All Things 2021 Minnesota Twins In-Season Thread

BleedGopher

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Spring training is upon us. Hope springs eternal.

THIS IS OUR YEAR!

Win Twins!!
 

BleedGopher

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Souhan: Don't let postseason dread spoil enjoyment of Twins' summertime success

So as Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training, I'd like to offer advice to baseball fans of the Upper Midwest. Enjoy the seven months of quality baseball the Twins are likely to provide, and save your postseason rage for the postseason.

As vaccinations become more available, we can hope that by some point this summer we can buy tickets to Target Field and bask in the sun as light reflects off the angles and glass of downtown Minneapolis.

Until then, baseball will again prove itself the best possible sport to watch in a pandemic. Because there is soooo much of it.


Win Twins!!
 


short ornery norwegian

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it really gets down to a matter of philosophy. Under Falvine, the Twins have been built to maximize their results in the regular season. BUT - they are not built for the post-season.

I hate to agree with Dan Barreiro, but if the Twins want to do something in the post-season, then they need a true #1 starter, and a lights-out closer. and of course, those are the two things the current roster does not have.

You cannot run guys like Dobnak out there in a playoff game if you're serious about contending for a championship. Or run out a relief pitcher who can only throw 75-mph sliders.

They also have to get more athletic, including a few guys who can go from 1st to 3rd on a single, or - god forbid - even steal a base.

hey, I'm a fan, and I will be watching or listening to most of their games. I just don't like the makeup of this roster - IF your goal is to try and win a title.
 

tmvander

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it really gets down to a matter of philosophy. Under Falvine, the Twins have been built to maximize their results in the regular season. BUT - they are not built for the post-season.

I hate to agree with Dan Barreiro, but if the Twins want to do something in the post-season, then they need a true #1 starter, and a lights-out closer. and of course, those are the two things the current roster does not have.

You cannot run guys like Dobnak out there in a playoff game if you're serious about contending for a championship. Or run out a relief pitcher who can only throw 75-mph sliders.

They also have to get more athletic, including a few guys who can go from 1st to 3rd on a single, or - god forbid - even steal a base.

hey, I'm a fan, and I will be watching or listening to most of their games. I just don't like the makeup of this roster - IF your goal is to try and win a title.
The problem is their offense has been the issue the past few playoff appearances. Their pitchers (even Dobnak) weren't horrible. They did well enough to give the team a chance to win but they just can't score for some reason. Their lineup is obviously their best quality as well.

They need guys to just clutch up, be healthy at that time of the year, and play knowing you're going to win.
 


howeda7

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it really gets down to a matter of philosophy. Under Falvine, the Twins have been built to maximize their results in the regular season. BUT - they are not built for the post-season.

I hate to agree with Dan Barreiro, but if the Twins want to do something in the post-season, then they need a true #1 starter, and a lights-out closer. and of course, those are the two things the current roster does not have.

You cannot run guys like Dobnak out there in a playoff game if you're serious about contending for a championship. Or run out a relief pitcher who can only throw 75-mph sliders.

They also have to get more athletic, including a few guys who can go from 1st to 3rd on a single, or - god forbid - even steal a base.

hey, I'm a fan, and I will be watching or listening to most of their games. I just don't like the makeup of this roster - IF your goal is to try and win a title.
Starting Dobnak in 2019 was a joke and it falls on Falvey because they balked at acquiring a starter at the trade deadline. But last year, Maeda and Berrios were fine. Rocco pulled them too soon. But the biggest issue is the offense choked.
 


Frink

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Conversation I had last week with my girlfriend.

GF: One of my friends keeps posting photos from Florida. She's at packed clubs and parties with nobody wearing masks.

Me: Yeesh, doesn't sound good.

GF: And she's related to some former baseball player, Damon something?

Me: Mmm..not sure.

GF: Johnny Damon?

