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  1. 5. Alerick Soularie, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 35/50 Scouts have differing views when it comes to Soularie and his hitting skills. In parts of two seasons at Tennessee, he hit .336/.448/.586 with 31 extra-base hits and more walks than strikeouts. These numbers were compiled in what is considered the toughest college baseball conference after starting his collegiate career at a community college. His short, compact swing can help him adjust to different hitting environments and he has enough raw athleticism to make adjustments throughout his career. There’s also a chance his swing can’t adjust to the higher levels of the minors and he fizzles out. 4. Gilberto Celestino, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 35/55 Celestino was part of the Twins return in the Ryan Pressly trade and his stock has been rising in recent years. He puts the bat on the ball, and he hits it hard on a consistent basis and that trait is only going to improve as he moves up the organizational ladder. Celestino can be the heir apparent to Byron Buxton in centerfield, especially since Buxton only has two years left of team control. On his current path, Celestino projects to a terrific defender in center field and his hitting skills should be more than enough to make him a regular in the Twins outfield. 3. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B Current/Future Hit Tool: 45/50 Blankenhorn is entering his seventh professional season and he is trying to solidify a role at the big-league level. Last year, he appeared in one game and went 1-for-3 with a double. There’s a potential for him to get more use this season, but it will take an injury or two to get him regular at-bats. In the minors, he’s shown the ability to hit at every level and he’s more advanced than other’s below him on this list. He’s on the fringes of being part of the Twins roster, but he might need to shift to another organization to get more regular playing time. 2. Trevor Larnach, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 45/55 Larnach might not be as advanced as the number one hitter on this list, but he has the potential to be an above average MLB hitter. Some powerful hitters need to swing with max effort to generate their swing, but Larnach isn’t one of those players. His naturally smooth swing allows him to spray balls to all fields. Also, Larnach isn’t afraid to tinker with his swing by watching video and asking questions to coaches and players. “I tease him about being a psychopath in terms of his pursuit of perfection,” Twins minor-league hitting coordinator Donegal Fergus said. “He wants good conversation, and honest feedback and ideas.” https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1369318691142332422?s=20 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 50/60 As Minnesota’s top prospect, Kirilloff’s known for his offensive prowess. He already projects as a league average hitter with a chance to be above average before all things are said and done. He has great plate coverage, and like Larnach, he can spray the ball to all fields. The Twins were confident in him last season and he showed his professional approach while debuting in one of the highest-pressure situations, an elimination game. He hits lefties. He hits righties. He just plain out hits. Fans can hope that he showcases a rare combination of hitting and hitting for power that can make him a generational talent. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Power Tool Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. On Thursday night (5:30 central time), Seth will be chatting with the wives of three Twins players in an all-new episode of Twins Spotlight. The discussion was live on the Twins Daily social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages. Something a little different on tonight's Twins Spotlight. Instead of talking to some Twins player, we will be talking with some player's wives. Maci Blankenhorn watched her husband Travis make his major-league debut last September while finalizing wedding plans. The couple got married this winter. Lexi Jeffers was in St. Paul when her husband Ryan made his debut in 2021. Of course, she still couldn't go to Target Field for the game. They had been married the previous offseason. Jordan Kirilloff married her husband Alex in October of 2016, months after he was the Twins first-round pick. The couple welcomed their first child, a daughter, to the world just over one year ago. We will get to know a little more about each and find out what it is like to be married to a professional baseball player. Certainly there are several good things, but it isn't all easy. There certainly are challenges as well. We'll talk about some of their experiences in and around the game, but also find out their thoughts on some of their husband's professional achievements. And, each has their own achievements to celebrate as well. This should be a fun show, and we welcome your questions. Join us live at 5:30 tonight to watch, and participate by sending your questions. We'll cover a ton of topics. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Please watch LIVE at 5:30 pm (central time) Thursday night on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below or on those 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. Previous Episodes Click here to see more previous episodes of Twins Spotlight. Episode 19: Regi Grace Episode 20: Louie Varland Episode 21: Max Smith Episode 22: Zander Wiel Episode 23: Blayne Enlow Episode 24: Royce Lewis Episode 25: Trey Cabbage Episode 26: Keoni Cavaco Episode 27: Casey Legumina Episode 28: DaShawn Keirsey Episode 29: Twins Wives (Maci Blankenhorn, Lexi Jeffers, Jordan Kirilloff) View full article
  3. Something a little different on tonight's Twins Spotlight. Instead of talking to some Twins player, we will be talking with some player's wives. Maci Blankenhorn watched her husband Travis make his major-league debut last September while finalizing wedding plans. The couple got married this winter. Lexi Jeffers was in St. Paul when her husband Ryan made his debut in 2021. Of course, she still couldn't go to Target Field for the game. They had been married the previous offseason. Jordan Kirilloff married her husband Alex in October of 2016, months after he was the Twins first-round pick. The couple welcomed their first child, a daughter, to the world just over one year ago. We will get to know a little more about each and find out what it is like to be married to a professional baseball player. Certainly there are several good things, but it isn't all easy. There certainly are challenges as well. We'll talk about some of their experiences in and around the game, but also find out their thoughts on some of their husband's professional achievements. And, each has their own achievements to celebrate as well. This should be a fun show, and we welcome your questions. Join us live at 5:30 tonight to watch, and participate by sending your questions. We'll cover a ton of topics. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Please watch LIVE at 5:30 pm (central time) Thursday night on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below or on those 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. Previous Episodes Click here to see more previous episodes of Twins Spotlight. Episode 19: Regi Grace Episode 20: Louie Varland Episode 21: Max Smith Episode 22: Zander Wiel Episode 23: Blayne Enlow Episode 24: Royce Lewis Episode 25: Trey Cabbage Episode 26: Keoni Cavaco Episode 27: Casey Legumina Episode 28: DaShawn Keirsey Episode 29: Twins Wives (Maci Blankenhorn, Lexi Jeffers, Jordan Kirilloff)
  4. Two years ago, our 2019 Honorable Mentions included Luis Arraez who went on to be the team’s top rookie that season. It also included Jordan Balazovic who jumped into the top five the next season. In last year’s Honorable Mentions, you’ll find Jorge Alcala who had just been shifted from starting pitcher to a reliever. We saw his impressive rookie season in 2020. So which players who received votes this year will climb the prospect ladder in 2021 and maybe even contribute to the big league club this year? This year’s prospect rankings are difficult. Because of the pandemic, there wasn’t a 2020 minor league season. Some of the top prospects spent the summer at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. Some even made their MLB debuts. The minor leaguers did report to spring training, several had been there for weeks before being sent home. Some players went to Instructional League and there were some reports from there. Before we start, the following players are no longer “prospects” according to Baseball-Reference: Jorge Alcala, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Cody Stashak and Devin Smeltzer. HARD-THROWING PITCHERS The Twins’ player development group has done a nice job in recent years developing arms in the minor leagues. The next step will be seeing those pitchers work their way to the big leagues. There are some strong pitchers in the top 20, but there are a few impressive arms in our honorable mentions as well. Josh Winder was the talk of the Twins Instructional League after the missed 2020 season. He is a big, strong kid whose fastball jumped up to 97 mph this past fall. Chris Vallimont throws just as hard. He came to the Twins in the Sergio Romo trade late in 2019. Luis Rijo is the youngest of the group, and he too is reaching into the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball. When the Twins acquired him from the Yankees in the Lance Lynn deal, he was touted as an advanced pitcher. He still has a good mix, but now with the increased velocity too. Dakota Chalmers came to the Twins in the Fernando Rodney deal with the A’s. He was coming off of Tommy John and completed his rehab in 2019. He was added to the 40 man roster and spent his 2020 summer at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. ALREADY DEBUTED Travis Blankenhorn made his MLB debut in September with one game played. His role will likely be a versatile utility player with some power. We will likely see him some in 2021, but he will see most of his time in St. Paul. COMEBACK KIDS? Wander Javier was once a top ten, and even a top five prospect for many in the Twins system. Unfortunately, he has missed about three of the past five seasons due to injury and then last year’s lost season. He struggled at Cedar Rapids in 2019. Despite that, he is ultra-talented and just turned 22 years old in late December. Yunior Severino was set to return in 2020 after breaking his thumb early in the 2019 season. He was twice a seven-figure international free agent, and he will be just 21 throughout the 2021 season. He likely is a second baseman, but he has a lot of offensive potential. WE HARDLY KNOW YE Spencer Steer was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2019 out of the University of Oregon. He had an impressive pro debut that summer but didn’t get the opportunity to back that up in 2020. That year, the Twins also selected shortstop Will Holland in the fifth round. In 36 games at E-Town, he hit seven homers and stole eight bases. His college teammate at Auburn was Edouard Julien, an infielder that the Twins took in the 18th round. Unfortunately, he was hurt during the Pan Am Games and had Tommy John surgery and hasn’t yet made his pro debut. Seth Gray is a very talented third baseman that was the Twins fourth round pick in 2019. He’s got a lot of power potential. In the 2020 draft, the Twins took right-handed pitcher Marco Raya in the fourth round. He’s got an impressive pitch mix and can throw hard. He’ll need to gain strength, but he’s certainly got some potential to move up this list. Then in the fifth round, the team took outfielder Kala’i Rosario. The Hawaii native has as much power as any prep player in last year’s draft. Emmanuel Rodriguez signed a seven-digit bonus with the Twins in 2019. He was set to begin his professional career in the DSL in 2020, but instead we will begin in 2021. It was just last month that the Twins signed 16-year-old shortstop Danny De Andrade for $2.2 million. The Venezuelan was one of this year’s top international prospects. For each of these players, 2021 will be their first opportunity to make a real impression. Some may move up this list next year. Some may find themselves outside of this list. That is a lot of talent, and those are guys who rank outside of the Twins Daily Top 20 prospects. Check back over the next two weeks to see who our 2021 Top 20 Twins Prospects are.
