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  1. Since the 2019 season, the bullpen has been one pervasive factor holding back the Minnesota Twins in their quest for contention. Ironically, during the same span, the two major-league leaders among relief pitchers in fWAR are former Twins Liam Hendriks and Ryan Pressly, the latter of whom just got done starring in the World Series (again). Image courtesy of Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Liam Hendriks and Ryan Pressly spent one season pitching together on the Twins staff. It was 2013, when Pressly had just joined the club as a Rule 5 pick, and Hendriks was playing out the string with the organization that first signed him. At the time there was no indication we were looking at two of the future biggest relief stars in baseball. Hendriks posted a 6.85 ERA in 47 ⅓ innings and was waived in December, owner of a 5.31 FIP and 5.8 K/9 rate through 156 big-league frames. Pressly was moderately effective as a rookie long reliever, tossing 76 ⅔ innings at a 3.87 ERA but with an underwhelming 49-to-27 K/BB ratio. He might not have hung around the majors all season if the team were not compelled to do so by his Rule 5 status. I don't really blame the Twins for moving on from Hendriks, though it would've been nice to see him at least audition in a short-burst relief role first. When they waived him, he was claimed by the Cubs, who themselves waived him 10 days later. The Orioles, who claimed him from Chicago, followed suit by waiving Hendriks in February. Hendriks landed with the Blue Jays, who traded him to Kansas City in July. The Royals then traded him back to Toronto in October. Three weeks later, the Jays turned around and traded him to Oakland. You still keeping track? Me neither. Needless to say, it took a lot of scenery changes for Hendriks, and a lot of teams had him in their grasp (however briefly) before he finally settled in for the A's and began reaching his full form as the best reliever in baseball. Pressly, on the other hand, was already reaching his full form when the Twins decided to trade him to Houston at the 2018 deadline. This was a very different situation and one much more worthy of dissection. There seems to be a misperception that Pressly was a poor performer in Minnesota who instantly flipped a switch to become elite with the Astros, but that's not really the truth. Pressly's development with the Twins was a slow and gradual process. With each passing season, his velocity would nudge upward a bit, along with his strikeout rate. Under two different managers and three different pitching coaches, Minnesota stuck with Pressly through some fairly uninspiring seasons, all in the hope he'd eventually reach the dominant peak they long envisioned. In 2018, he did it. All that time and work finally paid off. By now Pressly was averaging 96 MPH with his fastball and decimating opposing hitters. In 47 ⅔ innings with the Twins he had a 13.0 K.9 rate and a 17.9% swinging strike rate. Those numbers ranked ninth and fifth in all of baseball, respectively. He had a 2.95 FIP at the time they traded him. His spin rates were off the charts. It's easy to see why the Astros came calling. Unlike the rest of their deadline sell-offs in 2018 – including the Eduardo Escobar trade that brought in Jhoan Durán – the Twins were not motivated to move Pressly, who still had another year of team control remaining. But they liked Houston's offer of Jorge Alcalá and Gilberto Celestino enough to pull the trigger. A reasonable decision at the time, especially considering the general volatility of relief pitchers. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that this trade has been an abject disaster for the Twins thus far. Alcalá and Celestino, to their credit, have both reached the majors, and the book is far from written on them. But neither has proven to be a major impact player yet, while Pressly has gone on to become one of the most impactful relievers in the league – and one the Twins could've desperately used over these past four years. Late-inning relief has been perpetual thorn in the organization's side. Thrust back into championship contention sooner than expected in 2019, the Twins found themselves short-handed in the bullpen, and traded for Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson at the deadline. Minnesota still got swept out of the postseason, with relievers taking the brunt of the negative WPA. In 2020, the bullpen was actually a big asset through the 60-game regular season, but again it was the relief corps (namely Romo) lapsing severely in the playoffs. I'll never waver that Minnesota's offense bears most responsibility for that miserable 0-5 stretch in October of 2019-20 (and the team's long-running playoff woes at large) but the fact remains: they ran out of guns in crunch time. Meanwhile Pressly was emerging as an All-Star annihilator for the Astros – not to mention a big-time postseason performer. The 2021 and 2022 Twins seasons were tanked largely by dreadful bullpens, with the main culprits being veteran pitchers targeted as late-inning replacements to fill Pressly's void. By now it seemed no matter which route the front office went in seeking bullpen help – signing a steady established name (Alex Colomé), trading for a buy-low candidate (Emilio Pagán), trading for a buy-high candidate (Jorge López), sticking with their staples (Tyler Duffey), moving on from their staples (Taylor Rogers) – they could do no right. Their lack of late-inning dependability became a major hindrance, a chronic momentum-killer and source of angst for fans. Through it all, Pressly just kept on dominating for the Astros, like almost no other reliever in baseball. With his help, Houston went to the World Series three times in four years, and just won it. Now, there are a number of counterarguments people could make (and have made) to refute the idea that Minnesota blundered with this move. To me, they all ring a bit hollow: They didn't have the coaching staff to unlock Pressly at the time. It's not exactly a big secret that manager Paul Molitor and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado were widely viewed as ineffective at translating and embedding analytics principles for players. I would respond that while these coaches might have been inherited by the current regime, baseball ops still controls who is on the staff. And, four months after Pressly was traded, Falvey would install his own new group led by the analytically-inclined Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson. If the Twins recognized what they had in Pressly, they could've held him and brought in the right people to bring it out. He wouldn't have thrived here like he did in Houston. One might argue that, even with new coaches, Pressly would've never reached the heights he did in Houston, where his ERA dropped from 3.40 in the first half with the Twins to 0.77 post-trade. Astros pitching coach Brent Strom is regarded as one of the best in the biz. Fair point. But in reality, Pressly only needed to stay the course to be a massive asset in the Twins bullpen. As mentioned, he was statistically one of the most dominant relievers in the league BEFORE they dealt him. They weren't going to sign him to the contract extension Houston did. The reason Pressly is still on the Astros is because they quickly signed him to a two-year extension, buying out his first two years of free agency with a two-year, $17.5 million option. (They recently re-upped with another two-year deal.) This Twins front office hasn't shown any willingness to extend relievers, or really even to shell out multi-year contracts to them. But ... there's no reason they COULDN'T have extended Pressly, other than their own volition. I think we're past the point of deferring to this front office's stubborn adherence to a status quo that hasn't gotten the job done. Ultimately, any counterargument that tries to absolve the Twins of blame in ends up directing it back to them in some different way. The bottom line is that they took a measured risk in trading Pressly and, like many they've taken, this one blew up in their faces. I'm not saying it's some unforgivable offense. One thing I like about this front office is their threshold for risk in the name of upside. It's possible we'll rue this particular decision less one day, because Alcalá and Celestino have years of control remaining and potential left to tap. Also, while the overall tone of this column may be critical, it should be emphasized that the Twins deserve credit for identifying and acquiring these talents to begin with: They found Hendriks as an unknown teenager in the barely-scouted continent of Australia. They developed him into a legitimate prospect, who appeared in back-to-back Futures Games, and a big-leaguer. The Twins set Hendriks on the path to stardom. They identified Pressly as a seemingly unremarkable arm in the Red Sox system, one who'd barely pitched above Single-A at age 24. They developed him from solid MLB long reliever to effective middle reliever to outstanding setup man before flipping him to Houston where Pressly completed his evolution. The Twins have shown an eye for the right relief talent, but they've usually been unable to properly actualize it while in Minnesota. In order to escape their cycle of bullpen torment, they need to break the spell. Twins Daily Caretakers can now download the new chapter of the Offseason Handbook, "Scouring Free Agency for Relief Help," and learn about the options available to them as they look to break the spell. If you haven't yet, sign up as a Caretaker to access all of the Handbook content as it drops! View full article
  2. Liam Hendriks and Ryan Pressly spent one season pitching together on the Twins staff. It was 2013, when Pressly had just joined the club as a Rule 5 pick, and Hendriks was playing out the string with the organization that first signed him. At the time there was no indication we were looking at two of the future biggest relief stars in baseball. Hendriks posted a 6.85 ERA in 47 ⅓ innings and was waived in December, owner of a 5.31 FIP and 5.8 K/9 rate through 156 big-league frames. Pressly was moderately effective as a rookie long reliever, tossing 76 ⅔ innings at a 3.87 ERA but with an underwhelming 49-to-27 K/BB ratio. He might not have hung around the majors all season if the team were not compelled to do so by his Rule 5 status. I don't really blame the Twins for moving on from Hendriks, though it would've been nice to see him at least audition in a short-burst relief role first. When they waived him, he was claimed by the Cubs, who themselves waived him 10 days later. The Orioles, who claimed him from Chicago, followed suit by waiving Hendriks in February. Hendriks landed with the Blue Jays, who traded him to Kansas City in July. The Royals then traded him back to Toronto in October. Three weeks later, the Jays turned around and traded him to Oakland. You still keeping track? Me neither. Needless to say, it took a lot of scenery changes for Hendriks, and a lot of teams had him in their grasp (however briefly) before he finally settled in for the A's and began reaching his full form as the best reliever in baseball. Pressly, on the other hand, was already reaching his full form when the Twins decided to trade him to Houston at the 2018 deadline. This was a very different situation and one much more worthy of dissection. There seems to be a misperception that Pressly was a poor performer in Minnesota who instantly flipped a switch to become elite with the Astros, but that's not really the truth. Pressly's development with the Twins was a slow and gradual process. With each passing season, his velocity would nudge upward a bit, along with his strikeout rate. Under two different managers and three different pitching coaches, Minnesota stuck with Pressly through some fairly uninspiring seasons, all in the hope he'd eventually reach the dominant peak they long envisioned. In 2018, he did it. All that time and work finally paid off. By now Pressly was averaging 96 MPH with his fastball and decimating opposing hitters. In 47 ⅔ innings with the Twins he had a 13.0 K.9 rate and a 17.9% swinging strike rate. Those numbers ranked ninth and fifth in all of baseball, respectively. He had a 2.95 FIP at the time they traded him. His spin rates were off the charts. It's easy to see why the Astros came calling. Unlike the rest of their deadline sell-offs in 2018 – including the Eduardo Escobar trade that brought in Jhoan Durán – the Twins were not motivated to move Pressly, who still had another year of team control remaining. But they liked Houston's offer of Jorge Alcalá and Gilberto Celestino enough to pull the trigger. A reasonable decision at the time, especially considering the general volatility of relief pitchers. