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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. Let’s get this out of the way from the beginning; Taylor Rogers is good. Despite parting with one of the best relievers in baseball in Ryan Pressly, the Minnesota Twins have groomed another in the 28-year-old from Colorado. His sparkling numbers tell you he’s good and tuning into any given game would confirm that. What you don’t know is that he’s better than you thought.On the season Rocco Baldelli has called upon Rogers 17 times to work a total of 20 innings. He has 1 .35 ERA and is fanning batters at a career high 12.2 K/9 clip. The lefty isn’t a soft-tosser, and his 95.4 mph average fastball velocity is better than it’s ever been. Once a LOOGY, Rogers has nuked batters from both sides of the plate and actually has been better against righties (.657 OPS) than lefties (.780 OPS) in 2019. So about that better than you would have thought part, here we go. Twins relievers are currently in the bottom three among major league teams when it comes to BABIP. Allowing opposing batters to hit over a .300 clip when putting the ball in play, there’s a good deal of unluckiness and bad fortune working against them. Specifically pertaining to Taylor, his .404 BABIP is 75th of 78 relievers who have tallied at least 20 innings this year. Being as good as he has been, opposing batters are successful almost half of the time when putting the ball in play off of him. In short, that’s crazy. When there’s an outlier like that statistic almost certainly is there must be more to the story. For Rogers there are a few things going on. His hard hit rate is a career best, and he’s giving up homers on fly balls just 6% of the time while generating ground balls 50% of the time. The number that stands out in his batted ball profile is the infield hit percentage. Right now opposing batters own a 19.2% success rate on infield hits. That’s the highest number in baseball, and 6% more than second place. Batters reaching base on what are likely lucky or fluky opportunities do nothing positive for that inflated BABIP. Regression or concern is generally muted when a pitcher is performing so well despite adverse realities in some key analytical areas. The BABIP could be burning Rogers but instead he’s been elite despite it. The 10.2% whiff rate isn’t where it was last year, but is still a favorable situation. He’s throwing more first pitch strikes in 2019, and he’s also generating chase and contact percentages along the lines of his 2018 breakout. If we revisit that hard hit rate from earlier, this is where things get even juicier for the road ahead. Rogers is allowing an average exit velocity below 86 mph, which is both incredibly low and conducive to easy outs. His 26.4% is 13th best in baseball, and just 4% shy of the top three. Those infield hits have created a bit of an outlier in his BABIP, but the rest of his efforts have generated a profile that has him looking like an all-star. We can assume that Rogers will be used for something close to 70 innings in 2019. His H/9 stands at a career worst 9.9 and the WHIP of 1.350 follows suit. Whether being beaten by unlucky shifting, bloop shots, or infield base hits, there are more convertible outs to be had here. The inputs from the mound are generating all of the results you’d like to see and that’s more than evident in the counting stats. As the sample size grows and results begin to normalize this is a season we could be looking back on for quite some time. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins have work to do in their bullpen. This team is the real deal, and asking for more in relief is a must. There’s also no denying that Taylor Rogers will be chief among the answers as opposed to the questions, and what lies ahead could be even better than the already outstanding results that are on the board. Click here to view the article
  15. On the season Rocco Baldelli has called upon Rogers 17 times to work a total of 20 innings. He has 1 .35 ERA and is fanning batters at a career high 12.2 K/9 clip. The lefty isn’t a soft-tosser, and his 95.4 mph average fastball velocity is better than it’s ever been. Once a LOOGY, Rogers has nuked batters from both sides of the plate and actually has been better against righties (.657 OPS) than lefties (.780 OPS) in 2019. So about that better than you would have thought part, here we go. Twins relievers are currently in the bottom three among major league teams when it comes to BABIP. Allowing opposing batters to hit over a .300 clip when putting the ball in play, there’s a good deal of unluckiness and bad fortune working against them. Specifically pertaining to Taylor, his .404 BABIP is 75th of 78 relievers who have tallied at least 20 innings this year. Being as good as he has been, opposing batters are successful almost half of the time when putting the ball in play off of him. In short, that’s crazy. When there’s an outlier like that statistic almost certainly is there must be more to the story. For Rogers there are a few things going on. His hard hit rate is a career best, and he’s giving up homers on fly balls just 6% of the time while generating ground balls 50% of the time. The number that stands out in his batted ball profile is the infield hit percentage. Right now opposing batters own a 19.2% success rate on infield hits. That’s the highest number in baseball, and 6% more than second place. Batters reaching base on what are likely lucky or fluky opportunities do nothing positive for that inflated BABIP. Regression or concern is generally muted when a pitcher is performing so well despite adverse realities in some key analytical areas. The BABIP could be burning Rogers but instead he’s been elite despite it. The 10.2% whiff rate isn’t where it was last year, but is still a favorable situation. He’s throwing more first pitch strikes in 2019, and he’s also generating chase and contact percentages along the lines of his 2018 breakout. If we revisit that hard hit rate from earlier, this is where things get even juicier for the road ahead. Rogers is allowing an average exit velocity below 86 mph, which is both incredibly low and conducive to easy outs. His 26.4% is 13th best in baseball, and just 4% shy of the top three. Those infield hits have created a bit of an outlier in his BABIP, but the rest of his efforts have generated a profile that has him looking like an all-star. We can assume that Rogers will be used for something close to 70 innings in 2019. His H/9 stands at a career worst 9.9 and the WHIP of 1.350 follows suit. Whether being beaten by unlucky shifting, bloop shots, or infield base hits, there are more convertible outs to be had here. The inputs from the mound are generating all of the results you’d like to see and that’s more than evident in the counting stats. As the sample size grows and results begin to normalize this is a season we could be looking back on for quite some time. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins have work to do in their bullpen. This team is the real deal, and asking for more in relief is a must. There’s also no denying that Taylor Rogers will be chief among the answers as opposed to the questions, and what lies ahead could be even better than the already outstanding results that are on the board.
