Happy Minor League Baseball Season!

Matt Canterino, Low-A Southeast, August 8, 2021 - photo credit Bryan Green on Flickr

With Major League Baseball teams and players back on the field, the spotlight on the negativity has been put into the rearview window, and baseball will go ahead as planned with a 162-game season. In the meanwhile, this entire time, the hard-working and sometimes overlooked players that play Minor League Baseball have been grinding, preparing, and getting themselves ready for their regular season. All the while as money, contracts, and salary construction were being discussed off the field, the players of tomorrow were working on their mechanics and approach for the upcoming season.

Yes, I quoted myself. And even though that was stated while the lockout was still in place, the meaning behind it remains true to form: prospects should be spotlighted for all that is good with the game of baseball. As such, the 2022 Minor League Baseball Season will go on as planned, beginning on April 5, 2022. That said, it is also a welcomed relief for those who were anxiously awaiting baseball this summer. Seeing these players on the field with a love for the game and a hunger to make it definitely brings about a ton of excitement. In fact, as I mentioned above, this is a chance for everyone to shine.

Focussing the attention here to the Minnesota Twins, it’s been business as usual for their minor league teams as they opened up their Minor League Camps on time this year, with a focus on preparing for their future despite the challenges of today:

“Our responsibility to this point has been dealing with the players who have reported to Minor League camp and are able to report to Minor League camp, so we’re doing our best on that front to continue to work with those guys and help those guys develop and get them ready for their seasons,” Twins farm director Alex Hassan said.

This has all taken place despite the challenges of the personnel changes that have taken place within the ranks of their system, ensuring the safety and well-being of the players coming into camp, and maintaining the physical progress of injured players as they continue along their road to health. When the Twins opened up their camp, there were some very important player developments that are worth noting:

Matt Canterino, my #8 ranked prospect, came into camp completely healthy and has since thrown some bullpen sessions without any problems. The good news for him is that no surgery was required for either of his elbow injuries, which gave him the opportunity to have a relatively normal off-season with respect to how he’s prepared before. He admitted too that he was relieved about the extent of his injury:

“My injury was just kind of nagging this entire time, and I never really had a feeling that anything was wrong, just in general,” Canterino said. “But, obviously, having an MRI to confirm that diagnosis does give you a little bit of relief and it lets you know, going into your rehab program, [that] yes, I am doing the right things and I’m treating this the right way. So that was the best part about it.”

The Twins held a preliminary camp for pitchers back in January, giving them an opportunity to touch base with their off-season progress and a head start on developing personalized plans for their upcoming season. Most Twins’ minor league players have been in camp with the trainers for over a month now, with Simeon Woods Richardson being one of the first to arrive for work. It was here that they were able to give one of their prized prospects additional attention, though it was revealed that his workload will be a gradual build-up throughout the season. There is no rush in bringing him up to the Twins just yet and he is their prized prospect. He is someone who they believe in, wants to handle just right, and have the time to wait since the upper echelon of their prospect list is pitcher heavy in volume.

All that being said, if we take the business aspect out of the equation, it really is a fun time to put the Minor League system into the spotlight. While usually in the backseat on the road of baseball, right now they are at the wheel with an opportunity to drive home the importance of increasing their monetary and symbolic worth within the game itself. During contract negotiations, it was revealed that the owners wanted to take away some of the already minuscule payments that they were already making towards minor league players and cut their salary even more. Looking back, prior to the start of the 2021 season, the following adjustments were made with respect to their levels and payments:

Pro-rating them out over five months due to the amount of work they provide, that’s a salary of $10,500 for Single-A players, $12,600 for Double-A players, and $14,700 for Triple-A players, all of which are hardly enough with which to live. While some organizations have built housing facilities for the players to live in, it’s still not nearly enough for these athletes who are fighting tooth and nail, just to find themselves on their team’s 40-man roster for that substantial pay-raise. Too often there are stories of players finding second jobs, just to ensure that they have a place to live and food to eat, while also providing for their families. All of this is being brought up, not as a soap-box narrative to strike against the owners or players here. Instead, the silver lining that was brought up earlier here is an opportunity for us, the fans, to show our support and appreciation to the players for what they do, how they do it, and what they strive to become. Within the Twins’ organizations, there are plenty of talented athletes that normally would never get the attention they desired, but now is a perfect time for them to shine. Below, here are the websites for each and every one of the minor league affiliates of the Twins, as well as some additional information, including links for tickets and how to contact them:

Triple-A: St. Paul Saints

Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge

Advanced-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels

Low-A: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels

Plus, here are the projected rosters for the Twins’ Rookie and Foreign Rookie teams:

Florida Coast League

Dominican Summer League

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t say to make sure to follow along this season, not just with the Twins’ organizational teams, but for every Major League team. Give them the support that they need in order to hopefully show that their hard work does matter. Let everyone see that Minor League Baseball is important, by unifying and increasing their numbers, either at the ballpark, watching them on TV, or through streaming. Now is as good a time as ever to let your voices be heard through the love of the game. While it’s hard to say whether or not this will have any impact in the future, at least now, the players and their talents can be appreciated for what it is, and hopefully, good and/or equality measures will come from it. Additionally, from a fantasy perspective, this will also give you a chance to see these players in action with your own eyes, which is oftentimes an under-rated aspect of making decisions for your own rosters. It’s one thing to watch highlights and look at the box scores, but when you see how a batter can handle pitches out of the zone, or if you can see how a pitcher locates his pitches, it goes a long way to help you decide what to do with dynasty decisions. To help foster that growth, remember to follow @Prospects1500 throughout the season and visit the site, as the Minor League happenings will be broken down and analyzed as they always are because after all, Minor League Baseball is important.

Dave Funnell covers the Minnesota Twins minor leagues for Prospects1500. Located just south of Toronto in the city of Hamilton, he's an hour away from Buffalo (and the Bisons). He's been a fan of baseball his entire life and doesn't have a favorite team, which hopefully gives way for objectivty in analysis. Dave is in multiple keeper fantasy baseball leagues and is active on Twitter at @sportz_nutt51.

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