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  1. The opening week of the 2021 Arizona Fall League season started off slowly for the Scottsdale Scorpions as they went 0-2 in their first two games. But with help from one of the Minnesota Twins prospects and his power, they finished the week with two consecutive wins to even their record after week one. There was one start from a Twins pitcher in those four games, some big strikeout performances from their relievers, and an impressive early stat line from another hitter. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K; .273/.385/.545 (.930 OPS) overall. After missing about half of the 2021 minor league season with a hand injury, Matt Wallner is looking to make up development time in the AFL. He got off to a pretty good start. In the AFL season’s opening game that Scottsdale lost to Glendale 4-3, Wallner batted third in the lineup (which is a good indication of his talent level on a team with Marco Luciano and Triston Casas in the same lineup) and played in right field. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, but notched a single in the third inning that put runners on the corners for a Scorpions scoring threat they didn’t cash in. His other at-bat was a lineout to left field in the fifth. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Friday for the Scorpions first win, a reverse of their opener where they defeated the Desert Dogs 4-3. Wallner batted fifth and switched sides in the outfield, getting the nod in left in this one. He finished 0-for-2, but drew a pair of walks and was on base when Curtis Mead clubbed the deciding three-run homer in the top of the seventh. In his final game of the week, an 8-2 victory over Peoria, Wallner was again batting fifth and was the designated hitter. Down 1-0 after three innings, Wallner stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on first before putting the Scorpions ahead for good with one swing of the bat. His homer to left-center field made the score 2-1. He got another RBI opportunity in the ninth, and delivered a run-scoring single to account for the Scorpions eighth and final run. It was an exclamation point game for the slugger to end his first week of action on a high note. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP overall. Zach Featherstone was an excellent part of the Cedar Rapids Kernels bullpen during the 2021 season, amassing 93 strikeouts in 55 innings with a 2.13 ERA and nine saves. He came in third in Twins Daily’s 2021 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting. While he definitely walked too many (42 batters) and is likely part of the reason he’s in Arizona, hoping to learn some new tricks when it comes to his command and control. He appeared in two games on the week, the first of which came in the season opener against Glendale. He was tabbed for the sixth inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced before allowing a double and single that put runners on the corners. He recovered nicely, striking out the next hitter on three pitches for a scoreless frame and a nice start to his AFL ledger when it comes to strikeouts. His second appearance of the AFL season came in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas. He was the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions and came on to start the fifth inning. It wasn’t as clean as his first game, as he allowed a leadoff single where the runner ended up coming around to score on a double three batters later. He walked one and struck out one in his inning, being credited with a hold, and will look to continue racking up strikeouts in week 2. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-8, 2B, 0 BB, 3 K; .250/.250.375 (.625 OPS) overall. Andrew Bechtold was the Twins fifth round pick in the 2017 draft after an excellent season at Chipola College. He was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 minor league season with 18 in 99 games for Wichita. One interesting development for Bechtold that he will continue in the AFL, is the Twins working with him at the catcher position, where he advanced enough during the year that they got him in a single game there late. Bechtold had to wait for the Scorpions third game to get his first AFL action, and he was tabbed to play third base and bat seventh in the lineup in their 4-3 win over Glendale. He finished the game 1-for-4, clubbing a two-out double in the fifth inning before being stranded. His other three at-bats included three ground balls, including two that ended in double-plays. In Saturday’s 8-2 win, Bechtold again was batting seventh and got the start behind the dish for the Scorpions. I’m sure he’d like to have been better than his first three at-bats in his first game as the catcher for the Scorpions that all ended in strikeouts, but he got another chance in the eighth, where he singled to put a runner in scoring position. As the catcher, Bechtold allowed one stolen base with an errant throw, but later also threw a runner out at second. Scorpions pitchers walked eight Javelinas and had two wild pitches, but Bechtold surely contributed to them scoring just two runs calling the game as they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.50 WHIP overall. After finishing the 2021 season as a reliever with Wichita, Kody Funderburk is tabbed as a starter for the Scorpions in the AFL. He did make 10 starts for Cedar Rapids before his promotion to Wichita where he was used only as a reliever. However, he was a long reliever and averaged more than three innings per appearance. He also had a sub 1.00 WHIP with Wichita and is likely in Arizona in part due to his limited innings as a professional, as he’s thrown just 155 innings since being drafted in 2018. Funderburk was on the mound to start Scottsdale’s second game of the season on Thursday, a game they lost big. You might think Funderburk was the biggest reason for that after you see he allowed four runs on six hits in his two innings, but those that followed him on the mound were infinitely worse as the Scorpions lost 13-5 behind a nine-run third inning after Funderburk’s day was over. He pitched a scoreless first inning, allowing only an infield single, but with a 4-0 lead after the top of the second, Funderburk wasn’t able to keep runners off the bases in the bottom half. Two doubles, three singles, and a walk in the inning led to the score being tied at four, but he did end his outing with his second strikeout of the frame and his outing. When I used that term “infinitely” above I was being quite literal, as the next two pitchers for Scottsdale in the third inning didn’t record a single out and were charged with nine earned runs. Michael Helman: 2 games, 3-for-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, 0 K; .500/.625/.667 (1.292 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Michael Helman was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 season, slugging 19 with the Kernels in 111 games. He was an infielder when drafted and played mostly second base in his first two seasons, but in 2021 was primarily an outfielder (all three positions) with some middle-infield mixed in. He’ll likely play all around the diamond in Arizona, but I’ll be watching for his opportunities in center field especially. His first game of the week came in Thursday’s big loss to Mesa, but it wasn’t because of anything he did as he reached base three times and scored a run. He batted eighth in the lineup and played third base, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks. He drew his first base on balls in the second inning and later scored on a Jeter Downs single. In the fourth inning, he singled to right field and was on third base when the bases were loaded, but was forced out at home on a comebacker to the pitcher. His second walk of the game came in the eighth inning, but he was again the force out on a double-play ball that ended the inning. Helman was tabbed for center field in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas, and batted eighth in the lineup behind his organizational teammate Andrew Bechtold. He singled in the fifth inning and later scored Scottsdale’s third run of the game on a double. In the seventh inning, his first double of the AFL season put a runner on third that later scored on a sacrifice fly from the next hitter. He finished the game 2-for-4 and his first week with an excellent batting line. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 6 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP overall. After a strong debut season in 2019 in which he struck out 63 batters in 46 innings with a 0.80 WHIP and 1.57 ERA, Cody Laweryson missed some time to start the 2021 and wasn’t back to pitching until June. The strikeouts were still there as he racked up 73 in just 58 2/3 innings with the Kernels over 15 games (14 starts), but the missed 2020 season and injury loomed large as his ERA was 4.91 with a 1.33 WHIP. He’s looking to make up some innings and gain confidence in the AFL. Laweryson’s lone appearance on the week came in Thursday’s 13-5 loss to Mesa. After his team fell behind so big he was one of the stabilizing forces, along with another of his organizational teammates, as he entered the game in the middle of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. He struck out both hitters he faced to squash that threat, and followed that up by striking out all three hitters in the fifth. Back out for the sixth he got two more outs, including another strikeout, before losing some steam and walking his final two hitters before being removed. I say that last bit a little tongue in cheek, as if you believe the data available, he should have gotten his seventh strikeout of the night on multiple pitches in the at-bat resulting in the first of those walks: In all, Laweryson struck out six hitters and walked two in his 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and if this game is any indication his confidence should be sky high moving forward. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 1 1/3 IP, H, 2 BB; 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP overall. Evan Sisk is new to the Twins organization, coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in the trade of J.A. Happ during the 2021 season. He pitched in 14 games with the Wichita Wind Surge that resulted in a 4.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Like Featherstone he’ll need to work to cut down his walks and the AFL gives him a good opportunity to hone those skills against top competition. Sisk’s only outing of the week also came in the Scorpions blowout loss to Mesa, but he was the pitcher who picked up where Laweryson left off after those walks in the sixth inning. He did issue another walk to the first hitter he faced to load the bases, but got a fly out to escape that jam. Back out for the seventh, Sisk gave up a leadoff single and a walk later in the inning, but otherwise got three ground ball outs to finish his game with a scoreless outing. In total, he allowed no runs on one hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K; .273/.385/.545 (.930 OPS) overall. After missing about half of the 2021 minor league season with a hand injury, Matt Wallner is looking to make up development time in the AFL. He got off to a pretty good start. In the AFL season’s opening game that Scottsdale lost to Glendale 4-3, Wallner batted third in the lineup (which is a good indication of his talent level on a team with Marco Luciano and Triston Casas in the same lineup) and played in right field. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, but notched a single in the third inning that put runners on the corners for a Scorpions scoring threat they didn’t cash in. His other at-bat was a lineout to left field in the fifth. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Friday for the Scorpions first win, a reverse of their opener where they defeated the Desert Dogs 4-3. Wallner batted fifth and switched sides in the outfield, getting the nod in left in this one. He finished 0-for-2, but drew a pair of walks and was on base when Curtis Mead clubbed the deciding three-run homer in the top of the seventh. In his final game of the week, an 8-2 victory over Peoria, Wallner was again batting fifth and was the designated hitter. Down 1-0 after three innings, Wallner stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on first before putting the Scorpions ahead for good with one swing of the bat. His homer to left-center field made the score 2-1. He got another RBI opportunity in the ninth, and delivered a run-scoring single to account for the Scorpions eighth and final run. It was an exclamation point game for the slugger to end his first week of action on a high note. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP overall. Zach Featherstone was an excellent part of the Cedar Rapids Kernels bullpen during the 2021 season, amassing 93 strikeouts in 55 innings with a 2.13 ERA and nine saves. He came in third in Twins Daily’s 2021 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting. While he definitely walked too many (42 batters) and is likely part of the reason he’s in Arizona, hoping to learn some new tricks when it comes to his command and control. He appeared in two games on the week, the first of which came in the season opener against Glendale. He was tabbed for the sixth inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced before allowing a double and single that put runners on the corners. He recovered nicely, striking out the next hitter on three pitches for a scoreless frame and a nice start to his AFL ledger when it comes to strikeouts. His second appearance of the AFL season came in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas. He was the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions and came on to start the fifth inning. It wasn’t as clean as his first game, as he allowed a leadoff single where the runner ended up coming around to score on a double three batters later. He walked one and struck out one in his inning, being credited with a hold, and will look to continue racking up strikeouts in week 2. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-8, 2B, 0 BB, 3 K; .250/.250.375 (.625 OPS) overall. Andrew Bechtold was the Twins fifth round pick in the 2017 draft after an excellent season at Chipola College. He was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 minor league season with 18 in 99 games for Wichita. One interesting development for Bechtold that he will continue in the AFL, is the Twins working with him at the catcher position, where he advanced enough during the year that they got him in a single game there late. Bechtold had to wait for the Scorpions third game to get his first AFL action, and he was tabbed to play third base and bat seventh in the lineup in their 4-3 win over Glendale. He finished the game 1-for-4, clubbing a two-out double in the fifth inning before being stranded. His other three at-bats included three ground balls, including two that ended in double-plays. In Saturday’s 8-2 win, Bechtold again was batting seventh and got the start behind the dish for the Scorpions. I’m sure he’d like to have been better than his first three at-bats in his first game as the catcher for the Scorpions that all ended in strikeouts, but he got another chance in the eighth, where he singled to put a runner in scoring position. As the catcher, Bechtold allowed one stolen base with an errant throw, but later also threw a runner out at second. Scorpions pitchers walked eight Javelinas and had two wild pitches, but Bechtold surely contributed to them scoring just two runs calling the game as they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.50 WHIP overall. After finishing the 2021 season as a reliever with Wichita, Kody Funderburk is tabbed as a starter for the Scorpions in the AFL. He did make 10 starts for Cedar Rapids before his promotion to Wichita where he was used only as a reliever. However, he was a long reliever and averaged more than three innings per appearance. He also had a sub 1.00 WHIP with Wichita and is likely in Arizona in part due to his limited innings as a professional, as he’s thrown just 155 innings since being drafted in 2018. Funderburk was on the mound to start Scottsdale’s second game of the season on Thursday, a game they lost big. You might think Funderburk was the biggest reason for that after you see he allowed four runs on six hits in his two innings, but those that followed him on the mound were infinitely worse as the Scorpions lost 13-5 behind a nine-run third inning after Funderburk’s day was over. He pitched a scoreless first inning, allowing only an infield single, but with a 4-0 lead after the top of the second, Funderburk wasn’t able to keep runners off the bases in the bottom half. Two doubles, three singles, and a walk in the inning led to the score being tied at four, but he did end his outing with his second strikeout of the frame and his outing. When I used that term “infinitely” above I was being quite literal, as the next two pitchers for Scottsdale in the third inning didn’t record a single out and were charged with nine earned runs. Michael Helman: 2 games, 3-for-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, 0 K; .500/.625/.667 (1.292 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Michael Helman was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 season, slugging 19 with the Kernels in 111 games. He was an infielder when drafted and played mostly second base in his first two seasons, but in 2021 was primarily an outfielder (all three positions) with some middle-infield mixed in. He’ll likely play all around the diamond in Arizona, but I’ll be watching for his opportunities in center field especially. His first game of the week came in Thursday’s big loss to Mesa, but it wasn’t because of anything he did as he reached base three times and scored a run. He batted eighth in the lineup and played third base, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks. He drew his first base on balls in the second inning and later scored on a Jeter Downs single. In the fourth inning, he singled to right field and was on third base when the bases were loaded, but was forced out at home on a comebacker to the pitcher. His second walk of the game came in the eighth inning, but he was again the force out on a double-play ball that ended the inning. Helman was tabbed for center field in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas, and batted eighth in the lineup behind his organizational teammate Andrew Bechtold. He singled in the fifth inning and later scored Scottsdale’s third run of the game on a double. In the seventh inning, his first double of the AFL season put a runner on third that later scored on a sacrifice fly from the next hitter. He finished the game 2-for-4 and his first week with an excellent batting line. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 6 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP overall. After a strong debut season in 2019 in which he struck out 63 batters in 46 innings with a 0.80 WHIP and 1.57 ERA, Cody Laweryson missed some time to start the 2021 and wasn’t back to pitching until June. The strikeouts were still there as he racked up 73 in just 58 2/3 innings with the Kernels over 15 games (14 starts), but the missed 2020 season and injury loomed large as his ERA was 4.91 with a 1.33 WHIP. He’s looking to make up some innings and gain confidence in the AFL. Laweryson’s lone appearance on the week came in Thursday’s 13-5 loss to Mesa. After his team fell behind so big he was one of the stabilizing forces, along with another of his organizational teammates, as he entered the game in the middle of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. He struck out both hitters he faced to squash that threat, and followed that up by striking out all three hitters in the fifth. Back out for the sixth he got two more outs, including another strikeout, before losing some steam and walking his final two hitters before being removed. I say that last bit a little tongue in cheek, as if you believe the data available, he should have gotten his seventh strikeout of the night on multiple pitches in the at-bat resulting in the first of those walks: In all, Laweryson struck out six hitters and walked two in his 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and if this game is any indication his confidence should be sky high moving forward. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 1 1/3 IP, H, 2 BB; 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP overall. Evan Sisk is new to the Twins organization, coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in the trade of J.A. Happ during the 2021 season. He pitched in 14 games with the Wichita Wind Surge that resulted in a 4.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Like Featherstone he’ll need to work to cut down his walks and the AFL gives him a good opportunity to hone those skills against top competition. Sisk’s only outing of the week also came in the Scorpions blowout loss to Mesa, but he was the pitcher who picked up where Laweryson left off after those walks in the sixth inning. He did issue another walk to the first hitter he faced to load the bases, but got a fly out to escape that jam. Back out for the seventh, Sisk gave up a leadoff single and a walk later in the inning, but otherwise got three ground ball outs to finish his game with a scoreless outing. In total, he allowed no runs on one hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Wednesday is Opening Day in the Arizona Fall League. After a year without it, six teams will begin their six-week season. The Twins have sent seven players and one coach to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Learn a little more about each and what they want to get out of their time in the AFL. The Scottsdale Scorpions team contains seven players from the Twins, Giants, “Guardians,” Rays, and Red Sox. As was announced just last week, the Twins are sending four pitchers and three position players. Right-hander Cody Laweryson and lefties Kody Funderburk, Zach Featherstone, and Evan Sisk will get some extra innings on the mound. Outfielder Matt Wallner, infielder Andrew Bechtold, and utility man Michael Helman will get more opportunities at the plate and in the field. For the Twins representatives, it is their first time playing in the league. Most of them hadn’t even been to Arizona for the Fall League as a fan. The lone exception is Kody Funderburk, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and frequented the ballparks in the Fall. The southpaw was a two-way player at Dallas Baptist, but he has been solely a pitcher since joining the Twins as their 15th round draft pick in 2018. He began this season at High-A Cedar Rapids, where he made ten starts and was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings, he had 59 strikeouts. He moved up to Double-A Wichita, and all seven of his appearances came out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.25 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Ryan Smith has earned praise for his terrific work as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wind Surge, the same role he will have for Scottsdale. Smith noted, “Prior to last week, I had never been in Arizona!” The Twins prospects finished the season in either Cedar Rapids or Wichita. Both teams made the playoffs. They got a couple of weeks off before heading to Arizona for a week of practice. Each player has things they want to work on during their time in the Fall League. Likewise, Smith intends to continue to improve himself during his time there. He said, “ I’d like to continue to sharpen my communication (and Spanish-speaking) skills with this new group of players.” For Evan Sisk, the Fall League provides him with an opportunity to work on pitches and such. He came to the Twins at the trade deadline from the Cardinals in the J.A. Happ trade and spent the final two months working in the Wind Surge bullpen. He will also get to know these Twins teammates better. Minnesota native Matt Wallner missed about two months of the 2021 season because of a broken hamate bone. This time will allow him to get some of those missed at-bats back. He noted, “Working on seeing and being more comfortable against the better arms in this league.” Kernels starter Cody Laweryson missed time early in the season. His season began in June, and he made 14 starts. In 58 2/3 innings, he had 73 strikeouts. For him, it is mainly about working on his confidence. “My biggest thing to work on is keeping my confidence high no matter how my outings are going.” Like Funderburk, Zach Featherstone was a two-way player in college. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft as a first baseman/outfielder. He spent that first year in the organization as a hitter. However, he quickly moved to the mound. Unfortunately, after just a handful of innings in 2017, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was ready for a rehab appearance when a hurricane shut down the GCL season. Like others, he did not pitch in 2020. So you can imagine what it meant for him to get back on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021. And he was terrific. By season’s end, he was the Kernels closer, and his pitches were much sharper. He noted, “I’m going to be working on getting ahead of hitters more often, attacking the strike zone with all three of my pitches.” Featherstone throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider that can be devastating at times. Michael Helman was drafted as a middle infielder in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. His power arrived in 2021. In 121 pro games between 2018 and 2019, he had 19 doubles and seven homers. In 111 games for the Kernels in 2021, he hit 21 doubles and 19 home runs. Helman did so while spending time playing all over the diamond. Having played one pro game in the outfield over his first two pro seasons, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, and 26 games in center field. He played 20 games in the middle infield. He pointed out, “I would like to become more of a complete player all around both on the offensive and defensive sides. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing more outfield or infield. I guess it just depends on where they want to work me in.” In the season’s first half, he split his time between first base and third base. After the Twins promoted Jose Miranda to St. Paul, Bechtold played more third base. In 99 games, he hit 23 doubles and 18 home runs. The day after the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, Bechtold played his first game as a catcher. It is something he had been working on for about a month. “I’m definitely going to be continuing to work on my catching. Catching for me was a project the last month or so of the season, and we put in a lot of work. I was able to catch in a game in Double-A this year because of how well the progression we were working on worked. I know catching is a valuable tool for me to have. I’m excited to continue to work on it and continue to get more experience. Along with catching, I want to continue to develop as much range as possible at third base and continue to fine-tune my approach at the plate.” The Arizona Fall League is something that baseball fans should include on their bucket list. And for players, the opportunity to play in the league is tremendous. The players should be excited about this opportunity, and they all are. Bechtold said, “I’m most looking forward to playing against guys you may not normally see, whether that’s because of the league they are in or level. I think the AFL is a great opportunity to see guys first-hand and see how you compare to some of the other organizations’ top talents. I think playing with high-caliber players for an extended period of time pushes you and forces you to play your best baseball, so I’m looking forward to that.” It is about testing yourself against prospects from around baseball. Featherstone said, “I’m looking forward to getting to compete against some of the best minor league competition from this year.” Laweryson explained, “I would say I’m most looking forward to the competition I’m going to face and the great players I’m going to be playing with.” Wallner echoed the sentiment, “ Looking forward to competing against upper-level competition that’s out here.” And so did Helman, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against some great competition.” One of the great things about the Fall League and playing with coaches and players from other organizations is the chance to learn from others. Maybe try something that will click for them and help them achieve another level of success. Smith is undoubtedly looking forward to that. “I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with coaches and players from other organizations, as well as enjoying the great fall weather out in AZ. ” To summarize, Bechtold said, “I’ve heard a lot about it just being a baseball fan growing up, and I always knew it was something I would want to play in one day if given the opportunity. I think the Twins have a good group of guys here, so I’m excited to experience it with them and really take it all in and enjoy my time here.” In the past, I have chatted with players after the AFL season is complete to hear their experiences. Most are just thrilled to have had the opportunity to have met such great players and people from other organizations. It’s fun to see if they were able to accomplish some of the things they wanted to. Each week throughout the AFL season, Twins Daily will update how the Twins prospects have performed. View full article