  16. As you would expect in a season that was disappointing and July gave us four trades, those would be some pretty important and discussed articles on the site, so let’s jump into it. 10. Report Ryan Pressly traded to Houston - July 27 Ryan Pressly was arguably the Twins player who received the most interest from other teams. He had a terrific career with the Twins when you recall that he came to the Twins as a Rule 5 draft pick. The last year or so he put up some very good numbers. As important in today’s game, front offices were able to look at his peripheral numbers and other things, like spin rate, to determine that he could be even better. Houston acquired Pressly for two high-ceiling prospects. 9. Minnesota Twins 2018 trade deadline report card - August 1 A day after the trade, Tom Froemming took a look at the 12 players that the Twins acquired in the various late-July trades, specifically the ten minor league prospects. He also gave grades to each trade and provided reasons why. For me, it’s fun to look back to see what our thoughts were on the players acquired before we got to see them play in the minor leagues for a month (or some in the big leagues for a second month). 8. Offseason Blueprint Hey Big Spenders - November 4 Following the release of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we decided to write up a few blueprints with varying schedules. Tom wrote about a trade-based offseason. I wrote about a build-from-within focused offseason. Nick was tasked with writing about what an offseason of Big Spending might look like. Probably no surprise to anyone which one our readers enjoyed the most. 7. Top 20 Minnesota Twins assets Part 4 (1-5) - January 2 Nick’s annual rankings of the Twins most valuable assets has been a big hit. He just posted his 2019 choices for Top 5 Twins assets. Last year’s version was a success as well, ranking this high. Three of the five in the Top 5 are the same. It’s fun to look back at this series to be reminded of how much can change in one year, one season. 6. Deadline Deal Twins Trade Brian Dozier to Dodgers - July 31 We all knew it was happening. He knew it was happening. Right at the trade deadline, the Twins finally worked out a deal with the Dodgers, sending Brian Dozier in exchange for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer. Dozier provided the Twins with a ton of power production over his six seasons with the Twins. He was an All-Star and clearly a leader. 5. Twins Acquire Jake Odorizzi for Jermaine Palacios - February 17 A day after signing Anibal Sanchez, the Twins made a trade with the Rays. They acquired RHP Jake Odorizzi in exchange for talented shortstop Jermaine Palacios. Palacios was coming off of a strong rebound season, split between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Odorizzi had been a quality, mid-rotation starting pitcher in the AL East for several seasons. While Twins fans acknowledged that Palacios does have a chance to be a big league shortstop, most were happy with receiving two years of a solid, mid-rotation starting pitcher in return. 4. Report Twins to Trade Eduardo Escobar to Arizona - July 27 The first trade chip to be dealt was Eduardo Escobar. Escobar rarely was handed a full-time job over his time with the Twins. But every season, it didn’t take long for a spot to open up and with the playing time, he proved worthy of being in the lineup every day. He was the team’s best hitter (or right there with Eddie Rosario) during most of the first half. The Twins acquired three prospects in return, hard-throwing Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad. 3. The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano - June 26 Miguel Sano played in the 2017 All-Star Game a night after finishing runner-up to Aaron Judge in the home run derby. Since then, it’s been one issue or another and few were good. He had a major injury late in the 2017 season and had a titanium rod put in his leg. He wasn’t able to work out a lot in the offseason. He has had a couple of off-the-field issues as well. Early in the 2018 season, the issue was a very poor approach at the plate. Things got bad enough that the Twins felt their best option was to send Sano all the way down to Ft. Myers for a reboot. Nick Nelson did a great job of providing a great insight into the situation. 2. :Nelson Cruz agrees to deal with Twins - December 27 Most experts predicted that the Twins would land Nelson Cruz this offseason. Around the Winter Meetings, there were rumors that it was between the Twins and the Rays. Before Christmas, it became known that the Astros were also interested in the 38-year-old DH. But just last week, the reports came out that the Twins and Nelson Cruz had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a club option for 2020. The move became official this year. Minnesota Twins 2018 MLB Draft signing tracker - June 8-July 15 Maybe a little anticlimactic, but as we have discussed in the previous installments, Twins Daily fans love the draft. Following the draft’s completion, we started an article showing which players had signed and kept updating it as players signed or there were other updates on the drafted players. The deadline for signing was July 15th. So now you have seen the Top 30 most-viewed articles on Twins Daily in 2018. What do you think? What were your highlights and favorite Twins stories of 2018?
  17. This week, we have reviewed the Top 30 most-viewed Twins Daily articles in 2018. There have been a lot of articles on prospects and the draft, on the Twins trades and offseason speculation. Check out Part 1 (21-30) and Part 2 (11-20)if you haven’t already, and then today enjoy the Top 10 stories of the year.As you would expect in a season that was disappointing and July gave us four trades, those would be some pretty important and discussed articles on the site, so let’s jump into it. 10. Report Ryan Pressly traded to Houston - July 27 Ryan Pressly was arguably the Twins player who received the most interest from other teams. He had a terrific career with the Twins when you recall that he came to the Twins as a Rule 5 draft pick. The last year or so he put up some very good numbers. As important in today’s game, front offices were able to look at his peripheral numbers and other things, like spin rate, to determine that he could be even better. Houston acquired Pressly for two high-ceiling prospects. 9. Minnesota Twins 2018 trade deadline report card - August 1 A day after the trade, Tom Froemming took a look at the 12 players that the Twins acquired in the various late-July trades, specifically the ten minor league prospects. He also gave grades to each trade and provided reasons why. For me, it’s fun to look back to see what our thoughts were on the players acquired before we got to see them play in the minor leagues for a month (or some in the big leagues for a second month). 8. Offseason Blueprint Hey Big Spenders - November 4 Following the release of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we decided to write up a few blueprints with varying schedules. Tom wrote about a trade-based offseason. I wrote about a build-from-within focused offseason. Nick was tasked with writing about what an offseason of Big Spending might look like. Probably no surprise to anyone which one our readers enjoyed the most. 7. Top 20 Minnesota Twins assets Part 4 (1-5) - January 2 Nick’s annual rankings of the Twins most valuable assets has been a big hit. He just posted his 2019 choices for Top 5 Twins assets. Last year’s version was a success as well, ranking this high. Three of the five in the Top 5 are the same. It’s fun to look back at this series to be reminded of how much can change in one year, one season. 6. Deadline Deal Twins Trade Brian Dozier to Dodgers - July 31 We all knew it was happening. He knew it was happening. Right at the trade deadline, the Twins finally worked out a deal with the Dodgers, sending Brian Dozier in exchange for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer. Dozier provided the Twins with a ton of power production over his six seasons with the Twins. He was an All-Star and clearly a leader. 5. Twins Acquire Jake Odorizzi for Jermaine Palacios - February 17 A day after signing Anibal Sanchez, the Twins made a trade with the Rays. They acquired RHP Jake Odorizzi in exchange for talented shortstop Jermaine Palacios. Palacios was coming off of a strong rebound season, split between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Odorizzi had been a quality, mid-rotation starting pitcher in the AL East for several seasons. While Twins fans acknowledged that Palacios does have a chance to be a big league shortstop, most were happy with receiving two years of a solid, mid-rotation starting pitcher in return. 