- As they prepare to pick first overall in next month’s draft, the Twins are doing their due diligence on six players, but Vanderbilt righty Kyle Wright has emerged as the front-runner, writes Jim Callis of MLB.com in his latest mock draft. Like Wright, Louisville first baseman/left-hander Brendan McKay is garnering strong consideration, notes Callis, with California high school righty Hunter Greene, North Carolina high school lefty MacKenzie Gore, California prep outfielder Royce Lewis and Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith also in the mix. Between Wright and McKay, the former has the higher ceiling, per Callis.
- Although the first-place Twins have been one of the majors’ biggest surprises this year, teams expect them to make righty Ervin Santana available before the trade deadline, says Cafardo. Long a decent starter, Santana has turned in a front-line-caliber ERA this year (1.80) through 70 innings, but his strikeout and walk rates (6.43 and 3.47, respectively, per nine), unsustainable batting average on balls in play (.136) and sky-high strand rate (91.5 percent) suggest regression is around the corner. To Santana’s credit, his success has hardly been all luck – hitters have had major difficulty squaring him up, evidenced by a relatively paltry average exit velocity against (84.1 mph). Any team acquiring Santana would land a multiyear rotation piece, as he’s signed through next season at $13.5MM and carries a $14MM club option for 2019.
- The Twins have not seriously considered extending closer Brandon Kintzler, 1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Kintzler is eligible for free agency this winter, so Wolfson suggests he could become a trade chip later this summer. Of course, the Twins are currently, and somewhat surprisingly, in first place, so while they don’t appear to be considering an extension for Kintzler, a trade probably isn’t yet on their radar either. It would perhaps be mildly surprising if the Twins were considering extending Kintzler, since he’ll be 33 in early August. The righty is, however, off to a strong start this season, posting a 1.71 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 and 12 saves, albeit with a modest 5.6 K/9.
The Twins have designated lefty Adam Wilk for assignment, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to report on Twitter. He’ll make way for the call-up of lefty Adalberto Mejia; as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweeted recently, Mejia will take the ball tomorrow.
Wilk, 29, was claimed off waivers from the Mets earlier in the year. He has made two lengthy relief appearances out of the Minnesota pen, allowing three earned runs on eight hits over seven innings while compiling four strikeouts against five walks.
Through four years in the majors, Wilk has compiled just 37 total frames. He had not been off to an impressive start at Triple-A in the New York organization, but did throw 87 1/3 innings of 3.61 ERA ball last year at Triple-A for the Rays.
As for Mejia, the 23-year-old will look to improve upon his 4.96 ERA through his first four starts in 2017. He has been touched for four long balls while allowing ten walks to go with 13 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. But Mejia has looked every bit the solid prospect at Triple-A, where he owns a 3.48 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 over 20 2/3 frames.
Twins prospect Nick Burdi will miss the remainder of the 2017 campaign due to Tommy John surgery, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (on Twitter). It’s a “full thickness tear,” chief baseball officer Derek Falvey tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link), thus necessitating the TJ procedure.
A top-rated prospect heading into the 2014 draft and one of the most well-regarded arms in the Twins’ minor league ranks, Burdi’s career had already been slowed by injuries even before today’s unfortunate news. (ESPN’s Keith Law notes that he missed most of the 2016 season with a bone bruise in his pitching elbow.) The flamethrowing 24-year-old reaches triple digits with regularity and had gotten off to a brilliant start to the season; after totaling just three innings last year, Burdi had rattled off 17 frames of one-run ball with an outstanding 20-to-4 K/BB ratio (with one of those free passes being of the intentional variety).
The Twins will now have to wait at least another year before seeing Burdi, whom many felt could be a quick riser through the minors, as a part of their big league bullpen. For a club that has somewhat surprisingly gotten off to a first-place start but still carries questions in the big league relief corps, the loss of a near-MLB-ready arm with Burdi’s upside is a tough blow. Burdi, however, won’t turn 25 until the offseason, so there’s still time for him to get his career back on track and help what the Twins hope will be a competitive club in 2018 and beyond.
After nearly a decade of climbing up professional baseball’s totem pole, the 14-hour bus rides, the exceptionally poor minor-league shower water pressure, a MLB debut, a pennant race, I have finally reached the pinnacle…. you’re looking at MLB Trade Rumors’ newest employee! Don’t let your dreams be dreams, kids.
My name is Trevor May, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my thoughts/stories with you every few weeks. They say that every negative situation has a silver lining; that we have to find the positives after a setback. Well, I had a professional setback, and finding new ways to connect with fans over the last few months has been one heck of a silver lining. Let me take a quick step back and tell you how I got here:
On March 8th, I started the Twins’ exhibition game against Team USA before they went off to compete at the World Baseball Classic. I felt an abnormal tweak in my forearm muscle on a 0-2 curveball to Andrew McCutchen. What was that? I took a step off the mound, gathered myself, and proceeded to throw three consecutive balls for my first walk of the day.