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that this trade has been an abject disaster for the Twins thus far. Alcalá and Celestino, to their credit, have both reached the majors, and the book is far from written on them. But neither has proven to be a major impact player yet, while Pressly has gone on to become one of the most impactful relievers in the league – and one the Twins could've desperately used over these past four years. Late-inning relief has been perpetual thorn in the organization's side. Thrust back into championship contention sooner than expected in 2019, the Twins found themselves short-handed in the bullpen, and traded for Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson at the deadline. Minnesota still got swept out of the postseason, with relievers taking the brunt of the negative WPA. In 2020, the bullpen was actually a big asset through the 60-game regular season, but again it was the relief corps (namely Romo) lapsing severely in the playoffs. I'll never waver that Minnesota's offense bears most responsibility for that miserable 0-5 stretch in October of 2019-20 (and the team's long-running playoff woes at large) but the fact remains: they ran out of guns in crunch time. Meanwhile Pressly was emerging as an All-Star annihilator for the Astros – not to mention a big-time postseason performer. The 2021 and 2022 Twins seasons were tanked largely by dreadful bullpens, with the main culprits being veteran pitchers targeted as late-inning replacements to fill Pressly's void. By now it seemed no matter which route the front office went in seeking bullpen help – signing a steady established name (Alex Colomé), trading for a buy-low candidate (Emilio Pagán), trading for a buy-high candidate (Jorge López), sticking with their staples (Tyler Duffey), moving on from their staples (Taylor Rogers) – they could do no right. Their lack of late-inning dependability became a major hindrance, a chronic momentum-killer and source of angst for fans. Through it all, Pressly just kept on dominating for the Astros, like almost no other reliever in baseball. With his help, Houston went to the World Series three times in four years, and just won it. Now, there are a number of counterarguments people could make (and have made) to refute the idea that Minnesota blundered with this move. To me, they all ring a bit hollow: They didn't have the coaching staff to unlock Pressly at the time. It's not exactly a big secret that manager Paul Molitor and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado were widely viewed as ineffective at translating and embedding analytics principles for players. I would respond that while these coaches might have been inherited by the current regime, baseball ops still controls who is on the staff. And, four months after Pressly was traded, Falvey would install his own new group led by the analytically-inclined Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson. If the Twins recognized what they had in Pressly, they could've held him and brought in the right people to bring it out. He wouldn't have thrived here like he did in Houston. One might argue that, even with new coaches, Pressly would've never reached the heights he did in Houston, where his ERA dropped from 3.40 in the first half with the Twins to 0.77 post-trade. Astros pitching coach Brent Strom is regarded as one of the best in the biz. Fair point. But in reality, Pressly only needed to stay the course to be a massive asset in the Twins bullpen. As mentioned, he was statistically one of the most dominant relievers in the league BEFORE they dealt him. They weren't going to sign him to the contract extension Houston did. The reason Pressly is still on the Astros is because they quickly signed him to a two-year extension, buying out his first two years of free agency with a two-year, $17.5 million option. (They recently re-upped with another two-year deal.) This Twins front office hasn't shown any willingness to extend relievers, or really even to shell out multi-year contracts to them. But ... there's no reason they COULDN'T have extended Pressly, other than their own volition. I think we're past the point of deferring to this front office's stubborn adherence to a status quo that hasn't gotten the job done. Ultimately, any counterargument that tries to absolve the Twins of blame in ends up directing it back to them in some different way. The bottom line is that they took a measured risk in trading Pressly and, like many they've taken, this one blew up in their faces. I'm not saying it's some unforgivable offense. One thing I like about this front office is their threshold for risk in the name of upside. It's possible we'll rue this particular decision less one day, because Alcalá and Celestino have years of control remaining and potential left to tap. Also, while the overall tone of this column may be critical, it should be emphasized that the Twins deserve credit for identifying and acquiring these talents to begin with: They found Hendriks as an unknown teenager in the barely-scouted continent of Australia. They developed him into a legitimate prospect, who appeared in back-to-back Futures Games, and a big-leaguer. The Twins set Hendriks on the path to stardom. They identified Pressly as a seemingly unremarkable arm in the Red Sox system, one who'd barely pitched above Single-A at age 24. They developed him from solid MLB long reliever to effective middle reliever to outstanding setup man before flipping him to Houston where Pressly completed his evolution. The Twins have shown an eye for the right relief talent, but they've usually been unable to properly actualize it while in Minnesota. In order to escape their cycle of bullpen torment, they need to break the spell. Twins Daily Caretakers can now download the new chapter of the Offseason Handbook, "Scouring Free Agency for Relief Help," and learn about the options available to them as they look to break the spell. If you haven't yet, sign up as a Caretaker to access all of the Handbook content as it drops!
  3. Last night, Astros closer and former Minnesota Twins Rule 5 pick and relief pitcher Ryan Pressly recorded the final three outs of the second no-hitter in World Series history. 2013 was the first season of Twins Daily, and I had the opportunity to cover Opening Day at Target Field. A couple of hours before the game, I walked up to a nervous Ryan Pressly at his locker. He was excited, anxious, wide-eyed, and had no clue where his career might take him. Here is that Opening Day article from April 1, 2013, at Twins Daily. Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports Target Field - Phenom Aaron Hicks is not the only Minnesota Twins player who will be making the jump from AA to the big leagues in 2013. Rule 5 pick Ryan Pressly is also making that jump, and he’s admittedly, and understandably, “pretty nervous right now” as the Twins and Tigers are preparing to open their 2013 seasons at Target Field this afternoon. Aaron Hicks spent the entire 2012 season in New Britain. Ryan Pressly didn’t make his AA debut until mid-July, shortly after making the transition from being a starting pitcher to his new role in the bullpen. Pressly pitched very well in the Arizona Fall League in 2012 and impressed the Twins brass enough to make him their Rule 5 selection in December. By rules, the Twins are required to keep Pressly on the big league roster for the entire 2013 season or would have to offer him back to the Red Sox. Pressly is hoping to stick around with the Twins for a while. Twins Daily had the opportunity to talk to the hard-throwing, 24-year-old right-hander from Dallas before batting practice today. It wasn’t hard to tell that Pressly is thrilled to be with the Twins and in the big leagues. His ear-to-ear smile tells that story clearly. “I’m pretty nervous right now. I wouldn’t say nervous, more anxious than anything, because it’s Opening Day. A lot of these guys have gone through it, but some of us haven’t and it’s pretty fun, pretty entertaining.” He found spring training to be even more than he was anticipating this spring. “(I) never realized how the competition was there, and it just kind of shocked me. I was more in shock when I got there, seeing all the guys in camp, everybody competing. It was fun though.” It was fun, in part, because he pitched incredibly well. In 13 1/3 innings over 10 spring training games, he gave up just one run on nine hits. He posted a 0.66 ERA and opponents hit just .191 off of him. What did he credit for his success? “Just attacking hitters. I was just going after them. I didn’t really try to get too cute with anything. I just wanted to throw all my stuff for strikes and try to get people out. That’s really all you can do.” It was really just a continuation of his successful AFL stint where he walked just one and struck out 18 in 14 innings. The righty throws 95 with a good, power curveball. “I guess at the AFL and the end of AA season, it all just kind of clicked. I really can’t explain it. I can’t explain what I have done, but it’s just clicked. I guess moving to the bullpen, a new role it’s just helped a lot. ” Having come from the Red Sox organization, he already was familiar with the city of Ft. Myers. The Red Sox spring training facilities are just across town. The two teams played several times throughout spring training. It was after an appearance against the Red Sox when Pressly was told the news he had hoped for all spring training, that he would make the Twins Opening Day roster. “I got done throwing, and I wasn’t even two steps into the dugout and (Ron) Gardenhire shook my hand and said ‘Congratulations, You made the team.’ I was just in shock, and I didn’t even know what to say or do. I just shook his hand and said, ‘OK.’” His dad was in a business meeting at the time, but he still called home. “I called my mom, and she was ecstatic. Screaming. I think she was crying a little bit, but it was an awesome feeling. I don’t think I was even out of my cleats yet.” Pressly played most of the 2012 season with Jackie Bradley, Jr. who made his major league debut today as the Red Sox left fielder after splitting the 2012 season between A ball and AA ball. Pressly is excited for his first Opening Day, as he should be. He’s even excited to get to partake in the Twins bullpen tradition. How does he feel about carrying out the pink backpack full of treats? He’s excited. “I’ve got everything organized in there already. I just have to take some drink requests after we get done throwing.” Pressly isn’t completely certain what role or what types of situations he’ll be put into. He couldn’t stop smiling during a pre-batting practice interview. It’s a great story. As Twins fans, let’s hope that he pitches well and keeps on smiling throughout the season. ---------------------------------------------------- Ten Seasons. A couple of All Star games. A World Series ring, and working on a second one. Last night, Ryan Pressly recorded the final three outs of an Astros combined no-hitter, just the second no-hitter in World Series history. View full article
