The Minnesota Twins have positioned themselves as a playoff contender, but the team still has a number of promising prospects.
Every Thursday for the rest of the season, FOX Sports North will take a closer look at some specific young players in Minnesota’s farm system — as well as noting others who might be stepping up — measuring, highlighting and evaluating their progress.
This is the 3rd edition of the 2019 Young Twins Tracker.
Jordan Balazovic, SP (age 20/High-A)
Last week: 1 game (1 start), 1-0, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 12 K
Season (High-A): 2 games (2 starts), 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 3 H, 0 HR, 4 BB, 22 K, .077 OBA, 0.58 WHIP
Season (Low-A): 4 games (4 starts), 2-1, 2.18 ERA, 20.2 IP, 15 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 33 K, .195 OBA, 0.92 WHIP
Notable: After tossing five no-hit innings in his first start for Fort Myers, eight days later Balazovic fanned a career-high 12 batters on May 13 vs. Bradenton. He threw 94 pitches after throwing 95 in his previous start. It’s the first time Balazovic has whiffed 10+ batters in back-to-back games.
Nick Gordon, 2B/SS (age 23/Triple-A)
Last week: 3 games, 10 AB, 2 H, 1 2B, 0 R, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 0 BB, 2 K, .200 BA
Season: 8 games, 32 AB, .353 BA, .389 OBP, .500 SLG, .889 OPS, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, 3 SB, 1 BB, 8 K.
Notable: Gordon, who began the season in the injured list due to stomach ailment, was placed back on the IL on May 14 (retroactive to May 13) due to left adductor strain. The good news is that Gordon has a hit in seven of his first eight games.
Brusdar Graterol, SP (age 20/Double-A)
Last week: 1 game (1 start), 1-0, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K
Season: 8 games (8 starts), 5-0, 1.69 ERA, 42.2 IP, 25 H, 2 HR, 17 BB, 39 K, .170 OBA, 0.98 WHIP
Notable: As expected, Graterol didn’t miss any time after leaving his previous start with trapezius tightness. On May 14, he threw 80 pitches in tossing five shutout innings at Charlotte, the fourth time this season he hasn’t allowed a run.
Alex Kirilloff, OF (age 21/Double-A)
Last week: 6 games, 24 AB, 4 H, 0 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 BB, 5 K, .167 BA
Season: 13 games, 51 AB, .235 BA, .328 OBP, .294 SLG, .622 OPS, 1 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 5 BB, 13 K.
Notable: In his second week in Double-A, Kirilloff went into a little slump. He hasn’t had a multiple-hit game or extra-base hit since May 6, going eight games without either.
Trevor Larnach, OF (age 22/High-A)
Last week: 5 games, 19 AB, 8 H, 3 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 4 BB, 3 K, .421 BA
Season: 36 games, 141 AB, .305 BA, .365 OBP, .440 SLG, .804 OPS, 13 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 14 R, 22 RBI, 2 SB, 14 BB, 30 K.
Notable: Larnach tied his career high with four hits (going 4-for-5) on May 13 (he had one four hit game last season for Elizabethtown). He also had two hits on May 15 and has 12 mutli-hit games on the season.
Royce Lewis, SS (age 19/High-A)
Last week: 5 games, 22 AB, 6 H, 5 2B, 6 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 1 BB, 7 K, .273 BA
Season: 36 games, 145 AB, .234 BA, .313 OBP, .317 SLG, .630 OPS, 8 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 20 R, 10 RBI, 8 SB, 17 BB, 35 K.
Notable: Lewis began the week with five extra-base hits total then proceeded to double in four straight games from May 10-14, including a pair of them in the last one. Lewis scored three runs and stole two bases in Fort Myers’ 8-2 win over Bradenton on May 13.
Brent Rooker 1B/OF (age 24/Triple-A)
Last week: 4 games, 16 AB, 3 H, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, 0 SB, 0 BB, 8 K, .188 BA
Season: 23 games, 86 AB, .221 BA, .280 OBP, .477 SLG, .756 OPS, 4 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 12 R, 12 RBI, 0 SB, 6 BB, 40 K.
Notable: Rooker had two hits on May 10, but has gone 1-for-11 since. He’s struck out at least once in 21 of his 23 games with 14 multiple-whiff games.
Others: Rochester OF Luke Raley continues to rake; he was 8-for-19 (.421) in five games last week with a double, homer, three runs and four RBI. He’s batting .304 with a .530 slugging percentage. … Red Wings LHP Devin Smeltzer, who like Raley came to the Twins from the Dodgers in last year’s Brian Dozier trade, also continues to impress. In his second Triple-A start, Smeltzer tossed eight scoreless innings vs. Durham, allowing four hits and one walk with six strikeouts. The 23-year-old has pitched 15 innings allowing one unearned run on seven hits in Triple-A and including his five starts in Double-A has given up four runs (two earned) in 45 innings this season with 26 hits and four walks allowed and 42 strikeouts. … Pensacola 2B Travis Blankenhorn (3rd round, 2015) went 10-for-27 (.370) with a double, homer, four runs and three RBI. He’s slashing .283/.352/.425 in 34 games. … Fort Myers 1B Ryan Costello, who was acquired last year from Seattle in the Zach Duke deal, was 6-for-13 (462) in four games with two doubles, two homers, four runs and six RBI. … Miracles RHP Edwar Colina struck out 10 in six innings in his second start of the season. He allowed one run on four hits. … Cedar Rapids RHP Andrew Cabezas (18th round, 2018) allowed just one hit with no walks and fanned nine in seven scoreless innings May 15 vs. Quad Cities. … Kernels 2B Yeltsin Encarnacion was 8-for-24 (.333) with three steals. … Cedar Rapids 1B Gabe Snyder (21st round, 2018) was 8-for-25 (.320) with three doubles, two homers and five RBI. He’s hitting .319/.414/.543 in 26 games.
Statistics courtesy milb.com and baseball-reference.com
Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns
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