Me: Oh right, I remember him

GF: So, yeah, Johnny Damon is in a lot of the pictures at the nightclubs.

So....no suprise.

 

BleedGopher

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Heading into spring training, Twins have an outfield opening for sweet-swinging Alex Kirilloff

Alex Kirilloff doesn't like to show off, always seems to deflect attention for his

supernatural hitting ability. But he couldn't pass up this chance.

It came at Orioles FanFest one January in Baltimore, where Kirilloff and his dad happened across a batting cage where fans could take a few cuts against a pitching machine lobbing civilian fastballs, lower velocity but still with some zip. David Kirilloff didn't want to stop, but Alex begged him.

"Finally I said OK. He grabbed a bat and just started hitting. Contact after contact," the proud father recalled. "People were stopping to watch. 'What? Come look at this.' "


Win Twins!!
 



BleedGopher

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per Shooter:

This is the fifth season that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have overseen the Minnesota Twins baseball department, and it’s clear that the pair, with adequate financing from owner Jim Pohlad, have been a success.

These new-age guys know what they’re doing.


Win Twins!!
 



Gopher_In_NYC

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This sucks:


Win Twins!!

Yikes -

Twins top prospect Lewis will have knee surgery, out for season - StarTribune.com

Twins top prospect Royce Lewis will have reconstructive knee surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, will be lost to the Twins for the season.

The 21-year-old shortstop will have reconstructive surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the team announced Wednesday.

The surgery will take place Friday in Minneapolis.

Rehabilitation will take nine to 12 months, the team's president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.

Lewis was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League in 2019 after ending the season at Class AA. He was idled last year when the minor leagues shut down.

Lewis, who might have aggravated the injury when he slipped on ice during the recent winter blast in Texas, was feeling soreness as the players reported to camp this week, although Falvey said Lewis wasn't in "severe pain."

An MRI revealed the damage. John Camps, the team surgeon, will perform the surgery.

He got a $6.725 million bonus when he signed with the Twins out of JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

"He's Royce," Falvey said. "He's got a smile on his face. He knows he's going to have a rehab year ahead, knows he's going to have to put in a lot of work, but he's prepared and ready to do that."
 




tmvander

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Sucks for Lewis...he wouldn't have been a huge contributor this year so really all it does is push him back from having a chance to start out with the Twins in 2022 to 2023.
 


howeda7

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howeda7

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Sucks for Lewis...he wouldn't have been a huge contributor this year so really all it does is push him back from having a chance to start out with the Twins in 2022 to 2023.
They were counting on him taking SS next year. Might want to give Simmons an extension...
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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And Now for some encouraging news regarding Mr. Rodgers (really like Wes' analysis of his 2019 to 2020 season; bolded in the middle of the article) -



‘A toll on me’: Refreshed Taylor Rogers is ready to rebound after a tough season

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By Dan Hayes Feb 23, 2021
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — If telling dad jokes during a team meeting offers any indication about his state of mind, Taylor Rogers looks like a good bet to rebound in 2021. Upon request, the Twins reliever grabbed a microphone Sunday morning and delivered a slew of corny one-liners that had teammates howling in laughter.

The impromptu session represents the lighthearted, charmingly deadpan style for which Rogers is known — one that was occasionally absent during the shortened 2020 season. Whether it was struggling on the mound or the myriad difficulties he endured in his first season as the team’s union representative, Rogers, who went 2-4 with nine saves (two blown) and a 4.05 ERA in 20 innings, wasn’t quite himself last season.

That much was evident during a Sept. 13 Zoom session when Rogers made clear his mounting frustration with the upcoming playoff bubble, which required Twins players to spend the final week of the regular season in a hotel even though they were playing at home. After 10 minutes of providing reporters with incomplete answers and questioning the decision aloud, Rogers admitted he’d been so focused on union issues he hadn’t had the time to enjoy a pair of big wins over division rival Cleveland.