4. Report Twins to Trade Eduardo Escobar to Arizona - July 27 The first trade chip to be dealt was Eduardo Escobar. Escobar rarely was handed a full-time job over his time with the Twins. But every season, it didn’t take long for a spot to open up and with the playing time, he proved worthy of being in the lineup every day. He was the team’s best hitter (or right there with Eddie Rosario) during most of the first half. The Twins acquired three prospects in return, hard-throwing Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad. 3. The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano - June 26 Miguel Sano played in the 2017 All-Star Game a night after finishing runner-up to Aaron Judge in the home run derby. Since then, it’s been one issue or another and few were good. He had a major injury late in the 2017 season and had a titanium rod put in his leg. He wasn’t able to work out a lot in the offseason. He has had a couple of off-the-field issues as well. Early in the 2018 season, the issue was a very poor approach at the plate. Things got bad enough that the Twins felt their best option was to send Sano all the way down to Ft. Myers for a reboot. Nick Nelson did a great job of providing a great insight into the situation. 2. :Nelson Cruz agrees to deal with Twins - December 27 Most experts predicted that the Twins would land Nelson Cruz this offseason. Around the Winter Meetings, there were rumors that it was between the Twins and the Rays. Before Christmas, it became known that the Astros were also interested in the 38-year-old DH. But just last week, the reports came out that the Twins and Nelson Cruz had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a club option for 2020. The move became official this year. Minnesota Twins 2018 MLB Draft signing tracker - June 8-July 15Maybe a little anticlimactic, but as we have discussed in the previous installments, Twins Daily fans love the draft. Following the draft’s completion, we started an article showing which players had signed and kept updating it as players signed or there were other updates on the drafted players. The deadline for signing was July 15th. So now you have seen the Top 30 most-viewed articles on Twins Daily in 2018. What do you think? What were your highlights and favorite Twins stories of 2018? Click here to view the article
  18. While rising through the minors, these three now-former Twins never graced the higher ends of top prospect lists. Each has his own rags-to-riches backstory that should inspire any underdog out there toiling away in perpetuity. Let's run through a quick retrospective on each. BRIAN DOZIER'S TRANSFORMATION FROM TWEENER TO TREASURE If it seemed like Dozier always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, who could blame him? Back in 2009, he fell to the eighth round of the draft despite a prolific collegiate career at Southern Miss. "Scouts saw Dozier's tools as average in most respects and he was generally projected as a utility player or strong organizational talent," recalls John Sickels. During his first few years as a pro, Dozier looked the part. To give you an idea of how he was viewed in 2011, Seth had him ranked as the 44th-best Twins prospect. Dozier's stock rose that summer with a strong showing between Fort Myers and New Britain, but he was still hardly viewed as a top-tier talent by the time he reached Minnesota in 2012. Alas, three years later he was an All-Star. Then in 2016 he set the all-time AL record for home runs by a second baseman. And from '14 through '17 he produced the 13th-most WAR among all hitters in baseball. Good ol' No. 2 departs as an indelible figure in franchise lore. In his book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Minnesota Twins (which I highly recommend), Aaron Gleeman ranked Dozier as the 30th-best player in the team history, calling him "literally the only slugging second baseman in the history of the Twins." It must've been a surreal chapter for my guy AG to write, five years after profiling Dozier as a prospect and dinging the infielder's "iffy" power potential and shaky defense at shortstop. "Even as a singles-hitting second baseman Dozier would be plenty useful," Gleeman had noted. Now, this is not by any means meant to drag Aaron, because I viewed Dozier the same way at that point and so did most others. The guy had hit 14 total home runs in 317 minor-league games. But through steady work, and the honing of a mousetrap-like swing, Dozier developed into one of the game's most deadly pull hitters, joining Harmon Killebrew in the ranks of Minnesota single-season home run royalty. It took Dozier 126 games to hit his first professional home run. It took him one to launch his first as a Los Angeles Dodger. In the context of his unlikely ascent, a glorious sight to behold: https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1024861260452716544 EDUARDO ESCOBAR'S CAREER THAT ALMOST WASN'T Back in June, Mike Berardino wrote a great story in the Pioneer Press recounting Ozzie Guillen's discovery of Escobar on a back field in Tucson 10 years ago. At the time, Escobar was a scrawny 19-year-old backup shortstop, on the verge of being released. As the story goes, a highly impressed Guillen went to bat for him with Kenny Williams, and persuaded the general manager to give Escobar a real shot. The young infielder would go on to glance the fringe of Baseball Prospectus' Top 101 list in 2011, at No. 91, his only appearance in any prominent national rankings. Around the same time, Minor League Ball pegged him as the seventh-best talent in the White Sox system: "Great glove," wrote Sickels, "but will he hit enough for it to be relevant?" The Venezuela native made his big-league debut that season, then played sporadically over the first half of 2012 before being shipped to Minnesota alongside fellow countryman Pedro Hernandez for two months of Liriano (the bad version). Escobar posted a meager .628 OPS in his first full season with the Twins, resembling very much the no-bat utility man of billing. Then in 2014, out of nowhere, he hit 35 doubles. And in 2015 he added 31 more, plus 12 bombs. Last year Escobar clubbed 21 home runs and this year he leads baseball in doubles. His defense has deteriorated and he's no longer really viable at short, but now, he's hitting enough to make that irrelevant. RYAN PRESSLY POWERS UP Midway through the 2012 season, Pressly's fledgling career was at risk of running off the rails. The former 11th-round pick was taking his second shot at the High-A Carolina League at age 23, and floundering with a 6.28 ERA through 76 innings. In July, Ben Cherington's Red Sox made a decision that looks outrageously savvy in retrospect: they promoted Pressly to Double-A, despite his immense struggles, and converted him to full-time relief duties. Pressly turned in a 2.93 ERA over 28 innings the rest of the way, although it came with a modest 6.8 K/9 rate. He'd go on to post an 18-to-1 K/BB ratio in the Arizona Fall League, and that was all the Twins needed to see. They took him in the Rule 5 draft after three other teams passed him up. "He's always had a good arm," acknowledged Boston's scouting director Jared Porter at the time. "He's got good stuff." Of course, the arm and stuff weren't deemed good enough to warrant a 40-man roster spot, which is why the Twins were able to snag Pressly away. Porter surely didn't envision how far along that arsenal would come over the next five years. During his first season with the Twins, Pressly wasn't an especially impressive reliever, posting mediocre strikeout and walk rates with a so-so FB/CB combo. But with each successive season, the righty added velocity and learned to harness his innate ability to spin the ball, with results following suit. In six MLB campaigns his swinging strike rate has gone from 7.8% to 8.5% to 9.0% to 11.7% to 12.2% to 17.6%. He's now in elite range, with that 2018 mark ranking as the fifth-best in baseball, and this made Pressly a hot commodity – the most coveted of pieces sold by Minnesota at the deadline, netting the organization a legitimate top prospect in Jorge Alcala. Who would've guessed it when he was a middling 23-year-old starter in Single-A? LESSONS LEARNED What's the point of these look-backs? Well, for one, it's nice to reflect on three of the most unlikely and inspiring Twins careers in recent memory. But also, I think it's instructive. No, the prospect bounty yielded by Minnesota's array of deadline trades wouldn't be considered top-tier. Outside of Alcala, none of the players received really have much hype beyond the occasional advocate or prospect hound. But neither did Dozier, or Escobar, or Pressly. In fact, Escobar came over in a deal quite similar to several just now orchestrated by Minnesota — a package of unheralded minor-leaguers acquired in for a two-month rental. So as we look at the collective talent amassed during the front office's deadline purge, we'd do well to keep these case studies in mind.
