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  1. Trevor Larnach was demoted to Triple-A earlier this week after struggling in recent weeks. What lessons can be learned from his rookie campaign? EARLY CALL-UP When the season began, Larnach wasn't expected to be a significant contributor during the 2021 campaign. There was certainly a hope that he would make his big-league debut in the season's second half, but like many parts of the Twins season, things didn't go exactly to plan. Minnesota's mounting names on the IL meant Larnach made his debut in May. Larnach certainly looked like he would hold his own during his first taste of the big leagues. Through his first 32 games, he hit .273/.390/.434 (.824) with 10 extra-base hits in 99 at-bats. There may have been some luck associated with his numbers as he had a .387 BAbip, and he was striking out more than once per game. His powerful swing was certainly legitimate as he hit some of the team’s longest home runs of the year, but the league figured him out, and he struggled to adjust. Larnach got stuck in an offensive rut in the middle of June, and he has yet to recover. He slashed .193/.279/.298 (.577) with 70 strikeouts in 47 games while also accumulating a -1.83 WPA. Also, he has the fifth-lowest SDI total among AL left fielders. Bad defense can be made up at the plate, but he struggled in both areas, which makes a demotion nearly inevitable. If opposing pitchers could avoid throwing Larnach fastballs, there was a good chance he would get himself out. When facing fastballs this year, he has a .294 BA and a .508 SLG, which resulted in him having a maximum exit velocity in the 97th percentile. He posted a slugging percentage of .218 when facing breaking pitches and a .179 slugging percentage versus offspeed pitches. According to Baseball Savant, he has a K% and Whiff% in the 1st percentile. Like all minor leaguers, Larnach didn't get a single inning of competitive action in 2020. He had limited high minors experience because of the pandemic. Back in 2019, he played 43 games at Double-A to end the season. This year, he essentially skipped Triple-A (three games) because the Twins needed him. "There is that added anxiety that comes along with trying to compete at this level, and going through ups and downs," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think that's clearly something that everyone has, even if it's not becoming an overwhelming-type thing. So, yeah. Being able to breathe, being able to relax and not have that added burden, I think, can help." There is no doubt that Larnach is part of the Twins' future, and this demotion is part of the learning process. He can rediscover his swing in St. Paul in at-bats that may have a little less pressure. Ups and downs are part of many players' careers, so hopefully, Larnach can look back on this as a great learning opportunity at the end of his rookie campaign. What have you thought about Larnach’s rookie season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. EARLY CALL-UP When the season began, Larnach wasn't expected to be a significant contributor during the 2021 campaign. There was certainly a hope that he would make his big-league debut in the season's second half, but like many parts of the Twins season, things didn't go exactly to plan. Minnesota's mounting names on the IL meant Larnach made his debut in May. Larnach certainly looked like he would hold his own during his first taste of the big leagues. Through his first 32 games, he hit .273/.390/.434 (.824) with 10 extra-base hits in 99 at-bats. There may have been some luck associated with his numbers as he had a .387 BAbip, and he was striking out more than once per game. His powerful swing was certainly legitimate as he hit some of the team’s longest home runs of the year, but the league figured him out, and he struggled to adjust. Larnach got stuck in an offensive rut in the middle of June, and he has yet to recover. He slashed .193/.279/.298 (.577) with 70 strikeouts in 47 games while also accumulating a -1.83 WPA. Also, he has the fifth-lowest SDI total among AL left fielders. Bad defense can be made up at the plate, but he struggled in both areas, which makes a demotion nearly inevitable. If opposing pitchers could avoid throwing Larnach fastballs, there was a good chance he would get himself out. When facing fastballs this year, he has a .294 BA and a .508 SLG, which resulted in him having a maximum exit velocity in the 97th percentile. He posted a slugging percentage of .218 when facing breaking pitches and a .179 slugging percentage versus offspeed pitches. According to Baseball Savant, he has a K% and Whiff% in the 1st percentile. Like all minor leaguers, Larnach didn't get a single inning of competitive action in 2020. He had limited high minors experience because of the pandemic. Back in 2019, he played 43 games at Double-A to end the season. This year, he essentially skipped Triple-A (three games) because the Twins needed him. "There is that added anxiety that comes along with trying to compete at this level, and going through ups and downs," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think that's clearly something that everyone has, even if it's not becoming an overwhelming-type thing. So, yeah. Being able to breathe, being able to relax and not have that added burden, I think, can help." There is no doubt that Larnach is part of the Twins' future, and this demotion is part of the learning process. He can rediscover his swing in St. Paul in at-bats that may have a little less pressure. Ups and downs are part of many players' careers, so hopefully, Larnach can look back on this as a great learning opportunity at the end of his rookie campaign. What have you thought about Larnach’s rookie season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. We still have a ways to go, and while there is no August waiver trade period in 2021, Rocco Baldelli’s roster should continue to get a shake-up over the next few weeks. Cycling in different hitters and pitchers when attempting to find future opportunities, this club can also look back on what has been and begin making assessments for 2022 and beyond. While not all the biggest storylines, here are five key takeaways from what we’ve seen to this point: Miguel Sano is inconsistently consistent Through 21 games to start the year, Sano owned a .119/.280/.209 slash line. Over his next 38 games from May 15 through June 30, he held a .233/.280/.549 slash line. Then, in July, he’s owned a .246/.325/.478 slash line across 20 games. He’s got a .737 OPS in 79 games this year and has paired that with 17 homers and a .291 OBP. If you’re looking for Miguel Sano to be the mega-prospect he once was considered, that’s probably on you at this point. The slash line still leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s got a 103 OPS+ and has not wavered on a solid sense of plate discipline. Timing continues to elude him for frustrating stretches, but he’s also capable of going on an absolute power tear. Should the Twins find themselves back in a position of strength throughout their lineup, a bat like that in the bottom half is hardly something to scoff at. He’s owed $9.25 million in 2022, and that’s an overpay but not to the extent of being ultimately damaging and acting as a primary designated hitter; that may be the role he’s always been destined for anyways. Nick Gordon has utility I was convinced that opportunity had passed the Twins former first-round pick by for quite a while. I knew he could play at the big-league level but wasn’t sure it would happen in a Minnesota uniform. Now I’m more convinced that it needs to continue. He’s still the same player he’s been throughout the minors. A soft-hitting speedster that will occasionally run into one, this is a singles hitter that has the instincts to swipe bases. Add in the utility he’s provided by learning centerfield on the fly, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster in 2022. Gordon may find a bit more success in year two when it comes to batting average; he’s made a career out of taking steps forward after acclimating to a level. Even if he doesn’t, though, speed on the bench is something Minnesota hasn’t had, and the combination of being a lighter version of Chris Taylor is a good thing for any roster to have. Mitch Garver can still mash To say that 2020 was disastrous for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. The Twins Silver Slugger winning catcher posted a terrible .511 OPS and hit just two homers in 23 games. Things started slow for him in 2021, with a .517 OPS being toted through 17 games. In his last 29 games since April 28, with a severe injury mixed in there, Garver has slashed .299/.449/.740 with nine homers and a 20/19 K/BB. The life-altering foul tip he took was incredibly scary, but as rehab progressed and healing took place, he’s been back behind the dish and picked up where he left off. Even after being plunked by a pitch on his hand recently, it’s fair to dream of the production that will soon return. Garver is a late-blooming prospect, so he’s going to age relatively quickly, but this is the anchor of a tandem behind the dish that Twins fans were hoping for. The pitching staff needs an overhaul Minnesota owns the fourth-worst pitching staff in baseball by fWAR in 2021. The starters rank 24th, and the relievers are 25th. The entire unit has been a complete abomination. With the uncertain status of Jose Berrios’ future and veterans like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda being done this offseason, the rotation will be in flux. Taylor Rogers sapped his trade value with a finger injury just days ago, but whether he was dealt or not, the rest of the bullpen remains a complete question mark. None of the signings made by the front office have worked out, and while they were short-term pacts, a re-do is less exciting when considering just how many times they missed over the winter. Derek Falvey has long been lauded for his ability to develop and identify pitching. Minnesota has a farm system rich with names attached to arms, but none have begun to bear fruit, and plenty are currently injured. For this organization to thrive at the highest level, it’s going to need to start on the mound once again, and they’re going to be doing so from next to nothing for 2022. Corner rookies are real In a season where winning takes a back seat, the best way to prevent it from becoming lost is by watching your youth thrive. Alex Kirilloff is done for the year after having wrist surgery, but it’s pretty realistic to call his rookie campaign a success. The top prospect came up early and handled his own. He’s not an ideal fit in the outfield, but he’ll play at first base, and the bat is every bit as advertised. Trevor Larnach joined Kirilloff sooner than expected, but it’s hard to pick apart much of what he’s done this season. Even while slumping of late, the 24-year-old owns a .322 OBP and has shown plenty of power potential. He’ll run into more baseballs as his career progresses, and the discipline in the box has been a sight to behold. These are both pillar players that Minnesota needs to see as foundational cornerstones of future lineups, and early returns should suggest they are both capable of doing just that. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. To say the 2021 Major League Baseball season has not gone as planned for the Minnesota Twins would be an understatement. It’s been a catastrophic failure of expectations, but there are things to be learned in this smoldering mess. We still have a ways to go, and while there is no August waiver trade period in 2021, Rocco Baldelli’s roster should continue to get a shake-up over the next few weeks. Cycling in different hitters and pitchers when attempting to find future opportunities, this club can also look back on what has been and begin making assessments for 2022 and beyond. While not all the biggest storylines, here are five key takeaways from what we’ve seen to this point: Miguel Sano is inconsistently consistent Through 21 games to start the year, Sano owned a .119/.280/.209 slash line. Over his next 38 games from May 15 through June 30, he held a .233/.280/.549 slash line. Then, in July, he’s owned a .246/.325/.478 slash line across 20 games. He’s got a .737 OPS in 79 games this year and has paired that with 17 homers and a .291 OBP. If you’re looking for Miguel Sano to be the mega-prospect he once was considered, that’s probably on you at this point. The slash line still leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s got a 103 OPS+ and has not wavered on a solid sense of plate discipline. Timing continues to elude him for frustrating stretches, but he’s also capable of going on an absolute power tear. Should the Twins find themselves back in a position of strength throughout their lineup, a bat like that in the bottom half is hardly something to scoff at. He’s owed $9.25 million in 2022, and that’s an overpay but not to the extent of being ultimately damaging and acting as a primary designated hitter; that may be the role he’s always been destined for anyways. Nick Gordon has utility I was convinced that opportunity had passed the Twins former first-round pick by for quite a while. I knew he could play at the big-league level but wasn’t sure it would happen in a Minnesota uniform. Now I’m more convinced that it needs to continue. He’s still the same player he’s been throughout the minors. A soft-hitting speedster that will occasionally run into one, this is a singles hitter that has the instincts to swipe bases. Add in the utility he’s provided by learning centerfield on the fly, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster in 2022. Gordon may find a bit more success in year two when it comes to batting average; he’s made a career out of taking steps forward after acclimating to a level. Even if he doesn’t, though, speed on the bench is something Minnesota hasn’t had, and the combination of being a lighter version of Chris Taylor is a good thing for any roster to have. Mitch Garver can still mash To say that 2020 was disastrous for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. The Twins Silver Slugger winning catcher posted a terrible .511 OPS and hit just two homers in 23 games. Things started slow for him in 2021, with a .517 OPS being toted through 17 games. In his last 29 games since April 28, with a severe injury mixed in there, Garver has slashed .299/.449/.740 with nine homers and a 20/19 K/BB. The life-altering foul tip he took was incredibly scary, but as rehab progressed and healing took place, he’s been back behind the dish and picked up where he left off. Even after being plunked by a pitch on his hand recently, it’s fair to dream of the production that will soon return. Garver is a late-blooming prospect, so he’s going to age relatively quickly, but this is the anchor of a tandem behind the dish that Twins fans were hoping for. The pitching staff needs an overhaul Minnesota owns the fourth-worst pitching staff in baseball by fWAR in 2021. The starters rank 24th, and the relievers are 25th. The entire unit has been a complete abomination. With the uncertain status of Jose Berrios’ future and veterans like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda being done this offseason, the rotation will be in flux. Taylor Rogers sapped his trade value with a finger injury just days ago, but whether he was dealt or not, the rest of the bullpen remains a complete question mark. None of the signings made by the front office have worked out, and while they were short-term pacts, a re-do is less exciting when considering just how many times they missed over the winter. Derek Falvey has long been lauded for his ability to develop and identify pitching. Minnesota has a farm system rich with names attached to arms, but none have begun to bear fruit, and plenty are currently injured. For this organization to thrive at the highest level, it’s going to need to start on the mound once again, and they’re going to be doing so from next to nothing for 2022. Corner rookies are real In a season where winning takes a back seat, the best way to prevent it from becoming lost is by watching your youth thrive. Alex Kirilloff is done for the year after having wrist surgery, but it’s pretty realistic to call his rookie campaign a success. The top prospect came up early and handled his own. He’s not an ideal fit in the outfield, but he’ll play at first base, and the bat is every bit as advertised. Trevor Larnach joined Kirilloff sooner than expected, but it’s hard to pick apart much of what he’s done this season. Even while slumping of late, the 24-year-old owns a .322 OBP and has shown plenty of power potential. He’ll run into more baseballs as his career progresses, and the discipline in the box has been a sight to behold. These are both pillar players that Minnesota needs to see as foundational cornerstones of future lineups, and early returns should suggest they are both capable of doing just that. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  5. Organization’s prospect depth helps to keep team’s competitive window open as long as possible. Minnesota has built up a strong farm system but that means the team hasn’t been able to hang on to some of their depth in recent years. Players like Akil Baddoo and LaMonte Wade have gone on to find success with other organizations because the Twins didn’t project them as part of the long-term plan. Brent Rooker seems like another player that doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plan. During the 2020 season, he impressed during his big- league debut although it was limited to seven games and 21 plate appearances. During that time, he hit .316/.381/.579 with three extra-base hits and five strikeouts. His season was cut short due to a fractured forearm, but it wasn’t hard to envision him fitting on the team’s roster moving forward. Entering the 2021 season, Rooker was fighting for a roster spot. However, it became clear that the team wasn’t keen to use him as a defensive outfielder, because he is below average in a corner outfield spot. First base is a position where he is not as much of a defensive liability, but the team has other options at that position. Minnesota was forced to make a choice and Kyle Garlick earned the final roster spot. Rooker was going to have to slug his way back to the Twins. Rooker has certainly been making his presence known in the Saints roster this season. His season started on a slow note as he was limited to a .375 OPS during the team’s eight April games. He posted an .836 OPS in May, but June was when he really turned it on as he hit .275/.420/.675 (1.095) with nine home runs. He was one of the best hitters in the minors and the Twins didn’t have a roster spot for him even though they were struggling. One of the biggest reasons the Twins didn’t give Rooker the call was because two other outfield prospects have passed him up on the depth chart. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are considered better prospects than Rooker, but he has always been playing at a higher level in Minnesota’s farm system. Losing the 2020 minor league season likely cost Rooker a chance to play his way into the team’s long-term plans. Kirilloff went on the IL earlier this week, but Rooker still wasn’t called up to take his spot. Now Nelson Cruz has been traded, so Rooker might get an opportunity to slide into a DH role with the Twins. However, trading him to another organization might be his best chance at finding a permanent big-league role. Because of his college experience, he is already 26-years old. He has dominated Triple-A pitching in parts of two different seasons and the Twins don’t seem to have a spot for him. Like Badoo and Wade, he may find success in another organization, but he at least deserves to have a chance to prove he belongs at the MLB level. Do you think the Twins should trade Rooker? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. Minnesota has started their trade deadline selling spree by sending Nelson Cruz to the Rays. Even in sell mode, would the team consider trading away one of the club’s top prospects? Organization’s prospect depth helps to keep team’s competitive window open as long as possible. Minnesota has built up a strong farm system but that means the team hasn’t been able to hang on to some of their depth in recent years. Players like Akil Baddoo and LaMonte Wade have gone on to find success with other organizations because the Twins didn’t project them as part of the long-term plan. Brent Rooker seems like another player that doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plan. During the 2020 season, he impressed during his big- league debut although it was limited to seven games and 21 plate appearances. During that time, he hit .316/.381/.579 with three extra-base hits and five strikeouts. His season was cut short due to a fractured forearm, but it wasn’t hard to envision him fitting on the team’s roster moving forward. Entering the 2021 season, Rooker was fighting for a roster spot. However, it became clear that the team wasn’t keen to use him as a defensive outfielder, because he is below average in a corner outfield spot. First base is a position where he is not as much of a defensive liability, but the team has other options at that position. Minnesota was forced to make a choice and Kyle Garlick earned the final roster spot. Rooker was going to have to slug his way back to the Twins. Rooker has certainly been making his presence known in the Saints roster this season. His season started on a slow note as he was limited to a .375 OPS during the team’s eight April games. He posted an .836 OPS in May, but June was when he really turned it on as he hit .275/.420/.675 (1.095) with nine home runs. He was one of the best hitters in the minors and the Twins didn’t have a roster spot for him even though they were struggling. One of the biggest reasons the Twins didn’t give Rooker the call was because two other outfield prospects have passed him up on the depth chart. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are considered better prospects than Rooker, but he has always been playing at a higher level in Minnesota’s farm system. Losing the 2020 minor league season likely cost Rooker a chance to play his way into the team’s long-term plans. Kirilloff went on the IL earlier this week, but Rooker still wasn’t called up to take his spot. Now Nelson Cruz has been traded, so Rooker might get an opportunity to slide into a DH role with the Twins. However, trading him to another organization might be his best chance at finding a permanent big-league role. Because of his college experience, he is already 26-years old. He has dominated Triple-A pitching in parts of two different seasons and the Twins don’t seem to have a spot for him. Like Badoo and Wade, he may find success in another organization, but he at least deserves to have a chance to prove he belongs at the MLB level. Do you think the Twins should trade Rooker? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. Baseball’s approaching trade deadline leaves all teams searching for the best value. Max Kepler is under team control through 2024, so does that make him one of baseball’s most valuable trade assets? Every year leading into the trade deadline, FanGraphs ranks the top 50 players in baseball according to their trade value. Some of items taken into consideration are performance, age, and years remaining of team control. According to their explanation, “the central question we considered boils down to this: how much value could a team expect to get in a trade for each player on the list?” One Twins player’s ranking may come as a surprise. Max Kepler ranks as baseball’s 45th most valuable trade asset and this comes a year after being ranked 39th overall. He is under team control through 2024 when he will be in his age-31 season. Over the next three seasons, he is projected to be worth 8.8 WAR while earning a max (no pun intended) of $25.3 million. Kepler’s name hasn’t been out there in trade discussions as much as players like Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, and Andrelton Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Kepler deal is out of the question. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach emerging as valuable corner outfield options makes it easier to part with Kepler. Minnesota is also talking to Byron Buxton about a potential contract extension and that might leave the Twins even more willing to part with Kepler. So, how does Kepler enter the discussion as one of the most valuable trade assets? He is a good, but not great player that has multiple years of control on a team friendly deal. For his career, he has hit .234/.317/.442 (.760) and been worth 11.7 WAR, which FanGraphs values at $93.9 million. He has also shown the ability be a strong defensive corner outfielder while being capable of being an average defensive center fielder. During the 2021 season, Kepler is posting career highs in average exit velocity and hard hit %. For instance, his average exit velocity in 2019, when he hit 36 homers, was in the 61st percentile. Fast-forward to 2021 and he’s in the 76th percentile for average exit velocity. Minnesota has also seen some of Kepler’s flaws since his breakout 2019 campaign. According to some defensive metrics, he’s in the midst of his worst defensive season of his career. His hamstring issues have certainly slowed him down. That being said, he still ranks in the 78th percentile for outs above average and he’s outfield jump is one of baseball’s best (97th percentile). Offensively, it has been hard to live up to 2019. He consistently posts BABIP totals under .250 because he pops the ball up so frequently. This season, he is also striking out at a higher rate than any other season as his chase rate is in the 89th percentile. He’s hitting the ball harder, but the results haven’t been there. Teams know what they are getting with Kepler and organizations find value in having a known cost. How much value that brings as a trade asset is yet to be seen. Do you think Kepler is one of baseball’s most valuable trade assets? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  8. Every year leading into the trade deadline, FanGraphs ranks the top 50 players in baseball according to their trade value. Some of items taken into consideration are performance, age, and years remaining of team control. According to their explanation, “the central question we considered boils down to this: how much value could a team expect to get in a trade for each player on the list?” One Twins player’s ranking may come as a surprise. Max Kepler ranks as baseball’s 45th most valuable trade asset and this comes a year after being ranked 39th overall. He is under team control through 2024 when he will be in his age-31 season. Over the next three seasons, he is projected to be worth 8.8 WAR while earning a max (no pun intended) of $25.3 million. Kepler’s name hasn’t been out there in trade discussions as much as players like Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, and Andrelton Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Kepler deal is out of the question. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach emerging as valuable corner outfield options makes it easier to part with Kepler. Minnesota is also talking to Byron Buxton about a potential contract extension and that might leave the Twins even more willing to part with Kepler. So, how does Kepler enter the discussion as one of the most valuable trade assets? He is a good, but not great player that has multiple years of control on a team friendly deal. For his career, he has hit .234/.317/.442 (.760) and been worth 11.7 WAR, which FanGraphs values at $93.9 million. He has also shown the ability be a strong defensive corner outfielder while being capable of being an average defensive center fielder. During the 2021 season, Kepler is posting career highs in average exit velocity and hard hit %. For instance, his average exit velocity in 2019, when he hit 36 homers, was in the 61st percentile. Fast-forward to 2021 and he’s in the 76th percentile for average exit velocity. Minnesota has also seen some of Kepler’s flaws since his breakout 2019 campaign. According to some defensive metrics, he’s in the midst of his worst defensive season of his career. His hamstring issues have certainly slowed him down. That being said, he still ranks in the 78th percentile for outs above average and he’s outfield jump is one of baseball’s best (97th percentile). Offensively, it has been hard to live up to 2019. He consistently posts BABIP totals under .250 because he pops the ball up so frequently. This season, he is also striking out at a higher rate than any other season as his chase rate is in the 89th percentile. He’s hitting the ball harder, but the results haven’t been there. Teams know what they are getting with Kepler and organizations find value in having a known cost. How much value that brings as a trade asset is yet to be seen. Do you think Kepler is one of baseball’s most valuable trade assets? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. In 2020’s aftermath, organizations are going to attempt to get their prospects back on track to eventually have big-league success. Missing all the 2020 season forced teams to get creative with plans for prospect development as many players were relegated to home workout plans. Minnesota was lucky enough to have room at their alternate site for top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach and they have reaped the benefits so far this season. Kirilloff struggled this spring and was left off the Opening Day roster, but he has put together some strong numbers since the Twins called him up. He ended the first half with a .765 OPS and a 113 OPS+ including 20 extra-base hits. Larnach isn’t that far behind as he has compiled a .755 OPS and a 113 OPS+ with 16 extra-base hits. While these players have succeeded, other top prospects have struggled so far in their first taste of the big leagues. Tampa’s Wander Franco entered the season as baseball’s consensus top prospect, but things haven’t been easy for him so far. In his first 15 games, he has hit .197/.258/.328 and combined for a 67 OPS+. He just turned 20-years old in March so there is plenty of time for him to find his groove. Tampa likely hopes he finds it sooner rather than later as they are part of a tight race in the AL East. Seattle’s Jarred Kelenic started the year ranked as baseball’s number four prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com. He got 23 games under his belt and the results were bad enough that Seattle sent him back to Triple-A. He hit .096/.185/.193 with 26 strikeouts in 83 at-bats. He is still part of the long-term plan in Seattle and his bat seems to be getting back on track in the minors. Atlanta’s Cristian Pache ranked as a top-20 prospect by all three national top-100 lists. But like Franco and Kelenic, he has struggled to find his stroke in the majors. In 22 games, he has hit .111/.152/.206 with 25 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. Ronald Acuna’s season ending injury might allow him to get some more at-bats as the season progresses, but he there are some obvious areas of improvement. The 2021 season has been dreadful for the Twins as well as some of baseball’s top prospects. Thankfully, Kirilloff and Larnach have been forced into some situations that will be learning experiences moving forward. Even with some recent struggles, Larnach has been consistently hitting in the middle of the line-up. Kirilloff has come up with some big hits and important defensive plays. It’s a small positive in the middle of a terrible Twins campaign. Franco, Kelenic, and Pache may all be better players than Minnesota’s duo, but it’s clear that Kirilloff and Larnach have more than lived up to their scouting reports in the season’s first half. Now they need to continue to make adjustments to stay ahead of the rest of baseball’s top prospects. What have your impressions been of Minnesota’s rookie duo? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach compiled notable first half performances especially considering there was no minor league season last year. What’s even more impressive is when you compare them to other top prospects. In 2020’s aftermath, organizations are going to attempt to get their prospects back on track to eventually have big-league success. Missing all the 2020 season forced teams to get creative with plans for prospect development as many players were relegated to home workout plans. Minnesota was lucky enough to have room at their alternate site for top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach and they have reaped the benefits so far this season. Kirilloff struggled this spring and was left off the Opening Day roster, but he has put together some strong numbers since the Twins called him up. He ended the first half with a .765 OPS and a 113 OPS+ including 20 extra-base hits. Larnach isn’t that far behind as he has compiled a .755 OPS and a 113 OPS+ with 16 extra-base hits. While these players have succeeded, other top prospects have struggled so far in their first taste of the big leagues. Tampa’s Wander Franco entered the season as baseball’s consensus top prospect, but things haven’t been easy for him so far. In his first 15 games, he has hit .197/.258/.328 and combined for a 67 OPS+. He just turned 20-years old in March so there is plenty of time for him to find his groove. Tampa likely hopes he finds it sooner rather than later as they are part of a tight race in the AL East. Seattle’s Jarred Kelenic started the year ranked as baseball’s number four prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com. He got 23 games under his belt and the results were bad enough that Seattle sent him back to Triple-A. He hit .096/.185/.193 with 26 strikeouts in 83 at-bats. He is still part of the long-term plan in Seattle and his bat seems to be getting back on track in the minors. Atlanta’s Cristian Pache ranked as a top-20 prospect by all three national top-100 lists. But like Franco and Kelenic, he has struggled to find his stroke in the majors. In 22 games, he has hit .111/.152/.206 with 25 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. Ronald Acuna’s season ending injury might allow him to get some more at-bats as the season progresses, but he there are some obvious areas of improvement. The 2021 season has been dreadful for the Twins as well as some of baseball’s top prospects. Thankfully, Kirilloff and Larnach have been forced into some situations that will be learning experiences moving forward. Even with some recent struggles, Larnach has been consistently hitting in the middle of the line-up. Kirilloff has come up with some big hits and important defensive plays. It’s a small positive in the middle of a terrible Twins campaign. Franco, Kelenic, and Pache may all be better players than Minnesota’s duo, but it’s clear that Kirilloff and Larnach have more than lived up to their scouting reports in the season’s first half. Now they need to continue to make adjustments to stay ahead of the rest of baseball’s top prospects. What have your impressions been of Minnesota’s rookie duo? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. It feels good to be able to write about actual minor league baseball action again. After it being shelved in 2020 and the only updates coming from unattended alternate site workouts, real games taking place is a welcomed reality. For Minnesota, there’s been lots of graduations from the farm, and even more shifting. Traditionally this top 15 update has come after the Major League Baseball draft. With the timing of that event being shifted into July, I wanted to keep things consistent. Coincidentally, it was this exact date last year that the previous midseason update dropped. If you’d like to take a look at where I had guys coming into 2021, you can find all archived rankings below. Let’s get into it! 2016 Top 15 Prospects 2017 Top 15 Prospects 2018 Top 15 Prospects 2019 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Top 15 Prospects 2021 Top 15 Prospects 15. Jose Miranda IF While he’s never made a top 15 for me before, Miranda has consistently been a “just missed” type. That doesn’t happen when you’ve got a .919 OPS in your first 37 games at Double-A. Lots of hype for Jose has been built around his bat and the work he did last year during the downtime. Looks like that was right. 14. Cole Sands RHP A 5th round pick back in 2018, Sands is now nearly 24 and at Double-A. He’s got 31.2 innings under his belt thus far for Wichita and owns a dazzling 2.84 ERA. The 5.1 BB/9 isn’t a great look, but the 11.9 K/9 continues his strength of being able to punch batters out. He was impressive when I saw him during Spring Training in 2020, and the arrow continues to point up. 13. Misael Urbina OF Signed out of Venezuela, Urbina has made his stateside debut in 2021. He’s struggled in Low-A thus far, but there’s speed and defensive ability here. He also may run into a good amount of pop and he’s just 19 years old. 12. Gilberto Celestino OF Forced into action for the Twins this year due to outfield injuries, Celestino is up ahead of schedule. He’s played just 21 games at the Double-A level for Minnesota, and the bat still has a ways to go. He’s a plus defender with good speed, and if he can hit at all, there’s a fourth outfielder at worst here. 11. Matt Wallner OF One of the most athletic Twins prospects, Wallner has hit everywhere he’s gone in the system. He owns a 1.005 OPS in his first 17 games at High-A but has been shelved with a wrist injury. Would not be shocked to see him be a solid corner outfielder with a plus arm and plus bat. Just need to get him healthy and back on the field. 10. Brent Rooker OF/1B It continues to be tough sledding for Rooker when looking for big league playing time. He’s a liability in the field and that bat absolutely has to play. It has again at Triple-A this season, where he’s got an .861 OPS for the Saints. If the Twins need bodies though, it’s been in the outfield, and he just can’t really help there. Should they choose a more rotation DH situation going forward, Rooker will factor in nicely. 9. Josh Winder RHP Another 2018 draft pick, Winder has impressed coming out of the Virginia Military Institute. Now 24 and at Double-A, he’s arguably been the best arm on the farm. He’s got a 2.16 ERA across 41.2 IP and his 10.8 K/9 pairs well with a 1.7 BB/9. He’ll be a Triple-A option soon and pitching 125 innings back in 2019 should work in his favor as far as workloads go. 8. Blayne Enlow RHP This one hurts, because Enlow could’ve found himself even higher on this list had his year gone differently. After 14.2 IP and a 1.84 ERA, Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out well into 2022. He’s still just 22, but it would’ve been great to see him at Double-A this season. 7. Matt Canterino RHP Another arm of concern here, Canterino is currently shelved and it’s murky as to when he’ll return. He owns a 1.00 ERA and 35/3 K/BB at High-A in 18 innings this year. It’s clear he’s ready for a step up in competition, and maybe should’ve even started at Double-A, but again, health is the chief concern. 6. Aaron Sabato 1B Do I love that Sabato has just a .668 OPS at Low-A in his first 36 professional games? No. Do I love that he has a 22% walk rate in those games? Yes. He’s got an advanced eye in a league where plenty of pitchers are fighting command. The power is real and should eventually play. 5. Keoni Cavaco SS Recently having turned 20, Cavaco is getting acclimated at Low-A. He has just a .673 OPS but seemed to be putting some positive developments together prior to a concussion related injury stint. This is a big year of growth for him and seeing some of the tools that had him shooting up draft boards would be exciting. 4. Jhoan Duran RHP A late start to the year set the timetable back some, but Duran should still be expected to reach the majors in 2021. He’s been both lights out and wild at times for the Saints, but it’s clear why there’s so much to like with him. A triple-digit fastball that he does have good command of is going to play. 3. Trevor Larnach OF It won’t be long and Larnach will have graduated from this list. He isn’t higher because I’m not sold on him being a perennial All-Star type, but there’s nothing to suggest he’s not a starting corner outfielder for a long time. The bat has contact and power, and the eye has quickly established itself. The kid is good. 2. Jordan Balazovic RHP Starting the year on the IL wasn’t ideal, but Balazovic has now taken three turns in the Double-A Wichita rotation. He’s racked up 16 strikeouts in his first 9.2 IP, and this may be the Twins next best shot at developing an ace. There’s an outside chance he could make a start in Minnesota later in 2021. 1. Royce Lewis SS Done for 2021 before he started, Royce Lewis tore his ACL, and it was discovered on intake. The year of development being missed after a lost 2020 and tough 2019 isn’t ideal. His character continues to suggest he’ll dominate rehab, and the ceiling remains as high as anyone within the organization. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  12. Alex Kirilloff was the Twins first round draft pick in 2016. When the new front office took over, they went with Royce Lewis the next year, and then followed up with Trevor Larnach. Since that point I’ve contended the separation between Kirilloff and Larnach shouldn’t have been presumed to be much. We’re now seeing that take shape. Kirilloff is playing through an injury, and while he’s having himself a nice debut, I don’t think it’s quite to the level he’ll reach in short order. That’s given way for Larnach to shine though, and he’s done exactly that. Trevor was thrust into a Major League role given the Twins outfield health issues. Having played just three games at Triple-A, and only 43 at Double-A two years ago, a premature call-up is probably fair to suggest. Despite taking some time to acclimate, he’s begun to settle in. Now with 31 games under his belt, the former Oregon State Beaver owns a .263/.386/.421 slash line. The .807 OPS isn’t all that noteworthy, but the 131 OPS+ plays, and the number that jumps off the page is the .386 OBP backed by a strong 33/14 K/BB. Larnach hasn’t yet ran into much power. He has just nine extra base hits, of which only three have left the yard. That isn’t to suggest the process isn’t sound, though. Drafted with notes of high exit velocities, that has played out at the highest level. Larnach owns a 37.1% hard hit rate and a 14.5% barrel rate. His xSLG sits 40 points higher at .466 and he owns a max exit velo of 116 mph. I don’t think you’ll find anyone jumping to suggest that Larnach is otherworldly on either of the corners, but it’s more than apparent he can stick. With the bat profile he has, a traditional corner outfielder with pop is exactly what he’s trending towards. This isn’t a finished product by any means, but I think the Twins have to be thrilled with the early returns. Recently at Fangraphs, Paul Sporer also took a look into where Larnach could go from here. Both Larnach and Kirilloff should be mainstays in the Minnesota lineup for years to come. We have seen both of them bat in the heart of the order this year, and while that’s more reflective of circumstance, they’ve held their own plenty. In lieu of so many injuries having piled up on the Twins this season, it’s been nice to see opportunity parlayed into production for a guy like Larnach. Not every prospect comes up and flourishes. The Seattle Mariners just had to demote top prospect Jarred Kelenic after a terrible start. Baseball is hard, and even moreso when the runway for readiness hasn’t been there in a traditional sense. Give it to Larnach for battling that adversity and still producing at the level he is. While Kirilloff is still my pick to be the better player with a more likely shot to win a batting title, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Larnach round out into a more complete specimen with an opportunity to bang 40 homers in a single season. It’s been a good start, and this is just the beginning. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  13. All of those players were mentioned in this preview after a lengthy delay to the start of the MLB season, and you’ll see quite a few of the same other names in this year’s version. As an immense fan of the minor leagues due to my experiences in those ballparks as a kid, top prospect lists and scouting reports have always been must-read material for me during the winter months as we wait for Spring. There are numerous websites and lists dedicated to this these days, including some of the best you will find about your hometown team right here at Twins Daily. I have certainly made plenty such lists over the years and have been a Minor League Report contributor here since the site’s inception, but because of the depth provided elsewhere I like to put out my own version of a list every year that instead talks about prospects you might see in the majors during the upcoming season. While 2020 was beyond weird when making this list, this season is perhaps even harder as there is no MiLB data from the prior season to rely on. I expect this list to either be woefully inaccurate or right on the nose, as assumptions from the prior season carry over. So, who are the next Minnesota Twins that could make their debut during the 2021 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The number of names in this section is a testament to the maturity of the Twins minor league system going into the 2021 season. Six of the eight names are on Twins Daily’s Top Prospect List and the other two have appeared there in the past. With this many heralded prospects knocking on the major league’s door and an already established MLB roster, it could lead to some interesting roster moves during the 2021 season. Jhoan Duran (23 years old on opening day), RHP – TD’s #5 Prospect There is a lot to like with Duran. He has size, triple-digit velocity, and a unique pitch that can give hitters fits if they are sitting on his fastball. Like many young hurlers, development of his off-speed or breaking pitches will determine whether he remains a starter in the majors or gets transitioned to the bullpen. While he spent time at the alternate site in 2020, he has only pitched 37 innings at the double-A level with inconsistent results. It is not out of the question he starts the MiLB season back in double-A, pushing any potential debut timeline out to later in the summer, which also could come as a reliever much like Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Nick Gordon (25), IF (Gordon made his MLB debut on 5/6, and went 1-for-2 with a BB and 2 SB) I have had Gordon on this list for several years now, and the 2021 season may be the make-it-or-break-it campaign for the Twins first round pick from the 2014 draft. The stat lines have not been flashy but improvement year-to-year at each level has been noticeable. He followed up a 2017 season in double-A where he hit .270/.341/.408 by hitting .333/.381/.525 to earn a promotion to triple-A in 2018. He hit only .212/.262/.283 after moving up, but the next season improved to .298/.342/.459 at the same level and it may have been a hard choice between him and Luis Arreaz for a promotion if he had not been injured at the time. I think Gordon can find an infield utility role, but whether that comes with the Twins or not is what the 2021 season may be all about for him. Jordan Balazovic (22), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Hype around Balazovic, much like Duran, is also warranted. He may not have the same level of raw stuff as Duran, but the performance has been better in comparison. The only caveat there is Balazovic has not pitched above single-A yet, though he did end up at the alternate site late in the 2020 season. I would be surprised if he began anywhere but double-A Wichita to start the year, and he is certainly going to be on an innings limit. These things work against him in terms of debuting in 2021 but being on the 40-man roster also places him high on any depth charts for promotion. He also has far less risk of being transitioned to a reliever in the future due to his above average control of all of his pitches. Ben Rortvedt (23), C – TD’s #17 Prospect (Rortvedt made his MLB debut on 4/30, going 1-for-3 with an RBI, R, and BB) Rortvedt was added to the 40-man roster after the 2020 season to make sure he was not lost in the Rule 5 draft. This is mainly due to his defensive chops as a catcher, but potential with the bat still remains as a 23-year-old with good plate discipline likely to play at triple-A for the first time this year. The defense will get him to the majors, but it depends on if his bat is unlocked enough to become a regular in an organization already boasting two strong bats at the position in Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers. He is basically an ideal emergency catcher as is and I can envision a career much like former Twins catcher Drew Butera as a good floor. Dakota Chalmers (24), RHP Chalmers has only pitched around 60 recorded innings since having Tommy John surgery during the 2018 season, and less than 200 total innings in six years as a professional, but that has not stopped him from getting close to the majors. That is because of strong raw stuff that includes a mid-90’s fastball and bat missing sliders and changeups as his secondary offerings. Control of these pitches has always been the issue as he has walked 6.6 per nine innings pitched over his professional career. This was especially evident in his time in the Arizona Fall League after the 2019 season, where he was all over the board from terrible to dominant in his outings there, depending on that control. He started the AFL Championship game that the Twins prospects went on to win (with help from other prospects, of course). Gilberto Celestino (22), OF – TD’s #11 Prospect (Celestino made his MLB debut on 6/2, starting in CF and going 0-for-2 with a K) Celestino is an interesting case study on 40-man protection situations, as he is a player who has yet to play any games above A-ball, and only eight of them in the advanced Florida State League at that. As is the case with all these guys, you can blame that on a lost 2020 MiLB season, but his apparent rise in those circumstances is noteworthy as he did spend 2020 at the alternate site in St. Paul. Celestino’s bat came alive with Cedar Rapids in the latter half of the 2019 season where from July onward he hit .348/.413/.532. If the bat has continued to come around there is an exciting prospect here as he has always been a fantastic outfielder, including in center. Someone on the MLB roster could learn something about playing walls from him, too: Bailey Ober (25), RHP – TD’s #20 Prospect (Ober made his MLB debut on 5/18, starting the game and going 4.0 IP , allowing 4 ER on 5 H, 1 BB, and struck out 4 in a win against the Chicago White Sox) You will not find a better statistical performer as a starting pitcher in the Twins system from the 2019 season, where Ober posted eye opening numbers including a 0.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and K/9 rate of 11.4 at Fort Myers and Pensacola. You might expect such numbers to warrant a higher ranking on prospect lists, but he is a bit of a unicorn in the tool aspects as a 6’9” hurler whose fastball *might* touch 90 MPH on a good day. What he does have however, is perhaps some of the best control you will find in all of the minor leagues. While striking out 100 hitters in 78 2/3 innings in 2019, he walked just nine for a rate of 1.0/9IP. Pitches will always play up when you can locate them like he does, especially from his frame, and Ober is one I am particularly looking forward to following again in the 2021 season. TOP PROSPECTS: It is disappointing I had to remove one of the entries who would be in this section before Spring Training even started, but it is still worth mentioning Royce Lewis’ name. His 2019 campaign in the Arizona Fall League that resulted in an MVP award does not seem to get the credit it should. It was the best performance by a Twins prospect by far since I have been following that league with a keen eye for more years than I care to admit. His knee injury is a major bummer for the 2021 season (I guess welcome to the torn ACL club, Royce!), just like the cancelling of 2020’s minor league season was. We are going to have to wait even longer for the former #1 overall pick to arrive in the majors, but I have no doubts it will be well worth the wait. I consider each of the players in this section to be on equal footing when it comes to their maturity in the Twins system as the 40-man roster players above. They just have not needed to be added to that list yet. Trevor Larnach (24), OF – TD’s #3 Prospect (Larnach made his debut on 5/8, playing LF and going 0-for-4 but reaching base on a HBP) Twins Daily’s 2019 MiLB Hitter of the Year gets less accolades than fellow outfielder Alex Kirilloff, but I would not argue with you if you put them on equal footing as hitters. Larnach has comparable power to all fields and a bit better plate discipline to make up for any lag in hitting that skill evaluators might perceive. With the glut of corner outfield talent in the upper portions of the Twins system, having Larnach start the 2021 season back in double-A is logical, but his bat is one that could force the issue as the MLB season wears on. Blayne Enlow (22), RHP – TD’s #10 Prospect (Update: Enlow hit the disabled list in early June, and was later determined to need Tommy John surgery and will mist the rest of the 2021 season) When drafted in 2017, Enlow was said to have one of the best curveballs available, which was an even more impressive statement as he was a high school pitcher. But that pitch took a step back when he became a pro, leading to relatively unimpressive strikeout numbers. That tide could be changing as he continues to grow into any adjustments made by coaches, as reports from instructs last fall included added velocity (mid 90’s) and a reinvigorated breaking ball. Losing the 2020 season was especially detrimental to evaluating someone like Enlow, but youth is still on his side as the youngest player to appear on this list. I would envision 2022 as a more likely MLB debut year for him, but you never know. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect Canterino is another prospect where the loss of a 2020 season looms large. As an advanced college draftee in 2019 he spent time with Cedar Rapids in his first professional season and could have been fast-tracked to the upper levels in 2020. Instead of impressing on the diamond, he did so off of it, earning a late addition to the alternate site in St. Paul where he demonstrated some added velocity and also got some notice for touching 99 MPH in throwing sessions over the winter. Because his delivery has a lot of moving parts, there are some questions about if he can remain a starter long-term, but he has answered them positively in every way he can so far. If he is ticketed for double-A Wichita early in the season (or to start it?), take notice. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players are not necessarily top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a thing where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Griffin Jax (26), RHP (Jax made his MLB debut on 6/8 against the New York Yankees, in relief. He pitched 1 inning, allowing 3 ER on 3 H, and striking out 1) Jax reached triple-A for three starts during the 2019 season due to a stellar campaign at Pensacola where he posted a sub 3.00 ERA in 111 1/3 innings and earned an All-Star nod. He is not a strikeout artist but has limited walks and hard contact as a pro. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason was not able to pitch as much as he would have liked during the 2019 season due to an ulnar nerve injury that cut it short after just 23 innings with Pensacola. But those innings were fantastic as he closed out seven games for saves with a 2.35 ERA with 28 K’s and earned Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Month award for April. Zander Wiel (28), 1B/OF Wiel has been a favorite follow of mine since the Twins took him in the 12th round of the 2015 draft out of College World Series champion Vanderbilt. He may not have any loud tools, but has been productive throughout his MiLB career, leading the International League in doubles with 40, and all Twins minor leaguers with 86 runs scored with Rochester in 2019. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out nowhere to make a surprise debut for me. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skillset or background I find intriguing that could pay big dividends. These are my shots in the dark at guys who that could be in 2021. Tom Hackimer (26), RHP (Hackimer was promoted to triple-A in mid-May but had some struggles and was released in June) A pure reliever prospect who could remind fans of Pat Neshek when it is all said and done. A sidewinder who missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury returned in 2019 to post a 2.54 ERA and 75 K’s in 56 2/3 innings between Fort Myers and Pensacola, earning a FSL All-Star selection in the process. Matt Wallner (23), OF – TD’s #13 Prospect A native Minnesotan and another advanced hitter out of the Brent Rooker/Trevor Larnach mold from college, Wallner could move quickly if he is hitting bombs like he did at this spring training game I was fortunate enough to attend last year: Cole Sands (23), RHP – TD’s #15 Prospect Another victim of no 2020 season, Sands was fantastic in 2019 pitching at three levels in his first taste of professional ball, ending the year with a start in double-A. He was especially dominant with Fort Myers, posting a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in nine starts. His changeup has been rated as the best in the Twins system by Baseball America. Yennier Cano (27), RHP An international signing in 2019, Cano has flown a little under the radar despite being rated as one of the top arms available in that market up to that point. A standout from Cuba that played on their national teams, Cano boasts high-90’s velocity and a full repertoire that could be culled to play to his strengths out of the bullpen. Chris Vallimont (24), RHP Vallimont was the prospect addition in the deal with the Miami Marlins for Sergio Romo during the 2019 season and impressed with Fort Myers after the trade. He has been a starter with a full repertoire including a fastball with movement and slider that gets swings and misses, especially against same-sided hitters. The Twins want him to throw that slider more, which could be an interesting development to follow this season as the organization has taken a particular interest in slider heavy relievers recently. These are (some of) the players I think could make their MLB dreams come true during the 2021 season and don a Minnesota Twins jersey for the first time. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? Who are the prospects I’ve missed that you believe could do so this year?