But an offseason full of rest and recovery and a better understanding of what’s expected in his second year as the team’s player rep apparently has Rogers in a much better frame of mind.
“(The offseason) was good,” Rogers said. “It wasn’t a whole lot with all the restrictions, obviously. But just not having the day-to-day stuff going on and not having to worry about getting information to teammates and also trying to perform on the field at the same time. It was just kind of time to decompress, sit there and relax and kind of use it as a vacation.”

The mental side of baseball is difficult enough without having any additional distractions and, even before factoring in the ongoing pandemic, Rogers was facing questions about his performance for the first time since his rookie season. Although his fastball velocity and strikeouts per nine were the same and the spin rate on his sinker and slider had improved, Rogers struggled in 2020. Seemingly every ball found a hole and every blooper a patch of grass.

After starting the season with four straight scoreless outings, Rogers allowed six earned runs in his next 6 1/3 innings, blowing two of five save attempts. Though he ended the season with a 2.79 ERA over his final 10 games, Rogers never was quite right.

In reviewing his peripheral numbers during the season, the Twins tried to reassure Rogers nothing was alarmingly off. They continue to stress there are no concerns about Rogers. Instead, pitching coach Wes Johnson has repeatedly noted he thinks Rogers was the victim of a small sample size, that his 2020 rough patch normally would have been masked by a 162-game season.

“The first third of his (2019) season was phenomenal and the last fourth of his season was phenomenal,” Johnson said. “You take a 60-game stretch in the middle (of 2019) and you compare it to the 60-game stretch last year, he actually pitched better last year. So if we play 162 and we look up and he throws like he did the first half or the first third of ’19 and the last fourth of ’19, he has a better year, because the 60-game stretch where he had a hiccup was even better last year than it was in ’19.

“I understand everybody’s questions about Taylor. We’re excited about Taylor. We didn’t think Taylor had a bad season. That’s baseball, man. He got dinked and dunked a couple of times.”

But Rogers dealt with more than performance issues, and it all added up. He also faced a barrage of queries from teammates trying to successfully navigate COVID-19 protocols and the shortened season. Whether it was during the three months preceding the start of the season, issues that surfaced once it began or trying to determine how the bubble would work, Rogers was constantly trying to inform teammates even though he didn’t have all the answers.

“He did find out being the player rep isn’t just a cool title,” said Taylor’s twin brother and San Francisco Giants reliever, Tyler Rogers. “He likes to be in control of things and know what’s going on and knowing everything going on around him, and last year he didn’t have that opportunity.”
Taylor and Tyler Rogers speak on the phone or text every day. Even from a distance, Tyler noticed the additional weight his brother was carrying.

Twins reliever Tyler Duffey was aware of it, too.
Rogers was bombarded by teammates’ questions, especially when Major League Baseball began to propose ideas for the proposed bubble with a little more than two weeks left in the season.
“That was tough for an intro year to being the union rep between phone calls and Zoom meetings and us calling him with questions, and honestly then he’s fielding questions from the front office as well,” Duffey said. “He was kind of the middle man for everything.”

The easing of tensions for Rogers began after he settled in at home in Colorado this offseason. He played golf and relaxed. He was the best man at Tyler’s Nov. 14 wedding and used the occasion to make jokes at his brother’s expense. And he spent the winter surrounded by family, including Tyler and his wife, Jennifer, who live with Taylor in the offseason.
It was just what he needed.

“He really let loose at my wedding,” Tyler Rogers said. “That was fun to see. He obviously got to do his speech that day and got to make jokes at my expense. He was excited about that. I think that got to help him with decompressing as well.”
Informed of his brother’s impromptu comedy set at Twins camp, Tyler Rogers wasn’t surprised. He thinks his twin arrived at camp in a good spot mentally and ready for every challenge.
Nor was he stunned to learn that teammates were cracking up with each joke, something Duffey confessed to on Monday. Tyler Rogers said he’s always surprised at how many jokes Taylor has ready to tell at a moment’s notice.

