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  1. Ahead of Monday's deadline, the Minnesota Twins announced they won't be tendering a contract to first baseman C.J. Cron, who was the biggest question mark among their group eligible for arbitration. Reliever Trevor Hildenberger is also out. The remaining nine arbitration-eligible players are all slated to return (barring trades), including utilityman Ehire Adrianza, who agreed to a one-year, $1.6 million contract.Cron, who was projected to earn around $7.5 million next year via his final turn at arbitration, was always a dubious bet to be locked in at that rate, despite the solid production in his first year with the Twins. His fate seemingly became sealed in recent weeks, with GM Thad Levine noting that the 29-year-old's postseason wrist surgery was "significant." Minnesota still has the option of bringing back Cron at a lower rate, and they may very well explore it, but for now, a wealth of possibilities open up. Among them: shifting Miguel Sano to first base and adding a new third baseman (or going with Marwin Gonzalez at one of those spots). Meanwhile, the decision to non-tender Hildenberger falls into a different category. He wasn't eligible for arbitration, but the Twins elected not to tender him a 2020 contract, thus making him a free agent and clearing his spot on the 40-man roster. Like with Cron, the Twins have the option of pursuing Hildenberger on the open market (and I personally hope they do). The rest of the arbitration-eligible pack was tendered, including: Trevor May, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Taylor Rogers, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey, Matt Wisler, and Ehire Adrianza. The latter, Adrianza, inked a one-year deal worth $1.6 million – a modest $300K raise for a versatile player coming off his best offensive season. We'll now have to wait and see how salaries shake out for those other players, who can exchange numbers with the club up until the January 10th submission deadline. Usually teams and players find middle ground smoothly (we estimated where those figures might land in the Offseason Handbook), but differences in perceived value can emerge and cause friction. I've suggested this may happen with the Twins and Rosario. We'll see. Intriguing non-tenders from elsewhere around the league include A's reliever Blake Treinen and D-backs starter Taijuan Walker. With Cron and Hildenberger removed, the Twins now have five open spots on the 40-man roster. Click here to view the article
  2. Cron, who was projected to earn around $7.5 million next year via his final turn at arbitration, was always a dubious bet to be locked in at that rate, despite the solid production in his first year with the Twins. His fate seemingly became sealed in recent weeks, with GM Thad Levine noting that the 29-year-old's postseason wrist surgery was "significant." https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1201652308079067138 Minnesota still has the option of bringing back Cron at a lower rate, and they may very well explore it, but for now, a wealth of possibilities open up. Among them: shifting Miguel Sano to first base and adding a new third baseman (or going with Marwin Gonzalez at one of those spots). Meanwhile, the decision to non-tender Hildenberger falls into a different category. He wasn't eligible for arbitration, but the Twins elected not to tender him a 2020 contract, thus making him a free agent and clearing his spot on the 40-man roster. Like with Cron, the Twins have the option of pursuing Hildenberger on the open market (and I personally hope they do). The rest of the arbitration-eligible pack was tendered, including: Trevor May, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Taylor Rogers, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey, Matt Wisler, and Ehire Adrianza. The latter, Adrianza, inked a one-year deal worth $1.6 million – a modest $300K raise for a versatile player coming off his best offensive season. We'll now have to wait and see how salaries shake out for those other players, who can exchange numbers with the club up until the January 10th submission deadline. Usually teams and players find middle ground smoothly (we estimated where those figures might land in the Offseason Handbook), but differences in perceived value can emerge and cause friction. I've suggested this may happen with the Twins and Rosario. We'll see. Intriguing non-tenders from elsewhere around the league include A's reliever Blake Treinen and D-backs starter Taijuan Walker. With Cron and Hildenberger removed, the Twins now have five open spots on the 40-man roster.
  3. Now, this is where I must admit that I am heavily biased towards pitchers that throw sidearm/submarine. I love the somewhat goofy dichotomy between the ultra serious hitter and the dude on the mound scraping his knuckles on the ground in order to be as effective as possible. Plus, it seems like they all have cool names (Darren O’ Day, Chad Bradford, Dan Quisenberry, you get the idea). So in 2017 when this fresh faced reliever named “Trevor Hildenberger: gets called up and does this to his very first batter: https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1195053143567912960 You can bet that I am now fully invested in his future at the big league level. Hildenberger was astounding in 2017, rarely do you ever see a reliever with an elite groundball rate (58.8%) and great peripherals also (2.92 xFIP). Hildenberger was in the top 15 for relievers with at least 40 innings pitched in 2017 for both of those stats respectively and it seemed like the Twins had a future elite reliever. 2018 started in a similar way for Hildenberger as he held a 2.06 ERA in late June and had only allowed more than one run in a single outing just once. That is, until the game from hell on June 30th. Recall, if you will, the series against the Cubs in 2018 where Willians Astudillo made his major league debut, every game ended up in a shootout, and players dropped so much due to the heat that the ending outfield was Logan Morrison-Willians Astudillo-Robbie Grossman. Beyond that butcher of a defense was a nightmare outing for Hildenberger in which he walked four batters, gave up four hits, allowed five earned runs, and only got one out. His ERA on the season shot up from that 2.06 mark to 3.18 and he hasn’t been the same pitcher since. It would be dramatic for me to imply that a single outing was the turning point in a career but perhaps the outing was more of a symbolic pivot in which the Cubs became the first team to make it apparent that Hildenberger was beatable. The numbers are incredibly eye-opening as in 81 ⅓ major league innings before the outing his ERA/FIP/xFIP slashline was 2.66/3.44/3.26 and his groundball rate was 54.5%. Starting with that outing through his most recent appearance on September 21st in 2019 his slashline becomes 9.72/5.12/4.41 with a groundball rate of just 40.9% over 50 innings. I think I speak for most Twins fans when I ask; “what the hell happened”? The first thing to look at is his pitch mix which is a fairly standard sinker, slider, and changeup combo with the occasional over-the-top four-seam fastball to keep hitters on their toes. His slider has never been that good by pVAL (pitch value) but his sinker/changeup combo was what allowed him to be dominant to start his career which leads me to believe that somehow that combo has gotten worse. His changeup pVAL was still elite in 2018 but his fastball quality went into the toilet despite gaining a small tick of velocity. Why could this be? Well, let’s take a gander at some heatmaps and oh: There’s a significant shift more towards the outside of the plate vs righties and inside vs lefties. The general stereotype is that lefties love it down and in and perhaps throwing more outside to righties allows them to get extended and hit the ball harder than when he was going in earlier in his career. Granted, this may not be “the” thing but it certainly is “a” thing, pitching is more complicated than just a single pitch losing its location. No matter what, Hildenberger does not have much room for error if he wants to continue his major league career. He’ll likely start the year at AAA and be one of the first arms called upon when the inevitable bullpen shuffle occurs but any success is far from guaranteed and all anyone can hope for is that the Trevor Hildenberger of old is still somewhere in there.
  4. Countless different pitchers throughout the years have proven that there are many ways to get a hitter out. Not everyone can be Gerrit Cole in the way that he just obliterates batters with a bazooka fastball. For Trevor Hildenberger, it seemed that he found a shtick that could work in the majors until suddenly, its effectiveness ended.Now, this is where I must admit that I am heavily biased towards pitchers that throw sidearm/submarine. I love the somewhat goofy dichotomy between the ultra serious hitter and the dude on the mound scraping his knuckles on the ground in order to be as effective as possible. Plus, it seems like they all have cool names (Darren O’ Day, Chad Bradford, Dan Quisenberry, you get the idea). So in 2017 when this fresh faced reliever named “Trevor Hildenberger: gets called up and does this to his very first batter: You can bet that I am now fully invested in his future at the big league level. Hildenberger was astounding in 2017, rarely do you ever see a reliever with an elite groundball rate (58.8%) and great peripherals also (2.92 xFIP). Hildenberger was in the top 15 for relievers with at least 40 innings pitched in 2017 for both of those stats respectively and it seemed like the Twins had a future elite reliever. 2018 started in a similar way for Hildenberger as he held a 2.06 ERA in late June and had only allowed more than one run in a single outing just once. That is, until the game from hell on June 30th. Recall, if you will, the series against the Cubs in 2018 where Willians Astudillo made his major league debut, every game ended up in a shootout, and players dropped so much due to the heat that the ending outfield was Logan Morrison-Willians Astudillo-Robbie Grossman. Beyond that butcher of a defense was a nightmare outing for Hildenberger in which he walked four batters, gave up four hits, allowed five earned runs, and only got one out. His ERA on the season shot up from that 2.06 mark to 3.18 and he hasn’t been the same pitcher since. It would be dramatic for me to imply that a single outing was the turning point in a career but perhaps the outing was more of a symbolic pivot in which the Cubs became the first team to make it apparent that Hildenberger was beatable. The numbers are incredibly eye-opening as in 81 ⅓ major league innings before the outing his ERA/FIP/xFIP slashline was 2.66/3.44/3.26 and his groundball rate was 54.5%. Starting with that outing through his most recent appearance on September 21st in 2019 his slashline becomes 9.72/5.12/4.41 with a groundball rate of just 40.9% over 50 innings. I think I speak for most Twins fans when I ask; “what the hell happened”? The first thing to look at is his pitch mix which is a fairly standard sinker, slider, and changeup combo with the occasional over-the-top four-seam fastball to keep hitters on their toes. His slider has never been that good by pVAL (pitch value) but his sinker/changeup combo was what allowed him to be dominant to start his career which leads me to believe that somehow that combo has gotten worse. His changeup pVAL was still elite in 2018 but his fastball quality went into the toilet despite gaining a small tick of velocity. Why could this be? Well, let’s take a gander at some heatmaps and oh: There’s a significant shift more towards the outside of the plate vs righties and inside vs lefties. The general stereotype is that lefties love it down and in and perhaps throwing more outside to righties allows them to get extended and hit the ball harder than when he was going in earlier in his career. Granted, this may not be “the” thing but it certainly is “a” thing, pitching is more complicated than just a single pitch losing its location. No matter what, Hildenberger does not have much room for error if he wants to continue his major league career. He’ll likely start the year at AAA and be one of the first arms called upon when the inevitable bullpen shuffle occurs but any success is far from guaranteed and all anyone can hope for is that the Trevor Hildenberger of old is still somewhere in there. Click here to view the article
