-3 K/BB ratio through 22 innings in his first four major-league starts. Simply incredible. Of course it bears noting that all of those starts have come against Cleveland or the Cubs, both sub par offenses. But we're talking about MLB hitters, and in both cases these teams have had the chance to see Ryan – and his ostensibly gimmicky approach – twice in a short span, while showing little improvement the second time around. On Friday, Ober got back on track following a bit of a rocky stretch in September (6.57 ERA through his first three turns). Taking on a potent Toronto lineup, the big righty allowed just one run on four hits over 5 ⅓ innings, striking out six with no walks. While Ober won't quite eclipse 100 innings – he'd need to throw 7 ⅔ in his final start this coming week – he's going to come very close, and most importantly, he's poised to finish the year strong and healthy. Ober and Ryan have essentially cemented roles for 2022 with their performances this year. Meanwhile, another less-expected rookie is angling to do the same with a breakout September. I've admittedly been a bit skeptical of Nick Gordon's value going forward given his limited profile – a versatile yet unspectacular defender who can't really play short, and a hitter lacking for power or patience. The Twins face a tricky decision during the offseason because they'll be needy for 40-man spots, and Gordon's out of options next spring. But for me, he's doing enough to earn a shot. To their credit, the Twins are giving Gordon plenty of looks down the stretch, and he's stepping up to take advantage. Last week he started all six games, appearing in each of the three outfield positions and getting a nod at shortstop on Sunday. Gordon went 8-for-25 with two home runs, six RBIs, and two steals. He enjoyed the best game of his young career on Thursday, notching three hits including a homer while driving in four as the Twins won. I don't necessarily believe Gordon can be much of an asset with his current physical makeup, but he's still only 25 and he's gone through a lot over the past couple years. Given a relatively normal offseason ahead, it wouldn't surprise me if he showed up next spring bulked up and looking like a bit of a different player. His clutch moments are gaining him some early affinity. A few other performances worth highlighting: Following a nightmarish first full week in the big leagues, Jovani Moran reminded us why he's a relief prospect worth getting excited about. The lefty entered after a short start from Gant on Saturday and tossed two perfect innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced with nine swinging strikes on 19 pitches. His changeup was in full form. Pure dominance. Max Kepler went off at Wrigley, notching six hits in 12 at-bats during the two-game series against the Cubs. He homered twice in a 5-4 victory on Wednesday. With a .214/.311/.425 slash line as the end of the season nears, Kepler has basically turned back into the exact player he was before his 2019 breakout (slashed .233/.314/.418 from 2016 through 2018), which isn't a terrible thing but is rather disappointing. Garver had a strong return to action, notching three hits on Tuesday in his first game in nearly a month, then adding another three-hit game on Thursday. He doubled and walked on Sunday. While his ability to stay healthy will remain a question mark going forward, Garver has basically eliminated any concerns around his bat. If the Twins are going to field a decent bullpen in 2021, they'll likely need Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala to factor in as key right-handed arms. As such, it's good to see them each pitching well in the waning weeks of the season. Duffey fired three hitless innings last week and owns a 2.70 ERA in September. Alcala contributed 2 ⅓ shutout frames and has a 0.96 ERA this month. The two combined for nine strikeouts and zero walks. LOWLIGHTS While his fellow rookie rotation-mates continued to excel, things again didn't go so well for Griffin Jax in his two starts. He lasted only three innings against the Cubs on Tuesday, coughing up three runs on a pair of homers, and then gave up two more bombs in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday. Astoundingly, Jax has now surrendered 23 long balls in 77 major-league innings. In some aspects, Jax has looked pretty good. The slider in particular shows potential, with a 37.8% whiff rate and .182 xBA. But his proneness to home runs is a crippling weakness at this point it's there is no clear path to resolving it. Jax may have a big-league future in the bullpen, but there will be no counting on him in any capacity heading into 2022, and he turns 27 in November. Brent Rooker, unlike Gordon, is not doing much to build his case for filling a role next year. He started four of the team's six games and went 2-for-14, striking out twice after subbing in for Jake Cave on Sunday. Rooker is slashing .201/.294/.397 as a defensively limited rookie. Like Jax, he turns 27 in November. Short as his time as been, Rooker may already be reaching the end of the line in Minnesota. TRENDING