  19. In many ways, the three are nothing alike. Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly – all sent packing in deadline deals as the Twins pulled off their most unequivocal midseason 'sell' in memory – have their own distinct profiles and personalities. Each came to Minnesota by different (modest) means: Dozier an eighth-round draft pick, Escobar a nondescript trade return for Francisco Liriano, Pressly a Rule 5 addition. But the trio does have this much in the common: none were supposed to be this good.While rising through the minors, these three now-former Twins never graced the higher ends of top prospect lists. Each has his own rags-to-riches backstory that should inspire any underdog out there toiling away in perpetuity. Let's run through a quick retrospective on each. BRIAN DOZIER'S TRANSFORMATION FROM TWEENER TO TREASURE If it seemed like Dozier always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, who could blame him? Back in 2009, he fell to the eighth round of the draft despite a prolific collegiate career at Southern Miss. "Scouts saw Dozier's tools as average in most respects and he was generally projected as a utility player or strong organizational talent," recalls John Sickels. During his first few years as a pro, Dozier looked the part. To give you an idea of how he was viewed in 2011, Seth had him ranked as the 44th-best Twins prospect. Dozier's stock rose that summer with a strong showing between Fort Myers and New Britain, but he was still hardly viewed as a top-tier talent by the time he reached Minnesota in 2012. Alas, three years later he was an All-Star. Then in 2016 he set the all-time AL record for home runs by a second baseman. And from '14 through '17 he produced the 13th-most WAR among all hitters in baseball. Good ol' No. 2 departs as an indelible figure in franchise lore. In his book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Minnesota Twins (which I highly recommend), Aaron Gleeman ranked Dozier as the 30th-best player in the team history, calling him "literally the only slugging second baseman in the history of the Twins." It must've been a surreal chapter for my guy AG to write, five years after profiling Dozier as a prospect and dinging the infielder's "iffy" power potential and shaky defense at shortstop. "Even as a singles-hitting second baseman Dozier would be plenty useful," Gleeman had noted. Now, this is not by any means meant to drag Aaron, because I viewed Dozier the same way at that point and so did most others. The guy had hit 14 total home runs in 317 minor-league games. But through steady work, and the honing of a mousetrap-like swing, Dozier developed into one of the game's most deadly pull hitters, joining Harmon Killebrew in the ranks of Minnesota single-season home run royalty. It took Dozier 126 games to hit his first professional home run. It took him one to launch his first as a Los Angeles Dodger. In the context of his unlikely ascent, a glorious sight to behold: EDUARDO ESCOBAR'S CAREER THAT ALMOST WASN'T Back in June, Mike Berardino wrote a great story in the Pioneer Press recounting Ozzie Guillen's discovery of Escobar on a back field in Tucson 10 years ago. At the time, Escobar was a scrawny 19-year-old backup shortstop, on the verge of being released. As the story goes, a highly impressed Guillen went to bat for him with Kenny Williams, and persuaded the general manager to give Escobar a real shot. The young infielder would go on to glance the fringe of Baseball Prospectus' Top 101 list in 2011, at No. 91, his only appearance in any prominent national rankings. Around the same time, Minor League Ball pegged him as the seventh-best talent in the White Sox system: "Great glove," wrote Sickels, "but will he hit enough for it to be relevant?" The Venezuela native made his big-league debut that season, then played sporadically over the first half of 2012 before being shipped to Minnesota alongside fellow countryman Pedro Hernandez for two months of Liriano (the bad version). Escobar posted a meager .628 OPS in his first full season with the Twins, resembling very much the no-bat utility man of billing. Then in 2014, out of nowhere, he hit 35 doubles. And in 2015 he added 31 more, plus 12 bombs. Last year Escobar clubbed 21 home runs and this year he leads baseball in doubles. His defense has deteriorated and he's no longer really viable at short, but now, he's hitting enough to make that irrelevant. RYAN PRESSLY POWERS UP Midway through the 2012 season, Pressly's fledgling career was at risk of running off the rails. The former 11th-round pick was taking his second shot at the High-A Carolina League at age 23, and floundering with a 6.28 ERA through 76 innings. In July, Ben Cherington's Red Sox made a decision that looks outrageously savvy in retrospect: they promoted Pressly to Double-A, despite his immense struggles, and converted him to full-time relief duties. Pressly turned in a 2.93 ERA over 28 innings the rest of the way, although it came with a modest 6.8 K/9 rate. He'd go on to post an 18-to-1 K/BB ratio in the Arizona Fall League, and that was all the Twins needed to see. They took him in the Rule 5 draft after three other teams passed him up. "He's always had a good arm," acknowledged Boston's scouting director Jared Porter at the time. "He's got good stuff." Of course, the arm and stuff weren't deemed good enough to warrant a 40-man roster spot, which is why the Twins were able to snag Pressly away. Porter surely didn't envision how far along that arsenal would come over the next five years. During his first season with the Twins, Pressly wasn't an especially impressive reliever, posting mediocre strikeout and walk rates with a so-so FB/CB combo. But with each successive season, the righty added velocity and learned to harness his innate ability to spin the ball, with results following suit. In six MLB campaigns his swinging strike rate has gone from 7.8% to 8.5% to 9.0% to 11.7% to 12.2% to 17.6%. He's now in elite range, with that 2018 mark ranking as the fifth-best in baseball, and this made Pressly a hot commodity – the most coveted of pieces sold by Minnesota at the deadline, netting the organization a legitimate top prospect in Jorge Alcala. Who would've guessed it when he was a middling 23-year-old starter in Single-A? LESSONS LEARNED What's the point of these look-backs? Well, for one, it's nice to reflect on three of the most unlikely and inspiring Twins careers in recent memory. But also, I think it's instructive. No, the prospect bounty yielded by Minnesota's array of deadline trades wouldn't be considered top-tier. Outside of Alcala, none of the players received really have much hype beyond the occasional advocate or prospect hound. But neither did Dozier, or Escobar, or Pressly. In fact, Escobar came over in a deal quite similar to several just now orchestrated by Minnesota — a package of unheralded minor-leaguers acquired in for a two-month rental. So as we look at the collective talent amassed during the front office's deadline purge, we'd do well to keep these case studies in mind. Click here to view the article