  5. Luis Arraez was supposed to hit .400 last season and run away with the American League batting title. Sure, expectations were high after his tremendous rookie campaign, but expectations were bound to outlast the reality of the situation. Arraez struggled through knee issues in his sophomore campaign, and one must wonder if that changes the future of second base for the Minnesota Twins.Current Second Baseman: Luis Arraez Arraez burst onto the scene in 2019 with a rookie campaign unseen in Minnesota for quite some time. He hit .334/.399/.439 with a 29 to 36 strikeout to walk ratio. In the batter’s box, he seemed to be able to know what the pitcher was throwing and spit on pitches on the edges. Arraez was never seen as a top-tier prospect, but the 2019 season might have changed that perspective. To be clear, the 2020 season saw Arraez play through a knee injury that plagued him during spring training and the team’s summer camp session. With that being said, he still hit .321/.364/.402 with an 11 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio in 32 games. The shortened season certainly impacted his injury and it also impacted the numbers he was able to produce at the big-league level. Arraez should be the Twins present and future, but it’s hard to predict how his knee will react. 40-Man Options Besides Arraez, the Twins have other 40-man roster options to play second base. Travis Blankenhorn is a legitimate option that could surprise some fans in 2021. If the Twins are able to sign another shortstop, Jorge Polanco could move to a utility role to put less pressure on Donaldson and Arraez. Blankenhorn has accumulated over 1900 defensive innings at second base during his professional career which is more than any other defensive position. On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other second base options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Download attachment: Second Base Minors.JPG Lin was an intriguing signing this winter and Severino has all the skills to be an impact option at the big-league level. Lin will likely get multiple opportunities to fill-in for full-time players. Also, Severino has been in the Twins system long enough to build up equity with the coaching staff. Arraez might be the current second baseman Prato joined the Twins organization as a 7th round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He split his professional debut between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids while hitting .268/.373/.730 with 10 extra-base hits in 4 games. Santana played three full seasons in the Dominican Summer League before making his stateside debut. In E-Town, he hit .276/.371/.372 with 10 extra-base hits in 40 games. He should have the chance to debut with Fort Myers in 2021. Julien is another intriguing option because of his college experience. Minnesota drafted him out of Auburn in 2019 and he has yet to make his professional debut. The Canadian native could make a big impact on the organization if he is able to move quickly in the years ahead. What do you think about the future of second base in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -First Base -Shortstop -Third Base 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. Current Second Baseman: Luis Arraez Arraez burst onto the scene in 2019 with a rookie campaign unseen in Minnesota for quite some time. He hit .334/.399/.439 with a 29 to 36 strikeout to walk ratio. In the batter’s box, he seemed to be able to know what the pitcher was throwing and spit on pitches on the edges. Arraez was never seen as a top-tier prospect, but the 2019 season might have changed that perspective. To be clear, the 2020 season saw Arraez play through a knee injury that plagued him during spring training and the team’s summer camp session. With that being said, he still hit .321/.364/.402 with an 11 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio in 32 games. The shortened season certainly impacted his injury and it also impacted the numbers he was able to produce at the big-league level. Arraez should be the Twins present and future, but it’s hard to predict how his knee will react. 40-Man Options Besides Arraez, the Twins have other 40-man roster options to play second base. Travis Blankenhorn is a legitimate option that could surprise some fans in 2021. If the Twins are able to sign another shortstop, Jorge Polanco could move to a utility role to put less pressure on Donaldson and Arraez. Blankenhorn has accumulated over 1900 defensive innings at second base during his professional career which is more than any other defensive position. On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other second base options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Lin was an intriguing signing this winter and Severino has all the skills to be an impact option at the big-league level. Lin will likely get multiple opportunities to fill-in for full-time players. Also, Severino has been in the Twins system long enough to build up equity with the coaching staff. Arraez might be the current second baseman Prato joined the Twins organization as a 7th round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He split his professional debut between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids while hitting .268/.373/.730 with 10 extra-base hits in 4 games. Santana played three full seasons in the Dominican Summer League before making his stateside debut. In E-Town, he hit .276/.371/.372 with 10 extra-base hits in 40 games. He should have the chance to debut with Fort Myers in 2021. Julien is another intriguing option because of his college experience. Minnesota drafted him out of Auburn in 2019 and he has yet to make his professional debut. The Canadian native could make a big impact on the organization if he is able to move quickly in the years ahead. What do you think about the future of second base in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -First Base -Shortstop -Third Base 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. Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Donaldson’s first season in a Twins uniform didn’t go exactly as planned as he was limited to 28 games. When he was on the field, he hit .222/.373/.469 with eight extra-base hits in 81 at-bats. Injuries have been the story of the second half of Donaldson’s career. Outside of his 2019 season in Atlanta, he missed time in 2017, 2018, and 2020. Minnesota was well aware of Donaldson’s injury history and now he is under contract for at least the next three seasons. For all players, the 2020 season came with unique challenges and this can impact players in different ways. Minnesota can hope that a more normal 2021 season will allow Donaldson to get back being close to the player he was in Atlanta a few seasons ago. On the other hand, Minnesota is going to need to have some back-up options if Donaldson’s calf issues continue to plague him. 40-Man Options Besides Donaldson, the Twins have other 40-man roster options to play third base even with the possible departures of Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza as free agents. Travis Blankenhorn got a brief call-up last year as he appeared in one game and went 1-for-3 with a double. There is a chance he is given the opportunity to serve in the team’s utility role during the 2021 campaign. Another option for the Twins is to sign or trade for a shortstop and this allows Jorge Polanco to move into a utility role. Polanco has undergone off-season ankle surgery in each of the last two off-seasons and the Twins might want to add some infield insurance On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other third base options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Miranda, a 2016 second round pick, was available to be selected in last week’s Rule 5 Draft, but no other organizations selected him. He showed a good balance of power and plate discipline in 2019, and he can play multiple infield positions. Bechtold, a 2017 fifth round pick, split time between Low- and High-A back in 2019. Both players will see time at Double or Triple-A next season. Mack, Steer and Gray all spent some of the 2019 season in Elizabethton with Gray and Steer making appearances at Low-A before season’s end. Mack was taken out of high school while Gray and Steer have multiple years of collegiate experience. All three players have a chance to reach Double-A by the end of the 2021 season. What do you think about the future of third base in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POST IN THE SERIES - SHORTSTOP 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. Minnesota surprised some last offseason by signing Josh Donaldson to a four-year, $92 million contract. The former MVP was coming off a tremendous season with Atlanta where he posted a .900 OPS and won MLB’s Comeback Player of the Year. Donaldson has the biggest free agent contract in team history, but what does that mean for the future of third base in Minnesota?Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Donaldson’s first season in a Twins uniform didn’t go exactly as planned as he was limited to 28 games. When he was on the field, he hit .222/.373/.469 with eight extra-base hits in 81 at-bats. Injuries have been the story of the second half of Donaldson’s career. Outside of his 2019 season in Atlanta, he missed time in 2017, 2018, and 2020. Minnesota was well aware of Donaldson’s injury history and now he is under contract for at least the next three seasons. For all players, the 2020 season came with unique challenges and this can impact players in different ways. Minnesota can hope that a more normal 2021 season will allow Donaldson to get back being close to the player he was in Atlanta a few seasons ago. On the other hand, Minnesota is going to need to have some back-up options if Donaldson’s calf issues continue to plague him. 40-Man Options Besides Donaldson, the Twins have other 40-man roster options to play third base even with the possible departures of Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza as free agents. Travis Blankenhorn got a brief call-up last year as he appeared in one game and went 1-for-3 with a double. There is a chance he is given the opportunity to serve in the team’s utility role during the 2021 campaign. Another option for the Twins is to sign or trade for a shortstop and this allows Jorge Polanco to move into a utility role. Polanco has undergone off-season ankle surgery in each of the last two off-seasons and the Twins might want to add some infield insurance On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other third base options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Download attachment: Twins Minor League 3B.JPG Miranda, a 2016 second round pick, was available to be selected in last week’s Rule 5 Draft, but no other organizations selected him. He showed a good balance of power and plate discipline in 2019, and he can play multiple infield positions. Bechtold, a 2017 fifth round pick, split time between Low- and High-A back in 2019. Both players will see time at Double or Triple-A next season. Mack, Steer and Gray all spent some of the 2019 season in Elizabethton with Gray and Steer making appearances at Low-A before season’s end. Mack was taken out of high school while Gray and Steer have multiple years of collegiate experience. All three players have a chance to reach Double-A by the end of the 2021 season. What do you think about the future of third base in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POST IN THE SERIES - SHORTSTOP 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
