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  1. Carlos Correa is set to return, but Royce Lewis has been playing well. So, here are three options for what the Twins can do with Lewis when Correa returns. Royce Lewis is off to a tremendous start to his big-league career. In nine games, he has gone 9-for-32 (.281 BA) with two doubles and a home run. His first home run was a memorable one as he cranked a grand slam that helped the Twins win over the weekend. Minnesota signed Carlos Correa to be the team’s shortstop for the 2022 campaign, and now the Twins are facing a decision about what to do with Lewis. Option 1: Send Him to Triple-A Obviously, this isn’t the ideal answer with how well Lewis has performed so far. However, this option ensures he plays everyday, and more importantly that he continues to get reps at shortstop. Correa is the AL’s reigning Platinum Glove winner, so the team is going to continue to play him at that position. However, Lewis has been better than advertised at shortstop, and the front office may want him to continue to develop in the minors. Sending him back to Triple-A may be the best option if the team wants to be comfortable with him taking over the full-time shortstop role to start the 2023 campaign. Option 2: Split Time at Shortstop Hand injuries can be tricky, so there are no guarantees that Correa returns and can play every day. Correa will likely need regular rest when he returns and that’s where Lewis comes into the picture. Keeping Lewis on the big-league roster would allow him to get reps at shortstop on Correa’s off days. Unfortunately, there isn’t a natural platoon with the two players both being right-handed hitters. This scenario hurts Lewis from the perspective that he wouldn’t be playing every day and he has missed two season’s of in-game at-bats. It seems unlikely for the Twins to pick this option, but there may be ways to use him at multiple other positions in the line-up. Option 3: Shift to Third Base or Left Field Another option is to try and find Lewis at-bats at other positions. Gio Urshela has provided some strong defensive plays, but he has a 91 OPS+ in 30 games. Minnesota’s left field situation is also in flux as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have both missed time with injury. Over the weekend, Kirilloff was demoted to Triple-A to try and solve his hitting woes as he continues to deal with wrist issues. In his first 69 plate appearances, he has yet to record an extra-base hit. For Lewis, he has very little professional experience at either of these defensive positions. He has never played left field and he has just over 100 innings at third base. The Twins likely have confidence in his athleticism to be able to handle both of these defensive spots if necessary. Minnesota’s offense has struggled through different parts of the 2022 campaign, and Lewis is a dangerous hitter to pencil into the back-half of the line-up. Even with Correa’s return, it’s hard to imagine the team sending Lewis back to the minors. He needs to play everyday, and he can be a vital contributor on a contending team. Which option do you think the Twins pick? Will they combine a couple of the options mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. Royce Lewis was the spark to the Minnesota Twins offense early, scoring the Twins first two runs. Gary Sanchez added some power, and the Twins bullpen was lights out once again as the Twins won the first game of their west coast road trip. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (62 pitches, 37 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (3) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez (0.143), Griffin Jax (0.143), Jorge Polanco (0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Garlick activated The Twins sent out their patented righty heavy lineup with lefty Zach Logue on the mound for the Athletics. It was a perfect opportunity for the healthy Kyle Garlick to return to the Twins after spending time on the IL with an injured calf. Coming into Monday night, Garlick has hit .357/.500/1.000 with a 1.500 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Archer gives the Twins four innings Chris Archer did exactly what 2022 Archer does. He gave the Twins four full innings of work and left the game with the Twins in a position to win the game. It was an uneasy beginning as it seemed Archer was trying to nibble around the edges of the plate. Once the right-hander could locate some pitches better, he went through a stretch of sending nine straight A's batters back to the dugout. Lewis makes his case As Carlos Correa draws closer to returning from his finger injury, Royce Lewis isn’t ready to go back to St. Paul just yet. The Twins shortstop is doing everything to make sure he stays in the majors. Lewis accounted for two Twins runs. He was first driven home by Jorge Polanco after his third-inning double and then Byron Buxton after a fifth-inning walk. While Lewis will need to find a new defensive home if he and Correa are to coexist in the same lineup, his bat may force just that to happen. Lewis is now hitting .286/.306/.457 since his call up. Gary brings the power While the Twins needed to employ small-ball tactics of what feels like an era forgotten for their second run, Gary Sanchez brought us right back to present-day baseball. Sanchez smashed a ball to center field in the sixth inning for the Twins third run. His home run measured at 433 feet and had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph. Cano, Jax, Duffey impress out of the bullpen Yennier Cano has seen the Twins bullpen roles be shuffled around, and now he is staking his claim to a role of his own. Cano once again was asked to pitch two innings as he came on in relief of Archer. As he sat mid-90s with his fastball, Cano only allowed one hit and recorded two strikeouts. Cano is turning heads early on in his major league career. Griffin Jax was the next man up out of the bullpen and added his own two innings following Cano. Allowing only one hit, Jax has continued to be trusted by his manager and has become a real asset for the Twins. Tyler Duffey followed to get the save on a night in which Emilio Pagan was unavailable. It is also interesting that the choice was Duffey and not Jhoan Duran, but now Duran will be available for the rest of the series. What’s Next? The Twins will go to bed likely with the sounds of drums and horns bouncing in their heads. It was announced Dylan Bundy will return from the COVID IL to make the start on Tuesday. Bundy brings into the game a 5.76 ERA on the season in his five starts. The A’s will send James Kaprielian to the mound. The right-hander has made three starts in 2022 and currently owns a 4.97 ERA. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Jax 0 50 0 0 25 75 Cano 36 0 0 0 25 61 Stashak 46 0 0 13 0 59 Duffey 33 0 5 0 20 58 Pagán 0 22 9 10 0 41 Thielbar 23 0 15 2 0 40 Smith 0 4 15 9 0 28 Duran 0 10 12 0 0 22 Cotton 0 0 17 0 0 17 View full article
  3. Royce Lewis is off to a tremendous start to his big-league career. In nine games, he has gone 9-for-32 (.281 BA) with two doubles and a home run. His first home run was a memorable one as he cranked a grand slam that helped the Twins win over the weekend. Minnesota signed Carlos Correa to be the team’s shortstop for the 2022 campaign, and now the Twins are facing a decision about what to do with Lewis. Option 1: Send Him to Triple-A Obviously, this isn’t the ideal answer with how well Lewis has performed so far. However, this option ensures he plays everyday, and more importantly that he continues to get reps at shortstop. Correa is the AL’s reigning Platinum Glove winner, so the team is going to continue to play him at that position. However, Lewis has been better than advertised at shortstop, and the front office may want him to continue to develop in the minors. Sending him back to Triple-A may be the best option if the team wants to be comfortable with him taking over the full-time shortstop role to start the 2023 campaign. Option 2: Split Time at Shortstop Hand injuries can be tricky, so there are no guarantees that Correa returns and can play every day. Correa will likely need regular rest when he returns and that’s where Lewis comes into the picture. Keeping Lewis on the big-league roster would allow him to get reps at shortstop on Correa’s off days. Unfortunately, there isn’t a natural platoon with the two players both being right-handed hitters. This scenario hurts Lewis from the perspective that he wouldn’t be playing every day and he has missed two season’s of in-game at-bats. It seems unlikely for the Twins to pick this option, but there may be ways to use him at multiple other positions in the line-up. Option 3: Shift to Third Base or Left Field Another option is to try and find Lewis at-bats at other positions. Gio Urshela has provided some strong defensive plays, but he has a 91 OPS+ in 30 games. Minnesota’s left field situation is also in flux as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have both missed time with injury. Over the weekend, Kirilloff was demoted to Triple-A to try and solve his hitting woes as he continues to deal with wrist issues. In his first 69 plate appearances, he has yet to record an extra-base hit. For Lewis, he has very little professional experience at either of these defensive positions. He has never played left field and he has just over 100 innings at third base. The Twins likely have confidence in his athleticism to be able to handle both of these defensive spots if necessary. Minnesota’s offense has struggled through different parts of the 2022 campaign, and Lewis is a dangerous hitter to pencil into the back-half of the line-up. Even with Correa’s return, it’s hard to imagine the team sending Lewis back to the minors. He needs to play everyday, and he can be a vital contributor on a contending team. Which option do you think the Twins pick? Will they combine a couple of the options mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (62 pitches, 37 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (3) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez (0.143), Griffin Jax (0.143), Jorge Polanco (0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Garlick activated The Twins sent out their patented righty heavy lineup with lefty Zach Logue on the mound for the Athletics. It was a perfect opportunity for the healthy Kyle Garlick to return to the Twins after spending time on the IL with an injured calf. Coming into Monday night, Garlick has hit .357/.500/1.000 with a 1.500 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Archer gives the Twins four innings Chris Archer did exactly what 2022 Archer does. He gave the Twins four full innings of work and left the game with the Twins in a position to win the game. It was an uneasy beginning as it seemed Archer was trying to nibble around the edges of the plate. Once the right-hander could locate some pitches better, he went through a stretch of sending nine straight A's batters back to the dugout. Lewis makes his case As Carlos Correa draws closer to returning from his finger injury, Royce Lewis isn’t ready to go back to St. Paul just yet. The Twins shortstop is doing everything to make sure he stays in the majors. Lewis accounted for two Twins runs. He was first driven home by Jorge Polanco after his third-inning double and then Byron Buxton after a fifth-inning walk. While Lewis will need to find a new defensive home if he and Correa are to coexist in the same lineup, his bat may force just that to happen. Lewis is now hitting .286/.306/.457 since his call up. Gary brings the power While the Twins needed to employ small-ball tactics of what feels like an era forgotten for their second run, Gary Sanchez brought us right back to present-day baseball. Sanchez smashed a ball to center field in the sixth inning for the Twins third run. His home run measured at 433 feet and had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph. Cano, Jax, Duffey impress out of the bullpen Yennier Cano has seen the Twins bullpen roles be shuffled around, and now he is staking his claim to a role of his own. Cano once again was asked to pitch two innings as he came on in relief of Archer. As he sat mid-90s with his fastball, Cano only allowed one hit and recorded two strikeouts. Cano is turning heads early on in his major league career. Griffin Jax was the next man up out of the bullpen and added his own two innings following Cano. Allowing only one hit, Jax has continued to be trusted by his manager and has become a real asset for the Twins. Tyler Duffey followed to get the save on a night in which Emilio Pagan was unavailable. It is also interesting that the choice was Duffey and not Jhoan Duran, but now Duran will be available for the rest of the series. What’s Next? The Twins will go to bed likely with the sounds of drums and horns bouncing in their heads. It was announced Dylan Bundy will return from the COVID IL to make the start on Tuesday. Bundy brings into the game a 5.76 ERA on the season in his five starts. The A’s will send James Kaprielian to the mound. The right-hander has made three starts in 2022 and currently owns a 4.97 ERA. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Jax 0 50 0 0 25 75 Cano 36 0 0 0 25 61 Stashak 46 0 0 13 0 59 Duffey 33 0 5 0 20 58 Pagán 0 22 9 10 0 41 Thielbar 23 0 15 2 0 40 Smith 0 4 15 9 0 28 Duran 0 10 12 0 0 22 Cotton 0 0 17 0 0 17
  5. After getting swept by the Houston Astros in frustrating fashion last week, it was imperative that the Twins answer back by rattling off a few wins against their division rival the Cleveland Guardians. The weekend series had it all; grand slams, manager ejections, electric Target Field crowds, the 1000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field, and two separate fan proposals. Ultimately, the Twins emerged from the series with a three-game lead in the division over both the Guardians and the Chicago White Sox. Here are my five takeaways from this series. 1. Royce Lewis is here to stay Between Friday’s grand slam, superb fielding at shortstop and consistent hits elsewhere, long-held #1 Twins prospect Royce Lewis has made a strong statement since he was called up a little over a week ago. Lewis has a .310 average and a top 6 on the team OPS of .719. On WCCO Radio, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey expressed optimism that Royce Lewis can play around the field similar to the Dodgers' super-utilityman Chris Taylor. This indicates that the Twins will likely find a spot for him somewhere on the field once shortstop Carlos Correa returns to the lineup. And if he continues to perform on the field, why wouldn't they? Lewis' debut has been a long time coming, and after having gone through ACL surgery and rehab, it has been rewarding to finally see him on the field after all that hard work. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for his grand slam on Friday night, and afterwards, he expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he's received from Twins fans. "I really appreciate it. This fan base has always been really, really special to me. They've always been great to me. Minnesota nice," Lewis said. 2. Jose Miranda needs a little more time Preheat to 350° and pop Jose back in the oven for a little bit- he needs some more time to cook in AAA. So far, Miranda has looked a bit outmatched at the plate and his .114 batting average reflects that. His .111 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and few strikeouts show that while he is making contact, the contact he makes does not give him a good chance to succeed. The Twins are depleted at first base, and injuries to first basemen Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sanó have necessitated Jose’s spot in the lineup recently. Some fans questioned why Miranda was sent out to hit in the 10th inning on Saturday in a critical down-by-1, do-or-die situation with Byron Buxton on the bench. Manager Rocco Baldelli was quite clear after the game that rest days are rest days and that the direction the game takes does not affect that. But if Mike Trout can come off the bench to hit in the 10th inning to a huge ovation, to some it seemed that Buxton could manage as well, though Buxton is coming back from injury. I am a firm believer in Miranda’s talent, but it seems a little more time in AAA would be of benefit, and he's still very young at 23. Some infield shuffling could fill Miranda’s spot at first if he was sent down- perhaps Lewis, Luis Arraez, and even Gary Sánchez could share time there. Utility player extraordinaire Arraez made some good scoops at first during Sunday’s game, which Miranda was on the bench for. 3. Runners left on base will haunt Saturday’s game can be summed up as a game of missed opportunities, as the Twins left a whopping 12 runners on base. The biggest example of this was in the 5th inning, where the Twins had bases loaded with no outs and Shane Bieber emerged unscathed due to an unfortunate home-to-first Gio Urshela double play followed by a Miranda groundout. This half-inning was nothing short of deflating. The Twins only got three more hits in the rest of the game, two of these occurring with 2 outs and no runners on. We all know that Walks Will Haunt, but runners left on base certainly will too. The offense returned on Sunday, where Buxton and Urshela both got solo home runs, including Buxton hitting the 1,000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field- his 11th of the season. 4. Joe Smith is one of the team’s most underrated assets Through 15 appearances, Joe Smith still has a 0.00 ERA. Some might say that’s because the Twins have used him sparingly; Smith is used in high-leverage situations, so often in late-inning, close games with runners on. He leads all AL relivers with a +1.11 win probability added (WPA). Though he has somehow never been an All-Star, he is arguably the most prolific bullpen workhorse of the last 20 years. The Twins used Smith in all three games of the series (Pagán too). So regardless of his limited pitch count (146 pitches thrown in 15 appearances equating to an average of less than 10 pitches per game), owning a 0.00 ERA this far into the season when used as a high-leverage pitcher is impressive no matter how you dice it. If this keeps up, there is no way the league won't start to take note. 5. The crowd is starting to wake up at Target Field After decidedly light attendance thus far, the weekend’s series featured the best attendance with the most hyped-up fans Target Field has seen this season. Friday’s game can be summed up as nothing short of electric due to the Twins piling on 12 runs. The crowd dutifully got into it when Baldelli got himself ejected in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday while arguing about an interference call, but many fans in the seats expressed confusion on why he was arguing about what seemed to be a clear-cut call. The series also featured the first big screen fan proposals at Target Field this season- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Officially, the Twins announced 61,500 fans visited Target Field for the three-game series, which, while still feeling low, is a massive improvement from even a week ago. The Twins are near the bottom of MLB in attendance, averaging 17,944 fans per game. As the weather continues to be beautiful, kids get out of school, and the Twins hopefully keep winning, fans will continue to return to Target Field in droves. Bonus takeaway: Urshela and Sánchez had a solid series This series saw great production from former Yankees Urshela and Sánchez: Urshela hit two home runs (including a 434-foot monster blast on Friday night) and Sánchez had one home run and two doubles. Urshela continued his arguably exceptional play at 3B this series. Considering the Twins have leaned on Sánchez in the DH role when not playing catcher, hopefully this series is a sign of more good things to come at the plate. *** What were your takeaways from the Twins series against the Guardians? Leave your COMMENTS below. View full article
  6. The Twins have had seven different players play second base, shortstop, or third base this season. Let's take a closer look at how these positions may evolve as the season progresses and into next season as well. View full video
  7. The Twins have had seven different players play second base, shortstop, or third base this season. Let's take a closer look at how these positions may evolve as the season progresses and into next season as well.
  8. 1. Royce Lewis is here to stay Between Friday’s grand slam, superb fielding at shortstop and consistent hits elsewhere, long-held #1 Twins prospect Royce Lewis has made a strong statement since he was called up a little over a week ago. Lewis has a .310 average and a top 6 on the team OPS of .719. On WCCO Radio, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey expressed optimism that Royce Lewis can play around the field similar to the Dodgers' super-utilityman Chris Taylor. This indicates that the Twins will likely find a spot for him somewhere on the field once shortstop Carlos Correa returns to the lineup. And if he continues to perform on the field, why wouldn't they? Lewis' debut has been a long time coming, and after having gone through ACL surgery and rehab, it has been rewarding to finally see him on the field after all that hard work. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for his grand slam on Friday night, and afterwards, he expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he's received from Twins fans. "I really appreciate it. This fan base has always been really, really special to me. They've always been great to me. Minnesota nice," Lewis said. 2. Jose Miranda needs a little more time Preheat to 350° and pop Jose back in the oven for a little bit- he needs some more time to cook in AAA. So far, Miranda has looked a bit outmatched at the plate and his .114 batting average reflects that. His .111 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and few strikeouts show that while he is making contact, the contact he makes does not give him a good chance to succeed. The Twins are depleted at first base, and injuries to first basemen Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sanó have necessitated Jose’s spot in the lineup recently. Some fans questioned why Miranda was sent out to hit in the 10th inning on Saturday in a critical down-by-1, do-or-die situation with Byron Buxton on the bench. Manager Rocco Baldelli was quite clear after the game that rest days are rest days and that the direction the game takes does not affect that. But if Mike Trout can come off the bench to hit in the 10th inning to a huge ovation, to some it seemed that Buxton could manage as well, though Buxton is coming back from injury. I am a firm believer in Miranda’s talent, but it seems a little more time in AAA would be of benefit, and he's still very young at 23. Some infield shuffling could fill Miranda’s spot at first if he was sent down- perhaps Lewis, Luis Arraez, and even Gary Sánchez could share time there. Utility player extraordinaire Arraez made some good scoops at first during Sunday’s game, which Miranda was on the bench for. 3. Runners left on base will haunt Saturday’s game can be summed up as a game of missed opportunities, as the Twins left a whopping 12 runners on base. The biggest example of this was in the 5th inning, where the Twins had bases loaded with no outs and Shane Bieber emerged unscathed due to an unfortunate home-to-first Gio Urshela double play followed by a Miranda groundout. This half-inning was nothing short of deflating. The Twins only got three more hits in the rest of the game, two of these occurring with 2 outs and no runners on. We all know that Walks Will Haunt, but runners left on base certainly will too. The offense returned on Sunday, where Buxton and Urshela both got solo home runs, including Buxton hitting the 1,000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field- his 11th of the season. 4. Joe Smith is one of the team’s most underrated assets Through 15 appearances, Joe Smith still has a 0.00 ERA. Some might say that’s because the Twins have used him sparingly; Smith is used in high-leverage situations, so often in late-inning, close games with runners on. He leads all AL relivers with a +1.11 win probability added (WPA). Though he has somehow never been an All-Star, he is arguably the most prolific bullpen workhorse of the last 20 years. The Twins used Smith in all three games of the series (Pagán too). So regardless of his limited pitch count (146 pitches thrown in 15 appearances equating to an average of less than 10 pitches per game), owning a 0.00 ERA this far into the season when used as a high-leverage pitcher is impressive no matter how you dice it. If this keeps up, there is no way the league won't start to take note. 5. The crowd is starting to wake up at Target Field After decidedly light attendance thus far, the weekend’s series featured the best attendance with the most hyped-up fans Target Field has seen this season. Friday’s game can be summed up as nothing short of electric due to the Twins piling on 12 runs. The crowd dutifully got into it when Baldelli got himself ejected in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday while arguing about an interference call, but many fans in the seats expressed confusion on why he was arguing about what seemed to be a clear-cut call. The series also featured the first big screen fan proposals at Target Field this season- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Officially, the Twins announced 61,500 fans visited Target Field for the three-game series, which, while still feeling low, is a massive improvement from even a week ago. The Twins are near the bottom of MLB in attendance, averaging 17,944 fans per game. As the weather continues to be beautiful, kids get out of school, and the Twins hopefully keep winning, fans will continue to return to Target Field in droves. Bonus takeaway: Urshela and Sánchez had a solid series This series saw great production from former Yankees Urshela and Sánchez: Urshela hit two home runs (including a 434-foot monster blast on Friday night) and Sánchez had one home run and two doubles. Urshela continued his arguably exceptional play at 3B this series. Considering the Twins have leaned on Sánchez in the DH role when not playing catcher, hopefully this series is a sign of more good things to come at the plate. *** What were your takeaways from the Twins series against the Guardians? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  9. The Minnesota Twins saw their hot streak come to a screeching halt at home as mounting injury woes and improved competition were too much to overcome. Still, the team is hanging in there and maintaining a three-game lead in the division as a seriously soft patch of the schedule looms. Last Week's Game Results: Game 30 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Verlander Dominates Hapless Twins Game 31 | HOU 11, MIN 3: Astros Blast Twins in Suspended Game Game 32 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Lack of Luck, Lots of Runners Stranded Game 33 | MIN 12, CLE 8: Bats Awaken, Snap Losing Streak Game 34 | CLE 3, MIN 2: Offense Absent, Twins Fall in Extras Game 35 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Ryan Rebounds, Twins Take Series Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/9 through Sun, 5/15 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 20-15) Run Differential Last Week: -13 (Overall: +12) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (3.0 GA) NEWS & NOTES The list of news and moves from last week is a long one, so let's just try and rattle through it rapid-fire: Carlos Correa, whose bruised finger wasn't improving fast enough to facilitate a speedy return to action, was placed on the injured list for the sake of roster flexibility. He got in some work over the weekend and is expected to be back relatively soon. Luis Arraez was activated from COVID IL, and played throughout the latter part of the week while showing no ill effects. Dylan Bundy, however, remains sidelined as he recovers from his battle with the virus. He wasn't able to go on Saturday so Devin Smeltzer came up to make his 2022 Twins debut, hurling five innings of one-run ball. Alex Kirilloff returned from rehab, basically out of necessity, but looked completely ineffective as his wrist continues to restrict him. The Twins optioned him back to St. Paul on Saturday and he'll stay there until his bat shows signs of life. Meanwhile, Mark Contreras is up from Triple-A and temporarily providing some outfield depth. Danny Coulombe, whose season was off to a magnificent start, suffered a hip injury on Tuesday that forced him to the shelf. It's another blow to this bullpen, which hopes to get a boost from his replacement: 28-year-old Yennier Canó, called up after a strong run at Triple-A. Jhon Romero was moved to the 60-day IL to create 40-man space. Kyle Garlick embarked upon a rehab stint at Triple-A, with his calf apparently healed. He went 3-for-9 with a homer in St. Paul over the weekend and could rejoin the Twins for their coming road trip. They will be happy to get back his lefty-mashing stick. Also due back this week: Bailey Ober, who threw 72 pitches over five innings in a rehab start on Sunday. He struck out seven with no walks, although he did allow four earned runs. The most impactful health development of the week concerned starting pitcher Chris Paddack, but that one is discouraging enough that we'll save it for the Lowlights section. HIGHLIGHTS While the lineup has largely been struggling, a few players are stepping up in a big way. Jorge Polanco is at the head of that list, with his bat catching fire here in May following a fairly quiet first month. He contributed a homer and two doubles last week, and leads the team with 20 RBIs. In a lineup that's seen almost everyone else miss time, Polanco has been a steady and durable force, appearing in all but one of Minnesota's games so far while easily leading the team in plate appearances. His ankle has sometimes impeded his performance but Polanco's been able to battle through and stay on the field, and it's one of his defining qualities. Dating back to 2019 only eight MLB players have amassed more plate appearances. With Correa sidelined, Royce Lewis has been very impressive while filling in on the other side of second base. Although there have a been a few hiccups defensively, he's mostly made the plays and Lewis is swinging a good bat. The past week saw him notch six hits in 22 at-bats, including his first major-league home run – a grand slam that broke things open in Friday's win over Cleveland. It was a really awesome moment for a kid who is extremely easy to root for. Byron Buxton was great as usual when available, launching a pair of homers against Cleveland over the weekend, but he's still bothered by soreness and occasional swelling in his knee, which is keeping him out of the lineup semi-regularly. With that being the case, the emergence of Gilberto Celestino has been tremendously impactful. Celestino went 4-for-11 with a double last week and is now slashing .333/.396/.417 in 52 plate appearances this year. His defense in the outfield has been beyond exceptional (see below). It would've been hard to imagine, given how overmatched he looked as a rookie last year, but Celestino came right back to the big leagues and is giving the Twins everything they could want out of him as a fourth outfielder. On the pitching side, a heaping share of credit is due to Joe Smith, who's been absolutely brilliant out of the Twins bullpen. The front office's lone MLB free agent addition for this unit