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  1. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last two decades and new technology continues to help front offices evaluate their defensive talent. Many key advanced fielding stats like Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Above Average (Def) began being calculated in 2002. Over the last 20+ seasons, the Twins made defense an organizational hallmark and these teams rank as the best defenders during that stretch. 5. 2003 Twins (23.2 Def, 23.2 UZR) Top Defenders: Torii Hunter (18.4 Def, 16.2 UZR, Gold Glove), Corey Koskie (10.1 Def, 8.2 UZR), AJ Pierzynski (9.0 Def) The 2003 Twins were on their way to claiming a second straight AL Central title and there were some clear standout defenders. Hunter was the team’s top defender, and he was awarded his third Gold Glove on the way to winning seven straight honors for the Twins. His defensive numbers in 2003 were otherworldly as he posted career highs in Def and UZR. Koskie was underrated as a defensive third baseman and he should have won a Gold Glove at some point in his career (see below) 4. 2010 Twins (33.8 Def, 28.1 UZR) Top Defenders: Joe Mauer (12.2 Def, Gold Glove), JJ Hardy (11.8 Def, 7.4 UZR), Orlando Hudson (10.5 Def, 8.7 UZR), Denard Span (9.3 Def, 7.0 UZR) This one might hurt for some Twins fans as JJ Hardy’s lone season in Minnesota saw him put up some strong defensive numbers at shortstop. Since that season, the Twins have rotated through carousel of players that were stretched to play shortstop. Mauer would win his third straight Gold Glove behind the plate, but it would be his last as he was eventually forced to move to first base. Orlando Hudson and Hardy formed quite the double-play combo and Span only strengthened the team’s up the middle defense. 3. 2006 Twins (34.8 Def, 30.8 UZR) Top Defenders: Jason Bartlett (16.1 Def, 11.6 UZR), Nick Punto (14.1 Def, 13.1 UZR), Joe Mauer (8.1 Def) Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto might surprise some to be at the team’s top defenders over the course of a season. Bartlett was helped by the fact that he played fewer than 880 innings so a player can hide more of their defensive flaws in a smaller sample size. Punto’s numbers above were at third base, but he also posted a 5.3 Def and a 4.6 UZR at shortstop albeit in 146.2 innings. It was one of Mauer’s worst defensive seasons as a catcher and he was still one of the best defenders on the team. 2. 2005 Twins (41.9 Def, 31.9 UZR) Top Defenders: Juan Castro (16.1 Def, 13.2 UZR), Jason Bartlett (15.6 Def, 12.6 UZR), Joe Mauer (8.6 Def), Torii Hunter (3.4 Def, 2.5 UZR, Gold Glove) For the fifth consecutive season, Hunter was awarded the Gold Glove, but he was limited to just over 810 innings in center. Minnesota turned to Lew Ford for 548 innings in center field and he finished fifth on the team with a 4.9 Def. Castro and Bartlett have high totals, but neither player played more than 590 innings at shortstop. In fact, Mauer and Justin Morneau were the only players to play close to 1,000 defensive innings at one position. Morneau’s 13.5 UZR was the team’s highest total and it was the highest mark he’d have in his entire career. 1. 2002 Twins (60.4 Def, 60.4 UZR) Top Defenders: Corey Koskie (21.9 Def, 19.9 UZR), Jacque Jones (11.5 Def, 17.6 UZR), AJ Pierzynski (8.9 Def), Torii Hunter (5.1 Def, 3.0 UZR, Gold Glove) ESPN dubbed them, “The Team That Saved Baseball,” and a lot of the credit can be given to the defensive side of the ball. Koskie might have been the AL’s best defensive player as his Def and UZR ranked him at the top of the league ahead of players like Darin Erstad and Alex Rodriguez. Minnesota had three players rank in the AL’s top six when it came to UZR (Koskie, Jones, and Doug Mientkiewicz). Koskie lost the Gold Glove to Eric Chavez, but the Twins had the last laugh as they defeated Oakland in the ALDS. Do you think the 2021 Twins can match the defensive numbers from 2002? 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
  2. Recently, Torii Hunter fellow former Twins greats LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer found their names on the new Hall of Fame ballot. All three had fantastic, long careers and deserve the honor. On this show, we will be talking about Torii Hunter. Whether you believe that he had a Cooperstown-worthy career or not, Hunter has been a popular player, teammate and mentor to many in and around the game. Our panel includes three people that have great relationships with Torii Hunter to discuss his career and his role as a mentor. JACQUE JONES Jones found himself on the Hall of Fame ballot about seven years ago, and he got a vote. Jones and Hunter came up through the Twins farm system together after Jones was the team's second-round pick out of USC. Jones debuted and was Hunter's teammate through the 2005 season. The two remain good friends. NIKO GUARDADO Guardado has found himself in a number of memorable roles in TV and movies over the past eight years or so including a recurring role on The Goldbergs and a leading role in the remake of Party of Five. As you know, he is the son of Twins Hall of Famer and remains a fan of the team. He got to view those early '00s Twins team from a pretty special, unique perspective. Torii and Jacque remain active in many charities including the Eddie Guardado Autism Foundation Stars & Strikes event. Get to know more about Niko here. ROYCE LEWIS The Twins top prospect hails from southern California where he grew up watching Hunter with the Angels. The two met before the Twins even drafted Lewis and have built a very strong relationship. Lewis says that Hunter has been a tremendous mentor to him, giving him knowledge about topics on the baseball diamond as well as in the real world. Last offseason, Lewis moved to Texas and lives in the same city and the Hunter family. In this show, it will be fun to hear stories from all three about their relationships with Torii Hunter over the years. ------------------------------------------- Please watch LIVE at 8:00 central time tonight on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below or on those social media platforms during the show and we'll ask them. Subscribe to the Twins Daily podcast on Libsyn, Apple iTunes or anywhere you download podcasts. Here is the YouTube link where you can watch the show.
  3. Hunter was a first-round pick by the Twins back in 1993 and he went on to have a 19-year big-league career. Known for his defensive prowess, he won nine straight Gold Gloves from 2001-09. He was no slouch at the plate either as he hit .277/.331/.461 (.793) while being awarded two Silver Sluggers. He was selected to five All-Star teams and there were five times he finished in the top-20 for the AL MVP. Those numbers are only part of the Hall of Fame equation. Center field is a tough position to judge when it comes to Hall of Fame credentials. Some of the game’s all-time best players like Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Ken Griffey Jr. played the position and this can skew the numbers a little bit. Overall, there have been 24 center fielders elected to the Hall of Fame, which means not everyone was of the same caliber as the names mentioned above. So, what does a center fielder need to do to get to Cooperstown? JAWS, a scoring system used to measure a player’s HOF worthiness, helps to separate players at each position. According to Baseball Reference, “A player’s JAWS is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR.” Hunter doesn’t exactly fare well when using JAWS as he ranks the 34th best center fielder. There are four HOF players that rank lower than him, but all of them played in the 1930’s or earlier. The players directly ahead of him on the list include Curtis Granderson, Ellis Burks, and Andrew McCutchen. None of those players scream that they should be in Cooperstown. Andruw Jones is a player that might fit a similar mold to Hunter’s career. Like Hunter, Jones was known for his defensive prowess on his way to winning 10 Gold Gloves. In fact, Jones is one of only three center fielders with more Gold Gloves than Hunter (Mays- 12, Griffey Jr.- 10). Unfortunately, their trophy rooms might be the only thing that puts Hunter and Jones in the same HOF conversation. According to JAWS, Jones is the third best center fielder that has yet to be enshrined in Cooperstown behind Carlos Beltran and Kenny Lofton. That puts him well ahead of Hunter’s JAWS total. What might be even more discouraging is the fact that players like Lofton (10th place JAWS) and Jim Edmonds (15th place JAWS) fell off the HOF ballot after only one appearance. Even Jones has struggled on the ballot as he reached 19.4% in 2020 in his third year of eligibility. Hunter will always have a special place in the hearts of Minnesota Twins fans. His energy and leadership help to define the teams that put Twins baseball back on the map. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to imagine he has much of a case for Cooperstown. Do you think Hunter has a shot at Cooperstown? 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
  4. The sound of a clanking spoon and jubilant laughs of a child resonate through the waves of Caleb Thielbar’s kitchen over Zoom. “Do I need to repeat anything or is he too loud? My wife’s at work and I got home a bit late so it’s lunchtime.” The 33 year old Randolph, Minnesota native has worn a wealth of hats over the years; St. Paul Saints standout, International League pitcher, DII pitching coach, a prospect that ‘shouldn't have made it,’ and most importantly, husband to Carissa and dad of Joshua. To Twins fans, he’s the pinnacle of feel-good stories in the franchise’s history. Coming off a stellar season in his second stint with his home-state team, baseball and the Minnesota Twins were staples in the Thielbar family since Caleb was a young boy. “Baseball was huge for my parents. Heck, my dad still played until I was 12 or 13 in various leagues,” Caleb recalled. “He was a pitcher.” Young Caleb took after his father Calvin, cementing his place on the mound in the youth leagues of south central Minnesota. Thielbar was a standout for the Randolph Rockets both on the bump and on the basketball court, scoring the second most points in school history. Courtesy of Caleb Thielbar “Growing up in a small town, if you could throw the ball hard and anywhere near the plate you were going to pitch,” Thielbar said. Thielbar and his father weren’t the only ones in the family who spent time on the diamond. Caleb’s mom Janet was the starting shortstop on her high school baseball team as a senior; an opportunity that connected her with assistant coach Calvin, her future husband. “The Greatest Place on Earth” Nestled just half an hour south of the Twin Cities, some of Caleb’s fondest childhood memories came from making the trek up to the Metrodome to watch his favorite team. Calvin would get tickets from work and the family would go to three or four games per year. Like most, Caleb knew that the Dome wasn’t the gold encrusted palace that other teams had to call home. That didn’t matter. “Going to the Metrodome, ears popping (through the doors), getting to the concourse where you couldn’t hear anything. All of a sudden you’d get into the stadium and start to hear the crack of the bat from batting practice.” For the wide-eyed Minnesota boy the Metrodome couldn’t have been more perfect. “I got to play in the Dome in college and we all kind of knew it wasn’t the nicest, but when you’re a kid and you're going to a Major League game you think it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Caleb recalled. Johan and Torii Growing up in the 90’s, the Twins were nothing to write home about. Yet when Caleb was striking out hitters on the bump for Randolph High School in the early 2000’s, Johan Santana was baffling hitters with his changeup and the Dome outfield was where homers went to die thanks to Torii Hunter. “Johan was my favorite pitcher growing up and all of us loved Torii, making those amazing catches,” Thielbar said. “Those were the two players I liked most because in high school when I wasn’t pitching I was playing centerfield.” Things came full circle for Thielbar this spring. Throwing his first bullpen of the year, a familiar face appeared behind the mound to watch and critique the crafty lefty. It was no other than Caleb’s childhood hero, Johan himself. “It was kind of surreal to have him there after growing up watching him your entire childhood,” Caleb said. Lifelong Learner There are few players in baseball that have seen their career evolve the way Thielbar has. From a blue-collar recruit who didn’t necessarily see himself being good enough to compete at South Dakota State to a big league pitcher who’s future seemed uncertain due to arm injuries, Caleb never gave up. “After having some arm problems with the Twins it did take a few years to get it back,” Thielbar said. “Luckily I was able to keep playing, most guys hang it up after that.” In between his time with the Twins, Thielbar spent two seasons across the Mississippi with the St. Paul Saints. He credits his time in the American Association towards where he’s at today. “I enjoyed my time with the Saints and was lucky to have a couple of good years with them,” Thielbar said. “I needed to learn how to stay healthy and the independent league was a really good place to do that.” A firm believer that there is always learning to do, regardless of the level, Thielbar’s grit was rewarded this year by achieving a goal that’s been in his mind since he was a boy in Randolph; winning an AL Central title. “Watching all of those (division titles) growing up, it became a goal of mine,” Thielbar said. “Not just winning it, but getting to do it with a lot of guys that I got to play with in the minors or that I already knew. They're a bunch of really good people and seeing them succeed is great.” MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has a rich history of cultivating homegrown talent in the sport of baseball. Hear the authentic stories of those who grew up in Minnesota and have had the chance to fulfill the childhood dream of wearing a Twins jersey.The sound of a clanking spoon and jubilant laughs of a child resonate through the waves of Caleb Thielbar’s kitchen over Zoom. “Do I need to repeat anything or is he too loud? My wife’s at work and I got home a bit late so it’s lunchtime.” The 33 year old Randolph, Minnesota native has worn a wealth of hats over the years; St. Paul Saints standout, International League pitcher, DII pitching coach, a prospect that ‘shouldn't have made it,’ and most importantly, husband to Carissa and dad of Joshua. To Twins fans, he’s the pinnacle of feel-good stories in the franchise’s history. Coming off a stellar season in his second stint with his home-state team, baseball and the Minnesota Twins were staples in the Thielbar family since Caleb was a young boy. “Baseball was huge for my parents. Heck, my dad still played until I was 12 or 13 in various leagues,” Caleb recalled. “He was a pitcher.” Young Caleb took after his father Calvin, cementing his place on the mound in the youth leagues of south central Minnesota. Download attachment: Thielbar Randolph.jpg Thielbar was a standout for the Randolph Rockets both on the bump and on the basketball court, scoring the second most points in school history. Courtesy of Caleb Thielbar “Growing up in a small town, if you could throw the ball hard and anywhere near the plate you were going to pitch,” Thielbar said. Thielbar and his father weren’t the only ones in the family who spent time on the diamond. Caleb’s mom Janet was the starting shortstop on her high school baseball team as a senior; an opportunity that connected her with assistant coach Calvin, her future husband. “The Greatest Place on Earth” Nestled just half an hour south of the Twin Cities, some of Caleb’s fondest childhood memories came from making the trek up to the Metrodome to watch his favorite team. Calvin would get tickets from work and the family would go to three or four games per year. Like most, Caleb knew that the Dome wasn’t the gold encrusted palace that other teams had to call home. That didn’t matter. “Going to the Metrodome, ears popping (through the doors), getting to the concourse where you couldn’t hear anything. All of a sudden you’d get into the stadium and start to hear the crack of the bat from batting practice.” For the wide-eyed Minnesota boy the Metrodome couldn’t have been more perfect. “I got to play in the Dome in college and we all kind of knew it wasn’t the nicest, but when you’re a kid and you're going to a Major League game you think it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Caleb recalled. Johan and Torii Growing up in the 90’s, the Twins were nothing to write home about. Yet when Caleb was striking out hitters on the bump for Randolph High School in the early 2000’s, Johan Santana was baffling hitters with his changeup and the Dome outfield was where homers went to die thanks to Torii Hunter. “Johan was my favorite pitcher growing up and all of us loved Torii, making those amazing catches,” Thielbar said. “Those were the two players I liked most because in high school when I wasn’t pitching I was playing centerfield.” Things came full circle for Thielbar this spring. Throwing his first bullpen of the year, a familiar face appeared behind the mound to watch and critique the crafty lefty. It was no other than Caleb’s childhood hero, Johan himself. “It was kind of surreal to have him there after growing up watching him your entire childhood,” Caleb said. Lifelong Learner There are few players in baseball that have seen their career evolve the way Thielbar has. From a blue-collar recruit who didn’t necessarily see himself being good enough to compete at South Dakota State to a big league pitcher who’s future seemed uncertain due to arm injuries, Caleb never gave up. “After having some arm problems with the Twins it did take a few years to get it back,” Thielbar said. “Luckily I was able to keep playing, most guys hang it up after that.” In between his time with the Twins, Thielbar spent two seasons across the Mississippi with the St. Paul Saints. He credits his time in the American Association towards where he’s at today. “I enjoyed my time with the Saints and was lucky to have a couple of good years with them,” Thielbar said. “I needed to learn how to stay healthy and the independent league was a really good place to do that.” A firm believer that there is always learning to do, regardless of the level, Thielbar’s grit was rewarded this year by achieving a goal that’s been in his mind since he was a boy in Randolph; winning an AL Central title. “Watching all of those (division titles) growing up, it became a goal of mine,” Thielbar said. “Not just winning it, but getting to do it with a lot of guys that I got to play with in the minors or that I already knew. They're a bunch of really good people and seeing them succeed is great.” 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
