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Here's what Twins seek from 4 first-time campers

Farm director Zoll provides outlook for Lewis, Kirilloff, Rooker, Raley
MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Twins having started full-squad workouts on Monday, several top lower-level prospects began their first Major League Spring Training under the developmentally focused system that the front office hoped to implement to a greater extent this offseason and spring.

Here's what Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll had to say about four of the Twins' top hitting prospects invited to their first Major League camp this spring, including a pair of lower-level prospects and a pair of quick risers who are nearing the big leagues.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Twins having started full-squad workouts on Monday, several top lower-level prospects began their first Major League Spring Training under the developmentally focused system that the front office hoped to implement to a greater extent this offseason and spring.

Here's what Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll had to say about four of the Twins' top hitting prospects invited to their first Major League camp this spring, including a pair of lower-level prospects and a pair of quick risers who are nearing the big leagues.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Royce Lewis, SS (No. 1)
2018 stats: .292/.352/.451, 14 HR, 74 RBIs, 28 steals (Class A/Class A Advanced)
Zoll on Lewis: "We're really proud of the work and improvements he's already accomplished in 2018. I think we're really excited about his offensive game, and it's just a matter of continuing to face better and better competition. On the defensive side, he's made huge strides, but that'll be a larger point of emphasis overall, if we had to pick one."

Looking ahead: According to Zoll, Lewis spent time at the Twins' offseason mini-camps improving the consistency of his throws from shortstop, and the Twins hope to continue to work with him on his accuracy and utilizing his arm strength.

"In terms of range, you'll see him make plays that, you're like, 'That was a big league play,'" Zoll said. "It's pretty exciting when it all comes together."

Video: Mayo, Callis on No. 5 prospect Royce Lewis' talent

Alex Kirilloff, OF (No. 2)
2018 stats: .348/.392/.578, 20 HR, 101 RBIs, 44 doubles (Class A/Class A Advanced)
Zoll on Kirilloff: "It's hard to pick out too many flaws in his 2018 season, and we're just going to look to continue to try to push him to continue to build on that."

Looking ahead: Not necessarily in spring, but throughout this season, the Twins hope to expose Kirilloff to first base at the professional level in addition to his play in the outfield. He did not work at first base last season but has high school experience at the position.

"That's something that [manager Rocco Baldelli and bench coach Derek Shelton] are still working through, and I don't know that's necessarily a chief priority for his Major League camp experience," Zoll said. "But we'll see how all of the work group playing time shakes out."

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins

Brent Rooker, 1B/OF (No. 7)
2018 stats: .254/.333/.465, 22 HR, 79 RBIs, 32 doubles (Double-A)
Zoll on Rooker: "With what he did in [Rookie-level] Elizabethton and in the Florida State League as a newly drafted player, we looked to continue to push him aggressively to Double-A this past year. Once he got out of a little bit of a funk in the first month, he really started to take off and it was fun."

Looking ahead: The Twins had planned to send Rooker to the Arizona Fall League this offseason, but a sprained ankle during one of his mini-camps kept the 24-year-old out of action. Zoll has been impressed with Rooker's continued work in the outfield and at first base, and Rooker will work to maintain that defensive versatility to complement his advanced power bat.

"In the call with Brent to let him know we're going to let him go to big league camp, it was, 'Look, you're going to be with [first-base coach] Tommy Watkins and you're going to be with [outfield coordinator] Mike Quade to get better in the outfield. You're going to be working to get better at first base. Not just observing the situation,'" Zoll said.

Video: Top Prospects: Brent Rooker, 1B, Twins

Luke Raley, OF/1B (No. 19)
2018 stats: .275/.350/.471, 20 HR, 69 RBIs, 19 doubles (Double-A)
Zoll on Raley: "For Luke, he had a really nice year in Double-A. He's firmly on the radar for [Triple-A] Rochester this year, and for him just to get exposed to the big league environment, and work to get him exposed to [hitting coach] James Rowson and [assistant hitting coach] Rudy Hernandez. And let them see what he can do."

Looking ahead: The 24-year-old, who arrived from the Dodgers' organization in last season's Brian Dozier trade, hit 20 homers in 120 Double-A games last season, and the Twins will work with Raley to cut down on strikeouts and utilize his plus power more consistently.

"I think Luke does a really good job of getting to power, but we're going to try to get to that even more regularly by trying to cut down on the strikeouts a tick and give him some tools to utilize the ability he does have in his bat," Zoll said.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.

Minnesota Twins, Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Luke Raley, Brent Rooker

Prospects Lewis, Kirilloff among 20 ST invites

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins released their complete list of 20 non-roster invitees to Major League Spring Training on Saturday, headlined by Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, the top two prospects in the organization and the No. 5 and No. 9 prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100.

Lucas Duda and Adam Rosales headline the nine players with Major League experience signed to Minor League deals with invites to Spring Training. Pitchers Tim Collins, Chase De Jong, Preston Guilmet, Mike Morin and Justin Nicolino are also part of that group, as are infielder Dean Anna and catcher Tomas Telis.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins released their complete list of 20 non-roster invitees to Major League Spring Training on Saturday, headlined by Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, the top two prospects in the organization and the No. 5 and No. 9 prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100.

Lucas Duda and Adam Rosales headline the nine players with Major League experience signed to Minor League deals with invites to Spring Training. Pitchers Tim Collins, Chase De Jong, Preston Guilmet, Mike Morin and Justin Nicolino are also part of that group, as are infielder Dean Anna and catcher Tomas Telis.

Pitchers Ryan Eades, Ryne Harper and Jake Reed; catchers Brian Navarreto, Ben Rortvedt and Wynston Sawyer; infielders Randy Cesar and Lewis; and outfielders Kirilloff, Luke Raley and Brent Rooker are the others with invites to camp.