“He’s normally pretty quick-witted,” Tyler Rogers said. “It’s like he’s got a couple dad jokes hanging there ready to go for whatever situation. It’s pretty impressive.
“He doesn’t overuse any jokes. He’s always got a new one. … I’d call him out if he kept using the same one.”

Duffey said Taylor Rogers has embraced his dad-joke telling abilities over the years. At one point, Rogers listed all of his dad jokes on paper and ripped them off one after the other with Duffey laughing at each along the way.

Just like the old days, Rogers was prepared to deliver on Sunday and in the right frame of mind to do so. Rogers said he feels better because he knows what to expect for the upcoming season.
“It’s easier because of using the offseason to kind of decompress and then knowing what we’re coming into this year workload-wise,” Rogers said. “I’m able to better prepare and handle that a little better. Last year was sprung on us. Not being mentally ready for that kind of workload, it really did take a toll on me. Not going to lie. It was a lot. I think this year I’m handling it better just because I know it’s going to be here.”
 

BleedGopher

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per Shama:

No everyday position in the Minnesota Twins starting lineup will receive more scrutiny during spring training than left field. Eddie Rosario was plugged in there for several Opening Day starts but the Twins cut him from the roster last winter, leaving a void in left field that 23-year-old Alex Kirilloff might fill during most of the 2021 season.

Kirilloff is one of baseball’s top prospects but it could be the Twins will start the regular season in early April using utility man Luis Arraez in left field. Kirilloff, even if he dazzles in spring training, might be assigned to the Triple A St. Paul Saints roster but later called up to the Twins.

Why wouldn’t Kirilloff begin 2021 in the majors? A factor could be MLB’s service time policy that determines when players eventually become eligible for free agency. If a player accumulates 172 days on a big league roster (either in one year or multiple seasons), he earns a year of service time. After six seasons a player is eligible for free agency. By delaying “the clock” on a prospect like Kirilloff, perhaps adding him to the roster in May, the Twins gain a future financial advantage.


Win Twins!!
 

howeda7

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per Shama:

No everyday position in the Minnesota Twins starting lineup will receive more scrutiny during spring training than left field. Eddie Rosario was plugged in there for several Opening Day starts but the Twins cut him from the roster last winter, leaving a void in left field that 23-year-old Alex Kirilloff might fill during most of the 2021 season.

Kirilloff is one of baseball’s top prospects but it could be the Twins will start the regular season in early April using utility man Luis Arraez in left field. Kirilloff, even if he dazzles in spring training, might be assigned to the Triple A St. Paul Saints roster but later called up to the Twins.

Why wouldn’t Kirilloff begin 2021 in the majors? A factor could be MLB’s service time policy that determines when players eventually become eligible for free agency. If a player accumulates 172 days on a big league roster (either in one year or multiple seasons), he earns a year of service time. After six seasons a player is eligible for free agency. By delaying “the clock” on a prospect like Kirilloff, perhaps adding him to the roster in May, the Twins gain a future financial advantage.


Win Twins!!
They don't really gain a financial advantage on Kirilloff unless they keep him down until June, which would be foolish. As for gaining an extra year, it could end up like an Eddie Rosario situation where they don't want the last year anyway, or a Joe Mauer where he's already signed to an extension. Plus there's a very good chance this will be negotiated out in the next CBA. If he plays well in Spring, he should be the LF on opening day.
 

Ogee Oglethorpe

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The Athletic with a good story on what will hopefully be a big bounce back year for Lewis Thorpe; not sure exactly why, but Thorpe is a guy I've always been pulling for. Would love to see him reach his potential and it sounds like he's back to his old self and looking strong. Fingers crossed!

The Athletic: Lewis Thorpe and the Twins

>>
Thorpe didn’t have much of a chance to prove anything after he returned (spring training last year) as the pandemic shut down the season 12 days later. A Fort Myers resident, Thorpe didn’t have access to the team’s facility and like many of his teammates had to try to stay in shape without all the proper equipment.