  6. I don’t think it’s burying the lede here to note that Harmon Killebrew’s signature is going to be number one on this list. He’s got some of the greatest penmanship we’ve seen in any era, and it was a craft he took great pride in. You’ll often hear stories from more recent players where they’ll quip about the times Harmon noted they needed to clean up their signature. Given the recent explosion of the trading card collecting hobby it seemed only fitting to explore the guys that have followed his advice best. Surprisingly, there’s more than a few modern candidates on this list. Without further ado, let’s get into it: 5. Paul Molitor After playing 15 years in Milwaukee for the Brewers, Molitor ended his Hall of Fame career with the hometown team. The St. Paul native was well past his prime when he joined the Twins, but Molitor still put up an .858 OPS at age-39. There was no shortage of autograph requests given the local fanfare, and those continued when he became manager, and eventually Manager of the Year, following his playing days. The signature is a compressed one, and the letters are all tight together, but getting every character is something rarely seen today. 4. Bert Blyleven This is a weird case in which the signature is awesome, but it’s one that typically comes with caveats. Blyleven is also a Hall of Famer and played 11 of his 22 big league seasons in Minnesota. He is still connected to the team as a broadcaster, and while his capacity is slowly being phased out, it will never not be true that he was among the best to put on the uniform. Much like Harmon’s style, Blyleven makes sure to get out his full name fully and visibly when signing. For collectors he’ll generally ink his name in undesirable places or attempt to devalue whatever he is signing for the fear of secondary market flipping. At any rate, the signature itself is a gorgeous one. 3. Torii Hunter As the first modern day inclusion on this list Torii Hunter represents a guy bound by principles. He has often talked about things gleaned from his time listening to Harmon, and he too represents that type of retired veteran constantly passing information down. Hunter played the role of mentor and leader on multiple teams, and it’s not hard to see why doing things the right way would be of importance to him. Hunter’s autograph is loopier and more cartoonish than the previous two entries, but it’s plenty obvious who the inscription belongs to when reading it. Often accompanied by his number, Torii takes any piece of memorabilia up a notch by putting his name on it. 2. Michael Cuddyer One of my favorite autographs in all of baseball, Cuddyer combines principles from the three players before him. He was a Twins for 11 of his 15 Major League seasons and there was never a time in which he wasn’t fighting to cement his place as a regular. Often seen as the utility player that could contribute everywhere, Cuddyer went about all of his processes the right way. Without sounding too sappy Cuddyer’s signature has an elegance to it. As a fan of photography, often taking pictures at away ballparks, maybe there was even an artistic tie to the swoops of his pen. Each time his name came out though, it looked as good as the last. 1. Harmon Killebrew As I said when starting this off, it’s pretty impossible to look at any group of people under this subject and not determine Harmon as the gold standard. Playing 21 of his 22 illustrious seasons with the Minnesota franchise (after relocating from Washington seven seasons in) the Killer racked up accolades like no one’s business. An inner circle Hall of Famer doesn’t need to bother themselves with signature requests, but Killebrew took it upon himself to treat each as if it were his last. There will never be a time that the importance Killebrew placed on a well-respected signature isn’t a story that’s shared fondly among Twins fans. Although it doesn’t resonate with every future player, it’s great to see the trickle-down effect and know that his presence remains even though he has left us. Who's missing that you would add to this list? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Torii Hunter Region Hunter’s defensive prowess was something that followed him through his big-league career, even after he was forced to move to a corner outfield position. He won seven Gold Gloves during his time in Minnesota and added two more after signing with the Angels. He was a clear pick as the number one overall seed, but would he have enough to make it through the entire bracket? Zoilo Versalles might have provided the biggest challenge to Hunter in the region. The former MVP won multiple Gold Gloves at shortstop. Many reached out on Twitter and wondered how many current fans even remembered Versalles and his slick glove up the middle. Even if he was good for his time, Hunter ended up winning the region and moved on to the Final Four. Kirby Puckett Region Kirby Puckett made arguably the most famous catch in team history during Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. He wasn’t a one-catch wonder though as he accumulated six Gold Gloves throughout his Hall of Fame career. Unfortunately for Puckett, his region had a strong number two seed and an upset looked like it could be on the horizon. First, Puckett had to get by Corey Koskie, one of the team’s best defensive third basemen. From there he matched up in the regional final against Joe Mauer, who had defeated Denard Span in round one. Mauer won multiple Gold Gloves behind the plate and likely should have won one during his time at first. He was a tremendous athlete and his defensive skills beat out Puckett to win the region. Jim Kaat Region Younger fans might not be aware, but Jim Kaat lived up to his nickname on the mound as he used cat-like reflexes to pounce on batted balls. He holds the team record for Gold Gloves, and he went on to win 16 for his career. Much like Versalles before him, would a younger crowd on Twitter know enough about Kaat to push him through the region? Kaat’s region was no breeze as it included some of the biggest names in team history. Tony Oliva, Gary Gaetti, and Greg Gagne had a chance to upset the region’s number one seed. The regional final would be a battle between Gaetti, the team’s outstanding World Series third baseman, and Kaat, the top seed. Cooler heads prevailed and Kaat qualified for the Final Four. Byron Buxton Region Recency bias could play a role in making Byron Buxton the number two overall seed in the tournament, but he has made some legendary plays in his big-league career. Unfortunately, his career has been limited because of a variety of injuries. Would fans overlook his injury time and allow him to move out of the region? Buxton first made quick work of Kent Hrbek, a team legend, but one that played his entire career at first base. The lower part of the bracket pitted two other first basemen as one player took over first base from another in a dramatic trade deadline deal. Buxton faced a Gold Glove winner, Doug Mientkiewicz, in the final, but the first baseman couldn’t pull off the upset and Buxton moved on to face Kaat in the Final Four. Final Four Torii Hunter versus Joe Mauer and Jim Kaat versus Byron Buxton comprised the semi-final matchups in the Best Defender Bracket. Mauer had upset the number one seed, Puckett, to qualify for the Final Four, but he wouldn’t have enough steam to take down Spider-Man. Fans are more familiar with Buxton and it was easy for him to take down Kaat, especially since Buxton’s defense has been other-worldly when he has been healthy. Hunter facing off against Buxton in the final was certainly an intriguing match-up. Hunter has more Gold Gloves and was able to stay healthy and on the field for most of his Twins tenure. Buxton makes spectacular plays but there have been injury concerns. Overall, Buxton is a better defender and the fans picked him over Hunter’s longevity. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1253497118645518337 Do you agree with the results? 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
  8. During his age-21 through age-23 seasons, Byron Buxton played 278 games at the big-league level. This culminated in a tremendous 2017 season where he won the Platinum Glove for his defense in center field. Also, he ended that season hitting .270/.330/.460 with 10 extra-base hits over his final 26 games. It truly looked like Buxton was putting it all together. At age-23, Kirby Puckett had yet to make his MLB debut and was playing the entire season below the Double-A level. He’d played the entire season for Visalia in the California League by hitting .314/.366/.442 with 45 extra-base hits in 138 games. Puckett’s path to the big leagues could be considered alternative because he wasn’t drafted until he was 21 and he didn’t make his professional debut until age 22. It’s no secret that Buxton is entering a critical year in his career. He has only played more than 92 games once since his rookie season so the Twins need him to prove he can stay healthy and productive. His 2019 season ended early due to a left shoulder labrum injury. Minnesota’s goal is to have him ready for Opening Day but the club has made it clear that there is no intent to rush him. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1228681961994178562?s=20 Puckett started to show his Hall of Fame potential during his age-26 season, the same age season Buxton will enter in 2020. Puckett made the first of 10-straight All-Star appearances, he’d win his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger and he finished sixth in the MVP voting. From that point forward, he’d win six more Gold Gloves, five more Silver Sluggers, and he’d finish in the top-10 for MVP six times. Up to this point in his career, so much of Buxton’s game has relied on speed and his game will need to continue to evolve as he ages. He has continued to add muscle over the last two off-seasons in hopes of avoiding injury. He is still in the prime of his career, but players regress in different ways as they reach their upper 20s and early 30s. Will Buxton be able to make the appropriate adjustments throughout his career? Buxton’s minor league performance got him to the minor leagues faster than some of the best centerfielders in Twins history. He has already accumulated more WAR than Torii Hunter, Denard Span and Puckett through his age-25 season. This is quite the trio to be compared to, but Buxton is in an organization with a long history of strong center fielders. Is it fair to compare Buxton to Puckett? Probably not, but fans shouldn’t give up on the former first-round pick just yet. He has plenty of career still in front of him. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Today, we continue our Top 20 prospect rankings series with a look at our choice as the Twins #8 prospect. If prospect rankings were based solely on tools and ceiling, Keoni Cavaco would likely rank much higher on this list.Age: 18 (DOB: 6-2-2001) 2019 Stats (GCL): 92 PA, .172/.217/.253, 4-2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI ETA: 2025 2019 Ranking: NR National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR |MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like There’s no hiding the reality that the Twins have had a history of drafting, signing and developing many toolsy, talented high school athletes with early-round picks. Torii Hunter. Michael Cuddyer. Joe Mauer, Denard Span. Ben Revere. Joe Benson. Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis in recent years. When it comes to tools and athleticism, Keoni Cavaco can match up with any of these players. Cavaco was drafted from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California. The school has several players go Division I every year as well as get drafted. Cavaco only played infield his final two years of high school and wasn’t a known commodity on the national scene until after the summer of his junior year. Like several others from his school, he was committed to San Diego State. Cavaco has a very strong, athletic build. He’s already 6-2 and hovers around 200 pounds. He’s got quick hands and has the potential to hit a lot of home runs, in time. He also has speed that can match up with most anyone in the organization. In fact, he was clocked at 3.9 seconds to first base from the right-hand batters box. Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense. The Twins had him play shortstop through the short-season following the draft, but he had spent most of his high school career playing third base. His team’s shortstop was hurt during the season so Cavaco had an opportunity to show scouts that he could play the position as well. Reports from Ft. Myers indicate that he’s got great footwork, soft hands, good range and a strong arm. What’s Left To Work On When Cavaco came to Target Field to sign his contract, FSN’s Marney Gellner interviewed him on the TV broadcast. He said that he wanted to be in the major leagues in “four years or less.” Well, Twins fans, and Cavaco himself, will need to have more patience than that. The tools are all there, but many of them are quite raw. What’s Next After just 25 games and his struggles in the GCL following the draft, expect that Cavaco will spend the first half of the season in Ft. Myers at extended spring training continuing to work on his all-around game. At that point, it will be interesting to see if Cavaco is pushed up to Elizabethton (likely) or starts the short season in the GCL again. It’s also possible, if he picks things up quickly, he could spend some time in the second half of the season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS Stop by tomorrow for prospect #7! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Keoni Cavaco and about another 170 minor league players (and two Dodgers prospects too - Graterol and Raley) in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers. Click here to view the article
  10. Age: 18 (DOB: 6-2-2001) 2019 Stats (GCL): 92 PA, .172/.217/.253, 4-2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI ETA: 2025 2019 Ranking: NR National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR |MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like There’s no hiding the reality that the Twins have had a history of drafting, signing and developing many toolsy, talented high school athletes with early-round picks. Torii Hunter. Michael Cuddyer. Joe Mauer, Denard Span. Ben Revere. Joe Benson. Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis in recent years. When it comes to tools and athleticism, Keoni Cavaco can match up with any of these players. Cavaco was drafted from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California. The school has several players go Division I every year as well as get drafted. Cavaco only played infield his final two years of high school and wasn’t a known commodity on the national scene until after the summer of his junior year. Like several others from his school, he was committed to San Diego State. Cavaco has a very strong, athletic build. He’s already 6-2 and hovers around 200 pounds. He’s got quick hands and has the potential to hit a lot of home runs, in time. He also has speed that can match up with most anyone in the organization. In fact, he was clocked at 3.9 seconds to first base from the right-hand batters box. Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense. The Twins had him play shortstop through the short-season following the draft, but he had spent most of his high school career playing third base. His team’s shortstop was hurt during the season so Cavaco had an opportunity to show scouts that he could play the position as well. Reports from Ft. Myers indicate that he’s got great footwork, soft hands, good range and a strong arm. What’s Left To Work On When Cavaco came to Target Field to sign his contract, FSN’s Marney Gellner interviewed him on the TV broadcast. He said that he wanted to be in the major leagues in “four years or less.” Well, Twins fans, and Cavaco himself, will need to have more patience than that. The tools are all there, but many of them are quite raw. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1138604938240512000 First and foremost, Cavaco’s “hit” tool is going to take some time. It’s all there. He’s got the size and strength. He’s got the quick hands. He’s got good vision. In his professional debut, he missed some time with some minor injuries which kept him from getting into a groove. He also had a lot of swing-and-miss, striking out in 35 of his 92 plate appearances (38%) while walking just four times. And as you would expect from any player that is just 18 years old, he’s got a lot of work to do across the board. His swing is just one of those things. He’s got work to do in terms of base running, and defense, and control of the strike zone. He’s also learning how to work properly in the gym, and before games, and dietary, and more. https://twitter.com/BaseballAmerica/status/1135705853632372736 What’s Next After just 25 games and his struggles in the GCL following the draft, expect that Cavaco will spend the first half of the season in Ft. Myers at extended spring training continuing to work on his all-around game. At that point, it will be interesting to see if Cavaco is pushed up to Elizabethton (likely) or starts the short season in the GCL again. It’s also possible, if he picks things up quickly, he could spend some time in the second half of the season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS Stop by tomorrow for prospect #7! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Keoni Cavaco and about another 170 minor league players (and two Dodgers prospects too - Graterol and Raley) in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.