  14. He made his debut in 2020 and seemed to be off to a great start to his big-league career and then this spring he was given a chance to make the team. Now, he might be the team’s biggest forgotten prospect. The 2020 season was unique in more ways than one. For rookies making their big-league debut, this certainly had to be true as they stepped into a strange environment with no fans and a multitude of COVID protocols. In spite of these barriers, Brent Rooker was able to make his debut and find success at the plate, but have other prospects passed him by in 2021? Last year, Rooker was called up after Max Kepler was sent to the IL. He played in seven games and hit .316/.381/.579 with a home run and two doubles. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and fractured his forearm which ended his season. His strong performance wasn’t limited to the big-league level either. He had posted a .928 OPS during the 2019 season and the majority of his games that year were at Triple-A. Spring training had to be an exciting time for Rooker. For the first time in his career, he had a good chance at making the big-league roster and those odds only increased after Alex Kirilloff’s rough spring saw him sent to the minor league side. However, Rocco Baldelli stressed the importance of defense and Rooker has little defensive value, so he was optioned to the alternate site. The team quickly needed Rooker at the big-league level after Josh Donaldson injured his hamstring. He played in three games and went 1-for-11 without an extra-base hit. He suffered a neck injury and didn’t hit much better after he returned from the IL. For the year, he has gone 3-for-29 with two extra-base hits and a 13-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. His time in St. Paul has seen some good and some bad as he has hit .227/.366/.470 with five home runs and a double in 66 at-bats. What might be most encouraging is the fact that he has drawn 15 walks. Recently, he missed a few games with an injury, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the team’s weekend series. He finished the four-game set going 6-for-19 with two homers and a double. It’s a good to see some life in his bat, but he has plenty left to prove. Rooker and the Twins might have missed out on an opportunity to see what he can do with a regular role at the big-league level. Trevor Larnach and Kirilloff have been getting regular at-bats while Rooker continues to play at Triple-A. Those two players have always been seen as better prospects, but Rooker is already 26-years old, and he has been limited to less than 50 at-bats at baseball’s highest level. Entering the season, he was considered one of the top, if not the best, power hitting prospects in the Twins organization. His college experience and success in the minor leagues certainly prove his power hitting prowess. Now, he needs to find his swing again at Triple-A before more prospects continue to pass him by for opportunities with the Twins. Do you think the Rooker has become a forgotten prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. The 2020 season was unique in more ways than one. For rookies making their big-league debut, this certainly had to be true as they stepped into a strange environment with no fans and a multitude of COVID protocols. In spite of these barriers, Brent Rooker was able to make his debut and find success at the plate, but have other prospects passed him by in 2021? Last year, Rooker was called up after Max Kepler was sent to the IL. He played in seven games and hit .316/.381/.579 with a home run and two doubles. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and fractured his forearm which ended his season. His strong performance wasn’t limited to the big-league level either. He had posted a .928 OPS during the 2019 season and the majority of his games that year were at Triple-A. Spring training had to be an exciting time for Rooker. For the first time in his career, he had a good chance at making the big-league roster and those odds only increased after Alex Kirilloff’s rough spring saw him sent to the minor league side. However, Rocco Baldelli stressed the importance of defense and Rooker has little defensive value, so he was optioned to the alternate site. The team quickly needed Rooker at the big-league level after Josh Donaldson injured his hamstring. He played in three games and went 1-for-11 without an extra-base hit. He suffered a neck injury and didn’t hit much better after he returned from the IL. For the year, he has gone 3-for-29 with two extra-base hits and a 13-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. His time in St. Paul has seen some good and some bad as he has hit .227/.366/.470 with five home runs and a double in 66 at-bats. What might be most encouraging is the fact that he has drawn 15 walks. Recently, he missed a few games with an injury, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the team’s weekend series. He finished the four-game set going 6-for-19 with two homers and a double. It’s a good to see some life in his bat, but he has plenty left to prove. Rooker and the Twins might have missed out on an opportunity to see what he can do with a regular role at the big-league level. Trevor Larnach and Kirilloff have been getting regular at-bats while Rooker continues to play at Triple-A. Those two players have always been seen as better prospects, but Rooker is already 26-years old, and he has been limited to less than 50 at-bats at baseball’s highest level. Entering the season, he was considered one of the top, if not the best, power hitting prospects in the Twins organization. His college experience and success in the minor leagues certainly prove his power hitting prowess. Now, he needs to find his swing again at Triple-A before more prospects continue to pass him by for opportunities with the Twins. Do you think the Rooker has become a forgotten prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. It was a winning week for the Minnesota Twins, but not a particularly impressive one. Once again, a step forward was immediately followed by a regressive stumble, with the weekend's deflating series loss against Kansas City erasing positive vibes and progress from a sweep over Baltimore. At this point, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the perpetually underperforming Twins are what their record says they are. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/24 through Sun, 5/30 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 21-31) Run Differential Last Week: +2 (Overall: -22) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (11.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 47 | MIN 8, BAL 3: Rare Late-game Surge Pushes Twins Past O's Game 48 | MIN 7, BAL 4: Lineup Comes Through Again with Seven Runs Game 49 | MIN 3, BAL 2: Michael and Miguel Lead Minnesota to First Sweep Game 50 | KC 8, MIN 3: Royals Cool Off Twins in Deflating Loss Game 51 | MIN 6, KC 5: Twins Fend Off KC Rally and Hold On Game 52 | KC 6, MIN 3: Fading Twins Drop Another Home Series NEWS & NOTES This is the ninth Week in Review column we've filed this season, and it's the first since Week 1 – when the Twins won their season-opening series in Milwaukee, two games to one – that we're reviewing a winning week. As winning weeks ago, however, this one was remarkably uninspiring and unfulfilling. They really needed to go 5-1 at least in these six games at home against bad teams, but instead came away with just four wins, and might've been lucky to get that. The Twins required a late-game rally to beat Baltimore on Monday, and barely eked out a one-run victory on Wednesday to clinch the sweep. In a three-game weekend series against the Royals, Minnesota was twice beaten handily, and scraped out a one-run win in the other. This is not a great team dominating bad competition. This is a bottom-dweller with its hands full facing the same. On the health front, it was another week of bad news and foreboding developments for the Twins. They lost two more key pieces to the Injured List, with Luis Arraez (shoulder) and Max Kepler (hamstring) hitting the shelf after trying to play through their respective ailments. There's a belief that Kepler could return soon after his 10-day window expires, but Arraez is looking at a lengthier absence, as his shoulder injury appears to be more serious than initially thought. Meanwhile, Kenta Maeda is also facing an extended period of unavailability. Rocco Baldelli said on Sunday that the right-hander's groin issue has been resolved, but the team wants to give Maeda extra time off due to "general arm soreness," which may help explain his extremely lackluster results up to this point. Adding to the fun (not): Byron Buxton was not able to start a rehab assignment as hoped this past weekend, because he's still not moving around at 100%. Three weeks removed from suffering his hip strain, Buxton's timetable remains in limbo. On the bright side, the Twins did get Michael Pineda back from IL, and as we'll cover below, he looked great. In the bullpen, Cody Stashak was swapped out for Juan Minaya. Dakota Chalmers was DFA'ed to make room on the 40-man roster for Minaya. HIGHLIGHTS The return of Pineda was more than welcome for a rotation that's been receiving some uneven performances and is now missing Maeda. Pineda's been the underrated steady rock of this unit, and looked the part again on Wednesday. In a series finale against Baltimore where the offense didn't quite show up the way it had in the first two, Minnesota needed a high-quality pitching performance. Pineda delivered, firing six innings of one-run ball. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Pineda's 16-7 record with the Twins stacks up as the best winning percentage in franchise history, and it's reflective of the reality that he gives them a good chance to win just about every time he takes the mound. In all but one start this year, he has pitched five or more innings and allowed three or fewer runs. The lineup is getting help from some unlikely sources. Hardly just a novelty act, Rob Refsnyder has been a key contributor; last week he went 7-for-22 with a homer and four RBIs to deliver some much-needed production at the bottom of the order. With Kepler and Buxton both sidelined, Refsnyder is essentially the only center fielder on the roster. Baldelli's made no secret of the fact that he'll be riding Refsnyder hard in the short-term, and the manager will have to hope his opportunistic 30-year-old can stay hot (and healthy). Refsnyder's recent success bodes well in the short-term. But the breakout performance of Trevor Larnach alongside him in the outfield bodes much better for the long-term. He's looking every bit the advanced, impact hitter that his minor-league numbers and top-prospect accolades suggested. Larnach went 5-for-14 with two home runs and five RBIs last week, and while he's shown the ability to absolutely obliterate baseballs, his plate discipline might be the most promising aspect of his early play. Larnach presents a challenging match-up for opposing pitchers because he doesn't chase much outside the zone, and can capitalize once he gets his pitch. As Aaron Gleeman notes, Larnach is tied for third-most walks in Twins history through his first 20 games. His five walks (vs. four strikeouts) last week included one with the bases loaded, forcing in a key run. Alex Kirilloff continues to rake (8-for-23 with two doubles last week), and Jorge Polanco is showing some pop despite the bad wheel (two doubles and a homer in his five starts). But the biggest bright spot on offense right now has got to be Mitch Garver, who suddenly looks like his old Silver Slugger self. Taking on a more regular workload with Ryan Jeffers and (until Sunday) Ben Rortvedt in Triple-A, Garver has rediscovered his rhythm at the plate. In four starts last week and one late-game sub appearance last week, he went 5-for-13 with four doubles, a home run, four walks, and just two strikeouts. Garver was slashing .151/.196/.321 with a 25-to-3 K/BB ratio through his first 17 games before a breakout two-homer night in Cleveland on April 28th. Since then, he is slashing .300/.432/.683 with 18 strikeouts and 14 walks. In 2019, he slashed .273/.365/.630. LOWLIGHTS While young bucks like Larnach and Kirilloff have been stepping up to carry much of the load offensively, the highly-paid veterans that Minnesota depends upon are coming up short. Nelson Cruz is wrapping up perhaps his most underwhelming month in a Twins uniform. Following a 2-for-14 week, he's slashing .232/.315/.378 in May with three home runs and just six RBIs in 23 games. Is age finally catching up with Cruz? He started the season on a scorching tear, but has looked like a very ordinary player for the last five weeks or so. Then again he's still hitting the ball hard as hell, so maybe it's just a matter of time before he catches fire again. Here's hoping so, because the Twins will at the very least be reliant on Cruz as a key trade chip in July. Even more concerning are the ongoing struggles of Josh Donaldson, who for better or worse is going to be around for a while The Twins spent big on Donaldson two offseasons ago, envisioning him is the final puzzle piece for a power-laden lineup with championship aspirations. Donaldson was largely a non-factor in 2020 due to injury, and while he's been able to stay on the field this year, he's making more headlines for his drama-stirring tweets than for his standout play. Last week Donaldson went 3-for-21, dropping his slash line for the season to .226/.325/.394. His double off the right field wall on Sunday was his first extra-base hit in 12 days, and he hasn't had a multi-hit game since May 8th. Donaldson is still taking good ABs and drawing walks at a solid clip, but there's only so much value in having one of the slowest dudes in baseball putting himself on first base a handful of times per week. They need JD crushing drives all over the field. He's mostly just hitting pop-ups when he makes contact, and is on pace to finish with 15 home runs. And then there is the ever-streaky Miguel Sanó, who flipped the switch back from red-hot to ice-cold with a 2-for-21 week that included one walk and 11 strikeouts. Granted, one of those two hits was tremendously impactful – a sixth-inning three-run homer on Wednesday that essentially turned a loss into a win – but he was a black hole otherwise. Between that trio – Cruz, Donaldson, and Sanó – you've got three critical cornerstones of the lineup, all hitting in key spots and providing almost nothing. They're killing rallies, rather than powering the offense with clutch knocks and dramatic blasts (with one exception). The pitching hasn't been very good but ultimately this team is built to outslug opponents and should be mauling staffs like Baltimore and Kansas City. To score only three runs in three of these six games, at home, is reflective of a dysfunctional lineup being let down by its supposed leaders. When I look back on this incredibly disappointing season, I will very likely zero in on this past week, when the Twins desperately needed to go on a run against bad teams to salvage their contention hopes and the three highest-paid players on the roster – Cruz, Donaldson and Sanó make a combined $50 million, accounting for more than a third of the total payroll – went 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position. TRENDING STORYLINE In happier news, the arms are cooking down on the farm. Last week in this space we celebrated the sterling debut of Jhoan Duran for the Saints; in his second start on Thursday, Duran tossed four shutout