Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 Was a Year, and We Had Baseball


We’re about to close the book on one of the craziest years in my lifetime. At 30 years old, I’ve hardly seen as much as the next person, but to say this calendar was filled with unprecedented events would be putting it lightly. Through it all though, we had baseball, and that was a distraction I know that I needed.


I remember many months ago now, waking up from a nap and looking at my phone. There was an alert from ESPN noting that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter accident. As I processed that, it didn’t hit me as to what the magnitude I’d feel from that event would be. Kobe was a cultural icon, more than just a basketball player, and despite being a Jordan guy he was an athlete I respected. From there, things got worse.


I’ll never forget sitting in Pott’s Sports CafĂ© in Fort Myers, Florida on March 13. The night before Rudy Gobert had tested positive for Coronavirus and the NBA effectively closed its doors. Covering the Twins Spring Training, things seemed ominous that morning as teams had already gone to distancing fans from players with roped off areas. By noon, Major League Baseball had put a halt on all operations. I hopped a flight and headed home.


Since that day, I have not returned to the office for my day job. We’ve dealt with closings of restaurants, public spaces, wearing masks, and plenty of other new versions of normal. Minneapolis experienced extreme racial unrest as the city turned into a warzone. There’s been political and social unrest, and countless other prominent figures that have now left us. For a brief four-month period though, there was baseball.


Leading up to the regular season we watched as the commissioner and ownership groups publicly tore down their players in an effort to squeeze profits through what would be a different year. There was uncertainty as to whether a season would be played at all and writing about the sport took a different turn. There was no minor league action to cover, and in months there typically would have been action, an ability to get creative was necessary.


As the dust settled though, we had the resumption of a game. Teams were diligent in their efforts to avoid Covid-19 outbreaks, the play on the field checked in at a high level, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won a World Series. Back in early summer, none of that seemed remotely possible.


More than any other year, I needed this out. I lost my grandpa to cancer in August, and the day following his funeral my 59-year-old father died in a car accident. I’ve spent more time in a cemetery over the past three months than I have during the entire duration of my life. I know that my challenges in 2020 are not alone, and that this year has been trying on so many. Financial distress, learning to cope with new working situations, understanding how to handle a certain level of social isolation, the totality of it all is not lost on anyone.


At the end of the day though, it was this, a child’s game, that provided a reprieve. We’ll have baseball again, the world will heal, and we can all be better and stronger people for what we have overcome. It will forever be a passion to break down the effectiveness of Jorge Polanco at shortstop, or whether Jose Berrios will round into a bonafide ace. Even if you take away that type of consumption though, the purity of a game, the crack of the bat, and the smell of fresh cut grass will always be an inviting escape.


Thank you for venturing on this journey with me, and I look forward to a more consistent level of normalcy in the months ahead. Below you’ll also find some of my favorite pieces from this season.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Twins Quest for Pitching Becomes Clearer


Update: It appears that the Padres will be also landing Yu Darvish from the Cubs. While that takes a target away from the Twins, they have less competition on the Reds front. Arms like Joe Musgrove and Jon Gray also remain enticing.

Late on Sunday night the market for starting pitching pursuits took a drastic change. After the Tampa Bay Rays had announced they’d make Blake Snell available, the San Diego Padres decided to cap off their Christmas weekend with a blockbuster trade. This provides a blueprint for the Minnesota Twins, and also removes some potential competition.


Thus far during the offseason things have been quit from the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine camp. Minnesota has made a few smaller moves on the reliever front, but they have not addressed their rotation or lineup. For what seems like weeks we’ve now heard about the Twins being a team potential waiting in the weeds and ready to strike. One big name discussed has been that of Marcus Semien, but it remains true that starting pitching is a must.


You can probably bet on veteran Rich Hill not being a guy brought back for 2021, and while Jake Odorizzi looks like one of the best arms not named Trevor Bauer, he will have some options. For Minnesota, sustainability could be the key and finding a trade partner with an arm having some team control could be as enticing as anything.


Although it’s not known to what extent Minnesota may have been intrigued by Snell, the reality is he’s a good pitcher and was available. At the very least that made the two organizations a match. Following that logic, the Cubs and Yu Darvish as well as the Reds and their arms Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray could all be fits. Darvish comes with the hefty price tag, while both Gray and Castillo are more affordable options that should command a premium in prospect capital.