  11. This naturally leads one to wonder just how great Buxton could become. Obviously, steering clear of injuries and staying off the IL will be crucial for Buxton to reach his ceiling. The injury-plagued disaster of 2018 may have caused some Twins fans to sour on Buxton, but he has bounced back strongly in 2019. The expectations for Buxton have always been sky high as he was the number one overall prospect in baseball and made his major league debut at the age of 21. If he does stay fairly healthy throughout his career he could easily become one of if not the best Twins center fielder of all-time. It is obviously premature, but let’s take a look at how Buxton stacks up against three Twins greats (according to WAR) and how his future might project if he follows a similar trajectory. According to Baseball Reference, the three Twins center fielders with the highest WAR in their Twins career are Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter, and Denard Span. Let’s take a closer look at their Twins careers and compare them with Buxton. For this exercise I am using Baseball Reference’s WAR. Career with the Twins: To no one’s surprise Kirby Puckett is the Twin’s leader in WAR by a large margin. Even though his career was cut short by injury, he also played the most games as a Twin of this group. For this reason, I calculated WAR per game and the results are fairly interesting. The fact that Denard Span leads this group is somewhat surprising. Span only played five seasons with the Twins and didn’t play the majority of his games in center field until his third season due to playing alongside Carlos Gomez, but he was a really good player for Minnesota. Also of interest is the fact that Buxton has the second highest single-season WAR total and it came at the age of 23! Buxton is having a similar season in 2019 and if he can come back healthy he has a chance to come close to that mark again. Although Buxton’s career Twins WAR per game compares nicely to the greats and even bests Hunter (by a significant margin); it may be better to look at the players’ careers through age 25 to get a better idea of where Buxton fits in. Though Age 25 Season: Suddenly Buxton’s numbers are looking really good. He already leads the group in total WAR and is sure to accumulate more through the remainder of 2019. His 2017 season is also the best single season of the group and in WAR per game he now trails only Span (who started his career with a bang, putting up a 4.3 and 3.8 WAR in his first two seasons). Span is a bit of an interesting case as his first two seasons were the best two year stretch of his career (his .390 OBP during that time made him an ideal lead-off hitter). Although Span was the 20th overall pick in the 2002 draft he really didn’t break out in the minors until his final year (2008) when he was repeating AAA (he was called up after 40 games). Span was a good prospect but he was never the elite prospect that Buxton was and Buxton certainly has a much higher ceiling. It’s possible that Span was overachieving in those first couple of seasons but his career serves as a precautionary tale for ominous reasons that we will come to later. That fact that Buxton has put up better numbers than Puckett and Hunter up to this point in his career is certainly encouraging. Hunter is similar to Span in that he was the Twins 20th overall pick in 1993 and wasn’t overly impressive in the minors. Early in his major league career he was shuffled back and forth between the majors and minors, but he was called up for good after crushing AAA to the tune of a 1.130 OPS in 2000. Of the four players, Hunter certainly had the slowest start to his career with a .0136 WAR per game. Fortunately, things turned around for Hunter in his age 25 season as he put up a 4.7 WAR (his best as a Twin). Buxton has had his ups and downs but it is important to remember that Torii Hunter had much greater struggles early in his career. Puckett was the third overall pick of the now-extinct January draft. Unlike the others, he played college ball and was 22 years of age when he began his minor league career. However, Puckett was a quick study and debuted with the Twins as a 24 year old. Puckett’s first two seasons with the Twins weren’t overly impressive as he hadn’t found his power stroke yet (His OPS+ was only 86 but he the little speedster did steal 35 bases in those first two years!). Of course, great things were to come. Projecting how Buxton’s career with the Twins will end up is naturally highly speculative. We do know that Buxton is under team control for three more seasons, so let’s take a look at how the others stacked up for their age 26-28 seasons. Age 26-28 Seasons: I think this Puckett kid might be pretty good. In three seasons Puckett slashed .339/.369 /.539, good for a .908 OPS and a 142 OPS+. Puckett flexed some muscle as well as he was good for 83 dingers in those three years. Can we hope for the same with Buxton? Buxton reportedly hit the weights hard this off season, adding 21 pounds of muscle and currently holds a career high .490 slugging percentage, so he is trending in the right direction. Puckett helped the Twins win their first World Series in 1987 and followed that up with his finest season in 1988 with a 7.8 WAR. Hunter built upon his breakout in 2001 and had three solid seasons from 2002-2004. He played in his first all-star game in 2002 (famously robbing Barry Bonds of a homerun) and put up a .859 OPS. Hunter greatly improved, but his WAR per game during this stretch was only .001 better than Buxton’s early career WAR as a younger player. Span’s career got off to a much hotter start than the others, but he did come down to earth a bit in the next leg of his career. From 2010-2012, Span hit for just a .702 OPS with a 94 OPS+. His OBP dropped from .390 in his first two seasons to .334 for his next three, taking away some of his luster as a leadoff hitter. Most relevant to Buxton, Span suffered a severe concussion in 2011 and was only able to play in 70 games. This would not be the last concussion of Span’s career. He did come back with his best year of the three in 2012, when he slashed .283/.342/.395 for an OPS+ of 104, but once again he was hampered by injuries and played just 128 games. Note that each player’s best season in this frame came in their age 28 season. This makes sense as a player should be coming into his prime at that age and will not yet have lost a step to the detriment of their defense. If the Twins are unable or unwilling to extend Buxton (they clearly upset Buxton by not calling his up in September last year), his age 28 season will be his final year of arbitration. It will be interesting to see how or if being in a contract year will affect Buxton. This leaves us with the question of what Buxton’s potential final years with the Twin’s will be like. Since he is already performing at the level that Hunter and Span did during their age 26-28 seasons is it safe to assume that Buxton will be better? Although it may be a fruitless exercise, let’s take a look at what Buxton’s numbers may look like if he has a similar rate of improvement (in Puckett and Hunter’s case) or regression (in Span’s case) as our “greats.” First, let’s look at the player’s rate of change between the seasons up to age 25 and their age 26-28 seasons: Now let’s project those “growth rates” to Buxton with some arbitrary amounts of games played. Buxton Projections for Age 26-28 Seasons: We can safely disregard the 162 games a year projections as Buxton will get days off even if he stays 100% healthy (we can dream right?). I think averaging somewhere around the 140 mark is possible for Buxton. With the exclusion of last season Buxton has played in around 140 games a year when you factor in both his minor and major league games thus far (since his MLB debut season). If Buxton stays healthy for the remainder of the season he will come close to that mark again. If Buxton improves at a Puckett or Hunter-like rate and plays in the neighborhood of 140 games a year we are looking at a 6 WAR a year player. As we’ve seen, Buxton has already had a 5 WAR season in 2017 and is on a similar pace this year. It seems within reason that a mostly healthy Buxton could challenge the 17.7 WAR that Puckett put up in his ’86-’88 seasons. This would also edge him ahead of Hunter on the Twin’s career WAR list. As crazy as it sounds, over the next three seasons, Buxton could be even better than Puckett. He is far and away the best defensive center fielder of the group and his defense is unlikely to significantly decline over the next three years. Buxton certainly has the potential to become a better offensive player, and if he does he will be an MVP-caliber player. Now let’s get really speculative and look at what Buxton’s career could look like. First, let’s take a look at the career totals of all four players. MLB Career: Obviously, Puckett and Hunter went on to have great careers. Hunter was able to remain a good player for a long time. He played 19 seasons and was an all-star as recently as 2013. Puckett’s career was cut short by a career ending injury at age 35, but he managed to lead the Twins to two World Series victories, is a MLB hall of famer, and is undoubtedly the best a Twins center fielder of all time. He will always be fondly remembered by Twins fans for his heroics in the ’91 World Series and his legendary status is firmly implanted in Twins history. Span’s career is another story. He certainly had a respectable career and some good years after being traded to Washington (for the recently retired Alex Meyer) after five seasons with the Twins. However, his best years were early in his career with the Twins and injuries took their toll on Span. Span suffered another concussion in 2014 and battled some other injuries throughout his career, reducing both his time and the field and presumably his effectiveness as a player. His career WAR per game is still in the same neighborhood as Hunter’s but he was unable to accumulate as many games and the course of Span’s career went in the opposite direction of Hunter’s. Injuries are a serious concern for Buxton as well. In his AA debut back in August of 2014, Buxton collided with another outfielder leaving him unconscious on the outfield grass for ten minutes and ending his season. Buxton is returning from another IL stint with “concussion like symptoms” after hitting his head on the turf while making a great diving catch. Buxton has also had his share of less career-threatening injuries including thumb, wrist, toe, and migraines (along with numerous scrapes and bruises due to collisions with the wall). Buxton’s aggressive all-out effort on defense is a big part of what makes him so great. However, if Buxton is to stay on the field he may need to dial it back a bit. Manager Rocky Baldelli could be instrumental in keeping Buxton healthy. As a former center fielder that had his own career cut short by injury, Baldelli should take great care with Buxton. Baldelli has prioritized giving his players regular rest and the Twins have been extra cautious in making sure injured players are healthy before sending them back onto the field. With innovative player management and a little luck hopefully Buxton will be able to stay relatively healthy throughout his MLB career. Without further ado, I give you Buxton’s career projections. Buxton is unlikely to reach the number of games played that Hunter did and also is unlikely to improve at Hunter’s rate (because of Hunter’s much slower start), so 90 career WAR seems overly optimistic at a minimum and possibly ludicrous. Improving at the Puckett rate definitely seems like the best case scenario for Buxton (though he could conceivably play in 1,500 more games, it will require good overall health) and would make him a potential Hall of Famer with over 60 WAR. Regressing at the rate that Span did also seems highly unlikely. For Buxton to accumulate only 13 more WAR for his career would be a massive disappointment, to say the least (injuries would have to take a heavy toll). As a final step, let’s combine these projections and see what we get. Composite Buxton: There you have it. Buxton is able to finish his career playing at a Puckett-like WAR per game level and slightly edges out Puckett in games played, giving him the highest career WAR of the group. This seems possible as speedy players and/or elite defenders tend to accumulate a lot of WAR (some examples: Kenny Lofton 68.3, Ricky Henderson 111.2!, Tim Raines 69.4) Needless to say a lot would have to go right for Buxton to reach these levels. Continued improvement, good year-to-year health, and overall longevity will be paramount to Buxton reaching these projections. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best!
  12. This week Gypsy Queen hits the market as the latest baseball offering from Topps. While it’s not a product that should be expected to produce massive hits, there’s plenty of excitement coming out of these boxes. Continuing with a consistent theme, the throwback to tobacco cards is present, but it’s also supplemented with a good deal of popping color. Available at both hobby and retail stores, there’s a few different avenues to rip into this product. If you want to go the route of guaranteed hits, expect to drop something near $100 on a hobby box. For the more budget conscious collector blaster boxes and gravity feeds will be present at local Target or Walmart’s. Getting your hands on the product shouldn’t be tough but knowing what you’ll want to look for from a Twins perspective is where we’re really focused here. Base Set Featuring a 300-card base set, the Minnesota Twins have 11 cards to account for. You’ll see many of the regular suspects, with nice appearances by Addison Reed, C.J. Cron, and Tyler Austin. Rookie cards include Jake Cave as well as fan favorite Willians Astudillo. There’s also a few short prints and variation subsets, and while Minnesota is not represented in all of them, both Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios show up in the 20 card Player’s Weekend variation checklist. Inserts Gypsy Queen doesn’t do a ton of insert subsets, with just four in total. No Twins are featured on the Tarot of the Diamond, Power Performer Portrait, or Fortune Teller cards. Going away from the Glassworks oversized box topper cards of previous years, the product introduces a 100 card Chrome checklist for 2019. Minnesota lands three players (Rosario, Berrios, and Max Kepler) in this set, with an autograph version for former great Torii Hunter. Hits With booklets, unique relics, and on-card autographs, Gypsy Queen truly has some great hits to offer. From a traditional autograph standpoint, it’s Rosario and Hunter that appear on the checklist for Minnesota. This makes another product Topps has Torii in for 2019, and it appears he’ll be a key focus for the year ahead. The auto/patch booklet set has Berrios showing up with 20 cards and a 1/1. Both Rosario and Byron Buxton have auto/relic cards in the Bases Around the League checklist, and those cards are both serial numbered to 20. With the already mentioned Hunter chrome auto rounding out the group, that wraps up the 22-card offering for Twins fans. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  13. Fan favorite, and longtime Twins great, Torii Hunter was brought back by Terry Ryan prior to the 2015 season. He was playing that year at the age of 39 and coming off just a .765 OPS. Despite no longer being a good defensive outfielder, the front office ponied up for $10 million and he played 139 games in his final year. As expected, the production sagged further, and the OPS ended up at just .702 on the season. 83 wins were accomplished, and Hunter’s impact was felt most within the clubhouse. If judging this by motivational impact, the contract was a win. Back in 2010, the Ryan regime went the way of a 39-year-old yet again. This time recently inducted Hall of Famer Jim Thome found himself joining one of his longtime rivals. 2009 saw Thome post an .847 OPS and hit 23 longballs. His first year in Minnesota was incredible, owning a 1.039 OPS and earning MVP votes for the first time since 2006. He’d then go on to join the 600-home run club in a Minnesota uniform the following year and did so with an .827 OPS across 71 games. Thome was a leader on one good team, and one bad one, but there was clearly plenty left in the tank as well. Paid just $4.5 million after making $13 million in his final year with the White Sox, this was larceny for the Twins. So where does that leave Nelson Cruz, and the expectations for what he can bring in 2019? From the get-go we can count out any sort of defensive effort. Cruz hasn’t been a regular fielder in years, and given his offensive prowess, that’s a plenty fine stipulation. He’s a year removed from a .924 OPS, and since 2013 his 230 homers rank first in all of baseball. Cruz has surpassed the 40-home run plateau in three of the past five seasons, while hitting 39 and 37 in the other two. In 2016 Brian Dozier hit 42 dingers for the Twins, but the only other player to surpass the 40 mark is Harmon Killebrew. It’s certainly fair to note that there’s risk relying on Nelson’s offense. After all, he’s 38 and his .850 OPS in 2018 was roughly a 75-point drop from the year prior. He’s a strong on-base contributor, and while there’s a strikeout potential, it isn’t close to danger territory. Last season Cruz posted his worst fWAR (2.5) since 2013, and we already know the overall package is completely reliant on plate production. In looking at the numbers, somewhat of a rebound seems possible. Outside of completely hitting an age cliff, Cruz has many things still going in his favor. The 42.3% hard hit rate last season was a career high, and there’s room for a better BABIP with the ground ball rate jumping up to 44% (a 4% increase over 2017). Cruz has owned a consistent swing profile for roughly six years now though, and he’s coming to a park with a much more batter friendly left field line. A marriage between these two parties seemed destined from the onset, and the eventual deal is much more about production then it is nostalgia. I’d still imagine Cruz will be plenty beneficial to players like Miguel Sano in the clubhouse (assuming he has willing observers), but there’s reason to think he can pace this lineup. ZiPS projects Cruz for a .266/.348/.500 line with 30 longballs this season. I’d argue that’s reflective of his slide in 2018 and take the over on almost all of that. Nelson Cruz isn’t the Hall of Famer that Jim Thome was, but I think he could have a similar impact for the Twins in 2019. Reaching the 400-homer run plateau (he’s currently 40 shy) and raking in the middle of Rocco Baldelli’s lineup are good bets. Torii Hunter was fun, and his dance parties helped to spark a looseness that elevated a Twins squad. Jim Thome was on a 94-win team that grabbed a division title, and that seems like a much more fun outcome this time around.