  5. With Cleveland losing to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Minnesota Twins looked to do their part in lowering the magic number in game three of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals. Jose Berrios was on the bump for Minnesota, looking to pitch his third straight great game. Things didn’t go as well as Berrios and the Twins would have hoped as he gave up five runs in six innings and Taylor Rogers and the Twins bullpen imploded in the ninth inning, turning a tied game into a seven-run deficit.Box Score Berrios: 6IP, 8H, 5 ER, 1BB, 5K, 68% strikes (66 of 97 pitches) Bullpen: 3IP, 8H, 7ER,2 BB, 2K Home Runs: Wade Jr. (2) Multi-Hit Games: Wade Jr. (2-for-3 HR, 3B, BB), Arraez (2-for-5, 2B), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Rogers (-0.43), Berrios (-0.24), Rosario (-0.14) Kansas City Strikes First In the top of the second inning, with one out, Jose Berrios hit Alex Gordon in the foot. After a bloop single, Ryan O’Hearn doubled, scoring Gordon. Meibrys Viloria then hit a shallow fly ball to Eddie Rosario and Ryan McBroom tagged from third. Rosario’s throw was slightly off-line, but appeared good enough to get McBroom. However, after reaching across to tag McBroom the ball popped out of the webbing of Jason Castro’s mitt when it hit the ground. Berrios was able to strike out Brett Phillips and keep the score at 2-0. Rookies Spark the Offense, Man With Dick Bremer lamenting about how many first pitch fastballs Twins hitters were taking, LaMonte Wade Jr. came up in the bottom of the third and turned on the first pitch Glenn Sparkman had to offer. 416 feet later Kansas City’s lead was cut to one. The home run was the second of Wade Jr.’s young Twins MLB career. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  6. Box Score Berrios: 6IP, 8H, 5 ER, 1BB, 5K, 68% strikes (66 of 97 pitches) Bullpen: 3IP, 8H, 7ER,2 BB, 2K Home Runs: Wade Jr. (2) Multi-Hit Games: Wade Jr. (2-for-3 HR, 3B, BB), Arraez (2-for-5, 2B), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Rogers (-0.43), Berrios (-0.24), Rosario (-0.14) Kansas City Strikes First In the top of the second inning, with one out, Jose Berrios hit Alex Gordon in the foot. After a bloop single, Ryan O’Hearn doubled, scoring Gordon. Meibrys Viloria then hit a shallow fly ball to Eddie Rosario and Ryan McBroom tagged from third. Rosario’s throw was slightly off-line, but appeared good enough to get McBroom. However, after reaching across to tag McBroom the ball popped out of the webbing of Jason Castro’s mitt when it hit the ground. Berrios was able to strike out Brett Phillips and keep the score at 2-0. Rookies Spark the Offense, Man With Dick Bremer lamenting about how many first pitch fastballs Twins hitters were taking, LaMonte Wade Jr. came up in the bottom of the third and turned on the first pitch Glenn Sparkman had to offer. 416 feet later Kansas City’s lead was cut to one. The home run was the second of Wade Jr.’s young Twins MLB career. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175560833054588928 Broadcaster Latroy Hawkins claimed that he joked with Wade Jr. before the game that he hit like Reggie Jackson in batting practice, but like Michael Jackson in games. It appears that Wade Jr. took Hawkins' words to heart. In his next at-bat, Wade Jr. led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple. Luis Arraez followed Wade Jr.’s triple with his second hit of the game, a hustle double that scored Wade Jr. to tie the game. With the rookies doing their job, the anti-rookie, Nelson Cruz stepped up and singled in Arraez for his team-leading 104th RBI. That marked the end of the day for Sparkman. With runners on first and second and no outs, Eddie Rosario stepped up to the plate and did the most Eddie thing possible – he immediately popped out on the first pitch. But luckily for Minnesota Miguel Sano stepped up and singled in Jorge Polanco (who had earlier walked) to put the Twins up 4 – 2. Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi was kind enough to gift Minnesota another run by botching a Willians Astudillo groundball, allowing Nelson Cruz to come home and put the Twins momentarily ahead. Berrios stumbles, Royals Strike Back Things were looking good going into the sixth and Jose Berrios was able to induce a double play after allowing the first two Kansas City hitters of the inning to single. With a runner on third and two outs, McBroom singled to bring the score to 5 -3. The next batter, the other Ryan, took a Berrios’ changeup for a ride, tying the game up. Berrios was able to finish out the inning, but it marked the end of the day for Berrios. Rogers, Hildenberger Falter Both Kansas City and Minnesota got great efforts from their bullpens after Sparkman and Berrios left the game. However, after Tyler Duffy and Serio Romo went six up, six down in the seventh and eighth innings, Taylor Rogers struggled mightily in the ninth. Rogers managed to get only one out, giving up three hits, the most damaging one a two-run dinger coming off the bat of pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert. It’s worth mentioning that it is the fourth time in the last six games that Rogers has pitched (although he hadn’t thrown more than 14 pitches in any of the appearances). Trevor Hildenberger relieved Rogers and the wheels really fell off. Hildenberger faced six batters and failed to record an out. It doesn’t get much uglier than that. By the time the top of the ninth finally ended the Twins were down 12 – 5 and the game had been lost. Jorge Alcala Debuts If you bothered to stick around after the meltdown, you were rewarded by getting to see Jorge Alcala make his MLB debut (and see a seemingly never ending, nearly 50-minute(!) top of the ninth). He came into the game with the bases loaded and one out and gave up a single that Marwin Gonzalez had a chance to catch but didn’t. His four-seam fastball topped out at 95. He would go on to walk in another run but finally ended the inning by retiring two Royals batters. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175607269620211712 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  7. Reliability Machine During parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Hildenberger was one of Minnesota’s most reliable relievers. Paul Molitor relied on him heavily during the team’s run to the 2017 AL Wild Card Game. He didn’t debut until the end of June and he went on to post a 3.21 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP including eight games finished and a save. He seemed like he could be a vital part of a Twins team looking to rebound after multiple rough seasons in a row. Hildenberger continued to be reliable to start the 2018 campaign as he compiled a 3.33 ERA with a 1.13 ERA in the first half. His month of May was terrific as he limited opponents to three earned runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA) with 12 strikeouts and two walks. He was continuing to be used in late inning situations while racking up holds on a team trying to get back to the playoffs. From there, something changed with Mr. Hildenberger. Reliable No More There were some bumps in the road during the second half including a four-game stretch during the beginning of August where he allowed nine earned runs. Overall in the second half, he allowed 27 earned runs across 27 innings with a 1.82 WHIP. There were blown leads and blown saves, but Molitor continued to use Hildenberger in late inning situations. Even with the late-season struggles, Hildenberger was expected to be a bullpen option under new manager Rocco Baldelli. He struggled through the early months of the season as he posted an 8.36 ERA across 19 games (14 innings). Eventually, he ended up being demoted and then spent a couple months on the IL with a flexor mass strain. The injury might have been the result of working through some mechanical changes. For a pitcher trying to get back to the big leagues, his injury might have been a blessing in disguise. Journey Back Hildenberger worked with Rochester’s pitching coach Mike McCarthy to tweak his delivery, because he was flying open too early and the results, as described above, were not great. With his unique side-armed delivery, Hildenberger provides two versions of himself, a very good pitcher with control and deception or a pitcher struggling with command and location. To return to his role as a very good pitcher, his journey back started in the GCL with a couple appearances against lower level competition as he tried to get a feel back for his pitches. He pitched four innings over three games and allowed one earned run on four hits. From there, he headed back to Rochester where he started to look more like the player he was in 2017. Since coming off the injured list on August 20, albeit in a small sample size, he didn’t allow any runs and he pitched more than one inning in five of six appearances. He added six strikeouts and issued only one walk. Hildenberger earned a save, a win, and pitched in the late innings of all, but one of his appearances. Manager Rocco Baldelli told the Pioneer Press, Hildenberger has “been a good major league reliever in the past. It’s in there and we know it’s in there. We just have to find a way to bring it out.” Minnesota might find a way to bring it out of Hildenberger in September and this could make him a potential wild card for Minnesota’s postseason bullpen.
  8. There’s been no larger point of contention for the Minnesota Twins in 2019 than the bullpen. While the starting rotation has dealt with ebbs and flows, it was the relief corps that constantly faced criticism. After acquiring Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson at the deadline, the group improved. Brusdar Graterol has now debuted, and both Trevor May and Tyler Duffey have stepped up. It’s a September call up that could be among the most beneficial though. Midway through the summer of 2018 Paul Molitor’s best and most trusted relief arm was Trevor Hildenberger. The side-armer owned a 2.80 ERA and .661 OPS against through his first 42 appearances a season ago. Unfortunately, those came in the Twins first 79 games. By all measures, Molitor had run him into the ground, and things went drastically off the tracks from there. Hildenberger blew his first save on July 15 last year. He made 31 appearances from that point forward totaling a 9.64 ERA and 9.95 OPS against. Opposing batters teed off on his pitches and it carried over to the 2019 season. Starting the year in Rocco Baldelli’s pen, Trevor owned an 8.36 ERA through 14.0 IP before being optioned to Triple-A Rochester. The ineffectiveness continued there, and he was eventually put on the shelf. Fast forward a few months and back to full health, Minnesota’s former high leverage on was on the track back to the bigs. Across eight post IL appearances (12.1 IP), Hildenberger owned a 0.73 ERA and .315 OPS against. He struck out ten batters and walked one while giving up just a single run on six hits. That’s obviously an incredibly small sample size, and almost half of that work came in the Gulf Coast League, but if we want encouraging signs then this is it. There’s a lot we don’t yet know, and Baldelli doesn’t have much runway to figure things out. We can assume that Hildenberger will get something less than 15 innings the rest of the way to prove his value. What we do know is that this is a guy who has gotten it done for the Twins in the biggest of spots previously. Adding that type of arm to a Postseason run could be something substantial, and completely out of the question even a month ago. With a lineup as good as Minnesota has, they’ll never find themselves out of a game. Now having significant options on the mound, they also find themselves in a much better position to make a run into October that had some serious uncertainties prior to the trade deadline. Adding pieces from outside of the organization was always going to happen. Arms emerging from within, and especially those who have previously shown a strong ability, is a testament to hard work and internal development. If Hildenberger is truly back for Minnesota, that’s something everyone can get on board with. For more from . Follow @tlschwerz
