Live from Fort Myers: Twins Spring Training Notes: 3/15/2019

As always you can find all the entries in this series in reverse chronological order here.

Here are my notes from the last couple days of Twins' Spring Training games:

  • The home games yesterday and today could not be any dissimilar other than the attendance.  It sucked both days with about 1/3 of the ballpark empty and about 6,000some tickets sold only.  The abbreviated Spring Training and the pushing up of the opening day really made fans from all teams less reluctant to come down South because it effectively took a whole week away.  I hope that MLB will reconsider that next season.
  • Martin Perez and Michael Pineda yesterday and today were at different stages of readiness:  Perez was all over the place with his command, even though his fastball hit 97 at the Hammond Stadium radar, whereas Pineda had pinpoint control and a no-hitter into 4 until Ehire Adrianza's unfortunately wide throw at first allowed a Pirate hitter today.  Pineda's fastball was at 93/94 all day long.
  • I think that the Twins' bench is done:  Lucas Duda will opt out as soon as he can and Ehire Adrianza, Tyler Austin, and Willians Astrudillo will be the Twins' bench to start the season.  They all homered today btw.  Astrudillo played at LF and was more surehanded out there than several of other Twins I have seen play the position (Josh Willingham, Delmon Young, Oswaldo Arcia, etc) in the recent memory.
  • Mark my words: Preston Guilmet is not making the Twins and will be hard pressed to make the Rochester team.  Pretty horrible presence all over today.
  • SS prospect Wander Javier (who left today's game with a hamstring tightness) started both home games at shortstop and showed why he is a top prospect with both his bat and glove.  Same with Trevor Larnach who homered last night and Brent Rooker who held on his own today.  Javier after missing all season with a non-throwing shoulder surgery looks like he is finally filling up and popped up a few inches.  He looks a lot like Miguel Sano did that age (20)
  • Addison Reed had yet another horrible appearance yesterday. I would have said that he is done before I saw Blake Parker pitch pretty awfully today.  This pen is for sure concerning.


Live from Fort Myers: Twins Spring Training Notes: 3/13/2019

As always you can find all the entries in this series in reverse chronological order here.

Today was my first full day at Fort Myers and I did not make the trip across the highway to see the Twins play the Red Sox, but instead I went to the back fields where the Twins' high A and A squads faced the equivalent Rays' teams.   Here are my notes from the day:

  • Zack Littell started the high A game for the Twins and pitched for an inning.  Before the game he was working on the pen with the Twins' assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and the Twins' minor league catching coordinator Tanner Swanson on two things: Tweaking his delivery so he uses more of his hips than his shoulders and targeting the lower part of the zone (Swanson emphatically was pointing that the target should be the groin area.)  His catcher, 20 year old Kidany Salva, was working on framing the low pitches as strikes, as is the direction throughout the organization.  The approach worked in the game, since he got 3 ground ball outs, but let's not forget the competition level.
  • In the game for the Twins there were high rated prospects, shortstops Royce Lewis and Wander Javier; however one prospect who is not a household name, had an eye opening performance: RHP Edwar (Eddie) Colina.  The 21 year old Venezuelan who was signed as an 18 year old International Free Agent, put himself on the radar last season after pitching a no-hitter at Cedar Rapids.  This spring, he ticked it up a few notches:  His fastball that was plus, is now plus plus with a 97-99 mph velocity and wicked movement.  His 84-85 mph changeup is a plus pitch and his 88-90 mph slider is average but flashes higher.  All of his pitches have swing and miss potential and at this point he has two major league quality pitches.  He made it as high as Fort Myers for two starts last season and he will likely start 2019 there as well, but keep an eye on him, he might finish the season in the majors.  He was groomed as a starter and the Twins will keep him starting for as long as they can; however I believe that his future is at the end of the pen.  He got a bit tired the 3rd inning of pitching (he pitched innings 2,3 and 4), loosing a couple of notches of his FB (down to 95-97) and some command.  Have to remember that this was the first minor league game of Spring Training.
  • The aforementioned Lewis and Javier, both coming from ailments of different severity squared at the ball well, and the looked pretty healthy.  Lewis had a double and took a violent cut at a swing and miss without flinching, which makes me think that the oblique is healed.
  • There were several interesting pitchers in the game: Undrafted free agent from 2017 big (6-7/245) 24-year old lefty Kevin Marnon showed some promise, but has to tighten his delivery.  He is pretty deceptive and can be effective, especially against lefties.  RHP Jared Finkel, the Twins' 17th round pick in 2017, is a side thrower with a 84-87 mph fastball, a 77-80 mph changeup and severe command issues.  RHP Calvin Foucher, the 10th round pick in the same draft, throws overead and has a close to plus 77-81 mph hammer curve, but his fastball is flat one at 90-91 mph, and he has command issues, which is not a good combination.  From the other field, which I did not pay much attention, RHP Andrew Cabezas, the 18th round pick of last year's draft, has a plus changeup that I absolutely have to see again, and LHP Zach Neff, the Twins' 31st round pick last season has a very deceptive delivery.  A couple names that made my notebook.
  • As far as position players went, in addition to the aforementioned, Lewis and Javier, there were a few other top ranked prospects: Yunior Severino has a really free swing and a couple of times lost the bat, once over the "dugout" cage.  The 19 year old looks like an athlete, but is very raw and lacks discipline.  Andrew Bechtold looks more like the tentative one from 2018 and not like the very good hitter of 2017.  Tentativeness is the issue here.  He just needs to be more aggressive.  Not sure what to think of Trey Cabbage anymore.  He is a first baseman now and has a hard time making contact.  He will be 22 in two months and had an average season finally last year when he repeated Cedar Rapids, but I am afraid that the road is uphill for him.  Trevor Casanova, the Twins 13th round pick last year had a very good presence as a catcher, but he made 2 bad throws at second base that should have been easy outs.  First baseman Chris Williams, 8th round pick last season, was all business with the bat, hitting a bases clearing double.  One to watch.
  • In other news C Ben Rortvedt and another player I did not recognize in civvies, were carrying their equipment to the minor league locker rooms.  They seem to be the next cuts from the big camp.
  • Tomorrow I will be watching the Twins against the Nationals and will have additional insight on the major league club.


Option situation of the Twins Spring Training Players

Here is the option situation of the Twins' Spring Training players:

40-man roster:

Adrianza, Castro, Cron, Cruz, Gonzalez, Kepler, Magill, Parker, Perez, Pineda, Polanco, A. Reed
Austin, Berrios, Gibson, Mejia, M. Reed, Rosario
Buxton, Duffey, Garver, Odorizzi, Romero, Rogers, Sano, Schoop, Stewart, Thorpe, Vasquez
Arraez, Astudillo, Cave, Gordon, Gonsalves, Hildenberger, Littell, Moya, Stewart, Thorpe, Vasquez, Wade

Non-roster invitees:

All non-roster invitees who were signed as Minor League free agents are out of options other than Dario Alvarez (1), and Zack Weiss (3.)  So if they make the roster sometime during the season, they will need to go through the waiver process to go to the minors.

Twins Spring Training Notes and Thoughts: 3/8/2019

This season's abbreviated Spring Training has really snicked up, and the Opening Day of the 2019 season is just 3 weeks away.  I will be spending the biggest part of the next two weeks in site at Fort Myers and will be able to provide daily eyewitness reports of the Twins.  Another different thing for this site this season is that I have waited to see the various Twins prospects before I create my annual prospect list.   Way too many new faces and very little video relatively. 

