May Musings from within Minnesota

Dalton Shuffield, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, Florida State League, April 6, 2023. Photo credit Bryan Green, begreen90 on Flickr

We are more than one month into the MiLB season, and already there have been a ton of promotions throughout Major League Baseball. Teams everywhere have been forced to reshuffle their deck and re-evaluate their status as they build toward the future. Within the Minnesota Twins’ franchise, similar things have been happening. With the team sitting atop the American League Central Division, their sights look set on winning their division title while managing their long-term assets. Here’s what’s happening throughout the reigns of the organizations, as some players have risen to the occasion, while others have struggled.

Please note: all numbers are as of games played on May 10, 2023.


Team: St. Paul Saints

Division: International League – West Division

Position: 3rd

Record: 19-14

Hitting: The Saints have a lot of players with Major League experience. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the Minnesota Twins themselves have had a much healthier run this season than in 2022. As a result, the players that were prematurely called up last year are getting their appropriate time to develop in the minors. Mark Contreras leads the way with five home runs for the Saints, while also stealing seven bases. He struggled last year when he was brought to Minnesota out of necessity and might have his number called again for depth purposes. Andrew Bechtold could get his first taste of the majors after a decent uptick in production in April. He is third on the team in hits, though his approach at the plate remains the same. Edouard Julien continues to do Julien-esque-type things since his demotion back to Triple-A, as his walk rate is the highest it’s been since 2021. He remains a candidate to get recalled to the Twins down the road and has some upside.

Pitching: Jordan Balazovic has thrived in his new role as a reliever, sporting a 36.1% strikeout rate thus far in 2023. It’s allowed him to focus on his pitches and give him a refresh that was sorely needed after a disappointing season last year. He did just recently start a game and pitch four innings of shutout baseball, so he may be back to his previous successful ways altogether. Cody Laweryson‘s inflated ERA is due to a rough start to his season. However, since April 14, he has given up only three earned runs in eleven innings pitched while striking out eleven batters. He could be an option for relief in the short-term, or spot starts in the long run, should his progression stay positive.


Team: Wichita Wind Surge

Division: Texas League – North Division

Position: 5th

Record: 12-17

Hitting: Brooks Lee is looking to be all that was advertised and more. His bat has been red-hot to begin the season, and his glove makes him a defensive wizard too. He has maintained similar patience at the plate as he did in High-A last season, and remains one of the team’s most promising prospects, playing exclusively at shortstop this year. Yunior Severino is carrying over last season’s breakout into this year, opening eyes with his power. Already with seven home runs, he looks poised to break his career-high total of nineteen, though a promotion to Triple-A seems to be in his future. That said, until he lowers his almost 40% strikeout rate, he’s likely staying put. Yoyner Fajardo was claimed off of waivers in the winter and has already made a mark on his new team. He leads the Surge with twelve stolen bases (only caught three times) and a healthy batting average with good patience at the plate. He’s someone to watch for depth purposes.

Pitching: Blayne Enlow has returned from being DFA’d this offseason and excelled. With a 30.6% strikeout rate and the second-lowest walk rate of his career, he has not only exceeded expectations for this year but shattered them. He has struck out at least five batters in every game pitched and has kept the ball on the ground. If this continues, he’s bound for Triple-A soon and possibly Minnesota in the fall. David Festa has an inflated ERA over five, but a lot of the underlying numbers look similar. His strikeout rate remains an impressive asset, now up and over 30%, and his walk rate is similar to his 2022 output. Right now, he’s just struggling against the improved talent that he’s facing, as they have gotten 24 hits off of him in only 23 innings of work. He should be able to get back to his normal self and adapt.


Team: Cedar Rapids Kernels

Division: Midwest League – West Division

Position: 4th

Record: 14-14

Hitting: Emmanuel Rodriguez has struggled to make contact to begin the year. His strikeout rate of 46.2% represents the highest it’s ever been, as she’s struck out in every game he’s played up until this point. Keep in mind, he was injured to begin the year, so a healthy Rodriguez is always a good thing. He’s good enough to figure things out in a hurry. Ben Ross has come to the Twins this year and posted very similar numbers to his season last year in Single-A. He looks ready to be promoted at some point due to his patience at the plate and his versatility throughout the infield. He has played most of his games at first base and third base this year. The luster of Misael Urbina continues to look tarnished, as his strikeout rate is well north of 30% and rising. He looks lost at the plate, but at age 21, has time to remind people that he could be the player they all thought he would be.

Pitching: Pierson Ohl has had a stellar start to the season. Through 22 innings pitched, he has a 20:2 K:BB ratio and has been outstanding on the mound. Marco Raya, on the other hand, was able to shake off two bad starts to begin the season by pitching three shutout innings in his third. It remains to be seen if this will be the catalyst to his prior ways, but it’s something to watch out for going forward. The Twins’ 2022 second-round draft pick Connor Prielipp is currently injured with elbow inflammation and will miss some time while healing. It’s unclear whether or not this will lead to something significant, but the team has said that they will take things slowly with him.


Team: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels

Division: Florida State League – West Division

Position: 4th

Record: 15-14

Hitting: Andrew Cossetti is proving to be a value for the Twins, as they drafted him in the 11th round in the 2022 draft. So far this season, he is batting well over .300 and displaying incredible power with six home runs. His K – BB rate is at an impressive 2% as well, and is someone to watch, given the franchise’s lack of depth at catcher. Similarly, Ricardo Olivar has been able to show some impressive bat-to-ball skills, but he, unfortunately, has struck out a lot this year. That said, they’re both on the radar. Dalton Shuffield continues to perform well as a professional hitter and could move up the rankings if this continues. He’s a moderate power-speed combo player who can hit above .300 and show patience at the plate… far.

Pitching: The team continues to be rostered by players looking to make their mark. Zebby Matthews leads the way with 38 strikeouts over 29 innings pitched. He has thrown for at least seven strikeouts in four of his six outings this year, while only walking five batters total. Cory Lewis has also had a stellar start, though he hasn’t been quite as dominant as the aforementioned Matthews. Still, every outing has been better since his disastrous debut, and he looks strong while pitching. Zach Veen has converted on two of three save opportunities thus far and is at just under a strikeout per inning.

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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