It’s fine to still call this relatively early in the offseason, but the reality is that we’re over the halfway point. Despite the fact that Rob Manfred still hasn’t solidified the 2021 Major League Baseball schedule and we still have no idea what the exact set of rules are going to be, time is not waiting, and Spring Training will soon be around the corner. Minnesota’s front office hasn’t been afraid of being a last-minute suitor, but getting guys acclimate could hold some weight given how the Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison moves ultimately worked out.


When the Padres decided to spring for Snell with a package centered around their second-best pitching prospect, they effectively took themselves out of any discussion regarding another deal. The money is still there for them to target Trevor Bauer, but they don’t seem likely to move Mackenzie Gore or C.J. Abrams, so swapping for another top arm would be difficult. This benefits the Twins as it’s one less club vying for the same prizes.


Given the organization he played for it was probably a near-guarantee that Snell would be moved. I think Chicago still flips Darvish, but Jed Hoyer will want to get his first big move right. Castillo and Gray don’t necessarily need to be shipped out, but Cincinnati appears intent on tearing it down after a one-year run at going for it. Asking Minnesota to be engaged on all of those fronts is hardly a leap.


It’s not yet clear where the Twins will turn, but I’d bet a decent amount that they have plenty of irons in the fire, and it’s clear there’s a decent amount of smoke. Having a better bargaining position than they did yesterday, and also a representative idea of a framework, Falvey and Levine have more clarity now than they may have a few days ago.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Twins Spending Can Take Another Step Forward


Today Maury Brown put an article out at Forbes that illustrated some of the economic impact across baseball in relation to a pandemic shortened 2020 season. While the league as a whole spent roughly $2.5B less on salaries, the per game adjustments note a step forward. The Twins can and need to afford a similar path in the year ahead.


In 2019 $2,472,194,292 more dollars were spent on payrolls across baseball. Obviously, there were also 102 more games played that season. Adjusting the calendar to be in line with what we experienced during 2020 however, a 12% increase in player salaries would’ve been realized.


On the Twins front, Minnesota paid out $52,627,942 in salaries during the 2020 season. That was good enough for 19th in baseball. They paid a total of $125,205,980 in 2019, and that comes out to an adjusted amount of $46,372,585. It makes sense that the Pohlad family would push more finances into roster construction during an open window and following a length period of cost savings, but it’s glad to see that come to fruition.


After going big on Josh Donaldson to the tune of a four-year deal worth at least $100 million, Minnesota again finds themselves in a position to spend. Although payroll positioning isn’t indicative of talent of future finish (just ask the Tampa Bay Rays), stockpiling more assets is hardly a bad practice. Coming off a second straight AL Central division title and looking to supplement an already strong core around a star like Donaldson, another step up makes plenty of sense.


Despite the down revenues for the league as a whole in 2020, the reality is that Scott Boras’ assessment is likely factual. Teams didn’t actually lose money as much as they simply didn’t take in typical profits. Coming off years of record growth financially however, that should hardly be the sole motivator, and especially not for organizations in the midst of prime competitive windows.


Minnesota has a respectable farm system and one that has both established depth while harboring some very high projected prospects at the top. Even Royce Lewis though shouldn’t be considered a cornerstone on a Major League team for the next one or two seasons. That’s a point in which most of the Twins core is looking into their 30’s while the big contract for Donaldson is a year from lapsing. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine can’t throw caution to the wind, but they’ve built a sustained winner, and now is time to continue adding pieces.


There have been rumblings about what the Twins plan to do at the shortstop position, and there’s no doubt they have holes in the starting rotation as it would currently be constructed. Minnesota is never going to be able to compete with big market clubs purely from an enticement factor but saving dollars doesn’t make much sense given the state of the competitive opportunity and the challenge Chicago will certainly present.


It’s good to see that even in a year with decreased revenues and unprecedented hurdles the Twins stepped up on the bottom line. Now they need to continue to weather the storm and do it again for 2021.

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Twins Want a New Shortstop?


Over the past couple of weeks, it has been rumored that the Twins are acting as a shark circling blood in the water. Waiting for an opportunity to make a big move like they did last offseason, it’s been anyone’s guess as to what that may be. Today it was reported that the move could come up the middle.


Trevor Bauer is the premier free agent this winter, but shortstop talent is aplenty as well. Andrelton Simmons is a perennial Gold Glove type, while both Didi Gregorious and Marcus Semien bring a more balanced offering in a stopgap type situation. Ken Rosenthal reported today that Minnesota is considering moving Luis Arraez and shifting Jorge Polanco to second base. The question then becomes, who plays short?