  9. Over the course of the season Minnesota has used the fringes of its roster as a revolving door to a certain extent. The rotation has utilized a taxi squad for both length and bullpen help, while the final bench spot has rotated with players offering positional flexibility as starting talents have needed time off. There are both avenues for reward and merit-based promotions here and I imagine it would behoove the Twins to capitalize on all of them. Let’s look at some of the groupings. Taxi Squad (5): Devin Smeltzer, Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, Sean Poppen Cody Stashak and Randy Dobnak both find themselves a part of this group as well but are currently on the 25-man roster. This collection of arms has been utilized to be used at a moment's notice for the Twins this season. Whether making spot starts, pitching mop up, or keeping games close in the middle innings, these guys have provided immeasurable value to Minnesota during the 2019 season. The trio of Thorpe, Smeltzer, and Littell have all operated in some very high leverage spots thus far and could be counted on down the stretch. Stewart and Poppen have been more product of circumstance, but there’s no reason for the front office not to reward these guys. A month of big league pay as well as some additional development could go a long way toward growth and future development. Retreads (5): Ryne Harper, Trevor Hildenberger, Fernando Romero, Willians Astudillo, LaMonte Wade Don’t get this twisted, retread is hardly a negative definition here. This trio is a group of guys who have been on the big-league roster, have been optioned out, and their future status remains in flux. Harper obviously offered the most to the major league team this season. His Bugs Bunny curveballs were a thing of beauty until they weren’t. Having a book on him now, he needs to find a way to keep opposing batters off balance. Sent to Triple-A after struggling for months and owning options, it made sense, but he should get the opportunity to wrap up 2019 with in the big leagues. Pairing Hildenberger and Romero is an interesting case study. One is a former stud that wore down, and the other was expected to take a leap that never came. Now healthy, Hildenberger has been lights out since his activation from the IL, and a return to form would give the Twins an arm that has pitched in some very big spots the past couple of seasons. Romero hasn’t been as expected, and we’re still as confused as ever considering what he could provide, but letting him get some low leverage work and try to finish the year on a high note makes some sense. As the first position player here Willians Astudillo will return, to the delight of Twins fans. He’s a character and energizer bunny, but Minnesota will need more in terms of production. It’s great that he doesn’t strike out, but a heightened ability in the box needs to come in the form of commanding the zone, not just covering it. If he can take more of a Luis Arraez approach and rein in his swing to pitches he can do something with, the Twins will have two of the better contact hitters in the game. Wade isn’t much of a retread given he played in just two games before hitting the shelf. A 60-day IL move would open a spot, or he could be activated despite the short runway back to game action. Fresh Faces (2): Brusdar Graterol, Jorge Alcala Easily the two biggest names tied to potential promotion are two of the Twins' top prospects. Graterol is a top-100 pitcher that’s expected to be a difference maker in the rotation. There’s some uncertainty about how good he’d be there, and he’ll have a chance to flash his relief arm in 2019. A triple-digit fastball is going to play, and if he can miss bats while keeping hitters off balance, you can assume he’ll make a difference in the postseason. The prized part of the return in the Ryan Pressly trade, Alcala too is a fireballer who can pump the cheddar. He’s as much an uncertainty for the rotation as Graterol (if not more) but has looked great since switching to the pen at the end of July. Both guys need 40-man spots, and with just one opening, some roster shuffling will need to take place. Needing a Spot (5): Jake Reed, Zander Wiel, Wilin Rosario, Alejandro De Aza, Ian Miller Only Reed here is a former top prospect. Drafted out of Oregon with the intention of getting to the big leagues in short order, though the fiery fastball and clean bill of health have escaped him at times. He warranted a look last season but was passed over. This year the numbers are much worse, but he’s incorporated a new arm slot and has dealt with the Triple-A baseball as well. Subject again to being lost this offseason, it may be a final opportunity to see what’s there. Wiel has been the pride of a Rochester team that employed bigger names. The former Vanderbilt star has 29 doubles in 121 games while owning an .838 OPS. Twenty-two homers show off his power, and while there’re plenty of strikeouts he’s pushed for an opportunity. The trio left over is an interesting bunch. Rosario is essentially a DH and hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old owns an .858 OPS at Triple-A though, and his 19 dingers are bolstered by a .306 avg. De Aza was a late season depth acquisition and he’s done his part with a .994 OPS in 29 games. Miller represents Minnesota’s version of Terrence Gore. He hasn’t played in an MLB game, but the 27-year-old has stolen 34 bases in 119 Triple-A games this year. All these guys would need a 40-man spot. On the Mend (3): Stephen Gonsalves, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker Had the season gone, or ended, differently for any of this trio they could’ve found themselves in a different category. Gonsalves just recently got back on the mound and has only 12 IP in 2019. He’s at Double-A right now but has worked for Minnesota previously and did come out of the pen. Nick Gordon had a strong year two at Triple-A, following a path he’s repeated most of his pro career. He’s been on the shelf since early August after taking a pitch to the knee, so his season could be over. Rooker recently returned to action and was rehabbing at the GCL. With that season done though he’ll need game action elsewhere. A 1.036 OPS in 41 G from June 1 through his injury, along with a .933 OPS in 65 total games with Rochester, it appeared he was ready for more. Two of three in this section have current 40-man spots, and their inclusion or exclusion from the active roster could swing plenty of decisions. Gordon and Gonsalves could be placed on the 60-day IL (with service time implications) to free up openings. Rooker would need an avenue to inclusion on the 40-man for the first time in his career. If we’ve done the math correctly, there’s a total of 20 names that are potentially in play for the Minnesota Twins to use on the 40-man active roster in a couple of days. No matter how aggressive the club wants to be, the maximum number of additions would be 15. Of those 20, eight need a spot on the 40-man roster that currently sits at 39 occupants. If this exercise shows us anything, it’s that there’s a good amount of opportunity, but still a large number of mouths to feed. Being a better man, I’d put the O/U on Twins call ups at 5.5 and take the over without thinking twice. Rochester’s season ends Monday September 2, so we probably won’t have complete clarity until that point. I’d bet the Twins mix in a good number of bodies to provide rest, as well as talent to provide help, when they make their decisions in the coming days.
  10. In the Twins' minor leagues on Saturday night, the E-Twins were on the road but got a huge late-inning home run to take a lead. In Cedar Rapids, as they await the arrival of Byron Buxton, they did have a walk-off win. One of the newest Twins prospects pitched well and earned another win for the Miracle. Another new prospect got the save in that game. The Miracle and Red Wings had plenty of offense. Oh, and Brusdar Graterol pitched. Also, the Twins topped Detroit 8-5.Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday, starting with some awards and the transactions of the day. But before we do that, in case you missed it, Twins prospect and 2019 draft pick Edouard Julien injured his elbow in the Pan Am Games and will have Tommy John surgery in the next couple of weeks. AWARDS On Friday, the Midwest League and Appalachian League announced their postseason All-Star teams. Kernels 1B Gabe Snyder was named to the Midwest League team.E-Twins OF Max Smith was named to the Appy League team.TRANSACTIONSMariana Guzman posted early on Saturday morning the news that RHP Edwar Colina had been promoted to Triple-A Rochester. E-TWINS E-NOTES E-Twins 4, Danville 2 Box Score Seth Gray has played hero for the E-Twins several times this season. On Friday night, his walk-off homer was his second of the year. On Saturday night, he hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. The Twins added one more and got the nice road win. Willie Joe Garry gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning with his fifth home run. Charlie Mack went 2-for-3 with his eighth double. Anthony Prato went 2-for-4. Ben Gross, the Twins 10th-round pick, put together the best start of his young career. He struck out seven batters over five shutout innings. He gave up just two hits and didn’t issue a walk. Denny Bentley came on and did well too. He struck out three over two scoreless innings. Brent Headrick came on for his second pro appearance. He gave up two unearned runs on two hits and a walk and recorded just two outs, one on a strikeout. Tyler Beck came on and got the final four outs to give the team the win. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 3, GCL Red Sox 10 Box Score Stephen Gonsalves made another rehab start in the GCL. On this day, he was able to complete three innings. He gave up just two hits and no runs. He struck out four and did not issue a walk. Venezuelan Danny Moreno came on and made his first appearance of the year. He tossed a scoreless inning .He gave up just one hit, and he struck one batter out. It as a rough one for Miguel Rodriguez. In 2 2/3 innings, he gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks. He struck out five. Matthew Swain came in and gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in his inning. He struck out two. Steven Theetge struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Luke Raley continued his rehab and went 1-for-4. Victor Heredia hit his first home run. Jim Caceres, Erick Rivera and Jesus Feliz each hit a double. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Ben Gross, Elizabethton Twins Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Seth Gray, Elizabethton Twins PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 1-5, RBI #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-5, 2B(17), K #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Rochester) - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (22 pitches, 15 strikes) #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 0-2, 2 BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Did Not Play #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (lower leg contusion) #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 1-2, 2 BB, RBI #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 1-4 #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Injured List #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured (Tommy John) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - 1-3, BB, RBI, K, SB(19) #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 0-4, 3 K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Syracuse (12:05 CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-3, 3.28 ERA) Jackson @ Pensacola (5:05 CST) - RHP Griffin Jax (4-3, 2.69 ERA) Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (12:00 CST) - LHP Lachlan Wells (2-4, 4.15 ERA) Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (7-2, 2.82 ERA) Danville @ Elizabethton (4:05 CST) - TBD GCL Red Sox @ GCL Twins (11:00 CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Saturday games or any other minor league topics you would like. Click here to view the article
  11. Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday, starting with some awards and the transactions of the day. But before we do that, in case you missed it, Twins prospect and 2019 draft pick Edouard Julien injured his elbow in the Pan Am Games and will have Tommy John surgery in the next couple of weeks. AWARDS On Friday, the Midwest League and Appalachian League announced their postseason All-Star teams. Kernels 1B Gabe Snyder was named to the Midwest League team. E-Twins OF Max Smith was named to the Appy League team. TRANSACTIONS Mariana Guzman posted early on Saturday morning the news that RHP Edwar Colina had been promoted to Triple-A Rochester. The Twins optioned RHP Ryne Harper and promoted RHP Cody Stashak to the big leagues. RHP Danny Moreno came off of the GCL's 60-day injured list. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6, Syracuse 2 Box Score It was a good offensive night for the Red Wings as they got contributions from a lot of players. Willians Astudillo is now hitting .474 with the Red Wings after a 2-for-5 performance which included his first double. Wilin Rosario went 3-for-5 with his 23rd double. He’s now hitting .310. Ian Miller went 2-for-5 with his third double and he stole his fifth bag. Ronald Torreyes went 2-for-5. Also, Zander Wiel hit his 36th double, a noteworthy milestone. httptwitter.com/JoshWhetzel/status/1165428945241722885 It was a bullpen game for the Red Wings. Preston Guilmet started and tossed three scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit and struck out three batters. Trevor Hildenberger came in. He faced six batters and got all six out. Jake Reed pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks. He struck out two batters. Brusdar Graterol got the final out of the seventh inning but not before allowing the inherited runner to score. He worked a scoreless eighth frame. He struck out one batter in the four outs he recorded. Ryan O’Rourke pitched a scoreless ninth inning. BLUE WAHOOS BITES Pensacola 4, Jackson 8 Box Score Bryan Sammons was back on the mound for the Blue Wahoos. The lefty started the game with four scoreless innings. However, he ended up giving up three runs on five hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four. Marcos Diplan gave up three runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings. Alex Phillips gave up two runs on three hits (two HRs) with two walks and three strikeouts. Anthony Vizcaya gave up a hit in his scoreless inning. Ryan Costello provided much of the Blue Wahoos offense. The slugger knocked his seventh Pensacola home run, a two-run shot. Ryan Jeffers went 1-for-2 with two walks. Alex Kirilloff hit his 17th double. LaMonte Wade went 1-for-4 with a walk in another rehab game. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 1 Box Score Chris Vallimont made his fourth Miracle start since joining the organization on July 31st. On this night, he gave up one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out nine. He improved to 4-5 overall in the Florida State League, but with the Miracle, he is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA. In 22 1/3 innings, he has walked four and struck out 28 batters. Moises Gomez continues his terrific season with 2 1/3 perfect innings. He struck out three. Then Yennier Cano came on and worked a perfect ninth inning for his second save. Gilberto Celestino had another multi-hit game. He went 2-for-5 with his third and fourth doubles. Andrew Bechtold went 2-for-5 with his eighth double. Yeltsin Encarnacion went 2-for-3 with a walk. Jose Miranda and Brian Schales each had two hits as well. The Miracle won their fifth straight game. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Peoria 2 Box Score Tyler Webb has done it a couple of times already, once in E-Town and soon after with the Kernels. The Kernels were down 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. They tied the score on a fielding error. Webb came to the plate and lashed a single to score Matt Wallner and give the Kernels the walk-off win. And a celebration ensued. https://twitter.com/JimCrikket/status/1165449496647610368 Andrew Cabezas started for Cedar Rapids. He tossed six shutout innings, overcoming six hits and four walks. He struck out just one. Jose Martinez gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk over two innings. Ricky Ramirez struck out two in a perfect top of the ninth inning to earn the Win. Jared Akins went 2-for-4 with an RBI. DaShawn Keirsey added a triple. Byron Buxton is expected to DH for the Kernels on Sunday afternoon and then play center field on Monday night. From there, it is to be determined. He may be ready to play in Chicago on Tuesday. https://twitter.com/CRKernels/status/1165360235856502790 E-TWINS E-NOTES E-Twins 4, Danville 2 Box Score Seth Gray has played hero for the E-Twins several times this season. On Friday night, his walk-off homer was his second of the year. On Saturday night, he hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. The Twins added one more and got the nice road win. Willie Joe Garry gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning with his fifth home run. Charlie Mack went 2-for-3 with his eighth double. Anthony Prato went 2-for-4. Ben Gross, the Twins 10th-round pick, put together the best start of his young career. He struck out seven batters over five shutout innings. He gave up just two hits and didn’t issue a walk. Denny Bentley came on and did well too. He struck out three over two scoreless innings. Brent Headrick came on for his second pro appearance. He gave up two unearned runs on two hits and a walk and recorded just two outs, one on a strikeout. Tyler Beck came on and got the final four outs to give the team the win. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 3, GCL Red Sox 10 Box Score Stephen Gonsalves made another rehab start in the GCL. On this day, he was able to complete three innings. He gave up just two hits and no runs. He struck out four and did not issue a walk. Venezuelan Danny Moreno came on and made his first appearance of the year. He tossed a scoreless inning .He gave up just one hit, and he struck one batter out. It as a rough one for Miguel Rodriguez. In 2 2/3 innings, he gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks. He struck out five. Matthew Swain came in and gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in his inning. He struck out two. Steven Theetge struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Luke Raley continued his rehab and went 1-for-4. Victor Heredia hit his first home run. Jim Caceres, Erick Rivera and Jesus Feliz each hit a double. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Ben Gross, Elizabethton Twins Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Seth Gray, Elizabethton Twins PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 1-5, RBI #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-5, 2B(17), K #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Rochester) - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (22 pitches, 15 strikes) #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 0-2, 2 BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Did Not Play #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (lower leg contusion) #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 1-2, 2 BB, RBI #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 1-4 #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Injured List #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured (Tommy John) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - 1-3, BB, RBI, K, SB(19) #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 0-4, 3 K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Syracuse (12:05 CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-3, 3.28 ERA) Jackson @ Pensacola (5:05 CST) - RHP Griffin Jax (4-3, 2.69 ERA) Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (12:00 CST) - LHP Lachlan Wells (2-4, 4.15 ERA) Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (7-2, 2.82 ERA) Danville @ Elizabethton (4:05 CST) - TBD GCL Red Sox @ GCL Twins (11:00 CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Saturday games or any other minor league topics you would like.
  12. Apart from Littell, the group that has filtered into the Twins bullpen has largely been composed of rising prospects earning a look. Although Stewart was a former first- round pick by Minnesota, it has been just Littell that is still considered a relatively high-level prospect. His performances have had Minnesota working on a plan designed towards more relief success, and in short bursts, the former Yankees prospect has certainly looked the part. The next man up could be coming from a trio of arms that were never considered to be in a position of fluctuation. Trevor Hildenberger was once the Twins reliever in the highest leverage situations. Stephen Gonsalves is a former top pitching prospect, and Brusdar Graterol has seen his name appear on plenty of current top 100 lists. It’s in this group that the front office has some interesting options, and significantly different paths at their disposal. Sidewinding Star Hildenberger owned a 3.21 ERA in just over 40 innings two years ago. His FIP suggested he was even better, and the 9.4 K/9 compared to the 1.3 BB/9 was exceptional. Minnesota had turned a 22nd-round pick into a valuable weapon. Then as that season, and the next wore on, Paul Molitor appeared to ride the hot arm into the ground. Through July 13, 2018 Hildenberger had already made 42 appearances for the Twins and turned in a 2.80 ERA. He was called on for another 28 innings from that point forward and his ERA in that stretch was an ugly 9.64 with a .995 OPS against. The result was a 5.42 ERA and a pitcher that looked anything but the 2017 version of himself. Entering 2019 the hope was that there’d be a turnaround, but an ugly 14 innings to start, and then an eventual injury at Triple-A shelved that promise. Now healthy and on a rehab stint for Triple-A Rochester, Trevor is battling his way back. He’ll need to prove 2019’s start, at both the MLB and Triple-A levels, are behind him and that there’s a very good pitcher in there somewhere. Having thrown significant high-leverage innings previously, something close to the 2017 version of him would be a massive addition for Minnesota down the stretch and in the postseason. Lanky Lefty A former top 100 prospect, Stephen Gonsalves getting a clean bill of health is among the best developments he’s had in 2019. Dealing with shoulder issues since the get go, he pitched just two innings at Triple-A Rochester before shutting it back down. Now rehabbing at the GCL level, he’s turned in two successful outings and the arm has come through unscathed. Gonsalves isn’t a huge strikeout guy, and walks have plagued him over the course of his career, but this is certainly an arm with upside. In 100 Triple-A innings during 2018 he posted a 2.96 ERA. Working out of the bullpen would be new for him, as he’s started 118 of the 126 professional appearances he’s made, but it could be a role in which he could help the Twins. Having utilized spot-starters in certain situations this year, Gonsalves could also factor into that mix. His pitch counts are likely going to be scrutinized with the non-existent workload this season, but letting it fly may be easier without the additional miles. Having talked to him this spring, Wes Johnson had implemented some impactful velocity knowledge on the minor league group, and Gonsalves’ maturity combined with the MLB experience from 2018, may work in his favor for a September contribution. Little La Makina Arguably the best pitching prospect in Minnesota’s system at present, Graterol could find his way to the big leagues in relief this year. He’s been a starter since signing out of Venezuela, but there’s some thought his long term role comes in the bullpen anyway. He too has dealt with shoulder issues this year, but has been cleared and is back pumping triple digits. A guy like Graterol could fill the role Minnesota talked up for prospect Fernando Romero coming into spring training. Turning in two or three inning bursts out of the pen, Graterol wouldn’t need to worry about pitch counts and could immediately attack opposing hitters. As referenced above, he’s got a fastball that can break the radar gun, and his career K/BB rates are plenty fine. It would be an aggressive jump from Double-A to a major league bullpen, but Graterol would be working more on refinement in Triple-A than anything else. Where both Hildenberger and Gonsalves provide somewhat of a safe but predictable option for the Twins, Graterol is the boom or bust type that represents the highest ceiling the rest of the way. No more trades are happening for this club, and there’s a low probability that clubs are designating relievers of substance at this point. If Minnesota wants to right the ship on the mound, starting or relieving, the performances will need to come from within. Turnover at the end of the bullpen has seen plenty of arms get their shot, but this unique trio provides an avenue for a true answer if everything breaks right. This season is the last in which big league rosters expand to the full 40-man come September. Should any of these arms be right as evidenced by their rehab assignments, it’s a good bet to see one, if not all, in the next few weeks.
  13. Sometime I’ll get back to my groove of making terrible puns in the title based off player’s names but today is not that day. Anyways, there was a perfect day at the plate, a walk-off walk, two notable rehab assignments, and a lot of offense in the minors, all that and more in this edition of the minor league report.TRANSACTIONS LHP Ian Krol placed on the Restricted List at AAA Rochester LHP Ryan O’ Rourke signed and assigned to AAA Rochester CF Ian Miller acquired from the Mariners and assigned to AAA Rochester RHP Trevor Hildenberger sent to GCL Twins on a rehab assignment LHP Stephen Gonsalves sent to GCL Twins on a rehab assignment 3B Jake Hirabayashi assigned to GCL Twins CF DaShawn Kiersey activated from the IL at A Cedar Rapids SS Ricky De La Torre assigned to Elizabethton from A Cedar Rapids RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6, Louisville 5 (10 innings) Box Score Charlie Barnes: 4 ⅓ IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 5 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Wilin Rosario (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R), Alejandro De Aza (2-for-4, 3B, 5 RBI) The Red Wings won a wild extra-innings affair this Saturday. Charlie Barnes made his AAA debut and had a rough go of it as he gave up four runs while striking out as many as he walked. Hopefully it gets better for Barnes as he continues to pitch at AAA. Ryan O’ Rourke made his Rochester debut and his first game back for the Twins organization since October 2nd 2016. It was an interesting outing as he got out of a bases loaded situation with one out in the 9th and then stranded two more runners in the 10th. He walked three and struck out one. Alejandro De Aza was the backbone of the offense as he had a two run single in the 1st, a two run triple in the 6th, and the bases-loaded walk to walk it off in the 10th, giving him an impressive five RBIs on the night and a terrible “walk-off” joke that I refuse to make. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 8, Mobile 5 Box Score Gabriel Moya: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Royce Lewis (2-for-5, 2 2B, R, RBI), Jimmy Kerrigan (2-for-4, 2 R), Mark Contreras (2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI) The Blue Wahoos ran a bullpen game this Saturday to the win. In total, five Blue Wahoos pitchers combined to strike out fifteen batters without giving up a walk, an impressive feat. After the 4th inning, they only gave up three hits in total while striking out seven. Royce Lewis had a double double as the Blue Wahoos continue to experiment with Alex Kirilloff hitting leadoff with Lewis 2nd instead of the other way around when Lewis was first promoted. Kirilloff also had the impressive no hits yet two RBIs performance, whatever works my man. This was partly because the bottom of the order did a good job setting the table as Ryan Costello, Jimmy Kerrigan, and Mark Contreras all had two runs scored despite being the 6-7-8 hitters respectively. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 9, Jupiter 2 Box Score Blayne Enlow: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: Jose Miranda 2 (8), Trey Cabbage (7) Multi-hit games: Gabriel Maciel (2-for-5, 2B, R), Jose Miranda (2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI), Trey Cabbage (2-for-4, HR, R, RBI), Andrew Bechtold (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R), Ernie De La Trinidad (2-for-4, 3B, R, 2 RBI), David Banuelos (2-for-4, 2 RBI) The Miracle cared not for this writer having to put in who all had a multi-hit effort as they hit all over the place this Saturday. Jose Miranda was the leader of the charge as he blasted two home runs for the first multi-homer game of his professional career. Trey Cabbage didn’t want him to feel left out so he also hit a home run so Miranda didn’t feel bad. Blayne Enlow had a good start as he allowed just one earned run over his six innings of work, showing that offense isn’t the only reason to come and watch the game! David Banuelos had a multi-hit game but proved that the base paths matter too as he stole his first base of the year but was also picked off, what goes around can come around I suppose. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 5, Beloit 4 Box Score Tyler Palm: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Gilberto Celestino (5-for-5, 2B, R), Daniel Ozoria (2-for-4) It was quite the exciting win for Cedar Rapids. Gilberto Celestino continued to flat-out rake as he was a perfect 5-for-5 and became the first Kernel to have a five hit game since Jermaine Palacios in 2017. Tyler Palm allowed just one earned run over his six innings of work as he attempted to make choosing between him and Enlow for pitcher of the day a difficult decision. The Kernels were down by a run headed into the bottom of the 7th but a wild pitch, a Yunior Severino single, and an Albee Weiss single plated five and gave the Kernels the lead. Brian Rapp pitched the last three innings to end the game after Palm went six and despite giving up a pair of runs, the lead stayed and Rapp was credited with the win. E-Town E-Notes Elizabethton 13, Johnson City 7 Box Score Tyler Benninghoff: 4 ⅓ IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4 K HR: Parker Phillips (3), Matt Wallner (5) Multi-hit games: Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-5, R, 2 RBI), Matt Wallner (2-for-5, HR, 3 R, RBI), Parker Phillips (2-for-3, HR, 4 R, 2 RBI), Seth Gray (3-for-3, 2 2B, R), Trevor Jensen (2-for-5, R, RBI) The offense headed by a few 2019 draft picks took hold for Elizabethton as they put up an organizational-high thirteen runs (for the day that is). The end total was thirteen hits along with seven walks that allowed seven different batters to collect an RBI. It’s also pretty rare to see someone score three times and not lead the team that game as Matt Wallner was outscored by Parker Phillips who touched home plate on four different occasions. In a game like this, there isn’t much on the pitching side of things but one of my favorites in Ryan Shreve pitched in relief and he picked up five strikeouts in his outing. Coming into the game, the 2019 draft pick had a 12.44 K/9, so he is no stranger to punching tickets. GCL Twins Takes Game one: GCL Twins 0, GCL Red Sox 2 (7 innings) Box Score Stephen Gonsalves: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Alec Craig (2-for-4) Would you look at that! Stephen Gonsalves pitched started his rehab assignment and pitched for the first time in a few months. He gave up a homer but just the fact that he’s back to throwing in a professional game is a good reason to be excited. And it didn’t end there for rehabbing pitchers as Trevor Hildenberger relieved Gonsalves and threw a scoreless inning. It really is great to see both pitchers back on the mound after being out for awhile. Unfortunately, the feel-goodness pretty much ends there as the GCL Twins were unable to put much together offensively and were shutout in the loss. They collected just four hits and all of them were singles. Game two: GCL Twins 11, GCL Red Sox 5 (7 innings) Box Score Steve Theetge: ⅔ IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K HR: Francisco Martinez (3) Multi-hit games: Jeferson Morales (3-for-5, 3B, R, RBI), Victor Heredia (3-for-4, 3 RBI), Jesus Feliz (2-for-5, R), Francisco Martinez (2-for-4, HR, 2 R, RBI), Bryson Gandy (2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI) Well it seems like the offense was feeling much better in this game as game two of the doubleheader saw eleven runs scored over just seven innings of play. This came with fourteen hits and as many extra-base hits as the previous game had hits for the GCL Twins (4). Steve Theetge started the game and was removed for Anthony Escobar after getting two outs. Escobar got thirteen outs in relief while only giving up a single run and striking out three. Somewhat notable is that Keoni Cavaco was absent from the lineup in both games but this isn’t uncommon as he could either just be resting or focusing on other aspects of professional baseball on Saturday (i.e. workouts). TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Blayne Enlow Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Gilberto Celestino and Jose Miranda (I couldn’t pick) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 2-for-5, 2 2B, RBI, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 0-for-4, 2 RBI #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 1-for-4, R, BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, 2 K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Did not play #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Injured list #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Did not play #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 1-for-4, BB, K #14 - Luis Arraez (Twins) - Did not play #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) - 2-for-5, HR, 3 R, RBI, 2 K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did not play #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Out for year with Tommy John surgery #18 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - 0-for-4 #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 0-for-5 SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ Rochester (12:05 P.M.) - RHP Sean Poppen Pensacola @ Mobile (2:05 P.M.) - TBD Jupiter @ Fort Myers (10:00 A.M.) - LHP Lachlan Wells Beloit @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 P.M.) - RHP Andrew Cabezas Pulaski @ Elizabethton (4:00 P.M.) - RHP Ben Gross Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games. Click here to view the article
  14. Most of Twins Territory is riding high with the Twins remarkable start to the season. Minnesota’s offense looks like it is one of the best in the league. The starting staff is outperforming most expectations and the bullpen has been able to hold its own. With the best record in the AL, the Twins are making it tough to be negative. However, there are some weaknesses with this team. Which weakness could hurt the team in the long run?The Offense Minnesota’s offense has ranked as one of the best in the league. There are few weaknesses from top to bottom in the line-up. The Twins rank second in the AL in batting average, SLG, OPS, home runs, and hits. They have also scored the most runs and hit the most doubles. Of regular starters, Marwin Gonzalez has the lowest OPS on the team (.722) and he got off to a slow start. He ended the first month of the season hitting .167/.244/.256 with three extra-base hits. Since the calendar turned to May, he is hitting .358/.427/.552 with seven extra-base hits. Minnesota’s biggest offensive weakness this season has turned it around. Yesterday, I wrote about the team’s trend of barreling up the ball. Minnesota’s catching core has been unreal at putting the barrel on the ball. As one would expect, Nelson Cruz ranks near the top of the league. Other players like CJ Cron and Byron Buxton have also made some stark improvements. Minnesota’s offense was expected to improve but this has to be beyond the wildest dreams of most fans. The Starting Staff Even with a strong offense, a poor starting staff can destroy a season. Twins starting pitchers have outperformed many of the expectations entering the season. Coming off an All-Star season, most people knew what to expect from Jose Berrios. The rest of the staff has also gone above and beyond. Jake Odorizzi’s 1.6 WAR ranks him fourth in the AL among pitchers. He has the second-best ERA, the fourth best hits per 9 IP, and the seventh best WHIP. His ERA is almost 1.5 runs lower than his career mark. Earlier this month, he won the AL Player of the Week and he has continued to perform well. Martin Perez has also been a breath of fresh air. Since joining the rotation, he has a 2.01 ERA and a 41 to 13 strikeout to walk ratio in seven starts. This spring with the help of Odorizzi and Johan Santana, he was able to start developing a cutter. He uses this more than his other pitches and teams are having a tough time figuring it out. Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda have seen some ups and downs. Pineda is in his first season back from Tommy John, so some struggles were expected. Even with the struggles, Pineda has produced quality starts in his last three starts. Depth at the back end of the rotation could be a weakness. If one of the top three starters were to be hurt or start underperforming, the rest of the rotation could struggle. Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, and Zack Littell are waiting in Rochester. Could they be trusted taking over a spot in the rotation? The Bullpen At this point in the season, the casual fan might consider the bullpen to be the team’s greatest weakness. Most of this thought process comes from the team having a non-traditional bullpen. There is no designated closer and four different players have earned saves this season. Blake Parker, Ryne Harper, Matt Magill and Taylor Rogers all have ERA’s of 1.80 or less. Trevor May has made the most appearances out of the bullpen. Even though he has allowed eight earned runs in 18 IP, he has 17 strikeouts. Manager Rocco Baldelli has been able to turn to most of these pitchers with confidence in any situation. Trevor Hildenberger, a key component of the 2017 team, struggled through the beginning of the season. In 14 innings, he allowed 13 earned runs and it seemed like his breaking pitch wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do. He is down in Rochester trying to work through some of his struggles. Adalberto Mejia was another player that struggled (11 earned runs in 11.1 IP), but he is now on the injury list. Fernando Romero has been transitioning to a bullpen role between the MLB and Triple-A levels. Lots of other relief pitchers have been struggling in Rochester. Maybe the switch to using the MLB baseball has impacted their numbers. Perhaps, top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol could be used in a bullpen role later in the season. What do you see as the team’s biggest weakness? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  15. The Offense Minnesota’s offense has ranked as one of the best in the league. There are few weaknesses from top to bottom in the line-up. The Twins rank second in the AL in batting average, SLG, OPS, home runs, and hits. They have also scored the most runs and hit the most doubles. Of regular starters, Marwin Gonzalez has the lowest OPS on the team (.722) and he got off to a slow start. He ended the first month of the season hitting .167/.244/.256 with three extra-base hits. Since the calendar turned to May, he is hitting .358/.427/.552 with seven extra-base hits. Minnesota’s biggest offensive weakness this season has turned it around. Yesterday, I wrote about the team’s trend of barreling up the ball. Minnesota’s catching core has been unreal at putting the barrel on the ball. As one would expect, Nelson Cruz ranks near the top of the league. Other players like CJ Cron and Byron Buxton have also made some stark improvements. Minnesota’s offense was expected to improve but this has to be beyond the wildest dreams of most fans. The Starting Staff Even with a strong offense, a poor starting staff can destroy a season. Twins starting pitchers have outperformed many of the expectations entering the season. Coming off an All-Star season, most people knew what to expect from Jose Berrios. The rest of the staff has also gone above and beyond. Jake Odorizzi’s 1.6 WAR ranks him fourth in the AL among pitchers. He has the second-best ERA, the fourth best hits per 9 IP, and the seventh best WHIP. His ERA is almost 1.5 runs lower than his career mark. Earlier this month, he won the AL Player of the Week and he has continued to perform well. Martin Perez has also been a breath of fresh air. Since joining the rotation, he has a 2.01 ERA and a 41 to 13 strikeout to walk ratio in seven starts. This spring with the help of Odorizzi and Johan Santana, he was able to start developing a cutter. He uses this more than his other pitches and teams are having a tough time figuring it out. Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda have seen some ups and downs. Pineda is in his first season back from Tommy John, so some struggles were expected. Even with the struggles, Pineda has produced quality starts in his last three starts. Depth at the back end of the rotation could be a weakness. If one of the top three starters were to be hurt or start underperforming, the rest of the rotation could struggle. Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, and Zack Littell are waiting in Rochester. Could they be trusted taking over a spot in the rotation? The Bullpen At this point in the season, the casual fan might consider the bullpen to be the team’s greatest weakness. Most of this thought process comes from the team having a non-traditional bullpen. There is no designated closer and four different players have earned saves this season. Blake Parker, Ryne Harper, Matt Magill and Taylor Rogers all have ERA’s of 1.80 or less. Trevor May has made the most appearances out of the bullpen. Even though he has allowed eight earned runs in 18 IP, he has 17 strikeouts. Manager Rocco Baldelli has been able to turn to most of these pitchers with confidence in any situation. Trevor Hildenberger, a key component of the 2017 team, struggled through the beginning of the season. In 14 innings, he allowed 13 earned runs and it seemed like his breaking pitch wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do. He is down in Rochester trying to work through some of his struggles. Adalberto Mejia was another player that struggled (11 earned runs in 11.1 IP), but he is now on the injury list. Fernando Romero has been transitioning to a bullpen role between the MLB and Triple-A levels. Lots of other relief pitchers have been struggling in Rochester. Maybe the switch to using the MLB baseball has impacted their numbers. Perhaps, top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol could be used in a bullpen role later in the season. What do you see as the team’s biggest weakness? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  16. Coming into the 2019 Major League Baseball season, relief pitching was a very serious question mark. For the most part, the guys Minnesota’s front office has told us to trust in have looked the part. Ryne Harper has been a great story, and Matt Magill has flashed solid stuff. The back end of Taylor Rogers, Blake Parker, and Trevor May work. Unfortunately, that’s where things end. There’s been a revolving door at the bottom of Minnesota’s bullpen, and the options to call upon are dwindling. Fernando Romero has been up multiple times, without seeing any significant success. He’s been knocked around at Triple-A, and despite great stuff, the transition to relief hasn’t gone smoothly. We’ve seen Tyler Duffey a few times, and despite dominating Triple-A, the beautiful bender has yet to see solid run in the big leagues. Rocco Baldelli has been given lefty Andrew Vasquez, and former starter Adalberto Mejia looks to have flamed out. Addison Reed was on a path back through a surprise rehab stint, but he’s been hit around the park for Rochester. The only other 40-man option is lefty Gabriel Moya, who has also been bad since returning to Triple-A and hasn’t ever shown a significant level of success at the big-league level. Non-40-man options are also a difficult ask at this point. Jake Reed was going well for Rochester but has hit the skids. D.J. Baxendale and Ryan Eades have gaudy ERA numbers and are allowing far too much contact. Beyond that, you’d need to dip another level down and be relatively convinced that the big jump would be warranted. The good news is that the Twins are 27-15 while looking in command of the AL Central. The bad news is that Trevor Hildenberger nearly surrendered a four-run lead, and Mike Morin was called upon to face both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in massive spots today. If that development alone doesn’t call for some action, I don’t know what does. Craig Kimbrel still is unsigned and can be acquired for nothing more than cash. Yes, at this point you’d need to part with a draft pick to sign him. Waiting until after the draft could be smart, but the number of teams willing to bring him in without pick compensation being thwarted likely rises in number as well. On the trade front, there’s more than a handful of bad teams that can part will relievers. Typically deals are consummated in late June at the earlier. Though the asset capital may be higher when looking to acquire talent earlier in the year, it’s worth weighing what the immediate and extra impact would be should they get into Wes Johnson’s hands sooner. At the end of the day it boils down to the simple principle that the Minnesota Twins have opportunity in front of them. Given their trajectory and roster construction, this isn’t a team that should be playing for 2020. You don’t need to mortgage the farm for a one-year run but capitalizing in years where you can make noise is a must. Right now, the greatest deficiency this group has is its bullpen. Although the collective has held strong, it’s been on the back of a small inner group that is going to be burned through come summer. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  17. On a beautiful Wednesday day game, the Minnesota Twins were able to pick up another series win, this time against the Los Angeles Angels, as the bats came back to life to help Jake Odorizzi pick up his sixth win of the season. The Twins came into this game on a little offensive slump in the past three games, scoring only 10 runs in those games. However, today, they were able to string together 10 hits and eight runs as they won 8-7 and improve to 27-15.Box Score Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 64.3% strikes Home Runs: Buxton (2), Castro (6) Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4, 3B), Schoop (2-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-3, 2B, BB) WPA of +0.1: Adrianza .121, Buxton .109 WPA of -0.1: None Download attachment: Win515.png (chart via FanGraphs) Pitching Jake Odorizzi has been one of the Twins best pitchers recently, and entered this game with 20 straight scoreless innings. He was able to extend his streak to 22 before giving up a one-out home run in the third inning. Odorizzi didn’t have his cleanest start of the season, giving up a season-high nine hits, but was able to hold the Angels to only three runs. The bullpen was a little shaky today, and in the seventh when Matt Magill gave up a sac fly to Goodwin, which was the first run given up by a bullpen pitcher, who isn’t Trevor Hildenberger, in 12 games. Magill wasn’t charged a run on this as May had given up back-to-back singles right before he was taken out. Trevor Hildenberger continued to struggle on the mound today as he gave up three runs on three hits. He has given up runs in five of his last six outings and it hasn’t been just one run each time either. He has given up two runs four of those outings and three in today’s. It might be time to send Hildenberger down to Triple-A to hopefully get his confidence back up. UPDATE: Hildenberger was optioned to Triple-A after the game. The Angels put together a ninth inning rally, after Hildenberger retired the first batter. The Angles put together four straight hits to get the game to 8-6. Mike Morin came in and surrendered a hit on his first batter, struck out the next batter, but then hit Mike Trout with the bases loaded to bring the game to 8-7. Morin was able to strand three runners as he got Ohtani to ground out to pick up the save. Errors Early Both teams were a little off in the field at the beginning and it ended up turning into runs for the Twins. In the second inning, C.J. Cron was able to reach off a dropped third strike, and two batters later, Schoop reached on an infield single, and thanks to an error by Cahill, he advanced to second while Cron moved to third. Ehire Adrianza was able to make the Angels pay with a 2-RBI double for the first runs of the game. On the Twins side, the error occurred on one of the weirdest plays. It happened with Odorizzi and Cron, after Ohtani hit a weak comeback that Odorizzi was able to collect. However, Cron was looking for Jonathan Schoop to field the ball, and didn’t even realize Odorizzi had it. This led to Odorizzi throwing to an unprepared Cron, which allowed Ohtani to reach second base. Luckily the Twins were able to make it nothing as Simmons grounded out the next at-bat. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Bullpen515.png Next Three Games Thu at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Pineda-Swanson) Fri at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Perez-Gonzales) Sat at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Berrios-LeBlanc) Last Game MIN 4, LAA 3: Throw Down Click here to view the article
  18. Box Score Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 64.3% strikes Home Runs: Buxton (2), Castro (6) Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4, 3B), Schoop (2-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-3, 2B, BB) WPA of +0.1: Adrianza .121, Buxton .109 WPA of -0.1: None (chart via FanGraphs) Pitching Jake Odorizzi has been one of the Twins best pitchers recently, and entered this game with 20 straight scoreless innings. He was able to extend his streak to 22 before giving up a one-out home run in the third inning. Odorizzi didn’t have his cleanest start of the season, giving up a season-high nine hits, but was able to hold the Angels to only three runs. The bullpen was a little shaky today, and in the seventh when Matt Magill gave up a sac fly to Goodwin, which was the first run given up by a bullpen pitcher, who isn’t Trevor Hildenberger, in 12 games. Magill wasn’t charged a run on this as May had given up back-to-back singles right before he was taken out. Trevor Hildenberger continued to struggle on the mound today as he gave up three runs on three hits. He has given up runs in five of his last six outings and it hasn’t been just one run each time either. He has given up two runs four of those outings and three in today’s. It might be time to send Hildenberger down to Triple-A to hopefully get his confidence back up. UPDATE: Hildenberger was optioned to Triple-A after the game. The Angels put together a ninth inning rally, after Hildenberger retired the first batter. The Angles put together four straight hits to get the game to 8-6. Mike Morin came in and surrendered a hit on his first batter, struck out the next batter, but then hit Mike Trout with the bases loaded to bring the game to 8-7. Morin was able to strand three runners as he got Ohtani to ground out to pick up the save. Errors Early Both teams were a little off in the field at the beginning and it ended up turning into runs for the Twins. In the second inning, C.J. Cron was able to reach off a dropped third strike, and two batters later, Schoop reached on an infield single, and thanks to an error by Cahill, he advanced to second while Cron moved to third. Ehire Adrianza was able to make the Angels pay with a 2-RBI double for the first runs of the game. On the Twins side, the error occurred on one of the weirdest plays. It happened with Odorizzi and Cron, after Ohtani hit a weak comeback that Odorizzi was able to collect. However, Cron was looking for Jonathan Schoop to field the ball, and didn’t even realize Odorizzi had it. This led to Odorizzi throwing to an unprepared Cron, which allowed Ohtani to reach second base. Luckily the Twins were able to make it nothing as Simmons grounded out the next at-bat. https://twitter.com/cjzer0/status/1128723587924398081 Offense Byron Buxton was able to hit his second home run of the season in the fifth inning, with Castro adding another the next inning for his sixth of the season. Rosario was able to pick up a hit for his third straight game and get his average back up to about .250. Polanco added two hits, one of them being his fifth triple of the season, as he sits at .331. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1128734529655492609 What really helped in today’s game was the Twins’ fifth inning on offense when they put together four runs on three hits and a walk. It came at a perfect time when the score was 2-1 to put them up 6-1. Another key component in today’s game was not leaving runners on base, which the Twins kept to only five compared to 14 for the Angels What’s Next? The Twins get right back in action tomorrow as they travel to Seattle to play the Mariners in a four-game series. They will see the Angels again next week as they travel to LA for a three-game series. Miguel Sano has also just been activated and could be seen in the lineup within the next week. Adding him to this already powerful lineup will just add fuel to the fire and give the Twins another weapon in the lineup. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1128773240682209280 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Thu at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Pineda-Swanson) Fri at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Perez-Gonzales) Sat at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Berrios-LeBlanc) Last Game MIN 4, LAA 3: Throw Down
  19. You can listen directly here or download directly from iTunes here. Additionally, you can access all the previous episodes as well. Let us know what you think and thanks for listening!