  14. Many of Niko Guardado’s earliest memories were following his dad throughout his baseball career. While many Twins fans are thrilled that the Twins have moved from Metrodome to Target Field, Guardado can’t help but maintain a soft spot in his heart for the Homer Dome. He recalls, “I miss the Dome. The Dome was amazing in my opinion. I loved it. It was my second home. I was constantly there, almost 24/7.” The Guardado family lived in northern California, and that’s where Niko was born on Christmas Eve in 1996. But Minneapolis, the Metrodome and the Twins were such an important part of his childhood. “I have really early memories. I can remember back to when I was about three or four. Me and my siblings were very blessed to go to the ballpark with my dad almost every day.” But it wasn’t all glamorous for the Guardado kids. Eddie made sure they earned the right to go into the clubhouse and on the field. “My dad taught me at a very young age that if you are going to want to come into the clubhouse, you’re going to have to work for it. We had to polish shoes. We had to do the laundry, vacuum the floor. We had to clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes. And then after the work we would play and go shag BP and play catch on the field in the Dome.” When Niko was about six, the family moved to southern California. That’s where he went to school, but his summers were spent in Minnesota. “As soon as school got out, the day after, we would fly to Minneapolis and spend the whole summer there until a week before school started.” Twins fans loved (and still love) those Twins teams from the late '90s and through the early aughts. You likely remember the ESPN Magazine cover featuring several Twins players with the title “The Team That Saved Baseball.” Those were the teams that endured a lot of losses in the late '90s, endured the threat of contraction, and brought winning back to Minnesota. Eddie Guardado was a big part of that turnaround, and he was a leader and a prankster on the roster. Niko Guardado got to know the stars from those teams. He says he has a good friendship with Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones and keeps in touch with David Ortiz at times. He has great memories of playing with Hunter’s sons, as well as Casey Radke and “Little” Joey Mays. LaTroy Hawkins has always been a fixture in the life of Niko Guardado. “I talk to LaTroy almost every day. I call LaTroy my Uncle Hawk. He’s the one guy, besides my dad, that we really became close. He’s really become a mentor to me in all aspects of life.” Eddie Guardado pitched in the 2002 and 2003 All Star games. Niko remembers attending the 2002 All Star game in Milwaukee. He was excited to meet Barry Zito (“That was the one guy I wanted to meet. I met him and my life was made.”). But as a five year old at the time, it was the mascots that really stood out to him. Following the 2003 season, Guardado signed with the Seattle Mariners. He spent time with the Reds and the Mariners, but in August of 2009, he was traded back to the Twins from the Rangers. Niko says he vividly remembers hearing the news. His mom was driving him and his siblings to dinner when she told them, “Dad’s going back to the Twins.” Niko, then 11, recalls, “We were super excited! Obviously going back to a place that was dear in our hearts, but I think the people too. The friendships that we made there and we were going back to. The kids room where all the babysitters that practically raised us, we would get to see again. The workers around the field. The fans. I think Minnesota is just really special when it comes to the fan base.” Now that he is older, Niko admits he has a bigger appreciation for the opportunities he had. “Going to the field every day, I am more and more grateful to have experienced it.” While Niko loved baseball and played sports throughout his youth, it wasn’t his passion. He chose his own path. While he found his true calling in the acting world, baseball remains a big part of his life.”I was about 10 or 11 when I stopped playing baseball and started getting into acting, but I still enjoyed it. I still loved going to the field and hanging out with the equipment managers, the clubbies and helping out. It’s still one of my favorite things to do to this day.” Click here to download the podcast/interview or set up alerts for future podcasts. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/Episode_One_Final_Draft_v1.1.mp3 ------------------------------ Niko Guardado will appear on an episode of Schooled on ABC at 7:30 Central Time on Wednesday, February 27. ------------------------------ At a very young age, Niko said he was always standing in front of the TV, rewinding the VCR. He was studying actors and characters, and his love of performing only grew from there. However, it wasn’t easy for Niko to tell his dad that he wanted to be done with baseball and focus his attention on baseball. No kid wants to disappoint their dad. “I sat down with my dad and I was just bawling when I told him I didn’t want to play baseball anymore. I was so afraid of what he might say. But he was very, very supportive and said to do what you want to do. I’m just very glad I have parents that support me in all my decisions.” Niko Guardado entered the entertainment industry at an early age. His mom got him a print agent when he was about two years old and he was in several Target ads in Minnesota. In southern California, he did some commercials. However, when his younger sister was diagnosed with autism, Niko stepped away from acting for a little bit. But when his dad retired from baseball, Niko was able to get back into it. What we have learned is that there are are a lot of similarities between Eddie Guardado and Niko Guardado. It is a good reminder that there are some similarities between the world of athletics and the entertainment industry. He had guest roles on several Nickelodeon shows. He was on an episode of Sam & Cat (the Ariana Grande vehicle). “I grew up watching Zoey 101, Drake & Josh, Victorious. When I booked it, I think my initial reaction was I get to work with Dan Schneider, which is the guy who built my childhood. He made all the Nickelodeon shows back to All That. He was in my favorite movie growing up, which was Good Burger, if you remember that one.” I do remember that one. But I also remember Dan Schneider in the excellent, late '80s sitcom Head of the Class. Getting to work with Schneider was exciting and nerve-racking, but again, he was able to lean on his dad’s playing career. “Being able to work with him was so amazing. I was definitely so nervous walking into the set that day. But I think once the cameras roll, it’s like when my dad pitches. When he warms up he gets anxious, nervous. But when he gets on the mound, as soon as the camera starts rolling, it’s automatic, I know what I’m doing, it’s like I’ve been here before. It’s almost instinct and those concerns go away. ” However, for every role that Niko got, he lost out on several roles. That can be tough, but he was able to lean on his dad and his baseball career again. “I’ve been doing this for nine, ten years now. The amount of jobs I haven’t got is ridiculous. But it all comes back to… my dad. (He’d say) ‘Failure is failure. It’s going to get you sometimes. Just wave at it. Say goodbye. Go on to the next one until success comes your way and be grateful for the ones you get.’” Niko was able to learn so much from his dad and his playing career. “From my dad, it’s just never give up. I know it’s cliche, and I wish I could give you a better answer. It’s huge. Focusing on what you want, your dreams, and sticking with it no matter what. Especially because the entertainment industry and sports kind of coincide with how competitive it is. Being able to hold your head up high when you fail and just get back up and go get them the next time. That’s probably the #1 thing I’ve been able to learn, and I’m glad I learned at a young age, to treat failure as a best friend, and be OK with it, and not let it affect you as much because your time will come if you keep at it. ” While he learned from his dad, it’s important for him to point out how important his mom was in his growth and development as well. “(She is) 100% the backbone. Growing up, with my dad in-season, my mom raised us. We didn’t have the same circumstances, of course, but it was almost like being a single mom eight months out of the year. We had to go to school. My sister was diagnosed with autism during my dad’s career, so a lot of stuff was put onto my mom. She had the courage. She was being a mom. I could not have been blessed with a better mom. The sacrifices she made, not only for us but for my dad. She truly is the backbone of the family.” Over time, Niko began getting more guest roles, but in 2016, he was cast as one of the leads in the Nickelodeon mini-series Lost in the West. In 2018, he played the role of Scroggins in the feature film A-X-L. Starting in 2016, he was case in the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs. His recurring role as Ruben Amaro, Jr. has appeared in 17 episodes. In the role, he has been fortunate to play a jock, something he is very comfortable with. Niko Guardado said, "“I’m blessed to play a jock on The Goldbergs. I mean, I know it so well. You’d be surprised how many actors can’t throw a ball. It’s fun. I’ve always wanted to do my own stunts. I want to do this, and I want to do that. Whenever stunt work comes into play, I enjoy it so much.” He also had the opportunity to meet former big league outfielder, former Phillies GM and Red Sox coach Ruben Amaro at a Red Sox game a couple of years ago. Amaro even talked about how much fun it would be to get to play Niko’s father on the show. That opportunity came in an episode last year. *ASIDE: A search of Baseball-Reference tells us that Ruben Amaro, Jr. faced Eddie Guardado one time in the big leagues. Amaro singled.* On The Goldbergs, Niko got to work with Minnesota native and the star of classics such as the Back to the Future Trilogy and Howard the Duck, Lea Thompson. She is one of the show’s directors. “Lea Thompson is amazing. She’s an actor, so she really knows how to step into the actor’s show and describe what the director and producers want from an Actor’s point of view. That helps speed things up and helps us perform at our best.” Thompson has also been involved in the sitcom Schooled. In fact, on Wednesday night (February 27 at 7:30 CT on ABC), Guardado will be on an episode of Schooled opposite the talented Tim Meadows. “They’re doing such a good job with it. It’s a spin-off of The Goldbergs. They have the same writers, same producers. It’s funny. The episode I’m in is basically a 10-year reunion episode.” Just recently, Freeform announced that they had placed an order for episodes of a reboot of Party of Five and that Niko would be one of the lead characters. As you recall, the late-90s drama was about five kids whose parents passed away unexpectedly and they were left to fend for themselves. In the upcoming Party of Five, Niko plays one of five children whose parents get deported to Mexico. Like the original, the kids are left to struggle to make it without them. “Super excited to be a part of it. It’s very timely.” Guardado continued, “Since getting the job, I started watching (the original show). While the shows are different and the characters are not identical, Niko said his character likely compares most similarly to Scott Wolf’s Bailey character. The cast filmed the show’s pilot in November and December. The show was picked up by Freeform in January. Now Guardado awaits word of when filming for the first season will begin. In the meantime, he is continuing to go to auditions. He is also working on more episodes of The Goldbergs and excited to get started on Party of Five. He also gets to several Angels games, though he does so with a grudge. “I go to a lot of Angels games whenever my friends want to go. But I never cheer for the Angels. Not even when Torii was on the team. I still have that ‘02 grudge. I’ll never get over it. It sucks. That was the year that we moved here. (The Twins) lost, and my dad came to his new house and all he saw was Rally Monkeys and Angels fans.” He also enjoys going to his younger brother’s baseball games. He is a junior on his high school team. “My little brother is the athlete. He wants to be like dad. His dream is to be a pro.” Niko also tries to bring awareness to autism whenever he gets the chance in honor of his sister who was diagnosed at age 2. “She’s just a little genius. She loves learning. She’s just a bookworm, super smart, super intelligent. She’s such a hard worker. She’s taught me work ethic more than anybody. ” Niko Guardado is happy. Clearly the decision to go into acting has worked out well for him. “The best thing is getting to go and do something I love. I’ve found something that I really enjoy. I really haven’t worked a day in my life, doing this. It’s a passion that I have being able to finally... Getting a TV show has always been a dream of mine. It’s just all so surreal. In terms of days on the set. It can vary. They can go long. They can be 13-14 hour days sometimes. You’re not complaining. You just kind of look at the clock and see we’ve been here for 12 hours.” Niko Guardado has a ton of talent. Despite his relative youth, he has already had a lot of success in his career, particularly over the last five or six years. It’s clear that his career is on an upward trajectory. It will be fun for Twins fans to follow Niko and see where his career will take him. Be sure to follow Niko on social media: @Niko_Guardado (Twitter) @nikoguardado (Instagram) Be sure to listen to the full interview with Niko Guardado on the audio player below. In it, we discuss many more topics. He tells several more stories about his dad's time in the big leagues and their relationship. We also got into much more detail on the process of auditioning for guest roles and for lead roles. We talk more about The Goldbergs and Party of Five, but also about an upcoming short field called Gigi Boy that he stars in. We talk about his favorite actors to watch and emulate. And, much more. Thank you very much to Niko Guardado for taking the time to chat with me in this 48 minute interview. Thanks to John Bonnes for his help editing the podcast, and to Riggs Bonnes for the music in it. Click here to download the podcast/interview or set up alerts for future podcasts. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/Episode_One_Final_Draft_v1.1.mp3 Thank you for your feedback and questions.
  15. To listen to the full interview with Niko Guardado, click here. In 1996, “Everyday” Eddie Guardado pitched in an American League-leading 83 games. Following that season, Guardado and his wife, Lisa, welcomed their first child, a son named Niko. While Eddie Guardado had struggles early in his career, he became a two-time All Star and a member of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. Niko, now 22, recently learned that he will have one of the lead roles in the upcoming reboot of Party of Five. Recently, I caught up with the talented young actor to discuss his memories from his dad’s career, and his transition into acting. Oh, and he frequents Twins Daily because he remains a huge Twins fan. (Full audio podcast available at the end.)Many of Niko Guardado’s earliest memories were following his dad throughout his baseball career. While many Twins fans are thrilled that the Twins have moved from Metrodome to Target Field, Guardado can’t help but maintain a soft spot in his heart for the Homer Dome. He recalls, “I miss the Dome. The Dome was amazing in my opinion. I loved it. It was my second home. I was constantly there, almost 24/7.” The Guardado family lived in northern California, and that’s where Niko was born on Christmas Eve in 1996. But Minneapolis, the Metrodome and the Twins were such an important part of his childhood. “I have really early memories. I can remember back to when I was about three or four. Me and my siblings were very blessed to go to the ballpark with my dad almost every day.” But it wasn’t all glamorous for the Guardado kids. Eddie made sure they earned the right to go into the clubhouse and on the field. “My dad taught me at a very young age that if you are going to want to come into the clubhouse, you’re going to have to work for it. We had to polish shoes. We had to do the laundry, vacuum the floor. We had to clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes. And then after the work we would play and go shag BP and play catch on the field in the Dome.” When Niko was about six, the family moved to southern California. That’s where he went to school, but his summers were spent in Minnesota. “As soon as school got out, the day after, we would fly to Minneapolis and spend the whole summer there until a week before school started.” Twins fans loved (and still love) those Twins teams from the late '90s and through the early aughts. You likely remember the ESPN Magazine cover featuring several Twins players with the title “The Team That Saved Baseball.” Those were the teams that endured a lot of losses in the late '90s, endured the threat of contraction, and brought winning back to Minnesota. Eddie Guardado was a big part of that turnaround, and he was a leader and a prankster on the roster. Niko Guardado got to know the stars from those teams. He says he has a good friendship with Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones and keeps in touch with David Ortiz at times. He has great memories of playing with Hunter’s sons, as well as Casey Radke and “Little” Joey Mays. LaTroy Hawkins has always been a fixture in the life of Niko Guardado. “I talk to LaTroy almost every day. I call LaTroy my Uncle Hawk. He’s the one guy, besides my dad, that we really became close. He’s really become a mentor to me in all aspects of life.” Eddie Guardado pitched in the 2002 and 2003 All Star games. Niko remembers attending the 2002 All Star game in Milwaukee. He was excited to meet Barry Zito (“That was the one guy I wanted to meet. I met him and my life was made.”). But as a five year old at the time, it was the mascots that really stood out to him. Following the 2003 season, Guardado signed with the Seattle Mariners. He spent time with the Reds and the Mariners, but in August of 2009, he was traded back to the Twins from the Rangers. Niko says he vividly remembers hearing the news. His mom was driving him and his siblings to dinner when she told them, “Dad’s going back to the Twins.” Niko, then 11, recalls, “We were super excited! Obviously going back to a place that was dear in our hearts, but I think the people too. The friendships that we made there and we were going back to. The kids room where all the babysitters that practically raised us, we would get to see again. The workers around the field. The fans. I think Minnesota is just really special when it comes to the fan base.” Now that he is older, Niko admits he has a bigger appreciation for the opportunities he had. “Going to the field every day, I am more and more grateful to have experienced it.” While Niko loved baseball and played sports throughout his youth, it wasn’t his passion. He chose his own path. While he found his true calling in the acting world, baseball remains a big part of his life.”I was about 10 or 11 when I stopped playing baseball and started getting into acting, but I still enjoyed it. I still loved going to the field and hanging out with the equipment managers, the clubbies and helping out. It’s still one of my favorite things to do to this day.” Click here to download the podcast/interview or set up alerts for future podcasts. ------------------------------ Niko Guardado will appear on an episode of Schooled on ABC at 7:30 Central Time on Wednesday, February 27. ------------------------------ At a very young age, Niko said he was always standing in front of the TV, rewinding the VCR. He was studying actors and characters, and his love of performing only grew from there. However, it wasn’t easy for Niko to tell his dad that he wanted to be done with baseball and focus his attention on baseball. No kid wants to disappoint their dad. “I sat down with my dad and I was just bawling when I told him I didn’t want to play baseball anymore. I was so afraid of what he might say. But he was very, very supportive and said to do what you want to do. I’m just very glad I have parents that support me in all my decisions.” Niko Guardado entered the entertainment industry at an early age. His mom got him a print agent when he was about two years old and he was in several Target ads in Minnesota. In southern California, he did some commercials. However, when his younger sister was diagnosed with autism, Niko stepped away from acting for a little bit. But when his dad retired from baseball, Niko was able to get back into it. What we have learned is that there are are a lot of similarities between Eddie Guardado and Niko Guardado. It is a good reminder that there are some similarities between the world of athletics and the entertainment industry. He had guest roles on several Nickelodeon shows. He was on an episode of Sam & Cat (the Ariana Grande vehicle). “I grew up watching Zoey 101, Drake & Josh, Victorious. When I booked it, I think my initial reaction was I get to work with Dan Schneider, which is the guy who built my childhood. He made all the Nickelodeon shows back to All That. He was in my favorite movie growing up, which was Good Burger, if you remember that one.” I do remember that one. But I also remember Dan Schneider in the excellent, late '80s sitcom Head of the Class. Getting to work with Schneider was exciting and nerve-racking, but again, he was able to lean on his dad’s playing career. “Being able to work with him was so amazing. I was definitely so nervous walking into the set that day. But I think once the cameras roll, it’s like when my dad pitches. When he warms up he gets anxious, nervous. But when he gets on the mound, as soon as the camera starts rolling, it’s automatic, I know what I’m doing, it’s like I’ve been here before. It’s almost instinct and those concerns go away. ” However, for every role that Niko got, he lost out on several roles. That can be tough, but he was able to lean on his dad and his baseball career again. “I’ve been doing this for nine, ten years now. The amount of jobs I haven’t got is ridiculous. But it all comes back to… my dad. (He’d say) ‘Failure is failure. It’s going to get you sometimes. Just wave at it. Say goodbye. Go on to the next one until success comes your way and be grateful for the ones you get.’” Niko was able to learn so much from his dad and his playing career. “From my dad, it’s just never give up. I know it’s cliche, and I wish I could give you a better answer. It’s huge. Focusing on what you want, your dreams, and sticking with it no matter what. Especially because the entertainment industry and sports kind of coincide with how competitive it is. Being able to hold your head up high when you fail and just get back up and go get them the next time. That’s probably the #1 thing I’ve been able to learn, and I’m glad I learned at a young age, to treat failure as a best friend, and be OK with it, and not let it affect you as much because your time will come if you keep at it. ” While he learned from his dad, it’s important for him to point out how important his mom was in his growth and development as well. “(She is) 100% the backbone. Growing up, with my dad in-season, my mom raised us. We didn’t have the same circumstances, of course, but it was almost like being a single mom eight months out of the year. We had to go to school. My sister was diagnosed with autism during my dad’s career, so a lot of stuff was put onto my mom. She had the courage. She was being a mom. I could not have been blessed with a better mom. The sacrifices she made, not only for us but for my dad. She truly is the backbone of the family.” Over time, Niko began getting more guest roles, but in 2016, he was cast as one of the leads in the Nickelodeon mini-series Lost in the West. In 2018, he played the role of Scroggins in the feature film A-X-L. Starting in 2016, he was case in the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs. His recurring role as Ruben Amaro, Jr. has appeared in 17 episodes. In the role, he has been fortunate to play a jock, something he is very comfortable with. Niko Guardado said, "“I’m blessed to play a jock on The Goldbergs. I mean, I know it so well. You’d be surprised how many actors can’t throw a ball. It’s fun. I’ve always wanted to do my own stunts. I want to do this, and I want to do that. Whenever stunt work comes into play, I enjoy it so much.” He also had the opportunity to meet former big league outfielder, former Phillies GM and Red Sox coach Ruben Amaro at a Red Sox game a couple of years ago. Amaro even talked about how much fun it would be to get to play Niko’s father on the show. That opportunity came in an episode last year. *ASIDE: A search of Baseball-Reference tells us that Ruben Amaro, Jr. faced Eddie Guardado one time in the big leagues. Amaro singled.