The months of May and June have been a roller coaster in terms of momentum for the minor league affiliates of the Minnesota Twins. On the one hand, there are very positive success stories with call ups, promotions among the levels, and progression with batting and pitching. However, and this is not to be a Debbie Downer, it’s been a concerning month as well, since some important players have suffered injuries. Let’s examine them and look at the ramifications of each.
May 25, 2019: Rochester Red Wings placed LHP Stephen Gonsalves on the 7-day injured list.
Gonsalves has a stress reaction in his elbow/forearm and was shut down indefinitely. He came off the IL on May 20, only to struggle in his first start, walking five batters. As it turns out, that he was suffering from the injury stated above, and the Red Wings thought best to shut him down and examine him after some rest.
Level of Concern: 6/10 – elbow and forearm injuries are not to taken lightly, and hopefully Stephen can get mended and back to producing.
May 20, 2019: Rochester Red Wings placed RF Luke Raley on the 7-day injured list. Left ankle strain.
Five days later, it was revealed that he would need surgery and would remain sidelined for a few months. It’s unfortunate as he was off to a fine start to the season.
Level of Concern: 5/10 – the rating is not in the sense that he won’t make a full recovery, but that he’s already 24 years old and this delays things back even more.
May 25, 2019: Pensacola Wahoos placed RHP Brusdar Graterol on the 7-day injured list. Shoulder impingement.
Despite dominating earlier this year, Graterol has been battling to keep a healthy shoulder all year. He already had Tommy John surgery as a teenager, but still, shoulder injuries are always concerning on some level. He probably won’t match last years inning totals, nor should he, as the Twins need to be as delicate as they can here. It’s not the most serious of injuries, but it still needs to be handled correctly and quickly.
Level of Concern: 6/10 – after dominating earlier this year, the Twins need to get him right so he can continue ascending to the major leagues.
June 3, 2019: Pensacola Wahoos placed RF Alex Kirilloff on the 7-day injured list. Undisclosed injury.
While it doesn’t seem too serious, because nothing has been formally said as of yet, the fact that it is undisclosed and his second stint on the IL in 2019 is some cause for concern. And while he is fully healed from his previous wrist injury, durability seems like it could be an issue.
Level of Concern: TBD because the exact injury wasn’t known. He was just activated on June 20th so fingers crossed he’s back to full health.
May 25, 2019:Fort Myers Miracle placed CF Akil Baddoo on 7-day injured list. Left elbow strain.
It was revealed that he would need season ending reconstructive elbow surgery with no guarantee that he would be ready for Spring Training 2020. A huge blow to his stock, he had a disastrous 2019 with numbers that would have him plummet down prospect rankings.
Level of Concern: 10/10 – here’s hoping next year is a better year for Baddoo.
Overall, it is quite worrisome that some big prospect names have and will continue to have health concerns going forward, thus stunting their delays. Graterol is probably the biggest one of all, since he was flat out dominating Double-A ball. Now the pitcher must take time to heal a lingering injury that has gotten significantly worse, while also potentially limiting his long term potential to be stretched out as a starter. What perplexes me too is that Kirilloff’s injury has been a relatively quiet situation, with no real information known.
However, where one player falls, another shall rise, and the Twins‘ farm system is filled with “Next Man Up” situations. Here are some interesting stats (as of June 23):
Lewis Thorpe: 82/19 K/BB, 11.4 K/9
Zack Littell: 58/17 K/BB, 10.3 K/9 (called up to MLB on 6/14)
Nick Gordon: .286/.327/.443
Travis Blankenhorn: .295/.347/.500, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 5 SB
Lewin Diaz: .304/.344/.542, 13 HR 39 RBI
Jordan Balazovic: 87/15 K/BB, 12.7 K/9
So while one may see this as a glass half empty, there are others that see this as a glass half full, and are getting ready to fill that glass to the rim. Opportunity doesn’t always knock, but when it does, it’s always interesting to see who answers that door. The Twins have some nice fallback options that keep getting better, as part of their deep system.