The Twins also announced that eight guest instructors will attend camp this year: Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Bert Blyleven, and former Twins players Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan and Tony Oliva.

"I never look at invites, especially internal invites, as saying they're all competing to make the team," chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said earlier this offseason. "In fact, a lot of times, at the front end, I tell them that they're not, because the last thing you want is for someone to go out in their first bullpen of the year and try and throw 100 miles an hour. It's not good for anybody. But I would say that it's exposure."

Duda, 33, is a veteran of nine Major League seasons who hit .241/.313/.418 with 14 homers with the Royals and Braves last season. He hit 27 or more homers in each of the previous three seasons from the left side and could compete with the right-handed Tyler Austin for playing time behind starting first baseman C.J. Cron as a first base/outfield bench bat.

Video: ATL@ARI: Duda cranks a solo home run to right field

The versatile Rosales spent the majority of last season in Triple-A, but has played in parts of the last 11 seasons in the Majors with the Reds, A's, Rangers, Padres, D-backs and Indians. The 35-year-old is a career .226/.291/.365 hitter, with his best year coming with the Padres in 2016, when he hit 13 homers in 105 games with an .814 OPS.

Kirilloff, the Twins' first-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, and Lewis, the first overall selection a year later, both finished '18 with Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins

The 19-year-old Lewis hit .292/.352/.451 wth 14 homers, 29 doubles and 28 stolen bases across two levels. In his return from Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff led all full-season Minor Leaguers with 44 doubles while hitting .348/.392/.578 with 20 homers as he was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year.

"We're excited about the investment in them from a developmental standpoint. It's a chance to get them around Rocco [Baldelli], maybe around the Major League staff," Falvey said. "We anticipate maybe they'll get back on the Minor League side at some point, soon, to get their seasons rolling. But that's a great way to get a taste, in my mind, to get the Major League feel before you take a run."

Rooker (No. 7), Raley (No. 19) and Rortvedt (No. 24) are the other Top 30 Twins prospects among the non-roster invitees. Rooker hit .254/.333/.465 with 22 homers and 32 doubles across a full season at Double-A, while Raley hit .275/.350/.471 with 20 homers in Double-A and came to the organization in the Brian Dozier trade with the Dodgers. Rortvedt, a second-round selection in 2016, climbed from Class A to Class A Advanced last season.

Twins Spring Training non-roster invitees
INF Dean Anna (highest level: MLB)
INF Randy Cesar (highest level: Double-A)
LHP Tim Collins (highest level: MLB)
RHP Chase De Jong (highest level: MLB)
1B/OF Lucas Duda (highest level: MLB)
RHP Ryan Eades (highest level: Triple-A)
RHP Preston Guilmet (highest level: MLB)
RHP Ryne Harper (highest level: Triple-A)
OF Alex Kirilloff (highest level: Class A Advanced)
SS Royce Lewis (highest level: Class A Advanced)
RHP Mike Morin (highest level: MLB)
C Brian Navarreto (highest level: Double-A)
LHP Justin Nicolino (highest level: MLB)
OF/1B Luke Raley (highest level: Double-A)
RHP Jake Reed (highest level: Triple-A)
1B/OF Brent Rooker (highest level: Double-A)
C Ben Rortvedt (highest level: Class A Advanced)
INF Adam Rosales (highest level: MLB)
C Wynston Sawyer (highest level: Triple-A)
C Tomas Telis (highest level: MLB)

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.

Minnesota Twins

Lewis, Kirilloff get NRIs to Twins Spring Training

Top prospects will get chance to impress with the Major League squad in Fort Myers
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Royce Lewis got the call that he was being invited to Major League Spring Training in 2019, he had to mute the phone.

"I just go, 'Whaaaaaat?' And then I'm just back to normal," the highly touted shortstop said. "'Thank you, I really appreciate the offer. Of course, I'm going to accept, and I'll be there as soon as possible.'"

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Royce Lewis got the call that he was being invited to Major League Spring Training in 2019, he had to mute the phone.

"I just go, 'Whaaaaaat?' And then I'm just back to normal," the highly touted shortstop said. "'Thank you, I really appreciate the offer. Of course, I'm going to accept, and I'll be there as soon as possible.'"

Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, the top two prospects in the Twins' organization, will headline Minnesota's non-roster invitees to Major League Spring Training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., chief baseball officer Derek Falvey announced Friday.

"Those guys both put in a ton of effort," Falvey said. "They certainly had successful seasons, but it's not a question of whether or not they performed. It's more just the next step in the path. I've seen with so many young players we have in the big leagues now, getting their eyes open a little bit at a big league camp.

Video: Get to know two Twins rising stars

"Getting to see Nelson Cruz doing some work and what that looks like, that's a benefit to those guys."

The Twins have not finalized their full list of non-roster invitees, but other prospects within the organization expected to attend big league camp include outfielder Luke Raley, first baseman/outfielder Brent Rooker, catchers Ben Rortvedt and Brian Navarreto, and pitchers Ryan Eades and Jake Reed.

Raley (No. 19), Rooker (No. 7) and Rortvedt (No. 24) are also among Minnesota's top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

"Hopefully, it's going to be an eye-opening experience, being able to play against guys at that level, and ... that's the end goal, being able to kind of stack yourself up against some of those [Major League] guys in Spring Training," Kirilloff said.

Lewis, 19, was selected with the first overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft and is the No. 7 overall prospect in baseball. He split the 2018 season between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers, hitting .292/.352/.451 with 14 homers, 29 doubles and 28 steals across the two levels.

Video: Top Prospects: Royce Lewis, SS, Twins

Lewis slumped a bit to end the Minor League season, but emerged from his second professional season having grown mentally as he worked through the struggles. He started his offseason workouts two weeks earlier than last year, and he has been focusing on improving his strength. He has attended two of the Twins' new offseason mini-camps.