* On The Goldbergs, Niko got to work with Minnesota native and the star of classics such as the Back to the Future Trilogy and Howard the Duck, Lea Thompson. She is one of the show’s directors. “Lea Thompson is amazing. She’s an actor, so she really knows how to step into the actor’s show and describe what the director and producers want from an Actor’s point of view. That helps speed things up and helps us perform at our best.” Thompson has also been involved in the sitcom Schooled. In fact, on Wednesday night (February 27 at 7:30 CT on ABC), Guardado will be on an episode of Schooled opposite the talented Tim Meadows. “They’re doing such a good job with it. It’s a spin-off of The Goldbergs. They have the same writers, same producers. It’s funny. The episode I’m in is basically a 10-year reunion episode.” Just recently, Freeform announced that they had placed an order for episodes of a reboot of Party of Five and that Niko would be one of the lead characters. As you recall, the late-90s drama was about five kids whose parents passed away unexpectedly and they were left to fend for themselves. In the upcoming Party of Five, Niko plays one of five children whose parents get deported to Mexico. Like the original, the kids are left to struggle to make it without them. “Super excited to be a part of it. It’s very timely.” Guardado continued, “Since getting the job, I started watching (the original show). While the shows are different and the characters are not identical, Niko said his character likely compares most similarly to Scott Wolf’s Bailey character. The cast filmed the show’s pilot in November and December. The show was picked up by Freeform in January. Now Guardado awaits word of when filming for the first season will begin. In the meantime, he is continuing to go to auditions. He is also working on more episodes of The Goldbergs and excited to get started on Party of Five. He also gets to several Angels games, though he does so with a grudge. “I go to a lot of Angels games whenever my friends want to go. But I never cheer for the Angels. Not even when Torii was on the team. I still have that ‘02 grudge. I’ll never get over it. It sucks. That was the year that we moved here. (The Twins) lost, and my dad came to his new house and all he saw was Rally Monkeys and Angels fans.” He also enjoys going to his younger brother’s baseball games. He is a junior on his high school team. “My little brother is the athlete. He wants to be like dad. His dream is to be a pro.” Niko also tries to bring awareness to autism whenever he gets the chance in honor of his sister who was diagnosed at age 2. “She’s just a little genius. She loves learning. She’s just a bookworm, super smart, super intelligent. She’s such a hard worker. She’s taught me work ethic more than anybody. ” Niko Guardado is happy. Clearly the decision to go into acting has worked out well for him. “The best thing is getting to go and do something I love. I’ve found something that I really enjoy. I really haven’t worked a day in my life, doing this. It’s a passion that I have being able to finally... Getting a TV show has always been a dream of mine. It’s just all so surreal. In terms of days on the set. It can vary. They can go long. They can be 13-14 hour days sometimes. You’re not complaining. You just kind of look at the clock and see we’ve been here for 12 hours.” Niko Guardado has a ton of talent. Despite his relative youth, he has already had a lot of success in his career, particularly over the last five or six years. It’s clear that his career is on an upward trajectory. It will be fun for Twins fans to follow Niko and see where his career will take him. Be sure to follow Niko on social media: @Niko_Guardado (Twitter) @nikoguardado (Instagram) Be sure to listen to the full interview with Niko Guardado on the audio player below. In it, we discuss many more topics. He tells several more stories about his dad's time in the big leagues and their relationship. We also got into much more detail on the process of auditioning for guest roles and for lead roles. We talk more about The Goldbergs and Party of Five, but also about an upcoming short field called Gigi Boy that he stars in. We talk about his favorite actors to watch and emulate. And, much more. Thank you very much to Niko Guardado for taking the time to chat with me in this 48 minute interview. Thanks to John Bonnes for his help editing the podcast, and to Riggs Bonnes for the music in it. Click here to download the podcast/interview or set up alerts for future podcasts. Thank you for your feedback and questions. Click here to view the article
  16. The Best Twins Centerfielder in history? The outfield is a challenge because so many times managers see them as interchangeable parts. But a great Centerfielder must have range and perhaps some flare. The NY press had a great time when there were three teams – and they had Mays, Mantle, and Snider. Lenny Green Was our first year CF and Bill Tuttle backed him up when he was not playing out of position at 3B. The same two in 1962. Green was traded to the Angels for Frank Kostro and Jerry Kindall. Green would play 6 years for the Twins/Senators .270/.359/.384/.743. 7 WAR. The phenom Jimmie Hall took over center in 1963 after an injury to Green, but Green started more games. Hall, Allison, and Oliva played Center in 1964 which would make quite an outfield with all three in the same game. Hall had the most by far, but lost time after being hit on the cheek in the All Star game by Bo Belinsky. Hall, Nossek, Oliva in 1965. Hall would play 8 years in MLB. His last four years were a minus -1 WAR. Hall was traded to Angels with Pete Cimino and Don Mincher for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez. After the trade his career was terrible. A Sabr article said, “Little is known about Hall’s life after his baseball career ended. He returned to Elm City, North Carolina, and made his living as both a woodworker and longhaul truck driver. When he wasn’t working, he was an outdoorsman who liked to hunt and fish. He also enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren. Hall stayed away from the game entirely, even refusing to return to Minneapolis in 2005 for a 40th-anniversary reunion of the 1965 team.” https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/6ad8a4ec Hall played 4 years. .269/.334/.481/.815 14.8 WAR Ted Uhlaender took over with Hall and Oliva getting some action and kept the position in 1967, 1968, and 1969 with Tovar behind him. He was traded with Graig Nettles, Dean Chance and Bob Miller to the Indians for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams in 1969. Uhlaender was a Twin 5 years. .262/.306/.354/.661. 3.2 WAR. 1970 Tovar was the centerfielder, and I would have had him there all the time, but he was so versatile. Holt was the most frequent CF in 1971, but Jim Nettles and Tovar matched him. Then in 1972 we had Bobby Darwin at CF with Nettles and Brye next in line. Darwin lost the position quickly and Larry Hisle took over in 1973, with Brye having just a few less games there. Hisle divided his time between LF and CF so Brye had the most CF games in 1974. In 1975 Dan Ford dominated the position with Lyman Bostock taking the majority of other appearances. Then in 1976 Bostock took over CF and Brye still had 57 games. 1977 Bostock, Hisle and Norwood shared the position. Bostock had a total of 17 putouts in a doubleheader which is a good example of his fielding prowess, which set an American League record for outfielders. Then in 1978 Bostock was gone from MN and one year later he was just gone. In Gary Indiana while visiting his uncle, the uncle Turner agreed to give Hawkins and her sister, Barbara Smith, a ride to their cousin's house. “Turner drove his vehicle, with Hawkins seated in the front passenger's seat. Bostock and Barbara Smith rode in the vehicle's back seat. Barbara Smith had been living with Hawkins while estranged from her husband, Leonard Smith. Unbeknownst to the group, Leonard Smith was outside Hawkins' home in his car, and observed the group's departure in Turner's car. According to Leonard Smith, his wife was frequently unfaithful to him, and though he did not know Bostock, he later said that upon seeing Bostock get into the back seat of Turner's vehicle with his wife, he concluded that the two were having an affair. In fact, however, Bostock had only met the woman 20 minutes previously, when he and his uncle arrived at Hawkins' home.” Wiki. The gunshot that was intended for the wife, caught Bostock, a killing blow and a great young man and his career were finished. By 1978 Bostock had 3 years and .311/.365/.427 /.791. 10.3 WAR Steve Brye had 7 years in MN .261/.311/.360/.671. 4.7 WAR. In 1978 Dan Ford was in CF. In 1979 Kenny Landreaux was the centerfielder. 1980 was another of those years where it did not seem like we could make up our mind. Landreaux 67, Rick Sofield 51, Dave Edwards, Greg Johnston 14. I liked Landreaux but he was not here long enough to get in the conversation. Of course in 1981 Mickey Hatcher had 86 games and he is not going to be the best and Gary Ward had 19. Bobby Mitchell who I do not remember was in 115 games as our CF in 1982 With Brunansky and Eisenreich behind him. Then the who is Hell is he continued in 1983 with Darrell Brown 76, Bobby Mitchell 44, Tom Brunansky (in center?) 38, and Rusty Kuntz 27. Kenny Landreaux 2 years, .294/.341/.435/.776 1.8 WAR Sigh of relief – 1984 and Kirby Puckett was in Center! Finally. Kirby dominated the CF position in 1985, 1986 with no others having any claim. Then in the WS year Mark Davidson had 20 games behind Puckett. Moses was behind him in 1987 and in 1988. Puckett, Mack and Moses in 1990. Puckett, Mack and Jarvis Brown in 1991. Puckett, Bruett and Brown in 1992. 1993 Puckett had a strong backup with Mack getting 67 starts and Puckett was moved to RF. “Puckett woke up on March 28 without vision in his right eye. He was diagnosed with glaucoma and was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his professional career. Three surgeries over the next few months could not restore vision in the eye.” WIKI. Puckett 12 years .318/.360/.477/.837 51.1 WAR 1995 Rich Becker took over CF with Alex Cole and Matt Lawton behind him. Becker stayed in control in 1996 with Roberto Kelly and Lawton behind him. 1997 Becker, Lawton and Darrin Jackson. 1998 Otis Nixon was in CF. Rich Becker, 5 years. .267/.349/.379/.728. 6.5 WAR. Nixon was gone in 1999 and Torii Hunter was in CF with Jacque Jones getting substantial appearances. Hunter, Jones, Hocking were there in 2000. Torii with Kielty had 2001, 2002, and in 2003 Lew Ford backed up Hunter. Again, Hunter and Ford in 2004, 2005, and 2006 Tyner was behind Hunter and again in 2007. In 2008 Span was behind Hunter. Hunter was a first round pick, one of our best. As a free Agent Hunter went to the Angels, then at the end of his career reappeared in a Twins uniform. He had nine consecutive Gold Gloves! Torii Hunter 12 years, .268/.321/.462/.783 26.4 WAR 2008 Carlos Gomez was in CF with Denard Span behind him (no wonder Denard left us). Same two in 2009. Span finally got the position he deserved in 2010 and Repko backed him with Revere. Revere started the most in center in 2011 and Span was second. Then in 2012 Span had most of the games and Revere a few. We traded Span for Alex Meyer. Span had 5 years .284/.357/.389/ .746 17.2 WAR Aaron Hicks took over in 2013 with Clete Thomas in 50, and Alex Pressley 28. Then Danny Santana got the most starts over Hicks in 2014 and Sam Fuld got too many too. Then in 2015 Hicks was pushed by Buxton and was soon to be a Yankee. Who is the Best? Hicks could have been really good, but not for us; Gomez looked good but had a short shelf life, Eisenreich was exciting and faded fast. 1. Kirby Puckett 12 years .318/.360/.477/.837 51.1 WAR 2. Torii Hunter 12 years, .268/.321/.462/.783 26.4 WAR 3. Denard Span had 5 years .284/.357/.389/ .746 17.2 WAR 4. Bostock had 3 years and .311/.365/.427 /.791. 10.3 WAR 5. Jimmie Hall played 4 years. .269/.334/.481/.815 14.8 WAR 6. Lenny Green 6 years for the Twins .270/.359/.384/.743. 7 WAR 7. Rich Becker, 5 years. .267/.349/.379/.728. 6.5 WAR 8. Steve Brye had 7 years in MN .261/.311/.360/.671. 4.7 WAR 9. Uhlaender was a Twin 5 years. .262/.306/.354/.661. 3.2 WAR. 10. Kenny Landreaux 2 years, .294/.341/.435/.776 1.8 WAR https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11386-the-twins-best-left-fielder-in-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11380-the-best-third-baseman-in-minnesota-twins-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11367-the-best-first-baseman-in-twins-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11377-the-best-ss-in-twins-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11371-%7B%3F%7D/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11365-the-best-catcher-in-twins-history/
  17. Upon signing with the Twins, Tyler Webb spent most of the summer in the Gulf Coast League, though he did play ten games in Elizabethton when they needed an outfielder. Join us in getting to know Twins minor league outfielder and 2018 draft pick Tyler Webb. Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in Prosper, Texas, I have an assumption on which MLB team was your favorite team growing up. Did you get to a lot of Rangers games? Who were some of your favorite players? Tyler Webb (TW): Yes, growing up I was a big Rangers fan. My dad would take me to a bunch of games when I was younger and when I got older me and my friends would go on the weekends when we got a chance to make a game. My two favorite players that I got to watch were Michael Young and Josh Hamilton. SS: You were a three-time All Star football player in Texas. Do the movies and TV shows do justice to football in Texas, and what was your football experience like? TW: The movies do a good job of showing the hype of Texas football. There’s nothing like a Friday night football game in the state of Texas. The energy and atmosphere is unmatched. My football experience was unbelievable. I was fortunate enough to play all four years on varsity, so I got to play in a lot of big games and also play with some great players who went on to play at big division 1 schools and even to go on and play in the NFL. SS: You were also twice an All State performer in baseball. What were some of the better memories of your high school baseball career? TW: I was lucky enough to have a great coach in high school, he is actually Matt Carpenter’s, for the Cardinals, dad. We were and still are what I would consider one of the powerhouses in the state of Texas so we always made it deep into playoffs and won a lot of games. The best memories I have from high school baseball are just the playoff runs we made and the other big name schools we played and beat. SS: What was the recruitment process like for you out of high school, and what made Galveston College the right place for you to play? Did you consider playing football after high school too? TW: The recruiting process for baseball out of high school was very slow for me. I only had a few junior colleges that were looking at me. It wasn’t until my senior year that I decided to pursue baseball, because up until then I was so focused on football. But when I realized that I probably had more opportunities in baseball I decided to take that route. I chose Galveston College because coach Joblin was going to put me at a position that suited me best. I played infield in high school but knew my strength was outfield and Galveston was the only school that saw that. SS: What was the adjustment from the high school game to the junior college game? You stepped in and immediately put up some big numbers. TW: The adjustment from high school to junior college was tough. My freshman fall was terrible. I was having no success and wasn’t enjoying it. But something clicked for me going into the spring and I ended up having a great freshman year and then I went into my sophomore year with a ton of confidence and ended up being an All-American. SS: How about the decision to go to the University of Memphis after two years at Galveston? Did you have options, and what made becoming a Tiger the right move for you at that time? TW: My decision to go to Memphis was a no brainer. As soon as I stepped onto the campus I knew that was where I wanted and needed to go. I had some other options, but I just had a feeling that those weren’t the right places for me. I also had a high school teammate that was playing at Memphis at the time so that was neat to get to play with him again. SS: When did you first start to notice scouts at your games? When did you have your first interactions with scouts? TW: I first started noticing scouts at games my sophomore year of Junior College. And then scouts continued to come my junior and senior year of college. It really didn’t start heating up until my senior fall when I started having meetings with a bunch of teams. SS: The Twins took you in the 40th round. How did you find out that you had been drafted? How busy was your phone at that moment? TW: I had received some calls earlier in the draft, but teams never pulled the trigger on me. Then when it came to the last day the Twins had contacted me in the earlier rounds that day but when it came to the 40th round I hadn’t heard anything so I honestly stopped watching the draft. My mom on the other hand was still watching and my name popped up and she went crazy, then at that same time the area scout called me and let me know I had been picked. It was a very stressful but neat experience. SS: What has the adjustment been like for you so far, from the college game to the professional game, both on and off the field? TW: The adjustment from college to pro ball was tough but I was prepared. I have a few close friends who had been in pro ball a year or two before me so I was able to get good advice from them on what to expect. SS: At this very early stage in your career, what would you say are your biggest strengths? TW: My biggest strength right now would be my ability to learn. I still don’t believe I’ve reached my full potential and I know there is still a lot about the game that I can absorb and incorporate to my own game to be successful. SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve? TW: The part of my game that I feel needs improvement is hitting. I would consider myself an athletic hitter, but I want to be a pure hitter in the long run. SS: What do you have planned for the offseason? What was your major in school, and what do you do to get away from the game of baseball? TW: This offseason I am currently finishing up some school while I have the chance to. I’m majoring in business management. I love being outdoors so any chance I get to go hunting or fishing I do. SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career? TW: First and foremost I have to give credit to my dad for putting me in baseball and providing me with whatever necessary to be successful in this game. My high school coach is another big influencer on how I got to where I am. He really changed my mind from football to baseball. Another person who helped me was my junior college coach. He really helped me become a better player both defensively and offensively and gave me a foundation to build off of. Then my coaches at Memphis really fine-tuned my skills to prepare me for pro ball. A person that was always a mentor for me throughout this was Torii Hunter. I grew up in the same town as him and played with his sons and he was always there to answer any questions I had. SS: Favorite Baseball movie? TW: The Sandlot is a classic. A huge Thank You to Tyler Webb for taking the time to respond to our questions. We wish him a great offseason and success going forward in his career. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions below.