  9. Travis Blankenhorn was the Twins 3rd round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He has gradually worked his way up the team's organizational ladder. In September, the Twins had a need, and Blankenhorn got the call. He made the start, and he went 1-for-4 with a double. He was sent back to the taxi squad the next day, but we will discuss his big-league debut and much more. Again, if you weren't able to watch LIVE on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live, check it out now. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below 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: More on Travis Blankenhorn Get to Know: Infielder Travis Blankenhorn (October 2015) Catching Up With Twins Infield Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (November 2016) 2017 Twins Daily Prospect #9 (February 2017) 2018 Twins Daily Prospect #17 (February 2018) 2018 Twins Daily Midseason Prospect #13 (July 2018) 2020 Twins Midseason Prospect #20 (June 2019) Episode 6: Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade (October 2019) Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions (November 2019) 2020 Twins Daily Prospect #18 (February 2020) 5 Questions with Twins Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (April 2020) Play Blankenhorn Everyday! (September 2020) Travis Blankenhorn Makes MLB Debut, Doubles (September 2020) Follow Travis on Twitter at @tblank7. Check out his Instagram page at @travy_bags. Previous episodes Episode 1: Tom Hackimer Episode 2: Matt Canterino Episode 3: Aaron Whitefield Episode 4: Spencer Steer
  10. At noon (central time) Wednesday, Seth chatted with Minnesota Twins infield prospect Travis Blankenhorn. The discussion was available live on the Twins Daily social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages, and are available to watch again now. Travis Blankenhorn was the Twins 3rd round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He has gradually worked his way up the team's organizational ladder. In September, the Twins had a need, and Blankenhorn got the call. He made the start, and he went 1-for-4 with a double. He was sent back to the taxi squad the next day, but we will discuss his big-league debut and much more. Again, if you weren't able to watch LIVE on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live, check it out now. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below 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: More on Travis Blankenhorn Get to Know: Infielder Travis Blankenhorn (October 2015) Catching Up With Twins Infield Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (November 2016) 2017 Twins Daily Prospect #9 (February 2017) 2018 Twins Daily Prospect #17 (February 2018) 2018 Twins Daily Midseason Prospect #13 (July 2018) 2020 Twins Midseason Prospect #20 (June 2019) Episode 6: Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade (October 2019) Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions (November 2019) 2020 Twins Daily Prospect #18 (February 2020) 5 Questions with Twins Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (April 2020) Play Blankenhorn Everyday! (September 2020) Travis Blankenhorn Makes MLB Debut, Doubles (September 2020) Follow Travis on Twitter at @tblank7. Check out his Instagram page at @travy_bags. Previous episodes Episode 1: Tom Hackimer Episode 2: Matt Canterino Episode 3: Aaron Whitefield Episode 4: Spencer Steer View full article
  11. Filling Out the Line-Up Alex Kirilloff is going to be a big part of the 2021 Twins even if he isn’t in the line-up on Opening Day. The Twins thought highly enough of him to put him into the playoff line-up in a do-or-die situation and there have been other glowing reports out of the Twin Cities. He slides in nicely to the spot vacated after the Twins non-tender Eddie Rosario. Kirilloff is cheaper and has the potential to produce at a similar level for a fraction of the cost. Nelson Cruz has been amazing in a Twins uniform, but there are no certainties surrounding a player over the age of 40. Marcell Ozuna seems like a better option to fill the designated hitter role. He is a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a season where he hit .338/.431/.636 while leading the NL in home runs, RBI, and total bases. With Ozuna’s big contract, money is saved with the reserve players. Jake Cave can come back as a starting outfielder to begin the year before Kirilloff becomes the regular player. Travis Blankenhorn takes over the role vacated by Marwin Gonzalez as the super utility player. Ehire Adrianza steps back in as the back up player at multiple positions and Ryan Jeffers starts the season as the backup catcher with a good chance to be used more regularly than Garver. Rotation Roulette Three out of the five rotation spots for the Twins are decided with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda penciled in. This leaves decisions to make in the back half of the rotation. One strategy would be to sign someone big for the fourth spot in their rotation and leave the fifth spot to someone else already in the organization. The Texas Rangers already announced they would decline the option on Corey Kluber and it seems like a no-brainer for the Twins front office to be interested. Derek Falvey, Minnesota’s President of Baseball Operations, worked with the Kluber when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. Kluber was a three-time All-Star with Cleveland and won two Cy Young awards. The back of Minnesota’s rotation can easily be filled with a cornucopia of players from within the organization. Randy Dobnak seems like the logical first choice, but there are plenty of other options including Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic. Teams don’t need a lot out of the fifth spot in the rotation and these players can more than fill that role. Completing the Bullpen Bullpens have become so important in the modern game especially with starters pitching fewer innings. This year’s playoffs were a prime example with the Dodgers and the Rays riding their bullpens to a thrilling World Series. While these teams relied on a variety of arms, the Twins strategy might need to change if they spend on the players mentioned above. The bullpen outlined above might be worse than last year’s conglomeration with Sergio Romo’s option declined and other players pushed into different roles. Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala will be absolute weapons in late innings. The Twins can hope for a bounce back year from Taylor Rogers. The front office might also be able to find another Matt Wisler type player from another organization. Do you think this blueprint pushes the Twins to the next level? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. A little more than an hour before Monday's game in Chicago, Travis Blankenhorn found out he was a going to be a big leaguer. On Tuesday, he made his Major League debut for the Twins, five years after they drafted him out of high school. He doubled in the ninth inning for his first big league hit. Blankenhorn discusses the whirlwind day, the emotions, the uniqueness of 2020 and more. Find out more about the newest member of the Minnesota Twins roster.Travis Blankenhorn began the 2019 season at High-A Ft. Myers. After just 15 games, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he hit .278 with 18 doubles and 18 homers in 93 games. In his time with the Blue Wahoos, he had the opportunity to see several of his teammates move up and eventually debut with the Twins in 2019. “Seeing all those guys up there is awesome.” Blankenhorn said in a Get To Know ‘Em podcast last October. He said was excited to see teammates such as Luis Arraez, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and several other pitchers (as well as one of his best friends Jaylin Davis with the Giants) debut and contribute with the Twins. “Just watching them go up there and have success is awesome. We all love it. We’re all cheering for them. Obviously I think that’s a good motivation that we’re not too far away… It could happen like that.” Tuesday night in Chicago, it is Travis Blankenhorn’s turn to make his MLB debut. He batted seventh and played second base in a Twins lineup filled with its regulars. The lineup also included Ryan Jeffers behind the plate and Randy Dobnak on the mound. All three of them began the 2019 season together with the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 2020 has been a unique year, and that is true for players making their major-league debuts too. Normally, a player would be in a minor league clubhouse or a hotel room when their manager would call them to let them know they were needed in the big leagues. Blankenhorn was already in Chicago. For the second time this season, he was a part of the Twins taxi squad. He was also part of the taxi squad for the doubleheader in St. Louis. As a taxi squad member, he can work with the team before the game, take some BP, field grounders, etc., but when the game starts, he had to go into the stands. So on Monday, Blankenhorn was going about his game-day routine. He said, “I was already here. I was on the field. Took some ground balls. Went out to the outfield to shag and that’s when he (bench coach Mike Bell) came up and told me. So I definitely think it’s one of the more unique ways to find out.” Bell shared his version of telling Blankenhorn that something was up, “You know it’s going to happen. It’s really cool. It’s such a unique year. His family’s not here. Those things go through your mind. When it became official, I had to run out on the field. I just downplayed it. I said ‘Hey Rocco needs you. No big deal.” Who knows what he thought. He might have thought he had to drive back home to the alternate site.” Blankenhorn said that he ran in to talk to Baldelli. That’s when he got The Call. He was a big leaguer. He had some phone calls to make, but very quickly.He called his parents and his fiance. “I couldn’t talk long though because my BP group was up, and I wanted to hit. Short phone call.” All this happened about 90 minutes before game time. ------------------------------------------------- I tweeted about a week before the season that it sure would have been great if MLB had found a way to safely allow family at a player's MLB debut. Following the game, his manager said, “It’s a huge moment for any player. Anyone that’s been in the big leagues and had an opportunity to have a first like that... It’s certainly a moment and an emotion that you always remember. Sometimes you don’t remember every aspect of your first game, or every aspect of your first hit, but there are certainly some snap shots that he will never forget, and he gets to take with him wherever he goes. We know he’s a good offensive player, a good young offensive player, and seeing him put a good swing on the ball like that is very nice.” Blankenhorn said later that it was "an unreal moment, getting on that field for the first time. That's what I've been dreaming about since Little League." He continued, "Getting that first hit out of the way on the first night was definitely nice. (I'm) going to find a case for that baseball and keep it somewhere safe!" More on Travis Blankenhorn Get to Know: Infielder Travis Blankenhorn (October 2015)Catching Up With Twins Infield Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (November 2016)2017 Twins Daily Prospect #9 (February 2017)2018 Twins Daily Prospect #17 (February 2018)2018 Twins Daily Midseason Prospect #13 (July 2018)2020 Twins Midseason Prospect #20 (June 2019)Episode 6: Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade (October 2019)Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions (November 2019)2020 Twins Daily Prospect #18 (February 2020)5 Questions with Twins Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (April 2020)Play Blankenhorn Everyday! (September 2020) Click here to view the article