Arraez broke onto the scene in 2019 and immediately became a fan favorite that looked the part of a Tony Gwynn clone. With great command of the zone and an innate ability to make strong contact, multiple batting titles were projected for his future. Dealing with a slow start in 2020, and lingering knee issues, he finished the year off fine. It’s probably fair to describe him as virtually what we see being who he is. There’s going to be a high average, he won’t strike out, and he’s passable at best on defense. On its own, that works fine for Minnesota.


The problem here is that Jorge Polanco is miscast as a shortstop. His arm strength is questionable, and while improved in 2020, his range is suspect. That’s easier to overlook when the power production is what it was in 2019, but he dealt with a nagging ankle issue last season and just underwent another surgery to correct it. There was some talk he could take over as Minnesota’s replacement for Marwin Gonzalez, but you’d probably be sacrificing lineup prowess in that scenario. Moving him to second base seems like a much more fluid fit.


So, what happens at short? Royce Lewis is obviously seen as the heir, but there’s plenty of warts to dissect there. His 2019 was not good, and despite glowing reports from the CHS Field alternate site last season, 2020 featured no real game action. A handful of national names continue to suggest he’s not a fit at short long term, and a spot in centerfield makes more sense. That alone isn’t enough to bump him off the position now, but it might be worthy to consider him less than untouchable.


At the current juncture two of the game’s best shortstops are on the trade market. Cleveland is going to move Francisco Lindor this offseason, and the Colorado Rockies should be sending Trevor Story out. Neither are under team control past 2022 and as always you have the Coors effect in play (.760 OPS away .994 OPS home) for Story. Both players are going to command an absolute premium and depending on what Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are willing to give up, the hope would likely be an extension works out following a swap.


Despite lost revenues in 2020, the Minnesota Twins can’t afford to wait out their next move. The farm system has some very good top prospects, and the depth is also pretty solid. It’s this core however that the front office has been fine tuning, and the window to go all in is the immediate future. With Josh Donaldson having three years left on his mega deal, pairing him and the homegrown core should be of the utmost importance. What impact Royce Lewis or Jordan Balazovic have as key pieces two or three years from now could be the start of an entirely new competitive cycle.


This front office can’t go all in and throw care to the wind, but they’ve also never shown a reason to believe that’s how they would operate. Donaldson seemed like a great fit for Minnesota all along last winter, and the Twins picked their spot to get the deal done. Nothing may be imminent on a big splash front right now, but the makings of smoke seem to be billowing and there’s plenty of reason to fan for some flame.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Are the Twins Preparing a Big Surprise?


This offseason was always going to be incredibly weird. Coming off a pandemic shortened season, with no fans, and an unprecedented amount of uncertainty still ahead, how teams would tackle preparations for 2021 is a mystery. The Twins are good though, and despite a few holes they want to get better. What if they go all in?


This morning at ESPN Jeff Passan penned a piece regarding some rumblings he’s heard around the league. One of them was a note on the Minnesota Twins circling like a shark in the water. Executives had apparently suggested that Minnesota is “lurking” and appears “ready to strike with a big move as they did last season.” That big move alluded to was the signing of Josh Donaldson to a $100 million deal. How could something like that be replicated?


On the free agent market there’s only a couple of splashes that would fall into that category in and of themselves. Signing Trevor Bauer, George Springer, or J.T. Realmuto would push dollar signs into that realm. Bauer is arguably the most natural fit of the group, and his next deal could be the most interesting. He’s previously said he’d like to by an assassin for hire and string together lucrative one-year deals. Agent Rachel Luba has commented that they’re open to whatever the best fit is. Bauer makes sense in Minnesota, but I’d imagine there’s other more desirable markets.


Looking at the latter two options, the Twins would be in a bit of a weird spot even though both are clear upgrades. Springer plays corner outfield, and despite the departure of Eddie Rosario, the assumption is that top prospect Alex Kirilloff will take over in short order. Mitch Garver had a down and injury plagued year in 2020, but Ryan Jeffers looked the part of a starting quality option. Realmuto would push both to the bench, although he could make the DH spot less of a pressing Nelson Cruz matter.