"Royce is somebody who has come a long way," Falvey said. "I remember in the amateur Draft, that was some of the conversation about shortstop, whether or not he'd move off the position. We said at the time and maintain that he's committed to it. That's the first step. He's got athleticism, he's gotten better."

After missing all of 2017 to recover from Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff's only goal entering last season was to play a full season of healthy baseball. He did that and more, hitting 20 homers and 44 doubles, driving in 101 runs and hitting .348/.392/.578 in Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers to be named Twins Minor League Player of the Year.

The 21-year-old Kirilloff was the Twins' first-round selection in the 2016 Draft, No. 15 overall, and has shown an impressive ability to hit for both average and power to all fields.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins

"Joe [Mauer] has as sweet of a swing as you're going to find," Falvey said. "Alex may have the equivalent to that in the Minor Leagues right now. The things that really stood out late in the year were his ability to adjust pitch-to-pitch and the ability to see what a guy was doing to him and attack again. That's unique for a hitter his age."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.

Minnesota Twins

Inbox: Which prospects will make MLB debuts?

Beat reporter Do-Hyoung Park answers Twins fans' questions
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the dateline on this story indicates, I've finally relocated to the Twin Cities since the last installment of the Twins Inbox, and I am looking forward to meeting many of you across Twins Territory. I'll be trekking across Minnesota with the Twins Winter Caravan in a few days and reporting on TwinsFest next weekend.

In the meantime, another Inbox column will have to suffice.

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the dateline on this story indicates, I've finally relocated to the Twin Cities since the last installment of the Twins Inbox, and I am looking forward to meeting many of you across Twins Territory. I'll be trekking across Minnesota with the Twins Winter Caravan in a few days and reporting on TwinsFest next weekend.

In the meantime, another Inbox column will have to suffice.

Tweet from @Nate75216260: Which twins/prospects do you think will have their major league debut this year.

Looking around the Twins' 40-man roster, the only players that have yet to make their Major League debuts are pitcher Lewis Thorpe, outfielder LaMonte Wade and infielders Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon.

I could see Thorpe, the Twins' No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, making the jump this year. He missed two seasons in 2015-16 after Tommy John surgery and a bout of mononucleosis during his rehab. But the Australian lefty has pitched well at every level of the Minors, including a 3.32 ERA with 26 strikeouts and six walks in four Triple-A starts to end the 2018 season.

:: Submit a question to the Twins Inbox ::

Wade and Gordon both had growing pains at the plate after being promoted to Triple-A Rochester last season, but with strong showings in Spring Training and early in the season, they could make their cases for promotions in the case of injuries on the Major League roster. Wade, the Twins' No. 13 prospect, has a good eye at the plate, outfield versatility and could compete with Zack Granite to be the next man up. Similarly, Gordon has infield versatility, but he might need to compete with Ronald Torreyes for Major League time.

Gordon eager to prove he belongs with Twins

Arraez made the jump from Class A Advanced Fort Myers to Double-A Chattanooga in 2018, and he has showed an ability to get on base with good bat-to-ball skills at every level of the Minors so far. But given a recent ACL tear that sidelined him for most of '17 and the Twins' relatively crowded infield, I don't think he'd come up this season.

Of the players not on the 40-man roster right now, keep an eye on Luke Raley and Brent Rooker, who have good power potential and finished last season in Double-A.

Tweet from @DsrdDoescher: We say we need pitching, we sign a 38 yr. old DH(great move) and let go of a young pitcher🤔, we sign a 33 for one year and let go of another young pitcher. The top people say they are building for the future. How does that work?

It's a balance between building for the future and taking advantage of an opportunity to contend. The American League Central is up for grabs right now, and if the Twins get bounceback seasons from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, this roster looks to have the ability to contend for the postseason. The front office is moving accordingly with the recent acquisitions of Nelson Cruz and Blake Parker.

Letting go of Aaron Slegers and John Curtiss takes away two able arms for the future, but there's organizational depth to keep the pitching pipeline populated moving forward. Eleven of the Twins' top 30 prospects are pitchers, and Minnesota currently has many young arms that, like Slegers and Curtiss, are on the brink of establishing themselves at the Major League level: Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, Zack Littell, Adalberto Mejia, Chase De Jong and Gabriel Moya, to name a few.

And if the Twins' 2019 push falls short? In that case, Minnesota can deal some of these players to contending teams for more prospects, just like it did at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Tweet from @goyshahomer: Will @Twins keep Austin on the bench? He offered a good amount of power and potential.

Tyler Austin definitely showed good power potential last season, when he hit 17 homers with a .767 OPS over 69 games with the Yankees and Twins. He's also under team control through the 2023 season, while C.J. Cron is eligible for free agency after the '20 campaign.

The Twins need to dedicate a roster spot for Cruz, who shouldn't play regularly in the field, which means that versatility will be at a premium on Minnesota's bench. Two spots will need to go to a fourth outfielder (likely Jake Cave) and a backup catcher (likely Mitch Garver), with utility man Ehire Adrianza probably getting a bench spot, too. That leaves one more spot -- if the Twins go with a 12-man pitching staff.

Without Austin, the Twins wouldn't have a true backup first baseman. Adrianza has made 15 appearances at first over six seasons. Sano has played first, but that would force Adrianza into action at third, without any infield wiggle room on the bench. So the Twins have a need for first-base depth, but it'll be up to the front office to decide how it will address that, whether it's via giving Austin a roster spot or perhaps getting Max Kepler more reps at first base or something of the sort.

Don't you think getting a veteran as the fifth starter would work out better? For example, Clay Buchholz pitched well for the D-backs last season and is still a free agent. As far as closers are concerned, don't you also agree that getting a free agent is already proven to be better than staying in-house and taking a chance on not making the playoffs? -- Ronald C., Surprise, Ariz.