  20. All right, first thing’s first, here’s where all the players the Twins acquired are headed: Minnesota: Logan Forsythe Rochester: Chase De Jong, Tyler Austin. Chattanooga: Devin Smeltzer, Luke Raley, Jorge Alcala (on the DL) Fort Myers: Ryan Costello, Ernie De La Trinidad Cedar Rapids: Jhoan Duran, Gabriel Maciel Elizabethton: Luis Rijo, Gilberto Celestino So who are the best prospects the Twins acquired? Well 10 of the 12 guys the Twins added (everyone but Forsythe and Austin) still qualify for prospect status. I’m still getting up to speed on a lot of these guys, especially the ones acquired this week, so I’ll defer to another source. Baseball America published a fun list today. They ranked all the prospects dealt at the deadline, and the order they had the new guys in made a lot of sense to me. -Jorge Alcala -Gilberto Celestino -Jhoan Duran -Luke Raley -Chase De Jong -Luis Rijo -Devin Smeltzer -Gabriel Maciel -Ryan Costello -Ernie De La Trinidad Personally, I’d strongly consider putting Celestino on top. I also might put Rijo and Maciel above De Jong. Anyway, BA has capsules written up on those top three guys, and it’s just kind of interesting to see where they have them listed among all the prospects on the move. But, I’m going to make you click the link to go check out the rest of that stuff if you’re interested. All right, so let’s take a look at each trade individually. On each of these, I’m going to provide the link to the Twins Daily article published when the deals broke and also link to the Baseball Prospectus Transaction Analysis piece for each. Friend of the site Aaron Gleeman and the rest of the staff at B-Pro did an excellent job at breaking down each piece of each of these trades, so again, I’ll tip my cap to another outlet and encourage you to check those out. The grades though, those will be all me. Any grade disputes must be taken up with the Dean Friday, July 27 Twins give: Eduardo Escobar Twins get: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: B Escobar was my favorite Twins player, but it just made too much sense to trade him away. It’s encouraging to hear the Twins approached him about an extension prior to shipping him off, and here’s hoping they engage with his camp again once he becomes a free agent. Eduardo was having a career year and will hit free agency at the end of the season, so it was difficult to envision the Twins netting a huge haul. I think Duran is a nice add, and he already made a great first impression, throwing seven no-hit innings in his Cedar Rapids debut. It sounds to me like he has a better chance at reaching the majors as a starter than Alcala does, though he doesn’t have quite as high of a ceiling. Maciel will skyrocket up prospect lists if he ever develops power. He’s a switch hitter who’s billed as a legit center fielder with elite speed, so even if the power never arrives he could be a fourth outfielder. De La Trinidad was a college draftee taken in the 19th round last year. His upside seems limited, but hitters hit. He’s got a career .874 OPS so far in the minors, so that at least makes him an intriguing throw-in. Friday, July 27 Twins give: Ryan Pressly Twins get: RHP Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: A I love this deal. Pressly was the only player they moved who was going to still be under team control next season, but in parting with him, they acquired what I consider to be the two most valuable pieces among the dozen players that were acquired. Yes, Alcala was immediately placed on the DL with a right trap strain, but I think it’s a good sign that happened before he threw a single pitch in the Twins’ org. That suggests two things to me: 1) The Twins’ staff was able to uncover something in Alcala’s medicals and is getting out in front of this issue, and 2) I’d be willing to bet they used that information to leverage this deal with Houston. Celestino signed out of the Dominican Republic for a big bonus and he's living up to that billing so far. Not many guys put up the kind of numbers he was in the New York Penn League. He was fourth in batting average, sixth in OBP, seventh in slugging and was 14-for-14 on stolen base attempts in the NYPL. Pressly throws absolute filth and was having a strong season, but bullpen arms are so unpredictable and I feel like there are a lot of different ways the Twins could replace a guy like Pressly. Monday, July 30 Twins give: Zach Duke Twins get: RHP Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: C To Twins fans, Duke may not seem like much of a prize, but he is among the best left-handed specialists in baseball. Duke has faced 425 left-handed hitters since the start of the 2014 season, and southpaws have hit just .214/.286/.316 off him. Since he was on an expiring contract, Duke was never going to fetch anything similar to the Pressly haul, and I’m not real impressed with what the Twins netted from Seattle. De Jong might be an interesting candidate to stick in the bullpen and see what happens, but it’s very difficult to see him ever working his way into the picture here as a starter. Maybe Costello is going to make me eat my words someday, but he was a 31st-round pick last year. Despite that underwhelming pedigree, he certainly deserves respect for putting up some of the better power numbers in the Midwest League this season. Again, hitters hit. Monday, July 30 Twins give: Lance Lynn Twins get: Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: A I love this deal too, but for very different reasons than the Pressly trade. I just didn’t think Lynn had this kind of value. He fits the profile of exactly the type of pitcher a contending team should be looking to replace. Don’t get me wrong, he did really turn things around from May forward, but in my opinion he’s a second-division big league pitcher even at his best. Maybe the Yankees are onto something in using him in long relief, I don’t know. It’s worth noting that the Twins are paying half of Lynn’s salary, but this is still a really good return in my eyes. Tyler Austin could be a platoon 1B/RF/DH right now. The contact issues are a concern, but he crushes lefties and Target Field has been a pretty kind environment for right-handed power hitters. Honestly, if this was Lynn for Luis Rijo straight up I would have been impressed. Rijo has an insane 8.36 K:BB ratio in 125 ⅓ innings over his minor league career. He also tops out at 93 mph, so it’s not like it’s all just smoke and mirrors. And on top of all that, Lynn’s departure from the team opened up a spot for Adalberto Mejia to get a much-deserved chance in the rotation. Win, win, win, it’s looking all good here to me. Tuesday, July 31 Twins give: Brian Dozier Twins get: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, LHP Devin Smeltzer Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: D I’m certain this was the best deal the Twins could get on July 31, less than an hour before the deadline. What I’m not certain of is if that was the best time to deal him. You never know how these things work out, and both Ian Kinsler and Jonathan Schoop entering the