  4. Target Field - Phenom Aaron Hicks is not the only Minnesota Twins player who will be making the jump from AA to the big leagues in 2013. Rule 5 pick Ryan Pressly is also making that jump, and he’s admittedly, and understandably, “pretty nervous right now” as the Twins and Tigers are preparing to open their 2013 seasons at Target Field this afternoon. Aaron Hicks spent the entire 2012 season in New Britain. Ryan Pressly didn’t make his AA debut until mid-July, shortly after making the transition from being a starting pitcher to his new role in the bullpen. Pressly pitched very well in the Arizona Fall League in 2012 and impressed the Twins brass enough to make him their Rule 5 selection in December. By rules, the Twins are required to keep Pressly on the big league roster for the entire 2013 season or would have to offer him back to the Red Sox. Pressly is hoping to stick around with the Twins for a while. Twins Daily had the opportunity to talk to the hard-throwing, 24-year-old right-hander from Dallas before batting practice today. It wasn’t hard to tell that Pressly is thrilled to be with the Twins and in the big leagues. His ear-to-ear smile tells that story clearly. “I’m pretty nervous right now. I wouldn’t say nervous, more anxious than anything, because it’s Opening Day. A lot of these guys have gone through it, but some of us haven’t and it’s pretty fun, pretty entertaining.” He found spring training to be even more than he was anticipating this spring. “(I) never realized how the competition was there, and it just kind of shocked me. I was more in shock when I got there, seeing all the guys in camp, everybody competing. It was fun though.” It was fun, in part, because he pitched incredibly well. In 13 1/3 innings over 10 spring training games, he gave up just one run on nine hits. He posted a 0.66 ERA and opponents hit just .191 off of him. What did he credit for his success? “Just attacking hitters. I was just going after them. I didn’t really try to get too cute with anything. I just wanted to throw all my stuff for strikes and try to get people out. That’s really all you can do.” It was really just a continuation of his successful AFL stint where he walked just one and struck out 18 in 14 innings. The righty throws 95 with a good, power curveball. “I guess at the AFL and the end of AA season, it all just kind of clicked. I really can’t explain it. I can’t explain what I have done, but it’s just clicked. I guess moving to the bullpen, a new role it’s just helped a lot. ” Having come from the Red Sox organization, he already was familiar with the city of Ft. Myers. The Red Sox spring training facilities are just across town. The two teams played several times throughout spring training. It was after an appearance against the Red Sox when Pressly was told the news he had hoped for all spring training, that he would make the Twins Opening Day roster. “I got done throwing, and I wasn’t even two steps into the dugout and (Ron) Gardenhire shook my hand and said ‘Congratulations, You made the team.’ I was just in shock, and I didn’t even know what to say or do. I just shook his hand and said, ‘OK.’” His dad was in a business meeting at the time, but he still called home. “I called my mom, and she was ecstatic. Screaming. I think she was crying a little bit, but it was an awesome feeling. I don’t think I was even out of my cleats yet.” Pressly played most of the 2012 season with Jackie Bradley, Jr. who made his major league debut today as the Red Sox left fielder after splitting the 2012 season between A ball and AA ball. Pressly is excited for his first Opening Day, as he should be. He’s even excited to get to partake in the Twins bullpen tradition. How does he feel about carrying out the pink backpack full of treats? He’s excited. “I’ve got everything organized in there already. I just have to take some drink requests after we get done throwing.” Pressly isn’t completely certain what role or what types of situations he’ll be put into. He couldn’t stop smiling during a pre-batting practice interview. It’s a great story. As Twins fans, let’s hope that he pitches well and keeps on smiling throughout the season. ---------------------------------------------------- Ten Seasons. A couple of All Star games. A World Series ring, and working on a second one. Last night, Ryan Pressly recorded the final three outs of an Astros combined no-hitter, just the second no-hitter in World Series history.
  5. Do you remember where you were on July 27th, 2018? The Twins played the Boston Red Sox in a 4-3 extra innings loss—future former old friend Tyler Thornburg netted the win—and the Twins fanbase was up in arms when Matt Belisle pitched the deciding 10th frame, not Ryan Pressly. Belisle was in a rapid, soon-to-be career-ending decline, while Pressly—always frustrating but still nasty—represented the Twins’ best shot at continuing the game. Mookie Betts crushed a solo homer to win. How could Paul Molitor bungle his bullpen moves so severely? Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports As it turns out, there are reasons behind decisions like these, as Ryan Pressly soon became a Houston Astro. Shortly after the game, news broke that the well-tattooed righty would re-locate to his home state, signaling the first shoe to drop in an eventful trade deadline for the Twins, one that reverberates into the 2022 World Series. Pressly’s path following the deal is well-known by Twins fans; Houston sprinkled their magic pitching dust over him, eliminating the blow-up outings that plagued his early career while transforming him into one of the more consistent relievers in baseball. Two All-Star games called his name and, without a transition period, Pressly became the final boss in an always-talented Astro bullpen, closing important games with ease as his fastball knocked batters to the ground and his curveball brought them to their knees. So it goes. The Twins are still counting on Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala—the return package in the deal—to embrace their potential. Since 2019, only the Dodgers, Rays, and Guardians have a lower bullpen ERA than Houston’s 3.66 mark; Liam Hendriks is the sole reliever to provide more fWAR than Pressly over that span. The 2018 Twins also shied away from trading away another important player: Kyle Gibson remained on the team following a significant courting process from multiple interested franchises. The Twins front office has never feared holding on to a player if the deal isn’t right—there’s a reason why José De León stayed with the Dodgers during the Great Brian Dozier trade talks of 2016—so Gibson’s staticity wasn’t entirely shocking. That choice seems significant now. Gibson’s path to his current team, the Phillies, is less straightforward; the former first round pick pitched his way out of Minnesota after a brutal sickness-cursed 2019 season before signing a pact with the Texas Rangers. Amid a surprise All-Star campaign in 2021, Texas sent Gibson to Philadelphia in a hearty trade for three players, including top prospect Spencer Howard. The Phillies, so blessed with excellent starting pitching, now utilize Gibson as a tertiary arm, only calling his name once this postseason for a four-out appearance against the Padres in Game 2 of the NLCS. He’s far from a game-changing presence, but Gibson gobbled up nearly 170 innings in the regular season, and one can easily imagine that his veteran status has positively influenced the Phillies clubhouse. What if the Twins trade him at the deadline? Perhaps he nestles in with his new squad long-term, eliminating his future with the Phillies. Maybe the team whiffs on a separate starter, thinning their ranks enough to hold them back from playoff contention in 2022. Although, maybe that doesn’t happen, and baseball continues to be weird and often illogical. These two strings connect to a broad baseball web spun by influential deals and non-deals. The Astros will always be a powerhouse, but precisely how strong would they be without an ace, veteran reliever like Pressly? The Phillies walked a tightrope to make it this far; was Gibson enough of a force to push them into contention? We can only apply conjecture to these questions, but, unquestionably, the Twins' 2018 trade deadline subtlety influenced the upcoming World Series matchup. View full article
  6. As it turns out, there are reasons behind decisions like these, as Ryan Pressly soon became a Houston Astro. Shortly after the game, news broke that the well-tattooed righty would re-locate to his home state, signaling the first shoe to drop in an eventful trade deadline for the Twins, one that reverberates into the 2022 World Series. Pressly’s path following the deal is well-known by Twins fans; Houston sprinkled their magic pitching dust over him, eliminating the blow-up outings that plagued his early career while transforming him into one of the more consistent relievers in baseball. Two All-Star games called his name and, without a transition period, Pressly became the final boss in an always-talented Astro bullpen, closing important games with ease as his fastball knocked batters to the ground and his curveball brought them to their knees. So it goes. The Twins are still counting on Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala—the return package in the deal—to embrace their potential. Since 2019, only the Dodgers, Rays, and Guardians have a lower bullpen ERA than Houston’s 3.66 mark; Liam Hendriks is the sole reliever to provide more fWAR than Pressly over that span. The 2018 Twins also shied away from trading away another important player: Kyle Gibson remained on the team following a significant courting process from multiple interested franchises. The Twins front office has never feared holding on to a player if the deal isn’t right—there’s a reason why José De León stayed with the Dodgers during the Great Brian Dozier trade talks of 2016—so Gibson’s staticity wasn’t entirely shocking. That choice seems significant now. Gibson’s path to his current team, the Phillies, is less straightforward; the former first round pick pitched his way out of Minnesota after a brutal sickness-cursed 2019 season before signing a pact with the Texas Rangers. Amid a surprise All-Star campaign in 2021, Texas sent Gibson to Philadelphia in a hearty trade for three players, including top prospect Spencer Howard. The Phillies, so blessed with excellent starting pitching, now utilize Gibson as a tertiary arm, only calling his name once this postseason for a four-out appearance against the Padres in Game 2 of the NLCS. He’s far from a game-changing presence, but Gibson gobbled up nearly 170 innings in the regular season, and one can easily imagine that his veteran status has positively influenced the Phillies clubhouse. What if the Twins trade him at the deadline? Perhaps he nestles in with his new squad long-term, eliminating his future with the Phillies. Maybe the team whiffs on a separate starter, thinning their ranks enough to hold them back from playoff contention in 2022. Although, maybe that doesn’t happen, and baseball continues to be weird and often illogical. These two strings connect to a broad baseball web spun by influential deals and non-deals. The Astros will always be a powerhouse, but precisely how strong would they be without an ace, veteran reliever like Pressly? The Phillies walked a tightrope to make it this far; was Gibson enough of a force to push them into contention? We can only apply conjecture to these questions, but, unquestionably, the Twins' 2018 trade deadline subtlety influenced the upcoming World Series matchup.