STORYLINE As we segway into the offseason, Byron Buxton will take center stage – a critical crux point in the front office's strategy and vision for next year. Buxton has impressively played almost every day since returning from a broken hand, although his production hasn't remotely stacked up to the previous sample. (Buck is slashing .215/.282/.449 since returning from his latest IL stint, after putting up a .369/.409/.767 line in his first 27 games.) With that said, he's coming off an excellent week – 7-for-19 with two homers and two doubles – and if Buxton can stay hot through the final slate of games it'll do much to assuage any concerns around his diminished second-half output. The league is watching closely. If Buxton is truly on the trade market this winter he'll likely be its biggest prize. LOOKING AHEAD We're almost at the finish line. Ryan was on track to start two games in the final week – including the season finale next Sunday – but his schedule was disrupted a bit by traveling on bereavement leave for a few days, and the Twins are surely intent on playing it safe with workload. They announced he'll start on Thursday in the final home game. Without knowing how the schedule will adjust around him, I'm employing some guesswork in the probables listed below, but it should be close to accurate. TUESDAY, 9/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Michael Pineda WEDNESDAY, 9/29: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Casey Mize v. RHP Bailey Ober THURSDAY, 9/30: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Joe Ryan FRIDAY, 10/1: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP John Gant v. RHP Jon Heasley SATURDAY, 10/2: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Griffin Jax v. LHP Kris Bubic SUNDAY, 10/3: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Jackson Kowar MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  19. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/20 thru Sun, 9/26 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 69-87) Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: -109) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (19.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 151 | MIN 9, CHC 5: Twins Notch 16 Hits in Wrigley Game 152 | MIN 5, CHC 4: Ryan Fans 11 as Kepler Powers Offense Game 153 | MIN 7, TOR 2: Gordon Goes Off, Twins Top Jays Game 154 | MIN 3, TOR 1: Ober and Bullpen Shut Down Toronto Game 155 | TOR 6, MIN 1: Ray Shuts Down Twins, Snaps Win Streak Game 156 | TOR 5, MIN 2: Bats Go Silent Once Again NEWS & NOTES Before he had a single chance to appear in a big-league ballgame, Drew Maggi was optioned back to Triple-A on Monday, sucking some steam out of the fun 32-year-old rookie narrative. Replacing him on the roster was Mitch Garver, fully recovered from a back strain. Garver's return also bumped Ben Rortvedt back to St. Paul, with Andrelton Simmons reactivated from the restricted list. John Gant's stay on the Injured List was brief, as the abdominal strain he suffered was evidently quite minor. He was activated on Saturday, just after the 10-day minimum, and started against the Blue Jays that night, allowing one earned run over three innings of work. HIGHLIGHTS Yet another highly encouraging week for the dynamic rookie duo in the Twins rotation. It's no exaggeration to say that, with all of the starting pitching setbacks Minnesota has experienced this year, the emergences of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober have been season-saving developments. Ryan continues to flat-out dominate as a 25-year-old getting his first taste of MLB competition. On Wednesday against the Cubs, the right-hander struck out 11 over five innings of two-run ball, including the last seven men he faced. As usual, he relied on a fastball-heavy mix, with stellar command compensating for so-so velocity. The rookie now owns a 2.45 ERA, 0.59 WHIP and 25-to-3 K/BB ratio through 22 innings in his first four major-league starts. Simply incredible. Of course it bears noting that all of those starts have come against Cleveland or the Cubs, both sub par offenses. But we're talking about MLB hitters, and in both cases these teams have had the chance to see Ryan – and his ostensibly gimmicky approach – twice in a short span, while showing little improvement the second time around. On Friday, Ober got back on track following a bit of a rocky stretch in September (6.57 ERA through his first three turns). Taking on a potent Toronto lineup, the big righty allowed just one run on four hits over 5 ⅓ innings, striking out six with no walks. While Ober won't quite eclipse 100 innings – he'd need to throw 7 ⅔ in his final start this coming week – he's going to come very close, and most importantly, he's poised to finish the year strong and healthy. Ober and Ryan have essentially cemented roles for 2022 with their performances this year. Meanwhile, another less-expected rookie is angling to do the same with a breakout September. I've admittedly been a bit skeptical of Nick Gordon's value going forward given his limited profile – a