innings with one hit allowed and eight strikeouts. He's on the fast track and could be a real difference-maker for the Twins' staff this year. But he's not the only pitching prospect making a strong early impression. Josh Winder, whose ascending velocity has opened eyes and earned him a spring training invite, struck out seven over five innings of two-run ball for Wichita on Saturday. He owns a 1.48 ERA and 30-to-6 K/BB ratio through 24 ⅓ frames in his first stint at Double-A. Matt Canterino is currently pitching at Cedar Rapids, but could soon join Winder in Wichita because he's putting up flat-out silly numbers against Single-A hitters. After striking out 10 in four innings on Friday, Canterino has a 1.50 ERA and 35-to-3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings for the Kernels. In another bit of encouraging news pertaining to the pitcher pipeline, Jordan Balazovic plans to throw in Fort Myers on Monday. If that goes well, it sounds like he'll be heading to Double-A, where the rotation could soon feature him, Winder, and Canterino. More like Pitch-ita, amirite. Duran is closest out of these names, but any of them are realistic possibilities to pitch for the Twins this season. LOOKING AHEAD The "Or-royals" segment of the schedule rolls on in the coming week, as the Twins will travel to play both clubs on the road after going 4-2 against them at Target Field. If Minnesota can't find a way to go 6-1 or 7-0 in the upcoming games, they're going to look back at these two weeks as an unaffordable missed opportunity to make up crucial ground. They'll be returning home to face the Yankees and Astros afterward. If they play those opponents the same way they played this past week and, really, for most of the season, it's going to get ugly. MONDAY, 5/31: TWINS @ ORIOLES – RHP Jose Berríos v. RHP Jorge Lopez TUESDAY, 6/1: TWINS @ ORIOLES – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Bruce Zimmermann WEDNESDAY, 6/2: TWINS @ ORIOLES – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Matt Harvey THURSDAY, 6/3: TWINS @ ROYALS – LHP J.A. Happ v. LHP Kris Bubic FRIDAY, 6/4: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Matt Shoemaker v. TBD SATURDAY, 6/5: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Brad Keller SUNDAY, 6/6: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Mike Minor View full article
  17. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/24 through Sun, 5/30 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 21-31) Run Differential Last Week: +2 (Overall: -22) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (11.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 47 | MIN 8, BAL 3: Rare Late-game Surge Pushes Twins Past O's Game 48 | MIN 7, BAL 4: Lineup Comes Through Again with Seven Runs Game 49 | MIN 3, BAL 2: Michael and Miguel Lead Minnesota to First Sweep Game 50 | KC 8, MIN 3: Royals Cool Off Twins in Deflating Loss Game 51 | MIN 6, KC 5: Twins Fend Off KC Rally and Hold On Game 52 | KC 6, MIN 3: Fading Twins Drop Another Home Series NEWS & NOTES This is the ninth Week in Review column we've filed this season, and it's the first since Week 1 – when the Twins won their season-opening series in Milwaukee, two games to one – that we're reviewing a winning week. As winning weeks ago, however, this one was remarkably uninspiring and unfulfilling. They really needed to go 5-1 at least in these six games at home against bad teams, but instead came away with just four wins, and might've been lucky to get that. The Twins required a late-game rally to beat Baltimore on Monday, and barely eked out a one-run victory on Wednesday to clinch the sweep. In a three-game weekend series against the Royals, Minnesota was twice beaten handily, and scraped out a one-run win in the other. This is not a great team dominating bad competition. This is a bottom-dweller with its hands full facing the same. On the health front, it was another week of bad news and foreboding developments for the Twins. They lost two more key pieces to the Injured List, with Luis Arraez (shoulder) and Max Kepler (hamstring) hitting the shelf after trying to play through their respective ailments. There's a belief that Kepler could return soon after his 10-day window expires, but Arraez is looking at a lengthier absence, as his shoulder injury appears to be more serious than initially thought. Meanwhile, Kenta Maeda is also facing an extended period of unavailability. Rocco Baldelli said on Sunday that the right-hander's groin issue has been resolved, but the team wants to give Maeda extra time off due to "general arm soreness," which may help explain his extremely lackluster results up to this point. Adding to the fun (not): Byron Buxton was not able to start a rehab assignment as hoped this past weekend, because he's still not moving around at 100%. Three weeks removed from suffering his hip strain, Buxton's timetable remains in limbo. On the bright side, the Twins did get Michael Pineda back from IL, and as we'll cover below, he looked great. In the bullpen, Cody Stashak was swapped out for Juan Minaya. Dakota Chalmers was DFA'ed to make room on the 40-man roster for Minaya. HIGHLIGHTS The return of Pineda was more than welcome for a rotation that's been receiving some uneven performances and is now missing Maeda. Pineda's been the underrated steady rock of this unit, and looked the part again on Wednesday. In a series finale against Baltimore where the offense didn't quite show up the way it had in the first two, Minnesota needed a high-quality pitching performance. Pineda delivered, firing six innings of one-run ball. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Pineda's 16-7 record with the Twins stacks up as the best winning percentage in franchise history, and it's reflective of the reality that he gives them a good chance to win just about every time he takes the mound. In all but one start this year, he has pitched five or more innings and allowed three or fewer runs. The lineup is getting help from some unlikely sources. Hardly just a novelty act, Rob Refsnyder has been a key contributor; last week he went 7-for-22 with a homer and four RBIs to deliver some much-needed production at the bottom of the order. With Kepler and Buxton both sidelined, Refsnyder is essentially the only center fielder on the roster. Baldelli's made no secret of the fact that he'll be riding Refsnyder hard in the short-term, and the manager will have to hope his opportunistic 30-year-old can stay hot (and healthy). Refsnyder's recent success bodes well in the short-term. But the breakout performance of Trevor Larnach alongside him in the outfield bodes much better for the long-term. He's looking every bit the advanced, impact hitter that his minor-league numbers and top-prospect accolades suggested. Larnach went 5-for-14 with two home runs and five RBIs last week, and while he's shown the ability to absolutely obliterate baseballs, his plate discipline might be the most promising aspect of his early play. Larnach presents a challenging match-up for opposing pitchers because he doesn't chase much outside the zone, and can capitalize once he gets his pitch. As Aaron Gleeman notes, Larnach is tied for third-most walks in Twins history through his first 20 games. His five walks (vs. four strikeouts) last week included one with the bases loaded, forcing in a key run. Alex Kirilloff continues to rake (8-for-23 with two doubles last week), and Jorge Polanco is showing some pop despite the bad wheel (two doubles and a homer in his five starts). But the biggest bright spot on offense right now has got to be Mitch Garver, who suddenly looks like his old Silver Slugger self. Taking on a more regular workload with Ryan Jeffers and (until Sunday) Ben Rortvedt in Triple-A, Garver has rediscovered his rhythm at the plate. In four starts last week and one late-game sub appearance last week, he went 5-for-13 with four doubles, a home run, four walks, and just two strikeouts. Garver was slashing .151/.196/.321 with a 25-to-3 K/BB ratio through his first 17 games before a breakout two-homer night in Cleveland on April 28th. Since then, he is slashing .300/.432/.683 with 18 strikeouts and 14 walks. In 2019, he slashed .273/.365/.630. LOWLIGHTS While young bucks like Larnach and Kirilloff have been stepping up to carry much of the load offensively, the highly-paid veterans that Minnesota depends upon are coming up short. Nelson Cruz is wrapping up perhaps his most underwhelming month in a Twins uniform. Following a 2-for-14 week, he's slashing .232/.315/.378 in May with three home runs and just six RBIs in 23 games. Is age finally catching up with Cruz? He started the season on a scorching tear, but has looked like a very ordinary player for the last five weeks or so. Then again he's still hitting the ball hard as hell, so maybe it's just a matter of time before he catches fire again. Here's hoping so, because the Twins will at the very least be reliant on Cruz as a key trade chip in July. Even more concerning are the ongoing struggles of Josh Donaldson, who for better or worse is going to be around for a while The Twins spent big on Donaldson two offseasons ago, envisioning him is the final puzzle piece for a power-laden lineup with championship aspirations. Donaldson was largely a non-factor in 2020 due to injury, and while he's been able to stay on the field this year, he's making more headlines for his drama-stirring tweets than for his standout play. Last week Donaldson went 3-for-21, dropping his slash line for the season to .226/.325/.394. His double off the right field wall on Sunday was his first extra-base hit in 12 days, and he hasn't had a multi-hit game since May 8th. Donaldson is still taking good ABs and drawing walks at a solid clip, but there's only so much value in having one of the slowest dudes in baseball putting himself on first base a handful of times per week. They need JD crushing drives all over the field. He's mostly just hitting pop-ups when he makes contact, and is on pace to finish with 15 home runs. And then there is the ever-streaky Miguel Sanó, who flipped the switch back from red-hot to ice-cold with a 2-for-21 week that included one walk and 11 strikeouts. Granted, one of those two hits was tremendously impactful – a sixth-inning three-run homer on Wednesday that essentially turned a loss into a win – but he was a black hole otherwise. Between that trio – Cruz, Donaldson, and Sanó – you've got three critical cornerstones of the lineup, all hitting in key spots and providing almost nothing. They're killing rallies, rather than powering the offense with clutch knocks and dramatic blasts (with one exception). The pitching hasn't been very good but ultimately this team is built to outslug opponents and should be mauling staffs like Baltimore and Kansas City. To score only three runs in three of these six games, at home, is reflective of a dysfunctional lineup being let down by its supposed leaders. When I look back on this incredibly disappointing season, I will very likely zero in on this past week, when the Twins desperately needed to go on a run against bad teams to salvage their contention hopes and the three highest-paid players on the roster – Cruz, Donaldson and Sanó make a combined $50 million, accounting for more than a third of the total payroll – went 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position. TRENDING STORYLINE In happier news, the arms are cooking down on the farm. Last week in this space we celebrated the sterling debut of Jhoan Duran for the Saints; in his second start on Thursday, Duran tossed four shutout innings with one hit allowed and eight strikeouts. He's on the fast track and could be a real difference-maker for the Twins' staff this year. But he's not the only pitching prospect making a strong early impression. Josh Winder, whose ascending velocity has opened eyes and earned him a spring training invite, struck out seven over five innings of two-run ball for Wichita on Saturday. He owns a 1.48 ERA and 30-to-6 K/BB ratio through 24 ⅓ frames in his first stint at Double-A. Matt Canterino is currently pitching at Cedar Rapids, but could soon join Winder in Wichita because he's putting up flat-out silly numbers against Single-A hitters. After striking out 10 in four innings on Friday, Canterino has a 1.50 ERA and 35-to-3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings for the Kernels. In another bit of encouraging news pertaining to the pitcher pipeline, Jordan Balazovic plans to throw in Fort Myers on Monday. If that goes well, it sounds like he'll be heading to Double-A, where the rotation could soon feature him, Winder, and Canterino. More like Pitch-ita, amirite. Duran is closest out of these names, but any of them are realistic possibilities to pitch for the Twins this season. LOOKING AHEAD The "Or-royals" segment of the schedule rolls on in the coming week, as the Twins will travel to play both clubs on the road after going 4-2 against them at Target Field. If Minnesota can't find a way to go 6-1 or 7-0 in the upcoming games, they're going to look back at these two weeks as an unaffordable missed opportunity to make up crucial ground. They'll be returning home to face the Yankees and Astros afterward. If they play those opponents the same way they played this past week and, really, for most of the season, it's going to get ugly. MONDAY, 5/31: TWINS @ ORIOLES – RHP Jose Berríos v. RHP Jorge Lopez TUESDAY, 6/1: TWINS @ ORIOLES – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Bruce Zimmermann WEDNESDAY, 6/2: TWINS @ ORIOLES – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Matt Harvey THURSDAY, 6/3: TWINS @ ROYALS – LHP J.A. Happ v. LHP Kris Bubic FRIDAY, 6/4: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Matt Shoemaker v. TBD SATURDAY, 6/5: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Brad Keller SUNDAY, 6/6: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Mike Minor
  18. Aaron and John talk about the historic ineptitude of the Twins' bullpen, injuries knocking out Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff, calling up Trevor Larnach ahead of schedule, and what the future holds for Miguel Sano in Minnesota. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. View full article