  18. Tyler Webb grew up in Prosper, Texas, where he was a star on the football field in high school. He was also a star baseball player in high school, coached by the father of a big-league All Star. He was mentored by a local big leaguer who starred for the Minnesota Twins for 12 of his 19 major-league seasons. In 2018, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins. Recently, Twins Daily had the opportunity to catch up with Tyler Webb, the Twins 40th round draft pick this past June to learn about a variety of topics. What was it like to play high school football in Texas? What are his strengths, and what areas is he hoping to improve upon during the offseason? Thank you to Tyler for taking time to answer our questions!Upon signing with the Twins, Tyler Webb spent most of the summer in the Gulf Coast League, though he did play ten games in Elizabethton when they needed an outfielder. Join us in getting to know Twins minor league outfielder and 2018 draft pick Tyler Webb. Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in Prosper, Texas, I have an assumption on which MLB team was your favorite team growing up. Did you get to a lot of Rangers games? Who were some of your favorite players? Tyler Webb (TW): Yes, growing up I was a big Rangers fan. My dad would take me to a bunch of games when I was younger and when I got older me and my friends would go on the weekends when we got a chance to make a game. My two favorite players that I got to watch were Michael Young and Josh Hamilton. SS: You were a three-time All Star football player in Texas. Do the movies and TV shows do justice to football in Texas, and what was your football experience like? TW: The movies do a good job of showing the hype of Texas football. There’s nothing like a Friday night football game in the state of Texas. The energy and atmosphere is unmatched. My football experience was unbelievable. I was fortunate enough to play all four years on varsity, so I got to play in a lot of big games and also play with some great players who went on to play at big division 1 schools and even to go on and play in the NFL. SS: You were also twice an All State performer in baseball. What were some of the better memories of your high school baseball career? TW: I was lucky enough to have a great coach in high school, he is actually Matt Carpenter’s, for the Cardinals, dad. We were and still are what I would consider one of the powerhouses in the state of Texas so we always made it deep into playoffs and won a lot of games. The best memories I have from high school baseball are just the playoff runs we made and the other big name schools we played and beat. SS: What was the recruitment process like for you out of high school, and what made Galveston College the right place for you to play? Did you consider playing football after high school too? TW: The recruiting process for baseball out of high school was very slow for me. I only had a few junior colleges that were looking at me. It wasn’t until my senior year that I decided to pursue baseball, because up until then I was so focused on football. But when I realized that I probably had more opportunities in baseball I decided to take that route. I chose Galveston College because coach Joblin was going to put me at a position that suited me best. I played infield in high school but knew my strength was outfield and Galveston was the only school that saw that. SS: What was the adjustment from the high school game to the junior college game? You stepped in and immediately put up some big numbers. TW: The adjustment from high school to junior college was tough. My freshman fall was terrible. I was having no success and wasn’t enjoying it. But something clicked for me going into the spring and I ended up having a great freshman year and then I went into my sophomore year with a ton of confidence and ended up being an All-American. SS: How about the decision to go to the University of Memphis after two years at Galveston? Did you have options, and what made becoming a Tiger the right move for you at that time? TW: My decision to go to Memphis was a no brainer. As soon as I stepped onto the campus I knew that was where I wanted and needed to go. I had some other options, but I just had a feeling that those weren’t the right places for me. I also had a high school teammate that was playing at Memphis at the time so that was neat to get to play with him again. SS: When did you first start to notice scouts at your games? When did you have your first interactions with scouts? TW: I first started noticing scouts at games my sophomore year of Junior College. And then scouts continued to come my junior and senior year of college. It really didn’t start heating up until my senior fall when I started having meetings with a bunch of teams. SS: The Twins took you in the 40th round. How did you find out that you had been drafted? How busy was your phone at that moment? TW: I had received some calls earlier in the draft, but teams never pulled the trigger on me. Then when it came to the last day the Twins had contacted me in the earlier rounds that day but when it came to the 40th round I hadn’t heard anything so I honestly stopped watching the draft. My mom on the other hand was still watching and my name popped up and she went crazy, then at that same time the area scout called me and let me know I had been picked. It was a very stressful but neat experience. SS: What has the adjustment been like for you so far, from the college game to the professional game, both on and off the field? TW: The adjustment from college to pro ball was tough but I was prepared. I have a few close friends who had been in pro ball a year or two before me so I was able to get good advice from them on what to expect. SS: At this very early stage in your career, what would you say are your biggest strengths? TW: My biggest strength right now would be my ability to learn. I still don’t believe I’ve reached my full potential and I know there is still a lot about the game that I can absorb and incorporate to my own game to be successful. SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve? TW: The part of my game that I feel needs improvement is hitting. I would consider myself an athletic hitter, but I want to be a pure hitter in the long run. SS: What do you have planned for the offseason? What was your major in school, and what do you do to get away from the game of baseball? TW: This offseason I am currently finishing up some school while I have the chance to. I’m majoring in business management. I love being outdoors so any chance I get to go hunting or fishing I do. SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career? TW: First and foremost I have to give credit to my dad for putting me in baseball and providing me with whatever necessary to be successful in this game. My high school coach is another big influencer on how I got to where I am. He really changed my mind from football to baseball. Another person who helped me was my junior college coach. He really helped me become a better player both defensively and offensively and gave me a foundation to build off of. Then my coaches at Memphis really fine-tuned my skills to prepare me for pro ball. A person that was always a mentor for me throughout this was Torii Hunter. I grew up in the same town as him and played with his sons and he was always there to answer any questions I had. SS: Favorite Baseball movie? TW: The Sandlot is a classic. A huge Thank You to Tyler Webb for taking the time to respond to our questions. We wish him a great offseason and success going forward in his career. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions below. Click here to view the article
  19. In 2018, the Minnesota Twins star centerfielder Byron Buxton has played just 28 games at the major league level. Among hitters with at least 90 plate appearances, he checks in third from the bottom (above just Trayce Thompson and Magneuris Sierra). With a potential to play a maximum of 162 games in 2018, Byron has gotten in just 61 across all levels of pro baseball. If there's anything to take away from a lost season, it's that the most important trait going forward has to be availability. Injuries are always going to be a part of athletics, and at times, you're going to deal with relative flukes. From migraines to a foul ball breaking your foot, Buxton has tested that theory in earnest during 2018. What's unfortunate however is that this isn't the first instance in which the uber-talented outfielder has dealt with this type of setback. Byron has missed time in each of the past few seasons, and most of that time on the shelf seems at least somewhat preventable. By playing the game with reckless abandon, Buxton has thrown himself into outfield walls more often than he'd probably like to admit. The catches and highlights from those moments play on loop for years, but it's worth wondering what the opportunity cost is. Slamming into the wall in order to make a single out while trading a few games of availability seems like quite the ask. It's a difficult line to decipher when you're questioning if 110% effort is truly the best plan for long term success. From my vantage point, the most integral thing for the Twins to get Byron Buxton on track is a level of consistency. Allowing him to thrive at the major league level likely comes through a repetition of quality at bats and positive results. That blueprint requires him to be on the field, and in a position to compete on a daily basis. There's so much talent to be put on display, and he's significantly beyond the highest minor league level (as we've seen since his latest activation from the disabled list). Distancing him from the nicks and bumps that have taken Buxton off the field has to be the next step in this journey. Not all of Buxton's injuries are related to his centerfield exploits. He's hurt his wrist on the basepaths and at the dish, obviously migraines are a bodily issue, and things like an errant foul ball are simply bad luck. No matter what the malady though, having the Twins training staff best position Byron for success is imperative to his future development. Maybe the answer is to add muscle mass, or maybe it's having a more distinct understanding of outfield dimensions. At any rate, a new design taken with a focus on consistent health seems of the utmost importance. There's no reason to panic on the player at this point. Buxton is lightyears ahead of where his predecessor Aaron Hicks was at this point. Hicks is now the best centerfielder in baseball not named Mike Trout. Byron is also on par with the likes of Torii Hunter and Kirby Puckett at the same age. The talent and tools are all there for him to succeed, but he also needs to be physically capable of putting them on display in a more routine fashion. Telling a player to take their foot off the gas pedal is never an optimal plan of action. I don't know that it's the right one to suggest for a guy that's coming off being the best defender in all of baseball either. If there was something I found myself hoping Torii could impart on Byron during spring action down in Fort Myers, it was how to play all out while still protecting yourself for the long run. The Twins Hall of Famer only missed significant time once in his ten full seasons with the club. It's worth speculating that Buxton could end up being better than Spiderman if he can consistently stay on the field. Lost seasons from some of Minnesota's most important young players was always going to spell doom for the 2018 campaign. Going forward, the amount of time that Byron Buxton can limit away from the field of play only benefits the overall success of the organization. There's still a star in the making here, and worrying about the on field exploits does nothing for me. Keeping the young man healthy and in the action remains the biggest piece of the puzzle. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. Uffdah! After missing a lot of baseball due to postponements, Monday night was the first really busy night in the Twins farm system. Rochester played two games against Ronald Acuna, Jose Bautista and the Gwinnett Stripers. Chattanooga played two games in Jackson making up for their rain out on Sunday. The Miracle played. And Torii Hunter played two roles in Cedar Rapids on Monday night. Keep on reading for a bunch of transactions and stories and highlights and more.There were several transactions and six games in the Twins minor league system on Monday night. Keep reading to find out more on the night in the Twins minor league system. And as always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. TRANSACTIONS Following the Twins 14-1 loss on Monday night, the Twins optioned RH RP Alan Busenitz to Rochester. A corresponding move will be announced on Tuesday. (I don’t anticipate being terribly surprised… maybe has the same initials as Twins Daily, maybe?)LHP Gabriel Moya has now reported to Rochester.OF Aaron Whitefield was placed on the 7-Day disabled list in Ft. Myers.OF Mark Contreras has been promoted to Ft. MyersOF Jean Carlos Arias has been promoted to Cedar Rapids from extended spring training.RED WINGS REPORTGame 1 - Rochester 0, Gwinnett 1 Box Score Baseball’s #1 overall prospect Ronald Acuna started the season slow, but he’s been heating up. In this game in Rochester, he went 1-for-2 with a walk and three stolen bases. He also scored on a Tyler Flowers groundout in the fourth inning. Why do I mention that? Well, it was the lone run of the game. Dietrich Enns pitched much better in this start than he had in his first two starts, but he still fell to 0-3 on the season. He gave up just the one run on just two hits. He struck out four, but he was hurt by the four walks. As impressive as anything, he kept Braves minor leaguer - and long-time Twins killer - Jose Bautista in check. Bautista, who signed a minor league deal with the Braves late last week, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. The Red Wings managed just three hits in the game. Nick Buss and Kennys Vargas were both 1-for-2 with a walk. Brock Stassi had the other base hit. Game 2 - Rochester 2, Gwinnett 1 Box Score The Red Wings had a bullpen game in the second game. DJ Baxendale made the start and threw the first four innings. He gave up two hits, but no runs, and struck out two. John Curtiss came on. He gave up one run on one hit and one walk. He struck out two. Next in was lefty Casey Crosby who was just activated from the disabled list. He gave up one hit and struck one out in a scoreless inning to record the save. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: LaMonte Wade, Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Dietrich Enns, Rochester Red Wings TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, R, RBI, K, SB(3) #3 - Nick Gordon (Chattanooga) - 4-7, 2B(3), R, RBI, 2 K, SB(3) #5 - Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) - 3-5, HR(3), 3 RBI, K #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - 1-7, 2B(2), 4 K #10 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - 4-5, 2 R, RBI #11 - Zack Littell (Chattanooga) - 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #13 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, 3B(2), RBI, 2K #14 - LaMonte Wade (Chattanooga) - 3-6, BB, 2 R, RBI, HR(2), K #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 1-3, HR(2), 2 RBI, 2 K TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Gwinnett @ Rochester (5:35 CST) - RHP Myle Jaye Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05 CST) - LHP Stephen Gonsalves Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (6:00 CST) - LHP Anthony Marzi Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s full schedule of games, or ask any questions you may have. Click here to view the article
  21. There were several transactions and six games in the Twins minor league system on Monday night. Keep reading to find out more on the night in the Twins minor league system. And as always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. TRANSACTIONS Following the Twins 14-1 loss on Monday night, the Twins optioned RH RP Alan Busenitz to Rochester. A corresponding move will be announced on Tuesday. (I don’t anticipate being terribly surprised… maybe has the same initials as Twins Daily, maybe?) LHP Gabriel Moya has now reported to Rochester. OF Aaron Whitefield was placed on the 7-Day disabled list in Ft. Myers. OF Mark Contreras has been promoted to Ft. Myers OF Jean Carlos Arias has been promoted to Cedar Rapids from extended spring training. RED WINGS REPORT Game 1 - Rochester 0, Gwinnett 1 Box Score Baseball’s #1 overall prospect Ronald Acuna started the season slow, but he’s been heating up. In this game in Rochester, he went 1-for-2 with a walk and three stolen bases. He also scored on a Tyler Flowers groundout in the fourth inning. Why do I mention that? Well, it was the lone run of the game. Dietrich Enns pitched much better in this start than he had in his first two starts, but he still fell to 0-3 on the season. He gave up just the one run on just two hits. He struck out four, but he was hurt by the four walks. As impressive as anything, he kept Braves minor leaguer - and long-time Twins killer - Jose Bautista in check. Bautista, who signed a minor league deal with the Braves late last week, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. The Red Wings managed just three hits in the game. Nick Buss and Kennys Vargas were both 1-for-2 with a walk. Brock Stassi had the other base hit. Game 2 - Rochester 2, Gwinnett 1 Box Score The Red Wings had a bullpen game in the second game. DJ Baxendale made the start and threw the first four innings. He gave up two hits, but no runs, and struck out two. John Curtiss came on. He gave up one run on one hit and one walk. He struck out two. Next in was lefty Casey Crosby who was just activated from the disabled list. He gave up one hit and struck one out in a scoreless inning to record the save. https://twitter.com/JoshWhetzel/status/988589449058627584 Leonardo Reginnato led the offense. The infielder went 2-for-3 with a walk and his fifth double. Jermaine Curtis was 1-for-1, hit by a pitch, knocked his second double and stole his second base. Nick Buss walked twice. Also, Jose Bautista went 0-for-3 in the second game. 0-for-6 with two strikeouts on the day which made the Frontier Field fans happy. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/988593224682999808 CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Game 1 - Chattanooga 0, Jackson 7 Box Score A year ago, Zack Littell went 19-1 between two levels and three teams. On Monday night, he made his fourth start of the 2018 season and is still looking for his first win and already has his second loss. In this game, he gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk in just 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four. Cody Stashak allowed an inherited runner to score and also one of his own. He recorded the final five outs. In the doubleheader-shortened seven inning game, the Lookouts did not record a hit until LaMonte Wade singled with two outs in the sixth inning. Wade also walked in the first inning so there was no concern regarding a perfect game. Nick Gordon added a seventh-inning double, his third of the season. Game 2 - Chattanooga 6, Jackson 7 Box Score In the second game, the Lookouts fell behind, put together a big comeback, twice took the lead and ended up one run short of a win. Ryan Eades started. He was charged with three unearned runs on four hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out seven. All three runs came in the first inning and were due, at least in part, to two passed balls. Anthony McIver came on and gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in his two innings struck out three. The Lookouts fell behind early, but in the sixth inning, they scored four runs to take a 5-4 lead. With two outs, Zander Wiel and Chris Paul had RBI singles before TJ White knocked a two-run double. The game was tied at five going into the seventh inning. LaMonte Wade came up with two outs. He singled. Brent Rooker doubled him to third, and then Nick Gordon’s single gave the Lookouts another one-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh. The Lookouts brought in Williams Ramirez who struck out the first batter he faced. However, he gave up three straight hits and two runs and the Lookouts took the loss. Wade went 2-for-4 with his second home run of the year. Nick Gordon was 3-for-4. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 3, Clearwater 5 Box Score Byron Buxton was originally in the lineup, batting second and in centerfield, but a couple of hours before the game, he was removed from the lineup. Here is Rhett Bollinger with the explanation: https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger/status/988553533929779201 Travis Blankenhorn got things going for the Miracle early with a two-run home run in the second inning. It was his second homer of the season. Sean Poppen got the start for the Miracle. He worked 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out five. Max Cordy came on and gave up four runs on five hits in just an inning. Logan Lombana finished the final 2 2/3 innings. He gave up a run on two hits. The Miracle tried to make a comeback in the ninth. Joe Cronin hit his fourth double with one out. Lewin Diaz tripled him in to cut the deficit to 5-3, but they were unable to keep the scoring going. Jimmy Kerrigan added his eighth double. Mark Contreras had a bunt single in three at-bats in his Florida State League debut. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 5, Burlington 13 Box Score Twins Hall of Famer Torii Hunter was in attendance at the Kernels game on Monday night. He was fulfilling two roles. Part of his job as a special assistant to baseball operations is to go to the Twins affiliates and work with players, talk to players, and in games, get in uniform and be an extra coach and an extra voice. https://twitter.com/JimCrikket/status/988593631668908032 However, he was also in attendance in his other, more important role. He was there as a father. While he was in the Kernels dugout, his son, Torii Hunter, Jr., was playing for Burlington. On this night, Junior went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season and four RBI. https://twitter.com/JimCrikket/status/988573463228112896 As you can see from the score, it wasn’t a great game for the Kernels. Lefty Bryan Sammons started. He went the first 4 1/3 innings and gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits. He struck out five without issuing a walk. Jovani Moran got the next five outs. He was charged with three runs on five hits and two walks in that time. He did record two strikeouts. Moises Gomez threw the next two innings. He gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. Guess how many strikeouts he had? Yup, two. Derek Molina worked the final inning. He gave up two runs on a hit and a walk. He also threw three wild pitches. The offense was carried, for the most part, by two hitters. Leadoff man, Akil Baddoo, went 4-for-5 in the game. Alex Kirilloff went 3-for-5 including a three-run homer, his third homer of the season. https://twitter.com/langetime/status/988601644370808832 STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: LaMonte Wade, Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Dietrich Enns, Rochester Red Wings TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, R, RBI, K, SB(3) #3 - Nick Gordon (Chattanooga) - 4-7, 2B(3), R, RBI, 2 K, SB(3) #5 - Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) - 3-5, HR(3), 3 RBI, K #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - 1-7, 2B(2), 4 K #10 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - 4-5, 2 R, RBI #11 - Zack Littell (Chattanooga) - 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #13 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, 3B(2), RBI, 2K #14 - LaMonte Wade (Chattanooga) - 3-6, BB, 2 R, RBI, HR(2), K #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 1-3, HR(2), 2 RBI, 2 K TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Gwinnett @ Rochester (5:35 CST) - RHP Myle Jaye Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05 CST) - LHP Stephen Gonsalves Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (6:00 CST) - LHP Anthony Marzi Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s full schedule of games, or ask any questions you may have.