versatile yet unspectacular defender who can't really play short, and a hitter lacking for power or patience. The Twins face a tricky decision during the offseason because they'll be needy for 40-man spots, and Gordon's out of options next spring. But for me, he's doing enough to earn a shot. To their credit, the Twins are giving Gordon plenty of looks down the stretch, and he's stepping up to take advantage. Last week he started all six games, appearing in each of the three outfield positions and getting a nod at shortstop on Sunday. Gordon went 8-for-25 with two home runs, six RBIs, and two steals. He enjoyed the best game of his young career on Thursday, notching three hits including a homer while driving in four as the Twins won. I don't necessarily believe Gordon can be much of an asset with his current physical makeup, but he's still only 25 and he's gone through a lot over the past couple years. Given a relatively normal offseason ahead, it wouldn't surprise me if he showed up next spring bulked up and looking like a bit of a different player. His clutch moments are gaining him some early affinity. A few other performances worth highlighting: Following a nightmarish first full week in the big leagues, Jovani Moran reminded us why he's a relief prospect worth getting excited about. The lefty entered after a short start from Gant on Saturday and tossed two perfect innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced with nine swinging strikes on 19 pitches. His changeup was in full form. Pure dominance. Max Kepler went off at Wrigley, notching six hits in 12 at-bats during the two-game series against the Cubs. He homered twice in a 5-4 victory on Wednesday. With a .214/.311/.425 slash line as the end of the season nears, Kepler has basically turned back into the exact player he was before his 2019 breakout (slashed .233/.314/.418 from 2016 through 2018), which isn't a terrible thing but is rather disappointing. Garver had a strong return to action, notching three hits on Tuesday in his first game in nearly a month, then adding another three-hit game on Thursday. He doubled and walked on Sunday. While his ability to stay healthy will remain a question mark going forward, Garver has basically eliminated any concerns around his bat. If the Twins are going to field a decent bullpen in 2021, they'll likely need Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala to factor in as key right-handed arms. As such, it's good to see them each pitching well in the waning weeks of the season. Duffey fired three hitless innings last week and owns a 2.70 ERA in September. Alcala contributed 2 ⅓ shutout frames and has a 0.96 ERA this month. The two combined for nine strikeouts and zero walks. LOWLIGHTS While his fellow rookie rotation-mates continued to excel, things again didn't go so well for Griffin Jax in his two starts. He lasted only three innings against the Cubs on Tuesday, coughing up three runs on a pair of homers, and then gave up two more bombs in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday. Astoundingly, Jax has now surrendered 23 long balls in 77 major-league innings. In some aspects, Jax has looked pretty good. The slider in particular shows potential, with a 37.8% whiff rate and .182 xBA. But his proneness to home runs is a crippling weakness at this point it's there is no clear path to resolving it. Jax may have a big-league future in the bullpen, but there will be no counting on him in any capacity heading into 2022, and he turns 27 in November. Brent Rooker, unlike Gordon, is not doing much to build his case for filling a role next year. He started four of the team's six games and went 2-for-14, striking out twice after subbing in for Jake Cave on Sunday. Rooker is slashing .201/.294/.397 as a defensively limited rookie. Like Jax, he turns 27 in November. Short as his time as been, Rooker may already be reaching the end of the line in Minnesota. TRENDING STORYLINE As we segway into the offseason, Byron Buxton will take center stage – a critical crux point in the front office's strategy and vision for next year. Buxton has impressively played almost every day since returning from a broken hand, although his production hasn't remotely stacked up to the previous sample. (Buck is slashing .215/.282/.449 since returning from his latest IL stint, after putting up a .369/.409/.767 line in his first 27 games.) With that said, he's coming off an excellent week – 7-for-19 with two homers and two doubles – and if Buxton can stay hot through the final slate of games it'll do much to assuage any concerns around his diminished second-half output. The league is watching closely. If Buxton is truly on the trade market this winter he'll likely be its biggest prize. LOOKING AHEAD We're almost at the finish line. Ryan was on track to start two games in the final week – including the season finale next Sunday – but his schedule was disrupted a bit by traveling on bereavement leave for a few days, and the Twins are surely intent on playing it safe with workload. They announced he'll start on Thursday in the final home game. Without