has been providing absurd value, making frequent yet short appearances and ALWAYS getting the job done. He worked all three games in the Cleveland series, pitching on back-to-back-to-back days and running his season-opening scoreless streak to 12 ⅓ innings. The two couldn't be much different stylistically, but the 38-year-old sidearmer Smith and the 24-year-old flamethrower Jhoan Duran – who worked two scoreless innings last week and rewrote the franchise record for pitch velocity multiple times – are leading the way in a surprisingly reliable bullpen, ranking first and second on the staff in Win Probability Added. LOWLIGHTS The Astros series served as a stark reality check for the Twins, who'd ridden a major hot streak into a multi-game division lead despite all of their injury trials and setbacks. One-run victories over soft competition will be happily banked, but they're not necessarily the most convincing displays. Facing one of the league's truly elite teams, Minnesota was barely competitive. Even at full strength the Twins are probably not at the level of Houston – yet – and all weaknesses were magnified in their undermanned state. Batting Gary Sánchez third in your lineup against Justin Verlander is ... not what you want. Options were limited, unfortunately, and to some extent they still are. Far from giving the lineup a boost, José Miranda has reverted to his old offensive profile – swing at everything, with lots of weak contact – and it's not playing in the majors, as evidenced by a .114/.152/.227 slash line. Meanwhile, the streaky Ryan Jeffers has gone cold again – he went 3-for-16 last week and doesn't have an XBH since his last homer on May 3rd. Sánchez and Gio Urshela have been mostly unproductive outside of the occasional long ball, with each sporting a sub-.290 OBP. The Twins could desperately use a healthy and effective Kirilloff in the middle of their lineup right now, but that simply isn't in the cards. He's in a weird purgatory with his ailing right wrist, where it's not "injured" enough to merit being on the IL, but it's clearly giving him no chance to succeed at the plate. During his time with the Twins, Kirilloff wasn't generating any loud contact. His batted ball metrics were brutal, with exit velos and launch angles ranking at the bottom of the team – not at all what you expect from a hitter of his caliber. Kirilloff still has not barreled a single ball in the majors this year. All the team can really do at this point is send him to a lower-pressure environment and hope the wrist progressively improves, with results turning around in kind. One wonders if it'd be wise to simply give him some time off from swinging. But that's a difficult ask of a 24-year-old who is trying like hell to get his career going. In addition to an offense that was shut out twice and nearly no-hit, the Houston series was also a harsh one for the rookies and reclamation project in Minnesota's rotation, with Joe Ryan, Chris Archer and Josh Winder all struggling to varying degrees. The patience of the Astros lineup proved too much for these starters. Ryan issued a career-high five walks on Tuesday while coughing up four earned runs in four innings. (To his immense credit, he bounced back with a clean and stellar performance on Sunday.) Archer threw just 42 of 75 pitches for strikes on Wednesday and lasted three laborious innings in a loss. Winder was touched up for four runs (three earned) over 3 ⅓ innings in the series finale, yielding six hits and three free passes. Twins pitching was completely outclassed by that of the Astros, with the rotation setting the tone for a lopsided series sweep. It was the type of stretch that leaves you yearning for a steady veteran hand to go along with the youth movement. Seemingly this was a big part of the motivation in acquiring Paddack just ahead of the season, but now that trade has taken a turn for the worse with his elbow issues resurfacing. Paddack exited his last start due to elbow inflammation, and has since been in the process of consulting specialists and gathering information to determine his next move. Having been placed on the 60-day IL, he'll miss at least a couple of months and it seems likely he'll undergo Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of the season. Last year in San Diego, Paddack was diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL, which he tried to pitch through and remedy via non-surgical means. As such, this outcome is hardly shocking. The Twins knew the risks involved when they moved on Paddack, and now it looks like the worst-case scenario will be realized: he's going to contribute very little this year while Taylor Rogers is balling for the Padres. Presumably we'll get more clarity in the coming week concerning the plan for Paddack. If you're seeking an optimistic slant, you could take a look at the example of Twins prospect Blayne Enlow, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June and is now ramping up and returning to action, less than one year later. A similar timeline for Paddack could potentially have him back pitching for the Twins in the first half of next year. But again, we'll need to see the details. One way or another, he has a long road ahead of him. TRENDING STORYLINE With Correa set to return soon, perhaps even in the coming week, it will be interesting to see what the plan is for Lewis. He certainly looks like a guy who belongs in the majors and the Twins aren't necessarily in a position where they should feel comfortable losing his spark. But obviously their superstar free agent will resume everyday shortstop duties once activated. Lewis has the speed to be an asset in the outfield and could probably hold his own at third base, where Urshela hasn't been terribly impressive (offensively, anyway – the defense has been quite spectacular). But Lewis lacks much of any experience playing these positions, and you wonder if the Twins are comfortable letting him learn on the fly in the big leagues. I guess we'll find out soon enough. LOOKING AHEAD An extremely soft section of the schedule is underway, and the Twins need to make hay. They'll open the coming week with a trip out west to face the Athletics, who they swept at home a week ago. Then it's off to Kansas City for a match-up against the Royals. The following 12 games are all against Detroit and KC. After that, the Twins will be running through an AL East gauntlet featuring the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays, and at that point, they'll have a chance to show their mettle against strong competition after falling woefully short versus Houston. But until then, the goal is just to rattle off victories and build some distance in the Central standings. As I publish this, no starter has been officially announced for Friday but that nod will presumably go to Ober. MONDAY, 5/16: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Zach Logue TUESDAY, 5/17: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Josh Winder v. RHP James Kaprielian WEDNESDAY, 5/18: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Sonny Gray v. RHP Daulton Jefferies FRIDAY, 5/20: TWINS @ ROYALS – TBD v. LHP Daniel Lynch SATURDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Brad Keller SUNDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Chris Archer v. TBD View full article
  10. Last Week's Game Results: Game 30 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Verlander Dominates Hapless Twins Game 31 | HOU 11, MIN 3: Astros Blast Twins in Suspended Game Game 32 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Lack of Luck, Lots of Runners Stranded Game 33 | MIN 12, CLE 8: Bats Awaken, Snap Losing Streak Game 34 | CLE 3, MIN 2: Offense Absent, Twins Fall in Extras Game 35 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Ryan Rebounds, Twins Take Series Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/9 through Sun, 5/15 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 20-15) Run Differential Last Week: -13 (Overall: +12) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (3.0 GA) NEWS & NOTES The list of news and moves from last week is a long one, so let's just try and rattle through it rapid-fire: Carlos Correa, whose bruised finger wasn't improving fast enough to facilitate a speedy return to action, was placed on the injured list for the sake of roster flexibility. He got in some work over the weekend and is expected to be back relatively soon. Luis Arraez was activated from COVID IL, and played throughout the latter part of the week while showing no ill effects. Dylan Bundy, however, remains sidelined as he recovers from his battle with the virus. He wasn't able to go on Saturday so Devin Smeltzer came up to make his 2022 Twins debut, hurling five innings of one-run ball. Alex Kirilloff returned from rehab, basically out of necessity, but looked completely ineffective as his wrist continues to restrict him. The Twins optioned him back to St. Paul on Saturday and he'll stay there until his bat shows signs of life. Meanwhile, Mark Contreras is up from Triple-A and temporarily providing some outfield depth. Danny Coulombe, whose season was off to a magnificent start, suffered a hip injury on Tuesday that forced him to the shelf. It's another blow to this bullpen, which hopes to get a boost from his replacement: 28-year-old Yennier Canó, called up after a strong run at Triple-A. Jhon Romero was moved to the 60-day IL to create 40-man space. Kyle Garlick embarked upon a rehab stint at Triple-A, with his calf apparently healed. He went 3-for-9 with a homer in St. Paul over the weekend and could rejoin the Twins for their coming road trip. They will be happy to get back his lefty-mashing stick. Also due back this week: Bailey Ober, who threw 72 pitches over five innings in a rehab start on Sunday. He struck out seven with no walks, although he did allow four earned runs. The most impactful health development of the week concerned starting pitcher Chris Paddack, but that one is discouraging enough that we'll save it for the Lowlights section. HIGHLIGHTS While the lineup has largely been struggling, a few players are stepping up in a big way. Jorge Polanco is at the head of that list, with his bat catching fire here in May following a fairly quiet first month. He contributed a homer and two doubles last week, and leads the team with 20 RBIs. In a lineup that's seen almost everyone else miss time, Polanco has been a steady and durable force, appearing in all but one of Minnesota's games so far while easily leading the team in plate appearances. His ankle has sometimes impeded his performance but Polanco's been able to battle through and stay on the field, and it's one of his defining qualities. Dating back to 2019 only eight MLB players have amassed more plate appearances. With Correa sidelined, Royce Lewis has been very impressive while filling in on the other side of second base. Although there have a been a few hiccups defensively, he's mostly made the plays and Lewis is swinging a good bat. The past week saw him notch six hits in 22 at-bats, including his first major-league home run – a grand slam that broke things open in Friday's win over Cleveland. It was a really awesome moment for a kid who is extremely easy to root for. Byron Buxton was great as usual when available, launching a pair of homers against Cleveland over the weekend, but he's still bothered by soreness and occasional swelling in his knee, which is keeping him out of the lineup semi-regularly. With that being the case, the emergence of Gilberto Celestino has been tremendously impactful. Celestino went 4-for-11 with a double last week and is now slashing .333/.396/.417 in 52 plate appearances this year. His defense in the outfield has been beyond exceptional (see below). It would've been hard to imagine, given how overmatched he looked as a rookie last year, but Celestino came right back to the big leagues and is giving the Twins everything they could want out of him as a fourth outfielder. On the pitching side, a heaping share of credit is due to Joe Smith, who's been absolutely brilliant out of the Twins bullpen. The front office's lone MLB free agent addition for this unit has been providing absurd value, making frequent yet short appearances and ALWAYS getting the job done. He worked all three games in the Cleveland series, pitching on back-to-back-to-back days and running his season-opening scoreless streak to 12 ⅓ innings. The two couldn't be much different stylistically, but the 38-year-old sidearmer Smith and the 24-year-old flamethrower Jhoan Duran – who worked two scoreless innings last week and rewrote the franchise record for pitch velocity multiple times – are leading the way in a surprisingly reliable bullpen, ranking first and second on the staff in Win Probability Added. LOWLIGHTS The Astros series served as a stark reality check for the Twins, who'd ridden a major hot streak into a multi-game division lead despite all of their injury trials and setbacks. One-run victories over soft competition will be happily banked, but they're not necessarily the most convincing displays. Facing one of the league's truly elite teams, Minnesota was barely competitive. Even at full strength the Twins are probably not at the level of Houston – yet – and all weaknesses were magnified in their undermanned state. Batting Gary Sánchez third in your lineup against Justin Verlander is ... not what you want. Options were limited, unfortunately, and to some extent they still are. Far from giving the lineup a boost, José Miranda has reverted to his old offensive profile – swing at everything, with lots of weak contact – and it's not playing in the majors, as evidenced by a .114/.152/.227 slash line. Meanwhile, the streaky Ryan Jeffers has gone cold again – he went 3-for-16 last week and doesn't have an XBH since his last homer on May 3rd. Sánchez and Gio Urshela have been mostly unproductive outside of the occasional long ball, with each sporting a sub-.290 OBP. The Twins could desperately use a healthy and effective Kirilloff in the middle of their lineup right now, but that simply isn't in the cards. He's in a weird purgatory with his ailing right wrist, where it's not "injured" enough to merit being on the IL, but it's clearly giving him no chance to succeed at the plate. During his time with the Twins, Kirilloff wasn't generating any loud contact. His batted ball metrics were brutal, with exit velos and launch angles ranking at the bottom of the team – not at all what you expect from a hitter of his caliber. Kirilloff still has not barreled a single ball in the majors this year. All the team can really do at this point is send him to a lower-pressure environment and hope the wrist progressively improves, with results turning around in kind. One wonders if it'd be wise to simply give him some time off from swinging. But that's a difficult ask of a 24-year-old who is trying like hell to get his career going. In addition to an offense that was shut out twice and nearly no-hit, the Houston series was also a harsh one for the rookies and reclamation project in Minnesota's rotation, with Joe Ryan, Chris Archer and Josh Winder all struggling to varying degrees. The patience of the Astros lineup proved too much for these starters. Ryan issued a career-high five walks on Tuesday while coughing up four earned runs in four innings. (To his immense credit, he bounced back with a clean and stellar performance on Sunday.) Archer threw just 42 of 75 pitches for strikes on Wednesday and lasted three laborious innings in a loss. Winder was touched up for four runs (three earned) over 3 ⅓ innings in the series finale, yielding six hits and three free passes. Twins pitching was completely outclassed by that of the Astros, with the rotation setting the tone for a lopsided series sweep. It was the type of stretch that leaves you yearning for a steady veteran hand to