  22. This list is obviously subjective, but I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite ads produced by the Twins or featuring Twins players? Laurel Krahn (@wintwins on Twitter) has a wonderful playlist on YouTube with more than 100 Twins commercials. But even the Internet has its limitations. I’m sure there are some great older ones that aren’t out there on YouTube. 10. Joe Mauer Mean Joe Green Tribute 9. Sorta Deep Thoughts With Bert Blyleven and Carl Pavano https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT4jCLoxWYk&feature=youtu.be 8. Ron Gardenhire on TC’s Natural Habitat 7. Kent Hrbek’s First Base Lessons for Joe Mauer 6. Get to Know Em: Cristian Guzman 5. Sorta Deep Thoughts With Justin Morneau and TC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqY5E_FDIUM&feature=youtu.be 4. Johan Santana/Joe Nathan Carpool 3. Torii Hunter Birthday party pinata 2. Michael Cuddyer’s Magic Show 1, Get to Know Em: Corey Koskie There were some tough choices, and I shared another 10 spots I really enjoyed on Twitter outside of this batch. A few of these are from the same ad campaigns, but they were so good I couldn’t narrow down to just one per year. The Twins renaissance in the early 2000s had more to do with the players on the field and their success than any ad campaign, but the Get to Know ‘Em commercials were brilliant. The Twins were a developing club packed with young talent, but the players were still mostly anonymous even in a lot of parts of Twins Territory. The team had been an afterthought for several years. In 2000, they averaged just 12,355 fans per game, topping only the Montreal Expos in attendance that season. To put that into some more perspective, the Tampa Bay Rays were dead last in attendance in 2017, but they drew 15,477 fans on average. Hunt Adkins was the agency behind those Get to Know ‘Em commercials that put the focus on the players, their stories and their backgrounds. They had a great four-year relationship with the Twins. The team has has been partnered with Periscope the past 13 years — I especially appreciated their Sorta Deep Thoughts commercials — but a new agency will be at the helm in 2018: Carmichael Lynch. Here’s a link to some of the agency’s work, which includes the Jack Link’s Beef Jerky Messin’ With Sasquatch ads. OK, now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Twins commercials?
  23. This week's Almanac features Minnesotan major leaguers Gary Mielke and Caleb Thielbar, Twins greats Torii Hunter, John Gordon, Scott Erickson, Johan Santana, Rod Carew, and Jeff Reardon, the demolition of Met Stadium, and the coldest day in state history. January 28 Happy 55th Birthday, Gary Mielke It’s the birthday of former Rangers reliever Gary Mielke, born in St. James, MN in 1963. The sidearmer made three appearances with the Rangers in 1987, and another 76 between 1989 and ‘90. David Greisen contributed a thorough entry on Mielke to the SABR BioProject (click here). I’ll paraphrase. Gary went to school in St. James through eighth grade, after which the Mielkes moved to North Mankato, and Gary enrolled in Mankato West High School. He earned three letters in baseball at West, and was All-State his senior season (1981). He was also a starting forward on the basketball team his junior and senior seasons. Despite his success in high school, he received zero scholarship offers. He wound up attending local Division II Mankato State, and even there he didn’t make varsity until the middle of his sophomore season (1983). Greisen’s SABR BioProject entry includes a badass anecdote from Mielke’s junior season. He was hit by a liner in Grand Forks, breaking his nose and fracturing his cheekbone. Nonetheless, he made his next scheduled start five days later vs. the rival Gophers, earning a suspenseful complete-game 3-2 win. He was sensational his senior season, not allowing a single run in North Central Conference play, and putting together a 27-inning scoreless streak overall. The Rangers selected Mielke in the 26th round of the 1985 draft. He made his major league debut on August 19, 1987 at age 24, starting the top of the seventh with the Royals beating the Rangers 10-6 in Texas. The first batter he faced, Frank White, homered. Mielke went on to induce ground outs from the next four Royals hitters. Three of Mielke’s favorite major league memories are being on hand for Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout in 1989, and his sixth no-hitter and 300th win in 1990. Mielke was such a Ryan fan, in fact, that his son, born three days after Gary’s first major league win, is named Tyler Ryan Mielke. The Mielkes later had a daughter, Chelsea. Gary threw his final major league pitch on September 30, 1990, inducing an inning-ending double play from Mark McGwire. Gary Mielke still lives in North Mankato. He has even done some umpiring there over the years. He was inducted into the Minnesota State Mavericks Hall of Fame in 1999. January 28, 1985 Met Stadium Demolished Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Twins and Vikings from 1961 to 1981, is demolished. The stadium originally opened in 1956 as the home of the Minneapolis Millers. The final game at Met Stadium was played on December 20, 1981, a 10-6 Vikings loss vs. Kansas City. The game time temperature was 10 degrees with a -8 windchill. Twins official scorer and prolific baseball historian Stew Thornley wrote about Met Stadium for the 2015 book A Pennant for the Twin Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins. The book is available on Amazon, but you can read Thornley’s article on the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) website (here). January 29, 2016 Hunter and Gordon Elected to Twins Hall of Fame Twins President Dave St. Peter announces that Torii Hunter and John Gordon will be the 27th and 28th members of the Twins Hall of Fame. Gordon spent 25 years in the Twins radio broadcast booth, originally joining Herb Carneal in 1987, and retiring at the end of the 2011 season. Torii Hunter spent 12 of his 19 major league seasons with the Twins, originally coming up in August 1997 at age 22. While in a Twins uniform Hunter won seven of his nine career Gold Gloves, made two of his five All-Star appearances, and hit 214 of his 353 home runs (sixth-most in Twins history). Hunter’s three grand slams in 2007 tied the team’s single-season record (Bob Allison '61, Rod Carew '76, Kent Hrbek '85, Kirby Puckett '92). Hrbek and Hunter, incidentally, both hit their third on August 15. Don Mattingly set the MLB record with six grand slams in 1987. January 31 Happy 31st Birthday, Caleb Thielbar It’s the birthday of 2005 Randolph High School graduate and former Twins pitcher Caleb Thielbar, born in 1987. Both of Caleb’s parents lettered in baseball at Randolph HS. His mom, Janet (Johnston), was the Rockets’ starting shortstop in 1976. His dad Calvin was the assistant coach of that team. In addition to baseball, Caleb Thielbar excelled in basketball at Randolph HS. He was the second-leading scorer in school history, and number one in three-pointers and free-throw percentage at the time of his graduation. He went on to pitch four season at South Dakota State University, and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. He was released by Milwaukee in December 2010. He pitched for the St. Paul Saints in 2011, striking out 62 batters in just 49 ⅔ innings (43 appearances). On August 18 he became the first-ever Saints player signed by the Minnesota Twins. Thielbar rose rapidly through the Twins system, and made his major league debut on May 5, 2013 at age 26, beginning a historically successful rookie season. He did not allow a run in his first 17 big league appearances. He earned his first win on June 1, pitching a 1-2-3 top of the ninth with the Twins trailing the Mariners 4-2. The Twins mounted a comeback in the bottom of the inning, culminating in Joe Mauer scoring from first on a Ryan Doumit walk-off triple. Thielbar finally allowed his first run on July 8, giving up a solo homer to Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist. He finished the season 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 0.826 WHIP over 48 appearances (46 innings pitched). He appeared in 54 ballgames in 2014, posting a 3.40 ERA. He appeared in just 6 games in 2015 before being claimed off waivers by the Padres on August 8. He has not pitched in the majors since. Thielbar returned to the St. Paul Saints in 2016, going 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA over 64 innings (42 appearances). He went 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.761 WHIP in 22.1 innings (17 appearances) with the Saints in 2017. His contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers on January 23, 2018. Patrick Reusse wrote a great article about Thielbar prior to his rookie season with the Twins (here). February 2 Happy 50th Birthday, Scott Erickson It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher Scott Erickson, born in Long Beach, CA in 1968. The Twins drafted Erickson out of Arizona State in the fourth round of the 1989 draft. It was the fourth time he had been drafted. Erickson made it to the majors midway through the 1990 season, finishing strong with a 5-0 record in September. He went 12-2 with a 1.39 ERA in the first half off the 1991 season, and was named starting pitcher of the All-Star Game. Erickson, however, was unable to pitch due to injury, so manager Tony LaRussa handed the ball to fellow Twin Jack Morris in his stead. Morris wore black socks and his pants low in the style of Erickson. Erickson wound up going 20-8 for the ‘91 World Series Champion Twins, tying for the major league lead in wins and finishing second to Roger Clemens for the American League Cy Young Award. After a solid ‘92 season, Erickson lost a major league-worst 19 games in 1993. ‘94 was arguably an even worse season for Erickson, though he did no-hit the Brewers at the Metrodome on April 27th. He rebounded after being traded to the Orioles during the ‘95 season, and would ultimately prove to be one of the more durable pitchers of the ‘90s, pitching an American League-leading 251.1 innings in 1998, and winning 73 games between 1995 and ’99. February 2, 2008 Twins Trade Santana The Twins do the prudent thing and trade 2004 and 2006 Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana to the Mets for outfielder Carlos Gomez and three pitchers, all of whom were duds. Gomez showed sparks but never lived up to his potential in Minnesota, though he did score one of the most exciting runs in team history on October 6, 2009. Less than a month later he was traded to Milwaukee for former and future All-Star J.J. Hardy. Gomez, for his part, would go on to consecutive All-Star seasons for Milwaukee in 2013 and ‘14. After three very good seasons in New York, Santana missed all of the 2011 season. He went 6-9 in 21 starts in 2012, pitching his final major league game on August 17, 2012 at age 33. The Twins announced that Santana had been elected to the team Hall of Fame on January 19, 2018. February 2, 1996 Coldest Day in State History The state record low temperature of -60 is recorded near the town of Tower. I was on a sixth-grade class field trip, staying in pretty rustic cabins just a few miles away at the Laurentian Environmental Center in Britt. Former Pioneer Press sportswriter Jim Caple got married that day in Eagan! Don’t feel too bad for the couple, though; it was only -32 in the Twin Cities, a full two degrees warmer than the metro record of -34 set in January 1936. Caple wrote for the Pioneer Press from June 1989 to February 2000. The temperature in Tower on February 8—six days later—was 48; a swing of 108 degrees! February 3, 1979 Twins Trade Carew The Twins trade seven-time American League batting champ Rod Carew to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Brad Havens, and Paul Hartzell. It had become increasingly clear that team owner Calvin Griffith had no intention of ponying up for the future Hall of Famer. And even if Griffith could have afforded him, it was unlikely that Carew would have played for Griffith again after the owner's infamous, off-the-rails ramblings at a Lion’s Club dinner in Waseca on September 28. Griffith was quoted in the Star Tribune as having said "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here ... We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." Read Nick Coleman's original October 1, 1978 article (click here). February 3, 1987 Twins Acquire Terminator The Twins trade pitcher Neal Heaton, 1980 first-round draft pick catcher Jeff Reed, 19-year-old future major league pitcher Yorkis Perez, and career minor league pitcher Afredo Cardwood to the Expos for backup catcher Tom Nieto and 1985 and ‘86 All-Star closer Jeff Reardon. Reardon would save 31 regular season games for the ‘87 Twins, plus three postseason games, including Game 7 of the World Series. Reardon surpassed Rollie Fingers as major league baseball’s all-time saves leader in 1992 with his 342nd save. His 367 career saves currently rank 10th all-time. Stupid Jonathan Papelbon passed him in 2016. Joe Nathan is eighth on the list with 377. Heaton, for his part, won a career-high 13 games for the Expos in 1987. The Twins career save leaders are Nathan (260), Rick Aguilera (254), Glen Perkins (120), Eddie Guardado (116), Ron Davis (108), and Reardon (104). Bonus Thome Tidbits Here is some Jim Thome trivia on the occasion of his first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame last week. These are just the nuggets that turn up in my Twins Almanac spreadsheet. Contribute your own Thome trivia in the comments below. Jim Thome hit .314 with 218 hits, 61 home runs, and 156 RBI in 196 career games vs. the Twins. That’s his highest average vs. any team he played at least 30 games against, second-most home runs (66 vs. Detroit), and the most hits and RBI he had against any team. He hit .321 with 28 home runs at the Metrodome, the most he hit at any visiting ballpark. He hit .365 with 11 home runs in 19 games vs. the Twins in 2002. An astonishing seven of those home runs came off Rick Reed. He hit two homers off Reed in 2001, for a total of nine, the most he hit against any pitcher. Next on the list is Roger Clemens (8), and Justin Verlander (7). He hit six off several pitchers, including Eric Milton. The Twins set a club record for margin of victory, beating Cleveland 23-2 on June 4, 2002. Cleveland’s two runs came on solo home runs by Jim Thome in the fourth and seventh innings off none other than Rick Reed. Reed only allowed three hits and no walks in seven innings pitched, improving to 6-2 on the season. He would end up leading the team with a 15-7 record. Thome homered in seven straight games for Cleveland in 2002. The Twins record is five games: Harmon Killebrew (twice in 1970), Marty Cordova (1995, in just his 23rd MLB game), and Brian Dozier (2016). The major league record is eight (Dale Long 1956, Mattingly ‘87, and Griffey Jr. ‘93). Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew went back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the eleventh inning in Kansas City on May 2, 1964. Eight teams in major league history have hit four consecutive home runs, most recently the Nationals on July 27, 2017. The last American League team to do so was the White Sox in 2008 when Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and Juan Uribe went back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Twins five-hitter Bob Allison struck out five times in five at-bats on September 2, 1965, still tied for the major league record in a nine-inning game. Jim Thome tied that record on April 9, 2000. Thome had 20 four-strikeout games, third most in major league history behind Reggie Jackson (23), and Ryan Howard (27). I suspect that includes extra-inning games, but I’m not sure. Who remembers Game 163? No, not that one; the year before that, when the White Sox beat the Twins 1-0 on September 30, 2008. Chicago’s only run came on a Jim Thome solo home run off Nick Blackburn leading off the seventh. That game was in Chicago by virtue of a coin flip, despite the Twins having the better head-to-head record. Major League Baseball changed the rule, and the very next season the Twins hosted the Tigers in a Game 163 for the ages. Fun Fact: The Twins also played 163 games in 1962. Camilo Pascual pitched a three-hit shutout to become the first 20-game winner in Twins history. Thome had already hit 564 home runs when signed with the Twins on January 26, 2010 at age 39. Thome had the first walk-off hit in Target Field history on August 17, 2010. Obviously it was a home run. It was the first of a three-game series vs. the Chicago White Sox, over whom the Twins held a three-game lead in the Central Division. With the Twins trailing 5-6 in the bottom of the tenth, Delmon Young led off with a single off Matt Thornton. Thome then deposited the All-Star closer’s 1-0 offering, a belt-high fastball, onto the plaza. It was Thome's 12th career walk-off homer, tying Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson for the major league record. He broke that record on June 24, 2012 while playing for the Phillies. September 4, 2010 was a day Greg Gagne will never forget. He was inducted as the 22nd member of the team Hall of Fame before a game between the first-place Twins and Rangers. Carl Pavano picked up his 16th win in the 12-4 Twins victory. Matt Tolbert had two triples (very Gagne-esque) and drove in five runs, while Thome hit a pair of homers, passing Mark McGwire for ninth on the all-time list. Just two days later—Labor Day—Thome hit a memorable blast off the flagpole, eventually estimated at 480 feet. On July 17, 2011, Thome hit a staggering three-run 490-foot bomb, still the longest ever hit at Target Field. His 596th career home run helped the Twins to a 4-3 win over Kansas City. Thome hit his 599th and 600th home runs in Detroit on August 15, 2011. Pay attention to this, kids: both were to the opposite field. The Twins sold Thome’s contract to Cleveland 10 days later. In total he hit 37 home runs in a Twins uniform. Thome, whose final season was 2012, officially retired on August 2, 2014 with 612 home runs, eighth-most in major league history. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook. Click here to view the article