knowing how the schedule will adjust around him, I'm employing some guesswork in the probables listed below, but it should be close to accurate. TUESDAY, 9/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Michael Pineda WEDNESDAY, 9/29: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Casey Mize v. RHP Bailey Ober THURSDAY, 9/30: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Joe Ryan FRIDAY, 10/1: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP John Gant v. RHP Jon Heasley SATURDAY, 10/2: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Griffin Jax v. LHP Kris Bubic SUNDAY, 10/3: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Jackson Kowar MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Nick Gordon posted the best game of his young Major League career as the Minnesota Twins scored seven runs to beat the playoff-hopeful Toronto Blue Jays. Box Score Pineda: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home runs: Gordon (4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .245, Gordon .202, Buxton .180 Win Probability Chart (Via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Twins leaned on Michael Pineda on the mound tonight in what could be one of his final starts as a member of the organization. Big Mike provided a steady start for the Twins, tossing five innings, allowing just eight hits and two runs and striking out two. The first run the Blue Jays scored was right away in the top of the second inning when Lourdes Gurriel knocked an RBI double. The Twins quickly rebounded in the third inning, though, when they got a leadoff double from Byron Buxton followed by an RBI single from Jorge Polanco and later an RBI single from Mitch Garver. The Blue Jays quickly rebounded in the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo home run off of Pineda to tie the game, his 30th home run of the season. After that, though, it was all Minnesota the rest of the way, highlighted by the bat of red-hot Nick Gordon who smashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and an RBI single in the seventh. The home run was Gordon’s fourth on the season, and his four-RBI game marks a career high for the long-time Twins prospect. Nick Gordon’s batting average is now up to .263 on the season with a respectable OPS of .711. Gordon continues to make a case for a roster spot on the 2022 team. The Twins’ bullpen was nails in relief of Michael Pineda as they received four scoreless innings from a combination of Nick Vincent, Caleb Thielbar, Luke Farrell and Ralph Garza, Jr. In the end, the Twins took the game 7-2 and won their third straight game to move their record to 68-85 on the season. Postgame Interviews What’s Next The Minnesota Twins will continue their four-game home series against the Blue Jays on Friday night, sending Bailey Ober to the mound to face off against former Twins’ ace, José Berríos. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN TUE WED THU TOT Barraclough 32 0 35 0 0 67 Vincent 0 40 0 0 13 53 Thielbar 0 22 16 0 14 52 Minaya 0 36 0 13 0 49 Moran 34 0 0 0 0 34 Farrell 0 34 0 0 19 53 Duffey 0 0 11 12 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 10 10 0 20 Colomé 0 0 7 24 0 31 Garza Jr. 17 0 0 0 16 33 Coulombe 0 0 17 0 0 17 View full article
  21. Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Gordon is having a tremendous finish to the season, peaking in September in his first big league season. He had three more hits tonight, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Twins beat the Blue Jays. Also featured in this video are Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, B.J. Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis, Mark Contreras, Jose Miranda and Ryan Mason.
  22. Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Gordon is having a tremendous finish to the season, peaking in September in his first big league season. He had three more hits tonight, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Twins beat the Blue Jays. Also featured in this video are Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, B.J. Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis, Mark Contreras, Jose Miranda and Ryan Mason. View full video
  23. Box Score Pineda: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home runs: Gordon (4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .245, Gordon .202, Buxton .180 Win Probability Chart (Via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Twins leaned on Michael Pineda on the mound tonight in what could be one of his final starts as a member of the organization. Big Mike provided a steady start for the Twins, tossing five innings, allowing just eight hits and two runs and striking out two. The first run the Blue Jays scored was right away in the top of the second inning when Lourdes Gurriel knocked an RBI double. The Twins quickly rebounded in the third inning, though, when they got a leadoff double from Byron Buxton followed by an RBI single from Jorge Polanco and later an RBI single from Mitch Garver. The Blue Jays quickly rebounded in the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo home run off of Pineda to tie the game, his 30th home run of the season. After that, though, it was all Minnesota the rest of the way, highlighted by the bat of red-hot Nick Gordon who smashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and an RBI single in the seventh. The home run was Gordon’s fourth on the season, and his four-RBI game marks a career high for the long-time Twins prospect. Nick Gordon’s batting average is now up to .263 on the season with a respectable OPS of .711. Gordon continues to make a case for a roster spot on the 2022 team. The Twins’ bullpen was nails in relief of Michael Pineda as they received four scoreless innings from a combination of Nick Vincent, Caleb Thielbar, Luke Farrell and Ralph Garza, Jr. In the end, the Twins took the game 7-2 and won their third straight game to move their record to 68-85 on the season. Postgame Interviews What’s Next The Minnesota Twins will continue their four-game home series against the Blue Jays on Friday night, sending Bailey Ober to the mound to face off against former Twins’ ace, José Berríos. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN TUE WED THU TOT Barraclough 32 0 35 0 0 67 Vincent 0 40 0 0 13 53 Thielbar 0 22 16 0 14 52 Minaya 0 36 0 13 0 49 Moran 34 0 0 0 0 34 Farrell 0 34 0 0 19 53 Duffey 0 0 11 12 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 10 10 0 20 Colomé 0 0 7 24 0 31 Garza Jr. 17 0 0 0 16 33 Coulombe 0 0 17 0 0 17
  24. There's been plenty of pomp and circumstance surrounding the marriage of the Minnesota Twins and St. Paul Saints. If there's any group that deserves more love in the relationship, it's the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew. Mid-morning rays of the Minnesota sun christen the back of Marcus Campbell as he plays fetch with his dog Maverick. Birds are chirping, luscious green grass tickles the air with a carefree aroma, and there couldn’t be a worry in the world. A man, his dog, and... CHS Field. “Mav likes to run along the warning track with players. Last year he’d always run with Danny Coulombe, and he’s in the big leagues now,” Campbell chuckled while launching another saliva-glossed tennis ball towards the right-field corner of the Saints' ballpark. Maverick may serve as the unofficial conditioning coach for the Twins organization, Campbell serves as Director of Field Operations for the St. Paul Saints. And while fun moments with his shop dog make for moments of bliss and calm, Campbell and the hands of the Saints’ grounds crew have been nothing short of full in the inaugural season as Triple-A affiliates of the Minnesota Twins. Campbell, who has been with the Saints for a few years will tell you that this year has been pretty similar to prior years when St. Paul was an independent team. “I keep telling people that baseball is baseball. You might have better players but so does the other team. As far as operations go, not much has changed.” Don’t let the modest Minnesota-Crookston graduate fool you. This year has featured the most games, double-headers, and events that CHS Field has seen since its inception in 2015. Yet through all the late nights, early mornings, and constant demands, there couldn’t be a better team to garner CHS Field as one of the top facilities in all of professional baseball. Heck, they even have a bit of fun while doing it. Early to Bed, Early to Rise Walk through the back gates at CHS Field on a game day and you’ll catch nostalgia of a small town café crossed with a fully functioning hardware shop. A half pot of coffee sits on a counter below a TV with the news all in front of a lunch table filled with lunch bags, soft drinks...and more coffee. The caffeine is essential. After nights that keep Campbell and his team at the ballpark until unthinkable hours, the crew makes sure that 4-6 members are at CHS by 9:00 am the next morning to prep for that evening’s game. Day game? That’s a different story. "Turnaround games and doubleheaders are the most challenging days,” Campbell said. “We work all day for a 7 pm game, keep going until 2 am, and are back at 7 or 8 am for a 1 pm game. Lots of caffeine.” Regardless of the start time, the routine stays the same. Campbell’s right-hand man Cody Pamperin stirs a concoction of pearly-white paint that will be used to chalk the baselines. Cody and Marcus go back quite a ways. The two played college baseball together at Minnesota-Crookston and took different routes following graduation. A few years later Pamperin was on the job market and gave his old friend a call. “He had helped towards the end of season last year and was looking for work and I knew that he’d be a great addition to our team,” Campbell said. Campbell and Pamperin are short-staffed, as many of their interns have returned to college with the summer waning. The two and the rest of the full-time team start the day by patching both bullpens to mend the divots created by pitchers and catchers. When the clock strikes 10 am, Pamperin heads to the infield to garnish the mound with clay, a product that the crew purchased 40 pallets of last year. $11 per bag, you