I wouldn't say that getting a free agent is necessarily proven to be better than staying in-house, and I also wouldn't say that staying in-house is taking a chance on not making the postseason.

Free-agent relievers carry a certain degree of volatility, especially among those not named Craig Kimbrel in this year's market. The Twins have made cost-effective and timely additions all offseason, and there's still some offseason left for prices to come down, given that the market isn't exactly moving quickly. With that said, I think there's room in the bullpen for the Twins to make another move.

As for a fifth starter, I agree that adding some depth to the starting-rotation options for the right price would make sense in case none of the young arms are ready for consistent Major League exposure over a full season. As you mentioned, Buchholz could be an interesting high-ceiling candidate. That market is also moving quite slowly, so you might need to be patient for things to take shape.

Tweet from @cellan17: What are you looking forward to most while covering the @Twins ?

While I was growing up in Minnesota, my family didn't really travel to major cities -- we'd mainly go to state or national parks to hike and camp. Because of that, I've actually only been to five active ballparks: Target Field, Yankee Stadium, AT&T Park, Oakland Coliseum and Wrigley Field. I'm really looking forward to checking some more off the list.

Cheesy as it may sound, I'm also excited to spend time with La Velle Neal, Phil Miller, Dan Hayes and Betsy Helfand -- the other members of the traveling Twins beat -- throughout the season. They're good people.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.

Minnesota Twins, Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, Tyler Austin, Jake Cave, Nick Gordon, Lewis Thorpe, LaMonte Wade

Twins add INF Ozoria, deal Curtiss to Angels

MLB.com

The Twins acquired Minor League infielder Daniel Ozoria from the Angels in exchange for right-hander John Curtiss on Tuesday. Curtiss was designated for assignment Monday to make room on the 40-man roster for newly acquired right-hander Blake Parker.

Ozoria, 18, hit .222/.293/.263 over two seasons between the Dominican Summer League, the rookie-level Angels and rookie-level Orem Owlz. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an undrafted free agent in August 2016.

The Twins acquired Minor League infielder Daniel Ozoria from the Angels in exchange for right-hander John Curtiss on Tuesday. Curtiss was designated for assignment Monday to make room on the 40-man roster for newly acquired right-hander Blake Parker.

Ozoria, 18, hit .222/.293/.263 over two seasons between the Dominican Summer League, the rookie-level Angels and rookie-level Orem Owlz. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an undrafted free agent in August 2016.

Curtiss, 25, was a sixth-round Draft pick in 2014, and ranked as Minnesota's No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He posted a 7.20 ERA in 17 Major League appearances from 2017-18. In 38 appearances (one start) at Triple-A Rochester last season, he posted a 2.77 ERA and a 25 percent strikeout rate.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Minnesota Twins

Gordon eager to prove he belongs with Twins

May looking forward to full-time role in bullpen for 2019
MLB.com

Nick Gordon's talent has never been in question. The infielder, who is ranked as the Twins' No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, learned through his struggles last season, following a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, that talent alone isn't enough to succeed at the highest levels of baseball.

"When you get to Triple-A, it's more of who's the smartest on the field," Gordon said during an interview at the MLB Rookie Career Development Program. "It was tough learning that because you hear so much about, 'Talent isn't going to get you to the next level.' Triple-A is where I really saw that."

Nick Gordon's talent has never been in question. The infielder, who is ranked as the Twins' No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, learned through his struggles last season, following a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, that talent alone isn't enough to succeed at the highest levels of baseball.

"When you get to Triple-A, it's more of who's the smartest on the field," Gordon said during an interview at the MLB Rookie Career Development Program. "It was tough learning that because you hear so much about, 'Talent isn't going to get you to the next level.' Triple-A is where I really saw that."

Gordon posted the best numbers of his career to begin the 2018 campaign with Double-A Chattanooga, hitting .333/.381/.525 with five homers, 10 doubles and three triples through 42 games. Following his promotion to Triple-A on May 22, he hit .212/.262/.283 through 99 games, with his numbers dwindling throughout the season despite a strong start with Rochester in late May.

The 23-year-old said he learned to spend more time studying the games and breaking them down, as opposed to just relying on his natural ability to carry him through the season.

"I definitely feel like even with the struggles that I had, I learned a lot in Triple-A and it humbled me down to, 'It's about every game, it's about every pitch, it's about every play,'" Gordon said.

Gordon, the Twins' first-round pick and the fifth overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, is on the 40-man roster, and he could see his first MLB action as soon as this season. Though Ehire Adrianza will likely serve as the primary utility infielder, a strong start by Gordon in 2019 could mean that he may compete with Ronald Torreyes for eventual Major League playing time behind Adrianza and middle-infield starters Jorge Polanco and Jonathan Schoop.

"Ever since the season ended, there's been that hunger and that drive," Gordon said. "It feels like I have something to prove.

"I know that made me better. It's good to go through times like that. It's good to be doubted a little bit. Learning and going through the struggles and the trials like that, you really test yourself and test your character."

Video: Twins pitcher Trevor May set to deliver in 2019

May eager for bullpen role

The Twins are committed to using Trevor May as a full-time reliever in 2019 after his two months of success in the 'pen last season following his recovery from Tommy John surgery. May, who was a starter throughout his Minor League career, said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that 12 seasons into his professional career and at age 29, it was time for him to commit to a role.

"I know I've had success and I really enjoy it," May said. "At the end of the day, it's a lot of fun as well. I've been a part of that bullpen for several years now, and those guys are my family. We're going to get a little bit of that chemistry going as well, because the bullpen has a little bit of a unique job to do, and you've got to commit to it."

May was 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA following his July 31 return to the Majors in 2018, working exclusively out of the bullpen, including a one-inning "start" as the Twins' "opener" in a September game against the Astros. He posted career-bests in ERA, strikeout rate, walk rate, FIP and WHIP last season alongside a career-best 138 ERA+. He also added three saves at the end of the season.