I don’t think anything else on the free agency front would qualify as Donaldson-esque. Maybe signing Didi Gregorious, Marcus Semien, or Andrelton Simmons to be the starting shortstop creates ripples, but none of those guys should break the bank. If it’s not going to happen on the open market, swinging a deal is something Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have done well with.


Although the system isn’t as loaded as it once was, the Twins minor league depth right now is in a great place. Royce Lewis probably remains off the table, but he’s less untouchable than I assumed even a year ago. Beyond that, everyone should be under consideration. Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran headline the pitching while Trevor Larnach, Aaron Sabato, and Keoni Cavaco are the offensive gems.


Without reading too much into what Passan has reported, there’s certainly a feeling of a silent killer right now. Chicago is looking to load up as the White Sox have their most competitive team in years. The Twins are the clear cream of the crop right now though and remaining there will take legitimate additions. After hearing about payroll decreases and scaled back financial efforts after decreased revenues in 2020, there should have been legitimate fear regarding Minnesota’s opportunity to capitalize.


If this is just the beginning of smoke, and we don’t have fire for some time, the hope should be that this is an inkling of the Twins keeping their foot on the gas. The front office and development staff have pushed a largely home-grown roster to the point of opportunity. The window is wide open and continuing to jump through it as long as they can, should be the goal. One Postseason win, or a series victory is where it starts, but this organization has all the makings of a legitimate contender.

Monday, December 7, 2020

2021 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects


This will be my 6th annual top 15 Twins prospect update. As was the case with the midseason edition back in June, we’re dealing with an unprecedented scenario here. Having not played any minor league baseball action in 2020, movement is based more on what I heard out of the alternate site and what took place from prospects appearing at Target Field.


The hope would be that a level of normalcy is restored in 2021. While I’m optimistic we see something closer to what we’ve come accustomed to, changes are still in store. Major League Baseball booted just over 40 affiliates, and the regular season is still looking like there may be a delay in getting things underway. I’m hopeful that the yearly trip to Fort Myers happens, but that all remains in flux currently.


Here’s where players checked in during previous seasons:


2016 Top 15 Prospects

2017 Top 15 Prospects

2018 Top 15 Prospects

2019 Top 15 Prospects

2020 Top 15 Prospects

Now, let’s get to it!

15. Akil Baddoo OF

Taking over this spot from Wander Javier, Baddoo has had somewhat of a similar professional trajectory. He’s been hurt plenty and there’s still much more projection than actual results. However, he’ll play 2021 at 22-years-old and has already reached High-A. Growing into his body more and increasing muscle mass, there’s an exciting combination of strength and speed. He needs to begin producing on the field, but the ceiling is one to get excited about.

14. Gilberto Celestino OF

Celestino is on the 40-man roster and could play in the big leagues right now from a defensive standpoint. It was good for him to be at CHS Field in 2020 and get additional coaching in what could’ve been a lost year. The Twins are still looking for the additional come-up on the Ryan Pressly trade, and it’s this kid that could end up providing it.

13. Matt Wallner OF

The Minnesota native will be 23 when he gets back into a professional game having lost his age-22 season. However, Wallner is an advanced bat that has a plus arm. He’s probably more Trevor Larnach than he is Brent Rooker when it comes to athleticism, and that’s a good thing. Reaching Cedar Rapids in his first pro season was a nice showing, and he could be pushed through the system quickly if everything continues to go according to plan.

12. Matt Canterino RHP

On the outside of my top 10 but looking in, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Canterino as a top-5 Twins prospect a year from now. He’s got a great arm and was nothing short of dominant in his first seven professional outings. He’ll be 23 in 2021 and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Twins look to get him extended time at Double-A Wichita. He could be a part of the next wave behind the likes of Balazovic and Duran.

11. Lewis Thorpe LHP

Seeing somewhat of a slip for the Aussie in 2020 was a disappointing reality. Thorpe has always looked like the lefty to bet on in the Twins system, and I really thought he was in for a breakout. Initially dealing with some personal issues during Spring Training, and then fighting ineffectiveness when he was out there, 2020 was as forgettable for Lewis as it was anyone. The talent is all there, and so is the stuff, but it’ll be on him to close the gap between the ears.

10. Aaron Sabato 1B

I struggled with where to put Sabato as I think what happens and what could go wrong are both pretty straightforward. The former Tar Heel’s bat is beyond legit, but so too is his limit when it comes to impact. He’s never going to move off first base and may ultimately be a designated hitter. There’s less swing and miss than Rooker here, and the floor is probably a bit safer. Without him having played a professional game though, this feels right.