do the math. The top priority of every morning is keeping the grass lush and the infield moist; something that can be difficult during one of the driest summers in the past 30 years. “We’ve had to water quite a bit this season, even in our landscape areas,” Campbell said. “Normally we can get by with watering those just once a week but this summer it’s been 2-3 times a week.” Cody Pamperin waters the infield grass at CHS Field, something that is done every morning. (David Youngs) On top of keeping the field in top shape, the grounds crew also maintains all the flowers, plants, and greenery surrounding the ballpark. Not to mention the sidewalks, artscapes, and dog park that snuggle the boundaries of CHS Field. In fact, the acreage outside of the playing surface surpasses that of the field. After morning duties are completed, the mecca of ballparks takes place; mowing the outfield. After sharing childhood attempts to mow my backyard with the trademarked ‘crisscross outfield’ design (if you didn’t do this as a child you didn’t live) Marcus breaks down the process. And while the design was never mastered in my Fargo yard, Campbell delivers the process like he’s done it his whole life. “We change it up sometimes but it’s just a checkerboard,” Campbell said. “If you mow a pattern too much the ball will snake. We’ll test it sometimes by rolling a ball through the outfield. If the ball snakes, we‘ll change our pattern. The hallowed 'crisscross outfield' pattern. Often imitated, rarely duplicated. (David Youngs) In addition to mowing every day and testing the grass themselves, Campbell and his crew get constant feedback from Saints players on how the field is playing. "I’m posted in the dugout during the game so I communicate with the guys to see how the field is playing,” Campbell said. “We’ve changed things a few times from the feedback they’ve given us. There are certain things that I notice and things they notice because they’re the ones who are actually taking ground balls on the field.” As batting practice and first pitch approach the crew removes the tarp that covers home, still moist and freshly nourished from the night before. Tasks upon tasks keep the Saints crew busy until the last fan has left the stadium. Yet during the game, there’s one member of the staff that manages to make ‘fun good’ through 280 characters. For the Fans Field Operations Manager may be an official job title for Erik Franke. More importantly? He’s the heart and soul of the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter. Inspired by his extensive background in fan relations and marketing Franke debuted one of the most interactive accounts in professional baseball earlier this season. Yet it isn’t just his experience in working social media and marketing at places like Harvard and UMass that prompted Franke to put pen to paper. It was a best practice for showcasing the work that his team does. After stints in collegiate athletics marketing and fan promotions, Field Operations Manager Erik Franke gets to channel his creativity through the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter account. (David Youngs) “So much of working grounds crew revolves around creating and showcasing the best product possible,” Franke said. “What better way to do that than a Twitter account?” From interacting with fans to showcasing new machinery to flat-out stunning shots of a pristine ballpark, Franke keeps one thing in mind when running the account. Fun. “Fan relations portion is so important and it’s been so fun interaction with fans through Twitter,” Franke said. “Sometimes I’ll just search ‘St. Paul Saints’ to see who is at the game so I can thank them for coming.” A Child’s Game Bound by the ‘fun is good’ mantra, the joy of the St. Paul Saints is perhaps perfectly personified by the Saints grounds crew. A group that crafts their skill to perfection, has fun doing it, and genuinely cares about the people that get to enjoy baseball with them. Franke first experienced the ‘fun is good’ culture as a Gameday Operations Intern in 2013 during his college days at St. Cloud State. Eight years later, the phrase couldn’t ring more true. “I knew how much fun the Saints were from prior experiences and it turns out that is just as true for the grounds crew,” he said. That doesn’t take away from the grueling hours, nasty elements, and ever-changing tasks that the team endures. For Campbell, it’s the people in the organization that leave him fulfilled at the end of the day. Not just his team, but everyone from the top to bottom, regardless of status. “One day Nick Gordon showed up on an off day at the box office to buy a ticket for a game,” Campbell recalls. “He could have just walked through the back door but bought a ticket to go watch his boys play but that just speaks for the type of guys in this organization.” And at the end of the day, Franke and Campbell just enjoy the pureness of being able to spend their days and nights around America’s pastime. “Watching the players, playing baseball my whole life, it doesn’t seem like work when you’re around a child’s game,” Campbell