  4. After a one-year hiatus, the Arizona Fall League is back. This league combines some of baseball’s best prospects, so who are Minnesota’s top five prospects heading to the AFL? The Arizona Fall League started in 1992 as an off-season league where some of baseball’s best up-and-coming prospects can take the field together. Six teams make up the AFL, and each club plays a 30-game schedule. According to MLB.com, “Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with the league boasting 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, eight World Series MVPs, 103 Silver Sluggers, 96 Gold Gloves and 32 Rookies of the Year.” Will any of the names mentioned below be able to add to the accolades mentioned above? Here are the top five Twins prospects heading to the 2021 Arizona Fall League: 5. Michael Helman, 2B/OF 2021 Stats: .246/.336/.462 (.798), 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B, 87 K, 51 BB (111 G) Helman ended the 2019 season at High-A, and he spent all of 2021 at the same level. He was over 2.5 years older than the average age of the competition at that level. During the 2021 season, he was among the organization leaders in homers. He is listed as a second baseman on the AFL rosters, even though he primarily played in the outfield this season. This might be an opportunity to get him more reps in the infield. 4. Kody Funderburk, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 82 K, 28 BB (67.0 IP) Minnesota selected Funderburk with their 15th round pick back in 2018. During the 2019 season, he struggled at Low-A as he posted a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 13 appearances (10 starts). Funderburk posted strong numbers between High- and Double-A this season while being used as a starter and a reliever. He has only pitched 155 innings as a professional, so this is likely an opportunity for him to get more innings under his belt. 3. Zach Featherstone, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K, 42 BB (55.0 IP) Entering 2021, Featherstone was limited to 18 1/3 innings since the Twins drafted him as a position player in 2016. None of those innings came above the rookie leagues. Minnesota pushed him to High-A this season, where the 25-year old was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. Featherstone posted an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 out of the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, he also walked nearly seven batters per nine. This is likely an opportunity to get Featherstone some more innings so he can work on his control. 2. Andrew Bechtold, 3B 2021 Stats: .239/.328/.459 (.786), 18 HR, 23 2B, 131 K, 45 BB (99 Games) Originally, Bechtold was a fifth-round pick by the Twins back in 2017. His college experience at Maryland helped him post an .829 OPS at Elizabethton. He struggled in 2018 at Low-A as his OPS dropped by 236 points. The Twins sent him back to Low-A in 2019, and he split time between Low- and High-A with a .738 OPS. Like Helman, he was among the organization leaders in homers this season. Defensively, he continues to play at third base with some time at first. 1. Matt Wallner, OF 2021 Stats: .265/.350/.504 (.854), 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 100 K, 28 BB (68 Games) Wallner strikes out a bunch, but he has light-tower power, which puts him at the top of this list. He came in as the organization’s 12th best prospect in the most recent Twins Daily prospect rankings. A broken hamate bone limited him to 68 games, so sending him to the AFL to recoup some last at-bats makes sense. In a third of his plate appearances this season, he struck out, so that will be something to watch in Arizona. How would you rank these players? What will you be looking for in the AFL? 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
  5. The Scottsdale Scorpions team contains seven players from the Twins, Giants, “Guardians,” Rays, and Red Sox. As was announced just last week, the Twins are sending four pitchers and three position players. Right-hander Cody Laweryson and lefties Kody Funderburk, Zach Featherstone, and Evan Sisk will get some extra innings on the mound. Outfielder Matt Wallner, infielder Andrew Bechtold, and utility man Michael Helman will get more opportunities at the plate and in the field. For the Twins representatives, it is their first time playing in the league. Most of them hadn’t even been to Arizona for the Fall League as a fan. The lone exception is Kody Funderburk, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and frequented the ballparks in the Fall. The southpaw was a two-way player at Dallas Baptist, but he has been solely a pitcher since joining the Twins as their 15th round draft pick in 2018. He began this season at High-A Cedar Rapids, where he made ten starts and was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings, he had 59 strikeouts. He moved up to Double-A Wichita, and all seven of his appearances came out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.25 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Ryan Smith has earned praise for his terrific work as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wind Surge, the same role he will have for Scottsdale. Smith noted, “Prior to last week, I had never been in Arizona!” The Twins prospects finished the season in either Cedar Rapids or Wichita. Both teams made the playoffs. They got a couple of weeks off before heading to Arizona for a week of practice. Each player has things they want to work on during their time in the Fall League. Likewise, Smith intends to continue to improve himself during his time there. He said, “ I’d like to continue to sharpen my communication (and Spanish-speaking) skills with this new group of players.” For Evan Sisk, the Fall League provides him with an opportunity to work on pitches and such. He came to the Twins at the trade deadline from the Cardinals in the J.A. Happ trade and spent the final two months working in the Wind Surge bullpen. He will also get to know these Twins teammates better. Minnesota native Matt Wallner missed about two months of the 2021 season because of a broken hamate bone. This time will allow him to get some of those missed at-bats back. He noted, “Working on seeing and being more comfortable against the better arms in this league.” Kernels starter Cody Laweryson missed time early in the season. His season began in June, and he made 14 starts. In 58 2/3 innings, he had 73 strikeouts. For him, it is mainly about working on his confidence. “My biggest thing to work on is keeping my confidence high no matter how my outings are going.” Like Funderburk, Zach Featherstone was a two-way player in college. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft as a first baseman/outfielder. He spent that first year in the organization as a hitter. However, he quickly moved to the mound. Unfortunately, after just a handful of innings in 2017, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was ready for a rehab appearance when a hurricane shut down the GCL season. Like others, he did not pitch in 2020. So you can imagine what it meant for him to get back on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021. And he was terrific. By season’s end, he was the Kernels closer, and his pitches were much sharper. He noted, “I’m going to be working on getting ahead of hitters more often, attacking the strike zone with all three of my pitches.” Featherstone throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider that can be devastating at times. Michael Helman was drafted as a middle infielder in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. His power arrived in 2021. In 121 pro games between 2018 and 2019, he had 19 doubles and seven homers. In 111 games for the Kernels in 2021, he hit 21 doubles and 19 home runs. Helman did so while spending time playing all over the diamond. Having played one pro game in the outfield over his first two pro seasons, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, and 26 games in center field. He played 20 games in the middle infield. He pointed out, “I would like to become more of a complete player all around both on the offensive and defensive sides. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing more outfield or infield. I guess it just depends on where they want to work me in.” In the season’s first half, he split his time between first base and third base. After the Twins promoted Jose Miranda to St. Paul, Bechtold played more third base. In 99 games, he hit 23 doubles and 18 home runs. The day after the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, Bechtold played his first game as a catcher. It is something he had been working on for about a month. “I’m definitely going to be continuing to work on my catching. Catching for me was a project the last month or so of the season, and we put in a lot of work. I was able to catch in a game in Double-A this year because of how well the progression we were working on worked. I know catching is a valuable tool for me to have. I’m excited to continue to work on it and continue to get more experience. Along with catching, I want to continue to develop as much range as possible at third base and continue to fine-tune my approach at the plate.” The Arizona Fall League is something that baseball fans should include on their bucket list. And for players, the opportunity to play in the league is tremendous. The players should be excited about this opportunity, and they all are. Bechtold said, “I’m most looking forward to playing against guys you may not normally see, whether that’s because of the league they are in or level. I think the AFL is a great opportunity to see guys first-hand and see how you compare to some of the other organizations’ top talents. I think playing with high-caliber players for an extended period of time pushes you and forces you to play your best baseball, so I’m looking forward to that.” It is about testing yourself against prospects from around baseball. Featherstone said, “I’m looking forward to getting to compete against some of the best minor league competition from this year.” Laweryson explained, “I would say I’m most looking forward to the competition I’m going to face and the great players I’m going to be playing with.” Wallner echoed the sentiment, “ Looking forward to competing against upper-level competition that’s out here.” And so did Helman, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against some great competition.” One of the great things about the Fall League and playing with coaches and players from other organizations is the chance to learn from others. Maybe try something that will click for them and help them achieve another level of success. Smith is undoubtedly looking forward to that. “I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with coaches and players from other organizations, as well as enjoying the great fall weather out in AZ. ” To summarize, Bechtold said, “I’ve heard a lot about it just being a baseball fan growing up, and I always knew it was something I would want to play in one day if given the opportunity. I think the Twins have a good group of guys here, so I’m excited to experience it with them and really take it all in and enjoy my time here.” In the past, I have chatted with players after the AFL season is complete to hear their experiences. Most are just thrilled to have had the opportunity to have met such great players and people from other organizations. It’s fun to see if they were able to accomplish some of the things they wanted to. Each week throughout the AFL season, Twins Daily will update how the Twins prospects have performed.
  6. The Arizona Fall League started in 1992 as an off-season league where some of baseball’s best up-and-coming prospects can take the field together. Six teams make up the AFL, and each club plays a 30-game schedule. According to MLB.com, “Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with the league boasting 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, eight World Series MVPs, 103 Silver Sluggers, 96 Gold Gloves and 32 Rookies of the Year.” Will any of the names mentioned below be able to add to the accolades mentioned above? Here are the top five Twins prospects heading to the 2021 Arizona Fall League: 5. Michael Helman, 2B/OF 2021 Stats: .246/.336/.462 (.798), 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B, 87 K, 51 BB (111 G) Helman ended the 2019 season at High-A, and he spent all of 2021 at the same level. He was over 2.5 years older than the average age of the competition at that level. During the 2021 season, he was among the organization leaders in homers. He is listed as a second baseman on the AFL rosters, even though he primarily played in the outfield this season. This might be an opportunity to get him more reps in the infield. 4. Kody Funderburk, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 82 K, 28 BB (67.0 IP) Minnesota selected Funderburk with their 15th round pick back in 2018. During the 2019 season, he struggled at Low-A as he posted a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 13 appearances (10 starts). Funderburk posted strong numbers between High- and Double-A this season while being used as a starter and a reliever. He has only pitched 155 innings as a professional, so this is likely an opportunity for him to get more innings under his belt. 3. Zach Featherstone, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K, 42 BB (55.0 IP) Entering 2021, Featherstone was limited to 18 1/3 innings since the Twins drafted him as a position player in 2016. None of those innings came above the rookie leagues. Minnesota pushed him to High-A this season, where the 25-year old was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. Featherstone posted an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 out of the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, he also walked nearly seven batters per nine. This is likely an opportunity to get Featherstone some more innings so he can work on his control. 2. Andrew Bechtold, 3B 2021 Stats: .239/.328/.459 (.786), 18 HR, 23 2B, 131 K, 45 BB (99 Games) Originally, Bechtold was a fifth-round pick by the Twins back in 2017. His college experience at Maryland helped him post an .829 OPS at Elizabethton. He struggled in 2018 at Low-A as his OPS dropped by 236 points. The Twins sent him back to Low-A in 2019, and he split time between Low- and High-A with a .738 OPS. Like Helman, he was among the organization leaders in homers this season. Defensively, he continues to play at third base with some time at first. 1. Matt Wallner, OF 2021 Stats: .265/.350/.504 (.854), 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 100 K, 28 BB (68 Games) Wallner strikes out a bunch, but he has light-tower power, which puts him at the top of this list. He came in as the organization’s 12th best prospect in the most recent Twins Daily prospect rankings. A broken hamate bone limited him to 68 games, so sending him to the AFL to recoup some last at-bats makes sense. In a third of his plate appearances this season, he struck out, so that will be something to watch in Arizona. How would you rank these players? What will you be looking for in the AFL? 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
