The 2019 Minor League Baseball Season has been completed and it’s been quite the successful few months for multiple franchises of the Minnesota Twins. We’ve seen many promotions, demotions, injuries and surprises. Now, as one season ends, the Arizona Fall League is here.
What originated in 1992 as a way to help develop talent, this league has grown leaps and bounds to the point where it not only helps the players grow in their own personal game, but also showcase their talents for fans and scouts alike. Essentially, Major League Baseball teams select some of their own minor league players that they want to give additional playing time and exposure to in order to give them a chance to play on a main stage and against similarly talented players. It really has become a phenomenal way to enjoy some future talents.
The Minnesota Twins have selected the players they will be sending, and, quite honestly, it’s a promising and deserving group. At the top of the food chain is Royce Lewis, while under him is a ton of potential. All in all, it’ll be a great representation of what this franchise is about: stability. In detail, here are their representatives:
2019: .236, .290, .371, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 22 SB
The good news about Lewis is that his output didn’t drop off too much when he arrived at AA. The bad news is that all year he struggled behind the plate, batting near the Mendoza Line. That said, a down year shouldn’t damper anyone’s expectations for a five tool player such as Lewis. He’s got the potential to be an absolute stud in this league, offering 15/25 potential and some defense to boot. The AFL will be a true test of how he performs when he’s around other studs such as himself. If you can buy low on him in dynasty, now is the time to pounce. He’s off to a nice start this Fall, hitting .333 with 2 HR and 6 RBI in his first 4 games.
— William Boor (@wboor) September 23, 2019
2019: .310, .361, .517, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 4 SB
A replacement for Alex Kirilloff, Raley makes his way back to the Arizona Fall League for a second straight year. This will be good for Raley on many accounts….extra at bats, exposure by team execs and getting him closer for his eventual late 2020 call up to the Minnesota Twins. After returning from injury, he went 7-19 in 5 games to wrap up the season. He’s got 20/10 potential with some average help when he eventually comes up.
2019: .363 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 48 SO, 23 BB, 34.2 IP
Following Tommy John surgery in 2018, Chalmers returned to action this year after having been traded to the Twins from the A’s. Before his injury, he had a 65 grade fastball, 55 grade curveball and a 45 grade slider. This is an excellent choice for the Arizona Fall league to get himself back into the form he was showing before his injury. He’s also someone I’ll admit I missed in my Mid Season Prospect List (hey I’m human), but someone you can expect to see on my lists in the off season. Chalmers went 3 IP, giving up 2 hits with 4 Ks and no earned runs in his AFL debut this week.
Dakota Chalmers in 3IP:
2H BB 4Ks (including 3 WHIFFS)
43 pitches / 30 strikes
— Kim C (@Cu_As) September 21, 2019
2019: 2.91 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 78 SO, 21 BB, 52.2 IP
Coming off a winter where he pitched well in the Venezuelan Winter League, Gomez came into 2019 and did so well, he came third within the franchise in their “Relief Pitcher of the Year” Award. Digging deeper into the numbers above were his 13.3 K/9, his 0.51 June WHIP, and never having an opposing batting average higher than .184. It was a great year overall, and more off season refinement will undoubtedly help.
2019: 4.54 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 55 SO, 25 BB, 37.2 IP
Winner of the 2017 “Twins Short Season Pitcher of the Year Award”, Moran struggled this season as his ERA almost doubled from his A+ tenure in 2018. The problems here were his inability to get batters out as walks became an issue. I don’t see much long term if he can’t stop walking batters, so some time in the AFL makes sense to get through these struggles.
2019: 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 89 SO, 24 BB, 72.2 IP
Where Gomez came in third for “Relief Pitcher of the Year” for the Twins, Neff came in fifth, which is taking nothing away from the latter. He dominated in A ball to start the year, and, upon his promotion to the Miracle, he struggled a bit. As to be expected with better competition, his ERA and WHIP went up, but he still maintained a K/9 rate over 10, which is impressive. Here’s an interesting nugget though: he gave up one HR all year!
Luke Raley, LF: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, K
Ben Rortvedt, C: 0-for-3
Dakota Chalmers, SP: 3.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, BB, 4 K
Zach Neff, RP: 1.1 IP, H, 2 K
Strong 3 innings from Chalmers doesn’t hold up as offense scores just one in 4-1 loss to Saguaros.
— Steve Lein (@HangingSL) September 23, 2019
As great as this lineup looks, I’m a little disappointed to not see Alex Kirilloff in the lineup. He finished the year strong and will undoubtedly get a 40 man roster spot in 2020. He’s my personal favorite Twins prospect and one of my overall MiLB favorites heading into 2020. I’m excited about the prospect of him getting the call as I’ve been personally stashing him in leagues for awhile. I think there’s legit 20/20 potential, and that’s his floor. He’s a smart player who wants to get better and studies to do so.
The Arizona Fall League will be a great showcase for the Twins. Here’s hoping they don’t disappoint.
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.