  7. Minnesota fell out of playoff contention, but there are plenty of former Twins to watch in October. Here are six former Twins that fans can follow during their new team’s playoff run. Image courtesy of David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Some of these players left after poor performances, while others were never even given a chance to suit up in a game. New York has seen multiple former Twins find different levels of success on the position player side, while the other playoff rosters will use former Minnesota pitchers. There’s a good chance at least one former Twins player will represent the AL in the World Series. Yankees: Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Aaron Hicks Hicks is the longest-tenured Yankee of this group, as he has played over 600 games in pinstripes. During the 2022 season, he has hit .224/.334/.324 (.658), which translates to a 90 OPS+ in over 120 games. It’s only the second time he has played over 123 games since being traded to New York. Most Of his defensive innings have come in center field, where his -4.0 SDI is the second lowest in the American League. Age has continued to impact Donaldson, and the Yankees have less time for him to play DH. In his age-36 season, his OPS dropped below .750 for the first time in a decade. His defense continues to be terrific as he leads all AL third basemen in SDI, and only four defenders have accumulated more SDI than him this season. Donaldson has over 167 playoff plate appearances, and the Yankees hope his experience pays off in October. Kiner-Falefa’s Twins tenure lasted hours as the team quickly dealt him to the Yankees after acquiring him from the Rangers. His first season in New York has gone about as expected on both sides of the plate. Offensively, he has hit .263/.315/.331 (.646) with 24 extra-base hits in 137 games. Defensively, he ranks seventh among AL shortstops in SDI, which is two spots behind Minnesota’s Carlos Correa. Astros: Ryan Pressly Pressly continues to be a dominant closer for the Astros, one of two powerhouse teams in the AL. In 47 appearances this season, he has a 2.91 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP and a career-high 31 saves. He has posted an 11.8 K/9 as he has struck out nearly 35% of the batters facing him. The Astros are one of the favorites for the AL pennant, and Pressly will be asked to close out some critical games in the coming weeks. Blue Jays: Jose Berrios Berrios has gone through a terrible first full season in Toronto as he leads in AL in hits allowed and earned runs. He had been so consistent throughout his career that it’s hard to pinpoint where things have gone wrong with the Blue Jays. There is no guarantee that Berrios will be included in Toronto’s rotation for the playoffs. Would the team try to use him as a bullpen option? That seems unlikely since he has never previously been used in that role. Rays: JT Chargois Minnesota selected Chargois in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but he only made 25 appearances with the club back in 2016. Since then, he has bounced around to multiple organizations before landing with the Rays over the last two seasons. He’s been limited to 19 appearances this season because of an oblique injury, but he seems to be healthy as the team gets closer to October. In 19 1/3 innings, he has a 2.79 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and a 14-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio. Perhaps Chargois can be a secret weapon for the Rays. Which former Twin will have the best postseason? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  8. Some of these players left after poor performances, while others were never even given a chance to suit up in a game. New York has seen multiple former Twins find different levels of success on the position player side, while the other playoff rosters will use former Minnesota pitchers. There’s a good chance at least one former Twins player will represent the AL in the World Series. Yankees: Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Aaron Hicks Hicks is the longest-tenured Yankee of this group, as he has played over 600 games in pinstripes. During the 2022 season, he has hit .224/.334/.324 (.658), which translates to a 90 OPS+ in over 120 games. It’s only the second time he has played over 123 games since being traded to New York. Most Of his defensive innings have come in center field, where his -4.0 SDI is the second lowest in the American League. Age has continued to impact Donaldson, and the Yankees have less time for him to play DH. In his age-36 season, his OPS dropped below .750 for the first time in a decade. His defense continues to be terrific as he leads all AL third basemen in SDI, and only four defenders have accumulated more SDI than him this season. Donaldson has over 167 playoff plate appearances, and the Yankees hope his experience pays off in October. Kiner-Falefa’s Twins tenure lasted hours as the team quickly dealt him to the Yankees after acquiring him from the Rangers. His first season in New York has gone about as expected on both sides of the plate. Offensively, he has hit .263/.315/.331 (.646) with 24 extra-base hits in 137 games. Defensively, he ranks seventh among AL shortstops in SDI, which is two spots behind Minnesota’s Carlos Correa. Astros: Ryan Pressly Pressly continues to be a dominant closer for the Astros, one of two powerhouse teams in the AL. In 47 appearances this season, he has a 2.91 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP and a career-high 31 saves. He has posted an 11.8 K/9 as he has struck out nearly 35% of the batters facing him. The Astros are one of the favorites for the AL pennant, and Pressly will be asked to close out some critical games in the coming weeks. Blue Jays: Jose Berrios Berrios has gone through a terrible first full season in Toronto as he leads in AL in hits allowed and earned runs. He had been so consistent throughout his career that it’s hard to pinpoint where things have gone wrong with the Blue Jays. There is no guarantee that Berrios will be included in Toronto’s rotation for the playoffs. Would the team try to use him as a bullpen option? That seems unlikely since he has never previously been used in that role. Rays: JT Chargois Minnesota selected Chargois in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but he only made 25 appearances with the club back in 2016. Since then, he has bounced around to multiple organizations before landing with the Rays over the last two seasons. He’s been limited to 19 appearances this season because of an oblique injury, but he seems to be healthy as the team gets closer to October. In 19 1/3 innings, he has a 2.79 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and a 14-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio. Perhaps Chargois can be a secret weapon for the Rays. Which former Twin will have the best postseason? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. There was never any question that losing Pressly would hurt the Twins in the short term. He went on to post a 0.77 ERA with Houston over the final half of 2018. In 139 1/3 innings since Pressly has tallied a 2.45 ERA to go with an 11.8 K/9. He had become one of baseball’s best relievers with the Twins and has only ratcheted that up with the Astros. After making 60 appearances in 2021, Pressly’s team option vested into a fully guaranteed $10 million deal for 2022. He’ll hit the open market again before 2023 for his age 34 season. On the Twins side of things, they’ve seen a bit of what both Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino can do, but 2022 should represent an opportunity for both to establish themselves completely. Let’s start in the bullpen with Alcala, as he’s a much more integral piece of the immediate puzzle. Pitching 59 2/3 innings last year for the Twins, Alcala owned a 3.92 ERA to go with a 9.2 K/9. Despite the 0.97 WHIP, his bugaboo was a 1.5 HR/9, pushing his FIP to 4.06. However, what’s worth noting is that it was a tale of two seasons for the Minnesota reliever. Through 40 appearances, he posted a 5.73 ERA and had allowed nine home runs in just 37 2/3 innings. A stretch of 22 innings pitched from that point forward, Alcala owned a 0.82 ERA, keeping opposing batters to a .420 OPS. His 27/3 K/BB was incredible, and only one ball left the yard. That’s what we must hope for coming into 2022. Derek Falvey didn’t flip Ryan Pressly for what Jorge Alcala was at the time, but he did make that move for what he could be now. At just 26-years-old, Alcala is still pre-arbitration and won’t hit free agency until 2026. Getting an elite level of production out of him for pennies on the dollar over the next four seasons would be a massive victory. He looks the part of a late-inning arm and could undoubtedly eat up closer opportunities should they present themselves. That alone would make the deal worth it, and we’ve yet to discuss Celestino. Forced into action early from Double-A after a run on outfield injuries last season, Celestino appeared in 23 games for the Twins. It went as to be expected, and he posted just a .466 OPS. Defensively the skills looked very close, but the bat needed more time to mature. Going to Triple-A St. Paul the rest of the way, Celestino made his case. Over 49 games with the Saints, he slashed .290/.384/.443 with 18 extra-base hits included five home runs. It was unquestionably his best offensive showing in the minors and should help re-establish his confidence in the future. Minnesota is always going to need a solid fourth outfielder behind Byron Buxton. I have some feelings about who they should look at outside of the organization, but Celestino could easily play himself into a better option for that role. Without needing to be an impact player immediately on Opening Day, it’s more than fair to suggest Celestino could parlay his strong finish at Triple-A into a forced promotion early on in 2022. Hitting on both inclusions in the Ryan Pressly trade would be the type of result Falvey had undoubtedly envisioned. It’s never easy to evaluate a baseball trade when it is made with an indication of how it will pan out. You can draw conclusions based on the level of prospect returned, but the real evaluation always takes place once players have had an opportunity to develop. Minnesota has pushed both talents through their system and is now ready to cash them in. It could soon become time to call this swap a victory.
