Monday, December 20, 2021

2022 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects

While we have no baseball right now because of the league locking out its players, there’s still minor league prospects to dream on. 2021 provided us a full season of minor league action and the Twins saw a ton of movement from their biggest names.

It was certainly tough to see the injuries mount this season, but that can likely be tied to the non-traditional 2020 and having to get back into a demanding flow. The last update to the top 15 in this space came in June, prior to the Major League Baseball draft, so now feels like a good time to refresh the list. 

Previous rankings can be found below. Let’s get into it:

15. Cole Sands RHP

Sliding Sands back a spot here has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with additions before him. He posted a 2.46 ERA in 80.1 IP all at the Double-A level in 2021. The strikeouts are there and while the walk rate was up, he still worked around damage. Some time on the IL wasn’t a great thing, but he could be an option for Minnesota soon.

14. Matt Wallner OF

I’m pretty bullish on Wallner being a better version of Brent Rooker. His .854 OPS at High-A was a professional best this season, and he raked for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. He has massive arm strength and should be fine in a corner spot. He’s going to hit for power, and I think the on-base abilities are there too.

13. Noah Miller INF

Taken 36th overall by the Twins, Miller’s brother Owen is a big leaguer. Noah is expected to be a better all-around prospect and has plenty of speed on his own. I think he’s got a pretty good shot to stick in the middle of the infield, and it’ll be exciting to see him on the field in 2022.

12. Blayne Enlow RHP

Throwing just 14.2 innings this year, Enlow was put on the shelf early and then underwent Tommy John surgery. He was added to the 40-man roster protecting him from a Rule 5 selection. He’s still one of my favorite breakout prospects, but he won’t be healthy to start 2022.

11. Josh Winder RHP

After dominating Double-A, Winder earned a pretty quick promotion to Triple-A. He was just ok in his four starts at St. Paul, but there’s no reason to believe this isn’t a talented arm. He’s consistently had strong strikeout stuff and avoided free passes. Winder was bit most by the longball for the Saints. He did experience a trip to the IL but should be healthy coming into 2022.

10. Keoni Cavaco INF

In 60 games for Low-A Fort Myers Cavaco did little to impress. That said, he’s still just 20 years old and it was great to see him advance beyond the complex league. He’s still filling out form a body standpoint, and 2022 will be an important year for his development.

9. Chase Petty RHP

Selected as the 26th overall pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, Petty was seen as a great value selection given his ability to reach triple-digits on the mound. He’s still got a good amount of refinement to undergo, but this is a great arm for Minnesota to mold.

8. Matt Canterino RHP

Spending a good amount of time on the IL this year, Canterino certainly wanted to get in more than 23 innings. The work he did do was dominant, however. A 0.78 ERA and 45/4 K/BB is plenty indicative of him needing the challenge of at least Double-A to start 2022.

7. Simeon Woods-Richardson RHP

One piece of the return for Jose Berrios, Woods-Richardson pitched just eight innings for the Twins at Double-A. After playing with Team USA in the Olympics, he needed a good amount of time to ramp back up. The strikeout numbers are exciting, but he does have command issues to work through. Still, this is a top-100 prospect that should be fun to watch in 2022.

6. Jhoan Duran RHP

After being among the best Twins pitching prospects coming into 2021, Duran took a slight step backwards. He was injured for a good part of the season and contributed just 16 innings. The high strikeouts were combined with too many walks. The velocity is certainly there, but he could wind up being a reliever too. 2022 will be a big season for him.

5. Joe Ryan RHP

Acquired in exchange for Nelson Cruz, Ryan wound up being among the best things to happen for the Twins last season. After pitching for Team USA, Ryan made five starts at the big league level. His 3.43 FIP was better than the 4.05 ERA, but a 30/5 K/BB is beyond impressive for a guy who doesn’t have dominant velocity. How Ryan adapts to more tape on him in year two is going to be intriguing.

4. Jose Miranda IF

No player in the Twins system had a better year than Miranda. He tallied a .973 OPS across Double and Triple-A while blast 30 homers. He played all over the infield and it’s clear the bat is ready for his next challenge. I’m not sure where he fits for Minnesota yet, and it may not be Opening Day, but he’s coming and soon.