Video: CWS@MIN: May retires Garcia to end the game

He was 7-15 with a 5.85 ERA and an 8.1 K/9 strikeout rate in 26 starts at the Major League level since his debut in 2014, while he has a 3.75 ERA with a 12.1 K/9 rate in 100 career relief appearances.

"I'm well suited to throw in a leverage situation, and I think that my stuff plays pretty well in that situation, with strikeouts and things of that nature," May said. "It's kind of where the game has gone, and the way that we're valuing relievers."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.

Minnesota Twins, Nick Gordon, Trevor May

Gordon among 3 protected from Rule 5 Draft

Twins also add Wade, Arraez to roster; Busenitz headed to Japan
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins added prospects Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's 7 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft. Additionally, Minnesota sold the rights to reliever Alan Busenitz to the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League in Japan and traded Minor League right-hander Nick Anderson to the Marlins for Minor League infielder Brian Schales.

Gordon, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Twins' No. 5 prospect, is the headliner, while Wade is the club's No. 13 prospect and Arraez is No. 15. Minor Leaguers who were not added to the 40-man roster and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft include infielder/outfielder Zander Wiel, catcher Brian Navarreto, right-hander Jake Reed and left-hander Tyler Jay. Jay, No. 22, is the only one of that group on the Twins' Top 30 Prospects list.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins added prospects Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's 7 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft. Additionally, Minnesota sold the rights to reliever Alan Busenitz to the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League in Japan and traded Minor League right-hander Nick Anderson to the Marlins for Minor League infielder Brian Schales.

Gordon, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Twins' No. 5 prospect, is the headliner, while Wade is the club's No. 13 prospect and Arraez is No. 15. Minor Leaguers who were not added to the 40-man roster and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft include infielder/outfielder Zander Wiel, catcher Brian Navarreto, right-hander Jake Reed and left-hander Tyler Jay. Jay, No. 22, is the only one of that group on the Twins' Top 30 Prospects list.

Gordon, 23, hit a combined .248/.298/.355 with seven homers, 23 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 141 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester last season. The middle infielder -- and brother to Marlins center fielder Dee Gordon -- struggled in the second half, but is still considered close to reaching the Majors.

Video: MIN@NYY: Gordon makes a tough sliding stop in the 2nd

Wade, 24, also split time between Double-A and Triple-A, batting a combined .257/.360/.380 with 11 homers, 11 doubles and 48 RBIs in 120 games. He has a career .391 on-base percentage in the Minors and can play all three outfield spots.

Arraez hit .310/.361/.397 with three homers, 20 doubles and 36 RBIs in 108 games between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Chattanooga. The 21-year-old played 67 games at second base, 16 at third base and 14 at shortstop.

Anderson, 27, was a candidate to be added to the 40-man roster after a breakout year that saw him go 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 60 innings with Triple-A Rochester, but he was dealt to the Marlins instead. In return, the Twins received Schales, who batted .258/.354/.403 with 10 homers, 27 doubles and 49 RBIs in 127 games at Double-A Jacksonville. The 22-year-old is primarily a third baseman but has seen time at second base as well.

Busenitz, meanwhile, had a strong rookie year in 2017, posting 1.99 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings, but he struggled last season. In 23 appearances, Busenitz posted a 7.82 ERA with 26 strikeouts, 14 walks and eight homers surrendered in 25 1/3 innings. He's the second Twins player this offseason to leave the organization to play in Japan. First baseman Kennys Vargas signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines earlier this month.

The Twins now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Luis Arraez, Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade

Inbox: How will Twins approach offseason?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers questions from fans
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins completed their first major goal of the offseason in hiring Rocco Baldelli as their manager, and now they're working on filling out the coaching staff while also eying free agency and trades to improve the club after a disappointing 2018.

The Twins surprisingly have more money coming off the books this offseason than any other club, so they have the flexibility to spend and add to the team heading into Baldelli's first year. There are plenty of questions about this club, so here's this week's Twins Inbox.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins completed their first major goal of the offseason in hiring Rocco Baldelli as their manager, and now they're working on filling out the coaching staff while also eying free agency and trades to improve the club after a disappointing 2018.

The Twins surprisingly have more money coming off the books this offseason than any other club, so they have the flexibility to spend and add to the team heading into Baldelli's first year. There are plenty of questions about this club, so here's this week's Twins Inbox.

Tweet from @n8olson31: What free agents should they target, and do you think they will sign? Do you think that the team will work to shed its history of low velocity pitchers and contact hitting with a new manager?

It's obvious Minnesota needs pitching help, and the Twins are likely to add at least one starter and several relievers, including a closer. They also are in the market for a middle infielder and potentially a corner infielder/designated hitter if Joe Mauer decides to retire as expected. It's hard to predict who they will sign, but they will have interest in just about any available starter or reliever.

Submit a question to the Twins Inbox

As for Baldelli's role, I don't think having him as manager changes what kind of players they are targeting in free agency this offseason. But it will be interesting to see what kinds of changes are in store with a new pitching coach and bullpen coach next year. James Rowson is back as hitting coach, so that philosophy isn't expected to change much.

Tweet from @docmunson: Question #1: of course they WONT, but SHOULD the Twins make a run at Machado &/or Harper? a 3 year $120M would get either...or BOTH. and could afford short term deals.

Minnesota does have the payroll flexibility to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it still remains much more likely the club uses that money to add to several holes on the roster rather than making a big splash for either player. Harper wouldn't make as much sense given its crowded outfield, but Machado would certainly be a huge upgrade to the left side of the infield.