trade market late had to have complicated things, but I suspect the Twins could have gotten a better package if they had made the deal earlier, or may have even been able to find a better waiver trade partner this month. Of course, there was always the option to keep Dozier and extend a qualifying offer to him. Maybe he would have accepted, but I’m of the mind that there’s really no such thing as a bad one-year deal. Why did I think this was the Twins’ worst trade? Mainly because of who they were forced to take back. Logan Forsythe, the only major leaguer the Twins acquired in all these deals, actually has extreme negative trade value. This seems to defy logic, but the business of baseball is funny. His inclusion basically made this deal cash neutral. There was probably never going to be a deal with the Dodgers that didn’t have to include Forsythe, since they’re trying to avoid luxury tax penalties, but that’s exactly why you don’t make a deal with them in the first place. I typically don’t care much what happens to the Pohlad’s money (did you see how I just suggested they give Dozier $18 million?), but you’ve still got to acknowledge that money is an asset to a baseball team. If you get rid of Dozier, I think you need to find a way to get rid of that money too. If Forsythe’s not in this trade, I give it at least a C, maybe even a B. Heck, if I just look at this deal in a vacuum, which is what I originally did yesterday, I might give it a C. But when you zoom out and look at the big picture of what happened across baseball leading up to and on deadline day, it definitely feels like the Twins may have hurt their odds at maximizing a return. Tough thing for me to say from the outside looking in, but that’s how I feel. Raley is putting up really good numbers in Double A, but he’s already 24 and it’s just really hard to break into the bigs as a corner outfield/first base type. On the plus side, Raley also sounds like the type of guy in terms of makeup who goes out and proves idiots like me wrong, so I’m excited to see how this plays out. Smeltzer is left-handed, that’s always a plus. He’s also relatively close to the majors (he’s spent all year in Double A) and his strikeout numbers saw a boost when he recently shifted to the bullpen. However, it sounds like he has a fairly straight, fairly slow fastball, so … All right, so there’s my report card. The front office comes away with a 2.8 GPA. Not exactly Ivy League material, but in my eyes they get a solid passing grade for what was a difficult trade deadline to navigate for them. Maybe they also deserve some extra credit for the non-move they made by keeping Kyle Gibson. So now it’s your turn, how would you grade the Twins’ trade deadline?
  21. What a whirlwind of a week it’s been. Now that the dust has settled on the trade deadline, let’s take a look at which affiliate each of these new pieces is headed to, try to rank the new prospects and hand out individual grades for each of the five deals Derek Falvey & Co. made.All right, first thing’s first, here’s where all the players the Twins acquired are headed: Minnesota: Logan Forsythe Rochester: Chase De Jong, Tyler Austin. Chattanooga: Devin Smeltzer, Luke Raley, Jorge Alcala (on the DL) Fort Myers: Ryan Costello, Ernie De La Trinidad Cedar Rapids: Jhoan Duran, Gabriel Maciel Elizabethton: Luis Rijo, Gilberto Celestino So who are the best prospects the Twins acquired? Well 10 of the 12 guys the Twins added (everyone but Forsythe and Austin) still qualify for prospect status. I’m still getting up to speed on a lot of these guys, especially the ones acquired this week, so I’ll defer to another source. Baseball America published a fun list today. They ranked all the prospects dealt at the deadline, and the order they had the new guys in made a lot of sense to me. -Jorge Alcala -Gilberto Celestino -Jhoan Duran -Luke Raley -Chase De Jong -Luis Rijo -Devin Smeltzer -Gabriel Maciel -Ryan Costello -Ernie De La Trinidad Personally, I’d strongly consider putting Celestino on top. I also might put Rijo and Maciel above De Jong. Anyway, BA has capsules written up on those top three guys, and it’s just kind of interesting to see where they have them listed among all the prospects on the move. But, I’m going to make you click the link to go check out the rest of that stuff if you’re interested. All right, so let’s take a look at each trade individually. On each of these, I’m going to provide the link to the Twins Daily article published when the deals broke and also link to the Baseball Prospectus Transaction Analysis piece for each. Friend of the site Aaron Gleeman and the rest of the staff at B-Pro did an excellent job at breaking down each piece of each of these trades, so again, I’ll tip my cap to another outlet and encourage you to check those out. The grades though, those will be all me. Any grade disputes must be taken up with the Dean Friday, July 27 Twins give: Eduardo Escobar Twins get: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: B Escobar was my favorite Twins player, but it just made too much sense to trade him away. It’s encouraging to hear the Twins approached him about an extension prior to shipping him off, and here’s hoping they engage with his camp again once he becomes a free agent. Eduardo was having a career year and will hit free agency at the end of the season, so it was difficult to envision the Twins netting a huge haul. I think Duran is a nice add, and he already made a great first impression, throwing seven no-hit innings in his Cedar Rapids debut. It sounds to me like he has a better chance at reaching the majors as a starter than Alcala does, though he doesn’t have quite as high of a ceiling. Maciel will skyrocket up prospect lists if he ever develops power. He’s a switch hitter who’s billed as a legit center fielder with elite speed, so even if the power never arrives he could be a fourth outfielder. De La Trinidad was a college draftee taken in the 19th round last year. His upside seems limited, but hitters hit. He’s got a career .874 OPS so far in the minors, so that at least makes him an intriguing throw-in. Friday, July 27 Twins give: Ryan Pressly Twins get: RHP Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: A I love this deal. Pressly was the only player they moved who was going to still be under team control next season, but in parting with him, they acquired what I consider to be the two most valuable pieces among the dozen players that were acquired. Yes, Alcala was immediately placed on the DL with a right trap strain, but I think it’s a good sign that happened before he threw a single pitch in the Twins’ org. That suggests two things to me: 1) The Twins’ staff was able to uncover something in Alcala’s medicals and is getting out in front of this issue, and 2) I’d be willing to bet they used that information to leverage this deal with Houston. Celestino signed out of the Dominican Republic for a big bonus and he's living up to that billing so far. Not many guys put up the kind of numbers he was in the New York Penn League. He was fourth in batting average, sixth in