go along with the youth movement. Seemingly this was a big part of the motivation in acquiring Paddack just ahead of the season, but now that trade has taken a turn for the worse with his elbow issues resurfacing. Paddack exited his last start due to elbow inflammation, and has since been in the process of consulting specialists and gathering information to determine his next move. Having been placed on the 60-day IL, he'll miss at least a couple of months and it seems likely he'll undergo Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of the season. Last year in San Diego, Paddack was diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL, which he tried to pitch through and remedy via non-surgical means. As such, this outcome is hardly shocking. The Twins knew the risks involved when they moved on Paddack, and now it looks like the worst-case scenario will be realized: he's going to contribute very little this year while Taylor Rogers is balling for the Padres. Presumably we'll get more clarity in the coming week concerning the plan for Paddack. If you're seeking an optimistic slant, you could take a look at the example of Twins prospect Blayne Enlow, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June and is now ramping up and returning to action, less than one year later. A similar timeline for Paddack could potentially have him back pitching for the Twins in the first half of next year. But again, we'll need to see the details. One way or another, he has a long road ahead of him. TRENDING STORYLINE With Correa set to return soon, perhaps even in the coming week, it will be interesting to see what the plan is for Lewis. He certainly looks like a guy who belongs in the majors and the Twins aren't necessarily in a position where they should feel comfortable losing his spark. But obviously their superstar free agent will resume everyday shortstop duties once activated. Lewis has the speed to be an asset in the outfield and could probably hold his own at third base, where Urshela hasn't been terribly impressive (offensively, anyway – the defense has been quite spectacular). But Lewis lacks much of any experience playing these positions, and you wonder if the Twins are comfortable letting him learn on the fly in the big leagues. I guess we'll find out soon enough. LOOKING AHEAD An extremely soft section of the schedule is underway, and the Twins need to make hay. They'll open the coming week with a trip out west to face the Athletics, who they swept at home a week ago. Then it's off to Kansas City for a match-up against the Royals. The following 12 games are all against Detroit and KC. After that, the Twins will be running through an AL East gauntlet featuring the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays, and at that point, they'll have a chance to show their mettle against strong competition after falling woefully short versus Houston. But until then, the goal is just to rattle off victories and build some distance in the Central standings. As I publish this, no starter has been officially announced for Friday but that nod will presumably go to Ober. MONDAY, 5/16: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Zach Logue TUESDAY, 5/17: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Josh Winder v. RHP James Kaprielian WEDNESDAY, 5/18: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Sonny Gray v. RHP Daulton Jefferies FRIDAY, 5/20: TWINS @ ROYALS – TBD v. LHP Daniel Lynch SATURDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Brad Keller SUNDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Chris Archer v. TBD
  11. After a slow start, the Twins offense exploded in the fifth inning and put the game out of reach. Minnesota scored more runs in this game than they did in their last six games and they snap a three-game losing streak. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (82 pitches, 46 strikes, 56.1%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Jorge Polanco (4), Gary Sánchez (2), Royce Lewis (1) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.178), Royce Lewis (.155), Byron Buxton (.123) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gray is off to a good start, but can't go to distance The big story of tonight’s game was whether or not the Twins would get a decent start from their starting pitcher. The last time a Twins starter threw more than four innings in a game was exactly a week ago when Josh Winder delivered six innings with no earned runs against the A’s. Would Sonny Gray be up for the task? But that wasn’t the only question mark regarding the Twins coming into this game. Minnesota’s offense, full of ups and downs this season, produced a grand total of three runs during the three games against Houston, being shut out in two of those games. Would they be able to turn things around? Despite facing Aaron Civale, who has a career 3.31 ERA against Minnesota, the offense managed to be productive from the get-go. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco hit a couple of solo shots in the bottom of first, giving the Twins an early two-run lead. Things could’ve been even better, as Max Kepler and Gary Sánchez got back-to-back hits and moved into scoring position, but Minnesota couldn’t add on. Gray pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, then pitched an easy, 12-pitch second, with two punch outs. However, he oddly had a troublesome third, loading the bases before recording an out, including a couple of walks. Fortunately, he was able to keep the damage to a minimum, with Cleveland scoring only the one run on a force out. Gray struck out a couple more batters in that inning. Civale settle down and started to dominate the Twins lineup. After the Sánchez double in the first, Minnesota’s batters went 0-for-11 and failed to provide Gray with some run support. After a scoreless fourth with a couple more strikeouts, Gray became the first Twin starter to pitch into the fifth in the past seven days. But he wouldn’t go to distance. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges and shortly after that, a walk and a single, which was enough for Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and induced an inning-ending double play on two pitches, to end the threat. The offense gets back on track, turns the game into a blowout Another short start, a cold offense, and a tied ball game. All the ingredients that might have led Twins fans to brace themselves for the worst. Little did they know that they were in for a treat: the Twins lineup put together a nine-run fifth inning on seven pitches and put this game out of reach. First, Civale loaded the bases by giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Jeffers, a double to Royce Lewis, and a walk to Buxton. Minnesota scored two of those runners on a Luis Arráez groundout and a Max Kepler single to left. Polanco had drawn a walk in between and, with two men on, Civale’s night was done. With Kepler and Polanco on, and Bryan Shaw pitching, Sánchez definitely put the slump behind him by smashing a three-run home run to deep center, making it 7-2 Twins. But they were surely not done. The bases were once again loaded for the Twins, as Shaw gave up back-to-back singles, to Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, and a walk to Jeffers. Still chasing his first big league home run, Lewis destroyed a cutter in the heart of the plate for a huge grand slam, making it 11-2 Minnesota. It was impressive to see how much the Twins improved with men in scoring position in this game, compared to the Houston series. They finished the game hitting 3-for-7 with RISP. Jax has his toughest outing so far, Smith bails him out When he was brought into this game, Jax hadn’t given up any runs in his previous six outings and was posting a stellar 1.35 ERA through eight appearances. After inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of an inherited jam, he simply wasn’t sharp in the following two innings. Franmil Reyes singled off him in the sixth, shortly before Oscar Mercado hit a two-out, two-run bomb to bring the Guardians within seven. In the seventh, things were even worse, as he struggled badly with his command, allowing Cleveland to score a couple more runs on a single by José Ramírez and a triple by Amed Rosario, making it 11-6. Jax gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, causing Baldelli to remove him from the game. Joe Smith took over and struck out Mercado on four pitches, ending the threat. Smith has now stranded 11 inherited runners so far this season – every single one he’s inherited in the year. In the bottom of the eighth, Buxton drew a leadoff walk and the Twins managed to manufacture a run, with Kepler pushing Buxton across with a sac-fly. Emilio Pagán had a flashy six-run lead when he took the mound in the ninth, but he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Andrés Giménez, before he struck out Mercado to avoid a Cleveland rally. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams are back on the field for game 2. Cleveland will have Shane Bieber (4.13 ERA) start for them, whereas the Twins will call up Devin Smeltzer to make his season debut. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 58 0 0 0 58 Jax 0 0 0 0 50 50 Stashak 0 0 0 46 0 46 Cano 0 0 0 36 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 33 0 33 Thielbar 0 3 0 23 0 26 Pagán 0 0 0 0 22 22 Duran 0 0 0 0 10 10 Smith 0 0 0 0 4 4 View full article
  12. Minnesota Twins prospect Royce Lewis hit his first Major League home run in grand fashion Friday against the Guardians, clobbering a grand slam to put the Twins up 11-2. Down on the farm, Kyler Fedko homered in his High-A debut for Cedar Rapids. Also highlighted in this video are Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Gary Sanchez, Max Kepler, Jordan Balazovic, Simeon Woods Richardson and more. View full video
  13. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (82 pitches, 46 strikes, 56.1%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Jorge Polanco (4), Gary Sánchez (2), Royce Lewis (1) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.178), Royce Lewis (.155), Byron Buxton (.123) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gray is off to a good start, but can't go to distance The big story of tonight’s game was whether or not the Twins would get a decent start from their starting pitcher. The last time a Twins starter threw more than four innings in a game was exactly a week ago when Josh Winder delivered six innings with no earned runs against the A’s. Would Sonny Gray be up for the task? But that wasn’t the only question mark regarding the Twins coming into this game. Minnesota’s offense, full of ups and downs this season, produced a grand total of three runs during the three games against Houston, being shut out in two of those games. Would they be able to turn things around? Despite facing Aaron Civale, who has a career 3.31 ERA against Minnesota, the offense managed to be productive from the get-go. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco hit a couple of solo shots in the bottom of first, giving the Twins an early two-run lead. Things could’ve been even better, as Max Kepler and Gary Sánchez got back-to-back hits and moved into scoring position, but Minnesota couldn’t add on. Gray pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, then pitched an easy, 12-pitch second, with two punch outs. However, he oddly had a troublesome third, loading the bases before recording an out, including a couple of walks. Fortunately, he was able to keep the damage to a minimum, with Cleveland scoring only the one run on a force out. Gray struck out a couple more batters in that inning. Civale settle down and started to dominate the Twins lineup. After the Sánchez double in the first, Minnesota’s batters went 0-for-11 and failed to provide Gray with some run support. After a scoreless fourth with a couple more strikeouts, Gray became the first Twin starter to pitch into the fifth in the past seven days. But he wouldn’t go to distance. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges and shortly after that, a walk and a single, which was enough for Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and induced an inning-ending double play on two pitches, to end the threat. The offense gets back on track, turns the game into a blowout Another short start, a cold offense, and a tied ball game. All the ingredients that might have led Twins fans to brace themselves for the worst. Little did they know that they were in for a treat: the Twins lineup put together a nine-run fifth inning on seven pitches and put this game out of reach. First, Civale loaded the bases by giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Jeffers, a double to Royce Lewis, and a walk to Buxton. Minnesota scored two of those runners on a Luis Arráez groundout and a Max Kepler single to left. Polanco had drawn a walk in between and, with two men on, Civale’s night was done. With Kepler and Polanco on, and Bryan Shaw pitching, Sánchez definitely put the slump behind him by smashing a three-run home run to deep center, making it 7-2 Twins. But they were surely not done. The bases were once again loaded for the Twins, as Shaw gave up back-to-back singles, to Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, and a walk to Jeffers. Still chasing his first big league home run, Lewis destroyed a cutter in the heart of the plate for a huge grand slam, making it 11-2 Minnesota. It was impressive to see how much the Twins improved with men in scoring position in this game, compared to the Houston series. They finished the game hitting 3-for-7 with RISP. Jax has his toughest outing so far, Smith bails him out When he was brought into this game, Jax hadn’t given up any runs in his previous six outings and was posting a stellar 1.35 ERA through eight appearances. After inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of an inherited jam, he simply wasn’t sharp in the following two innings. Franmil Reyes singled off him in the sixth, shortly before Oscar Mercado hit a two-out, two-run bomb to bring the Guardians within seven. In the seventh, things were even worse, as he struggled badly with his command, allowing Cleveland to score a couple more runs on a single by José Ramírez and a triple by Amed Rosario, making it 11-6. Jax gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, causing Baldelli to remove him from the game. Joe Smith took over and struck out Mercado on four pitches, ending the threat. Smith has now stranded 11 inherited runners so far this season – every single one he’s inherited in the year. In the bottom of the eighth, Buxton drew a leadoff walk and the Twins managed to manufacture a run, with Kepler pushing Buxton across with a sac-fly. Emilio Pagán had a flashy six-run lead when he took the mound in the ninth, but he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Andrés Giménez, before he struck out Mercado to avoid a Cleveland rally. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams are back on the field for game 2. Cleveland will have Shane Bieber (4.13 ERA) start for them, whereas the Twins will call up Devin Smeltzer to make his season debut. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 58 0 0 0 58 Jax 0 0 0 0 50 50 Stashak 0 0 0 46 0 46 Cano 0 0 0 36 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 33 0 33 Thielbar 0 3 0 23 0 26 Pagán 0 0 0 0 22 22 Duran 0 0 0 0 10 10 Smith 0 0 0 0 4 4
  14. Minnesota Twins prospect Royce Lewis hit his first Major League home run in grand fashion Friday against the Guardians, clobbering a grand slam to put the Twins up 11-2. Down on the farm, Kyler Fedko homered in his High-A debut for Cedar Rapids. Also highlighted in this video are Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Gary Sanchez, Max Kepler, Jordan Balazovic, Simeon Woods Richardson and more.