  20. With a sweep in Toronto and a split at home against Detroit, the Twins delivered another winning week and built upon their lead in the AL Central. Below the fold, we'll unpack another week filled with strong hitting and pitching performances. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/6 through Sun, 5/12 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 25-14) Run Differential Last Week: +26 (Overall: +51) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.0 GA) Willians Watch: 1-for-5 last week (Season AVG: .315) Willians Astudillo is back! He was activated from the disabled list on Sunday and batted leadoff in his return. Meanwhile, Tyler Duffey (called up for Saturday's doubleheader) and Fernando Romero were sent back to Triple-A over the weekend. It's unfortunate because both have shown some nice signs (especially Romero, firing four scoreless innings with a 15% swinging strike rate in his past four appearances), but both will see more chances soon enough. HIGHLIGHTS As we reach the quarterpole in the MLB season, Minnesota has two players creating legitimate noise as MVP candidates. The case for Jorge Polanco thus far is easy to see. After another stellar week (11-for-26 with two home runs and three doubles), Polanco is hitting .324/.393/.607 ranks second only to Mike Trout in the AL with 2.1 WAR. Polanco's K/BB ratio is among the best in the league and he's hitting for incredible power. Best of all, he's doing it as a SHORTSTOP who holds his own defensively. It's a little tougher to make an MVP-pace argument for Mitch Garver, mainly because his playing time doesn't quite stack up. Splitting reps in a three-way catcher committee, Garver has fewer than half the plate appearances of Polanco. Yet in that time, he has produced more home runs (8 to 7) and nearly the same RBI total (16 to 17). We keep waiting for his seemingly unsustainable start to slow down, but week after week, Garver stays on fire. This last one was no exception: he went 6-for-13 with two more homers and six walks. Among American League players with 75+ PA, no one has a higher OPS than Garver (1.214). Assuming this optimism proves valid, it looks like the Twins dodged a bullet with their top pitching prospect, who has held opponents to a .168 average through his first 38 innings at Double-A. LOOKING AHEAD Another seven-game week lies ahead, with the Twins first hosting Trout and the Angels, then traveling to Seattle for four games against the Mariners. MONDAY, 5/13: ANGELS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Skaggs v. RHP Jose Berrios TUESDAY, 5/14: ANGELS @ TWINS – TBD v. RHP Kyle Gibson WEDNESDAY, 5/15: ANGELS @ TWINS – RHP Trevor Cahill v. RHP Jake Odorizzi THURSDAY, 5/16: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Erik Swanson FRIDAY, 5/17: TWINS @ MARINERS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Felix Hernandez SATURDAY, 5/18: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. LHP Marco Gonzales SUNDAY, 5/19: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP Yusei Kikuchi Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 33 | MIN 8, TOR 0: Perez Impresses, Bats Bounce Stroman EarlyGame 34 | MIN 3, TOR 0: Berrios Hurls Gem, Twins Get Second Straight ShutoutGame 35 | MIN 9, TOR 1: Twins Steamroll TorontoGame 36 | MIN 6, DET 0: Odorizzi Deals (Again), Twins Win Fourth in a RowGame 37 | DET 5, MIN 3: Tigers Out-Tater Twins, Gardy Gets TossedGame 38 | MIN 8, DET 3: Now Witness the FirepowerGame 39 | DET 5, MIN 3: We Have a Problem Click here to view the article
  21. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/6 through Sun, 5/12 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 25-14) Run Differential Last Week: +26 (Overall: +51) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.0 GA) Willians Watch: 1-for-5 last week (Season AVG: .315) Willians Astudillo is back! He was activated from the disabled list on Sunday and batted leadoff in his return. Meanwhile, Tyler Duffey (called up for Saturday's doubleheader) and Fernando Romero were sent back to Triple-A over the weekend. It's unfortunate because both have shown some nice signs (especially Romero, firing four scoreless innings with a 15% swinging strike rate in his past four appearances), but both will see more chances soon enough. HIGHLIGHTS As we reach the quarterpole in the MLB season, Minnesota has two players creating legitimate noise as MVP candidates. The case for Jorge Polanco thus far is easy to see. After another stellar week (11-for-26 with two home runs and three doubles), Polanco is hitting .324/.393/.607 ranks second only to Mike Trout in the AL with 2.1 WAR. Polanco's K/BB ratio is among the best in the league and he's hitting for incredible power. Best of all, he's doing it as a SHORTSTOP who holds his own defensively. It's a little tougher to make an MVP-pace argument for Mitch Garver, mainly because his playing time doesn't quite stack up. Splitting reps in a three-way catcher committee, Garver has fewer than half the plate appearances of Polanco. Yet in that time, he has produced more home runs (8 to 7) and nearly the same RBI total (16 to 17). We keep waiting for his seemingly unsustainable start to slow down, but week after week, Garver stays on fire. This last one was no exception: he went 6-for-13 with two more homers and six walks. Among American League players with 75+ PA, no one has a higher OPS than Garver (1.214). https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1127020004589830149 There's little doubt the catcher is going to cool off at some point – maybe in a big way – but that's no knock against him. There's just no credible reason to believe he can keep up this Barry Bonds impression for long. But Garver has erased any semblance of doubt surrounding the legitimacy of his bat, while showing clear improvement behind the plate as well. And it's nice to know that should he fall into a slump, the Twins have Jason Castro (4-for-7 with two home runs last week, and slugging 1.000 in his past nine games) and Astudillo bringing his .870 OPS off the Injured List on Sunday. If you could lump all of Minnesota's catchers into one player (Masians Castrudiller?), he'd be the runaway MVP frontrunner without question. Those backstops continue linking up with Twins starting pitchers to produce amazing results. On Tuesday, Jose Berrios fired seven shutout innings in Toronto to pick up his sixth win and seventh quality start in eight turns. He's completed six or more innings in every outing. Fresh off earning Player of the Week honors, Jake Odorizzi extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings on Friday with seven near-perfect frames against the Tigers. Martin Perez was excellent in his first turn (7 IP, 0 R vs. TOR) and solid in his second (5 IP, 3 R vs. DET). He has a 2.13 ERA in six starts for the Twins. Even the previous rotation laggards are starting to join the fun. Kyle Gibson struck out 11 and notched 19 swinging strikes in a dominant showing versus Toronto on Wednesday. Suddenly he's got a 2.25 ERA and 28-to-3 K/BB ratio over 24 innings in his past four starts, resembling the overpowering force he was for much of last year. Michael Pineda still doesn't look all that sharp, but he logged a quality start on Saturday with three runs allowed over six innings. In 39 frames, Pineda has struck out 35 and walked nine. Egregious home run rate aside, there's plenty of underlying positivity in his early output coming off Tommy John surgery. A couple other strong performances from the past week worth highlighting: C.J. Cron, who'd been one of the lineup's weakest producers, turned that around in a big way with a pair of four-hit games and three homers. He now has nine bombs in the books, which is more than his predecessor at first base (Joe Mauer) managed in either of the past two seasons. Ryne Harper chipped in three more clean outings, allowing only one hit in 3 2/3 with a walk and four strikeouts. The 30-year-old rookie has made 15 appearances this year, and 14 have been scoreless. What a wonderful story. LOWLIGHTS Last week in this space, I expressed some concern over Trevor Hildenberger and his sudden vulnerability, noting that his usage had dissipated as his results had taken a downward turn. Seven days later, those concerns are only louder. He coughed up two runs on three hits in one inning against Detroit on Saturday, and then did the same on Sunday, this time with a more costly impact (his two runs allowed were the difference in the game). Throughout most of April, Hildenberger appeared to have re-established himself as one of Minnesota's most reliable late-inning arms, but now he has fallen right back into the rut that plagued his second half in 2018. In his past seven appearances Hildy has surrendered 10 earned runs on 14 hits in six frames. He's a complete mess, and the Twins can't afford to stick with him much longer at this rate. The 28-year-old does have options left, so a move to Triple-A is in play. On the bright side, there really aren't any other poor performances worth calling out from the past week – a huge credit to the comprehensively high-quality play we continue to see from this roster. TRENDING STORYLINE For a third straight week, Miguel Sano is grabbing out attention. First he was preparing to start his rehab stint, then it was officially underway, and now he's on the verge of wrapping it up. Sano moved up to Class-AAA Rochester over the weekend after a brief stay at Pensacola. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first game for the Red Wings, but bounced back with a 2-for-4 effort (plus a walk) on Sunday. Barring any setbacks, I suspect we'll see Sano recalled during the coming week. It'll be interesting to see who's moved to make room. The likeliest candidate seems to be Ehire Adrianza, who's been woefully unproductive. Then again, maybe the issue takes care of itself, as Nelson Cruz could be headed for the shelf with a wrist injury that knocked him out of Sunday's game. At this moment, I'm even more curious about another Triple-A rehab stint. Reliever Addison Reed is on the road back after missing the first month with a "left thumb injury," and has looked utterly terrible in Triple-A, just as he did in spring training, and just as he did for much of last summer. In three appearances for Rochester, he has coughed up four runs on eight hits over three innings of work, striking out two of 17 batters faced. Where to go from here? There's no way the Twins can add Reed back to the roster. Stashing him on IL for a month with a vague non-throwing hand issue was already a bit of a stretch, but now they're running out of places to hide him. It's unfortunate, because a peak-level Reed would be such a huge difference-maker for this Minnesota bullpen, but that player is clearly long gone. At this point I think the Twins have no choice but to cut their losses and designate him for assignment, eating millions in remaining salary. For now, Reed still has a couple weeks left in his rehab window. DOWN ON THE FARM On July 31st of last year, the Twins traded longtime stalwart Brian Dozier to the Dodgers, in exchange for what appeared to be a modest return. Dozier was trudging through a disappointing season, slashing just .227/.307/.405 for Minnesota, and was just two months from free agency. The Twins had no hope of prying any top prospects, but they procured a couple of intriguing pieces from LA in outfielder Luke Raley and left-hander Devin Smeltzer. Well, Dozier's struggles only worsened down the stretch as he batted .182/.300/.350 over 47 games and barely saw any time in the postseason. Over the winter, he signed a one-year deal with the Nationals, but in Washington it's been much of the same: Dozier's slash line sits at .197/.301/.331 through 38 games. (His Twins replacement at second, Jonathan Schoop, is at .276/.324/.504.) Meanwhile, Raley is mashing at Rochester, where he's 14-for-33 in the month of May and sporting a .299/.364/.542 line overall. He's still not going to sprout up on any top prospect lists but the 24-year-old lefty swinger is solidifying himself as viable MLB-ready depth. In Triple-A, he's mostly played right field with a little center mixed in. Smeltzer is an even more compelling case. There was no significant buzz around him as a middling southpaw coming out of the Dodgers system, but ever since joining the Twins organization he has been completely lights-out. In 42 innings at Double-A, between the end of last year and the start of this one, he posted a 1.29 ERA and 49-to-5 K/BB ratio. He moved up Rochester at the beginning of May and has somehow gotten better, hurling 15 shutout innings with only seven hits allowed. I'm not sure what to make of him. You watch the guy pitch and you aren't wowed by his velocity or stuff, but the superlative results are eye-popping, and he's doing it consistently at the highest levels of the minors. Smeltzer, 23, isn't currently on the 40-man roster, but is putting himself in line to get a chance when the need arises. One more pitching note from the minors: Brusdar Graterol was in the middle of another stellar outing on Wednesday, with 5 1/3 scoreless innings logged, when he was pulled from the game due to an apparent injury. This understandably caused instant panic to sweep through Twins Territory, but Darren Wolfson of KSTP swooped in quickly with a relieving report: https://twitter.com/DWolfsonKSTP/status/1126181293824278528 Assuming this optimism proves valid, it looks like the Twins dodged a bullet with their top pitching prospect, who has held opponents to a .168 average through his first 38 innings at Double-A. LOOKING AHEAD Another seven-game week lies ahead, with the Twins first hosting Trout and the Angels, then traveling to Seattle for four games against the Mariners. MONDAY, 5/13: ANGELS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Skaggs v. RHP Jose Berrios TUESDAY, 5/14: ANGELS @ TWINS – TBD v. RHP Kyle Gibson WEDNESDAY, 5/15: ANGELS @ TWINS – RHP Trevor Cahill v. RHP Jake Odorizzi THURSDAY, 5/16: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Erik Swanson FRIDAY, 5/17: TWINS @ MARINERS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Felix Hernandez SATURDAY, 5/18: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. LHP Marco Gonzales SUNDAY, 5/19: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP Yusei Kikuchi Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 33 | MIN 8, TOR 0: Perez Impresses, Bats Bounce Stroman Early Game 34 | MIN 3, TOR 0: Berrios Hurls Gem, Twins Get Second Straight Shutout Game 35 | MIN 9, TOR 1: Twins Steamroll Toronto Game 36 | MIN 6, DET 0: Odorizzi Deals (Again), Twins Win Fourth in a Row Game 37 | DET 5, MIN 3: Tigers Out-Tater Twins, Gardy Gets Tossed Game 38 | MIN 8, DET 3: Now Witness the Firepower Game 39 | DET 5, MIN 3: We Have a Problem