OBP, seventh in slugging and was 14-for-14 on stolen base attempts in the NYPL. Pressly throws absolute filth and was having a strong season, but bullpen arms are so unpredictable and I feel like there are a lot of different ways the Twins could replace a guy like Pressly. Monday, July 30 Twins give: Zach Duke Twins get: RHP Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: C To Twins fans, Duke may not seem like much of a prize, but he is among the best left-handed specialists in baseball. Duke has faced 425 left-handed hitters since the start of the 2014 season, and southpaws have hit just .214/.286/.316 off him. Since he was on an expiring contract, Duke was never going to fetch anything similar to the Pressly haul, and I’m not real impressed with what the Twins netted from Seattle. De Jong might be an interesting candidate to stick in the bullpen and see what happens, but it’s very difficult to see him ever working his way into the picture here as a starter. Maybe Costello is going to make me eat my words someday, but he was a 31st-round pick last year. Despite that underwhelming pedigree, he certainly deserves respect for putting up some of the better power numbers in the Midwest League this season. Again, hitters hit. Monday, July 30 Twins give: Lance Lynn Twins get: Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: A I love this deal too, but for very different reasons than the Pressly trade. I just didn’t think Lynn had this kind of value. He fits the profile of exactly the type of pitcher a contending team should be looking to replace. Don’t get me wrong, he did really turn things around from May forward, but in my opinion he’s a second-division big league pitcher even at his best. Maybe the Yankees are onto something in using him in long relief, I don’t know. It’s worth noting that the Twins are paying half of Lynn’s salary, but this is still a really good return in my eyes. Tyler Austin could be a platoon 1B/RF/DH right now. The contact issues are a concern, but he crushes lefties and Target Field has been a pretty kind environment for right-handed power hitters. Honestly, if this was Lynn for Luis Rijo straight up I would have been impressed. Rijo has an insane 8.36 K:BB ratio in 125 ⅓ innings over his minor league career. He also tops out at 93 mph, so it’s not like it’s all just smoke and mirrors. And on top of all that, Lynn’s departure from the team opened up a spot for Adalberto Mejia to get a much-deserved chance in the rotation. Win, win, win, it’s looking all good here to me. Tuesday, July 31 Twins give: Brian Dozier Twins get: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, LHP Devin Smeltzer Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus Tom’s grade: D I’m certain this was the best deal the Twins could get on July 31, less than an hour before the deadline. What I’m not certain of is if that was the best time to deal him. You never know how these things work out, and both Ian Kinsler and Jonathan Schoop entering the trade market late had to have complicated things, but I suspect the Twins could have gotten a better package if they had made the deal earlier, or may have even been able to find a better waiver trade partner this month. Of course, there was always the option to keep Dozier and extend a qualifying offer to him. Maybe he would have accepted, but I’m of the mind that there’s really no such thing as a bad one-year deal. Why did I think this was the Twins’ worst trade? Mainly because of who they were forced to take back. Logan Forsythe, the only major leaguer the Twins acquired in all these deals, actually has extreme negative trade value. This seems to defy logic, but the business of baseball is funny. His inclusion basically made this deal cash neutral. There was probably never going to be a deal with the Dodgers that didn’t have to include Forsythe, since they’re trying to avoid luxury tax penalties, but that’s exactly why you don’t make a deal with them in the first place. I typically don’t care much what happens to the Pohlad’s money (did you see how I just suggested they give Dozier $18 million?), but you’ve still got to acknowledge that money is an asset to a baseball team. If you get rid of Dozier, I think you need to find a way to get rid of that money too. If Forsythe’s not in this trade, I give it at least a C, maybe even a B. Heck, if I just look at this deal in a vacuum, which is what I originally did yesterday, I might give it a C. But when you zoom out and look at the big picture of what happened across baseball leading up to and on deadline day, it definitely feels like the Twins may have hurt their odds at maximizing a return. Tough thing for me to say from the outside looking in, but that’s how I feel. Raley is putting up really good numbers in Double A, but he’s already 24 and it’s just really hard to break into the bigs as a corner outfield/first base type. On the plus side, Raley also sounds like the type of guy in terms of makeup who goes out and proves idiots like me wrong, so I’m excited to see how this plays out. Smeltzer is left-handed, that’s always a plus. He’s also relatively close to the majors (he’s spent all year in Double A) and his strikeout numbers saw a boost when he recently shifted to the bullpen. However, it sounds like he has a fairly straight, fairly slow fastball, so … All right, so there’s my report card. The front office comes away with a 2.8 GPA. Not exactly Ivy League material, but in my eyes they get a solid passing grade for what was a difficult trade deadline to navigate for them. Maybe they also deserve some extra credit for the non-move they made by keeping Kyle Gibson. So now it’s your turn, how would you grade the Twins’ trade deadline? 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  22. The Minnesota Twins came into the 2018 Major League Baseball season with postseason aspirations. Coming off of a Wild Card berth a year ago, it was fair to expect this club to challenge the Indians for the American League Central Division title. For a multitude of reasons, things didn't pan out as expected, and that left the club as sellers when it came to the trade deadline. As has often been the case, the front office positioned and executed the endeavor near flawlessly. Having lots of money to spend this offseason, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine bolstered the organization with talent. At the time, all of the acquisitions made a ton of sense, and looked nothing short of great on paper. We know that across the board plenty of players fell flat for Minnesota, and that allowed more shrewd decision making to come into play. Thanks to the short term commitment, and multiple one-year deals handed out, the Twins found themselves with assets able to be moved when their direction took a turn. It's always tough to see a player like Eduardo Escobar leave the organization he broke out in, but the reality is that the Twins maximized his value. Zach Duke and Lance Lynn were set to depart at season's end for nothing, and getting a return helps to stretch their effectiveness for the club into the future. Now