said. “You get to watch guys play a game that they love. There’s something about that that makes our job fulfilling.” And as someone who’s been to the coast and back, Franke couldn’t be happier to work for an organization that values the people. “There’s not one thing that makes the Saints special but there are a whole lot of small things the organization does on all levels,” Franke said. “We’re putting out a good product but at the end of the day, there are fans coming to these games. They're spending their money, time, and energy to be here. To make that experience the best that it can be is something that everyone in this organization understands.” The Saints begin their final homestand tonight against the Iowa Cubs at 7:05 pm. Purchase tickets here! And be sure to follow @STPGroundsCrew on Twitter! View full article
  25. Mid-morning rays of the Minnesota sun christen the back of Marcus Campbell as he plays fetch with his dog Maverick. Birds are chirping, luscious green grass tickles the air with a carefree aroma, and there couldn’t be a worry in the world. A man, his dog, and... CHS Field. “Mav likes to run along the warning track with players. Last year he’d always run with Danny Coulombe, and he’s in the big leagues now,” Campbell chuckled while launching another saliva-glossed tennis ball towards the right-field corner of the Saints' ballpark. Maverick may serve as the unofficial conditioning coach for the Twins organization, Campbell serves as Director of Field Operations for the St. Paul Saints. And while fun moments with his shop dog make for moments of bliss and calm, Campbell and the hands of the Saints’ grounds crew have been nothing short of full in the inaugural season as Triple-A affiliates of the Minnesota Twins. Campbell, who has been with the Saints for a few years will tell you that this year has been pretty similar to prior years when St. Paul was an independent team. “I keep telling people that baseball is baseball. You might have better players but so does the other team. As far as operations go, not much has changed.” Don’t let the modest Minnesota-Crookston graduate fool you. This year has featured the most games, double-headers, and events that CHS Field has seen since its inception in 2015. Yet through all the late nights, early mornings, and constant demands, there couldn’t be a better team to garner CHS Field as one of the top facilities in all of professional baseball. Heck, they even have a bit of fun while doing it. Early to Bed, Early to Rise Walk through the back gates at CHS Field on a game day and you’ll catch nostalgia of a small town café crossed with a fully functioning hardware shop. A half pot of coffee sits on a counter below a TV with the news all in front of a lunch table filled with lunch bags, soft drinks...and more coffee. The caffeine is essential. After nights that keep Campbell and his team at the ballpark until unthinkable hours, the crew makes sure that 4-6 members are at CHS by 9:00 am the next morning to prep for that evening’s game. Day game? That’s a different story. "Turnaround games and doubleheaders are the most challenging days,” Campbell said. “We work all day for a 7 pm game, keep going until 2 am, and are back at 7 or 8 am for a 1 pm game. Lots of caffeine.” Regardless of the start time, the routine stays the same. Campbell’s right-hand man Cody Pamperin stirs a concoction of pearly-white paint that will be used to chalk the baselines. Cody and Marcus go back quite a ways. The two played college baseball together at Minnesota-Crookston and took different routes following graduation. A few years later Pamperin was on the job market and gave his old friend a call. “He had helped towards the end of season last year and was looking for work and I knew that he’d be a great addition to our team,” Campbell said. Campbell and Pamperin are short-staffed, as many of their interns have returned to college with the summer waning. The two and the rest of the full-time team start the day by patching both bullpens to mend the divots created by pitchers and catchers. When the clock strikes 10 am, Pamperin heads to the infield to garnish the mound with clay, a product that the crew purchased 40 pallets of last year. $11 per bag, you do the math. The top priority of every morning is keeping the grass lush and the infield moist; something that can be difficult during one of the driest summers in the past 30 years. “We’ve had to water quite a bit this season, even in our landscape areas,” Campbell said. “Normally we can get by with watering those just once a week but this summer it’s been 2-3 times a week.” Cody Pamperin waters the infield grass at CHS Field, something that is done every morning. (David Youngs) On top of keeping the field in top shape, the grounds crew also maintains all the flowers, plants, and greenery surrounding the ballpark. Not to mention the sidewalks, artscapes, and dog park that snuggle the boundaries of CHS Field. In fact, the acreage outside of the playing surface surpasses that of the field. After morning duties are completed, the mecca of ballparks takes