The Twins, though, are better off waiting to make that kind of move once they are closer to being a legit contender in the American League. They have top prospects in shortstop Royce Lewis (No. 1 in the organization per MLB Pipeline) and outfielder Alex Kirilloff (No. 2) on the way in the next few years, and Minnesota is more likely to build around those players than sign a star this offseason.

Tweet from @ngunder2: Has Mauer given any indication on when he will make a decision? Before winter meetings? Closer to spring training?

Mauer is expected to make a decision whether or not to retire soon -- and it could come as early as this week -- as he doesn't want to hold up the front office as it looks to improve the club going into 2019. Mauer is still likely to retire, especially after his memorable sendoff in the last game of the season that saw him serve as catcher for one pitch.

Video: CWS@MIN: Mauer gets standing ovation behind home

If Mauer retires, the Twins will be in the market for a corner infielder/designated hitter they could group with third baseman Miguel Sano and first baseman Tyler Austin. There aren't many free-agent first basemen this offseason, as the top two available are the right-handed-hitting Steve Pearce and the left-handed-hitting Matt Adams.

Tweet from @areynolds0: Thoughts on Mike Moustakas signing and shifting Sano to 1B/DH?

It could make some sense, given how there isn't much of a first-base market this offseason. Minnesota, though, still believes Sano can play third, so it's not likely he moves full-time to first base just yet. But Moustakas would be an upgrade, add some power to the lineup, and he could rotate with Sano. But roster-wise, the Twins are more likely to look at versatile players such as free agent Marwin Gonzalez, especially after Eduardo Escobar re-signed with the D-backs.

Tweet from @JordanDeCaro12: When is Brian Dozier coming back?

I still don't see a reunion with the Twins, considering they didn't meet with him or his agent about an extension in Spring Training and traded him to the Dodgers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. It'll be interesting to see what kind of deal Brian Dozier gets after a down year, but he's not expected back in Minnesota.

Tweet from @docmunson: Final one... Would the Twins consider bringing back Santana at a smaller, incentive laden deal?

It's unlikely the Twins bring back Ervin Santana, but it can't be ruled out. He was solid during his time in Minnesota and seemed to enjoy his teammates and his place with the club. He'll pitch in the Dominican Winter League to try to show his velocity is back after last offseason's right middle finger surgery that limited him to just five starts. But it seems more likely he goes elsewhere this offseason.

Tweet from @hasart10: The Twins need bullpen help, so what free agent relievers are on the Twins��� radar?

Minnesota's biggest need this offseason is bullpen help, and fortunately there are plenty of solid free-agent relievers to choose from this winter. Craig Kimbrel is the top closer on the market, but the Twins are more likely to look at relievers such as David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Andrew Miller, Joe Kelly, Zach Britton or Joakim Soria. They could also look to buy low on former closers they know from the division as former Indians closer Cody Allen and former Royals closer Kelvin Herrera are also free agents.

Trevor May has the stuff to be a closer, but look for Minnesota to sign a veteran to take that role, much like it did last offseason when the club inked Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal with an option.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer

Blankenhorn drives in 4 as adjustments pay off

MLB.com

MESA, Ariz. -- Travis Blankenhorn has been tinkering with his swing throughout the Arizona Fall League season, and the adjustments paid dividends in Salt River's 14-4 win over Mesa on Tuesday at Sloan Park.

"I'm trying to stay, load, on my backside a little more instead of getting out in front so much," said Blankenhorn, the Twins' No. 18 prospect. "So I tried to focus on that today."

MESA, Ariz. -- Travis Blankenhorn has been tinkering with his swing throughout the Arizona Fall League season, and the adjustments paid dividends in Salt River's 14-4 win over Mesa on Tuesday at Sloan Park.

"I'm trying to stay, load, on my backside a little more instead of getting out in front so much," said Blankenhorn, the Twins' No. 18 prospect. "So I tried to focus on that today."

Blankenhorn went 3-for-4 with four RBIs -- a total he reached only once during the Minor League season -- in his best game of the AFL campaign thus far.

Gameday

After Tuesday, Blankenhorn is hitting .229 with six RBIs and two multi-hit efforts through 11 games.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

However, the 22-year-old isn't focused on the numbers, but rather his offensive approach, something he got away from late in the season with Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

After hitting .270/.329/.447 in the first half, Blankenhorn fell into a rut and hit .194/.272/.333 in the second half.

"I think I was striking out a lot more in the second half," Blankenhorn said. "I got away from the game plan in the second half, so getting back to focus here is going to be big for me."

So far, Blankenhorn has employed a much better approach and has drastically reduced his strikeouts. He struck out in more than 30 percent of his plate appearances during the second half of the year with Fort Myers and has cut that down to 17 percent in the AFL thus far.

"I feel like I'm having a decent Fall League," Blankenhorn said. "I don't feel down. My numbers may not be there, but I don't think that's showing how I'm playing. I feel like I'm playing pretty well, so I'm happy with it."

The third-round pick from the 2015 Draft was a big part of Salt River's win. In the second inning, Blankenhorn drove in the first run of the game via an RBI single on a ball that he initially thought would be a home run. However, he had to settle for a single so he didn't pass the baserunner ahead of him.

Mesa tied the game in the bottom of the second, but Blankenhorn again put the Rafters in front with a sacrifice fly in the third. Salt River pulled away in the middle innings, but Blankenhorn had a nice finish to the game, hitting an RBI single in the eighth.

"I think I've learned a lot from the Fall League," Blankenhorn said. "Just learning myself a little better, a little better luck today."

Marlins No. 2 prospect Monte Harrison also had a big day and showed off his entire toolset. The 23-year-old went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored, also missing a grand slam by only a few feet. Harrison, who is hitting .319 in the AFL, also showed off his speed with a triple and two stolen bases. He put his 70-grade arm on display in right field, retiring a runner that was trying to advance to third in the first.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Minnesota Twins

Versatile Blankenhorn eyes consistency in AFL

MLB.com

Want to know which half of the season it is? Just check out which side of the infield Travis Blankenhorn is on.