3. Jordan Balazovic RHP

Starting 20 games for Double-A Wichita, Balazovic turned in 3.62 ERA with a 9.5 K/9. He looked every bit the pat of an ace at times while going through growing pains as well. He’ll need a clean bill of health and complete season in 2022, but he’s very close.

2. Austin Martin SS/OF

The headlining return for Jose Berrios, Martin is a very similar player to Minnesota’s top prospect Royce Lewis. Playing shortstop but potentially an outfielder, Martin owned a .779 OPS at Double-A Wichita. He hasn’t really hit for any power, but that should come. The athleticism is strong, and the speed is there as well.

1. Royce Lewis SS/OF

Putting him back on top of the prospect rankings, Lewis missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL. He’ll return to the field healthy in 2022 and looking to distance himself from a 2019 that left production to be desired. Lewis’ bat has flashed plenty, and he’s looked comfortable at both short and in the outfield. A quick rise to the big leagues may be in the cards.

Monday, December 13, 2021

2021 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

While having until January to cast my annual IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot, I decided to get it in before the holidays this year. Once again, the IBWAA is not part of the Official BBWAA vote to enshrine players in Cooperstown but with a large voting body this is a fun process to partake in each season.

The IBWAA selection process allows for 12 candidates to be voted. My previous ballots can be found here:


I didn’t hit the 12 max but did decide to open up my restrictions a bit. I’ve never been a “Small Hall” type but keeping out those on the border doesn’t make much sense to me considering there’s always going to be more worthy players.

After Larry Walker and Derek Jeter were inducted last cycle, I have just three holdovers this time with seven new candidates. Let’s get into it:

Alex Rodriguez 113.7 fWAR

Arguably one of the best to ever play the game, Rodriguez rubbed plenty the wrong way, but his numbers are otherworldly. I’m still mad he missed 700 homers by just four, but the career .930 OPS is beyond impressive. Rodriguez also racked up three MVP awards and was a 14-time All-Star. He’s remade his image a bit after his playing career while being an analyst, but regardless of what you think about him, the talent was something that doesn’t come around often.

Curt Schilling: 79.7 fWAR

Bloody sock nonsense aside, Schilling is a three time Cy Young runner-up, and six-time All Star. He struck out 3,116 batters in his career and owns a 3.46 ERA while totaling more than 200 wins. Three World Series rings, an MVP, and a 2.23 postseason ERA do him favors as well. Since voting for him last year, Schilling has made plenty of splashes in the media. He's not well liked off the field, but the character clause is among the most dated pieces of inclusion into the Hall of Fame. On baseball merit alone, he's worthy of the nod.

Scott Rolen 70.1 fWAR

Vastly underappreciated, Rolen started as a Rookie of the Year winner, and went on to tally eight Gold Glove awards. He was a seven time All Star and among the best to ever field the Hot Corner. With an .855 career OPS, his bat more than does enough to supplement what was an exceptional defensive career.

Andruw Jones 67.1 fWAR

Jones's 17 year career is often going to be questioned as he held on for five uninspiring seasons to closer out his time as a big leaguer. That aside, the 10 year stretch from 199-2007 was one for the ages. With 10 Gold Glove's and five All Star appearances, he was easily among the greatest in the game for a decade.

Manny Ramirez 66.3 fWAR

In 2002 Manny Ramirez picked up his only batting title with a .349 average. He’s a career .312 hitter and has a .996 OPS. He’s a member of the 500 home run club with 555 and picked up MVP votes in nine-straight seasons. Ramirez won nine Silver Slugger’s and was a part of two World Series championship teams. One of the best pure hitters to ever step on the diamond, Ramirez is worthy of induction.

Gary Sheffield 62.1 fWAR

Sheffield grabbed his batting title with the San Diego Padres in 1992 with a .330 tally. His .907 OPS is borderline for induction, but the 509 career home runs is enough to get it done for me. Sheffield picked up nine All-Star appearances and won the Silver Slugger five times. He was part of the 1997 Florida Marlins World Series team and was consistently a middle-of-the-order hitter.