  22. Game 1 Box Score Pineda: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 68.4% strikes (65 of 96 pitches) Home Runs: Castro (5), Cron (8) Multi-Hit Games: Castro (2-for-4, HR) WPA of +0.1: Cron .288, Harper .161, Castro .127 WPA of -0.1: Cruz -.120, Rosario -.137, Kepler -.214, HIldenberger -.402 (chart via FanGraphs) The Twins entered the ninth inning tied and had a freakishly fresh bullpen to work with. Rocco Baldelli had both Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers warming in the pen during the bottom of the eighth inning. He went with Hildy. It didn’t work out. Hildenberger gave up a solo homer, his first home run allowed this season, and allowed a second Tiger run to score in the inning. He’s now surrendered eight runs in his last six appearances. You have to wonder when it’s time to roll him back to low-leverage work whenever possible. Michael Pineda started this game. In the fourth inning, he gave up his third home run of the day to the struggling Tigers lineup, sparking conversations about what to do about his spot in the rotation going forward. He ended up providing a quality start. The Twins’ starting pitching has been so dominant of late that a performance the club would have been desperate for from a back of the rotation guy in recent years inspires cause for concern in 2019. Pineda ended up giving up just those three runs on the solo homers over his six innings of work. Pineda did get an assist from Ryne Harper, who stranded two inherited runners in the seventh, but Big Mike ended up surrendering just six hits and didn’t walk anyone. Serving up taters is bad, obviously, but Pineda has always done a nice job limiting damage by limiting free passes. He now has 35 strikeouts and just nine walks on the season, a 3.88 K:BB ratio. That ranks second on the starting staff behind only Jose Berrios. In the sixth inning, Jason Castro appeared to have been hit by a pitch. Detroit should have left well enough alone, but instead they challenged the call and it was overturned. Castro responded by destroying a home run to bring the Twins within a run of the Tigers. C.J. Cron tied things up in the eighth with a home run of his own. Unfortunately, that’s when Hildenberger came in and allowed Detroit to re-take the lead. The Twins’ lineup failed to make the most of their opportunities in this game. They drew five walks and had a batter hit by a pitch, but were also 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Ron Gardenhire was ejected from this game, drawing a fun reaction from the Target Field crowd. Good to see Gardy still has some fire left in him. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1127332006029864966 Bonus Fun with Morneau and Perkins Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Sun vs. DET, 1:10 pm CT (Perez-Norris) Mon vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (TBD) Tue vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (TBD) Last Game MIN 6, DET 0: Odorizzi Deals (Again), Twins Win Fourth in a Row
  23. The Tigers decided to take a page out of the Twins’ playbook and hit four home runs in the first of two games at Target Field today. Detroit ended up taking the advantage in the ninth inning, as Rocco Baldelli decided to go with Trevor Hildenberger over Taylor Rogers.Game 1 Box Score Pineda: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 68.4% strikes (65 of 96 pitches) Home Runs: Castro (5), Cron (8) Multi-Hit Games: Castro (2-for-4, HR) WPA of +0.1: Cron .288, Harper .161, Castro .127 WPA of -0.1: Cruz -.120, Rosario -.137, Kepler -.214, HIldenberger -.402 Download attachment: Win511g1.png (chart via FanGraphs) The Twins entered the ninth inning tied and had a freakishly fresh bullpen to work with. Rocco Baldelli had both Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers warming in the pen during the bottom of the eighth inning. He went with Hildy. It didn’t work out. Hildenberger gave up a solo homer, his first home run allowed this season, and allowed a second Tiger run to score in the inning. He’s now surrendered eight runs in his last six appearances. You have to wonder when it’s time to roll him back to low-leverage work whenever possible. Michael Pineda started this game. In the fourth inning, he gave up his third home run of the day to the struggling Tigers lineup, sparking conversations about what to do about his spot in the rotation going forward. He ended up providing a quality start. The Twins’ starting pitching has been so dominant of late that a performance the club would have been desperate for from a back of the rotation guy in recent years inspires cause for concern in 2019. Pineda ended up giving up just those three runs on the solo homers over his six innings of work. Pineda did get an assist from Ryne Harper, who stranded two inherited runners in the seventh, but Big Mike ended up surrendering just six hits and didn’t walk anyone. Serving up taters is bad, obviously, but Pineda has always done a nice job limiting damage by limiting free passes. He now has 35 strikeouts and just nine walks on the season, a 3.88 K:BB ratio. That ranks second on the starting staff behind only Jose Berrios. In the sixth inning, Jason Castro appeared to have been hit by a pitch. Detroit should have left well enough alone, but instead they challenged the call and it was overturned. Castro responded by destroying a home run to bring the Twins within a run of the Tigers. C.J. Cron tied things up in the eighth with a home run of his own. Unfortunately, that’s when Hildenberger came in and allowed Detroit to re-take the lead. The Twins’ lineup failed to make the most of their opportunities in this game. They drew five walks and had a batter hit by a pitch, but were also 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Ron Gardenhire was ejected from this game, drawing a fun reaction from the Target Field crowd. Good to see Gardy still has some fire left in him. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Pen511g1.png Next Three Games Sun vs. DET, 1:10 pm CT (Perez-Norris) Mon vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (TBD) Tue vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (TBD) Last Game MIN 6, DET 0: Odorizzi Deals (Again), Twins Win Fourth in a Row Click here to view the article
  24. Early Season Results Minnesota’s limited amount of games to start the season has certainly altered the bullpen’s results. Only three pitchers have appeared in double-digits games (Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger, and Taylor Rogers). Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers have split save situations with both players earning three saves or more. There have been some surprises so far this season. Minus one appearance in Houston, Ryne Harper has been outstanding. There’s reason to believe he could continue this in the weeks ahead. Hildenberger, Rogers, and Parker have also been outstanding. Does that mean the Twins aren’t that desperate to add depth to the bullpen? The Ninth Inning Question Craig Kimbrel might not want to pitch outside of the ninth inning. With 333 saves, he currently ranks in the top 14 on the all-time list. He’s a long way away from catching Mariano Rivera’s 652 saves, but there is room for him to move up the list. Even if he signs after the draft this season, he could still pass Rollie Fingers (341 saves) and Randy Myers (347 saves). Also, Kimbrel might not be willing to pitch outside of the ninth inning. Rocco Baldelli has been open to using relief pitchers in the best situation. Would Kimbrel be willing to enter the game in the seventh inning if the opposing team’s best hitters were scheduled to appear. Relief pitching has drastically changed during the last handful of seasons. Kimbrel might be more worried about his long-term legacy than the results of team he has little connection tio. Trickle Down Effect If Kimbrel came in to be the team’s closer, other strong relief pitchers would be able to be utilized in earlier innings. May, Hildenberger, Rogers, and Parker could be utilized in earlier innings. Pushing all of the relief pitchers back an inning would mean the starters don’t need to go as long. This could make the bullpen even stronger and it could allow the Twins even more separation in the American League Central Division. Will Kimbrel solve everything that is wrong with this team? No… But he could add depth to a strong core. This could be the difference in a first-round exit and a competitive team in the AL Championship Series. Could Kimbrel make that much of a difference? I believe he can…
  25. Box Score SP: Michael Pineda: 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 65.5% strikes Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (10) Multi-Hit Games: Jonathan Schoop (2-4) WPA of +0.1: Eddie Rosario (0.189), Max Kepler (0.147) WPA of -0.1: Michael Pineda (-0.309), Trevor Hildenberger (-0.213), Jorge Polanco (-0.117) (chart via FanGraphs) For the second straight night, the Minnesota Twins jumped out to a fast start in Houston. Leadoff hitter Mitch Garver got on with an infield single. One out later, Nelson Cruz reached. Eddie Rosario went opposite field to give the Twins a 3-0 lead just four batters into the game. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1120845732846632960 He became the fastest player in Twins history to reach double digits in homers, in just his 21st game of the year. https://twitter.com/MillerStrib/status/1120845972014129152 At that point, Wade Miley took over. Now, he barely reached 90 mph in the game, but he worked the bottom of the strike zone very well and retired the next 15 batters before leaving the game after the sixth inning. George Springer went to work for the Astros with his bat. In the third inning, he put Houston on the board with an RBI single. Then he hit an RBI double in the fifth inning. Later in the inning, Alex Bregman took a 3-0 fastball and drilled a ball to left field that scored two runs and put the Astros ahead 4-3. Fortunately, Rosario threw Bregman out at second base. The Twins were probably glad to see Miley’s night come to an end. With two outs in the top of the seventh, 17 straight Twins batters had been retired, the Twins had three straight hits, the third an RBI single by Max Kepler. It marked the 200th RBI of Kepler’s young career. But Trevor Hildenberger had to pitch with the bases loaded again, this time his own doing. He got Alex Bregman to line out to right field, but the go-ahead run scored. Adalberto Mejia was brought in to face lefty Michael Brantley, and the veteran with one of the sweetest swings in the game hit an RBI single to left to give the Astros a two-run lead after seven innings. Ryan Pressly shut the Twins down in the eighth inning. However, the bottom of the eighth got off to a bad start and Tyler Duffey was unable to stop the bleeding. The inning started with an error by Jorge Polanco and it just went downhill from there. Duffey fielded a bunt and threw errantly toward second, allowing a runner to score. And later Jose Altuve crushed a three-run homer that pushed the score to 10-4. All four runs were unearned. Former Twins All Star reliever Glen Perkins chimed in on twitter with his thoughts on the Duffey performance tonight. https://twitter.com/glenperkins/status/1120884365830041600 Michael Pineda worked well through the game’s first four innings, but you just can’t hold off the Astros lineup for very long. George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve combined for eight of the Astros ten RBI. Following the game, the Twins announced that Kohl Stewart will be called up to make the start on Wednesday night against Justin Verlander. The corresponding roster move will be made on Wednesday. The clubhouse remained closed to media for quite some time after the game (obviously due to a transaction happening), so FSN did not air the Rocco Baldelli post-game press conference. Here it is: https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1120900718477492224 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Wednesday - 7:10 @ Houston - Kohl Stewart (1st start of season) vs Justin Verlander (3-0, 3.00 ERA) Thursday - Twins Day Off Friday - 7:10 Home vs Baltimore - Jose Berrios (3-1, 2.97 ERA) vs Dan Straily (1-1, 8.59 ERA) Saturday - 1:10 Home vs Baltimore - Martin Perez (2-0, 5.31 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (0-1, 11.88 ERA) Last Game MIN 9, HOU 5: Bats Thrive, Bullpen Survives
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