The Twins' No. 18 prospect, like many, sees time at multiple positions. But rather than toggle back and forth, the organization has more or less made him a full-timer at each spot for half of the year.

Want to know which half of the season it is? Just check out which side of the infield Travis Blankenhorn is on.

The Twins' No. 18 prospect, like many, sees time at multiple positions. But rather than toggle back and forth, the organization has more or less made him a full-timer at each spot for half of the year.

"The past two years, I kind of started at third base for the first half, then the second half I moved to second base," said Blankenhorn, who is playing both spots for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. "It's been good. Just trying to get myself in the lineup is why I like playing different positions. Whatever can get me in the lineup."

Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams

Blankenhorn's production in the lineup was also split into two distinct halves in his first year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. The 2015 third-round pick out of the Pennsylvania high school ranks was solid in the first half with a .270/.329/.447 line, leading to an All-Star nod for the second straight year. Those numbers plummeted to .194/.272/.333 in the second half.

The main culprit, Blankenhorn thinks, was the swinging and missing more later in the year. While he struck out in 28.7 percent of his at-bats, he was at about 27 percent in the first half and above 30 percent in the second, something he's working on this fall.

"I'd say getting out of the game plan a little and trying to force things I didn't have to," Blankenhorn said in explaining the strikeout jump. "I think I struck out a lot more in the second half, which, ultimately, made my average go down a lot more. Trying to limit the strikeouts will be helpful for me. I'm trying to be more consistent."

While things didn't go according to plan personally for Blankenhorn in the second half, he was proud to be part of an impressive run by the Fort Myers Miracle in the latter part of the year. Midseason promotions brought top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff to the club, and that helped the Miracle go on to win the FSL title.

Blankenhorn, who did his part by hitting .350 in the postseason, loved the ride with his teammates and what it could mean in the future in Minnesota.

"[Kirilloff], he can hit with the best of them. It's been unbelievable to watch him hit," Blankenhorn said. "Royce, the past few years, I got to play up the middle with him, so it's been a lot of fun.

"I think there's a core group of guys, we've been playing with each other the last few years, and it's been a lot of fun. And winning a championship this year, I think that says a little."

Twins hitters in the Fall League

Jaylin Davis, OF: With big power, especially to the opposite-field gap (right-center), Davis is continuing to work on refining his overall approach. His improvements in both walk and strikeout rates in 2018 allowed him to reach Double-A for the first time.

Luke Raley, OF: The Twins got Raley from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier deal, so they got a slightly longer look at him this fall before he was removed from the Salt River roster on Wednesday. He's a grinder who runs better than expected, has above-average pop, gets the job done in the outfield and gives consistent professional at-bats.

Brent Rooker, 1B/OF: Rooker was slated to attend the AFL, but a sprained ankle during mini-camp sidelined him. There was hope he'd reach Arizona late, but the Twins have elected to shut him down for the year.

Twins pitchers in the Fall League

Griffin Jax, RHP: The Air Force product is now in the World Class Athlete Program, so active duty or other military responsibilities are no longer a concern. He's making up for some lost innings this fall as he prepares for what really will be his first full season in 2019.

Hector Lujan, RHP: The right-handed reliever has pitched well in Class A ball over the last several years. Working on overall command of his 92- to 95-mph fastball and hard slider in the AFL should ready him for the test of jumping to Double-A next year.

Devin Smeltzer, LHP: The southpaw had been a starter at the outset of his career with the Dodgers, but he began making the transition to the bullpen this season when he was sent to the Twins in the Dozier deal. He's deceptive with a cross-body delivery, a solid cutter and a bulldog mentality on the mound.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Minnesota Twins

Twins instructional league roster, schedule

MLB.com

At the end of each season, Major League clubs hold instructional league play, commonly known as instructs, an extended mini-camp that allows Minor Leaguers -- particularly those just starting their pro careers at the lower levels of their team's system -- to get some work in before calling it a year. Players work on specific parts of their game and get offseason workout plans while often playing a handful of games against nearby teams to provide low-key competition to put what they are working on into practice.

At the end of each season, Major League clubs hold instructional league play, commonly known as instructs, an extended mini-camp that allows Minor Leaguers -- particularly those just starting their pro careers at the lower levels of their team's system -- to get some work in before calling it a year. Players work on specific parts of their game and get offseason workout plans while often playing a handful of games against nearby teams to provide low-key competition to put what they are working on into practice.

Instructional league rosters

Here's a look at the Twins' roster, with the players' rank in the team's Top 30 Prospects' list in parentheses:

PITCHERS: None

CATCHERS: David Banuelos; Trevor Casanova; Andrew Cosgrove; Michael Davis; Yeremi De La Cruz; Taylor Grzelakowski; Caleb Hamilton; Ryan Jeffers; Mitchell Kranson; Brian Navarreto; Yeison Perez; Ben Rodriguez; Ben Rortvedt (No. 24); Kidany Salva; Laron Smith; Janigson Villalobos; Chris Williams

INFIELDERS: Luis Arraez (No. 15); Andrew Bechtold (No. 27); Travis Blankenhorn (No. 18); Ryan Costello; Ricky De La Torre; Yeltsin Encarnacion; Michael Helman; Royce Lewis (No. 1); Charlie Mack; Jose Miranda (No. 29); Brent Rooker (No. 7); Yunior Severino (No. 21); Gabe Snyder; Victor Tademo; Zander Wiel

OUTFIELDERS: Jared Akins; Jean Carlos Arias; Akil Baddoo (No. 12); Trey Cabbage; Shane Carrier; Gilberto Celestino (No. 14); Ernie De La Trinidad; Tanner English; Joe Garry; Dashawn Keirsey; Alex Kirilloff (No. 2); Trevor Larnach (No. 6); Gabriel Maciel (No. 17); Alberoni Nunez; Jacob Pearson (No. 25); Erick Rivera; Albee Weiss; Aaron Whitefield

SCHEDULE:
Sun., Sept. 23 - Report date
Mon., Sept. 24 - First workout
Sat., Oct. 6 - Last workout

Minnesota Twins

Twins bolster roster with trio from Triple-A

De Jong, Curtiss joining bullpen; infielder Petit adds depth
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- With Triple-A Rochester's season coming to an end on Monday, the Twins announced their second wave of September callups, as right-handers Chase De Jong and John Curtiss will be recalled and infielder Gregorio Petit will have his contract selected on Tuesday.