Sammy Sosa 60.1 fWAR

Giving baseball one of the best home run chases in history, Sammy Sosa tangled with Mark McGwire during the amazing 1998 season. Sosa won his MVP that season hitting 66 homers and finished his career with 609. Sosa’s .878 career OPS isn’t all that special, but I can’t continue to ignore the career home run tally.

David Ortiz 51.0 fWAR

It took a while for the Hall of Fame to make room for designated hitters, but David Ortiz is among the best of them. He’s been both an ALCS and World Series MVP while picking up three rings. His career 541 home runs is beyond impressive, and the fact that he finished his career at 40 with a 1.021 OPS continues to be among the best seasons ever.

Billy Wagner 24.0 fWAR

Relievers are very under-represented in the Hall of Fame and Billy Wagner is another good one to get in. His career 2.31 ERA is impressive, and the 11.9 K/9 was ahead of his time. Saves are an overrated metric, but Wagner has 422 of them. A seven-time All-Star, put him in.

Joe Nathan 19.5 fWAR

Not far off from the man above him, Nathan falls into the category of relievers needing to make their way to Cooperstown. He posted 377 saves and owned a 2.87 ERA. Nathan’s K/9 of 9.5 wasn’t spectacular, but he was named to six All-Star games of his own.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bundy Signing Isn’t from the Same Old Twins

Right before the final bell on the Major League Baseball offseason rang before Rob Manfred locked out the players, Minnesota got a deal done. The Twins signed former first round pick Dylan Bundy to a one-year deal worth $4 million. No, it’s not cut from the “same ole’ Twins” cloth.

Take a quick glance at Bundy’s 2021 numbers and it looks like a scrap heap pickup. He had an ERA north of 6.00 and a FIP that suggests he was equally as bad. The strikeouts dipped, the walks rose, and he gave up two homers for every nine innings he pitched. That’s not good. Now, take another look.

In the truncated 2020 season Bundy finished 9th in the American League Cy Young voting. He posted a 3.29 ERA and an even better 2.95 FIP. His 9.9 strikeout rate was a career high, and his 2.3 BB/9 was a career low. At 27 years old he posted the best season of his career. Now, where does the truth lie?

Probably somewhere in the middle. Prior to 2020, Bundy owned a 4.69 ERA while striking out just shy of one batter per inning. He gives up a decent number of dingers but has largely put the injuries that plagued him as a prospect behind him. That is, until this season. Bundy threw just 90.2 IP for the Angels in 2021 and was one of the many pitchers that saw dips in spin rate following the sticky substance ban.

So, what do we make of all this?

Firstly, regarding the sticky substances, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions. Players were forced to adapt on the fly with no warning. This is on top of having a ball that was already being manipulated by the league itself. With more runway this offseason to work through things, we could expect to see a greater ability of adaptation. The hope would be consistency from the implement centered in the game, and we’ll have a greater opportunity for a base level of results.

Secondly, regarding the injury issues, it’s fair to wonder what the impact of a shortened 2020 and competitive changes in 2021 had on his body. Baseball players are characters of habit and routine, throwing that off can have substantial ripple effects and I believe we saw that to a larger extent on the minor league side this season.

But why isn’t Bundy just another cheap pickup you ask?

Look at the upside here. Last season the Twins gave $8 million to a 38-year-old J.A. Happ who was very likely on the tail end of his career. He’d posted sub 4.00 ERA’s but had very little upside and plenty of room to go bottoms up. They gave $2 million to Matt Shoemaker who had been solid when healthy, but rarely was able to stay on the field. Again, that’s a decent amount of chance to count on in the rotation for Opening Day.

With Bundy, he has both youth and ceiling on his side while not coming close to breaking the bank. Of course this signing on its own is not worthy of praise should the Twins do nothing else, but if they execute on acquiring two more arms above this ability level, it’s a threesome they can rely on. Last season the starting staff needed top three arms or better. Instead the front office acquired two guys to mop up innings as fourth and fifth placeholders.

Should the Twins fail to execute in allocating the funds they could’ve dispersed to Jose Berrios as a rotation centerpiece, then they need to be held accountable for it. Right now though, Bundy represents a solid floor for what can be hoped to be the start of something more (once the lockout ceases, of course).