Though he did the best he could to make do, Thorpe couldn’t keep up and it showed in the summer.

During Wednesday’s live batting practice session, Thorpe routinely delivered 92-93 mph fastballs. Last season, he reached 92 mph only nine times in 272 pitches and never hit 93, according to Baseball Savant.

Thorpe used to produce mid-90s velocities before he had Tommy John surgery in 2014.

Last year, his four-seamer averaged 89.7 mph and hitters teed off. They batted .458 and had an .833 slugging percentage against his four-seamer.

Thorpe attributes it to not having enough leg strength, an issue he says he was at fault for and corrected this offseason.<<
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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The Athletic with a good story on what will hopefully be a big bounce back year for Lewis Thorpe; not sure exactly why, but Thorpe is a guy I've always been pulling for. Would love to see him reach his potential and it sounds like he's back to his old self and looking strong. Fingers crossed!

The Athletic: Lewis Thorpe and the Twins

>>
Thorpe didn’t have much of a chance to prove anything after he returned (spring training last year) as the pandemic shut down the season 12 days later. A Fort Myers resident, Thorpe didn’t have access to the team’s facility and like many of his teammates had to try to stay in shape without all the proper equipment.

Though he did the best he could to make do, Thorpe couldn’t keep up and it showed in the summer.

During Wednesday’s live batting practice session, Thorpe routinely delivered 92-93 mph fastballs. Last season, he reached 92 mph only nine times in 272 pitches and never hit 93, according to Baseball Savant.

Thorpe used to produce mid-90s velocities before he had Tommy John surgery in 2014.

Last year, his four-seamer averaged 89.7 mph and hitters teed off. They batted .458 and had an .833 slugging percentage against his four-seamer.

Thorpe attributes it to not having enough leg strength, an issue he says he was at fault for and corrected this offseason.<<

Good article and would be fun to have in the mix as a legit option.

Also impressed he took ownership of the arm strength issue from last year as well.
 


Gopher_In_NYC

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Offseason Grade from The Athletic -


Minnesota Twins​

Grade: B
Trades:
Traded OF LaMonte Wade Jr. to Giants for RHP Shaun Anderson
Free agents: DH Nelson Cruz, 1 year/$13 million; SS Andrelton Simmons, 1 year/$10.5 million; LHP J.A. Happ, 1 year/$8 million; RHP Alex Colomé, 1 year/$6.25 million; RHP Matt Shoemaker, 1 year/$2 million; RHP Hansel Robles, 1 year/$2 million.
Waiver claims: RHP Ian Hamilton from Phillies; OF Kyle Garlick from Braves

The Twins weren’t active in the trade market this offseason, but they did dip into free agency. They brought back the game’s best designated hitter (Nelson Cruz), landed arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball (Andrelton Simmons), and retooled the back of their bullpen by signing former White Sox closer Alex Colomé and former Angels closer Hansel Robles. They also added veteran starter Matt Shoemaker to compete for a rotation spot.

The Twins non-tendered left fielder Eddie Rosario, but they have confidence in rookie Alex Kirilloff, who is expected to make an impact in their lineup this year. The only question is: Will it be on Opening Day or shortly thereafter?
 





Gopher_In_NYC

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Great article from The Athletic on how the Twins have developed their minor league pitching system (those guys are uber smart and focused) -

Twins pitching pipeline is almost ready to start pumping gas​


FORT MYERS, Fla. — All the logistical elements are in place and the talent is beginning to show. After four years of assembling the infrastructure and creating a culture of fearless development, the Twins front office feels as if its pitching pipeline is finally ready to churn out impressive arms at a more consistent rate.