  7. High-caliber starting pitchers are flourishing within the Twins' farm system. Yet perhaps the organization's finest-kept secret is a reliever from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, with a knack for strikeouts and a changeup that christens nostalgia from the days of Johan Santana. Relief pitchers often don't get the love, recognition, or credit that their colleagues at the front end of the pitching staff receive. Yet it's impossible to not love a guy with a 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and arguably the best changeup that the Twins' organization has seen since the days of franchise hall of famer Johan Santana. Meet southpaw reliever Jovani Moran. Drafted by the Twins in 2015 out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, the 24-year-old has teetered with dominance since joining the organization nearly seven years ago. After starting six games in the GCL Twins' rotation in 2015 Moran was transitioned to the bullpen and has excelled since. After a rough rookie season Moran posted a 2.38 ERA in 71 appearances (a majority from the bullpen) between 2017-2019. That's good, but Moran has been great in 2021. For that, he's our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Despite his young age, Moran played the role of a rising journeyman this season, bouncing from club to club. Twenty of his 35 appearances came at Double-A Wichita, where he started the season. The Surge relied heavily on Moran through the months of May and June. Between the two months Moran appeared in 16 games and 28 2/3 innings, tossing 47 strikeouts, allowing only 11 hits and six earned runs, and touting a stellar 2.04 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. In that span opposing hitters hit a meager .118 when facing Moran. After a strong start, the month of July was just as fruitful for Moran. After four appearances that consisted of nine innings and 17 strikeouts Moran was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul. While his Triple-A stats weren't as eye-opening as his numbers with the Surge, they were still pretty darn good, especially for a guy pitching at that level for the first time. In 15 appearances and 29 2/3 innings, Moran posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with opposing batters mustering a .140 average when facing him. Moran's success isn't attributed to a triple-digit fastball or 12-6 curveball. In fact, his fastball rarely surpasses 92-94 MPH. Yet similar to Caleb Thielbar, Moran's success can be attributed to the massive contrast between his fastball and breaking pitches. As mentioned, the changeup is Moran's off-speed weapon of choice, a pitch that he often uses as a strikeout dagger. The secret? Moran's arm delivery on the pitch resembles that of his fastball yet is 10-12 MPH slower. It is, perhaps, the largest reason why he touted a 41.8% strikeout rate in the minors this season. Twins Daily writer Lucas Seehafer broke down Moran's pitch arsenal earlier this season, check it out here. After finding success in Lowertown, Moran was called up by the Twins on September 11th. MLB competition hasn't been the flowers and roses for Moran like it was prior to his big league debut. Don't fret though. Moran will continue to grow and learn as he gets more repetitions at the big league level. Don't be surprised if he starts next season at Triple-A. However, his time will come given the dominance that he's shown over the past five months. Top Three In addition to Moran, Jordan Gore and Zach Featherstone also had outstanding seasons. Check out some of the accomplishments of this years' runner ups! 1. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita/St. Paul (35 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 28 H, 32 BB, 109 K) Check out this analysis of Moran and Jordan Gore made by Tom Froemming! 2. RHP Jordon Gore, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (39 G, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 67.2 IP, 36 H, 28 BB, 88 K) A shortstop-turned-pitcher, 2021 presented Gore with his first full season on the bump. The 2017 draft pick did not disappoint, holding opposing hitters to just a .155 batting average through May and June in Cedar Rapids. Just three games into July, Gore was promoted to Double-A Wichita. Gore didn't tally as many innings with the Surge but was just as effective, posting a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings (20 games) with 30 strikeouts and six saves. It's unclear what Gore's long-term identity will be as a relief pitcher. All we know is that he has excelled in all corners of the bullpen and has done it consistently all season. That's pretty darn impressive for a guy that had only pitched in four professional baseball games prior to this season. 3. LHP Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids (40 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 55 IP, 28 H, 42 BB, 93 K) Similar to Gore, Featherstone isn't a pitcher by trade, he's an outfielder. That didn't stop him from having an outstanding year on the hill for Cedar Rapids. After a rocky month of May, Featherstone was nearly perfect in June, surrendering zero earned runs, five hits, and ten walks while striking out 28 batters in 15 innings over nine appearances. That's right, a PERFECT earned run average for an entire month! Featherstone continued his dominance as the season continued, posting a 3.95 ERA in July, 2.31 ERA in August, and another perfect 0.00 ERA in September. Featherstone has a bit more pitching experience than Gore, but this was still his first full season pitching. He transitioned to the mound in 2017, had Tommy John surgery, rehabbed, and as he was ready to come back, COVID arrived. It's a great story, but he's also become a solid, hard-throwing lefty reliever. Kudos to him on an excellent year. HONORABLE MENTION LHP Denny Bentley, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (36 G, 2.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 51.1 IP, 50 H, 33 BB, 87 K) RHP Ryan Mason, Wichita/St. Paul (38 G, 2.67 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 54 IP, 45 H, 28 BB, 63 K) RHP Ian Hamilton, St. Paul (37 G, 4.08 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57.1 IP, 45 H, 38 BB, 83 K) RHP Osiris German, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (38 G, 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 47 H, 24 BB, 90 K) RHP Hector Lujan, Wichita (18 G, 3.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 33 K) RHP Melvi Acosta, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (38 G, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 55 H, 18 BB, 69 K) RHP Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (32 G, 4.65 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 62 IP, 51 H, 26 BB, 81 K) LHP Aaron Rozek, FCL Twins/Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita (16 G, 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 42 H, 7 BB, 74 K) Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners! View full article
  8. Relief pitchers often don't get the love, recognition, or credit that their colleagues at the front end of the pitching staff receive. Yet it's impossible to not love a guy with a 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and arguably the best changeup that the Twins' organization has seen since the days of franchise hall of famer Johan Santana. Meet southpaw reliever Jovani Moran. Drafted by the Twins in 2015 out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, the 24-year-old has teetered with dominance since joining the organization nearly seven years ago. After starting six games in the GCL Twins' rotation in 2015 Moran was transitioned to the bullpen and has excelled since. After a rough rookie season Moran posted a 2.38 ERA in 71 appearances (a majority from the bullpen) between 2017-2019. That's good, but Moran has been great in 2021. For that, he's our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Despite his young age, Moran played the role of a rising journeyman this season, bouncing from club to club. Twenty of his 35 appearances came at Double-A Wichita, where he started the season. The Surge relied heavily on Moran through the months of May and June. Between the two months Moran appeared in 16 games and 28 2/3 innings, tossing 47 strikeouts, allowing only 11 hits and six earned runs, and touting a stellar 2.04 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. In that span opposing hitters hit a meager .118 when facing Moran. After a strong start, the month of July was just as fruitful for Moran. After four appearances that consisted of nine innings and 17 strikeouts Moran was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul. While his Triple-A stats weren't as eye-opening as his numbers with the Surge, they were still pretty darn good, especially for a guy pitching at that level for the first time. In 15 appearances and 29 2/3 innings, Moran posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with opposing batters mustering a .140 average when facing him. Moran's success isn't attributed to a triple-digit fastball or 12-6 curveball. In fact, his fastball rarely surpasses 92-94 MPH. Yet similar to Caleb Thielbar, Moran's success can be attributed to the massive contrast between his fastball and breaking pitches. As mentioned, the changeup is Moran's off-speed weapon of choice, a pitch that he often uses as a strikeout dagger. The secret? Moran's arm delivery on the pitch resembles that of his fastball yet is 10-12 MPH slower. It is, perhaps, the largest reason why he touted a 41.8% strikeout rate in the minors this season. Twins Daily writer Lucas Seehafer broke down Moran's pitch arsenal earlier this season, check it out here. After finding success in Lowertown, Moran was called up by the Twins on September 11th. MLB competition hasn't been the flowers and roses for Moran like it was prior to his big league debut. Don't fret though. Moran will continue to grow and learn as he gets more repetitions at the big league level. Don't be surprised if he starts next season at Triple-A. However, his time will come given the dominance that he's shown over the past five months. Top Three In addition to Moran, Jordan Gore and Zach Featherstone also had outstanding seasons. Check out some of the accomplishments of this years' runner ups! 1. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita/St. Paul (35 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 28 H, 32 BB, 109 K) Check out this analysis of Moran and Jordan Gore made by Tom Froemming! 2. RHP Jordon Gore, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (39 G, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 67.2 IP, 36 H, 28 BB, 88 K) A shortstop-turned-pitcher, 2021 presented Gore with his first full season on the bump. The 2017 draft pick did not disappoint, holding opposing hitters to just a .155 batting average through May and June in Cedar Rapids. Just three games into July, Gore was promoted to Double-A Wichita. Gore didn't tally as many innings with the Surge but was just as effective, posting a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings (20 games) with 30 strikeouts and six saves. It's unclear what Gore's long-term identity will be as a relief pitcher. All we know is that he has excelled in all corners of the bullpen and has done it consistently all season. That's pretty darn impressive for a guy that had only pitched in four professional baseball games prior to this season. 3. LHP Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids (40 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 55 IP, 28 H, 42 BB, 93 K) Similar to Gore, Featherstone isn't a pitcher by trade, he's an outfielder. That didn't stop him from having an outstanding year on the hill for Cedar Rapids. After a rocky month of May, Featherstone was nearly perfect in June, surrendering zero earned runs, five hits, and ten walks while striking out 28 batters in 15 innings over nine appearances. That's right, a PERFECT earned run average for an entire month! Featherstone continued his dominance as the season continued, posting a 3.95 ERA in July, 2.31 ERA in August, and another perfect 0.00 ERA in September. Featherstone has a bit more pitching experience than Gore, but this was still his first full season pitching. He transitioned to the mound in 2017, had Tommy John surgery, rehabbed, and as he was ready to come back, COVID arrived. It's a great story, but he's also become a solid, hard-throwing lefty reliever. Kudos to him on an excellent year. HONORABLE MENTION LHP Denny Bentley, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (36 G, 2.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 51.1 IP, 50 H, 33 BB, 87 K) RHP Ryan Mason, Wichita/St. Paul (38 G, 2.67 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 54 IP, 45 H, 28 BB, 63 K) RHP Ian Hamilton, St. Paul (37 G, 4.08 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57.1 IP, 45 H, 38 BB, 83 K) RHP Osiris German, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (38 G, 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 47 H, 24 BB, 90 K) RHP Hector Lujan, Wichita (18 G, 3.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 33 K) RHP Melvi Acosta, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (38 G, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 55 H, 18 BB, 69 K) RHP Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (32 G, 4.65 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 62 IP, 51 H, 26 BB, 81 K) LHP Aaron Rozek, FCL Twins/Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita (16 G, 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 42 H, 7 BB, 74 K) Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners!