  15. It was a vastly different experience going to that little ballpark compared to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but watching unknown minor leaguers play on those fields always filled my mind with delusions of grandeur to be like them one day—a professional baseball player chasing their dream to become a Major Leaguer. That is the main reason I do a little bit different of a list heading into a new season than all those “Top Prospects” lists you see here at Twins Daily, on MLB.com, or at other outlets like FanGraphs and Baseball America. There are so many of them these days I don’t think this amateur scout can tell you anything you haven’t already heard. Instead, I want to recognize all those guys who have worked hard to get where they are, whether they’re a top prospect or not, and whom you might see make their MLB debut at Target Field during the upcoming season—those ready to make their childhood dreams like mine come true. Across all of Major League Baseball during the 2021 season, 265 players made their Major League debut, with eight members of the Minnesota Twins organization contributing to that number. They included pitchers Charlie Barnes, Griffin Jax, Jovani Moran, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan, as well as position players Gilberto Celestino, Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach, and Ben Rortvedt. All four of those hitters and pitchers Jax and Ober were profiled in this same column before the start of the 2021 season, and you’ll see some of the same names in this list below for the 2022 calendar year that didn’t quite make the jump. So, who are the prospects that could make their Major League debut and become the next Minnesota Twins during the 2022 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The Twins enter the 2022 season with a 40-man MLB roster that does not have much room for position players yet to make their MLB debut. That list is just two players, but any fan should be excited about the names that are included in this section. There is, however, much more room for pitchers in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and the top end talent is almost all at the top of their system to start the 2022 season. Royce Lewis (22 years old on opening day), IF/OF – Twins Daily’s #2 Prospect (Lewis made his MLB debut on 5/6, playing SS against the Oakland Athletics and batting 7th. He finished 1-for-4, picking up a single in the 8th inning of a 2-1 win) It’s hard to gauge where Royce Lewis is at in his development, given he’s missed two entire years’ worth of time due to Covid and tearing his ACL. But when we last saw him, he was crushing in the Arizona Fall League to the point he took home the league’s MVP award. He has continued to work on his swing while off the field, and I expect big things during the 2022 season when he finds his footing. The biggest question continues to be what position he will play when he reaches the majors. I have been critical of his shortstop play in the past, but there is no doubt he can be an elite defender in the outfield. He excelled at third base in the AFL as well if that does not work out. That is to say, if he’s hitting well and anyone in the outfield or middle infield on the Major League roster goes out for an extended period, it would not surprise me at all if Lewis is the name that gets called to fill in if he is hitting. Plus, he looked good at short for the Saints on Tuesday if you were wondering: Jordan Balazovic (23), RHP – TD’s #4 Prospect Balazovic is ticketed for the starting rotation with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, though he will start the season on the Injured List with a left knee strain. While he does not necessarily get the accolades around his pure “stuff” that some of the other guys on this list do, he has been one to get better results as he’s climbed the ladder. That can be attributed some to having better command, but he has also shown steady improvement with his offerings year over year, showcased by his fastball averaging around 96 MPH with Wichita last season. One thing going against him is innings, as his 97 in 2021 were a career high after missing the first two months with a back injury. There is little doubt when it comes to Balazovic that he will break through as a starting pitcher and stay there when he reaches the majors, compared to others further down this list. Jose Miranda (23), 3B – TD’s #3 Prospect (Miranda made his MLB debut on 5/2, playing third base and batting sixth against the Baltimore Orioles. He was 0-for-4 in a 2-1 Twins win) The thing with Miranda was never about talent, as the Twins had always seen a good bat in the infielder from Puerto Rico. However, before the 2021 season that bat had never quite lived up to expectations, producing just one season with an OPS above .750 and that was all the way back in rookie ball. But coaches continued to encourage him to alter his approach and wait for pitches he could do damage with, instead of swinging first and asking questions later. He took it to heart and ran with it for the 2021 season, enroute to one of the most impressive Minor League seasons you have ever seen from a Twins prospect. He led all of the minors in total bases, clubbing 32 doubles and 30 home runs in 127 games between Wichita and St. Paul. He finished with a .344/.401/.572 slash line and rocketed up prospect lists by the end of the year. He’s basically only a corner infielder and won’t win any Gold Glove awards with his defense, but if he’s even close to repeating those hitting numbers in 2022 at triple-A, his bat will force the issue sooner rather than later. Jhoan Duran (24), RHP – TD’s #7 Prospect (Duran made his MLB debut on opening day, pithing two innings against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out four in a scoreless outing) Whether they’ve been trying or not, since I’ve been a fan of the Twins they have always had a velocity problem. Duran is one of the pitchers who can continue to change that, whether that comes as a starter or a reliever. He has size, is capable of hitting 100+ MPH with his fastball, and throws a weird sinker he can play off that velocity to get swings and misses. Like many young hurlers, consistency is key and despite his stuff he has had trouble maintaining that start-to-start in the past. When he is on Duran is fully capable of dominating an outing, but has thrown only 16 innings in live games since the end of the 2019 season. If you were asking me before the start of Spring Training, I would have fully expected Duran to begin the season in the St. Paul Saints rotation. Instead, he has been absolutely dominant in his outings thus far and will come North with the Twins to start the year! Josh Winder (25), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect (Winder made his MLB debut on 4/12, pitching one inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed one run on two walks and struck out one. He made his first MLB start on 5/1, and picked up the win with 6 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out seven against the Tampa Bay Rays) A casual fan may not recognize Winder’s name as much as others, but I recommend paying a lot more attention to him this season. I have seen evidence from the Twins over the past two years that they may think he is the best of the starting pitching bunch they have approaching the majors. Plus, as of writing this he is still on the bubble to come North to Minneapolis instead of St. Paul to start the 2022 season. While he only threw 72 innings last year, they were so good that he was the Twins representative to play in the Futures Game during All Star Weekend. He was promoted to triple-A immediately after that and made four starts for the Saints before being shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder impingement. He was solid in his outings this spring, starting three games (meaning he was facing mostly MLB players) and allowing just two runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out nine in eight total innings pitched. While there is no reason for the Twins to put him in the bullpen permanently, it would not shock me to see him as part of a 16-man pitching staff to start the season in a piggy-backing role. I can even envision him performing better than whomever he follows to the point he takes over when rosters get cut down from 28 players. Cole Sands (24), RHP – TD’s #13 Prospect (Sands made his MLB debut on 5/1, pitching two innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, and struck out two.) Making his professional debut during the 2019 season, Sands was a standout performer and as a result pitched at three levels, reaching double-A for one start to end the year. He finished the season with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 108 hitters over 97 1/3 innings. He followed that up in 2021 by dominating with Wichita to the tune of a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 80 1/3 innings. He missed some time due to an injury, but will be in the Saints rotation to start the 2022 season. His path reminds me a bit of one Bailey Ober and if the Twins can get more of that, they would be ecstatic. Since he is on the 40-man roster, you never know—if he is lined up to pitch on the right day, an injury on the Twins could spur a cab ride across the river to Target Field at any point. Drew Strotman (25), RHP The second half of the trade package the Twins received from the Tampa Bay Rays for Nelson Cruz, Strotman was thought by some evaluators to be the better prospect in the deal at the time. I do not think that is the case now, considering Joe Ryan is slated to pitch opening day for the Twins while Strotman fell off a bit after coming over, but it should give you an idea of how well the Twins did in that trade to get both of those guys. He throws in the mid-90s with a good cutter that catches the attention of scouts, but command has been a bit of an issue since having Tommy John Surgery back in 2018. He is being fully transitioned to the bullpen in 2022 and could turn into another high-octane option there as the season progresses. Ronny Henriquez (21), RHP – TD’s #16 Prospect With the flurry of trade activity that happened after the lockout ended, the Twins ended up with an intriguing right-hander from the Texas Rangers in sending off Mitch Garver. You will hear a lot about his size or lack thereof, but there is a lightning arm attached to his right shoulder that hits the mid-90s with ease. He has consistently piled up strikeouts and limited baserunners, but the long ball has been a bugaboo as he gave up nearly two per nine innings pitched in double-A last season. He has primarily started games in his pro career thus far and should continue to do so with the Twins, but his profile sounds a lot like a future reliever when it is all said and done. Chris Vallimont (25), RHP The moniker of the “Vallimonster” is apt for the right-hander, as he can perform quite the Jekyll and Hyde routine whenever he is on the mound. He paired a 13.0/9IP strikeout rate with a 5.8/9IP walk rate during the 2021 season and if you go game to game, you will see that up and down nature in his stat lines as well. A switch to the bullpen to maximize his pure stuff in shorter stints is something to watch for during the season if that pattern continues. TOP PROSPECTS: Consider this entry more of a “not-yet-on-the-40-man-roster” section heading into this season since a lot of the top prospects have already appeared above, but what remains below still holds the theme that these guys are close to Major League ready. All three of them are on the double-A roster of the Wichita Wind Surge to start the year, with a few of them sure to move up quickly when the 40-man depth above is called upon by the Twins. Austin Martin (23), IF/OF – TD’s #1 Prospect The top prospect on our board, it is slightly odd that Martin returns to double-A to start the season after spending all of the 2021 season there, but he does have some things to work on. Those being his defense at shortstop (or elsewhere), and tapping into some power that may have been hindered by a wrist injury throughout last year. That said, he posted a .414 on-base percentage in 93 games that led all of double-A and you would be hard-pressed to find a more prototypical leadoff hitter anywhere in the minors. As soon as a spot opens up in St. Paul I expect Martin to be promoted, but the depth the Twins have when it comes to position players pushes a debut timeline out to later in the summer. He is the type of talent who can force that issue sooner rather than later, however. Simeon Woods Richardson (21), RHP – TD’s #8 Prospect Plenty of people seem to be down on SWR going into the 2022 season, but I am not one of them. You cannot blame him for the 2020 season being canceled or for competing in the Olympics (though he didn’t pitch at all) in the middle of the 2021 campaign. There was absolutely some rust to shake off by the time he put on a Wind Surge uniform, but he did flash what makes him highly regarded as well: A key point to consider with him in comparison to every other player on this list is his age. Even after missing a full season, he was only 20 years old and pitching in double-A at the beginning of last year. Especially for the Twins, this is a rare occurrence. Jose Berrios, for example, had turned 21 a couple of months before he reached double-A and was the quickest moving pitcher the Twins had produced in a long time. If he can reign back in his control, Berrios is also a great comp for the type of ceiling we are talking about for Woods Richardson, who has dwarfed any strikeout rates the former Twins pitcher ever produced in the minors. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Canterino finds himself in double-A to start the 2022 season despite pitching only 23 total innings last year with Cedar Rapids. That was due to elbow troubles, which is a legitimate concern moving forward given his history coming out of Rice University and herky-jerky mechanics, but you cannot deny the numbers. He struck out over half the hitters he faced while walking only four in his time on the mound, resulting in a 0.78 ERA and 0.61 WHIP. His stuff is electric, with a fastball that can reach the high 90’s and a slider and changeup that are both legitimate swing-and-miss offerings as well. Due to those health concerns, there are many evaluators who see the bullpen in his future, but if you are looking for a pitcher that can make some serious noise during the 2022 campaign, Canterino is your guy. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players may not necessarily be top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a situation where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason has been a standout performer in the bullpens of Twins affiliates since being taken in the 13th round of the 2016 draft. Missing the 2020 season hurt guys like him more than most, but he came back in 2021 to post stellar numbers and finished the final two months of the season in St. Paul. While there, he posted a career-high strikeout rate of 12.1/9IP, and guys like him are always among my favorites to root for. Yennier Cano (27), RHP (Even though he didn't throw a pitch as the game was suspended, Yennier Cano was credited with his MLB debut on 5/11 against the Houston Astros. When he did take the mound the next day, he delivered two perfect innings before running into some trouble in his third. In total, he allowed three runs on three hits, and struck out two.) A sneaky international signing all the way back in 2019, Cano finally got to showcase his talents for a full season during the 2021 campaign, spending the bulk of it in St. Paul. He boasts a mid-90s fastball and deep repertoire, as well as an intimidating mound presence that reminds me a lot of Aroldis Chapman (both are around 6’4” and 230 lbs). He will need to reign in the walks that spiked once he reached triple-A, but certainly looks the part of a bullpen horse. Mark Contreras (27), OF (Contreras made his MLB debut on 5/12, when the suspended game from the day before resumed he took over for Byron Buxton, playing left field. He finished 0-for-2, but scored a run and drove in one with a sac fly in the 11-3 loss to the Houston Astros.) Contreras made his mark in the Twins organization with his defense, taking home a MiLB Gold Glove award after the 2019 season, but something clicked for him in the batter’s box in 2021. Spending the bulk of the year with St. Paul, the lefty nearly matched his career home run total to that point (23) with 20 on the year, 18 of them coming in his 95 games at triple-A. I would not expect Contreras to get the call as a long-term starter in the majors, but you can do a lot worse with a fourth outfielder type as he can play all the outfield positions well, including center in a pinch. Jermaine Palacios (25), IF Palacios is a bit buried on an organizational depth chart with the names Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, and Austin Martin in the fold, but what he has above the other two prospects is that he is definitely a shortstop. That fact plays against him a little for the 2022 season as those two prospects above him need the work, but he is in triple-A where he will be moved around the infield depending on the day. He also showed some pop with 19 home runs for Wichita last year, and was also spectacular in the Venezuelan Winter League during the offseason, posting a .987 OPS in 42 games. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out of nowhere to make a surprise debut during the season. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skill set or background that is intriguing and could pay big dividends if something else falls into place. These are my shots in the dark at guys that could be in 2022. Jordan Gore (27), RHP The former shortstop begins the season as a high-leverage option out of the St. Paul Saints bullpen. He split time between Cedar Rapids and Wichita during the 2021 season, picking up seven saves and striking out 11.7/9IP with a WHIP below 1.00. Plus, he has great hair. Louie Varland (24), RHP – TD’s #14 Prospect First of all, he is #OneOfUs, growing up in Maplewood and being drafted out of Concordia University in St. Paul in the 15th round of the 2019 draft. Second of all, he is the reigning Twins and Twins Daily’s, Minor League Pitcher of the Year. That is because he struck out 142 hitters in 103 innings pitched last season split between Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids. He is buried on a starting pitching depth chart at this point, but if he continues that type of dominance in double-A and eventually triple-A this season, there will be a spot for him at some point. Edouard Julien (22), OF – TD’s #19 Prospect I have long been a fan of the type of player Julien was during the 2021 season, where he led all of the minors in walks (110 in 112 games) and had an on-base percentage flirting with .500 for a large chunk of the season. He also tapped into some power upon being promoted to Cedar Rapids, launching 15 homers in 65 games after getting out of the Florida State League. He starts the 2022 season with Wichita, and he and Austin Martin should prove extremely annoying to double-A pitching for much of the summer. So, there you have it, my picks for some of the minor league players I think could be called up to the majors and put on a Minnesota Twins uniform for the first time during the coming season. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? And who are some of the prospects you think I have missed that could make that jump? Let’s play ball!