Already this spring, the Twins have trotted out an impressive lineup of young homegrown pitchers they believe can have impact at the major-league level in the near future. Jordan Balazovic, who pitched a scoreless inning March 11, spent part of last summer at the team’s alternate site in St. Paul and is closest to being ready along with Jhoan Duran, who is also expected to see action this spring. Additionally, the club has introduced Matt Canterino and Josh Winder — recently ranked as the Twins’ No. 7 and 15 prospects — and their overwhelming fastball velocities to major-league hitters this spring. Both are projected as starters and have four-seam fastballs that can touch the high-90s.

Beyond those four prospects, the Twins believe they have a nice stable of future homegrown hurlers on the way, the byproduct of a thorough overhaul of the team’s development system that began with the hires of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine four-plus years ago.

“There’s some other guys that you can get excited about that we haven’t seen a ton,” Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson said. “The future’s bright down there. Those guys are really good. … I don’t know if you can get (more) excited. Those guys, they’ve got a chance obviously to pitch in the big leagues at some point in their career and have some success.”

The Twins are particularly ecstatic about Canterino and Winder because their high-90s velocity is a product of internal development. A second-round pick in 2019, Canterino’s fastball sat between 90-93 mph when the Twins drafted him out of Rice. Winder threw 88-92 mph when the Twins drafted him out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round in 2018. The hope was both might potentially increase their velocity, whether it was through mechanical changes or strength and conditioning. When they faced the Rays on March 7, Canterino reached 99 mph and averaged 98 with four fastballs while Winder touched 97 and averaged 96 with nine heaters. Winder hit 98 mph in his outing against Atlanta five days earlier.

“Those are power arms,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Those are guys that can come in, fill different roles and really just miss bats. You have a chance to have a dominant staff when you can roll guys out there that look like that.”

The Twins hope to soon have an assembly line that regularly produces talented pitchers like Canterino and Winder. The gold standard for such an operation is Cleveland, which has accumulated numerous top young pitchers over the years via trades, the draft, and international signings.

Creating a pitching pipeline isn’t an overnight process, especially with the philosophical change the Twins implemented that took them from a pitching-to-contact mindset to prioritizing swing-and-miss. To make the wholesale changes he wanted, Falvey evaluated the organization throughout his first season, which prompted the October 2017 dismissals of pitching coach Neil Allen and minor-league pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen. The same month, Falvey hired current assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll to oversee the minor-league system.

Slowly but surely, the Twins began to change the infrastructure. Two months after Zoll was added, the Twins hired senior pitching analyst Josh Kalk away from the Rays to be their pitching architect. Then Pete Maki (currently the team’s bullpen coach) was named minor-league pitching coordinator and J.P. Martinez was elevated to assistant coordinator ahead of the 2018 season. Zoll also began to implement individual development plans for each player in the farm system. And the Twins began to experiment that same year, adding a second pitching coach at Low-A Cedar Rapids and Triple-A Rochester, a model they’ve since expanded to all levels.

“To do it the right way is to really assess what you have, figure out what works, figure out the environment you have, the staff you have, the tools you have, then implement the plan,” Falvey said. “(Jeremy) had seen some things that were really advanced and progressive. He quickly identified some of the gaps that we saw on the ground in terms of just systems, technology and people who could implement some of those things.

“You can’t do it in one cycle. It’s going to take you a minimum two, probably three, to really feel like it’s implemented.”

Part of the implementation process also includes linking up different departments so everyone is on the same page. A plan is no good if research and development would like to see a player implement one change, while the pitching coach works with the player on another and the strength and conditioning coaches prepare them physically for something else. They wanted all of the departments to be aligned.

“Those relationships, not just within pitching departments, but across other departments, S&C, medical, otherwise, those take time,” Zoll said. “They don’t happen as soon as you hire all of the people.”

The Twins felt pretty good about their development program after young pitchers Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe all contributed during the 2019 pennant race. Zoll felt the system was clicking and would supplement the major-league roster yet again as the Twins pushed for a second straight American League Central title in 2020.