A few things has become pretty clear so far this Spring Training:

  • The absence of Miguel Sano from the opening day Twins' roster will likely open up two (or even three if they decide to go with 12 pitchers) spots on the Twins bench besides Mitch Garver (Marwin Gonzalez will replace Miguel Sano at 3B.)  Gonzalez's positional flexibility will allow the Twins to chose a potentially variable mix of position players for that spot.  Infielders Adam Rosales (35, 1.526 OPS, 19 PA, RHH) and Ehire Adrianza (29, 1.056 OPS, 18 PA, SHH) and first baseman/ designated hitter Lucas Duda (33, .840 OPS, 25 PA, LHH) have been very good with their bats.  Infielder Ronald Torreyes (26, .777 OPS, 25PA, RHH), and outfielders Jake Cave (26, .763 OPS, 25PA, LHH), LaMonte Wade (25, .760 OPS, 22PA, LHH), and Luke Raley (24, .750 OPS, .18 PA, LHH) have not hurt themselves at the plate.  Superutility catcher Willians Astrudillio (27, .673 OPS, 20 PA, RHH) and first baseman Tyler Austin (27, .474 OPS, 19 PA, RHH) have been lagging.  Duda, Raley, and Rosales would need a 40-man spot to make the team.  Only Adrianza is out of options (Duda and Rosales as well if they make the team;) Austin has an option left.  Michal Reed who would have have a chance in making the team has not played this spring because of back issues and he is unlikely to make the team.  If I were to guess, the 3 most likely players to make the team are Adrianza, Cave, and Duda, in this order, with Astrudillo next, but it is still early.
  • The rotation is pretty much set pending injury:  Righties Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda and lefty Martin Perez (in that order,) will be the Twins' five starters.  Perez will likely make pen appearances if a fifth starter is not needed.  All the starters but the opening day starter, Berrios, have been excellent to very good this Spring.
  • As far as the bullpen goes, RHPs Trevor May (29, 1.80 ERA, 0.20 WHIP, 5 IP,) and Blake Parker (33, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 3 IP), and LHP Taylor Rogers (28, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 IP) are pretty much certain to make the trip North.  There are several pitchers fighting for the 4 spots behind them in three categories:  Well performing starters who may make the team in the pen or start the season in the AAA rotation to provide future depth LHP Adalberto Mejia (25, 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 4 IP, 1 option left) and RHP Fernando Romero (24, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 IP, 2 options left).  Former pen members who are underperforming in various degrees or had mixed results: RHPs Trevor Hildenberger (28, 4.50 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, 4 IP, 3 options left,) Tyler Duffey (28, 6.35 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 5-2/3 IP, 2 options left,) Matt Magill (29, 7.36 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3-2/3 IP, no options left,) and LHP Andrew Vasquez (25, 0.00 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 5 IP, 3 options left). The third category are overperforming dark horse RHPs not on the 40-man roster: Mike Morin (27, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 4 IP), former Twins' second round pick Ryan Eades (27, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 IP,) and Ryne Harper (29, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 4 IP).  LHP Gabriel Moya (3 options left) who have pitched only one inning and allowed 3 ER, is dealing with back and shoulder issues and is unlikely to make the team.  With Magill the only pitcher out of options and potentially 4 open spots left, the Twins have plenty of different ways of filling them and plenty of time to figure it out.  RHP Addison Reed, normally a lock, has been horrible this Spring (27.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 2-1/3 IP), his velocity has been down and just does not look right. I predict that he will start the season in the Injury List, thus is not a part in the discussion.
  • The Twins' prospects with the big team have been a mixed bag this Spring but mostly underperforming: Alex Kirilloff (.375 OPS, 16 PA,) Luis Arraez (.436 OPS, 16 PA,)  Louis Thorpe (11.57 ERA, 1.93 WHIP, 4-2/3 IP,) Nick Gordon (.690 OPS, 15 PA), Jake Reed (4.91 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 3-2/3 IP), look overmatched in various degrees, whereas Luke Raley (.750 OPS, 18 PA), and LaMonte Wade (.760 OPS, 22 PA) held their own, and Brent Rooker (923 OPS, 16 PA) has been outperforming. Top prospect Royce Lewis has been out with an oblique injury.  Certain Twins' fans have been superhopeful to see Kirilloff, Thorpe, Arraez, and Lewis this season in the majors, but the first three are clearly overmatched even for Spring Training level of competition.   Nevertheless it has been an excellent learning experience for everyone involved (including the fans.)