  19. Triple-A: Trevor Larnach, OF Larnach sometimes feels like the forgotten prospect with names like Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis in the organization. He projects to be a very good big-league regular and his timetable made have changed over the last couple days with news that Kirilloff might miss time due to a wrist injury. The Twins have been getting very little production from their corner outfield spots and fans have started to get frustrated watching Jake Cave take uncompetitive at-bats. Larnach was likely on pace to debut in 2021 and now he might be needed in Minnesota sooner rather than later. Double-A: Gilberto Celestino, OF Celestino was originally acquired by the Twins in the Ryan Pressly trade along with Jorge Alcala. He was part of the team’s 60-man player pool last season, which meant he spent of the bulk of the year at the team’s alternate training site. Back in 2019, he spent nearly the entire the year at Cedar Rapids, and he finished by hitting .277/.349/.410 (.759) with 41 extra-base hits in 125 games. He’s a very strong defender in the outfield, so it will be interesting to see if his bat can continue to develop. Byron Buxton is only under contract through next season and Celestino might be his heir apparent. High-A: Matt Canterino, RHP Even amidst a pandemic, Canterino was able to see his prospect stock rise significantly because of reports that came out throughout last year. The velocity on his fastball rose more than a couple miles per hour as he can now hit in the mid-90s on a consistent basis. He should easily be able to stick as a starter when you add in a slider and a changeup that both project to be plus pitches. He was a second round pick out of college in 2019, but he’s only pitched 25 innings as a profession due to last year’s minor league cancellation. Now, he needs to prove his rising stock is legitimate and that might be dangerous for opposing batters in the Midwest League. Low-A: Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Sabato was Minnesota’s first round pick in 2020, so he will be making his professional debut in 2021. There’s one reason the Twins drafted Sabato and that’s because of his powerful bat. Entering the season, he projected as one of the team’s top power prospects. In two seasons at North Carolina, he hit .332/.459/.698 with 25 home runs and 31 doubles in 83 games. He is going to need to show he can adjust to professional baseball, but he is expected to be a quick riser if he can continue to show plus power at the plate. What are your thoughts on these players? Are there others you will keep an eye on? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Yesterday the Minnesota Twins had to scratch Alex Kirilloff from the starting lineup when it was discovered he was dealing with wrist discomfort. It sounds as if a looming IL stint is around the corner, and that’s disappointing news for Rocco Baldelli’s hottest hitter. What happens from here could set the tone for the rest of the way. Miguel Sano has been on the Injured List for Minnesota as he dealt with a leg injury and was working on timing prior to an activation. Kirilloff had been playing first base but could’ve slid back in to left field where Jake Cave has done little more than take up space this season. Now without Kirilloff in the mix, the front office has a decision to make. The immediate answer would seem to be a veteran placeholder such as Keon Broxton. He looked the part in Spring Training and has had big league success previously. Success is relative however when you’re talking about a guy with a .685 OPS across just north of 1,000 plate appearances. Broxton is a plus defender and does have some pop in his bat, but he’s hardly a sustainable bet to push the bar for a failing Twins team. Much like Kirilloff before him, if Minnesota wants to respond with the opportunity to make an impact, it’s time for the training wheels to come off top prospect Trevor Larnach. Now 24, the 2018 1st round pick is currently at Triple-A St. Paul. He only has two career games at that level, but the assumption should be that he would’ve spent considerable time there in 2020 had a season take place. The former Oregon State Beaver is a polished hitting prospect with an .850 career OPS in pro ball. He has an advanced approach at the plate and is hardly a strikeout machine despite being a power hitter. Unlike Kirilloff, Larnach should be ticketed for a corner outfield spot. Whereas Alex is destined to play first base, and do it well, Larnach’s athleticism will keep him in the grass, and he should be able to provide average or better defense out there. Given the shortening length of Rocco Baldelli’s lineup at the big-league level, adding another bat like this that can start in the bottom half would give hope to a club floundering out of the gates. It’s probably unfair to pin the expectations that were placed on Kirilloff directly to Larnach. That said, they’ve consistently ranked as eerily similar prospects to me, and I’d be far from shocked if the bat didn’t immediately translate for Trevor as well. Keon Broxton is a player in the same vein as Kyle Garlick or Jake Cave. They have utility but asking them to be a regular stretches their overall value. Putting Larnach into a spot where he can contribute at the highest level raises the overall water level, and who knows where things go from there. He’d need a 40-man roster move, and this is probably sooner than the front office wanted to unleash him, but it’s time for Trevor Larnach to become a Major Leaguer. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  21. Baddoo was a second-round pick back in the 2016 MLB Draft out of high school in Georgia. He was actually Minnesota’s fourth pick in that draft behind Alex Kirilloff, Ben Rortvedt, and Jose Miranda. All of those players are still in the Twins organization, but Baddoo was left unprotected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. Baddoo and the Tigers are showing exactly why the Rule 5 Draft was put in place. When a player is close to big-league ready, an organization can’t stash that player in the minor leagues without putting them on the 40-man roster. Baddoo’s hot start is great, but he will need to prove that he is part of the solution in Detroit, who isn’t expected to win too many games this season. During his time in the Twins organization, Baddoo played four professional seasons and reached as high as High-A. In the minors, he combined to hit .249/.357/.422 with 86 extra-base hits in 233 games. There were some clear offensive skills including a tremendous ability to draw walks along with some good power potential. This might all sound good, but there are reasons why the Twins left him unprotected this past winter. He’s been limited to under 115 games in every professional season including only 29 games back in 2019. Also, Baddoo struck out in nearly 24% of his plate appearance in 2018 and that number rose to 29.8% in 2019. So far in his brief big-league career, he has two strikeouts and no walks yet to his credit. He can play defensively in all three outfield positions, so it will be interesting to see what his long-term position will be at the big-league level. At one point, Baddoo was a borderline top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. In the last published Twins Prospect Handbook following the 2019 season, Tom had Baddoo ranked the highest as the 16th best Twins prospect. Seth had him ranked at 17 and I had him ranked as the 23rd best future Twin. Baddoo was certainly viewed as having potential, but the Twins and the Tigers are in very different places. Detroit is in rebuild mold and they can afford to take a flyer on a player like Baddoo. They aren’t expected to win for multiple seasons, so the Tigers can take the ups and downs that come with a younger player that has no experience at Double- or Triple-A. Moving forward, Baddoo’s outlook hasn’t changed significantly. The Twins have a ton of top-tier outfield prospects that were ahead of Baddoo on the team’s organizational depth chart. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, Brent Rooker, and Matt Wallner are just a few of the outfield prospects that would rank ahead of Baddoo for the Twins. That takes nothing away from what Baddoo might be able to do in his career, but he wasn’t in Minnesota’s long-term plans. What are your thoughts on Baddoo and the storybook start to his big-league career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Across all of Major League Baseball, 212 players made their MLB debut during the short sprint of the 2020 season. The Minnesota Twins accounted for six of those players –hitters Aaron Whitefield, Travis Blankenhorn, Brent Rooker, Ryan Jeffers, playoff surprise Alex Kirilloff, and pitcher Edwar Colina. All of those players were mentioned in this preview after a lengthy delay to the start of the MLB season, and you’ll see quite a few of the same other names in this year’s version. As an immense fan of the minor leagues due to my experiences in those ballparks as a kid, top prospect lists and scouting reports have always been must-read material for me during the winter months as we wait for Spring. There are numerous websites and lists dedicated to this these days, including some of the best you will find about your hometown team right here at Twins Daily. I have certainly made plenty such lists over the years and have been a Minor League Report contributor here since the site’s inception, but because of the depth provided elsewhere I like to put out my own version of a list every year that instead talks about prospects you might see in the majors during the upcoming season. While 2020 was beyond weird when making this list, this season is perhaps even harder as there is no MiLB data from the prior season to rely on. I expect this list to either be woefully inaccurate or right on the nose, as assumptions from the prior season carry over. So, who are the next Minnesota Twins that could make their debut during the 2021 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The number of names in this section is a testament to the maturity of the Twins minor league system going into the 2021 season. Six of the eight names are on Twins Daily’s Top Prospect List and the other two have appeared there in the past. With this many heralded prospects knocking on the major league’s door and an already established MLB roster, it could lead to some interesting roster moves during the 2021 season. Jhoan Duran (23 years old on opening day), RHP – TD’s #5 Prospect There is a lot to like with Duran. He has size, triple-digit velocity, and a unique pitch that can give hitters fits if they are sitting on his fastball. Like many young hurlers, development of his off-speed or breaking pitches will determine whether he remains a starter in the majors or gets transitioned to the bullpen. While he spent time at the alternate site in 2020, he has only pitched 37 innings at the double-A level with inconsistent results. It is not out of the question he starts the MiLB season back in double-A, pushing any potential debut timeline out to later in the summer, which also could come as a reliever much like Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Nick Gordon (25), IF (Gordon made his MLB debut on 5/6, and went 1-for-2 with a BB and 2 SB) I have had Gordon on this list for several years now, and the 2021 season may be the make-it-or-break-it campaign for the Twins first round pick from the 2014 draft. The stat lines have not been flashy but improvement year-to-year at each level has been noticeable. He followed up a 2017 season in double-A where he hit .270/.341/.408 by hitting .333/.381/.525 to earn a promotion to triple-A in 2018. He hit only .212/.262/.283 after moving up, but the next season improved to .298/.342/.459 at the same level and it may have been a hard choice between him and Luis Arreaz for a promotion if he had not been injured at the time. I think Gordon can find an infield utility role, but whether that comes with the Twins or not is what the 2021 season may be all about for him. Jordan Balazovic (22), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Hype around Balazovic, much like Duran, is also warranted. He may not have the same level of raw stuff as Duran, but the performance has been better in comparison. The only caveat there is Balazovic has not pitched above single-A yet, though he did end up at the alternate site late in the 2020 season. I would be surprised if he began anywhere but double-A Wichita to start the year, and he is certainly going to be on an innings limit. These things work against him in terms of debuting in 2021 but being on the 40-man roster also places him high on any depth charts for promotion. He also has far less risk of being transitioned to a reliever in the future due to his above average control of all of his pitches. Ben Rortvedt (23), C – TD’s #17 Prospect (Rortvedt made his MLB debut on 4/30, going 1-for-3 with an RBI, R, and BB) Rortvedt was added to the 40-man roster after the 2020 season to make sure he was not lost in the Rule 5 draft. This is mainly due to his defensive chops as a catcher, but potential with the bat still remains as a 23-year-old with good plate discipline likely to play at triple-A for the first time this year. The defense will get him to the majors, but it depends on if his bat is unlocked enough to become a regular in an organization already boasting two strong bats at the position in Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers. He is basically an ideal emergency catcher as is and I can envision a career much like former Twins catcher Drew Butera as a good floor. Dakota Chalmers (24), RHP Chalmers has only pitched around 60 recorded innings since having Tommy John surgery during the 2018 season, and less than 200 total innings in six years as a professional, but that has not stopped him from getting close to the majors. That is because of strong raw stuff that includes a mid-90’s fastball and bat missing sliders and changeups as his secondary offerings. Control of these pitches has always been the issue as he has walked 6.6 per nine innings pitched over his professional career. This was especially evident in his time in the Arizona Fall League after the 2019 season, where he was all over the board from terrible to dominant in his outings there, depending on that control. He started the AFL Championship game that the Twins prospects went on to win (with help from other prospects, of course). Gilberto Celestino (22), OF – TD’s #11 Prospect (Celestino made his MLB debut on 6/2, starting in CF and going 0-for-2 with a K) Celestino is an interesting case study on 40-man protection situations, as he is a player who has yet to play any games above A-ball, and only eight of them in the advanced Florida State League at that. As is the case with all these guys, you can blame that on a lost 2020 MiLB season, but his apparent rise in those circumstances is noteworthy as he did spend 2020 at the alternate site in St. Paul. Celestino’s bat came alive with Cedar Rapids in the latter half of the 2019 season where from July onward he hit .348/.413/.532. If the bat has continued to come around there is an exciting prospect here as he has always been a fantastic outfielder, including in center. Someone on the MLB roster could learn something about playing walls from him, too: Bailey Ober (25), RHP – TD’s #20 Prospect (Ober made his MLB debut on 5/18, starting the game and going 4.0 IP , allowing 4 ER on 5 H, 1 BB, and struck out 4 in a win against the Chicago White Sox) You will not find a better statistical performer as a starting pitcher in the Twins system from the 2019 season, where Ober posted eye opening numbers including a 0.