9. Keoni Cavaco SS

Entirely projection is what you’ve got to go off on Cavaco. He was an extreme helium pick and only got in 20 games before his professional career was put on hold. He’s 19-years-old and will start 2021 at that age. Likely destined to play for the newly designated Low-A Mighty Mussels, Cavaco will have to prove he can stick at shortstop. Playing third base during his prep career, the hope is that the bat develops power, and his 35/4 K/BB was just part of the acclimation process.

8. Brent Rooker OF/1B

If you were waiting on Brent Rooker’s bat to play in the big leagues before believing, the seven-game sample size certainly didn’t do anything to calm your excitement. It was a short debut, but he crushed the baseball, posted a .960 OPS, and launched his first Major League home run. A fractured forearm ended his season, but he’s all systems go and should be looking at an Opening Day roster spot in 2021.

7. Blayne Enlow RHP

I might be a bit higher on Enlow than most, but I think this is the next Twins pitching prospect to take a big leap. The front office prioritized him in a draft a couple of years ago, and he’s flashed great stuff since. Enlow will be 22 in 2021, but he’s already reached High-A. The strikeouts need to keep rising, but he’s got some electricity to his arm and has done a good job of avoiding substantial damage. Another step forwards and he’ll make another leap on this list.

6. Ryan Jeffers C

Like Rooker, Jeffers made his Major League debut in 2020. With Mitch Garver fighting both injury and ineffectiveness the Twins needed to turn to their rising prospect. In 26 games he posted a .791 OPS and did a fine job behind the plate. When drafted the narrative was that the bat would play but uncertainty remained about whether he could hack it behind the plate. Minnesota believed he could, and while that remains a work in progress, a pairing with Garver should give Rocco Baldelli two solid options.

5. Jhoan Duran RHP

There were a couple of different points that a Duran promotion seemed like a good bet during 2020, but the Twins ultimately never went that direction. He’s got a near triple-digit fastball and I heard plenty of great reports from the people I checked on him with. He probably has a higher ceiling than the pitching prospect ranked higher than him on this list, but the floor is more volatile as well.

4. Trevor Larnach OF

For the duration they’ve been in the system together it’s been hard to separate Larnach and Kirilloff. They are virtually the same player with the former having had some college seasoning and the latter having a bit of youth on his side. I’d give Larnach the edge when it comes to athleticism, but both should be seen as advanced bats with unmatched upside especially at the plate.

3. Jordan Balazovic RHP

Hailing from Canada, Balazovic has entrenched himself as the Twins top pitching prospect. He has the right mix of high ceiling ability with a very projectable and safe floor. I’d be pretty shocked if he ends up flaming out and working as a reliever. There may not be ace potential here but expecting him to be a two or three is hardly a lofty expectation.

2. Royce Lewis SS

Minnesota’s top prospect for the past two years drops a spot for me, but only because I think the year without game action leaves some uncertainty. I’ve been bullish on Lewis, and even if he doesn’t stick at shortstop, I think he’s an All-Star caliber talent. While his ceiling is unquestionably higher than Kirilloff’s, there’s also a more volatile floor here. I really wanted to see how Royce would bounce back in 2020, and despite glowing reports from the alternate site, we didn’t get actual evaluation opportunity. I’m not betting against him by any means.

1. Alex Kirilloff OF/1B

Talk about being thrown into the fire as Kirilloff was asked to make his Major League debut during an elimination game in the Postseason. He could be ticketed for the starting left field role on Opening Day in 2021, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be expected to at least match Eddie Rosario’s production level. Kirilloff’s bat is the real deal, and while his arm won’t play quite as high, there’s no reason not to get excited about his prognosis as a regular.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Thad Levine Being Poached Shows Twins Growth


Welcome to a new era of Minnesota Twins baseball. This isn’t the Terry Ryan regime anymore, and it hasn’t been for quite some time. What was ushered in with Derek Falvey represented a more progressive way of thinking. Unfortunately, the downside to that is having other organizations looking to play copycat. Now that is beginning to come full circle.


Last offseason the Twins lost their hitting coach. James Rowson was the architect behind a lineup that hit the most home runs in Major League Baseball history, and his championing of launch angle and exit velocity was a far cry from the contact approach of yesteryear. Rudy Hernandez and Edgar Varela remained, but Twins fans often wondered if Rowson’s departure didn’t explain some of the step backwards this season.