  13. Travis Blankenhorn began the 2019 season at High-A Ft. Myers. After just 15 games, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he hit .278 with 18 doubles and 18 homers in 93 games. In his time with the Blue Wahoos, he had the opportunity to see several of his teammates move up and eventually debut with the Twins in 2019. “Seeing all those guys up there is awesome.” Blankenhorn said in a Get To Know ‘Em podcast last October. He said was excited to see teammates such as Luis Arraez, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and several other pitchers (as well as one of his best friends Jaylin Davis with the Giants) debut and contribute with the Twins. “Just watching them go up there and have success is awesome. We all love it. We’re all cheering for them. Obviously I think that’s a good motivation that we’re not too far away… It could happen like that.” Tuesday night in Chicago, it is Travis Blankenhorn’s turn to make his MLB debut. He batted seventh and played second base in a Twins lineup filled with its regulars. The lineup also included Ryan Jeffers behind the plate and Randy Dobnak on the mound. All three of them began the 2019 season together with the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 2020 has been a unique year, and that is true for players making their major-league debuts too. Normally, a player would be in a minor league clubhouse or a hotel room when their manager would call them to let them know they were needed in the big leagues. Blankenhorn was already in Chicago. For the second time this season, he was a part of the Twins taxi squad. He was also part of the taxi squad for the doubleheader in St. Louis. As a taxi squad member, he can work with the team before the game, take some BP, field grounders, etc., but when the game starts, he had to go into the stands. So on Monday, Blankenhorn was going about his game-day routine. He said, “I was already here. I was on the field. Took some ground balls. Went out to the outfield to shag and that’s when he (bench coach Mike Bell) came up and told me. So I definitely think it’s one of the more unique ways to find out.” Bell shared his version of telling Blankenhorn that something was up, “You know it’s going to happen. It’s really cool. It’s such a unique year. His family’s not here. Those things go through your mind. When it became official, I had to run out on the field. I just downplayed it. I said ‘Hey Rocco needs you. No big deal.” Who knows what he thought. He might have thought he had to drive back home to the alternate site.” Blankenhorn said that he ran in to talk to Baldelli. That’s when he got The Call. He was a big leaguer. He had some phone calls to make, but very quickly.He called his parents and his fiance. “I couldn’t talk long though because my BP group was up, and I wanted to hit. Short phone call.” All this happened about 90 minutes before game time. ------------------------------------------------- I tweeted about a week before the season that it sure would have been great if MLB had found a way to safely allow family at a player's MLB debut. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1284940034341314564 Mike Bell agreed that it’s unfortunate, but obviously we understand. “One big thing that this whole year has taken away from some of these young guys making their debuts is their families aren’t in the stands. It’s unique. I’m sure they’ll never forget it. I hate it for them, but you just keep going back to what the world’s dealing with. Gosh, there’s just so much going on. We’re all pretty fortunate here.” Regardless, Monday was an exciting day for Blankenhorn. “There was actually a point in the game where I thought I could have gone in yesterday. Definitely an unreal moment. Just finding out an hour before the game that you’re not going to be sitting in the stands today. You’re actually going to be in the dugout. It was definitely a good feeling. Crazy. Crazy day, for sure.” -------------------------------------------------- So now to the actual baseball side of things. We all love the human element of a big league promotion and Major League debut, but why was Blankenhorn called up, and how can he contribute to the Twins over the final 11 games? First, on Monday, the Twins were without Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano, and Marwin Gonzalez was a late scratch due to illness. The team needed an extra bench bat for the game, and they optioned lefty Devin Smeltzer to add him. It is possible that he could be the player optioned to make room for Jake Odorizzi, who will come off the Injured List on Wednesday and make the start. Twins Daily's Matthew Trueblood wrote earlier today that he'd like to see Blankenhorn play... everyday! ------------------------------------------------------ Blankenhorn debuted at second base on Tuesday night, and that has certainly been his primary position in the minor leagues the last couple of seasons. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1278019202515861505 As you can see, he played a lot of third base early in his career. In 2019, he added left field to his positions played list. However, there is no question that he has mostly worked in the infield. He said that after getting his pre-game infield work done, he goes out to the outfield to shag fly balls and work on reads. At the Twins alternate site in St. Paul, however, Blankenhorn said he has worked exclusively in the infield. Before Tuesday night’s game in Chicago, Baldelli said of Blankenhorn, “I think Blank’s strength defensively is the fact that he can do a lot of different things for you. He’s worked really hard in the infield. He’s gotten to the point where he’s a very competent second baseman and you can feel really good about him getting the job done. Our ability to put him in the lineup comes down to him being very proficient in different spots. I’m looking forward to watching him go.” -------------------------------------------- Baldelli also gave a lot of credit to the the Twins minor league coaches and coordinators. He noted that a lot of good work is being done at CHS Field. “Our guys have done a tremendous job over in St. Paul. JP Martinez has run that camp over there flawlessly in a situation that is very, very challenging. Our guys have got a ton of work.” Baldelli continued, “ I know he’s spent a lot of time with our player development guys, with our coaches, with Billy Boyer on a lot of different spots all over the infield.” Billy Boyer is the Twins minor league infield and base running coordinator. He’s been working with the group in St. Paul this summer. Boyer said of Blankenhorn, “I feel great about where he is with his defense. Blank and our staff have put a ton of time, effort and focus on developing his defensive skill set both at second base and third base. Couldn’t be more proud of him, to see all the time and effort paying off for him.” 2020 has been a strange year. Being at the alternate site is not the same as playing a minor league season, but Blankenhorn said that he and the others in St. Paul are putting in a lot of good work. “We were all just grinding over there. Everyone knows that there’s a chance. We were all just trying to stay ready. Trying to get our at bats. Trying to get our work in. And going to the field everyday knowing that there’s an opportunity that if something would happen, we would be the guys to go over there (Target Field and the MLB roster). It was definitely a grind trying to stay ready over there.” ------------------------------------------------------ Blankenhorn was the Twins third round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He was a great three-sport athlete who could have played any of three sports in college. He was a really good defensive back and kick returner on his high school’s football team. He was a big-time shooter on his team’s high school basketball team. And obviously, it appears, he made the right choice in going the way of baseball. But he was a raw, athletic kid when he was drafted. He has had to work hard. He has had to make several adjustments along the way. He has struck out a lot, and then made adjustments. He has added a lot of power to his game as he has matured physically and mentally. It’s all part of the (often quite non-linear) player development path of a prospect. “If you look at my swing from when I first got to the Twins until now, I think I’ve changed a couple of times. Picking and choosing what is best for me. I think last year I learned a lot about myself as a hitter and I’m just trying to continue going off of that.” In last year’s Get to Know ‘Em podcast, he talked about how valuable his experience in the 2018 Arizona Fall League was for him. He was able to pick people’s brains, get other thoughts and ideas and incorporate it into his game, into his approach, and into his swing. As for getting at bats in St. Paul, it certainly wasn’t a typical schedule, but as Baldelli notes, they have been able to get their work in and when they have come over from CHS Field, they have been ready to contribute right away. Because there are only so many pitchers there, there are different schedules. They don’t play regular games. Some days they may get a bunch of at bats. Some days maybe one at bat. Some days they may not get any at bats. “They’ve gotten a ton of at bats ultimately. Is it typical? Is it what we’re used to judging guys off of? No. But it’s certainly a spot where we’re getting our guys enough work where we feel really good putting them in major league games when they get over here. We have no hesitation getting Blank out there, and he’s ready to go too. I think you could actually look at it, not from the way we feel about it, but from the way the players feel about it. The players have shown up here throughout, ready to go. Those guys are ready.” Blankenhorn added, “If you look at the group of pitchers we had over there, the people that came over, I think we definitely had some quality at bats against some quality pitching. I think that was a big part of staying ready.” --------------------------------------------------------- Blankenhorn recently turned 24. If asked what type of player I think he can be, I would look to Marwin Gonzalez as a relatively good comp. Gonzalez is a switch-hitter. Blankenhorn is left handed only. But I can see a situation where Blankenhorn is a solid hitter with some power who is going to strikeout a bit. Defensively, he won’t be great at any one position, but he will be adequate at third base and potentially in the corner outfield spots, and I think he can be solid defensively on the right side of the infield. He could be a solid regular starter at second base if needed, but a large piece of his value comes from his versatility. It should allow him to play in the big leagues for a number of years. It’s a role that Blankenhorn has embraced over the last couple of seasons. He wants to play all over the diamond. “I’m just going to go wherever they tell me to.” ------------------------------------------------------- Blankenhorn's Debut (1-for-3, HBP, 2B) In his first at-bat, Blankenhorn popped up the first pitch to third base. The second at bat was a fly out to left field. In his third plate appearance, he was hit by a pitch in the elbow armor. In the ninth inning, Blankenhorn had that moment, connecting for a two-out double over the right fielder’s head. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1306072858104340491 Following the game, his manager said, “It’s a huge moment for any player. Anyone that’s been in the big leagues and had an opportunity to have a first like that... It’s certainly a moment and an emotion that you always remember. Sometimes you don’t remember every aspect of your first game, or every aspect of your first hit, but there are certainly some snap shots that he will never forget, and he gets to take with him wherever he goes. We know he’s a good offensive player, a good young offensive player, and seeing him put a good swing on the ball like that is very nice.” Blankenhorn said later that it was "an unreal moment, getting on that field for the first time. That's what I've been dreaming about since Little League." He continued, "Getting that first hit out of the way on the first night was definitely nice. (I'm) going to find a case for that baseball and keep it somewhere safe!" More on Travis Blankenhorn Get to Know: Infielder Travis Blankenhorn (October 2015) Catching Up With Twins Infield Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (November 2016) 2017 Twins Daily Prospect #9 (February 2017) 2018 Twins Daily Prospect #17 (February 2018) 2018 Twins Daily Midseason Prospect #13 (July 2018) 2020 Twins Midseason Prospect #20 (June 2019) Episode 6: Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade (October 2019) Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions (November 2019) 2020 Twins Daily Prospect #18 (February 2020) 5 Questions with Twins Prospect Travis Blankenhorn (April 2020) Play Blankenhorn Everyday! (September 2020)