Additionally, the Twins moved designated hitter Logan Morrison to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Minnesota has added eight players since rosters expanded on Saturday, and more callups or activations could come over the next few days.

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HOUSTON -- With Triple-A Rochester's season coming to an end on Monday, the Twins announced their second wave of September callups, as right-handers Chase De Jong and John Curtiss will be recalled and infielder Gregorio Petit will have his contract selected on Tuesday.

Additionally, the Twins moved designated hitter Logan Morrison to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Minnesota has added eight players since rosters expanded on Saturday, and more callups or activations could come over the next few days.

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De Jong, acquired in the trade that sent Zach Duke to Seattle on July 31, posted a 3.41 ERA in 34 1/3 innings with Rochester after the trade, striking out 27 and walking 11 in six appearances (four starts). The 24-year-old had a 6.35 ERA in 28 1/3 innings with the Mariners last year.

"He'll get a chance to pitch," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We talked about different people that will be in the mix in the six-man [rotation], whether he gets a chance to come in as a primary or piggyback somewhere along the line with somebody. We have a couple things we are looking at on how we want to get him into games."

Curtiss, 25, will join the Twins for a second time this year after giving up three runs while recording two outs in two appearances. He recorded a 2.48 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 31 walks in 54 1/3 innings at Triple-A. He is ranked as the Twins' No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Petit, 33, also saw time with Minnesota earlier this year, hitting .308/.400/.308 in 12 games in May and June. He batted .268/.313/.327 in 79 games with Rochester while seeing time at first, second, short and third.

Worth noting
The Twins are not expected to add right-handed relievers Jake Reed or Nick Anderson to the 40-man roster. Reed, 25, had a 1.89 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings at Rochester, while the 28-year-old Anderson posted a 3.30 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 60 innings. Both will have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason or be eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

"There were some other pitching people we talked about," Molitor said. "It was like, how far do you want to take it, in terms of having too many people. We're pretty well protected from the right side out there. Those guys have done well, they have had good years."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, John Curtiss, Chase De Jong, Gregorio Petit

Buxton not among Twins' first Sept. callups

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Center fielder Byron Buxton is not among Minnesota's first round of September callups, as the Twins announced that outfielder Johnny Field, catcher Chris Gimenez and relievers Tyler Duffey, Andrew Vasquez and Matt Belisle will join the club with rosters expanding on Saturday.

Field and Duffey will both be recalled from Triple-A Rochester, Gimenez and Vasquez had their contracts purchased, while Belisle will be activated from the 10-day disabled list. Gimenez was acquired in a trade with the Cubs for Bobby Wilson on Thursday, while Belisle had been out since Aug. 6, dealing with sore cartilage in his right knee.

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ARLINGTON -- Center fielder Byron Buxton is not among Minnesota's first round of September callups, as the Twins announced that outfielder Johnny Field, catcher Chris Gimenez and relievers Tyler Duffey, Andrew Vasquez and Matt Belisle will join the club with rosters expanding on Saturday.

Field and Duffey will both be recalled from Triple-A Rochester, Gimenez and Vasquez had their contracts purchased, while Belisle will be activated from the 10-day disabled list. Gimenez was acquired in a trade with the Cubs for Bobby Wilson on Thursday, while Belisle had been out since Aug. 6, dealing with sore cartilage in his right knee.

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With Eddie Rosario expected to be out roughly a week with a right quad strain, the Twins needed another outfielder, but went with Field over Buxton. Buxton, though, could still be recalled on Tuesday after Triple-A Rochester's season ends on Monday, although general manager Thad Levine was non-committal when asked if Buxton will be recalled.

"I think at this stage we want to keep the conversations about the five guys we're going to call up tomorrow," Levine said. "We'll definitely cover additional players as this series unfolds."

Levine said Buxton is still dealing with a sprained left wrist suffered in mid-July and that they're still working on who else will be brought up.

"I think he's been swinging the bat better clearly over the last couple of games," Levine said. "He's performed well down there. From a health standpoint, I think he's still progressing toward being healthy. But to his credit he's playing through it right now."

Gimenez gives the Twins a third catcher and a veteran clubhouse presence, as Gimenez and Belisle both played key roles as leaders on last year's team that made a run to the American League Wild Card game.

"I think it'll be helpful to keep everyone pushing even as the stakes have changed, if you will," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. 

Duffey, Belisle and Vasquez provide relief depth for the Twins with more help coming over the next few days. Right-hander Zack Littell is a candidate to be recalled and could even see action on Sunday as a starter or long reliever if they want to implement "the opener" strategy.

Vasquez, a lefty, posted a 1.30 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings in the Minors this year, throwing his slider more than his fastball.

"I think he's had a tremendous season," Levine said. "He has really developed. The strikeout-to-walk ratio has been exceptional and what he has worked on this season has been being effective against righties as well as lefties."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Byron Buxton, Tyler Duffey, Johnny Field, Chris Gimenez

Twins homers can't lift rookie Stewart vs. Tigers

MLB.com