  9. The Wichita Wind Surge and Cedar Rapids Kernels began their championship playoff series on Tuesday, each with their top pitcher Jordan Balazovic and Louie Varland taking the mound. Would either of them be able to lead their team to victory? Keep reading to find out! TRANSACTIONS There were no transactions in the system in advance of the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Wichita Wind Surge starting their league championship series on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL Scheduled Day Off The Saints got an extra day off on their schedule, as they begin the Final Stretch of games happening across the Triple-A level to end the season. They will play five games against the Iowa Cubs at home starting on Wednesday, and then five on the road against Toledo next week. WIND SURGE WISDOM Game 1: Wichita 5, NW Arkansas 7 Box Score The Wichita Wind Surge had to feel good about themselves heading into game one against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, with top prospect Jordan Balazovic lined up to start. It didn’t go as well as they hoped, but was a back and forth affair throughout with several lead changes and big plays on both sides. Wichita had a two-out threat in the top of the first after singles from Roy Morales and Spencer Steer put runners on the corners, but Jermaine Palacios grounded out to keep them off the scoreboard in the opening frame. That changed in the second inning when Leobaldo Cabrera clubbed a home run to left field for a 1-0 lead. Balazovic got two quick outs in the bottom of the frame, but the Naturals struck back with a single followed by a triple to tie the game at one. In the third inning, it was a D.J. Burt homer that put the Wind Surge back out front, but another two-out rally from the Naturals brought in two runs of their own that made the score 3-2 after three innings. The fourth inning was much of the same as the teams again traded single runs, with Wichita getting an RBI double from Cabrera in the top half before the Naturals chased Balazovic in the bottom half after a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases. Melvi Acosta was summoned from the bullpen and issued a walk of his own that made the score 4-3 for Northwest Arkansas. The fifth inning was finally a scoreless frame on both sides, though the Wind Surge had a chance as Austin Martin doubled to lead off the inning, but he was stranded on third base. In the sixth inning, it was one swing of the bat from Palacios that again tied the game at four. With two outs in the top of the seventh and Spencer Steer at-bat, a pivotal play was made that may have finally swung the momentum of the game one way. Steer laced a 2-1 pitch deep into the gap in left-center, but the Naturals left fielder tracked it down at full speed before crashing hard into the wall, likely saving a run. That same fielder, Brewer Hicklen, of course was up the next inning, and with that adrenaline still running through his veins, took Erik Manoah Jr. deep to center for a 5-4 lead. The home team added two insurance runs in the eighth for a 7-4 lead that would turn out to be enough for the Naturals to take game one. Wichita threatened in the ninth with three singles that scored one run, but couldn’t get the big hit to bring them all the way back. On the pitching front, Balazovic went 3 2/3 innings in the start, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while picking up three strikeouts. Acosta went the next 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs of his own on one hit and one walk. Kody Funderburk went 2/3 of an inning and allowed a hit and walk. Manoah Jr. was tagged with the loss by allowing the go-ahead home run in the seventh. He pitched one inning, allowed two hits, and struck out one. Evan Sisk and Adam Lau each recording two outs, with Sisk allowing two insurance runs on two hits while striking out one. Lau allowed one hit, walked two, and struck out one. The Wind Surge got multiple hits on the night from Martin (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Morales (2-for-5, RBI), Palacios (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, K), and Cabrera (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR) and the team's three home runs on the night were not enough. Wichita will look to even the series at one with Cole Sands taking the hill tomorrow before heading back home to the ICT to finish off the series. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 Box Score The Kernels were able to fend off the teams on their heels to grab their league’s final playoff spot, and they sent a big reason why in Louie Varland to the mound in game one. He didn’t disappoint, though it looked shaky for a minute in the second inning. After picking up a groundout for the first out of the frame, Varland allowed a double and the game’s first run on a single that followed. He then walked a batter and surrendered another single to load the bases before a mound visit was in order to get him back in rhythm. After that, he got a grounder to first that forced the runner out at home, then a pop out to escape that jam. His lineup got that run back for him in the bottom of the inning, as consecutive two-out doubles from Jair Camargo and DaShawn Keirsey tied the game at one. That mound visit was definitely what the doctor ordered, as Varland was locked in from then on. He retired nine in a row from the third through the sixth inning, and gave up just two singles to bookend that streak. In all, he finished seven fantastic innings, tying his mark for longest outing of the season, and allowed just the one run on six total hits and one walk. He struck out four River Bandits in the outing and of his 98 pitches, 68 went for strikes (69.4%), along with getting 14 swinging strikes. Varland was matched, however, by the pitching staff of Quad Cities. The game remained tied while he was on the mound. The Kernels were unable to cash in any of their scoring chances, including a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth. In the seventh inning, the Kernels struck out four times, but nonetheless had an opportunity as one of those K’s resulted in a wild pitch that allowed Edouard Julien to reach base. Another wild pitch moved him to second before the River Bandits played the percentages and intentionally walked Aaron Sabato to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Matt Wallner. It worked, as the pitcher got his fourth K of the inning and kept the game tied at 1-1. In the top of the eighth, the Kernels went to reliever Osiris German, and he delivered a one-two-three inning to bring his team back into the dugout looking to finally break through. Jair Camargo did just that, sending a two-out home run over the wall in right field to give the Kernels the lead. With the lead in hand, Cedar Rapids called on one of the best relievers in the system this year in Zach Featherstone to close out the game. He allowed a one-out single but like he had all season, also racked up the strikeouts, getting three of them to pick up the save and take game one for the Kernels. Camargo (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) was the only batter in the lineup with multiple hits on the night while Sabato and Julien each reached base twice. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position compared to 2-for-4 for the River Bandits, but it was enough behind Varland. It’s worth noting that the Kernels were just 7-17 against the River Bandits during the regular season, but that means nothing in a playoff series they now lead 1-0 with Sean Mooney taking the mound in game two tomorrow night. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels (7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Jair Camargo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, 2B #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 (pinch hit appearance) #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 2.66 ERA) Wichita @ NW Arkansas (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands (4-2, 2.46 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 6.23 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the playoff games from Tuesday! View full article
  10. TRANSACTIONS There were no transactions in the system in advance of the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Wichita Wind Surge starting their league championship series on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL Scheduled Day Off The Saints got an extra day off on their schedule, as they begin the Final Stretch of games happening across the Triple-A level to end the season. They will play five games against the Iowa Cubs at home starting on Wednesday, and then five on the road against Toledo next week. WIND SURGE WISDOM Game 1: Wichita 5, NW Arkansas 7 Box Score The Wichita Wind Surge had to feel good about themselves heading into game one against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, with top prospect Jordan Balazovic lined up to start. It didn’t go as well as they hoped, but was a back and forth affair throughout with several lead changes and big plays on both sides. Wichita had a two-out threat in the top of the first after singles from Roy Morales and Spencer Steer put runners on the corners, but Jermaine Palacios grounded out to keep them off the scoreboard in the opening frame. That changed in the second inning when Leobaldo Cabrera clubbed a home run to left field for a 1-0 lead. Balazovic got two quick outs in the bottom of the frame, but the Naturals struck back with a single followed by a triple to tie the game at one. In the third inning, it was a D.J. Burt homer that put the Wind Surge back out front, but another two-out rally from the Naturals brought in two runs of their own that made the score 3-2 after three innings. The fourth inning was much of the same as the teams again traded single runs, with Wichita getting an RBI double from Cabrera in the top half before the Naturals chased Balazovic in the bottom half after a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases. Melvi Acosta was summoned from the bullpen and issued a walk of his own that made the score 4-3 for Northwest Arkansas. The fifth inning was finally a scoreless frame on both sides, though the Wind Surge had a chance as Austin Martin doubled to lead off the inning, but he was stranded on third base. In the sixth inning, it was one swing of the bat from Palacios that again tied the game at four. With two outs in the top of the seventh and Spencer Steer at-bat, a pivotal play was made that may have finally swung the momentum of the game one way. Steer laced a 2-1 pitch deep into the gap in left-center, but the Naturals left fielder tracked it down at full speed before crashing hard into the wall, likely saving a run. That same fielder, Brewer Hicklen, of course was up the next inning, and with that adrenaline still running through his veins, took Erik Manoah Jr. deep to center for a 5-4 lead. The home team added two insurance runs in the eighth for a 7-4 lead that would turn out to be enough for the Naturals to take game one. Wichita threatened in the ninth with three singles that scored one run, but couldn’t get the big hit to bring them all the way back. On the pitching front, Balazovic went 3 2/3 innings in the start, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while picking up three strikeouts. Acosta went the next 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs of his own on one hit and one walk. Kody Funderburk went 2/3 of an inning and allowed a hit and walk. Manoah Jr. was tagged with the loss by allowing the go-ahead home run in the seventh. He pitched one inning, allowed two hits, and struck out one. Evan Sisk and Adam Lau each recording two outs, with Sisk allowing two insurance runs on two hits while striking out one. Lau allowed one hit, walked two, and struck out one. The Wind Surge got multiple hits on the night from Martin (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Morales (2-for-5, RBI), Palacios (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, K), and Cabrera (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR) and the team's three home runs on the night were not enough. Wichita will look to even the series at one with Cole Sands taking the hill tomorrow before heading back home to the ICT to finish off the series. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 Box Score The Kernels were able to fend off the teams on their heels to grab their league’s final playoff spot, and they sent a big reason why in Louie Varland to the mound in game one. He didn’t disappoint, though it looked shaky for a minute in the second inning. After picking up a groundout for the first out of the frame, Varland allowed a double and the game’s first run on a single that followed. He then walked a batter and surrendered another single to load the bases before a mound visit was in order to get him back in rhythm. After that, he got a grounder to first that forced the runner out at home, then a pop out to escape that jam. His lineup got that run back for him in the bottom of the inning, as consecutive two-out doubles from Jair Camargo and DaShawn Keirsey tied the game at one. That mound visit was definitely what the doctor ordered, as Varland was locked in from then on. He retired nine in a row from the third through the sixth inning, and gave up just two singles to bookend that streak. In all, he finished seven fantastic innings, tying his mark for longest outing of the season, and allowed just the one run on six total hits and one walk. He struck out four River Bandits in the outing and of his 98 pitches, 68 went for strikes (69.4%), along with getting 14 swinging strikes. Varland was matched, however, by the pitching staff of Quad Cities. The game remained tied while he was on the mound. The Kernels were unable to cash in any of their scoring chances, including a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth. In the seventh inning, the Kernels struck out four times, but nonetheless had an opportunity as one of those K’s resulted in a wild pitch that allowed Edouard Julien to reach base. Another wild pitch moved him to second before the River Bandits played the percentages and intentionally walked Aaron Sabato to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Matt Wallner. It worked, as the pitcher got his fourth K of the inning and kept the game tied at 1-1. In the top of the eighth, the Kernels went to reliever Osiris German, and he delivered a one-two-three inning to bring his team back into the dugout looking to finally break through. Jair Camargo did just that, sending a two-out home run over the wall in right field to give the Kernels the lead. With the lead in hand, Cedar Rapids called on one of the best relievers in the system this year in Zach Featherstone to close out the game. He allowed a one-out single but like he had all season, also racked up the strikeouts, getting three of them to pick up the save and take game one for the Kernels. Camargo (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) was the only batter in the lineup with multiple hits on the night while Sabato and Julien each reached base twice. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position compared to 2-for-4 for the River Bandits, but it was enough behind Varland. It’s worth noting that the Kernels were just 7-17 against the River Bandits during the regular season, but that means nothing in a playoff series they now lead 1-0 with Sean Mooney taking the mound in game two tomorrow night. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels (7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Jair Camargo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, 2B #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 (pinch hit appearance) #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 2.66 ERA) Wichita @ NW Arkansas (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands (4-2, 2.46 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 6.23 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the playoff games from Tuesday!