  16. Speed is a tool that can separate elite defenders and base stealers from the rest of the pack. Will these Twins prospects continue to be fast as they age? While prospects can improve other tools, speed is an area that tends to decline as players add more muscle and age. According to the 20-80 scouting scale, multiple players on the list below are currently faster than expected in the future. Here are the top-five speed tool prospects in the Twins organization. 5. Yasser Mercedes, OF Current Run/Future Run: 55/50 Minnesota signed Mercedes as part of the 2022 international signing period, where he ranked as one of the top prospects in the class. It’s easy to see why he is projected to lose speed as he continues to age. He is currently 6-foot-3, and he weighs 180 pounds, so he is projected to add weight as he continues to mature. Scouting reports leading into the signing period noted that his speed currently helps him to make up for inefficient route running in center field. Many believe he can stick in center, and his speed is one tool that makes him an intriguing player to keep an eye on. 4. Alerick Soularie, 2B Current Run/Future Run: 55/55 Soularie had to wait until 2021 to make his pro debut after the Twins selected him in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB Draft. He missed a large chunk of the 2021 season with a fractured foot, but he appeared in 34 games. He posted a .727 OPS during that time while going 9-for-10 in stolen base opportunities. Most of his defensive innings have come at second base, but the organization hasn’t been afraid to use his speed in the outfield. With his foot injury behind him, he can get his first full season in the books this year and show his true speed potential. 3. Royce Lewis, SS/CF Current Run/Future Run: 60/50 Like Soularie, Lewis missed significant time in 2021. However, there are bigger questions about whether or not Lewis will still have his top-graded speed after knee surgery. In 2019, Lewis went 22-for-32 in stolen base attempts at High- and Double-A. Questions are swirling about his future defensive position, but there is no question about his athletic ability and make-up. Lewis continues to fill out his frame, which will continue to take away from his speed while adding to his power potential. Steals aren’t as prevalent across baseball, but Lewis will be able to transition to other defensive positions because of his speed. 2. Keoni Cavaco, SS Current Run/Future Run: 60/60 Cavaco, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, struggled mightily in his first taste of full-season action. His athleticism was one of the biggest reasons the Twins selected him, as he was considered a late-riser on draft boards. Last season, he went 6-for-8 in stolen base opportunities, but he was also getting on base less than 30% of the time. In 60 games, he committed 24 errors at shortstop, so many believe he will eventually move to third base. As with many other prospects, missing the entire 2020 season hurt Cavaco, and he needs consistent reps and coaching to continue to improve. 1. Will Holland, 2B Current Run/Future Run: 70/70 Holland may be an unfamiliar name to some Twins fans, but the team took him with their fifth-round pick back in 2019. The Auburn product was old for Low-A last season, but his collegiate experience showed through as he posted a .336 OBP. Defensively, he played the majority of his innings at shortstop, but the organization also had him play at second, third, and in center field. In 76 games, he stole 19 bases, so his speed was evident on the base paths. He’s an athletic player that has a chance to fill a utility role at the big-league level. He turns 24-years-old in April, and he should start next season in Cedar Rapids. Who do you think has the best run tool in the Twins system? Should someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Top Power Tool Prospects — Top Hit Tool Prospects 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
  17. With the shortened season, injuries were a foregone conclusion. All 30 teams across MLB are feeling the sting of a shortened spring training, but players are starting to bounce back and make their comebacks. For the Twins, the fans couldn’t be more excited to see Sonny Gray making a start on Saturday, alongside the Minnesota Twins (nearly) homegrown line-up. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (66 pitches, 42 strikes (63.6%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (3) Top 3 WPA: Jhoan Duran (.265), Sonny Gray (.205), Jorge Polanco (.159) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Welcome Back Sonny Sonny Gray has had a less than great start since coming to the Twins organization in a trade after the lockout. His much-anticipated acquisition meant some rounding out to the pitching rotation. Gray came from Cincinnati in March in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Chase Petty, Gray brings a source of veteran leadership to the rotation and a player to watch, but he has been sidelined much of the early season. He wasn’t nearly as stretched out as his teammates at the conclusion of spring training and ultimately ended up with a right hamstring injury early in the season. The discomfort was obvious on his face as he stepped back off the mound in the second inning and ultimately out of the rotation. Gray has only pitched one game at Target Field, against Seattle. He missed the last 19 games. During his IL stint, the pitcher rehabbed his hamstring and made one rehab start for Low-A Fort Myers last weekend. He pitched three shutout innings with one hit allowed and five strikeouts. He hasn’t left the team except for that one rehab game. He’s been with them in Florida and Baltimore, so instead of taking the starting position in St. Paul today, he returned to the mound on Saturday. In his first inning, he looked composed, loose, and settled in by the second batter, bouncing back from 3-0 count on Chad Pinder to strike him out. The outfield assisted in Gray getting through his first inning, giving him a quick 1-2-3 to his start back with the team. Gray continued to pinpoint his pitches and left the game with 66 pitches. The plan was for him to be around 65 pitches. Considering this is his first game back and throwing four shutout innings and allowing only one hit, this seemed to be like the time to pull him and let the bullpen take over. The bullpen continued to keep the game right where Gray left it. Home Grown Lineup... until it wasn't For a short time, the line-up that complimented Sonny Gray’s return was a homegrown Twins farm system team. For all the years that the Twins fans have spent frustrated with the front office, this lineup is a product of patience and hard work. Players like Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis who have all put up outstanding numbers in the minors only to come-up to the Twins and show why they deserve to be on the 40-man. This was the original lineup. Jayce Tingler who has stepped up for Rocco Baldelli who is currently quarantining in Baltimore, has done a good job steering the ship and making good lineup and in-game decisions. This is exactly what happened after the "home-grown lineup" was announced, Trevor Larnach was sidelined with lower body tightness. Gary Sanchez replaced him in the lineup. Hopefully, we will get a chance for that lineup again, but it was fun to see and awesome to know how much homegrown depth there is.. Joining the crew on Friday was Alex Kirilloff. He didn't play on Friday night, but on Saturday, he batted eighth. Considering he had surgery that ended his 2021 season on that joint last July, there was some concern it would be more than just inflammation. This latest injury didn’t turn out to be anything structural. He started his rehab assignment with St. Paul on April 31st and played four games in St. Paul before being activated from the IL on Friday. Polanco the under-rated All-Star Jorge Polanco has been flying under the radar and while carrying a batting average of .211, he has an eight-game hitting streak, and six of his last fourteen RBIs in two games alone (May 1st and May 3rd). In his appearance against the Rays on May 1st, Polanco went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI, rocketing the Twins to a 9-3 win. Among the stars of the Twins team, Polanco is potentially one of the better players on the team that doesn’t get talked about enough. He also doesn’t talk about himself. He is focused on being a team member and contributing to the game overall. He sets goals for himself that he doesn’t talk about, and even with solid defense and hitting, he still doesn’t reach all his goals. In a previous press conference Manager, Rocco Baldelli talked about the significance that Polanco has on the field. "He's such a solid contributor for us on the field," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He does everything almost kind of under the radar. Personality-wise, he's a wonderful human being, but he's a quiet guy, and that's just who he is. So we probably don't talk about him enough." And just as this writer was deep-diving into Polanco’s stats, Polanco hit his third home run of the year, 451 feet according to Baseball Savant off of Kaprielian’s slider to center field to give the Twins a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Close Calls and a Marginal Lead Things started to heat up in the seventh inning as it looked like the Athletics were going to get into the action after a deep liner to center field that slid between Buxton and Nick Gordon, allowing Christian Bethancourt to get a double. The A’s momentum was brought to a screeching halt when Max Kepler stopped a fly ball by Brian McKinney to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Royce Lewis got the second hit of his MLB career, a double off the wall in right-center. He was promptly picked off when a bunt was missed. Even with a challenge to New York, the call remained, and a frustrated Lewis returned to the dugout. Pitcher A.J. Puk had a tough time in the eighth, bobbling a ball hit back to him off of the bat of Gilberto Celestino who advanced to first and waited for a chance to advance, but to no avail. Heading into the ninth, the Twins had no insurance runs and a marginal lead, but Jhoan Duran came back out to finish what he started in the eighth frame. It wasn't without stress though. Just like Friday's game, this game brought extra anxiety in the ninth as Duran walked a batter and then hit another. The last out seemed to take forever. As Ryan Jeffers framed strike two to Bethancourt, the Twins were looking at one remaining strike to complete the game. Bethancourt continued to foul-off balls prolonging the pain of the ninth before Duran threw him with a 100mph fastball to get him swinging to end the game! Sonny Gray and the bullpen pulled off a combined shutout and guarantee a series win. Can they come back tomorrow and complete the sweep? Who is your favorite reliever in our Bullpen right now? Are you nervous about all the ninth inning bases loaded? What’s Next? The Twins finish up the series tomorrow on Mother’s day against Oakland before Houston arrives at Target Field. Pitching matchups for the series include: Sunday 1:10 central: Chris Paddack (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 26 0 0 12 38 Thielbar 18 0 18 0 0 36 Jax 0 0 15 0 19 34 Duran 0 0 0 0 31 31 Duffey 18 0 0 11 0 29 Pagán 0 0 0 28 0 28 Stashak 11 0 0 0 0 11 Smith 0 0 0 6 0 6 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  18. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (66 pitches, 42 strikes (63.6%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (3) Top 3 WPA: Jhoan Duran (.265), Sonny Gray (.205), Jorge Polanco (.159) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Welcome Back Sonny Sonny Gray has had a less than great start since coming to the Twins organization in a trade after the lockout. His much-anticipated acquisition meant some rounding out to the pitching rotation. Gray came from Cincinnati in March in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Chase Petty, Gray brings a source of veteran leadership to the rotation and a player to watch, but he has been sidelined much of the early season. He wasn’t nearly as stretched out as his teammates at the conclusion of spring training and ultimately ended up with a right hamstring injury early in the season. The discomfort was obvious on his face as he stepped back off the mound in the second inning and ultimately out of the rotation. Gray has only pitched one game at Target Field, against Seattle. He missed the last 19 games. During his IL stint, the pitcher rehabbed his hamstring and made one rehab start for Low-A Fort Myers last weekend. He pitched three shutout innings with one hit allowed and five strikeouts. He hasn’t left the team except for that one rehab game. He’s been with them in Florida and Baltimore, so instead of taking the starting position in St. Paul today, he returned to the mound on Saturday. In his first inning, he looked composed, loose, and settled in by the second batter, bouncing back from 3-0 count on Chad Pinder to strike him out. The outfield assisted in Gray getting through his first inning, giving him a quick 1-2-3 to his start back with the team. Gray continued to pinpoint his pitches and left the game with 66 pitches. The plan was for him to be around 65 pitches. Considering this is his first game back and throwing four shutout innings and allowing only one hit, this seemed to be like the time to pull him and let the bullpen take over. The bullpen continued to keep the game right where Gray left it. Home Grown Lineup... until it wasn't For a short time, the line-up that complimented Sonny Gray’s return was a homegrown Twins farm system team. For all the years that the Twins fans have spent frustrated with the front office, this lineup is a product of patience and hard work. Players like Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis who have all put up outstanding numbers in the minors only to come-up to the Twins and show why they deserve to be on the 40-man. This was the original lineup. Jayce Tingler who has stepped up for Rocco Baldelli who is currently quarantining in Baltimore, has done a good job steering the ship and making good lineup and in-game decisions. This is exactly what happened after the "home-grown lineup" was announced, Trevor Larnach was sidelined with lower body tightness. Gary Sanchez replaced him in the lineup. Hopefully, we