  10. On July 27, 2018, the Minnesota Twins made a move that many found frustrating when valuing Derek Falvey’s return. The team was mediocre, and Ryan Pressly was one of their best relievers. He was sent to Houston in exchange for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. In 2022, it may be time for Falvey to cash both those checks. There was never any question that losing Pressly would hurt the Twins in the short term. He went on to post a 0.77 ERA with Houston over the final half of 2018. In 139 1/3 innings since Pressly has tallied a 2.45 ERA to go with an 11.8 K/9. He had become one of baseball’s best relievers with the Twins and has only ratcheted that up with the Astros. After making 60 appearances in 2021, Pressly’s team option vested into a fully guaranteed $10 million deal for 2022. He’ll hit the open market again before 2023 for his age 34 season. On the Twins side of things, they’ve seen a bit of what both Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino can do, but 2022 should represent an opportunity for both to establish themselves completely. Let’s start in the bullpen with Alcala, as he’s a much more integral piece of the immediate puzzle. Pitching 59 2/3 innings last year for the Twins, Alcala owned a 3.92 ERA to go with a 9.2 K/9. Despite the 0.97 WHIP, his bugaboo was a 1.5 HR/9, pushing his FIP to 4.06. However, what’s worth noting is that it was a tale of two seasons for the Minnesota reliever. Through 40 appearances, he posted a 5.73 ERA and had allowed nine home runs in just 37 2/3 innings. A stretch of 22 innings pitched from that point forward, Alcala owned a 0.82 ERA, keeping opposing batters to a .420 OPS. His 27/3 K/BB was incredible, and only one ball left the yard. That’s what we must hope for coming into 2022. Derek Falvey didn’t flip Ryan Pressly for what Jorge Alcala was at the time, but he did make that move for what he could be now. At just 26-years-old, Alcala is still pre-arbitration and won’t hit free agency until 2026. Getting an elite level of production out of him for pennies on the dollar over the next four seasons would be a massive victory. He looks the part of a late-inning arm and could undoubtedly eat up closer opportunities should they present themselves. That alone would make the deal worth it, and we’ve yet to discuss Celestino. Forced into action early from Double-A after a run on outfield injuries last season, Celestino appeared in 23 games for the Twins. It went as to be expected, and he posted just a .466 OPS. Defensively the skills looked very close, but the bat needed more time to mature. Going to Triple-A St. Paul the rest of the way, Celestino made his case. Over 49 games with the Saints, he slashed .290/.384/.443 with 18 extra-base hits included five home runs. It was unquestionably his best offensive showing in the minors and should help re-establish his confidence in the future. Minnesota is always going to need a solid fourth outfielder behind Byron Buxton. I have some feelings about who they should look at outside of the organization, but Celestino could easily play himself into a better option for that role. Without needing to be an impact player immediately on Opening Day, it’s more than fair to suggest Celestino could parlay his strong finish at Triple-A into a forced promotion early on in 2022. Hitting on both inclusions in the Ryan Pressly trade would be the type of result Falvey had undoubtedly envisioned. It’s never easy to evaluate a baseball trade when it is made with an indication of how it will pan out. You can draw conclusions based on the level of prospect returned, but the real evaluation always takes place once players have had an opportunity to develop. Minnesota has pushed both talents through their system and is now ready to cash them in. It could soon become time to call this swap a victory. View full article
  11. Many fans associated Johan Santana as the best Rule 5 Draft pick in Twins history, but the Florida Marlins drafted him and then traded him to Minnesota as part of a pre-arranged deal. So, who are the best Rule 5 Draft picks in Twins history? 5. Gary Wayne, RP Twins WAR: 2.5 Minnesota selected Wayne from the Expos organization in 1988, and he pitched out of the team's bullpen for four seasons. From 1989-1992, he posted a 3.44 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP as he walked nearly four batters per nine innings. As part of the 1991 club, he only made eight appearances and allowed seven earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. He still gets a World Series ring for his contributions to that club. The Twins traded him to Colorado following the 1992 season, and he'd only pitch two more seasons at the big-league level. 4. Mark Salas, C Twins WAR: 2.7 Salas joined the Twins from the Cardinals organization and became the team's starting catcher. He finished eighth in the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .300/.332/.458 (.791) with 34 extra-base hits in 120 games. During his three seasons in Minnesota, he posted a 103 OPS+, which he couldn't replicate after leaving the Twins. In 1987, he was traded to the Yankees for Joe Niekro, who helped boost the team's second-half rotation on the way to a World Series title. 3. Ryan Pressly, RP Twins WAR: 3.6 Pressly is the most current player on this list as he has become one of the AL's best relievers for most of the last decade. The Twins took Pressly from the Red Sox organization in 2012, and he became a core piece of Minnesota's bullpen for six seasons. From 2013-2018 with the Twins, he posted a 3.75 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP and a 112 ERA+. Minnesota traded him to Houston at the 2018 deadline for Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala in a trade that has worked for both teams. 2. Doug Corbett, RP Twins WAR: 8.3 Corbett might be an unknown name to younger fans, but he posted tremendous numbers in a short Twins career. Minnesota drafted Corbett from the Reds organization in 1979. He made an immediate impact in 1980 as he posted a 1.98 ERA in 73 appearances and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. In 1981, he led the American League in appearances and games finished while also being named to the All-Star team. He was traded to the Angels with Rob Wilfong for Tom Brunansky and Mike Walters the following season. 1. Shane Mack, OF Twins WAR: 19.6 Shane Mack is the clear winner for the best Rule 5 Draft pick in Minnesota Twins history. He was taken in the 1989 Rule 5 Draft from the Padres organization and instantly impacted the team in a big way. In five seasons for the Twins, he hit .309/.375/.479 (.854) with a 130 OPS+. His 1992 season was absurd as he accumulated a 6.5 WAR after posting a 5.0 WAR during the team's World Series run in 1991. He only managed three hits during the 1991 World Series, but he went 6-for-18 with two extra-base hits and three RBI during the ALCS. What memories do you have of the players mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Shortly after the lockout ends, Major League Baseball expects to conduct this winter's Rule 5 Draft. Here is a look into the best players the Twins have ever taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Many fans associated Johan Santana as the best Rule 5 Draft pick in Twins history, but the Florida Marlins drafted him and then traded him to Minnesota as part of a pre-arranged deal. So, who are the best Rule 5 Draft picks in Twins history? 5. Gary Wayne, RP Twins WAR: 2.5 Minnesota selected Wayne from the Expos organization in 1988, and he pitched out of the team's bullpen for four seasons. From 1989-1992, he posted a 3.44 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP as he walked nearly four batters per nine innings. As part of the 1991 club, he only made eight appearances and allowed seven earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. He still gets a World Series ring for his contributions to that club. The Twins traded him to Colorado following the 1992 season, and he'd only pitch two more seasons at the big-league level. 4. Mark Salas, C Twins WAR: 2.7 Salas joined the Twins from the Cardinals organization and became the team's starting catcher. He finished eighth in the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .300/.332/.458 (.791) with 34 extra-base hits in 120 games. During his three seasons in Minnesota, he posted a 103 OPS+, which he couldn't replicate after leaving the Twins. In 1987, he was traded to the Yankees for Joe Niekro, who helped boost the team's second-half rotation on the way to a World Series title. 3. Ryan Pressly, RP Twins WAR: 3.6 Pressly is the most current player on this list as he has become one of the AL's best relievers for most of the last decade. The Twins took Pressly from the Red Sox organization in 2012, and he became a core piece of Minnesota's bullpen for six seasons. From 2013-2018 with the Twins, he posted a 3.75 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP and a 112 ERA+. Minnesota traded him to Houston at the 2018 deadline for Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala in a trade that has worked for both teams. 2. Doug Corbett, RP Twins WAR: 8.3 Corbett might be an unknown name to younger fans, but he posted tremendous numbers in a short Twins career. Minnesota drafted Corbett from the Reds organization in 1979. He made an immediate impact in 1980 as he posted a 1.98 ERA in 73 appearances and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. In 1981, he led the American League in appearances and games finished while also being named to the All-Star team. He was traded to the Angels with Rob Wilfong for Tom Brunansky and Mike Walters the following season. 1. Shane Mack, OF Twins WAR: 19.6 Shane Mack is the clear winner for the best Rule 5 Draft pick in Minnesota Twins history. He was taken in the 1989 Rule 5 Draft from the Padres organization and instantly impacted the team in a big way. In five seasons for the Twins, he hit .309/.375/.479 (.854) with a 130 OPS+. His 1992 season was absurd as he accumulated a 6.5 WAR after posting a 5.0 WAR during the team's World Series run in 1991. He only managed three hits during the 1991 World Series, but he went 6-for-18 with two extra-base hits and three RBI during the ALCS. What memories do you have of the players mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. This year, Minnesota might not be in the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean fans have to tune out from the exciting races across baseball. Former Twins players and prospects are on nearly every contending team’s roster. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. The 2021 Minnesota Twins have a very bad, beyond terrible, no-good bullpen. We all know that. Let's take a break from the 2021 Minnesota Twins Dumpsterfire Bullpen, and talk about something closely related, the Ryan Pressly trade. As part 1 in a series where we'll take a look back at trades "Falvine" made early in their tenure, and re-evaluate them, what's more fitting for right now than this deal that has an impact on Twins' bullpens of past, present, and future? The Trade: Houston Astros Receive: RP Ryan Pressly (MLB) Minnesota Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala (MiLB), OF Gilberto Celestino (MiLB) Twins' fans weren't fans of this one at first, especially as Pressly went on to be dominant down the stretch in 2018 posting a 1.49 FIP in 23.1 IP after his arrival in Houston. In 2019 he followed that performance up with an All-Star appearance in a season worth 1.7 WAR. All this and Twins' fans had yet to see Celestino or Alcala in the Majors. So at this point some of y'all may be saying "So if we weren't fans of it at first, why would we be fans now?" The answer, Jorge Alcala. He had a 3.79 xFIP in 2020 and has followed it up with a 3.80 xFIP so far in 2021 (although he has had some home-run-itis lately, but that should regress to the mean according to xFIP). He has started to become a quality reliever, and has just barely hit a year of service time. Oh, and don't forget the Twins' number 8 prospect according to MLB.com, and Buxton's heir apparent, Gilberto Celestino. He's not going to be Buxton, but he does profile as an eventual starting center fielder. So let's break down exactly what each team got in terms of production. Houston Astros: --Ryan Pressly 3.1 WAR paying $2,800,000 and eventually the right to overpay him by a LOT. Minnesota Twins: --Jorge Alcala 0.5 WAR paying minimum MLB salary, and 5 more years of team control. --Gilberto Celestino Nothing, yet. However he is the 8th best prospect the Twins have, which holds considerable value for the future Hey, it all seems okay. A trade where the Twins probably got more value, but the Astros got a reliever that helped them hold on to leads given to them by trash cans, leading them deep into the playoffs. All parties involved come away happy, the makings of a wonderful trade. All stats are thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs, photo is thanks to MLB.com