  24. January 28 Happy 55th Birthday, Gary Mielke It’s the birthday of former Rangers reliever Gary Mielke, born in St. James, MN in 1963. The sidearmer made three appearances with the Rangers in 1987, and another 76 between 1989 and ‘90. David Greisen contributed a thorough entry on Mielke to the SABR BioProject (click here). I’ll paraphrase. Gary went to school in St. James through eighth grade, after which the Mielkes moved to North Mankato, and Gary enrolled in Mankato West High School. He earned three letters in baseball at West, and was All-State his senior season (1981). He was also a starting forward on the basketball team his junior and senior seasons. Despite his success in high school, he received zero scholarship offers. He wound up attending local Division II Mankato State, and even there he didn’t make varsity until the middle of his sophomore season (1983). Greisen’s SABR BioProject entry includes a badass anecdote from Mielke’s junior season. He was hit by a liner in Grand Forks, breaking his nose and fracturing his cheekbone. Nonetheless, he made his next scheduled start five days later vs. the rival Gophers, earning a suspenseful complete-game 3-2 win. He was sensational his senior season, not allowing a single run in North Central Conference play, and putting together a 27-inning scoreless streak overall. The Rangers selected Mielke in the 26th round of the 1985 draft. He made his major league debut on August 19, 1987 at age 24, starting the top of the seventh with the Royals beating the Rangers 10-6 in Texas. The first batter he faced, Frank White, homered. Mielke went on to induce ground outs from the next four Royals hitters. Three of Mielke’s favorite major league memories are being on hand for Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout in 1989, and his sixth no-hitter and 300th win in 1990. Mielke was such a Ryan fan, in fact, that his son, born three days after Gary’s first major league win, is named Tyler Ryan Mielke. The Mielkes later had a daughter, Chelsea. Gary threw his final major league pitch on September 30, 1990, inducing an inning-ending double play from Mark McGwire. Gary Mielke still lives in North Mankato. He has even done some umpiring there over the years. He was inducted into the Minnesota State Mavericks Hall of Fame in 1999. January 28, 1985 Met Stadium Demolished Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Twins and Vikings from 1961 to 1981, is demolished. The stadium originally opened in 1956 as the home of the Minneapolis Millers. The final game at Met Stadium was played on December 20, 1981, a 10-6 Vikings loss vs. Kansas City. The game time temperature was 10 degrees with a -8 windchill. Twins official scorer and prolific baseball historian Stew Thornley wrote about Met Stadium for the 2015 book A Pennant for the Twin Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins. The book is available on Amazon, but you can read Thornley’s article on the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) website (here). January 29, 2016 Hunter and Gordon Elected to Twins Hall of Fame Twins President Dave St. Peter announces that Torii Hunter and John Gordon will be the 27th and 28th members of the Twins Hall of Fame. Gordon spent 25 years in the Twins radio broadcast booth, originally joining Herb Carneal in 1987, and retiring at the end of the 2011 season. Torii Hunter spent 12 of his 19 major league seasons with the Twins, originally coming up in August 1997 at age 22. While in a Twins uniform Hunter won seven of his nine career Gold Gloves, made two of his five All-Star appearances, and hit 214 of his 353 home runs (sixth-most in Twins history). Hunter’s three grand slams in 2007 tied the team’s single-season record (Bob Allison '61, Rod Carew '76, Kent Hrbek '85, Kirby Puckett '92). Hrbek and Hunter, incidentally, both hit their third on August 15. Don Mattingly set the MLB record with six grand slams in 1987. January 31 Happy 31st Birthday, Caleb Thielbar It’s the birthday of 2005 Randolph High School graduate and former Twins pitcher Caleb Thielbar, born in 1987. Both of Caleb’s parents lettered in baseball at Randolph HS. His mom, Janet (Johnston), was the Rockets’ starting shortstop in 1976. His dad Calvin was the assistant coach of that team. In addition to baseball, Caleb Thielbar excelled in basketball at Randolph HS. He was the second-leading scorer in school history, and number one in three-pointers and free-throw percentage at the time of his graduation. He went on to pitch four season at South Dakota State University, and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. He was released by Milwaukee in December 2010. He pitched for the St. Paul Saints in 2011, striking out 62 batters in just 49 ⅔ innings (43 appearances). On August 18 he became the first-ever Saints player signed by the Minnesota Twins. Thielbar rose rapidly through the Twins system, and made his major league debut on May 5, 2013 at age 26, beginning a historically successful rookie season. He did not allow a run in his first 17 big league appearances. He earned his first win on June 1, pitching a 1-2-3 top of the ninth with the Twins trailing the Mariners 4-2. The Twins mounted a comeback in the bottom of the inning, culminating in Joe Mauer scoring from first on a Ryan Doumit walk-off triple. Thielbar finally allowed his first run on July 8, giving up a solo homer to Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist. He finished the season 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 0.826 WHIP over 48 appearances (46 innings pitched). He appeared in 54 ballgames in 2014, posting a 3.40 ERA. He appeared in just 6 games in 2015 before being claimed off waivers by the Padres on August 8. He has not pitched in the majors since. Thielbar returned to the St. Paul Saints in 2016, going 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA over 64 innings (42 appearances). He went 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.761 WHIP in 22.1 innings (17 appearances) with the Saints in 2017. His contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers on January 23, 2018. Patrick Reusse wrote a great article about Thielbar prior to his rookie season with the Twins (here). February 2 Happy 50th Birthday, Scott Erickson It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher Scott Erickson, born in Long Beach, CA in 1968. The Twins drafted Erickson out of Arizona State in the fourth round of the 1989 draft. It was the fourth time he had been drafted. Erickson made it to the majors midway through the 1990 season, finishing strong with a 5-0 record in September. He went 12-2 with a 1.39 ERA in the first half off the 1991 season, and was named starting pitcher of the All-Star Game. Erickson, however, was unable to pitch due to injury, so manager Tony LaRussa handed the ball to fellow Twin Jack Morris in his stead. Morris wore black socks and his pants low in the style of Erickson. Erickson wound up going 20-8 for the ‘91 World Series Champion Twins, tying for the major league lead in wins and finishing second to Roger Clemens for the American League Cy Young Award. After a solid ‘92 season, Erickson lost a major league-worst 19 games in 1993. ‘94 was arguably an even worse season for Erickson, though he did no-hit the Brewers at the Metrodome on April 27th. He rebounded after being traded to the Orioles during the ‘95 season, and would ultimately prove to be one of the more durable pitchers of the ‘90s, pitching an American League-leading 251.1 innings in 1998, and winning 73 games between 1995 and ’99. February 2, 2008 Twins Trade Santana The Twins do the prudent thing and trade 2004 and 2006 Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana to the Mets for outfielder Carlos Gomez and three pitchers, all of whom were duds. Gomez showed sparks but never lived up to his potential in Minnesota, though he did score one of the most exciting runs in team history on October 6, 2009. Less than a month later he was traded to Milwaukee for former and future All-Star J.J. Hardy. Gomez, for his part, would go on to consecutive All-Star seasons for Milwaukee in 2013 and ‘14. After three very good seasons in New York, Santana missed all of the 2011 season. He went 6-9 in 21 starts in 2012, pitching his final major league game on August 17, 2012 at age 33. The Twins announced that Santana had been elected to the team Hall of Fame on January 19, 2018. February 2, 1996 Coldest Day in State History The state record low temperature of -60 is recorded near the town of Tower. I was on a sixth-grade class field trip, staying in pretty rustic cabins just a few miles away at the Laurentian Environmental Center in Britt. Former Pioneer Press sportswriter Jim Caple got married that day in Eagan! Don’t feel too bad for the couple, though; it was only -32 in the Twin Cities, a full two degrees warmer than the metro record of -34 set in January 1936. Caple wrote for the Pioneer Press from June 1989 to February 2000. The temperature in Tower on February 8—six days later—was 48; a swing of 108 degrees! February 3, 1979 Twins Trade Carew The Twins trade seven-time American League batting champ Rod Carew to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Brad Havens, and Paul Hartzell. It had become increasingly clear that team owner Calvin Griffith had no intention of ponying up for the future Hall of Famer. And even if Griffith could have afforded him, it was unlikely that Carew would have played for Griffith again after the owner's infamous, off-the-rails ramblings at a Lion’s Club dinner in Waseca on September 28. Griffith was quoted in the Star Tribune as having said "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here ... We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." Read Nick Coleman's original October 1, 1978 article (click here). February 3, 1987 Twins Acquire Terminator The Twins trade pitcher Neal Heaton, 1980 first-round draft pick catcher Jeff Reed, 19-year-old future major league pitcher Yorkis Perez, and career minor league pitcher Afredo Cardwood to the Expos for backup catcher Tom Nieto and 1985 and ‘86 All-Star closer Jeff Reardon. Reardon would save 31 regular season games for the ‘87 Twins, plus three postseason games, including Game 7 of the World Series. Reardon surpassed Rollie Fingers as major league baseball’s all-time saves leader in 1992 with his 342nd save. His 367 career saves currently rank 10th all-time. Stupid Jonathan Papelbon passed him in 2016. Joe Nathan is eighth on the list with 377. Heaton, for his part, won a career-high 13 games for the Expos in 1987. The Twins career save leaders are Nathan (260), Rick Aguilera (254), Glen Perkins (120), Eddie Guardado (116), Ron Davis (108), and Reardon (104). Bonus Thome Tidbits Here is some Jim Thome trivia on the occasion of his first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame last week. These are just the nuggets that turn up in my Twins Almanac spreadsheet. Contribute your own Thome trivia in the comments below. Jim Thome hit .314 with 218 hits, 61 home runs, and 156 RBI in 196 career games vs. the Twins. That’s his highest average vs. any team he played at least 30 games against, second-most home runs (66 vs. Detroit), and the most hits and RBI he had against any team. He hit .321 with 28 home runs at the Metrodome, the most he hit at any visiting ballpark. He hit .365 with 11 home runs in 19 games vs. the Twins in 2002. An astonishing seven of those home runs came off Rick Reed. He hit two homers off Reed in 2001, for a total of nine, the most he hit against any pitcher. Next on the list is Roger Clemens (8), and Justin Verlander (7). He hit six off several pitchers, including Eric Milton. The Twins set a club record for margin of victory, beating Cleveland 23-2 on June 4, 2002. Cleveland’s two runs came on solo home runs by Jim Thome in the fourth and seventh innings off none other than Rick Reed. Reed only allowed three hits and no walks in seven innings pitched, improving to 6-2 on the season. He would end up leading the team with a 15-7 record. Thome homered in seven straight games for Cleveland in 2002. The Twins record is five games: Harmon Killebrew (twice in 1970), Marty Cordova (1995, in just his 23rd MLB game), and Brian Dozier (2016). The major league record is eight (Dale Long 1956, Mattingly ‘87, and Griffey Jr. ‘93). Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew went back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the eleventh inning in Kansas City on May 2, 1964. Eight teams in major league history have hit four consecutive home runs, most recently the Nationals on July 27, 2017. The last American League team to do so was the White Sox in 2008 when Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and Juan Uribe went back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Twins five-hitter Bob Allison struck out five times in five at-bats on September 2, 1965, still tied for the major league record in a nine-inning game. Jim Thome tied that record on April 9, 2000. Thome had 20 four-strikeout games, third most in major league history behind Reggie Jackson (23), and Ryan Howard (27). I suspect that includes extra-inning games, but I’m not sure. Who remembers Game 163? No, not that one; the year before that, when the White Sox beat the Twins 1-0 on September 30, 2008. Chicago’s only run came on a Jim Thome solo home run off Nick Blackburn leading off the seventh. That game was in Chicago by virtue of a coin flip, despite the Twins having the better head-to-head record. Major League Baseball changed the rule, and the very next season the Twins hosted the Tigers in a Game 163 for the ages. Fun Fact: The Twins also played 163 games in 1962. Camilo Pascual pitched a three-hit shutout to become the first 20-game winner in Twins history. Thome had already hit 564 home runs when signed with the Twins on January 26, 2010 at age 39. Thome had the first walk-off hit in Target Field history on August 17, 2010. Obviously it was a home run. It was the first of a three-game series vs. the Chicago White Sox, over whom the Twins held a three-game lead in the Central Division. With the Twins trailing 5-6 in the bottom of the tenth, Delmon Young led off with a single off Matt Thornton. Thome then deposited the All-Star closer’s 1-0 offering, a belt-high fastball, onto the plaza. It was Thome's 12th career walk-off homer, tying Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson for the major league record. He broke that record on June 24, 2012 while playing for the Phillies. September 4, 2010 was a day Greg Gagne will never forget. He was inducted as the 22nd member of the team Hall of Fame before a game between the first-place Twins and Rangers. Carl Pavano picked up his 16th win in the 12-4 Twins victory. Matt Tolbert had two triples (very Gagne-esque) and drove in five runs, while Thome hit a pair of homers, passing Mark McGwire for ninth on the all-time list. Just two days later—Labor Day—Thome hit a memorable blast off the flagpole, eventually estimated at 480 feet. On July 17, 2011, Thome hit a staggering three-run 490-foot bomb, still the longest ever hit at Target Field. His 596th career home run helped the Twins to a 4-3 win over Kansas City. Thome hit his 599th and 600th home runs in Detroit on August 15, 2011. Pay attention to this, kids: both were to the opposite field. The Twins sold Thome’s contract to Cleveland 10 days later. In total he hit 37 home runs in a Twins uniform. Thome, whose final season was 2012, officially retired on August 2, 2014 with 612 home runs, eighth-most in major league history. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  25. Reports are that Morneau will officially retire and become a special assistant in the Twins. The team has yet to make the announcement official but that could come as Twins Fest approaches. Under the Twins new front office, the club has added former players like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins as special assistants. Morneau became a star in the Twin Cities on his way to being elected to four All-Star Games. From 2006-2010, he hit .298/.372/.528 (.900) while averaging 27 home runs and over 100 RBI per season. On his way to the 2016 AL MVP, he compiled many of the numbers voters like to see with 34 home runs, 130 RBI and a .934 OPS. In 2010 with the Twins leading the AL Central, Morneau looked well on his way to another MVP. He posted an eye-popping 1.055 OPS with 44 extra-base hits in 81 games. A slide into second base in Toronto resulted in a concussion that ended his season. Over the next two years, multiple concussions limited his playing time. Morneau had plenty of other memorable moments throughout his career. Josh Hamilton’s performance in the 2008 Home Run Derby was legendary but it was actually Morneau who took home the title that year. He returned to Target Field for the 2014 Home Run Derby and received a standing ovation from Twins fans. His 2014 season was also memorable for the fact that he won the National League batting crown. Over 135 games, he hit .319 and outlasted Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen. During his time in Minnesota, he also took home two Silver Slugger awards (2006, 2008) as the top hitting first baseman in the American League. Morneau ranks very highly in multiple categories on the Twins all-time lists. His 221 home runs are third behind Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek and one ahead of Tony Oliva. He ranks sixth in RBI, ninth in runs and third in slugging. What was your favorite Justin Morneau moment? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.
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