a handful of trades in, there's reason to like every one of them. Eduardo Escobar to Arizona for SP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad It's Duran that highlights this package for the Twins. All three prospects are current in Single-A, and given the depth in the Diamondbacks system (or lack thereof), these are three relative lottery tickets. That said, Maciel was highly touted as an International signee and stockpiling some talent that Minnesota may have missed out on when each was available as an amateur is hardly a bad get. Escobar was set to be a free agent at season's end, and now he gets to go be a part of a pennant race. Minnesota could bring him back this offseason (and if they can do so at the right dollar figure, it'd be very appealing), but getting some tangible return for him while they could is a very good move. Ryan Pressly to Houston for SP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino Flipping Pressly stings a bit, as I've been vocal about how good of a pitcher he is for quite some time. In 2018, he truly emerged as one of the best relievers in all of baseball. With another year of team control, it's unfortunate he won't be around to help what should be a competitive Twins team in 2019. That said, the reality is that he's a reliever. With pen arms being fickle, it made sense to flip him for a healthy return at a time when Minnesota had plenty of suitors. Getting a prospect with triple digit velocity in return is a nice piece, and it opens the door for Minnesota to explore some internal options in hops of backfilling Ryan's role. Zach Duke to Seattle for SP Chase De Jong and IF Ryan Costello Here is the first move in which the Twins front office continues to make a one-year deal work for them. Duke was signed for just $2.15 million this offseason and was handed a one-year deal. Having just two months left on his contract and not in a position to provide Minnesota value, the two prospects continue to do so. Although neither piece is a blue chip talent, there's little reason to scoff at the ability to develop and potentially drive major league talent out of players that will be around long after Duke would have left the organization. The Mariners get a lefty killer in return, and Duke's time with the Twins was an effective one. Lance Lynn to New York for 1B Tyler Austin and SP Luis Rijo If you'd ask who among the Twins free agent acquisitions underperformed the most this season, it'd have to be a tossup between Lynn and Logan Morrison. Being able to send the former Cardinals hurler out for a respectable return only highlights the importance of a track record. After missing virtually all of spring training, Lynn has been better since being awful his first month or so. He was striking out batters (and walking them) at career high rates, but there's too much leash there to believe he's cooked. In going to the Yankees, Lynn represents another one-year deal that plays future dividends for the Twins. Austin is out of options, so it would make sense that Minnesota give him ample opportunity to stick down the stretch. Rijo is a lottery ticket that you'd never be wise to turn down. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  23. Just a thought. I think Ryan Pressly has a ton of trade value right now and unlike some of the other guys of value being discussed (Gibson, Escobar, Dozier) I think the Twins could replace him. Dealing Pressly could improve your future outlook without completely raising the white flag on the present season. Addison Reed is starting a rehab assignment soon, there are several right-handed relievers on the 40-man roster who are pitching well in Triple A (Duffey, Busenitz, May, Curtiss) and you could always plug Fernando Romero into the bullpen and see if he could provide a spark if it came to that. Yes, Pressly's under control for next year too, but so are all of those replacement options I named. Also, relievers are so volatile that I generally feel pretty good about dealing from the bullpen. Pressly himself had a 4.70 ERA just last season. To be clear, this isn't meant to be a jab at Pressly. He's been great, the fact that his trade value is so high speaks to his performance. Exactly how high do I think his value is? I wouldn't be surprised if the Twins could get as much for him as they could for Dozier. I was pretty impressed with what the White Sox were able to add in their deal that sent Joakim Soria to Milwaukee. What do you think?
  24. Per multiple reports, the Twins will receive RHP Jorge Alcala and CF Gilberto Celestino. Per MLB Pipeline, Alcala is (was?) the Astros #10 prospect while Celestino ranked #15. Jorge Alcala will turn 23 tomorrow. The Dominican native has 82 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings for the Astros High A and AA affilaites. He is the #8 Astros prospect per Baseball America. Some reports indicate he is another hard-thrower who can hit 100 mph. Celestino is 19, also from the Dominican. He has played in the short-season New York/Penn League and played in three games at AA earlier this year. He has hit a combined .299 with eight doubles and four homers. Also 14 steals in 36 games. Ryan Pressly was said to be the Twins player that almost all contending teams were asking about. His velocity and spin rate made him, along with having one more year of arbitration, made him intriguing to a lot of teams. The former Twins Rule 5 pick has really made strides in 2018 after looking the part and showing glimpses over his years with the Twins. Pressly is a Texas native, so he's kind of heading home and will fit into an already strong Astros bullpen.
  25. If you were wondering why Ryan Pressly was not used in the 10th inning of Friday night's loss to the Red Sox, well, there was a good reason. Moments after the game, Ken Rosenthal reported that Pressly was traded to the Houston Astros.Per multiple reports, the Twins will receive RHP Jorge Alcala and CF Gilberto Celestino. Per MLB Pipeline, Alcala is (was?) the Astros #10 prospect while Celestino ranked #15. Jorge Alcala will turn 23 tomorrow. The Dominican native has 82 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings for the Astros High A and AA affilaites. He is the #8 Astros prospect per Baseball America. Some reports indicate he is another hard-thrower who can hit 100 mph. Celestino is 19, also from the Dominican. He has played in the short-season New York/Penn League and played in three games at AA earlier this year. He has hit a combined .299 with eight doubles and four homers. Also 14 steals in 36 games. Ryan Pressly was said to be the Twins player that almost all contending teams were asking about. His velocity and spin rate made him, along with having one more year of arbitration, made him intriguing to a lot of teams. The former Twins Rule 5 pick has really made strides in 2018 after looking the part and showing glimpses over his years with the Twins. Pressly is a Texas native, so he's kind of heading home and will fit into an already strong Astros bullpen. Click here to view the article
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