  14. We’ve made it, we have finally made it. The long-running national nightmare seems to be nearly over. On Friday night we will have a Twins baseball game that counts. Back in late June I projected the 30-man Opening Day roster for Minnesota. A few changes have been made and it’s time for an update. While Summer Camp has been relatively uneventful for the Twins, there have been a few key developments. Thankfully, Byron Buxton’s injury scare doesn’t seem like it will hold him back. Luis Arraez also tweaked his knee but when then immediately all systems go. Miguel Sano got a late start due to COVID-19 tests despite being asymptomatic, but he’s been back for a few days now as well. Only Nick Gordon and Willians Astudillo remain on the COVID related Injured List for the Twins. The former was never likely to make the Opening Day roster, while the latter definitely opens up a spot for Rocco Baldelli. Having just requested his release, rotation candidate Jhoulys Chacin also generates an opportunity for someone. Let’s get into who should be expected to make the club: Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila No surprises here. Astudillo is still looking to generate two negative COVID-19 tests which makes him ineligible to participate. With a catcher being available every night on the three-man taxi squad, carrying two to open the year is just fine. Infield (6): Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Ehire Adrianza, Travis Blankenhorn If there’s a guy that benefits from Astudillo’s absence, it’s probably Travis Blankenhorn. I loved what he could’ve provided during regular Spring Training, and think his skillset translates perfectly to a year needing depth. He can play second and third base while also having some outfield flexibility. The bat has pop and while he’s not a top tier prospect, there’s plenty of talent to contribute at the big-league level. Outfield (6): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, LaMonte Wade Jr. This group adds one to it in the form of LaMonte Wade Jr. He’s had a strong Summer Camp and is showing that he’s more than just an on-base machine. Minnesota doesn’t have a true replacement in centerfield outside of Max Kepler, but both Cave and Wade should rotate in on the corners prior to any activation of the top prospects. Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz As has always been the case, this one is as easy as it gets. Minnesota’s leader is ready to go following a very strong Summer Camp Rotation (5): Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, Homer Bailey No changes here from the original group, but Jake Odorizzi slides back at least a spot in the rotation due to back stiffness. He’s going to have his last Summer Camp appearance shifted, and he’ll likely be moved off the Saturday game in Chicago. Bullpen (10): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer This group decreased by one with me no longer including Lewis Thorpe. I think the goal would be to have him throwing regular pens and staying stretched out at the alternate site in St. Paul. He was the first rotation option jettisoned during original Spring Training, and both Dobnak and Smeltzer are ahead of him still. Would have been nice to include Chacin as depth, but he’s miscast as a long reliever anyways. There you have it, your 2020 Minnesota Twins. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  15. It’s probably fair to assume that guys like Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, and Trevor Larnach will all make their Major League debuts in 2020. Each had already been knocking on the door and 2020 seemed logical prior to the change in circumstances. Given his ceiling and less than consistent 2019, Royce Lewis would likely be an unworthy bet to play for Minnesota this season. Those are all names you know however, it’s the ones you may not have considered that could instead step up. Luis Arraez arrived on the scene last year and not only stole Jonathan Schoop’s job, but also took the spotlight thanks to one at bat against Mets closer Edwin Diaz. His ability to control the strike zone and hit for average never waned, and it’s why he’s one of the best bets to lead the league in hitting this year. What happens if he goes down though? The immediate indication might be that former 1st round pick Nick Gordon would be worthy of promotion. That’s a fair assessment given his resurgence in year two of Triple-A action (a trend he’s continued through the minors), but it’s actually Travis Blankenhorn that could pick up the slack. Recently added to the 40-man roster, Blankenhorn has played all over the place but second base has become somewhat of a home. At Double-A last year Blankenhorn posted a .786 OPS while failing to generate much in the way of on-base percentage. He’s a pretty big strikeout guy, but he’s often done a bit more in the walks department. There’s legit pop in his bat, and while he’s not even close to the same player Arraez is, the former 3rd round pick could find his opportunity to make an impact. At first base Minnesota has plenty of options, including at least two of the aforementioned top prospects. It’s a guy not on the 40-man though that is being brought to Minneapolis worthy of some discussion. Former Vanderbilt star Zander Wiel could play in the majors for a handful of clubs right now. Prospect status isn’t really here given he’s 27, but at Triple-A in 2019 Wiel posted an .834 OPS. There’d need to be some things go right (or wrong depending on how you look at it) for Wiel to rise up the ladder, but his game could help to get the Twins by in a pinch. Last season saw a rise in strikeouts and decline in walk rate, but that hasn’t been a career norm for him to this point. A bopper that is athletic at first base, he doesn’t get the power praise of Rooker and Larnach, but the ability to launch isn’t far off. Rounding out the talkers here is a guy that could routinely find himself routinely on the three-man taxi squad. Minnesota will have three catchers on the active roster, and then long-time veterans Juan Graterol and Tomas Telis are in the mix as well. If they want to play with upside however, it’s 2018 2nd round pick Ryan Jeffers that gets a shot. It’d be a big blow for the Twins to lose Mitch Garver for any portion of time this year, but Jeffers is his heir apparent. Drafted as a bat first guy, he’s worked to become more than capable behind the dish. It was only a 24-game sample size at Double-A in 2019, but the then 22-year-old hit .287/.374/.483. He’s not a .300 hitter, but he’s not a .250 hitter either. Jeffers takes walks and does a good job staying within the zone. Home run power is there, and he’ll reach double digits over the course of any full season. You might be asking him to do a bit much jumping up to the big leagues, but there’s a ton of talent here and it’s why he’s rocketed up the Twins prospect rankings. No matter how the 2020 Major League Baseball season shakes out, I think we’re going to have a fair amount of oddities. The year is already being played under weird circumstances, and how teams handle the hands they’re dealt will be as much the narrative as the actual results on the field. It’s always been a “next man up” type of sport, but that resonates now more than ever. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Although MLB and the Player’s Association is still working on economics and structure of said season, some of the finer details have been agreed to. There’s a good assumption that in an effort to avoid injury an expanded roster will be implemented. With there being no formal minor league season on the horizon, an expanded taxi squad will also likely be adopted. In a traditional year prospects are developed through the course of game action on the farm. Now they’ll be put through the wringer under a different set of circumstances, and the eventual call-up could be out of necessity rather than readiness. Additional bodies coming from the 40-man roster makes the most sense, and three players jumped out to me as being near-ready prior to the curveball a global pandemic has thrown. Travis Blankenhorn – Utility Blankenhorn was a third-round selection back in 2015 and is now 22 years old. He topped out at Double-A Pensacola last season and posted a .786 OPS. He can play all over the diamond and his positional flexibility is what makes him interesting for Minnesota in 2020. Coming into his power during 2019, Blankenhorn launched 18 dingers in 93 Double-A games. He was a guy I was extremely excited to watch during spring training, and there was definitely opportunity present for him to impress. Right now, Rocco Baldelli has utility types in the form of Ehire Adrianza and Willians Astudillo. Blankenhorn falls somewhere in the midst of that group. He’s a better defender than Willians and could be a better bat the Adrianza. If either of them goes down, he’d be a worthy guy to call upon. Nick Gordon – 2B Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2014, fifth overall, has yet to make it to the big leagues. Nick Gordon isn’t a clone of his brother Dee, but he’s moved over to his old position. Once a shortstop, Nick is now fully entrenched on the right side of the diamond. Although the bat hasn’t come along as much as expected, he’s got a strong track record of success the second time through a level. After posting a .544 OPS at Triple-A in 2018, he rebounded to the tune of an .801 mark a season ago. Nick doesn’t have the same speed that Dee used to but has good quickness and acceleration. He’s an OK fielder that would be able to handle second well. Playing nine innings at third with over 5,000 between 2B and SS in his pro career, it’s fair to assume his home is up the middle. Again, he’d factor into the same conversations that Blankenhorn would, but it appears the time could be now for the son of the man nicknamed Flash. Gilberto Celestino – OF When Minnesota flipped Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros it was assumed that Jorge Alcala was the prize return. Instead, it may be Celestino that bears the most fruit. A high-profile international free agent, Celestino played most of his 2019 at Low-A Cedar Rapids. He did hit 10 home runs in 2019 but posted just a .759 OPS. Power isn’t much his game, but he can draw walks, is plenty fast, and is among the best defenders in Minnesota’s system. It would seem odd for a player yet to establish himself at A-ball to jump all the way to the big leagues. That said, it’s not uncharted waters and it wasn’t long ago that Jorge Polanco was doing that same thing for the Twins. Celestino could be called upon more for his defense in 2020. Should something happen to one of the starting outfielders, Celestino would represent an ideal centerfield candidate. Jake Cave was stretched there in 2019, and while Max Kepler was great, the position took a toll on him. The bat won’t be ready this soon, but the glove and instincts absolutely are. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Blakenhorn has been younger than the average age of the competition at every stop in his professional career. Now entering his age-23 season, he has been added to the Twins 40-man roster and he is waiting for his chance to prove himself at the big-league level. His versatility and baseball instincts could make him a valuable piece of the Twins in the not-so-distant future. Twins Daily (TD): How is preparation for this season different from other years? Travis Blankenhorn (TB): I have some weights in my basement and some nets to hit into, so I’ve been able to continue working out and training for baseball. TD: You’ve played five different defensive positions during your professional career. Which position are you most comfortable at and why? TB: I’m just trying to be the most versatile player to get in the lineup. TD: The Twins added you to the 40-man roster this off-season. What did it feel like when you got that news? TB: Getting that news was great. It was fun to enjoy the night with my family. TD: If you were writing a scouting report on yourself, what would it say? TB: Hard working, with the ability to play anywhere. TD: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? TB: I’ll take teleportation so I can go wherever I want whenever I want. I think I could get around the bases pretty fast that way too. Haha Here are the other posts in the "Five Questions" series: - Lewis Thorpe - Brent Rooker - Randy Dobnak - Dave St. Peter MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. Reassigned to the minor league camp are pitchers Lewis Thorpe, Dakota Chalmers, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Alcala, outfielder Gilberto Celestino and infielders Nick Gordon and Travis Blankenhorn. Of the cuts, perhaps the most surprising was Lewis Thorpe. Thorpe started to gain traction as a left-handed reliever late in 2019, striking out 17 in 13.1 innings in September, but he had left camp earlier this month for personal reasons and had yet to throw in a spring game. Rocco Baldelli said that Thorpe took the news well. “He knows what we are asking him to do,” said Baldelli. “What we are asking him to do has been very well laid out for him. And now he has to go and follow through and do it. We know the ability that he has. We know that he's not (just) close to being a big leaguer. He's a guy that can pitch in the big leagues and do it well. He just has to prepare for his season and make sure he's ready once the bell rings.” Dakota Chalmers, who is returning from an elbow injury from 2019, would be stretched out at a slower pace than the rest of the pitchers. “Our view of this from the beginning was we were going to slow-build him in spring training anyway,” said Falvey of Chalmers. “We're focused more on the end of season than the beginning. I think that's true of a lot of young arms, but for him in particular, coming off the surgery and an injury, we'd rather start him slow and let him finish the season strong than start him now, get to a point in the season where you feel like you have to cut off his innings because you've run out of buildup time.” “By all accounts, he had a great camp.” Duran, Twins Daily’s number six ranked prospect for 2020, has a hard sinking fastball which can reach upwards of 99 miles per hour and struck out 136 over 115 innings split between Pensacola and Fort Myers. This spring, the Twins were working with him to smooth out some of his mechanics in hopes of achieving better command of his repertoire. Baldelli did not want to put labels on the roles of the reassigned pitchers just yet. Chalmers would have the limits in place. Others would potentially see hybrid roles. For instance, when it came to the hard-throwing Alcala, Baldelli says he could see him used in a number of ways. “It’s not always a pure start, reliever, short reliever, there are a lot of different categories these guys can fall into,” the manager said. “Alcala is going to fall into that he's-going-to-be-lengthened-out category. He may help us at this level in a number of different ways.” Gordon performed well in his second stint at Triple-A, collecting 29 doubles in just 70 games with Rochester, but injuries limited his 2019 season. The former first-round pick remains decent middle infield depth even as his once vaunted prospect status declines. Celestino, acquired from the Houston Astros in the Ryan Pressly trade, left a strong impression on the team with his athleticism in the outfield. The Twins also announced that pitcher Fernando Romero has been added to the restricted list. According to Twins’ Derek Falvey, unlike the reassignment moves, adding Romero to the restricted list simply acknowledged that the player is not currently with the team and will not be for an indefinite amount of time. Once able to join the team, Romero could face another transaction. He has remained in the Dominican Republic because of visa issues while throwing in the Twins academy in Boca Chica while exiled from the team. “We've got staff and scouts around there that are connected with him more regularly, so probably the best way to describe it is a continuation of his offseason program and a little more throwing,” Falvey said. “Obviously, he's not pitching in games and playing here, but he's prepping." The academy has similar technology to the team’s Fort Myers complex, including Trackman and Rapsodo, so the organization can continue to monitor his progress. The Twins are now down to 55 players in camp.
  19. The culling of the Minnesota Twins' roster started on Monday.Reassigned to the minor league camp are pitchers Lewis Thorpe, Dakota Chalmers, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Alcala, outfielder Gilberto Celestino and infielders Nick Gordon and Travis Blankenhorn. Of the cuts, perhaps the most surprising was Lewis Thorpe. Thorpe started to gain traction as a left-handed reliever late in 2019, striking out 17 in 13.1 innings in September, but he had left camp earlier this month for personal reasons and had yet to throw in a spring game. Rocco Baldelli said that Thorpe took the news well. “He knows what we are asking him to do,” said Baldelli. “What we are asking him to do has been very well laid out for him. And now he has to go and follow through and do it. We know the ability that he has. We know that he's not (just) close to being a big leaguer. He's a guy that can pitch in the big leagues and do it well. He just has to prepare for his season and make sure he's ready once the bell rings.” Dakota Chalmers, who is returning from an elbow injury from 2019, would be stretched out at a slower pace than the rest of the pitchers. “Our view of this from the beginning was we were going to slow-build him in spring training anyway,” said Falvey of Chalmers. “We're focused more on the end of season than the beginning. I think that's true of a lot of young arms, but for him in particular, coming off the surgery and an injury, we'd rather start him slow and let him finish the season strong than start him now, get to a point in the season where you feel like you have to cut off his innings because you've run out of buildup time.” “By all accounts, he had a great camp.” Duran, Twins Daily’s number six ranked prospect for 2020, has a hard sinking fastball which can reach upwards of 99 miles per hour and struck out 136 over 115 innings split between Pensacola and Fort Myers. This spring, the Twins were working with him to smooth out some of his mechanics in hopes of achieving better command of his repertoire. Baldelli did not want to put labels on the roles of the reassigned pitchers just yet. Chalmers would have the limits in place. Others would potentially see hybrid roles. For instance, when it came to the hard-throwing Alcala, Baldelli says he could see him used in a number of ways. “It’s not always a pure start, reliever, short reliever, there are a lot of different categories these guys can fall into,” the manager said. “Alcala is going to fall into that he's-going-to-be-lengthened-out category. He may help us at this level in a number of different ways.” Gordon performed well in his second stint at Triple-A, collecting 29 doubles in just 70 games with Rochester, but injuries limited his 2019 season. The former first-round pick remains decent middle infield depth even as his once vaunted prospect status declines. Celestino, acquired from the Houston Astros in the Ryan Pressly trade, left a strong impression on the team with his athleticism in the outfield. The Twins also announced that pitcher Fernando Romero has been added to the restricted list. According to Twins’ Derek Falvey, unlike the reassignment moves, adding Romero to the restricted list simply acknowledged that the player is not currently with the team and will not be for an indefinite amount of time. Once able to join the team, Romero could face another transaction. He has remained in the Dominican Republic because of visa issues while throwing in the Twins academy in Boca Chica while exiled from the team. “We've got staff and scouts around there that are connected with him more regularly, so probably the best way to describe it is a continuation of his offseason program and a little more throwing,” Falvey said. “Obviously, he's not pitching in games and playing here, but he's prepping." The academy has similar technology to the team’s Fort Myers complex, including Trackman and Rapsodo, so the organization can continue to monitor his progress. The Twins are now down to 55 players in camp. Click here to view the article
  20. Trio of Top Prospects Most outlets, including Twins Daily, have some combination of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach as the to -three prospects in the Twins organization. All three players finished last season at Double-A which usually means a player is getting close to making his big-league debut. Of the trio, Larnach is coming off the best season as he was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. A wrinkle in that plan is the fact that none of the players are on the 40-man roster. Not like a spot couldn’t be opened for him if it was needed. Larnach is actually the oldest member of the trio and his college experience could help him to move up quickly. Kirilloff needs to be added to the 40-man roster next off-season so it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to be added at some point this season. If everything is going well for the Twins, none of their top-3 trio will debut until September or later. Pitching Options Lewis Thorpe is going to be a key contributor to the 2020 Twins roster and other pitching options have an opportunity to make their mark. Randy Dobnak already started a playoff game for the Twins but the club added multiple other playoff- caliber starters. Players in the ilk of Donbak, Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer have already gotten big-league opportunities on a 101-win team and this season could also provide opportunities on a team destined for less than 100 wins. Outside of the trio vying for the fifth starter spot, the Twins have other prospects attempting to make the roster. Sean Poppen could be a breakout candidate for the club and his stuff could be more than capable at the big-league level. Other top prospects like Jhoan Duran, Blayne Enlow, and Edwar Colina also have a shot at making an impact, but it will be tough in a loaded MLB bullpen. 40-Man Roster Options Last season, few people would have expected the impact Luis Arraez made on the big-league roster. One season later and the Twins are relying on Arraez to be a regular in the team’s batting order. Like Arraez, there are other members of the 40-man roster that could impact the 2020 version of the Twins. Travis Blakenhorn has a chance to play a significant nubber of games for the Twins and be an impact player throughout the 2020 season. That’s why this spring with Josh Donaldson is so important. He could impact Minnesota’s roster throughout Donaldson’s tenure with the club. Other prospects like Brent Rooker have a shot at impacting the team’s roster. Do you think prospects are being held back? 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
