3/2/18

Twins Spring Training Notes: 3/2/2018

With Spring Training going strong for a couple weeks now, and the first cuts for the Twins looming, the battles for bench positions, one or two rotation spots and the bullpen, have become fairly muddled.

  • As far as the bench goes, after the Logan Morrison signing, there seems to be a fight for 2 spots among (alphabetically) Ehire Adrianza, Erick Aybar, Zach Granite, Robbie Grossman, and Kenny Vargas, as of now.  Each of them brings a different thing on the table.
  • So far Adrianza (1.078 OPS) and Aybar (1.035 OPS) have been the best of the group with the bat, with Adrianza experiencing some newly found power.  Granite (.413 OPS) and Grossman (.222 OPS) are not doing themselves any favors.  Vargas is right in the middle with .773 OPS.   Grossman did not do himself any favors when he indicated that he needed "about 10 PA" to get ready for the season.  He has 16 hitless PA right now
  • The bullpen battle is also interesting since several of the 2017 hold-overs, Ryan Pressly, Trevor Hildenberger, Alan Busentiz, and relative newcomers Dietrich Enns and Tyler Kinley have been struggling.  Being a "veteran" should not guarantee a position in the pen, since the Twins' pens have been horrible the past few years.  How horrible?  Their second half closer, Matt Belisle, could only get a minor league contract as a free agent this off-season. 
  • I feel that Myles Jaye might have a chance to making the Twins this season.  I like his presence on the mount and he has the stuff.
  • One of the pitchers who will not be fighting for a spot in the Twins' pen in Michael Kohn who tore his bicep.
  • The Twins have early health issues with their catchers. Mitch Garver is out with a knee problem that he suffered in a collision (I thought that those were illegal these days.)  There are no tears, but he will miss some time due to considerable swelling.   Meanwhile Jason Castro was scratched today due to migraines
  • Looks like the Miguel Sano drama might come to a conclusion soon.
  • BTW, can you identify these two former Beloit Snappers?
  •  Tyler Kepner of The New York Times has a great article on Fernando Rodney
  • Meanwhile, there is scientific evidence that balls are juiced the last few seasons.
  • The All time Award for the most vain Spring Training-related expression: "It's Spring Training for everyone", as an excuse for off-field screw-ups by non-baseball players.  Most jobs, including theirs, do not come with such mulligans. 
I will be making more such notes in somewhat regular intervals few times a week and daily when I am at Fort Myers. To see all the notes and coverage of the 2018 Twins' Spring Training, including live reports from Fort Myers in the second half of March, please visit here.

2/28/18

Twins Spring Training Notes: 2/28/2018

Still a couple of weeks before  I perform my annual ritual going south to Fort Myers to follow  the 2018 Twins during their Spring Training and write my thoughts live from there, but as things solidify and happen during this time, better start taking notice.  Here are my notes from the Twins' Spring Training so far, in a random order:

  • At this point, especially if the Twins go with 4 starters, necessitating spots in the pen for some of the veterans who missed the last spot, like Luke Phil Hughes, I would not call anyone other than Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, and Zach Duke, a lock for the bullpen.  Taylor Rogers could be close to one, but the fact that he has options left, may play to his disadvantage.
  • As far as the rotation goes, it has been presented as pretty much a two way battle between Hughes and Adalberto Mejia (who has options left);  however, if Fernando Romero has a couple more outings like his first, it will be difficult not to put him in the conversation for a rotation spot. Zack Littel also has a perfect 2 inning appearance, and Anibal Sanchez looked pretty good in his two innings.
  • Hughes had a decent outing and that included a 91 mph fastball, most since 2014 
  • Sanchez was at 91-93 with the fastball and already his changeup was very effective.  Maybe even more importantly, he looks in much better shape than he did last season 
  • Jose Berrios has a single inning, 32 pitch outing, that looked better in real life because he was working on his changeup, which is what players who made the roster do during this time.  He hit 95 with the fastball and his breaking ball was fine.  No worries there. 
  • The Twins had the best off-season since the before the 1991 season, and we know what happened then.
  • Logan Morrison will wear number 99.  98 was taken; thank you very much.  Morrison  will add another power bat next to Miguel Sano in the middle of the order, which will help the Twins.
  • Speaking of the devil, no matter what the same Twin Cities dinosaurs say and they are going to say ad nausem, Sano does not look fat these days.  Proof
  • I have a very hard time seeing any of the non-roster invitees making this team.  
  • It looks like Nick Gordon is groomed to be a second baseman and heir apparent of Brian Dozier, since he has been playing second base and not shortstop (other than in the game against the Gophers).  Something to keep an eye at when Gordon moves to the back fields this Spring and starts his minor league season.
  • I just hope thatthis season does not turn into the Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier last season with the Twins drama, but both have been vocal about it (mostly because they have been asked) and if one reads between the lines will find out that Dozier has a different agenda on the subject  than Mauer, which is not entirely unexpected, since one has actual ties to the community and is older, already benefiting from free agency.
I will be making more such notes in somewhat regular intervals few times a week and daily when I am at Fort Myers. To see all the notes and coverage of the 2018 Twins' Spring Training, including live reports from Fort Myers in the second half of March, please visit here.

2/26/18

Lomography: Twins' 1B/DH Logan Morrison by the numbers

Multiple reports have indicated that the Twins have signed left hand hitting and throwing Free Agent 1B/DH Logan Morrison to a 1 year $5.5M contract with a team option for $9 million for a second year, which vests with 600 PA in 2017 and can be bought out with $1 million.  In addition, there are $1 million per year in PA-based incentives.  This signing signals that switch hitting 1B/DH Kennys Vargas, who is out of options, as are UT Ehire Adrianza & OF/DH Robby Grossman, both slated for the Twins' bench in 2018, spare injuries or a miracle is in his final days of his career with the Twins.

We know about the HRs and the rest of his cumulative numbers, but let's see how Morrison fits in the Twins' team utilizing his 2017 rate numbers:

Positive attributes (highest rank better)

wOBA: .363, 1st
wRC+: 130, 1st
BB%: 13.5%, 3rd (Grossman 14.7, Gimenez 14.7)
isoP: .268, 1st
GB/FB: 0.72, 1st
LD% 20.5:, 7th (Gimenez 25.8, Mauer 24.9, Grossman 24.8,  Castro 24.6, Buxton 23.2, Granite 21.0, Sano 20.6)
HR/FB: 22.5%, 2nd (Sano 27.5%)
% Hard contact: 37.4%, 2nd (Sano 44.8%)
UZR/150: at 1st Base: 2.0, 3rd (Maure 9.1, Vargas 4.6)




Negative attribute (lowest rank better) 

K%: 24.8%, 7th (Sano 35.8, Buxton 29.4, Vargas 29.2, Garver 28.8, Gimenez 26.7, Castro 26.5)

Statcast numbers (from baseball savant) :

Barrels/BBE: 12.8%, 2nd (24th overall in MLB)  (Sano 16.3, 6th overall)
% exit velo 95+: 42.1%,  3rd (32nd oveall)  (Sano 46%, 11th overall, Mauer 42.7%, 26th overall)

And as a parting shot, his 2017 spray chart (also from baseball savant) overlapping with Target Field, that indicates that if he played all his games at Target Field, and the balls he hit had the same fate as in other parks (lots of assumptions there with these type of exercises btw, especially regarding wind patterns, temperature, humidity, weather, etc., since he played at least half of his games in a dome) :



So what do the numbers tell us about what the Twins potentially acquired in Logan Morrison?

They got a left hand power hitter only second to and complementing right handed Miguel Sano, as far power in the middle of the lineup goes.  Also they got a hitter who was more productive than any Twins' hitter (likely due to afforementioned Sano's injuries) in 2017.  All in all a huge upgrade over Kennys Vargas, other than potentially defensively at 1B, based on UZR/150 numbers.  With RHB Sano and LHB Morrison hitting back to back, the Twins increase the possibilities of taxing opposing pitchers, a luxury they did not have in 2017. 