  16. Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said, "We had ranked all the relievers that we had interest in a few weeks ago taking a really deep look at all of them (and) we felt Pressly was the best combination for stuff, control — how much time he would be with us — and acquisition cost and ability to plug right into our bullpen. We like his stuff a lot." At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Eduardo Escobar trade and the Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Alcala was still starting in the Astros organization at the time of the trade. Here is what Baseball America said, “Alcala has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcala looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” When looking at Celestino, Baseball America projected him to “end up as a plus defender in center with the ability to hit .270 with 15-20 home runs, with a fourth-outfield future as a decent fallback option.” When the Twins acquired them, Alcala and Celestino were among the top-15 prospects in the Astros' farm system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Pressly’s Houston Success Pressly has pitched a grand total of 78 1/3 innings in an Astros uniform over the course of three seasons. He was a first-time All-Star last season at the age of 30 after posting a 1.36 ERA in the first half. During that same stretch, he held opponents to a .176/.208/.282 slash-line with 47 strikeouts compared to six walks. He was one of the best relievers in the game, but things haven’t gone as perfectly since then. In 2019’s second half, Pressly ran into some struggles and dealt with an injury. His ERA jumped to 4.91 and his WHIP rose from 0.78 in the first half to 1.23 in the second half. He was forced to undergo arthroscopic right knee surgery and didn’t pitch in a game from August 15-September 21. He’d make the team’s postseason roster, but his ERA was 9.00 or higher in every round of the playoffs. So far in 2020, Pressly was in line to become Houston’s closer in place of Roberto Osuna. Pressly had a finger blister during Summer Camp and he has been dealing with elbow soreness. He left his only appearance of the year early with a cut on the cuticle above his thumbnail. The team seems optimistic that he will be able to avoid any extended time on the injured list. Minnesota’s Trade Return Jorge Alcala split time as a starter and reliever in 2019 and the Twins were aggressive with him after switching him to the bullpen. He made six relief appearances (10 2/3 innings) at Double-A and allowed two earned runs while holding opponents to a .502 OPS. At Triple-A, he did even better as he didn’t allow an earned run and he struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings. He made two big league appearances as a September call-up and only allowed one hit. Since switching to the bullpen, Alcala has been able to focus on using his best two pitches, his fastball and his slider. His fastball is constantly in the mid-90s and so far this season it is averaging 96.8 mph. His slider has also ticked up a few miles per hour from 85.9 mph last year to 88.0 mph in 2020. He’s looking like he could be Minnesota’s closer of the future. Gilberto Celestino was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season after a breakout season. He was always seen as a strong defender, but his offensive improvements helped put him on the prospect map. He changed his base at the plate and started his swing earlier after working with Kernels hitting coach Ryan Smith. From May 9 through season’s end, he hit .303/.374/.464 with 38 extra-base hits in 98 games. Who Won the Trade? It will probably be multiple years before Twins fans will know if the organization “won” this trade. Houston got what they wanted out of the deal with Pressly turning into one of baseball’s best right-handed relief pitchers. He set an MLB record for consecutive appearances without giving up a run, the team has signed him to an extension, and he could be the team’s closer this season if he proves to be healthy. Minnesota got two players in return that could impact the big-league roster for multiple years. MLB.com updated their top-30 prospects this week and both Alcala (27) and Celestino (16) make the list. Alcala missed more bats than previous seasons and seems destined for a bullpen role. Celestino is one of the best defenders in the Twins system, but if his offensive improvements could make him an impact player at the big-league level. Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. It’s been just over two years since the Twins traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for two young prospects. Minnesota is just now seeing the results of that trade with Jorge Alcala joining the Twins bullpen. Gilberto Celestino, the other player included in the trade, is part of the Twins 60-man player pool. After two years, how have the Twins fared in the Ryan Pressly trade?Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said, "We had ranked all the relievers that we had interest in a few weeks ago taking a really deep look at all of them (and) we felt Pressly was the best combination for stuff, control — how much time he would be with us — and acquisition cost and ability to plug right into our bullpen. We like his stuff a lot." At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Eduardo Escobar trade and the Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Alcala was still starting in the Astros organization at the time of the trade. Here is what Baseball America said, “Alcala has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcala looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” When looking at Celestino, Baseball America projected him to “end up as a plus defender in center with the ability to hit .270 with 15-20 home runs, with a fourth-outfield future as a decent fallback option.” When the Twins acquired them, Alcala and Celestino were among the top-15 prospects in the Astros' farm system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Pressly’s Houston Success Pressly has pitched a grand total of 78 1/3 innings in an Astros uniform over the course of three seasons. He was a first-time All-Star last season at the age of 30 after posting a 1.36 ERA in the first half. During that same stretch, he held opponents to a .176/.208/.282 slash-line with 47 strikeouts compared to six walks. He was one of the best relievers in the game, but things haven’t gone as perfectly since then. In 2019’s second half, Pressly ran into some struggles and dealt with an injury. His ERA jumped to 4.91 and his WHIP rose from 0.78 in the first half to 1.23 in the second half. He was forced to undergo arthroscopic right knee surgery and didn’t pitch in a game from August 15-September 21. He’d make the team’s postseason roster, but his ERA was 9.00 or higher in every round of the playoffs. So far in 2020, Pressly was in line to become Houston’s closer in place of Roberto Osuna. Pressly had a finger blister during Summer Camp and he has been dealing with elbow soreness. He left his only appearance of the year early with a cut on the cuticle above his thumbnail. The team seems optimistic that he will be able to avoid any extended time on the injured list. Minnesota’s Trade Return Jorge Alcala split time as a starter and reliever in 2019 and the Twins were aggressive with him after switching him to the bullpen. He made six relief appearances (10 2/3 innings) at Double-A and allowed two earned runs while holding opponents to a .502 OPS. At Triple-A, he did even better as he didn’t allow an earned run and he struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings. He made two big league appearances as a September call-up and only allowed one hit. Since switching to the bullpen, Alcala has been able to focus on using his best two pitches, his fastball and his slider. His fastball is constantly in the mid-90s and so far this season it is averaging 96.8 mph. His slider has also ticked up a few miles per hour from 85.9 mph last year to 88.0 mph in 2020. He’s looking like he could be Minnesota’s closer of the future. Gilberto Celestino was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season after a breakout season. He was always seen as a strong defender, but his offensive improvements helped put him on the prospect map. He changed his base at the plate and started his swing earlier after working with Kernels hitting coach Ryan Smith. From May 9 through season’s end, he hit .303/.374/.464 with 38 extra-base hits in 98 games. Who Won the Trade? It will probably be multiple years before Twins fans will know if the organization “won” this trade. Houston got what they wanted out of the deal with Pressly turning into one of baseball’s best right-handed relief pitchers. He set an MLB record for consecutive appearances without giving up a run, the team has signed him to an extension, and he could be the team’s closer this season if he proves to be healthy. Minnesota got two players in return that could impact the big-league roster for multiple years. MLB.com updated their top-30 prospects this week and both Alcala (27) and Celestino (16) make the list. Alcala missed more bats than previous seasons and seems destined for a bullpen role. Celestino is one of the best defenders in the Twins system, but if his offensive improvements could make him an impact player at the big-league level. Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. Wednesday was about as ugly as it gets. After giving away the game to Houston on Tuesday, Minnesota watched their Postseason hopes go up in flames, for an 18th consecutive loss. Now out of the end-of-season-tournament, how can we put a Twins spin on the great baseball action still left? If you missed what the San Diego Padres did yesterday afternoon and into the evening, that’s really too bad. It’s performances like those that define October baseball. The Twins are out of it, and so are countless other teams. In fact, the entirety of the AL Central is now eliminated. That doesn’t mean there aren’t avenues to pull for guys that once made an impact in a Minnesota uniform. Ryan Pressly – Houston Astros This one is tough personally because Ryan and his wife Kat are people I’ve gotten to know. They are both awesome individuals, and Ryan evolving into one of the game’s best relievers has been fun to see. Watching him take his abilities to a whole new level in embracing different techniques in Houston was also exciting. The downside is that he’s teammates with Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve. I can get past them having just beaten the Twins, and I can even move on from the fact that those guys cheated so substantially. What rubs me the wrong way is that the trio remains brazen, unapologetic, and completely aloof when it comes to their public perception. Ryan, go shove, but the rest of the Astros can shove it. Liam Hendriks and Robbie Grossman – Oakland Athletics Hendriks is hardly a secret anymore. He’s been one of baseball’s best relievers for a number of years, and some new hardware should be coming his way for the performance in 2020. Recently fresh off defeating the Chicago White Sox, there’s plenty to like about that outcome as well. Grossman went from a disaster year defensively with the Twins to a complete turnaround and one of the better glue guys in baseball. He’s not a household name, and while he’s always going to be an OBP-guru, he’ll never rack up the accolades. Both are extremely easy to root for, however. Go Athletics! Aaron Hicks – New York Yankees It’ll be a cold day in hell before I every cheer for the Yankees in a baseball game. That said, former top prospect Aaron Hicks remains among my favorite to follow around the