will get a chance for that lineup again, but it was fun to see and awesome to know how much homegrown depth there is.. Joining the crew on Friday was Alex Kirilloff. He didn't play on Friday night, but on Saturday, he batted eighth. Considering he had surgery that ended his 2021 season on that joint last July, there was some concern it would be more than just inflammation. This latest injury didn’t turn out to be anything structural. He started his rehab assignment with St. Paul on April 31st and played four games in St. Paul before being activated from the IL on Friday. Polanco the under-rated All-Star Jorge Polanco has been flying under the radar and while carrying a batting average of .211, he has an eight-game hitting streak, and six of his last fourteen RBIs in two games alone (May 1st and May 3rd). In his appearance against the Rays on May 1st, Polanco went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI, rocketing the Twins to a 9-3 win. Among the stars of the Twins team, Polanco is potentially one of the better players on the team that doesn’t get talked about enough. He also doesn’t talk about himself. He is focused on being a team member and contributing to the game overall. He sets goals for himself that he doesn’t talk about, and even with solid defense and hitting, he still doesn’t reach all his goals. In a previous press conference Manager, Rocco Baldelli talked about the significance that Polanco has on the field. "He's such a solid contributor for us on the field," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He does everything almost kind of under the radar. Personality-wise, he's a wonderful human being, but he's a quiet guy, and that's just who he is. So we probably don't talk about him enough." And just as this writer was deep-diving into Polanco’s stats, Polanco hit his third home run of the year, 451 feet according to Baseball Savant off of Kaprielian’s slider to center field to give the Twins a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Close Calls and a Marginal Lead Things started to heat up in the seventh inning as it looked like the Athletics were going to get into the action after a deep liner to center field that slid between Buxton and Nick Gordon, allowing Christian Bethancourt to get a double. The A’s momentum was brought to a screeching halt when Max Kepler stopped a fly ball by Brian McKinney to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Royce Lewis got the second hit of his MLB career, a double off the wall in right-center. He was promptly picked off when a bunt was missed. Even with a challenge to New York, the call remained, and a frustrated Lewis returned to the dugout. Pitcher A.J. Puk had a tough time in the eighth, bobbling a ball hit back to him off of the bat of Gilberto Celestino who advanced to first and waited for a chance to advance, but to no avail. Heading into the ninth, the Twins had no insurance runs and a marginal lead, but Jhoan Duran came back out to finish what he started in the eighth frame. It wasn't without stress though. Just like Friday's game, this game brought extra anxiety in the ninth as Duran walked a batter and then hit another. The last out seemed to take forever. As Ryan Jeffers framed strike two to Bethancourt, the Twins were looking at one remaining strike to complete the game. Bethancourt continued to foul-off balls prolonging the pain of the ninth before Duran threw him with a 100mph fastball to get him swinging to end the game! Sonny Gray and the bullpen pulled off a combined shutout and guarantee a series win. Can they come back tomorrow and complete the sweep? Who is your favorite reliever in our Bullpen right now? Are you nervous about all the ninth inning bases loaded? What’s Next? The Twins finish up the series tomorrow on Mother’s day against Oakland before Houston arrives at Target Field. Pitching matchups for the series include: Sunday 1:10 central: Chris Paddack (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 26 0 0 12 38 Thielbar 18 0 18 0 0 36 Jax 0 0 15 0 19 34 Duran 0 0 0 0 31 31 Duffey 18 0 0 11 0 29 Pagán 0 0 0 28 0 28 Stashak 11 0 0 0 0 11 Smith 0 0 0 6 0 6 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
  19. The Twins left Baltimore with a split, Covid-19 and Carlos Correa with potentially a broken finger after being hit in the hand by a pitch (TWICE) in Thursday’s game. Even with the daunting news, the news of Royce Lewis coming up to the Twins to replace him gave fans something to look forward to. With the chips falling as they may, the new series this weekend started out hot! Box Score SP: Josh Winder: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (80 pitches, 55 strikes (68.75%)) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (1), Byron Buxton (9) Top 3 WAR: Josh Winder (.231), Emilio Pagan (.156), Byron Buxton (.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Woe is We…Ailments Carlos Correa has been getting into the swing of things (pun fully intended) the past two weeks and it’s been fun to watch. He got off to a slow start but had a seven-game hitting streak by Thursday. The slugger is hitting .255 with a .320 OBP, with five doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and 12 runs so far this season. When he was hit on the hand during the final game of the Orioles series, everyone was worried that he may be out for a considerable amount of time. While waiting on the results of a CT scan, tons of speculation circled the injury debating whether it was broken, dislocated, or a bruise. Hoping for the best, and as a Twins fan, always expecting the worst. Not only was Correa being scratched from play at this time, but the team is also working through a small stint of COVID-19 in the club house, taking out Luis Arraez, Rocco Baldelli, and Dylan Bundy. Luckily, the CT scan showed no fractured bones for Correa. With the news that it is "just a bruise" and he wouldn't be put on the Injured List, he attempted to ask into the lineup. Jayce Tingler said No. With all the bad news hitting the Twins this week, the ailments and injuries have allowed for some major roster moves that gave Twins fans a morale boost. Royce Lewis, who missed the past two seasons, 2020 with the pandemic and 2021 due to his torn ACL, joined the Twins and made his MLB debut. Another Day Another Debut Royce Lewis (and Twins fans) have been waiting for this day since he was drafted by the Twins with the first overall pick in the2017 draft. There were a few bumps on the road to the Show, but he has arrived, and Lewis joined his teammates on the field donning #23, once worn by fan-favorite Nelson Cruz before he was traded to Tampa Bay. Some have a “too soon” feeling, all in fun of course, but maybe it’s a good omen for the young player and Cruz’s talent will rub off on him. Lewis has been tearing it up in St. Paul this season, showing that he is more than ready and capable for this call-up. His at-bats are some of the most impressive thus far with 21 hits (including 11 doubles) helping catapult his team to an above .500 April. While he didn't take Correa's roster spot, he did take Luis Arraez's spot, with Arraez officially going on the Covid-IL. It’s a good problem to have when you can be sad for one player potentially being hurt, but now the team has aces up their sleeve who can come in and take their place. Luckily for the fans, Correa is okay, and Lewis still got to make his debut and gain some experience. Lewis had a successful night at third base in support of Friday night's starter Josh Winder. In the first inning, on his fourth pitch, Winder threw a fastball to Sheldon Neuse which came off the tip of the bat, a hopper right to shortstop, giving Lewis his first major league put-out, throwing to Jose Miranda to get out Neuse at first base. Lewis started out his hitting career with the Twins with a ground out to third base, but Lewis left first base with a huge smile on his face and the glow didn’t disappear all night. Lewis made contact every time he was at bat tonight, finally getting the first hit of his Major League career in the bottom of the eighth. While Lewis did not get a chance to score, all-in-all it was a fantastic night for the Twins top prospect and fans are ready for more! Warm nights, Hot performances In the second inning, Jose Miranda connected for his first major-league home run. Miranda drilled a Zach Logue’s fastball, hitting the ball into second deck in left field. The velocity on the home run was 105.5 MPH. Trevor Larnach has not let up on offense. He collected another double tonight, his ninth of the season. Larnach has been beyond impressive at the plate and with his defense. In the second inning, Elvis Andrus hit a one-hopper to Larnach in left, who fielded the ball and threw it home to Gary Sanchez to get out the runner easily. Byron Buxton was in the game as the Designated Hitter on Friday, and while fans would rather see him in center field, it doesn’t matter where he is, he makes an impact. Buxton hit his ninth home run, putting him in fourth place in the American League this season. The Starters and the Bullpen are on Fire Josh Winder had his second start of the season. This was his first start at Target Field. On this night, the mound was his, and he started out hot again, with a ground out and two strikeouts in the first inning. Winder followed that up by striking out Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy for a 1-2-3 inning. His pitching didn’t let up. By the top of the fifth inning, the rookie had four straight strikeouts and four 1-2-3 innings before Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to Lewis who made a great stop and threw to Miranda for the out. Winder carried the Twins through six innings, only allowing an unearned run and that came at the end of his night in the sixth inning. Wes Johnson came out to give his rookie some advice, and Winder was able to regain composure and finish out the inning. His night ended when Gary Sanchez threw out Sheldon Neuse on a steal attempt. The bullpen started out great with Joe Smith and Tyler Duffey who got the team through innings seventh and eighth innings. Fans held their breath as Emilio Pagan took the mound and loaded the bases in the top of the ninth. With bases full and Chad Pinder's count full, Pagan got a swinging strike to end the game. What was your favorite moment of the game? What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series this weekend with Oakland before Houston comes to town on Tuesday and meets up with Correa for the first time in a different uniform. Remaining pitching matchups for this series include: Saturday 1:10 pm: Sonny Gray (coming off IL) vs RHP James Kaprielian (0-1, 18.00 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm: Chris Paddock (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Pagán 27 0 0 0 28 55 Thielbar 0 18 0 18 0 36 Jax 15 0 0 15 0 30 Duffey 0 18 0 0 11 29 Coulombe 0 0 26 0 0 26 Stashak 0 11 0 0 0 11 Duran 10 0 0 0 0 10 Smith 2 0 0 0 6 8 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  20. Box Score SP: Josh Winder: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (80 pitches, 55 strikes (68.75%)) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (1), Byron Buxton (9) Top 3 WAR: Josh Winder (.231), Emilio Pagan (.156), Byron Buxton (.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Woe is We…Ailments Carlos Correa has been getting into the swing of things (pun fully intended) the past two weeks and it’s been fun to watch. He got off to a slow start but had a seven-game hitting streak by Thursday. The slugger is hitting .255 with a .320 OBP, with five doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and 12 runs so far this season. When he was hit on the hand during the final game of the Orioles series, everyone was worried that he may be out for a considerable amount of time. While waiting on the results of a CT scan, tons of speculation circled the injury debating whether it was broken, dislocated, or a bruise. Hoping for the best, and as a Twins fan, always expecting the worst. Not only was Correa being scratched from play at this time, but the team is also working through a small stint of COVID-19 in the club house, taking out Luis Arraez, Rocco Baldelli, and Dylan Bundy. Luckily, the CT scan showed no fractured bones for Correa. With the news that it is "just a bruise" and he wouldn't be put on the Injured List, he attempted to ask into the lineup. Jayce Tingler said No. With all the bad news hitting the Twins this week, the ailments and injuries have allowed for some major roster moves that gave Twins fans a morale boost. Royce Lewis, who missed the past two seasons, 2020 with the pandemic and 2021 due to his torn ACL, joined the Twins and made his MLB debut. Another Day Another Debut Royce Lewis (and Twins fans) have been waiting for this day since he was drafted by the Twins with the first overall pick in the2017 draft. There were a few bumps on the road to the Show, but he has arrived, and Lewis joined his teammates on the field donning #23, once worn by fan-favorite Nelson Cruz before he was traded to Tampa Bay. Some have a “too soon” feeling, all in fun of course, but maybe it’s a good omen for the young player and Cruz’s talent will rub off on him. Lewis has been tearing it up in St. Paul this season, showing that he is more than ready and capable for this call-up. His at-bats are some of the most impressive thus far with 21 hits (including 11 doubles) helping catapult his team to an above .500 April. While he didn't take Correa's roster spot, he did take Luis Arraez's spot, with Arraez officially going on the Covid-IL. It’s a good problem to have when you can be sad for one player potentially being hurt, but now the team has aces up their sleeve who can come in and take their place. Luckily for the fans, Correa is okay, and Lewis still got to make his debut and gain some experience. Lewis had a successful night at third base in support of Friday night's starter Josh Winder. In the first inning, on his fourth pitch, Winder threw a fastball to Sheldon Neuse which came off the tip of the bat, a hopper right to shortstop, giving Lewis his first major league put-out, throwing to Jose Miranda to get out Neuse at first base. Lewis started out his hitting career with the Twins with a ground out to third base, but Lewis left first base with a huge smile on his face and the glow didn’t disappear all night. Lewis made contact every time he was at bat tonight, finally getting the first hit