While the offseason is hardly aged yet as we head into 2021, the Twins have seen a few coaches poached from their minor league ranks as well. Although it’s big league losses like Rowson and Derek Shelton that resonate most with the casual fan, it’s the absence of names like Tanner Swanson and J.P. Martinez that really signify the strength of organization infrastructure.

Today it was announced that Twins General Manager Thad Levine is a “significant player” in the Phillies search for a new head of baseball operations. That’s an appealing job no doubt, given Levine’s hand in retooling the Twins organization. Philadelphia has fallen flat on developing prospects, and now they are Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, and Zack Wheeler with little else to make a serious run. Orchestrating that turnaround on his own without sharing credit under Falvey has to be an exciting premise.


Initially that would seem like a brutal blow for Minnesota. Levine and Falvey have seemingly been connected at the hip, and since their introductory press conference they’ve consistently talked about a collaborative environment. What has become apparent since that time, however, is that Falvey is no stranger to identifying and hiring the right people in the right positions. It’s because of the Twins infrastructure that he has orchestrated that teams are interested in pulling from the club.


Ken Rosenthal recently wrote a piece that included bit praising the Twins throughout the contract negotiation period with their arbitration eligible players. Agents noted that Levine was great to work with and that comes across as a glowing report for Minnesota’s GM. Expecting Falvey to find someone internally or externally to replace those shoes is hardly unfathomable, however. That’s not to say losing Levine is without consequence but trusting in the process from the top down has truly become something easy to buy into.


I’d prefer not to see Minnesota lose Thad Levine prior to reaching the peak with a World Series that this organization is now directed towards. However, as architectural as he has been throughout the years here, I believe the process and structure in place will continue bearing fruit regardless of the replacement. The Twins have turned themselves into an organization akin to the Tampa Bay Rays from a front office and coaching perspective. That’s more than an enviable reality to look into.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Twins Join Cities as Saints Become Affiliate


As has been the expectation now for week, the St. Paul Saints will officially join the Minnesota Twins organization in 2021 per reports from the Star Tribune. Previously playing in the American Association as an Independent Baseball team, they’ll now assume the role of the Twins Triple-A affiliate.


For years there has been talk about the convenience having an affiliate just down I-94 would provide the Twins. Then during the pandemic shortened season, CHS Field acted as the alternate site for the Major League club. With Major League Baseball throwing around its weight and controlling baseball across the country, a massive reshuffling has taken place. Gone are roughly 40 minor league clubs as 120 total affiliates is the new number. Regional restructuring has taken place, and new draft feeder leagues have emerged.


Impacting the Twins is a new partner at the highest minor league level. Having been affiliated with the Rochester Red Wings since 2003, the Minnesota Twins will now turn a new chapter in their developmental history. The Saints were founded in 1993 and were originally part of the Northern League prior to joining the American Association.


As it’s the Saints joining the Twins organization, they’ll inherit talent from within. Minnesota will now send Triple-A destined prospects to St. Paul rather than Rochester. This means that the players previously under contract with the Saints will be displaced throughout Independent Baseball. Per reporter Chelsea Ladd, there have been talks the American Association will hold a draft of sorts to find those players new teams.


Also, of note is the Twins swapping their Double-A affiliate. After just one season working with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Twins will now join forces with the Wichita Wind Surge. The Wind Surge were originally scheduled to operate as the Miami Marlins Triple-A affiliate, with 2020 being their first season. Obviously with the pandemic that never happened. It’s not great news for Wichita, who will drop a level in with the affiliation, but Minnesota inherits a closer Double-A club and one that is opening a brand-new ballpark and facilities.


Certainly, Major League Baseball expanding its reach across Major League, Minor League, and now even amateur baseball is a suboptimal development. Having such a monopoly over the sport, ownership groups continue to line their pockets while paydays for future generations of talent can continue to be stifled. However, if you’re simply a Twins fan, having the ability to watch future franchise pieces just 13 miles from Target Field, and a driveable journey to Wichita as a possibility, isn’t the worst silver lining.


For years, the St. Paul Saints possibility has been kicked around, and now in the first year it will happen top prospects like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Jordan Balazovic, and Jhoan Duran should all be featured for a time in St. Paul. We may have to wait through the waning stages of a pandemic to see them in person, but a new era of baseball in Twins Territory has been ushered in.