game. He’s been great with New York when healthy, and although it crushed the Twins, the diving catch he made to steal a game winning hit from Max Kepler last summer was nothing short of amazing. Go Aaron, boo Yankees. Nick Anderson – Tampa Bay Rays A first-class organization is always easy to pull for, and the Rays are in the driver’s seat this season as a one seed. Nick Anderson is someone I touch on constantly through Twitter as it still irks me that Derek Falvey let this one get away. The former Twins prospect was tearing up Triple-A and was never given a chance to even flash his stuff at the big-league level. Instead he’s gone on to become one of the nastiest relievers in all of baseball. He’s a Minnesota native, and would’ve looked great in the Twins baby blues. Hopefully, he’s part of a Rays squad that downs the Evil Empire. Brandon Kintzler – Miami Marlins What a season it has been for this team. They needed to basically reconstruct an entire roster just days into an already weird year, and then made the Postseason despite being expected to perform as somewhat of a bottom feeder. Kintzler closed out games for the Twins a couple of years ago and is now doing the same for Miami. He was under-appreciated here and always seemed like a good due. Certainly not going to blow the ball by anyone, but he can serve up ground balls with the best of them. This is a Cinderella story I can get behind. Brusdar Graterol – Los Angeles Dodgers Kenta Maeda came over to the Twins and performed like an absolute ace. There’s nothing wrong with both teams benefitting from a good trade, and it seems like that’s what at play here. Minnesota’s former top pitching prospect closed out a series win following Clayton Kershaw last night. He throws 100 and is always smiling. The Bazooka is a level-headed kid that’s going to see plenty more success. The Dodgers are the favorites, and with good reason. If you want to get behind a near sure thing, this is your team. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  19. Often on Twitter from 2015-2017 I found myself banging a drum that Ryan Pressly was the next great arm out of the Minnesota bullpen. He’d scuffled plenty, and the numbers weren’t glowing, so there was always plenty of pushback. His 2017 was especially mediocre, but there was another level to be achieved. In 2018 he raced out to a 3.40 ERA across 47.2 IP but was backed by a 2.47 FIP and 12.8 K/9. By all intents and purposes, he’d arrived. The Twins, not being in an immediate place of contention, made a difficult but logical decision. They cashed in on a reliever and sent him to Houston. He went on to post a 0.77 ERA in his final 23.1 IP and then followed it up with a 2.32 ERA last season. The Astros deserve credit for taking him to heights Minnesota was not previously equipped to accomplish, but the ability was always there to mold. Now with what finished as the third best bullpen in baseball during the 2019 season, and a group that could vie to be the best in 2020, there’s two arms that jump out as potential suitors to take that next Pressly-esque step. Trevor May – 2019 Stats 2.94 ERA 3.73 FIP 11.1 K/9 3.6 BB/9 The gaming celebrity is now 30 and already an established veteran for the Twins. He’s a free agent following this season, and despite the already glowing ERA, there’s reason to believe another level is possible. May worked around some additional trouble last year, having a FIP nearly a full point higher. Although he decreased his hit and HR rate, he doubled his walk rate and got away from the glowing 1.8 BB/9 mark he set in 2018. https://twitter.com/IamTrevorMay/status/1226982719994912769 Under the hood is where things get exciting for Trevor. His 34.8% hard hit rate was the lowest he’s posted as a reliever, and his 95.9 mph average velocity isn’t far off from adding two full ticks to his fastball. This is an age that relievers should see a decline in their abilities. But May, having fewer miles on his arm, could be gaining benefit from that past lack of use. Wes Johnson has him throwing absolute darts, and there’s room for a slight rebound in strikeout and whiff rates. He’s probably close to a finished product, but as the Twins invest in technology and May incorporates it, even a slight tweak could have him in the conversation for a top ten pen arm. He’s also all in on one series being more exciting than the rest. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1229881398187696132 Zack Littell – 2019 Stats 2.68 ERA 3.62 FIP 7.8 K/9 2.2 BB/9 Acquired by the Twins when Derek Falvey flipped Jaime Garcia to the New York Yankees, Littell has long looked the part of an intriguing arm. He wasn’t ever going to be a top of the rotation starter, but the floor has never looked anything but promising. After being moved to the bullpen full time a year ago, it seemed Minnesota was ready to unleash what had quickly been established as a weapon. Utilizing his fastball nearly 50% of the time, he too saw a near 2 mph jump on the pitch. Now averaging 94 mph, his whiff rate nearly doubled, and the chase rate rose 10%. Just 24-years-old, Littell is still settling into a relief role after a pro career of starting. His strikeout rate hasn’t seen the substantial jump yet, but I’d be on it coming. Phil Miller of the Star Tribune recently wrote about Littell changing up his offseason, essentially shifting towards a more intentional path towards development. He had produced some eye-popping numbers last season on what largely derived from talent and ability. Embracing data and generating actionable outcomes could be the thing that takes him to a new level of sustainability. Not all relievers are late bloomers, and Littell looks the part of a guy who’s settled into a role and now is ready to explode. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. After recently reading both Ben Reiter’s Astroball and The MVP Machine by Ben Lindbergh and Travis Shawchik, both highly recommended, I found many similarities between the Houston Astros and our Minnesota Twins. In order to get a better idea of how the Twins plan mirrors the Astros’, let’s look at several areas in which the teams exhibit similarities. This is the first of a three-part series.Embracing Analytics and Technology After Jeff Luhnow became the top dog in Houston prior to the 2012 season, Houston infamously tanked for the 2012-14 seasons, while not even pretending to try. Although it was undoubtably an unenjoyable experience for Astros fans, the organization was able to rebuild by gaining top draft pics and completely overhauling the organization. Luhnow and his hand-picked staffers like Sag Mejdal were famous in baseball circles for their success in drafting by using and developing advanced analytic tools while working in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. They continued to be very analytically minded in Houston, also getting a leg up on the competition by being one of the first organizations to heavily invest in using new technology for player development. The MVP Machine goes into detail about how the Astros immediately took pitchers like Justin Verlander and Ryan Pressly (and more recently Aaron Sanchez) whom they acquired through trades, and met with them, presenting a plan as to how they could best use their pitches. It basically boils down to having the pitchers throw their best pitches. Pressly talked about how having seen how a future Hall of Famer like Verlander succeed with Houston made him more open to a new approach. The authors went to explain how Pressly’s pitch use evolved with his new team: “With the Twins from 2017 to 2018, Pressly had thrown his sinker 13 percent of the time against lefties. Only once in that span had a southpaw swung at it and missed. With the Astros, he threw the sinker to lefties less than 1 percent of the time. With the Twins in 2018, Pressly had thrown the curve 24 percent of the time. As an Astro, he threw it 39 percent of the time. With Houston, he also elevated his four-seamer and threw his slider slightly more often.” To be fair, Minnesota’s new front office was already in place starting in 2017, so if they had similar revelations as the Astros, the message did not get to Pressly. Thad Levine acknowledged that the Twins had an opportunity to learn from the Pressly situation in an article from the Washington Post: “We had uncovered some of what Houston implemented,” Levine said. “I think the biggest difference was their execution of a plan. … Certainly, that was something we reflected upon. Not unlike any other move we make, we try to assess what transpired, good, bad and indifferent, from every move. There was a lot to be learned from that one.” Prior to the 2019 season the Twins made a big change in their pitching philosophy by going down to the college level to hire pitching coach Wes Johnson out of the University of Arkansas. Johnson champions biomechanics and the use of Trackman data to improve pitchers. No other MLB team had hired directly from the college ranks and the results have been great so far, with an emphasis on increased velocity and strikeouts. Anyone who has followed the Twins can see just how much the Twins have changed since the Terry Ryan regime. “Small ball” and “pitch to contact” have been replaced by bombas and strikeouts. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have greatly expanded the analytics department and the Twins are incorporating technology like Trackman, Rapsodo, and Blast motion sensors throughout the minor leagues and in spring training as was documented by Twins Daily’s Parker Hageman here. They have also revamped the minor league coaching staffs and implemented better communication throughout the system to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to player development. Communication Enhancing communication throughout the system was important to Falvey and Levine, and not only through the minor league levels. Strong communication and a shared vision between the front office and the manager also seems to be a commonality between Houston and Minnesota. After coming to Houston Luhnow initially hired Bo Porter to lead the team, but after not seeing eye-to-eye, Porter was fired and A.J. Hinch took over, leading the Astros to the postseason in his first season with the team and a 2017 World Series title. Houston wanted a manager who would match their vision and they found him in Hinch. Hinch is a new-school style manger, who is a former player and had experience both coaching and working in a front office. His openness to analytics and more unconventional game tactics fit perfectly with Luhnow and the Astros, and Hinch was instrumental in getting the players to buy in. Sound familiar? Twins first year manager, Rocco Baldelli is another former player who is young and had front office experience before coming over from Tampa Bay. Baldelli seems to be in line with Falvey and Levine and has been praised for his open communication with his players. This year’s team seems to gel together really well, and while it is never completely clear whether winning leads to better team chemistry or vice versa, Baldelli has done an admirable job of keeping the team loose and it’s hard to argue with the results. Paul Molitor wasn’t hand-picked by the current FO, and similar to Porter in Houston, he never really felt like a good fit for the direction in which Minnesota was moving. Baldelli, on the other hand, fits perfectly with the Twins more modern and analytic style of operation. Click here to view the article