  11. TRANSACTIONS Cedar Rapids Kernels placed RHP Jon Olsen on the 7-day injured list. SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 8, St. Paul 1 Box Score In one of their few day games of the season, the Saints were only able to muster up one-run in a blowout loss to Columbus. St. Paul only recorded two hits on the afternoon and gave up a total of 15 hits to the Clippers. The Saints' hits came courtesy of Jose Miranda and Drew Maggi. Miranda punched a single in the fourth inning and Maggi lined a single to center field in the eighth. Maggi would score the Saints' lone run, when Drew Stankiewicz reached on a fielder's error that scored Maggi. St. Paul starter Chandler Shepherd (L, 6-6) lasted four innings, giving up eight hits, five runs, and two walks while striking out one. Ian Hamilton followed Shepherd with 1 2/3 innings of one-run, four hit ball, striking out three. Reliever Chris Nunn was the best Saints pitcher on the day, tossing 1 1/3 innings with three strikeouts, giving up only one hit. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 6, Wichita 0 Box Score The Wind Surge were victims to a combined-no hitter on Thursday against Arkansas. Roy Morales drew two walks and Spencer Steer drew a walk, registering as the only baserunners for Wichita in the game. Wichita starter Cole Sands tossed five innings, giving up three runs on four hits while striking out two. Cody Funderburk was the only reliever to see action for the Surge, giving up three runs on three hits while striking out one. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 10, Quad Cities 9 Box Score After giving up three runs in the first the Kernels soared back for a walk-off win against league-leading Quad Cities. Yunior Severino and Michael Helman each knocked homers for the Kernels, Helman now has 17 homers on the year and has emerged as an underrated star for Cedar Rapids. All nine of Cedar Rapids' runs came in the fourth and fifth innings. Those fourth inning runs came courtesy of a Severino grand slam. Helman knocked a three-run homer of his own in the fifth. The runs kept coming when Wander Javier punched a double to left field to score Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato. Javier now has 15 doubles on the 2021 season. Cedar Rapids starter Cody Lawyerson had a rough first inning but settled in after that. Lawyerson tossed 5 2/3 innings of four-run ball, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out four. Reliever Zach Featherstone was as dominant as he's been all season. Featherstone tossed 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out three and giving up only one hit. Despite a pair of dominant innings, Quad Cities mounted a comeback to tie the game at nine in the ninth inning. That didn't matter. With runners on the pond, Yunior Severino reached on a fielder's choice to score Michael Helman in the ninth to walk the Kernels off. It was only fitting that Severino and Helman, the two most dominant hitters on the night, played a role in the winning play. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Daytona 1 (Suspended, Bottom of 3) Gameday Rain put a halt to Thursday evening's contest in the Sunshine State. Yet in the few innings that took place, the Mussels looked great. Kyler Fedko knocked an RBI single in the first inning that scored Christian Encarnacion-Strand to put the Mussels on the board. After Jesus Feliz scored another run in the second thanks to a wild pitch, Encarnacion-Strand laced a single to score Tennessee alum Alerick Soularie to put the Kernels up 3-1. Starting pitcher John Stankiewicz was solid through 2 1/3, giving up one run and two hits while striking out three. Fort Myers will complete the game as a part of a double header tomorrow. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 3 K) Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB,) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - Did not play #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - No game #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Game Suspended #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - No game #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - No game #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - Game Suspended #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Game Suspended #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-for 3, BB, 3 K FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05 PM CST)- RHP Drew Strotman (7-3, 4.55 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (7:10 PM CST) RHP Austin Schulffer (6-7, 4.38 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST)- RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 1.24 ERA) Fort Myers @ Daytona (6:05 PM CST)- RHP Casey Legumina (2-2. 3.78 ERA)
  12. A pair of losses didn't take away from an electric game from the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Read up on all the action from across the Twins' farm. TRANSACTIONS Cedar Rapids Kernels placed RHP Jon Olsen on the 7-day injured list. SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 8, St. Paul 1 Box Score In one of their few day games of the season, the Saints were only able to muster up one-run in a blowout loss to Columbus. St. Paul only recorded two hits on the afternoon and gave up a total of 15 hits to the Clippers. The Saints' hits came courtesy of Jose Miranda and Drew Maggi. Miranda punched a single in the fourth inning and Maggi lined a single to center field in the eighth. Maggi would score the Saints' lone run, when Drew Stankiewicz reached on a fielder's error that scored Maggi. St. Paul starter Chandler Shepherd (L, 6-6) lasted four innings, giving up eight hits, five runs, and two walks while striking out one. Ian Hamilton followed Shepherd with 1 2/3 innings of one-run, four hit ball, striking out three. Reliever Chris Nunn was the best Saints pitcher on the day, tossing 1 1/3 innings with three strikeouts, giving up only one hit. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 6, Wichita 0 Box Score The Wind Surge were victims to a combined-no hitter on Thursday against Arkansas. Roy Morales drew two walks and Spencer Steer drew a walk, registering as the only baserunners for Wichita in the game. Wichita starter Cole Sands tossed five innings, giving up three runs on four hits while striking out two. Cody Funderburk was the only reliever to see action for the Surge, giving up three runs on three hits while striking out one. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 10, Quad Cities 9 Box Score After giving up three runs in the first the Kernels soared back for a walk-off win against league-leading Quad Cities. Yunior Severino and Michael Helman each knocked homers for the Kernels, Helman now has 17 homers on the year and has emerged as an underrated star for Cedar Rapids. All nine of Cedar Rapids' runs came in the fourth and fifth innings. Those fourth inning runs came courtesy of a Severino grand slam. Helman knocked a three-run homer of his own in the fifth. The runs kept coming when Wander Javier punched a double to left field to score Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato. Javier now has 15 doubles on the 2021 season. Cedar Rapids starter Cody Lawyerson had a rough first inning but settled in after that. Lawyerson tossed 5 2/3 innings of four-run ball, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out four. Reliever Zach Featherstone was as dominant as he's been all season. Featherstone tossed 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out three and giving up only one hit. Despite a pair of dominant innings, Quad Cities mounted a comeback to tie the game at nine in the ninth inning. That didn't matter. With runners on the pond, Yunior Severino reached on a fielder's choice to score Michael Helman in the ninth to walk the Kernels off. It was only fitting that Severino and Helman, the two most dominant hitters on the night, played a role in the winning play. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Daytona 1 (Suspended, Bottom of 3) Gameday Rain put a halt to Thursday evening's contest in the Sunshine State. Yet in the few innings that took place, the Mussels looked great. Kyler Fedko knocked an RBI single in the first inning that scored Christian Encarnacion-Strand to put the Mussels on the board. After Jesus Feliz scored another run in the second thanks to a wild pitch, Encarnacion-Strand laced a single to score Tennessee alum Alerick Soularie to put the Kernels up 3-1. Starting pitcher John Stankiewicz was solid through 2 1/3, giving up one run and two hits while striking out three. Fort Myers will complete the game as a part of a double header tomorrow. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 3 K) Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB,) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - Did not play #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - No game #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Game Suspended #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - No game #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - No game #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - Game Suspended #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Game Suspended #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-for 3, BB, 3 K FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05 PM CST)- RHP Drew Strotman (7-3, 4.55 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (7:10 PM CST) RHP Austin Schulffer (6-7, 4.38 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST)- RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 1.24 ERA) Fort Myers @ Daytona (6:05 PM CST)- RHP Casey Legumina (2-2. 3.78 ERA) View full article
  13. In May, many, if not most, of the pitchers in the system were piggybacking, so it was hard to distinguish ‘starters’ from ‘relievers,’ and that made sense. In June, there were a few more pitchers who were used more consistently out of the bullpen and a few really distinguished this month. Here are four relief pitchers who were great in June, but let’s start with some Honorable Mentions: RHP Steven Cruz, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 2 hits, 5 walks, 22 strikeouts. RHP Matthew Swain, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 8 G, 1.93 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 7 hits, 4 walks, 19 strikeouts. LHP Zach Neff, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 1.98 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 9 hits, 2 walks, 20 strikeouts. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 2.51 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 walks, 27 strikeouts. LHP Andrew Vasquez, St. Paul Saints - 9 G, 3.21 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 7 hits, 7 walks, 25 strikeouts. THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - RHP Jordan Gore - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 1.80 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 20.0 IP, 6 H, 9 BB, 27 K You know the story. Gore was the Twins 19th round pick in 2017 out of Coastal Carolina… as a shortstop. In fact, in 2019, he was the main starting shortstop until late in the season when Royce Lewis was called up. However, it was also at that time that Gore and the Twins started the conversation about moving to the mound. That transition started at the end of that season, but with the pandemic, he hasn’t been able to show off in his new position until this year. It took a little bit. In May, he struck out 22 batters in 13 2/3 innings, but he had a 4.61 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. In June, he was fantastic. He worked a lot. 20 innings for a reliever in the minors is a lot. He kept his strikeout rate over 12 per nine. Opponents hit just .098 off of him! As impressive as the numbers, his stuff has come along quickly. Yes, he throws a mid-90s fastball, but he knows he needs more than that. If you watch him throw, he throws a lot of changeups and sliders, and both appear to have some potential. #3 - LHP Zach Featherstone - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 5 H, 10 BB, 25 K Featherstone was the Twins 12th round pick in 2016 out of community college. Like Gore, he was a position player. After one season splitting time between first base and the outfield, he moved to the mound. He pitched in 12 games in the GCL in 2017. In 2018, he got hurt, and when the GCL season started, he worked in three games to see how he was progressing. It was determined that he needed Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2019 season. He was ready to work some in the GCL late in the season, but a hurricane ended that season early. 2020 pandemic meant another season lost. So this spring when he finally got the chance to pitch again, he was very excited. In fact, in his first inning with the Kernels, he threw one pitch at 97 mph. Again, it took him some time to get into a groove. In May, he posted a 5.40 ERA and a 2.40 WHIP in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 but walked nine. In June, he found the strike zone and showed dominance. Batters hit just .106 off of him. He throws into the mid-90s and has a sharp slider. He’s left-handed and certainly is worth watching. #2 - RHP Osiris German - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 22 K. German signed with the Twins back in 2016 from San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. The 22-year-old has worked slowly up the ladder. He spent parts of 2017 and 2018 in the DSL. He ended the 2018 season in the GCL. In 2019, he posted a 3.11 ERA over 37 2/3 innings. He struck out 47. After missing the 2020 season, he made the move to the full season with the Mighty Mussels. In May, he posted a 6.55 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP over 11 innings. In June, he put up incredible numbers, several of them were zero, including the number of runs allowed. I mean, he gave up just two hits over the full month. Opponents hit just .053 against him. One report told me that he has a “Devin Williams-like changeup that is a plus-plus pitch.” That certainly is intriguing too. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: LHP Denny Bentley - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 7 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 25 K Denny Bentley was the Twins 33rd round draft pick in 2018 out of Howard College in Texas. He posted a 2.60 ERA over 17 1/3 innings. He struck out 21. In 2019, he moved up to Elizabethton and had some ups and downs. In 19 games, he went 2-3 with two saves. He had a 4.38 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. When the E-Twins season ended, the Triple-A Red Wings needed some help on the final weekend. Bentley got that opportunity and made the best of it. He tossed two scoreless innings and gave up only a walk. He also struck out two batters. He also pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the playoffs. Like the others, Bentley did not pitch in 2020. As you might expect, it took Bentley a little while to get things going. In May, he posted a 7.15 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP over 11 1/3 innings. While he struck out 18 batters, he gave up 15 hits and 11 walks. However, it was night-and-day and Bentley earned the top spot on this list. Along with giving up just seven base runners over 13 1/3 innings, he was dominant striking out 25 batters (16.9 K/9). Opponents hit just .095/.184/.143 (.327). His control and command greatly and quickly improved. Also, his stuff just got much sharper. As you can see, there were several solid relief pitcher performances in June. These guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers. Congratulations to Denny Bentley, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2021.