A great move for the Twins.


2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: Summary 1-60 and Organizational Overview

This is the last segment in the 2018 Twins top 60 prospect list. 

You can find the introductory segment that discusses qualifications to be on this list and presents the players who were on the 2017 list but are not in this list here.  You can find the list of the previous rankings here:  56-60, 55-51, 46-50 , 41-45, 36-40, 31-35, 26-30, 21-25, 16-20, 11-15, 6-10, and 1-5. You can find all segments in this series here.

Here is the list of the Twins top 60 prospects, with last year's ranking in parenthesis; if  not ranked in 2017 this is indicated by (--).  I also indicate their position and ETA to the majors:  

1. Royce Lewis (--), SS/OF, 2020
2. Wander Javier (1), SS, 2020
3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, 2020
4. Brent Rooker (--), 1B/LF, 2018
5. Fernardo Romero (4), RHP, 2018
6. Rainis Silva (32), C, 2020
7. Blayne Enlow (--), RHP, 2020
8. Zack Littell  (--), RHP, 2018
9. Stephen Gonsalves (6), LHP, 2018
10. Lewin Diaz (3), 1B, 2020
11. Akil Baddoo (24), OF, 2020
12. Tyler Jay (2), LHP, 2018
13. Alex Kirilloff (8) OF, 2020
14. Luis Arraez (11), IF, 2019
15. Michael Montero (--), RHP, 2021
16. Nick Gordon (5), IF, 2018
17. Tyler Wells (54), RHP, 2020
18. Jose Miranda (--), IF, 2021
19. Jean Carlos Arias (36), CF, 2020
20. Jermaine Palacios (31) SS, 2020 traded to the Rays
20. Jovani Moran (--), LHP, 2020
21. Lewis Thorpe (30), LHP, 2019
22. LaMonte Wade (22), OF, 2018
23 Yunior Severino (--), IF, 2022
24. Chris Paul (--), UT, 2019
25. Landon Leach (--), RHP, 2021
26. Andrew Bechtold (--), 3B, 2020
27. Travis Blankenhorn (15), 3B/1B/OF, 2020
28. Charlie Barnes (--), LHP, 2020
29. Tyler Watson (--), RHP, 2020
30. David Banuelos (--), C, 2020
31. Ben Rortvedt (16), C, 2021
32. Kohl Stewart (17), RHP, 2018
33. Alberoni Nunez (--), OF, 2021
34. Derek Molina (--), RHP, 2021
35. Bryan Sammons (--) LHP, 2020
36. Bailey Ober (--), RHP, 2020
37. Pedro Garcia (45), RHP, 2021
38. Lachlan Wells (29), LHP, 2020
39. Wander Valdez, (--) 3B, 2021
40. Aaron Whitefield (59), OF, 2020
41. Ricky De La Torre (--) SS, 2021
42. Jake Reed (25) RHP, 2018
43. Jacob Pearson (--), OF, 2022
44. Yeltsin Encarnacion (--) IF, 2022
45. Ryley Widell (--) LHP, 2022
46. Andrew Vasquez (52), LHP, 2019
47. Tom Hackimer (--), RHP, 2019
48. Kerby Camacho (--), C, 2021
49. Hector Lujan (--), RHP, 2020
50. Colton Burns (--), OF, 2021
51. Cody Stashak -(55), RHP, 2019
52. Jaylin Davis, (39), OF 2019
53. Alex Robles, (--), OF, 2022
54. Ruben Santana, (--), IF, 2022
55. Carlos Suniaga, (--), RHP, 2022
56. Sandy Lugo, (--), RHP, 2020
57. Nelson Molina, (47), IF, 2020
58. Ben Rodriguez (--), C/1B, 2022
59. Carson Crites (--), 2B, 2022
60. Jesus Toledo (--), LHP, 2022

Re-arranging the list based on when players would be ready to help the Twins in the majors, will make look something like this:

4. Brent Rooker (--), 1B/LF, 2018
5. Fernardo Romero (4), RHP, 2018
8. Zack Littell  (--), RHP, 2018
9. Stephen Gonsalves (6), LHP, 2018
12. Tyler Jay (2), LHP, 2018
16. Nick Gordon (5), IF, 2018
22. LaMonte Wade (22), OF, 2018
32. Kohl Stewart (17), RHP, 2018
42. Jake Reed (25) RHP, 2018
---
14. Luis Arraez (11), IF, 2019
21. Lewis Thorpe (30), LHP, 2019
24. Chris Paul (--), UT, 2019
46. Andrew Vasquez (52), LHP, 2019
47. Tom Hackimer (--), RHP, 2019
51. Cody Stashak -(55), RHP, 2019
52. Jaylin Davis, (39), OF 2019
-------
1. Royce Lewis (--), SS/OF, 2020
2. Wander Javier (1), SS, 2020
3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, 2020
6. Rainis Silva (32), C, 2020
7. Blayne Enlow (--), RHP, 2020
10. Lewin Diaz (3), 1B, 2020
11. Akil Baddoo (24), OF, 2020
13. Alex Kirilloff (8) OF, 2020
17. Tyler Wells (54), RHP, 2020
19. Jean Carlos Arias (36), CF, 2020
20. Jermaine Palacios (31) SS, 2020
20. Jovani Moran (--), LHP, 2020
26. Andrew Bechtold (--), 3B, 2020
27. Travis Blankenhorn (15), 3B/1B/OF, 2020
28. Charlie Barnes (--), LHP, 2020
29. Tyler Watson (--), RHP, 2020
30. David Banuelos (--), C, 2020
35. Bryan Sammons (--) LHP, 2020
36. Bailey Ober (--), RHP, 2020
38. Lachlan Wells (29), LHP, 2020
40. Aaron Whitefield (59), OF, 2020
49. Hector Lujan (--), RHP, 2020
56. Sandy Lugo, (--), RHP, 2020
57. Nelson Molina, (47), IF, 2020
---
15. Michael Montero (--), RHP, 2021
18. Jose Miranda (--), IF, 2021
25. Landon Leach (--), RHP, 2021
31. Ben Rortvedt (16), C, 2021
33. Alberoni Nunez (--), OF, 2021
34. Derek Molina (--), RHP, 2021
37. Pedro Garcia (45), RHP, 2021
39. Wander Valdez, (--) 3B, 2021
41. Ricky De La Torre (--) SS, 2021
48. Kerby Camacho (--), C, 2021
50. Colton Burns (--), OF, 2021
---
23 Yunior Severino (--), IF, 2022
43. Jacob Pearson (--), OF, 2022
44. Yeltsin Encarnacion (--) IF, 2022
45. Ryley Widell (--) LHP, 2022
53. Alex Robles, (--), OF, 2022
54. Ruben Santana, (--), IF, 2022
55. Carlos Suniaga, (--), RHP, 2022
58. Ben Rodriguez (--), C/1B, 2022
59. Carson Crites (--), 2B, 2022
60. Jesus Toledo (--), LHP, 2022

There is a solid pipeline of talent ready (ETA 2018) and close to ready (ETA 2019) that can help the Twins this season; albeit other than a couple of cases (Rooker and Romero), it is not top talent.  The majority of top talent will be ready around 2020, close to when the current young Twins core is coming to its arbitration eligible stage.  For 2021 and further there is not much at this time, but a. many of these prospects will rise in the rankings and b. will be supplemented in the 2018-2020 drafts.

The Twins system is its stronger and more balanced that it has been in years.  The years when Sano, Polanco and Buxton were the top prospects, the quality of position players prospects was probably higher than now, but with Lewis, Javier and Rooker on the top 5, this might be challenged as well.  The quality of pitching and the potential of pitching prospect is much higher than previous years.

Also this team has a nice core of prospects from 8-15, and some of that group are regarded much higher in the National lists, which can serve as the basis for trades to bring in ready now top of the rotation talent, something that the Twins lack.