Then the coronavirus came along and wiped out the minor-league season. Players were sent home and instructed to stay in shape in case the season began. They were divided into pods of 6-10 players per coach and worked from afar via Zoom.

Winder and Canterino excelled at home.

The big key for Winder, 24, was weight training. Expecting the season to start June 1, he stayed in pitching shape. But because he wasn’t trying to get hitters out, Winder, who went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts at Cedar Rapids in 2019, also had an opportunity to experiment with mechanics. He’d already seen an increase to 95 mph by the end of 2019 and suspected there was more room for growth. Winder has since developed from a finesse pitcher to one who can blow a fastball past hitters.

“It’s kind of been a perfect storm for me over the past year or so,” Winder said. “My body’s maturing. I’m getting stronger, and my mechanics are becoming a little bit more efficient. … It is kind of crazy. I do have to pinch myself when I’m up there on the mound. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Hey, I do throw like this.’ I can do a lot more things than I think I’m capable of.”

A large part of Canterino’s maturation has been dedicating himself fully to baseball. Canterino, who went 1-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 25 innings across two levels in 2019, was a mechanical engineer at Rice and was heavily focused on school. But when he worked out during the shutdown, it was all baseball, all the time. The organization’s game plan called for Canterino, 23, to work on his changeup and strike throwing and to pitch a lot of innings. He did so by throwing twice a week to other pro and college hitters at Top Prospect Academy in Grapevine, Texas. After sessions, Canterino talked to hitters to get feedback. He performed so well, the Twins made him a late addition to the alternate site along with Balazovic.

“I could see myself improving throughout the process, but to be able to turn some heads whenever I started going to the alternate site and to instructs, coming here to spring training — that’s a huge reward and shows me that I was really focusing on the right things and the goals that me and our coaches were setting the right things as well,” Canterino said.

Canterino and Winder both worked with current Double-A Wichita pitching coach Virgil Vasquez. A former big leaguer and Twins farmhand, Vasquez is a big proponent of the culture the front office has instilled, one that is unconcerned with making mistakes or a one-size-fits-all approach. Vasquez feels freedom to work with pitchers in whatever way best benefits them, which allowed him to purchase a Rapsodo package for Winder and have detailed discussions with Canterino that often resulted in the pitcher sending Vasquez PDF files of his hand-written notes.

“There isn’t a fear of making a mistake and getting fired,” Vasquez said. “We can go out and we can make mistakes and say, ‘Oh, that didn’t work, let’s try something else.’ When there’s a freedom to make mistakes and we’re honest with those and you keep going on, you’re creative and look for opportunities, you might find something that works for one or two guys.”

Zoll thinks the entire industry will look back at 2020 as a make-or-break time for pitchers. Those who used it wisely will benefit while those who didn’t undoubtedly face a much more difficult path in 2021 and beyond. Canterino and Winder fall in the former category, he said.

“Some decided to use it as an opportunity to accelerate their development and totally maximize that opportunity,” Zoll said. “And unfortunately, others will not have done that. That’s where Josh and Matt’s makeup was so, so exceptional to put them in those positions for that success.”

Having a player development system running on all cylinders also was a critical component. The Twins are excited about where they are. Beyond their top four pitching prospects, the Twins have Cole Sands, Chris Vallimont, Blayne Enlow and Edwar Colina, among others, nearing the big leagues.

The Twins know they’re not close to the level of success of a Cleveland system that has produced Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger and more over the years. But they do think the system is in place to eventually get there. There’s synergy among amateur scouting, player development, strength and conditioning, research and development and the major-league staff. All are focused on improvement through any and all routes and aligned with one another.

“Until you have all the pieces together, it’s hard to feel like you’re perfectly there and ready,” Falvey said. “Hopefully, we have a mix and a pipeline now that’s developed that will start to contribute to the major-league level, not just this year, but in the next handful of years.”
 




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