of his Major League career in the bottom of the eighth. While Lewis did not get a chance to score, all-in-all it was a fantastic night for the Twins top prospect and fans are ready for more! Warm nights, Hot performances In the second inning, Jose Miranda connected for his first major-league home run. Miranda drilled a Zach Logue’s fastball, hitting the ball into second deck in left field. The velocity on the home run was 105.5 MPH. Trevor Larnach has not let up on offense. He collected another double tonight, his ninth of the season. Larnach has been beyond impressive at the plate and with his defense. In the second inning, Elvis Andrus hit a one-hopper to Larnach in left, who fielded the ball and threw it home to Gary Sanchez to get out the runner easily. Byron Buxton was in the game as the Designated Hitter on Friday, and while fans would rather see him in center field, it doesn’t matter where he is, he makes an impact. Buxton hit his ninth home run, putting him in fourth place in the American League this season. The Starters and the Bullpen are on Fire Josh Winder had his second start of the season. This was his first start at Target Field. On this night, the mound was his, and he started out hot again, with a ground out and two strikeouts in the first inning. Winder followed that up by striking out Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy for a 1-2-3 inning. His pitching didn’t let up. By the top of the fifth inning, the rookie had four straight strikeouts and four 1-2-3 innings before Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to Lewis who made a great stop and threw to Miranda for the out. Winder carried the Twins through six innings, only allowing an unearned run and that came at the end of his night in the sixth inning. Wes Johnson came out to give his rookie some advice, and Winder was able to regain composure and finish out the inning. His night ended when Gary Sanchez threw out Sheldon Neuse on a steal attempt. The bullpen started out great with Joe Smith and Tyler Duffey who got the team through innings seventh and eighth innings. Fans held their breath as Emilio Pagan took the mound and loaded the bases in the top of the ninth. With bases full and Chad Pinder's count full, Pagan got a swinging strike to end the game. What was your favorite moment of the game? What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series this weekend with Oakland before Houston comes to town on Tuesday and meets up with Correa for the first time in a different uniform. Remaining pitching matchups for this series include: Saturday 1:10 pm: Sonny Gray (coming off IL) vs RHP James Kaprielian (0-1, 18.00 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm: Chris Paddock (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Pagán 27 0 0 0 28 55 Thielbar 0 18 0 18 0 36 Jax 15 0 0 15 0 30 Duffey 0 18 0 0 11 29 Coulombe 0 0 26 0 0 26 Stashak 0 11 0 0 0 11 Duran 10 0 0 0 0 10 Smith 2 0 0 0 6 8 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
  21. Tonight's Minnesota Twins System Recap highlights Royce Lewis' MLB debut, including his first hit, Jose Miranda's first home run, Josh Winder, Gilberto Celestino, Byron Buxton, Caleb Hamilton, Matt Wallner, Louie Varland, Matt Canterino, Anthony Prato and more.
  22. Tonight's Minnesota Twins System Recap highlights Royce Lewis' MLB debut, including his first hit, Jose Miranda's first home run, Josh Winder, Gilberto Celestino, Byron Buxton, Caleb Hamilton, Matt Wallner, Louie Varland, Matt Canterino, Anthony Prato and more. View full video
  23. One key injury and Lewis's hot start at Triple-A has the team's top prospect ready to make his big-league debut tonight. Here is a look back at his professional career up to this point. After missing two seasons, Royce Lewis probably didn't imagine making it to the big leagues at the beginning of May. Minnesota had few other options on the 40-man roster. While it appears Carlos Correa has avoided an IL-stint, Lewis still has been promoted to play shortstop while Correa is out and Luis Arraez is on the Covid IL. Lewis's professional career has included some bumps in the road, so let's look back at his time in the Twins organization. Minnesota selected Lewis as the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. At the time, there were a handful of other players in the mix for the top pick, including Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay, and Kyle Wright. Out of the top five picks, Lewis is the lone player yet to make his big-league debut, and four players from that first round have accumulated 1.6 WAR or more in their careers. Shortly after signing, Lewis made his professional debut in the GCL, where he hit .271/.390/.414 (.803) with 11 extra-base hits in 36 games. Minnesota was aggressive and moved him to Low-A for the season's final 18 games, where he was over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He raised his batting average by 25 points after the promotion and still got on base over 36% of the time. It was a solid professional debut for the 18-year-old, and he was a consensus top-30 prospect on all three national top-100 lists. During the 2018 season, Lewis split time between Low- and High-A. In 121 games, he hit .292/.352/.451 (.803) with 29 doubles, three triples, and 14 home runs. Some of his best numbers came in clutch spots as he also posted a .903 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position. While these numbers are strong, it's essential to consider that he was 19-years old. Only two of his plate appearances came against younger pitchers. Lewis dealt with on-field struggles for the first time as his OPS dropped to .661, and he struck out 123 times in 127 games. He also committed 20 errors at shortstop. However, Lewis was over 3.5 years younger than the competition at Double-A. Minnesota sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League following the season, where he performed very well. In 22 games, he hit .353/.411/.565 (.975) with nine doubles and three home runs. Only five months past his 20th birthday, the league managers voted Lewis as the AFL MVP. COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season for all minor league players, but Lewis was part of the group of players that was able to work at the alternate site. Minnesota spoke highly of his development on both sides of the ball during the shutdown. "Offensively, it's been a lot of work on his lower half, and his lower half direction," Twins assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll said. "He performed well with the opportunities he had, and he's poised for a big step forward." Unfortunately, Lewis wasn't able to showcase that step forward in 2021. Entering the 2021 season, his intake physical revealed a torn ACL in his right knee that required surgery. Lewis showed maturity beyond his years when facing the adversity involved with major surgery. He built strength in all parts of his body during the rehab process, but he was clear on the goal. "2022 is going to be scary and spooky, man," Lewis said. "Just watch out. It's truly amazing what Lewis has been able to do in his return to the field during the 2022 campaign. In 23 games for the Saints, he hit .310/.427/.560 (.987) with 14 extra-base hits. He is over three years younger than the average age of the competition at Triple-A, and he is showing no signs of rust that may be associated with missing multiple seasons. His prediction about the 2022 season was correct, but now he will need to translate that success to the big-league level. Congratulations to Lewis on the big-league promotion. What will you remember most about his minor league career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  24. After missing two seasons, Royce Lewis probably didn't imagine making it to the big leagues at the beginning of May. Minnesota had few other options on the 40-man roster. While it appears Carlos Correa has avoided an IL-stint, Lewis still has been promoted to play shortstop while Correa is out and Luis Arraez is on the Covid IL. Lewis's professional career has included some bumps in the road, so let's look back at his time in the Twins organization. Minnesota selected Lewis as the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. At the time, there were a handful of other players in the mix for the top pick, including Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay, and Kyle Wright. Out of the top five picks, Lewis is the lone player yet to make his big-league debut, and four players from that first round have accumulated 1.6 WAR or more in their careers. Shortly after signing, Lewis made his professional debut in the GCL, where he hit .271/.390/.414 (.803) with 11 extra-base hits in 36 games. Minnesota was aggressive and moved him to Low-A for the season's final 18 games, where he was over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He raised his batting average by 25 points after the promotion and still got on base over 36% of the time. It was a solid professional debut for the 18-year-old, and he was a consensus top-30 prospect on all three national top-100 lists. During the 2018 season, Lewis split time between Low- and High-A. In 121 games, he hit .292/.352/.451 (.803) with 29 doubles, three triples, and 14 home runs. Some of his best numbers came in clutch spots as he also posted a .903 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position. While these numbers are strong, it's essential to consider that he was 19-years old. Only two of his plate appearances came against younger pitchers. Lewis dealt with on-field struggles for the first time as his OPS dropped to .661, and he struck out 123 times in 127 games. He also committed 20 errors at shortstop. However, Lewis was over 3.5 years younger than the competition at Double-A. Minnesota sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League following the season, where he performed very well. In 22 games, he hit .353/.411/.565 (.975) with nine doubles and three home runs. Only five months past his 20th birthday, the league managers voted Lewis as the AFL MVP. COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season for all minor league players, but Lewis was part of the group of players that was able to work at the alternate site. Minnesota spoke highly of his development on both sides of the ball during the shutdown. "Offensively, it's been a lot of work on his lower half, and his lower half direction," Twins assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll said. "He performed well with the opportunities he had, and he's poised for a big step forward." Unfortunately, Lewis wasn't able to showcase that step forward in 2021. Entering the 2021 season, his intake physical revealed a torn ACL in his right knee that required surgery. Lewis showed maturity beyond his years when facing the adversity involved with major surgery. He built strength in all parts of his body during the rehab process, but he was clear on the goal. "2022 is going to be scary and spooky, man," Lewis said. "Just watch out. It's truly amazing what Lewis has been able to do in his return to the field during the 2022 campaign. In 23 games for the Saints, he hit .310/.427/.560 (.987) with 14 extra-base hits. He is over three years younger than the average age of the competition at Triple-A, and he is showing no signs of rust that may be associated with missing multiple seasons. His prediction about the 2022 season was correct, but now he will need to translate that success to the big-league level. Congratulations to Lewis on the big-league promotion. What will you remember most about his minor league career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. Carlos Correa injured his finger when hit by a pitch on Thursday night in Baltimore (thankfully not broken!). But this hopefully minor setback at least comes with a genuine silver lining: Former first overall pick Royce Lewis is coming to the big leagues, following a scorching hot start with the St. Paul Saints. It's been quite an interesting journey for Royce Lewis. The Twins surprised the baseball world when they selected him first overall in 2017, signing the California prep star below slot while passing up flashy names like Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay and MacKenzie Gore to gamble on the toolsy shortstop. It paid off. Lewis emerged as a superior prospect compared to all others at the top of that draft, and was a consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball heading into 2019, where he appeared in the Futures Game. But that season was a bit of a struggle for him, facing advanced competition in the higher minors. Lewis missed the next two seasons entirely, with COVID wiping out 2020 and a knee injury sidelining him for all of 2021. He came into this 2022 campaign plagued by question marks, but wasted no time in putting them to rest. Playing at Triple-A for the first time, Lewis has been an absolute monster. He hit his 11th double on Thursday night and is batting .310 with a .993 OPS for the Saints. The speedster didn't lose a step from his knee surgery, as he's already got eight steals on nine attempts. Perhaps most impressively, this historically undisciplined hitter has a 20-to-17 K/BB ratio in 107 plate appearances. Lewis came back after a two-year layoff and immediately conquered the biggest weakness in his game. Those of us who've been following him along the way are not shocked. Lewis is a rare specimen and it's extremely exciting that we'll now get to see him take the big-league stage, even if the circumstances that precipitated it are undeniably bogus. Lewis has played shortstop almost exclusively in the minors and is poised to play there almost every day for the Twins in Correa's absence, however long that lasts. (Presumably not long since he avoided the IL.) Lewis' defense will be worth watching closely, since many feel he's not destined to stick at the position. Despite his rocky road, Royce Lewis is going to debut in the majors at age 22, less than five years after being drafted out of high school. Somehow, despite all the turbulence, his timeline still worked out almost exactly as you'd hope. Now he's got a chance to make an impression -- albeit perhaps a brief one. Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct the mistaken assumption that Correa's broken finger was confirmed by Friday morning's CT scan. We apologize for the error. View full article
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