  14. The last couple of days, we announced our choices for the JuneTwins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Jose Miranda) and Starting Pitcher of the Month (Josh Winder). Today, we will discuss the relief pitchers who pitched well and dominated in the season’s second month. In May, many, if not most, of the pitchers in the system were piggybacking, so it was hard to distinguish ‘starters’ from ‘relievers,’ and that made sense. In June, there were a few more pitchers who were used more consistently out of the bullpen and a few really distinguished this month. Here are four relief pitchers who were great in June, but let’s start with some Honorable Mentions: RHP Steven Cruz, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 2 hits, 5 walks, 22 strikeouts. RHP Matthew Swain, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 8 G, 1.93 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 7 hits, 4 walks, 19 strikeouts. LHP Zach Neff, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 1.98 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 9 hits, 2 walks, 20 strikeouts. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 2.51 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 walks, 27 strikeouts. LHP Andrew Vasquez, St. Paul Saints - 9 G, 3.21 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 7 hits, 7 walks, 25 strikeouts. THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - RHP Jordan Gore - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 1.80 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 20.0 IP, 6 H, 9 BB, 27 K You know the story. Gore was the Twins 19th round pick in 2017 out of Coastal Carolina… as a shortstop. In fact, in 2019, he was the main starting shortstop until late in the season when Royce Lewis was called up. However, it was also at that time that Gore and the Twins started the conversation about moving to the mound. That transition started at the end of that season, but with the pandemic, he hasn’t been able to show off in his new position until this year. It took a little bit. In May, he struck out 22 batters in 13 2/3 innings, but he had a 4.61 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. In June, he was fantastic. He worked a lot. 20 innings for a reliever in the minors is a lot. He kept his strikeout rate over 12 per nine. Opponents hit just .098 off of him! As impressive as the numbers, his stuff has come along quickly. Yes, he throws a mid-90s fastball, but he knows he needs more than that. If you watch him throw, he throws a lot of changeups and sliders, and both appear to have some potential. #3 - LHP Zach Featherstone - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 5 H, 10 BB, 25 K Featherstone was the Twins 12th round pick in 2016 out of community college. Like Gore, he was a position player. After one season splitting time between first base and the outfield, he moved to the mound. He pitched in 12 games in the GCL in 2017. In 2018, he got hurt, and when the GCL season started, he worked in three games to see how he was progressing. It was determined that he needed Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2019 season. He was ready to work some in the GCL late in the season, but a hurricane ended that season early. 2020 pandemic meant another season lost. So this spring when he finally got the chance to pitch again, he was very excited. In fact, in his first inning with the Kernels, he threw one pitch at 97 mph. Again, it took him some time to get into a groove. In May, he posted a 5.40 ERA and a 2.40 WHIP in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 but walked nine. In June, he found the strike zone and showed dominance. Batters hit just .106 off of him. He throws into the mid-90s and has a sharp slider. He’s left-handed and certainly is worth watching. #2 - RHP Osiris German - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 22 K. German signed with the Twins back in 2016 from San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. The 22-year-old has worked slowly up the ladder. He spent parts of 2017 and 2018 in the DSL. He ended the 2018 season in the GCL. In 2019, he posted a 3.11 ERA over 37 2/3 innings. He struck out 47. After missing the 2020 season, he made the move to the full season with the Mighty Mussels. In May, he posted a 6.55 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP over 11 innings. In June, he put up incredible numbers, several of them were zero, including the number of runs allowed. I mean, he gave up just two hits over the full month. Opponents hit just .053 against him. One report told me that he has a “Devin Williams-like changeup that is a plus-plus pitch.” That certainly is intriguing too. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: LHP Denny Bentley - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 7 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 25 K Denny Bentley was the Twins 33rd round draft pick in 2018 out of Howard College in Texas. He posted a 2.60 ERA over 17 1/3 innings. He struck out 21. In 2019, he moved up to Elizabethton and had some ups and downs. In 19 games, he went 2-3 with two saves. He had a 4.38 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. When the E-Twins season ended, the Triple-A Red Wings needed some help on the final weekend. Bentley got that opportunity and made the best of it. He tossed two scoreless innings and gave up only a walk. He also struck out two batters. He also pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the playoffs. Like the others, Bentley did not pitch in 2020. As you might expect, it took Bentley a little while to get things going. In May, he posted a 7.15 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP over 11 1/3 innings. While he struck out 18 batters, he gave up 15 hits and 11 walks. However, it was night-and-day and Bentley earned the top spot on this list. Along with giving up just seven base runners over 13 1/3 innings, he was dominant striking out 25 batters (16.9 K/9). Opponents hit just .095/.184/.143 (.327). His control and command greatly and quickly improved. Also, his stuff just got much sharper. As you can see, there were several solid relief pitcher performances in June. These guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers. Congratulations to Denny Bentley, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2021. View full article
  15. With the Major League All-Star Game being played on Tuesday, most of the minor leagues were quiet on Tuesday. Minnesota Twins affiliates had just two games scheduled with the GCL Twins and Chattanooga Lookouts in action. A top prospect was on the hill in AA and was great in limited action, but there was little offense for the good guys in either game as both teams combined for just nine hits.Read on to find out who did what in the two games on Tuesday night! RED WINGS REPORT Scheduled Day Off As mentioned, the Red Wings did not play on Tuesday, but in some fun MiLB promotion news they have decided to take on a new name for one night on August 10th that they have been promoting aggressively on their Twitter feed. They will be the “Rochester Plates” in honor of a Rochester food tradition served just down the street from Frontier Field. In an overwhelming response from fans, all the merchandise is already on back-order. Per the first link above, a “garbage plate” is: “two burgers (or two hot dogs) served on a bed of mac salad and home fries and topped with meat hot sauce and onions.” If I’m ever in Rochester I’ll have to try it! The Triple-A All-Star Game is played on Wednesday, so the Red Wings will not be back in action until Thursday when they take on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on the road. Bartolo Colon will make the start for Rochester. Pitcher Drew Rucinski will represent the Red Wings as the International League team takes on the Pacific Coast League All-Stars. Zack Granite was also selected to the game from Rochester, though he will not play in the game, having been promoted to the Twins. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Pensacola 4 Box Score The Lookouts got another strong start from Fernando Romero in this one, and heading into the ninth inning he was still in line for the win. He went the first five innings and threw just 63 pitches, an apparent attempt to limit his innings moving forward has been implemented. He retired ten in a row at one point and struck out five on the game. He allowed just two hits and a walk to the Blue Wahoos lineup. Chattanooga took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth as Max Murphy launched his first Southern League home run of the season. Ryan Eades came on in relief of Romero and kept the score there for the next two innings, but ran into a heap of trouble in the eighth due to a single and two walks around a strikeout for his only out of the inning. In his 2.1 innings Eades allowed one hit, walked three and struck out four. Randy Rosario inherited the bases-loaded jam and gave up the go-ahead two-run double to the first batter he faced to put Pensacola out front. The third runner charged to Eades and one to Rosario then scored on an infield error before an outfield assist at home from Murphy got them out of the inning. The Lookouts got the tying runner to the plate in the top of the ninth with one out after a LaMonte Wade single and walk to Jonathan Rodriguez, but an infield pop-up and strikeout ended the game. Wade finished the game 2-3 with a walk and Carlos Paulino added a single for the offense that managed just four hits and struck out fourteen times on the game. They were 1-4 with runners in scoring position (runner did not score on the hit) and left four men on base. MIRACLE MATTERS Scheduled Day Off The Miracle also got the day off to watch the Major League All-Star game and I’m guessing there might be a few players in attendance since the game is across the peninsula in Miami, but they will be back in action at the Charlotte Stone Crabs tomorrow night. Lewis Thorpe will be on the mound in the series opener and the Miracle have the best record in the Florida State League in the second half at 13-4. KERNELS NUGGETS Scheduled Day Off The Kernels will begin a three game series on the road versus the West Michigan Whitecaps on Wednesday night, with left-hander Domenick Carlini on the hill. Cedar Rapids sits at 10-9 in the second half thus far, 4 games back of the Quad City River Bandits in the Western Division. E-TWINS E-NOTES Scheduled Day Off Elizabethton will begin a stretch of 21 straight games when they hit the road to face off against the Burlington Royals on Wednesday. Moises Gomez will start the first game of the six-game road trip that starts the marathon. The Twins lead the West Division by a half-game at 13-6 in the short season Appalachian League. You heard all about it in this column yesterday, but for some extra reading check out the notes on Brent Rooker and Royce Lewis’ day from MiLB.com’s daily prospect roundup. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Orioles 5, GCL Twins 2 Box Score The Orioles got to Twins starter Jordan Balazovic early in this one. They scored one in the first and two in the second to jump out to a three-run lead before he pitched a scoreless third inning. But that was the end of his night. In three innings he allowed those three runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out one. Almicar Cruz came on for the fourth inning, and promptly surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced for a 4-0 Orioles lead. He did not give up any more runs in his two innings, striking out four but also allowing three hits and a walk. The Twins got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth after Benjamin Gonzalez led off with a single and scored on a double from Kerby Camacho thanks to a throwing error from the left fielder. They closed the lead to 4-2 in the seventh as Camacho notched his second double of the game and was driven in by a Roni Tapia single up the middle. Reliever Zach Featherstone came on in the sixth inning and pitched two scoreless frames. He walked two and struck out two. Austin Bizzle pitched the top of the eighth and allowed a run on two hits and two walks to make the score 5-2 before rains came and ended the game a bit early. The top five hitters in the Twins lineup were 0-15 on the day, but in a weird box score irregularity, the entire lineup did not strike out once all game despite just five total hits and leaving only four men on base. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Fernando Romero, Chattanooga Lookouts (5.0IP, 2 H’s, BB, 5 K’s) Hitter of the Day – Kerby Camacho, GCL Twins (2-2, R, 2 2B’s, BB) WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Chattanooga @ Pensacola (6:35PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Charlotte (5:35PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (2-2, 2.23 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ West Michigan (6:00PM CST) – LHP Domenick Carlini (3-6, 5.53 ERA) Elizabethton @ Burlington (6:00PM CST) – RHP Moises Gomez (0-0, 10.45 ERA) GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles (11:00AM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games! Click here to view the article
  16. Read on to find out who did what in the two games on Tuesday night! RED WINGS REPORT Scheduled Day Off As mentioned, the Red Wings did not play on Tuesday, but in some fun MiLB promotion news they have decided to take on a new name for one night on August 10th that they have been promoting aggressively on their Twitter feed. They will be the “Rochester Plates” in honor of a Rochester food tradition served just down the street from Frontier Field. In an overwhelming response from fans, all the merchandise is already on back-order. Per the first link above, a “garbage plate” is: “two burgers (or two hot dogs) served on a bed of mac salad and home fries and topped with meat hot sauce and onions.” If I’m ever in Rochester I’ll have to try it! The Triple-A All-Star Game is played on Wednesday, so the Red Wings will not be back in action until Thursday when they take on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on the road. Bartolo Colon will make the start for Rochester. Pitcher Drew Rucinski will represent the Red Wings as the International League team takes on the Pacific Coast League All-Stars. Zack Granite was also selected to the game from Rochester, though he will not play in the game, having been promoted to the Twins. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Pensacola 4 Box Score The Lookouts got another strong start from Fernando Romero in this one, and heading into the ninth inning he was still in line for the win. He went the first five innings and threw just 63 pitches, an apparent attempt to limit his innings moving forward has been implemented. He retired ten in a row at one point and struck out five on the game. He allowed just two hits and a walk to the Blue Wahoos lineup. Chattanooga took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth as Max Murphy launched his first Southern League home run of the season. Ryan Eades came on in relief of Romero and kept the score there for the next two innings, but ran into a heap of trouble in the eighth due to a single and two walks around a strikeout for his only out of the inning. In his 2.1 innings Eades allowed one hit, walked three and struck out four. Randy Rosario inherited the bases-loaded jam and gave up the go-ahead two-run double to the first batter he faced to put Pensacola out front. The third runner charged to Eades and one to Rosario then scored on an infield error before an outfield assist at home from Murphy got them out of the inning. The Lookouts got the tying runner to the plate in the top of the ninth with one out after a LaMonte Wade single and walk to Jonathan Rodriguez, but an infield pop-up and strikeout ended the game. Wade finished the game 2-3 with a walk and Carlos Paulino added a single for the offense that managed just four hits and struck out fourteen times on the game. They were 1-4 with runners in scoring position (runner did not score on the hit) and left four men on base. MIRACLE MATTERS Scheduled Day Off The Miracle also got the day off to watch the Major League All-Star game and I’m guessing there might be a few players in attendance since the game is across the peninsula in Miami, but they will be back in action at the Charlotte Stone Crabs tomorrow night. Lewis Thorpe will be on the mound in the series opener and the Miracle have the best record in the Florida State League in the second half at 13-4. KERNELS NUGGETS Scheduled Day Off The Kernels will begin a three game series on the road versus the West Michigan Whitecaps on Wednesday night, with left-hander Domenick Carlini on the hill. Cedar Rapids sits at 10-9 in the second half thus far, 4 games back of the Quad City River Bandits in the Western Division. E-TWINS E-NOTES Scheduled Day Off Elizabethton will begin a stretch of 21 straight games when they hit the road to face off against the Burlington Royals on Wednesday. Moises Gomez will start the first game of the six-game road trip that starts the marathon. The Twins lead the West Division by a half-game at 13-6 in the short season Appalachian League. You heard all about it in this column yesterday, but for some extra reading check out the notes on Brent Rooker and Royce Lewis’ day from MiLB.com’s daily prospect roundup. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Orioles 5, GCL Twins 2 Box Score The Orioles got to Twins starter Jordan Balazovic early in this one. They scored one in the first and two in the second to jump out to a three-run lead before he pitched a scoreless third inning. But that was the end of his night. In three innings he allowed those three runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out one. Almicar Cruz came on for the fourth inning, and promptly surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced for a 4-0 Orioles lead. He did not give up any more runs in his two innings, striking out four but also allowing three hits and a walk. The Twins got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth after Benjamin Gonzalez led off with a single and scored on a double from Kerby Camacho thanks to a throwing error from the left fielder. They closed the lead to 4-2 in the seventh as Camacho notched his second double of the game and was driven in by a Roni Tapia single up the middle. Reliever Zach Featherstone came on in the sixth inning and pitched two scoreless frames. He walked two and struck out two. Austin Bizzle pitched the top of the eighth and allowed a run on two hits and two walks to make the score 5-2 before rains came and ended the game a bit early. The top five hitters in the Twins lineup were 0-15 on the day, but in a weird box score irregularity, the entire lineup did not strike out once all game despite just five total hits and leaving only four men on base. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Fernando Romero, Chattanooga Lookouts (5.0IP, 2 H’s, BB, 5 K’s) Hitter of the Day – Kerby Camacho, GCL Twins (2-2, R, 2 2B’s, BB) WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Chattanooga @ Pensacola (6:35PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Charlotte (5:35PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (2-2, 2.23 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ West Michigan (6:00PM CST) – LHP Domenick Carlini (3-6, 5.53 ERA) Elizabethton @ Burlington (6:00PM CST) – RHP Moises Gomez (0-0, 10.45 ERA) GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles (11:00AM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  17. While the Twins focused their draft and signings on pitching in recent years, it’s clear that the focus has again been put on hitting and we’re seeing that in the lowest levels. The organization’s top pitching prospects (still in the minors) are in Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. However, there are certainly some intriguing bats on the rookie league rosters. On this night, the Twins got some nice starts from some of their second-tier pitching prospects, showing that they continue to add depth in terms of pitching prospects. There were a couple of transactions of note on Saturday as well: On Friday night, we learned that Andrew Albers had been designated for assignment by the Twins. On Saturday afternoon, we learned that fellow-lefty Ryan O’Rourke had been added to the 40-man roster and the 24-man roster.The Red Wings roster was down to just 22, so they needed help. As we noted yesterday, lefty David Hurlbut was promoted from Chattanooga and was supposed to start for the Red Wings on Saturday. Jake Reed and Omar Bencomo were also promoted from the Lookouts to Rochester.With that, let’s get to the Minor League Report for Saturday. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester, Scranton/Wilkes Barre Box Score This game was rained out. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Birmingham 3 Box Score Kohl Stewart struggled with control again, and fell to 6-6 with a 3.25 ERA with the loss. The right-hander gave up three runs on four hits and five walks in 4.2 innings on the mound. He also hit two batters. He struck out three. Alan Busenitz came into the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and allowed two of the three runners to core. He gave up two hits and struck out one in 1.1 innings. Mason Melotakis struck out three in a scoreless seventh inning. Raul Fernandez worked a perfect eight inning. The Lookouts managed just five hits in the game. Ryan Walker hit his third triple. Jairo Rodriguez hit his first double. Zach Granite had a single and added to his league-leading stolen base total with this 41st steal. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 7, Charlotte 1 Box Score It’s hard to remember that Dereck Rodriguez had a 7.71 ERA through his first seven starts in Cedar Rapids. Over his final nine starts in Iowa, he posted a 3.02 ERA. After throwing 6.2 innings of one-run ball on Saturday night, Rodriguez has a 1.98 ERA through his first two starts with the Miracle. He earned his first Florida State League win. The right-hander gave up four hits, walked none and struck out seven in this game. Todd Van Steensel gave up a single before he got the final out of the seventh inning. He then threw a perfect eighth frame. Nick Anderson struck out two in a one-hit, scoreless ninth. The Miracle scored seven runs despite having just four hits in the game. They were assisted by ten walks. Infielder Chris Ibarra went 2-4 with a walk and his first Florida State League double, well, and his first Florida State League single, his first two hits since joining the Miracle last week. Joe Maloney and Tanner English each walked twice. AJ Murray and Daniel Kihle both had a walk and went 1-3. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Kane County 1 Box Score Through six innings, the game was tied at one. However, the Kernels scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead. They added two insurance runs in the ninth to complete their seventh straight win over Kane County this season. Lachlan Wells started the game with five scoreless innings. He gave up an unearned run in the sixth, but that was it. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out five to improve to 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA. Max Cordy gave up a hit and walked two, but he didn’t give up a run in his inning. Tom Hackimer worked the final two innings without allowing a run for his third save. Sean Miller had hits in his first three at bats. His sacrifice fly in the seventh inning gave the Kernels a lead they didn’t relinquish. He ended the game 3-4 with two RBI. Luis Arraez with another multi-hit game. He weas 3-5. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 6, Bluefield 9 Box Score It was a rough game for the Twins pitching and defense in this one. Five errors certainly didn’t help the cause. Jose Martinez gave up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out three. Alex Robinson came on and gave up a run on one hit, three walks and a hit batter over two innings. Johan Quezada walked a batter and hit a batter in a one-run eighth inning. Alex Kiriloff went 2-5 and hit his sixth home run. Ariel Montesino went 3-5. Shane Carrier went 2-5. Lewin Diaz added his 13th double. For Bluefield, Vlad Guerrero, Jr. went 3-5, his second straight three-hit game. The 17-year-old is hitting .277 on the season. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 6, GCL Red Sox 1 Box Score For the second straight day, the Twins topped the Red Sox. Huascar Ynoa set the tone with another strong start. The right-hander gave up one run over five innings. He surrendered four hits, walked one and struck out six. He improved to 3-4 and dropped his ERA to 2.13. Matz Schutte allowed two hits over 1.1 scoreless innings. Zach Strecker struck out three over 2.2 perfect innings to record his fourth save. The Twins had nice offensive performances from several players on Saturday. Zach Featherstone went 2-3. He was hit by a pitch and hit his third and fourth homers. Aaron Whitefield went 2-4 with a walk, his fifth double and his 25th stolen base. Akil Baddoo went 1-2 with two walks and his second home run. Lean Marrero hit his second double. Dane Hutcheon walked three times and stole his fourth base. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Dereck Rodriguez, Ft. Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Akil Baddoo/Zach Featherstone, GCL Twins SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (12:35 CST) (doubleheader) - LHP David Hurlbut and RHP Omar Bencomo Chattanooga @ Birmingham (6:30 CST) - RHP Ryan Eades Charlotte @ Ft. Myers (5:05 CST) - RHP Keaton Steele Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (6:30 CST) – RHP Tyler Beardsley Elizabethton @ Bluefield (6:05 CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday's games. Click here to view the article
  18. With that, let’s get to the Minor League Report for Saturday. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester, Scranton/Wilkes Barre Box Score This game was rained out. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Birmingham 3 Box Score Kohl Stewart struggled with control again, and fell to 6-6 with a 3.25 ERA with the loss. The right-hander gave up three runs on four hits and five walks in 4.2 innings on the mound. He also hit two batters. He struck out three. Alan Busenitz came into the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and allowed two of the three runners to core. He gave up two hits and struck out one in 1.1 innings. Mason Melotakis struck out three in a scoreless seventh inning. Raul Fernandez worked a perfect eight inning. The Lookouts managed just five hits in the game. Ryan Walker hit his third triple. Jairo Rodriguez hit his first double. Zach Granite had a single and added to his league-leading stolen base total with this 41st steal. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 7, Charlotte 1 Box Score It’s hard to remember that Dereck Rodriguez had a 7.71 ERA through his first seven starts in Cedar Rapids. Over his final nine starts in Iowa, he posted a 3.02 ERA. After throwing 6.2 innings of one-run ball on Saturday night, Rodriguez has a 1.98 ERA through his first two starts with the Miracle. He earned his first Florida State League win. The right-hander gave up four hits, walked none and struck out seven in this game. Todd Van Steensel gave up a single before he got the final out of the seventh inning. He then threw a perfect eighth frame. Nick Anderson struck out two in a one-hit, scoreless ninth. The Miracle scored seven runs despite having just four hits in the game. They were assisted by ten walks. Infielder Chris Ibarra went 2-4 with a walk and his first Florida State League double, well, and his first Florida State League single, his first two hits since joining the Miracle last week. Joe Maloney and Tanner English each walked twice. AJ Murray and Daniel Kihle both had a walk and went 1-3. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Kane County 1 Box Score Through six innings, the game was tied at one. However, the Kernels scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead. They added two insurance runs in the ninth to complete their seventh straight win over Kane County this season. Lachlan Wells started the game with five scoreless innings. He gave up an unearned run in the sixth, but that was it. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out five to improve to 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA. Max Cordy gave up a hit and walked two, but he didn’t give up a run in his inning. Tom Hackimer worked the final two innings without allowing a run for his third save. Sean Miller had hits in his first three at bats. His sacrifice fly in the seventh inning gave the Kernels a lead they didn’t relinquish. He ended the game 3-4 with two RBI. Luis Arraez with another multi-hit game. He weas 3-5. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 6, Bluefield 9 Box Score It was a rough game for the Twins pitching and defense in this one. Five errors certainly didn’t help the cause. Jose Martinez gave up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out three. Alex Robinson came on and gave up a run on one hit, three walks and a hit batter over two innings. Johan Quezada walked a batter and hit a batter in a one-run eighth inning. Alex Kiriloff went 2-5 and hit his sixth home run. Ariel Montesino went 3-5. Shane Carrier went 2-5. Lewin Diaz added his 13th double. For Bluefield, Vlad Guerrero, Jr. went 3-5, his second straight three-hit game. The 17-year-old is hitting .277 on the season. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 6, GCL Red Sox 1 Box Score For the second straight day, the Twins topped the Red Sox. Huascar Ynoa set the tone with another strong start. The right-hander gave up one run over five innings. He surrendered four hits, walked one and struck out six. He improved to 3-4 and dropped his ERA to 2.13. Matz Schutte allowed two hits over 1.1 scoreless innings. Zach Strecker struck out three over 2.2 perfect innings to record his fourth save. The Twins had nice offensive performances from several players on Saturday. Zach Featherstone went 2-3. He was hit by a pitch and hit his third and fourth homers. Aaron Whitefield went 2-4 with a walk, his fifth double and his 25th stolen base. Akil Baddoo went 1-2 with two walks and his second home run. Lean Marrero hit his second double. Dane Hutcheon walked three times and stole his fourth base. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Dereck Rodriguez, Ft. Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Akil Baddoo/Zach Featherstone, GCL Twins SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (12:35 CST) (doubleheader) - LHP David Hurlbut and RHP Omar Bencomo Chattanooga @ Birmingham (6:30 CST) - RHP Ryan Eades Charlotte @ Ft. Myers (5:05 CST) - RHP Keaton Steele Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (6:30 CST) – RHP Tyler Beardsley Elizabethton @ Bluefield (6:05 CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday's games.
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