place; mowing the outfield. After sharing childhood attempts to mow my backyard with the trademarked ‘crisscross outfield’ design (if you didn’t do this as a child you didn’t live) Marcus breaks down the process. And while the design was never mastered in my Fargo yard, Campbell delivers the process like he’s done it his whole life. “We change it up sometimes but it’s just a checkerboard,” Campbell said. “If you mow a pattern too much the ball will snake. We’ll test it sometimes by rolling a ball through the outfield. If the ball snakes, we‘ll change our pattern. The hallowed 'crisscross outfield' pattern. Often imitated, rarely duplicated. (David Youngs) In addition to mowing every day and testing the grass themselves, Campbell and his crew get constant feedback from Saints players on how the field is playing. "I’m posted in the dugout during the game so I communicate with the guys to see how the field is playing,” Campbell said. “We’ve changed things a few times from the feedback they’ve given us. There are certain things that I notice and things they notice because they’re the ones who are actually taking ground balls on the field.” As batting practice and first pitch approach the crew removes the tarp that covers home, still moist and freshly nourished from the night before. Tasks upon tasks keep the Saints crew busy until the last fan has left the stadium. Yet during the game, there’s one member of the staff that manages to make ‘fun good’ through 280 characters. For the Fans Field Operations Manager may be an official job title for Erik Franke. More importantly? He’s the heart and soul of the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter. Inspired by his extensive background in fan relations and marketing Franke debuted one of the most interactive accounts in professional baseball earlier this season. Yet it isn’t just his experience in working social media and marketing at places like Harvard and UMass that prompted Franke to put pen to paper. It was a best practice for showcasing the work that his team does. After stints in collegiate athletics marketing and fan promotions, Field Operations Manager Erik Franke gets to channel his creativity through the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter account. (David Youngs) “So much of working grounds crew revolves around creating and showcasing the best product possible,” Franke said. “What better way to do that than a Twitter account?” From interacting with fans to showcasing new machinery to flat-out stunning shots of a pristine ballpark, Franke keeps one thing in mind when running the account. Fun. “Fan relations portion is so important and it’s been so fun interaction with fans through Twitter,” Franke said. “Sometimes I’ll just search ‘St. Paul Saints’ to see who is at the game so I can thank them for coming.” A Child’s Game Bound by the ‘fun is good’ mantra, the joy of the St. Paul Saints is perhaps perfectly personified by the Saints grounds crew. A group that crafts their skill to perfection, has fun doing it, and genuinely cares about the people that get to enjoy baseball with them. Franke first experienced the ‘fun is good’ culture as a Gameday Operations Intern in 2013 during his college days at St. Cloud State. Eight years later, the phrase couldn’t ring more true. “I knew how much fun the Saints were from prior experiences and it turns out that is just as true for the grounds crew,” he said. That doesn’t take away from the grueling hours, nasty elements, and ever-changing tasks that the team endures. For Campbell, it’s the people in the organization that leave him fulfilled at the end of the day. Not just his team, but everyone from the top to bottom, regardless of status. “One day Nick Gordon showed up on an off day at the box office to buy a ticket for a game,” Campbell recalls. “He could have just walked through the back door but bought a ticket to go watch his boys play but that just speaks for the type of guys in this organization.” And at the end of the day, Franke and Campbell just enjoy the pureness of being able to spend their days and nights around America’s pastime. “Watching the players, playing baseball my whole life, it doesn’t seem like work when you’re around a child’s game,” Campbell said. “You get to watch guys play a game that they love. There’s something about that that makes our job fulfilling.” And as someone who’s been to the coast and back, Franke couldn’t be happier to work for an organization that values the people. “There’s not one thing that makes the Saints special but there are a whole lot of small things the organization does on all levels,” Franke said. “We’re putting out a good product but at the end of the day, there are fans coming to these games. They're spending their money, time, and energy to be here. To make that experience the best that it can be is something that everyone in this organization understands.” The Saints begin their final homestand tonight against the Iowa Cubs at 7:05 pm. Purchase tickets here! And be sure to follow @STPGroundsCrew on Twitter!
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