I got the ball back from the catcher, gripped it tightly and told myself, “You have two options: come out of this game or gut it out.” I threw the next 40 pitches with everything I had, and left the game with a very real sense of accomplishment — I made it through the outing. After spending more than three months the previous year on the DL with a mysterious back issue, seeing my offseason work pay off was a damn good feeling. My elbow though? Not so much. Torn UCL.
I knew it was torn two days later when routine soreness was replaced with consistent, jolting pain. Imagine hitting your funny bone, and that feeling just not going away. This meant it was time for my favorite activity: cram into a tube most certainly not designed for a 6’5″, 240-pound frame and lay on my arm for 45 minutes until it goes to sleep, all the while enjoying consistent, ear-shattering noise. Wait, I meant getting an MRI. Pro Tip: just, like, avoid MRIs.
“A complete tear, surgery is recommended.”
Injuries suck, guys. There’s nothing in the world that I want more than to be on that field with my teammates. But sometimes, life wants to punch you square in the jaw, and all you can do is wear it, bring your gloves back up and throw one right back. Mike Tyson Punchout style. Fix it, move on. I can’t live my dream on the field this year, but I can still live it off the field. And, I’m already amazing at rehab, so this is cake.
Silver linings, friends.
I’m a professional baseball player rehabbing his elbow, a partnered Twitch Streamer, a DJ, a Social Media connoisseur, an E-Sports Entrepreneur, a gaming tournament organizer and commentator, and obviously an exceptional writer. I am Trevor May, and this is my year after Tommy John surgery.
To be continued…
The Twins are leaning toward passing on high school right-hander/shortstop Hunter Greene with the top overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft, writes Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Greene has drawn quite a bit of fanfare over the past calendar year, due largely to his ability to reach triple digits with his fastball. However, he’d be the first high school right-hander ever selected with the draft’s top pick, and there’s a clear level of risk when selecting any prep arm near the top of the draft. Rather, the Twins are leaning toward Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright, Heyman hears, with Louisville left-hander/first baseman Brendan McKay and prep shortstop Royce Lewis also under consideration. Baseball America’s John Manuel had the Twins selecting Wright in last week’s mock draft, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo had Greene tabbed as the Twins’ selection in his own mock draft from that same day.
A few more notes from the division…
- Despite a perhaps surprisingly solid start to the year from the White Sox, general manager Rick Hahn is maintaining a long-term outlook as the summer trade season approaches, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. “We remain very open-minded about whatever opportunities present themselves to make us better for the long run,” said Hahn. “Our focus is on something that is more sustainable than this one season. We’re in the same mode we were in this past offseason, looking for some long-term pieces to put us in position to contend on an annual basis.” David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Jose Quintana are among the top names the Sox could make available, Bloom observes, though the latter two from that trio haven’t exactly gotten off to strong starts in 2017.
- The Royals announced yesterday that right-hander Nate Karns has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to an “extensor strain” (per the club’s transactions page at MLB.com). For the time being, his spot in the rotation will go to rookie Miguel Almonte, who was slated to start today’s series finale at Yankee Stadium prior to a rainout, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. There’s been no timetable provided by the Royals for Karns’ absence, though his injury comes at an especially inopportune time; the right-hander had been excellent across his past four starts, pitching to a 2.01 ERA with an otherworldly 32-to-4 K/BB ratio through 22 1/3 innings. It’s not yet clear if today’s postponement will deprive Almonte of the opportunity to make a start, though Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star tweets that the starts in this weekend’s series will go to Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy.
- Anthony Gose, who has converted from playing center field to pitching, made his pro debut on the mound for Class-A Lakeland yesterday, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus tells Fenech that Gose’s fastball sat at 97 mph, and the left-hander also touched 98 mph twice and 99 mph three times. Gose was a two-way prospect in the draft back in 2008, so pitching isn’t exactly new to him, though he obviously hasn’t focused on it in his nearly nine seasons of professional ball. Ausmus noted that due to Gose’s age, he may not be progressed through the minors like a typical (i.e. younger) prospect would be. The implication there, seemingly, is that Gose may not need to stop at every level before the club decides to take a look at him in the Majors. That, however, could be a long shot to happen in 2017. GM Al Avila appeared on the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit this week and said that he wouldn’t put a firm “no” on Gose pitching in the Majors this season, though he also didn’t characterize that outcome as likely (via Will Burchfield of CBS Detroit).
- Twins right-hander Phil Hughes also underwent an MRI to have his right shoulder checked out, but GM Thad Levine tells Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that doctors are still evaluating the results (Twitter link). Hughes is slated to undergo further testing tomorrow, Miller adds. Hughes saw his 2016 season end early due to shoulder troubles that led to surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, but he hasn’t regained his velocity thus far in 2017. The 30-year-old has demonstrated his characteristically excellent control (2.1 BB/9), but his 5.7 K/9 rate is a far cry from the 8.0 mark Hughes turned in during his stellar first year with Minnesota.