  21. Embracing Analytics and Technology After Jeff Luhnow became the top dog in Houston prior to the 2012 season, Houston infamously tanked for the 2012-14 seasons, while not even pretending to try. Although it was undoubtably an unenjoyable experience for Astros fans, the organization was able to rebuild by gaining top draft pics and completely overhauling the organization. Luhnow and his hand-picked staffers like Sag Mejdal were famous in baseball circles for their success in drafting by using and developing advanced analytic tools while working in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. They continued to be very analytically minded in Houston, also getting a leg up on the competition by being one of the first organizations to heavily invest in using new technology for player development. The MVP Machine goes into detail about how the Astros immediately took pitchers like Justin Verlander and Ryan Pressly (and more recently Aaron Sanchez) whom they acquired through trades, and met with them, presenting a plan as to how they could best use their pitches. It basically boils down to having the pitchers throw their best pitches. Pressly talked about how having seen how a future Hall of Famer like Verlander succeed with Houston made him more open to a new approach. The authors went to explain how Pressly’s pitch use evolved with his new team: “With the Twins from 2017 to 2018, Pressly had thrown his sinker 13 percent of the time against lefties. Only once in that span had a southpaw swung at it and missed. With the Astros, he threw the sinker to lefties less than 1 percent of the time. With the Twins in 2018, Pressly had thrown the curve 24 percent of the time. As an Astro, he threw it 39 percent of the time. With Houston, he also elevated his four-seamer and threw his slider slightly more often.” To be fair, Minnesota’s new front office was already in place starting in 2017, so if they had similar revelations as the Astros, the message did not get to Pressly. Thad Levine acknowledged that the Twins had an opportunity to learn from the Pressly situation in an article from the Washington Post: “We had uncovered some of what Houston implemented,” Levine said. “I think the biggest difference was their execution of a plan. … Certainly, that was something we reflected upon. Not unlike any other move we make, we try to assess what transpired, good, bad and indifferent, from every move. There was a lot to be learned from that one.” Prior to the 2019 season the Twins made a big change in their pitching philosophy by going down to the college level to hire pitching coach Wes Johnson out of the University of Arkansas. Johnson champions biomechanics and the use of Trackman data to improve pitchers. No other MLB team had hired directly from the college ranks and the results have been great so far, with an emphasis on increased velocity and strikeouts. Anyone who has followed the Twins can see just how much the Twins have changed since the Terry Ryan regime. “Small ball” and “pitch to contact” have been replaced by bombas and strikeouts. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have greatly expanded the analytics department and the Twins are incorporating technology like Trackman, Rapsodo, and Blast motion sensors throughout the minor leagues and in spring training as was documented by Twins Daily’s Parker Hageman here. They have also revamped the minor league coaching staffs and implemented better communication throughout the system to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to player development. Communication Enhancing communication throughout the system was important to Falvey and Levine, and not only through the minor league levels. Strong communication and a shared vision between the front office and the manager also seems to be a commonality between Houston and Minnesota. After coming to Houston Luhnow initially hired Bo Porter to lead the team, but after not seeing eye-to-eye, Porter was fired and A.J. Hinch took over, leading the Astros to the postseason in his first season with the team and a 2017 World Series title. Houston wanted a manager who would match their vision and they found him in Hinch. Hinch is a new-school style manger, who is a former player and had experience both coaching and working in a front office. His openness to analytics and more unconventional game tactics fit perfectly with Luhnow and the Astros, and Hinch was instrumental in getting the players to buy in. Sound familiar? Twins first year manager, Rocco Baldelli is another former player who is young and had front office experience before coming over from Tampa Bay. Baldelli seems to be in line with Falvey and Levine and has been praised for his open communication with his players. This year’s team seems to gel together really well, and while it is never completely clear whether winning leads to better team chemistry or vice versa, Baldelli has done an admirable job of keeping the team loose and it’s hard to argue with the results. Paul Molitor wasn’t hand-picked by the current FO, and similar to Porter in Houston, he never really felt like a good fit for the direction in which Minnesota was moving. Baldelli, on the other hand, fits perfectly with the Twins more modern and analytic style of operation.
  22. The 20-year-old Graterol started the year as a starting pitcher and posted a 1.89 ERA with 46K in 47.2 IP, but suffered from a shoulder impingement condition in early June, and was shut down until late-July. Since his return to Pensacola, he’s been used as a reliever, throwing five innings, holding opponents to a 0.71 ERA, though he’s only struck out four batters. His outing yesterday versus Chattanooga was when he threw the 103.8 MPH pitch. He is being joined at Rochester by Jorge Alcala. Like Graterol, Alcala also has a triple-digit fastball and started the year at AA-Pensacola as a starting pitcher, but he has posted a 5.87 ERA. He also was recently moved into a relief role and has posted a 1.69 ERA, and held opponents to a .179 batting average and struck out seven in 10.2 IP. The move to Rochester gives both time to build on their move to the bullpen, while facing a higher level of competition and using the more homer-friendly major league baseball, which AAA adopted this year. Both could help the Twins bullpen for the stretch run and help the team in the playoffs. Rosters expand on September 1st, and both are eligible for the postseason roster. Both would also likely shatter the previous records for “fastest pitch ever thrown by a Twins pitcher.” The top five are: Juan Morillo 100.3 Trevor May 99.8 Ryan Pressly 99.0 JT Chargois 98.9 Fernando Romeo 98.7
  23. In his last appearance as a AA-Pensacola Blue Wahoo, Twins #3 prospect Brusdar Graterol hit 103.8 MPH on a pitch and then was promoted to AAA-Rochester along with fellow fireballer Jorge Alcala. The move aligns with recent news that Graterol could be promotedto the Twins bullpen for their postseason run.The 20-year-old Graterol started the year as a starting pitcher and posted a 1.89 ERA with 46K in 47.2 IP, but suffered from a shoulder impingement condition in early June, and was shut down until late-July. Since his return to Pensacola, he’s been used as a reliever, throwing five innings, holding opponents to a 0.71 ERA, though he’s only struck out four batters. His outing yesterday versus Chattanooga was when he threw the 103.8 MPH pitch. Click here to view the article
  24. Lynn, of course, pitched for the Twins last year, and disappointed Twins fans and the organization with a 5.10 ERA. He seemed unwilling or unable to throw strikes. But immediately upon being traded to the Yankees, his control returned as he posted a 4.14 ERA with a 2.17 FIP. Over the offseason, the 32-year-old signed a three-year $30M deal with the Rangers, and has posted a 3.93 ERA and a 3.00 FIP while pitching in one of MLB’s tougher parks. That’s good for an ERA+ of 129. That’s a better ERA+ than any of the Twins pitchers other than Jose Berrios. That’s a lower FIP than anyone on the Twins staff. And he’s thrown more innings than anyone in the Twins rotation, too. This is not the Lance Lynn you remember. But, geez, just try to forget. Those first pitches out of the zone. The nibbling. The early exits. The dour demeanor…. There’s no indication that Lynn is anything more than another option the Twins are considering, but given his history, that is news all by itself. Lynn hasn’t been a talked-about option in the Twins Daily forums, while teammate Mike Minor absolutely is. But Lynn clearly should be. The situation around Lynn was not that different than it was for Ryan Pressly. He was moved in a trade deadline deal, and thrived with his new team. Over the offseason he got a multi-year deal and continues to produce at a high level. But the expectations and narrative around them is totally different. Pressly, who didn’t have much in the way of expectations, is viewed as an organizational failing. The Astros convinced him to do something that the Twins didn’t and turned him into an outstanding trade deadline addition. Lynn, however, had all kinds of expectations, and his performance is viewed as a personal, not organizational, failing. He was angry about his contract. He didn’t want to be here. He was unwilling to throw strikes. But what If those narratives are incomplete? Or what if they don’t really matter? The simple reality would be that the Twins could acquire a solid #2 starter under contract for 2021, whose only blemish is that he had a rough few months under the old coaching staff. Breaking news: a lot of the Twins starting pitchers had a rough few months under the old coaching staff. Do the optics matter here? For how long? If Lynn is the only starting pitcher the Twins acquire at the deadline, from a public relations perspective, they’ll be torn to shreds. It will be worse than if they don’t add any starting pitching at all. Lynn will need to be even better than he has been in Arlington (which should be possible, given the difference in ballparks) to eventually erase that narrative. Hopefully, the reality would eventually overcome the perception. The Twins, who we pride as increasingly analytical, might have this one right. Twins Territory (and Twins Daily), who we pride as passionate, might be challenged to take a more objective look.
  25. Coming into the season the one real glaring area of weakness for the Minnesota Twins was their relief corps. Relying on unproven commodities like Matt Magill and Ryne Harper seemed lofty, and the high leverage arms came in the form of Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers. Fast forward to today and the pitching staff has performed admirably with the bullpen significantly surpassing fan expectations. If there’s a call to be made though, it may come from further down the ladder. Today the Twins promoted Devin Smeltzer to make his major league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers. Smeltzer was acquired from the Dodgers last season in the deal that sent Brian Dozier to Los Angeles. After working solely as a reliever in Double-A last season for Minnesota, Smeltzer made five starts in Pensacola this year before four turns at Triple-A. He’s just 23 years old, and the promotion schedule has been an aggressive one. In calling up Smeltzer to replace Michael Pineda in the starting rotation the wheels should begin spinning on who could be next. So far, we’ve seen both Kohl Stewart and Zack Littell from Rochester this season, but that’s about where the options end right now. Lewis Thorpe doesn’t have strong numbers and Stephen Gonsalves twirled just two innings before landing back on the Injured List. Given the aggressiveness shown by the Twins front office, and circumstance regarding available options, the next man up could currently be at Double-A. Jorge Alcala was acquired as the key piece in exchange for Ryan Pressly. Pumping a triple-digit fastball, he’s put together a season that’s been significantly better than some of his surface numbers. Through 48 innings he owns a 4.69 ERA with a 10.3 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9. Where things look even more promising is that he’s been bit by a .357 BABIP and his FIP stands at 2.95 with a 3.27 xFIP. In short, there’s a good deal of bad luck going on, and much better peripherals than the gaudy ERA suggests. Recently on the Twins radio broadcast, Derek Falvey offered up Alcala’s name as one the Twins may end up seeing as soon as this year. He’s 23 years old and has certainly advanced his prospect stock this season. Whether in a spot start or for some firepower out of the pen, it may be the Dominican native that emerges as the next most likely option. Certainly, it’d be great for Minnesota if some of the relief arms at Triple-A Rochester got back on track, or guys like Gonsalves and Brusdar Graterol returned to a clean bill of health. As contingency plans though, we’ve seen the aggressive movement of players like Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, and others. The Twins will need to rely on some depth as the season goes along, and Alcala is providing that despite not being on the immediate doorstep. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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