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and K/9 rate of 11.4 at Fort Myers and Pensacola. You might expect such numbers to warrant a higher ranking on prospect lists, but he is a bit of a unicorn in the tool aspects as a 6’9” hurler whose fastball *might* touch 90 MPH on a good day. What he does have however, is perhaps some of the best control you will find in all of the minor leagues. While striking out 100 hitters in 78 2/3 innings in 2019, he walked just nine for a rate of 1.0/9IP. Pitches will always play up when you can locate them like he does, especially from his frame, and Ober is one I am particularly looking forward to following again in the 2021 season. TOP PROSPECTS: It is disappointing I had to remove one of the entries who would be in this section before Spring Training even started, but it is still worth mentioning Royce Lewis’ name. His 2019 campaign in the Arizona Fall League that resulted in an MVP award does not seem to get the credit it should. It was the best performance by a Twins prospect by far since I have been following that league with a keen eye for more years than I care to admit. His knee injury is a major bummer for the 2021 season (I guess welcome to the torn ACL club, Royce!), just like the cancelling of 2020’s minor league season was. We are going to have to wait even longer for the former #1 overall pick to arrive in the majors, but I have no doubts it will be well worth the wait. I consider each of the players in this section to be on equal footing when it comes to their maturity in the Twins system as the 40-man roster players above. They just have not needed to be added to that list yet. Trevor Larnach (24), OF – TD’s #3 Prospect (Larnach made his debut on 5/8, playing LF and going 0-for-4 but reaching base on a HBP) Twins Daily’s 2019 MiLB Hitter of the Year gets less accolades than fellow outfielder Alex Kirilloff, but I would not argue with you if you put them on equal footing as hitters. Larnach has comparable power to all fields and a bit better plate discipline to make up for any lag in hitting that skill evaluators might perceive. With the glut of corner outfield talent in the upper portions of the Twins system, having Larnach start the 2021 season back in double-A is logical, but his bat is one that could force the issue as the MLB season wears on. Blayne Enlow (22), RHP – TD’s #10 Prospect (Update: Enlow hit the disabled list in early June, and was later determined to need Tommy John surgery and will mist the rest of the 2021 season) When drafted in 2017, Enlow was said to have one of the best curveballs available, which was an even more impressive statement as he was a high school pitcher. But that pitch took a step back when he became a pro, leading to relatively unimpressive strikeout numbers. That tide could be changing as he continues to grow into any adjustments made by coaches, as reports from instructs last fall included added velocity (mid 90’s) and a reinvigorated breaking ball. Losing the 2020 season was especially detrimental to evaluating someone like Enlow, but youth is still on his side as the youngest player to appear on this list. I would envision 2022 as a more likely MLB debut year for him, but you never know. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect Canterino is another prospect where the loss of a 2020 season looms large. As an advanced college draftee in 2019 he spent time with Cedar Rapids in his first professional season and could have been fast-tracked to the upper levels in 2020. Instead of impressing on the diamond, he did so off of it, earning a late addition to the alternate site in St. Paul where he demonstrated some added velocity and also got some notice for touching 99 MPH in throwing sessions over the winter. Because his delivery has a lot of moving parts, there are some questions about if he can remain a starter long-term, but he has answered them positively in every way he can so far. If he is ticketed for double-A Wichita early in the season (or to start it?), take notice. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players are not necessarily top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a thing where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Griffin Jax (26), RHP (Jax made his MLB debut on 6/8 against the New York Yankees, in relief. He pitched 1 inning, allowing 3 ER on 3 H, and striking out 1) Jax reached triple-A for three starts during the 2019 season due to a stellar campaign at Pensacola where he posted a sub 3.00 ERA in 111 1/3 innings and earned an All-Star nod. He is not a strikeout artist but has limited walks and hard contact as a pro. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason was not able to pitch as much as he would have liked during the 2019 season due to an ulnar nerve injury that cut it short after just 23 innings with Pensacola. But those innings were fantastic as he closed out seven games for saves with a 2.35 ERA with 28 K’s and earned Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Month award for April. Zander Wiel (28), 1B/OF Wiel has been a favorite follow of mine since the Twins took him in the 12th round of the 2015 draft out of College World Series champion Vanderbilt. He may not have any loud tools, but has been productive throughout his MiLB career, leading the International League in doubles with 40, and all Twins minor leaguers with 86 runs scored with Rochester in 2019. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out nowhere to make a surprise debut for me. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skillset or background I find intriguing that could pay big dividends. These are my shots in the dark at guys who that could be in 2021. Tom Hackimer (26), RHP (Hackimer was promoted to triple-A in mid-May but had some struggles and was released in June) A pure reliever prospect who could remind fans of Pat Neshek when it is all said and done. A sidewinder who missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury returned in 2019 to post a 2.54 ERA and 75 K’s in 56 2/3 innings between Fort Myers and Pensacola, earning a FSL All-Star selection in the process. Matt Wallner (23), OF – TD’s #13 Prospect A native Minnesotan and another advanced hitter out of the Brent Rooker/Trevor Larnach mold from college, Wallner could move quickly if he is hitting bombs like he did at this spring training game I was fortunate enough to attend last year: Cole Sands (23), RHP – TD’s #15 Prospect Another victim of no 2020 season, Sands was fantastic in 2019 pitching at three levels in his first taste of professional ball, ending the year with a start in double-A. He was especially dominant with Fort Myers, posting a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in nine starts. His changeup has been rated as the best in the Twins system by Baseball America. Yennier Cano (27), RHP An international signing in 2019, Cano has flown a little under the radar despite being rated as one of the top arms available in that market up to that point. A standout from Cuba that played on their national teams, Cano boasts high-90’s velocity and a full repertoire that could be culled to play to his strengths out of the bullpen. Chris Vallimont (24), RHP Vallimont was the prospect addition in the deal with the Miami Marlins for Sergio Romo during the 2019 season and impressed with Fort Myers after the trade. He has been a starter with a full repertoire including a fastball with movement and slider that gets swings and misses, especially against same-sided hitters. The Twins want him to throw that slider more, which could be an interesting development to follow this season as the organization has taken a particular interest in slider heavy relievers recently. These are (some of) the players I think could make their MLB dreams come true during the 2021 season and don a Minnesota Twins jersey for the first time. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? Who are the prospects I’ve missed that you believe could do so this year? View full article
  23. 5. Alerick Soularie, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 35/50 Scouts have differing views when it comes to Soularie and his hitting skills. In parts of two seasons at Tennessee, he hit .336/.448/.586 with 31 extra-base hits and more walks than strikeouts. These numbers were compiled in what is considered the toughest college baseball conference after starting his collegiate career at a community college. His short, compact swing can help him adjust to different hitting environments and he has enough raw athleticism to make adjustments throughout his career. There’s also a chance his swing can’t adjust to the higher levels of the minors and he fizzles out. 4. Gilberto Celestino, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 35/55 Celestino was part of the Twins return in the Ryan Pressly trade and his stock has been rising in recent years. He puts the bat on the ball, and he hits it hard on a consistent basis and that trait is only going to improve as he moves up the organizational ladder. Celestino can be the heir apparent to Byron Buxton in centerfield, especially since Buxton only has two years left of team control. On his current path, Celestino projects to a terrific defender in center field and his hitting skills should be more than enough to make him a regular in the Twins outfield. 3. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B Current/Future Hit Tool: 45/50 Blankenhorn is entering his seventh professional season and he is trying to solidify a role at the big-league level. Last year, he appeared in one game and went 1-for-3 with a double. There’s a potential for him to get more use this season, but it will take an injury or two to get him regular at-bats. In the minors, he’s shown the ability to hit at every level and he’s more advanced than other’s below him on this list. He’s on the fringes of being part of the Twins roster, but he might need to shift to another organization to get more regular playing time. 2. Trevor Larnach, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 45/55 Larnach might not be as advanced as the number one hitter on this list, but he has the potential to be an above average MLB hitter. Some powerful hitters need to swing with max effort to generate their swing, but Larnach isn’t one of those players. His naturally smooth swing allows him to spray balls to all fields. Also, Larnach isn’t afraid to tinker with his swing by watching video and asking questions to coaches and players. “I tease him about being a psychopath in terms of his pursuit of perfection,” Twins minor-league hitting coordinator Donegal Fergus said. “He wants good conversation, and honest feedback and ideas.” https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1369318691142332422?s=20 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF Current/Future Hit Tool: 50/60 As Minnesota’s top prospect, Kirilloff’s known for his offensive prowess. He already projects as a league average hitter with a chance to be above average before all things are said and done. He has great plate coverage, and like Larnach, he can spray the ball to all fields. The Twins were confident in him last season and he showed his professional approach while debuting in one of the highest-pressure situations, an elimination game. He hits lefties. He hits righties. He just plain out hits. Fans can hope that he showcases a rare combination of hitting and hitting for power that can make him a generational talent. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Power Tool Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. 5. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Current/Future Power: 55/60 Kirilloff has the potential to be on of the best Twins prospects in quite some time. He can power the ball to all fields, and some think he can hit upwards of 30 home runs. He might be the best pure hitter in the Twins system and there will certainly be power with his smooth swinging approach. His power comes from a swing that has a scooping motion that creates line drives and a better launch angle. Twins fans hope Kirilloff is hitting near the top of the line-up for most of the next decade. 4. Matt Wallner, OF Current/Future Power: 55/65 Wallner, a Minnesota native, is a big boy at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and he fits the mold of players drafted by the current regime. He hit for power in all three years of college as he posted a .652 SLG and a 1.113 OPS. Because of these numbers, scouts ranked him as one of the best power bats in the 2019 MLB Draft with some giving him 70 or 80 grades. What’s crazy to consider is the fact that he was still being used as a pitcher in college. In 65 games during his pro debut, he collected 31 extra-base hits and posted an ISO of .194. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF Current/Future Power: 55/65 For some fans, Larnach almost feels like a forgotten prospect because of the presence of Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Since being draft, Larnach has been a half step behind Kirilloff, but that takes nothing away from what Larnach can mean to the Twins line-up in the up-coming years. He’s the organization’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year. As a left-handed power hitter, Larnach has connected with Justin Morneau to be his hitting mentor. It’s clear that Larnach loves to work on his swing and he’s going to make sure Twins fans don’t forget about him after he makes his big-league debut at some point in 2021. 2. Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Current/Future Power: 60/65 Sabato is trying to buck a trend, because right-handed hitting college players with limited defense haven’t found much professional success. There’s one reason the Twins drafted Aaron Sabato and it was because of his powerful bat. As a college freshman, he won ACC Rookie of the Year after knocking 18 home runs. He has a rare combination of exceptional strength, bat speed, and launch angle that led to off the charts raw power. Scouts were confident in Sabato’s ability to hit throughout the upper-minors especially with his track-record against elite college pitching. 1. Brent Rooker, OF/1B Current/Future Power: 60/65 Rooker spent his college years putting up impressive power numbers in the college baseball’s best conferences, the SEC. In his junior season, he hit .287/.496/.810 with 23 home runs. Scouts saw some him post some of the best exit velocities in the 2017 draft class and his raw power was off the charts. Minnesota has been aggressive with him as he spent his entire second full professional season at Triple-A where he posted a .928 OPS. Since he is already 26-years old, there’s a good chance he breaks camp on the big-league roster, and this should give him the opportunity to prove his powerful swing translates to baseball’s highest level. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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