  21. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF TD Prospect Ranking: 18 Blankenhorn is an intriguing name because he has been in the Twins organization for five seasons and he’s seen his name move up and down their prospect rankings. He climbed all the way to Pensacola last season where he was almost two years younger than the average age of players at that level. His home run swing showed up in 2019 as he clubbed a career high 19 longballs with 18 coming in a Blue Wahoos jersey. While Blankenhorn isn’t necessarily a late-bloomer like Donaldson, there are things the pair could work on together. Offensively, Donaldson has basically made and remade his own swing throughout his career. Blankenhorn has been following Donaldson and working with him in the batting cage. Could he help Blankenhorn to unlock even more power potential? https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1228741178989871104?s=20 Nick Gordon, 2B/SS TD Prospect Ranking: HM Gordon has seen other players pass him by in the organization’s depth chart, but he’s still on the 40-man roster and he’s been young for every level he has played. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez will be manning the big-league infield and that puts Gordon back in Rochester where he has already played 169 games. Last season, he was limited to 70 games due to acute gastritis and a left abductor strain. He still put up strong numbers by hitting .298/.342/.459 with 29 doubles. One area where Donaldson could help Gordon is dealing with challenges. Donaldson has dealt with adversity throughout his entire life and he’s molded himself into one of baseball’s best players. Gordon grew up in a baseball family and was a first-round pick, but it is going to be a challenge for him to crack the big-league roster. Royce Lewis, SS/2B/OF TD Prospect Ranking: 1 While Lewis is still considered the Twins top prospect, the 2019 season wasn’t exactly perfect. There are questions surrounding his future defensive position and his swing has some flaws that could be fixed. Even with the concerns, he ended the year on a high not by being named the Arizona Fall League MVP. Reports out of spring training have him weighing in at 205 pounds after adding 25 pounds this off-season. Lewis might be the most important prospect for Donaldson to impact, especially since their time in Minnesota will likely overlap. Lewis might not debut in 2020, but there is a good chance Lewis will play for the Twins at some point during the life of Donaldson’s four-year deal. Donaldson has tutored Lewis and Blankenhorn on both sides of the ball and now he will have multiple years to make an impact on Minnesota’s top prospects. Which prospect will Donaldson impact the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. It also means I’m breaking a vow. A couple of years ago, I swore I would forever go through an entire spring training visit without reporting individual results of games. Why? Because by reporting on them, it lends credence to them meaning something, and they don’t. None of them. And especially not early spring training games. But I also get it: we’re hungry for baseball. So here are a few notes about the Twins 5-5 tie with the Blue Jays. Berrios looked awfully good. He gave up a lead-off hit and the next batter hit a line drive, but it went right to second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, who caught it and turned an easy double-play. After that, he got his last four outs on strikeouts, and there is plenty of excitement about Berrios’ age-25 season. If Berrios can maintain his early season success over the whole season, the sky’s the limit. Miguel Sano spent the second inning taking the extra bases available to him. He got on base with a sawed off blooper. Advanced to second base on a ground ball to left field. Tagged up and took third on a fly ball to center field. Then tagged up again on a medium fly ball to left field. He didn’t look especially fast in any of those events, but he was easily safe on all of them. I don’t think it means anything, but it’s sure fun to see. Sergio Romo looked like he got a strikeout on a changeup to a right-handed batter in his third-inning appearance. It also looked like he got a called strike on a changeup to a right-handed batter two batters later. Romo threw a changeup 16% of the time last year – the highest rates in his career – but usually that pitch would be used against opposite-sided hitters as changeups tend to move toward the pitcher’s arm side. He could be experimenting with that pitch early in camp – or I could be wrong about the pitch. Either I or someone else from Twins Daily will ask him about it later this week. Lineup Stuff My theory on getting some idea of Twins manager Rocco Baldlli’s initial thoughts regarding batting order for this game looks … um … stupid, despite what we saw last year. The Twins only started three expected regulars for their home opener and they all hit right-handed, and so they batted second, third and fourth in the lineup. There’s not a lot we can glean from that. However, that meant we got to see Josh Donaldson hitting second, which could end up being his spot during the regular season. That’s the spot Donaldson has hit most often in his career, though he spent most of last year hitting cleanup for the Braves. The Twins leadoff hitter is likely Max Kepler or Luis Arraez, both of whom hit left-handed, so batting the right-handed hitting Donaldson in that spot would protect against a manager bringing in a left-handed reliever (or an opener) to attempt to neutralize the top two spots in the order. Last year’s #2 hitter, Jorge Polanco, is a switch-hitter, but he profiles as a left-hander with the bat: he posted a .891 OPS versus right-handers last year, and just a 728 OPS versus southpaws. It’s worth noting that the Twins may not see things the same way. Twins Daily followers on Twitter didn’t. They voted Polanco over Donaldson in the second spot, 46% to 41% in our poll on Friday. (Donaldson won the third spot in the lineup on Saturday.) You can add your two cents the rest of the week by following TwinsDaily on Twitter. For what it’s worth, the other two regulars in today’s lineup were Mitch Garver hitting third and Miguel Sano hitting fourth. One could make a pretty good case that Garver could hit third for a few MLB teams, but I expect him to be much further down the lineup for the Twins – perhaps as low as seventh or eighth. That shows just how deep this lineup is, especially with right-handed hitters. Prospects Getting Featured The Twins have been showcasing their prospects in these early games. Six of their top prospects started against the Gophers on Friday night’s game. Yesterday, top prospect Royce Lewis started at shortstop and number three prospect Trevor Larnach hit cleanup versus the Pirates. Today the Twins had Ryan Jeffers leading off in front of Donaldson, Garver and Sano. No pressure, kid. There’s a lot of buzz around Jeffers at camp this year. He’s a second-round pick of the Twins in 2018. He profiled as a bat-first player who had played catcher a bit in college but wasn’t expected to stick there. But Jeffers has worked hard to improve his defense while continuing to hit, including posting an .856 OPS in a limited stint (24 games) in AA last year. Twins Daily ranked the 22-year-old as our seventh best Twins prospect this month, and with Brusdar Graterol being traded to the Dodgers, he’s currently at number six. The Twins also started another top-20 prospect, 23-year-old second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, in today’s lineup, batting seventh. We ranked Blankenhorn as the Twins’ 18th best prospect this year, but he’s been bouncing around our prospect lists for four years. Last year he showed additional power, also at AA, and though he missed a good chunk of the season with an injury, the Twins added him to the 40-man roster this fall to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Repeating his early success last year could go a long way toward re-establishing him as a top 10 prospect or even late season contributor for the Twins. He’s certainly being treated like a potential contributor with some early preseason playing time. He went 0-2 today, but drove in two runs with his efforts. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. FORT MYERS - Baseball is back, baby. Ok, it was back two days ago when the Twins faced the Gophers, but that was kind of a buzzkill. And it was back yesterday, but it was a road game two hours away, and not even the players wanted to travel that far. But today it was at – as the Hammond Stadium announcer belted out – “the southern tip of Twins Territory.” It was a home game, in Fort Myers, and the crowded concourses a full hour before first pitch validates the urge you feel right now: to hear everything about it.It also means I’m breaking a vow. A couple of years ago, I swore I would forever go through an entire spring training visit without reporting individual results of games. Why? Because by reporting on them, it lends credence to them meaning something, and they don’t. None of them. And especially not early spring training games. But I also get it: we’re hungry for baseball. So here are a few notes about the Twins 5-5 tie with the Blue Jays. Berrios looked awfully good. He gave up a lead-off hit and the next batter hit a line drive, but it went right to second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, who caught it and turned an easy double-play. After that, he got his last four outs on strikeouts, and there is plenty of excitement about Berrios’ age-25 season. If Berrios can maintain his early season success over the whole season, the sky’s the limit. Miguel Sano spent the second inning taking the extra bases available to him. He got on base with a sawed off blooper. Advanced to second base on a ground ball to left field. Tagged up and took third on a fly ball to center field. Then tagged up again on a medium fly ball to left field. He didn’t look especially fast in any of those events, but he was easily safe on all of them. I don’t think it means anything, but it’s sure fun to see. Sergio Romo looked like he got a strikeout on a changeup to a right-handed batter in his third-inning appearance. It also looked like he got a called strike on a changeup to a right-handed batter two batters later. Romo threw a changeup 16% of the time last year – the highest rates in his career – but usually that pitch would be used against opposite-sided hitters as changeups tend to move toward the pitcher’s arm side. He could be experimenting with that pitch early in camp – or I could be wrong about the pitch. Either I or someone else from Twins Daily will ask him about it later this week. Lineup Stuff My theory on getting some idea of Twins manager Rocco Baldlli’s initial thoughts regarding batting order for this game looks … um … stupid, despite what we saw last year. The Twins only started three expected regulars for their home opener and they all hit right-handed, and so they batted second, third and fourth in the lineup. There’s not a lot we can glean from that. However, that meant we got to see Josh Donaldson hitting second, which could end up being his spot during the regular season. That’s the spot Donaldson has hit most often in his career, though he spent most of last year hitting cleanup for the Braves. The Twins leadoff hitter is likely Max Kepler or Luis Arraez, both of whom hit left-handed, so batting the right-handed hitting Donaldson in that spot would protect against a manager bringing in a left-handed reliever (or an opener) to attempt to neutralize the top two spots in the order. Last year’s #2 hitter, Jorge Polanco, is a switch-hitter, but he profiles as a left-hander with the bat: he posted a .891 OPS versus right-handers last year, and just a 728 OPS versus southpaws. It’s worth noting that the Twins may not see things the same way. Twins Daily followers on Twitter didn’t. They voted Polanco over Donaldson in the second spot, 46% to 41% in our poll on Friday. (Donaldson won the third spot in the lineup on Saturday.) You can add your two cents the rest of the week by following TwinsDaily on Twitter. For what it’s worth, the other two