There’s no more fickle existence in Major League Baseball than that of a relief pitcher. Teams are generally more willing to tinker with their bullpens than their benches, and often need to make changes to account for overworked staffs.
But the tumult also brings opportunity. Relievers who are throwing well at the right moment can find themselves right back in the majors. And there are often wide-open Spring Training battles to be joined and won.
Plenty of relievers signed minor-league deals last winter. And a solid number of them ended up on MLB rosters within the first two months of the season. Despite failing to receive MLB guarantees on the free-agent market, these ten hurlers have provided quite a bit of value in the early going:
Matt Albers, Nationals: With the Nats’ pen struggling badly, Albers has been a desperately need source of reliable frames: 16 2/3 innings of 1.62 ERA ball. A strong 57.8% groundball rate and meager 1.6 BB/9 walk rate tend to support the results, though Albers isn’t getting enough whiffs (7.6 K/9) to keep up quite this level of pitching.
Craig Breslow, Twins: The lefty specialist has been everything the Minnesota front office hoped for when it bought into his new-look delivery over the winter. Like Albers, a minimal BABIP (.217 in this case) helps explain the sub-2.00 ERA, though in both cases the solid early work is enough to entrench these pitchers in their respective pens for the time being.
Jorge De La Rosa, Diamondbacks: A long-time starter, De La Rosa has averaged less than one inning per relief appearance in Arizona. But the results of that change in focus have been quite promising. It’s good enough that De La Rosa carries a 50% groundball rate with 8.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, supporting a 2.35 ERA through 15 1/3 frames. But there could be more in the tank, as he’s also averaging a career-high 94.1 mph with his fastball and generating a huge 19.5% swinging-strike rate.
David Hernandez, Angels: Though he has completed just 11 innings thus far, after making his debut later than most of the names on this list, Hernandez has impressed. He’s showing the same kind of velocity and swinging-strike rates that made him a buy-low option last year for the Phillies, but the real question is whether he can continue to avoid the long balls that have plagued him in recent years.
J.J. Hoover, Diamondbacks: It was anyone’s guess whether the former Reds’ late-inning stalwart would rebound, but he’s showing well through fifteen frames in Arizona. Hoover is walking more than five batters per nine, but has also racked up 12.6 K/9 (on a career-high 12.6% swinging-strike rate) and owns a 3.00 ERA. So far, a new pitch mix (more two-seamers and sliders) seems to be working.
Jason Motte, Braves: After beating out Hernandez to become the next veteran reclamation project in Atlanta, Motte has ascended to the majors and helped stabilize the pen. His peripherals aren’t terribly inspiring — 6.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 53.1% groundball rate — but the results (1.59 ERA) have been there through 11 1/3 innings.
Bud Norris, Angels: The crown jewel of the Halos’ impressive slate of finds, Norris has thrived in the closer’s role that he took over out of necessity. Through 23 2/3 innings, he carries a 2.66 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and a 44.2% groundball rate. Norris is bringing more velocity (94.1 mph fastball) and swinging strikes (13.2%) than ever before.
Yusmeiro Petit, Angels: The veteran long man has been stellar, delivering 28 1/3 staff-preserving innings of 2.54 ERA ball through 16 appearances. Petit is carrying 9.5 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 on the year. (As if the trio of arms on this list weren’t enough, the Halos have also benefited from the strong work of Blake Parker, who had been outrighted off the 40-man roster over the winter.)
Anthony Swarzak, White Sox: There are some very strong performers on this list, but perhaps none has been quite as impressive as Swarzak. He has given the South Siders 19 2/3 breakout innings of 1.37 ERA ball, with 10.1 K/9 and just 0.9 BB/9 in that span. At present, he’s working at a 19.8% swinging-strike rate — about double what he carried over the prior two campaigns — making him quite an interesting potential trade candidate this summer.
Jacob Turner, Nationals: Though he isn’t carrying sparkly numbers, Turner has been an important contributor in D.C. He’s functioning in the swingman role that Petit occupied last year, providing 21 2/3 innings (over two starts and six relief appearances) of 3.74 ERA pitching thus far. While Turner is averaging only 5.8 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine, he is continuing to carry the velocity boost he showed last year. Interestingly, he is now working in the zone far more than ever before (50.2% versus 42.1% career average) — though it’s also important to note that his swings and misses are way down (4.8%).
- Though he’s still heading to the 10-day DL, Twins righty Phil Hughes will do so with a somewhat more optimistic outlook than had been feared, as Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to tweet. Hughes is dealing with right biceps tendinitis, the team says, which seems quite a bit less worrisome than the hints of a shoulder problem that had been given previously.