regulars in today’s lineup were Mitch Garver hitting third and Miguel Sano hitting fourth. One could make a pretty good case that Garver could hit third for a few MLB teams, but I expect him to be much further down the lineup for the Twins – perhaps as low as seventh or eighth. That shows just how deep this lineup is, especially with right-handed hitters. Prospects Getting Featured The Twins have been showcasing their prospects in these early games. Six of their top prospects started against the Gophers on Friday night’s game. Yesterday, top prospect Royce Lewis started at shortstop and number three prospect Trevor Larnach hit cleanup versus the Pirates. Today the Twins had Ryan Jeffers leading off in front of Donaldson, Garver and Sano. No pressure, kid. There’s a lot of buzz around Jeffers at camp this year. He’s a second-round pick of the Twins in 2018. He profiled as a bat-first player who had played catcher a bit in college but wasn’t expected to stick there. But Jeffers has worked hard to improve his defense while continuing to hit, including posting an .856 OPS in a limited stint (24 games) in AA last year. Twins Daily ranked the 22-year-old as our seventh best Twins prospect this month, and with Brusdar Graterol being traded to the Dodgers, he’s currently at number six. The Twins also started another top-20 prospect, 23-year-old second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, in today’s lineup, batting seventh. We ranked Blankenhorn as the Twins’ 18th best prospect this year, but he’s been bouncing around our prospect lists for four years. Last year he showed additional power, also at AA, and though he missed a good chunk of the season with an injury, the Twins added him to the 40-man roster this fall to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Repeating his early success last year could go a long way toward re-establishing him as a top 10 prospect or even late season contributor for the Twins. He’s certainly being treated like a potential contributor with some early preseason playing time. He went 0-2 today, but drove in two runs with his efforts. 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
  24. Find more on these five Minnesota Twins prospects and much more in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It’s available in paperback and as an ebook. 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B Age: 21 (DOB 6/29/1998) 2019 Stats (A+/AA): 483 PA, .252/.302/.369 (.671 OPS), 8 HR, 11.2 K%, 5.0 BB% 2019 Ranking: 20 We start this year’s list the exact same way we did in 2019. Miranda’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but keep in mind he still slugged better than the Florida State League average (.353) and was young for the level. He faced pitchers who were older than him in over 96 percent of his plate appearances last season. Miranda reached Pensacola to end the year. He played one regular season game, then hit .368/.429/.526 (.955) over five postseason games for the Blue Wahoos. That continued a trend, as Miranda has hit .350/.429/.583 (1.012 OPS) in 16 career playoff games. Once again, Miranda posted an insanely low strikeout rate. His 11.2 K% ranked 23rd among the 686 minor leaguers to log 400 plate appearances last season (inside the top four percent). He also mashed lefties, hitting .303/.330/.506 (.835 OPS), and continued to work on his defensive versatility. Sometimes the biggest thing that needs to happen for a player’s power to emerge is simply to get the heck out of Fort Myers. The guy at No. 18 on this list is a great example of just that ... 19. Cole Sands, RHP Age: 22 (DOB 7/17/1997) 2019 Stats (A/A+/AA): 97 1/3 IP, 2.68 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 28.2 K%, 5.0 BB% 2019 Ranking: NR The Twins drafted Sands in 2018, but he didn’t make his professional debut until this past season. He opened the year with Cedar Rapids and immediately outmatched Midwest League hitters. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1114718482913005568 Sands made eight starts for the Kernels, nine for Fort Myers, then closed out the season by making his Double-A debut in the second leg of a doubleheader for Pensacola. I’d say that’s quite a busy first year on the job. Among the 667 minor league pitchers to log at least 80 innings in 2019, Sands’ 2.45 FIP ranked eighth. He did an incredible job of racking up strikeouts while limiting his walks, posting a K:BB ratio of 5.68. Another positive development was that Sands increased his workload from 75 1/3 innings at Florida State in 2018 to 97 1/3 innings this past season. 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF Age: 23 (DOB 8/3/1996) 2019 Stats (A+/AA): 471 PA, .277/.321/.466 (.787 OPS), 19 HR, 22.3 K%, 5.7BB% 2019 Ranking: NR Blankenhorn slipped off our list and onto the honorable mentions last year, but was No. 17 on the Twins Daily 2018 list and No. 9 on the 2017 list. He opened 2019 back in Fort Myers, but was headed up the coast after just 15 games with the Miracle. Despite facing tougher pitchers, the move to Pensacola did wonders for Blankenhorn’s power production. After hitting 12 home runs in 139 total games for the Miracle, Blankenhorn needed just 49 games to reach a dozen bombas for the Blue Wahoos. He hit .298/.337/.521 (.857 OPS) in his first 70 Double-A games, but suffered an injury in mid-July and slumped upon his return. Blankenhorn also continued to display his athleticism in 2019. He spent most of his time at second base (70 starts), but played more outfield than he had in previous seasons, and had three outfield assists in just 24 starts in left field. He was also a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts. The Twins added Blankenhorn to the 40-man roster this offseason, so expect him to get plenty of looks during spring training. 17. Misael Urbina, OF Age: 17 (DOB 4/26/2002) 2019 Stats (FRk): 217 PA, .279/.382/.443 (.825 OPS), 2 HR, 6.5 K%, 10.6 BB% 2019 Ranking: NR This guy has a chance to be the Twins’ No. 1 prospect a few years from now. Urbina’s speed and overall athleticism were hyped when the Twins signed him to a $2.75 million bonus, but the Venezuelan dynamo also proved he can control his plate appearances in. Urbina’s 6.5 K% was the fourth lowest among the 343 hitters who logged at least 170 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League. He paired that with a strong 10.6 BB%. He also slugged nearly 100 points better than the DSL average and stole 19 bases in 50 games, oh, by the way. DSL stats aren’t particularly sticky. Taking a look back at prior years you’ll find quite a few guys who shine and then fizzle once they reach full-season ball. Still, Urbina’s tools, pedigree and now performance makes for a tantalizing player to pin dreams on. 16. Edwar Colina, RHP Age: 22 (DOB 5/3/1997) 2019 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 97 1/3 IP, 2.96 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 25.4 K%, 8.0 BB% 2019 Ranking: NR Colina’s talent was on full display throughout July, where gave up just two earned runs in 31 2/3 innings (0.57 ERA) and struck out 36 batters. He was named Twins Daily’s Minor League Pitcher of the Month for that performance. Colina made 10 starts for Fort Myers and four more for Pensacola. In those outings, he pitched to a 2.29 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and struck out 89 batters in 82 2/3 innings. His overall numbers were dragged down a bit by five relief outings that didn’t go nearly as well. The product of Venezuela has always had a knack for keeping the ball in the yard, and tied Cole Sands for the lowest HR/9 in the system (minimum 90 innings). Both of them surrendered just four homers in 97 1/3 innings pitched. Over his entire minor league career, Colina has given up a grand total of just 16 home runs in 324 2/3 innings pitched. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions Stop by tomorrow for prospects 11-15 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. The Minnesota Twins set the major league single-season record for home runs by a team in 2019. They earned the nickname “Bomba Squad,” and were propelled by big time bats like Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz. Rocco Badelli’s club bashed their way into the Postseason, but there was one guy who broke the mold. Enter Luis Arraez.At 22-years-old Arraez had played in 329 minor league games. He was not a top 100 prospect, and though he appeared on the fringes of all top Twins lists, his game was focused heavily around a single skill. His ability to hit for average by combining strong pitch recognition with impeccable plate discipline had pushed his career slash line to .331/.385/.414. Starting the year at Double-A Pensacola, he made a three-game pit stop in Rochester and then it happened. In the early morning hours of May 17, Mariana Guzman of Twins Latinos reported that Arraez was on his way to the big leagues. He quickly proved that his strong bat to ball skills would work at the big-league level and began a full court campaign on taking over the starting second base role for Minnesota. Expecting anyone else to jump from nondescript prospect to the second coming of Tony Gwynn in 2020 is lofty at best, but we can take a stab at a similar success story. Given the depth employed by Minnesota on the farm, projecting another emergence isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. If there’s a player positioned to fulfill the role however, it’s Travis Blankenhorn in my eyes. A third-round pick back in 2015, Blankenhorn was grabbed out of Pottsville High School. He’s now 23-years-old and coming off a strong Double-A debut. After posting an .850 OPS in his second pro season, he trended downwards at both Low and High-A the next two seasons. Reaching Pensacola, he re-established himself and earned a spot on the 40-man roster this winter. Blankenhorn couldn’t be more different from Arraez when comparing skillsets. He’s got some swing and miss to his profile and the .325 on-base percentage across 462 games isn’t earth-shattering by any means. He’s clubbed 56 career dingers, 19 of which came last season. The pop should play at multiple positions, and that’s where a good deal of his value lies. After splitting time between second and third to start his career, he ventured to the outfield a good amount last season. This isn’t a super utility player, but he’s not going to be stretched by moving around the diamond. When trying to nail down someone that looks the part of an unexpected riser, something that would seemingly need to be present is opportunity. The path created by a 40-man roster spot blazes that trail, and the flames are fanned by the prospect of additional utility. Given the 26th spot on 2020 major league rosters, and the fringe utility types that the Twins may employ, Blankenhorn represents a strong backup plan. It was Jonathan Schoop and Ehire Adrianza that presented holes for Arraez to fill last season, and the latter could once again offer up an opening. The largest wrench in any sort of continued steam for Blankenhorn would be his strikeout rate. After a .343 OBP at Cedar Rapids two seasons ago, he’s posted a .299 mark at Fort Myers and just a .312 tally in Pensacola. The power is nice to see, but his promotion will come on the back of an expectation that he can hold his own against big league pitching. If that takes another step forward, and the defensive utility remains strong, then the only thing holding him back should be playing time. Andrew Vasquez was the first selection from the 2015 draft to make the majors, and LaMonte Wade Jr joined him last season. Jaylin Davis debuted for the San Francisco Giants, but it’s Blankenhorn that could be the first (maybe only) top five selection to accomplish that feat. He’s a name to watch in the year ahead, and another Arraez-type breakthrough would certainly be a great development in Twins Territory. 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
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