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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.

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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

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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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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

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MINNEAPOLIS -- It's clear right-hander Kohl Stewart still has plenty to work on to remain a Major League starter.

Stewart, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 Draft and the Twins' No. 28 prospect per MLB Pipeline, made his second career start on Saturday and struggled in a 7-5 loss to the Tigers in his Target Field debut. Stewart couldn't get out of a jam in the third inning, and allowed three runs on three hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- It's clear right-hander Kohl Stewart still has plenty to work on to remain a Major League starter.

Stewart, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 Draft and the Twins' No. 28 prospect per MLB Pipeline, made his second career start on Saturday and struggled in a 7-5 loss to the Tigers in his Target Field debut. Stewart couldn't get out of a jam in the third inning, and allowed three runs on three hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

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"You just can't fall behind guys like that, can't walk guys," said Stewart, who is expected to get another start. "I've got to give my team a better chance to win. It was not acceptable. I just wasn't getting ahead, wasn't executing pitches. I was one pitch away there in the third, and tried to do too much and got myself in trouble."

Video: DET@MIN: Molitor on Stewart's tough outing in loss

It was Stewart's second consecutive outing against Detroit, as he allowed three runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss in his debut. This time, it was his command that was off, as he couldn't locate his fastball, especially during the three-run third.

Stewart issued a single and consecutive walks to load the bases with one out before hitting Mikie Mahtook with a 1-2 fastball to force in a run. Ronny Rodriguez then jumped on a first-pitch fastball for a two-run double that knocked Stewart from the game.

"It's a learning experience. I just talked to him about, it's not so much executing [or] what you're throwing, it's, 'What are you feeling?'" Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You've got to really be able to seize the moment in terms of controlling your emotions, and do what you do. And it just seemed like it got a little fast."

Right-hander Tyler Duffey, making his fourth relief appearance since his recall from Triple-A Rochester, came in and got out of the inning, but he allowed the decisive blow in the fifth, surrendering a go-ahead three-run homer to Mahtook.

"[Duffey] got the first guy, and that was big," Molitor said. "Obviously, he was not trying to throw a breaking ball where he threw it. Had him set up for it, just didn't get it where he needed to."

It spoiled homers from Joe Mauer, Tyler Austin, Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver. Mauer, who clubbed a pinch-hit, game-winning three-run home run on Friday, hit his first career leadoff shot in the first, while Austin also went deep for a second consecutive game with a solo homer in the second. Sano went deep in the third, his fourth homer since returning from a six-week stint in the Minors.

Video: DET@MIN: Garver launches a 2-run long ball to left

Mauer finished 3-for-5 and fell a triple shy of the cycle. Austin finished 3-for-4, but the offense couldn't get much going after the third until Garver hit a two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Joe Jimenez. Mauer nearly tied it with a deep drive to center in a 12-pitch at-bat later in the inning, but Victor Reyes made the catch at the warning track for the second out.

"[Mauer] really had just a tremendous night," Molitor said. "Even the last at-bat, where he put together a really good fight and drove one out to the track."

Video: DET@MIN: Jimenez retires Mauer in 12-pitch at-bat

Morris honored at Target Field for HOF career

SOUND SMART
Mauer homered in consecutive games for the first time since homering in three straight in Seattle from May 27-29, 2006. He also homered in back-to-back at-bats for the first time since July 24, 2009, when he homered in consecutive plate appearances against the Angels' John Lackey. Saturday marked his 142nd career homer.

Video: DET@MIN: Mauer drills a leadoff homer to left-center

HE SAID IT
"My four-seam command was there, but my sinker command was not. It's one of those things as the game goes on, you kind of figure out what you've got that day. You can move from there. That pitch to Mahtook, that can't happen. That's a miss by 3 feet with my best pitch. We'll get back after it; we'll get back on it in the bullpen and get the stuff done we need to get done. It's just frustrating, you know? I had Mahtook 0-2 there, and could have gotten out of that inning -- as bad as it was -- if I execute that one pitch. You know what I mean? That's the kind of [stuff] that keeps you up at night." -- Stewart

FIELD OPTIONED
After going 0-for-2 to fall to 1-for-16 in eight games with the Twins, outfielder Johnny Field was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game. Fellow outfielder Robbie Grossman, who is on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring and on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester, appears likely to be activated.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (5-7, 4.44 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins in the series finale against the Tigers on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Odorizzi is coming off a solid outing, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts against the Pirates. Jacob Turner will get the start for Detroit.

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

Minnesota Twins, Kohl Stewart

Stewart set to make Major League debut today

Former No. 4 overall pick will face Tigers in first start
MLB.com

DETROIT -- Kohl Stewart, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, is in Detroit and will make his Major League debut Sunday when he starts against the Tigers.

Stewart was at a breakfast restaurant with his visiting parents in Rochester, N.Y., where he's been playing with the Triple-A Red Wings since the beginning of July, when he got a phone call from a number with an Ohio area code.

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DETROIT -- Kohl Stewart, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, is in Detroit and will make his Major League debut Sunday when he starts against the Tigers.

Stewart was at a breakfast restaurant with his visiting parents in Rochester, N.Y., where he's been playing with the Triple-A Red Wings since the beginning of July, when he got a phone call from a number with an Ohio area code.

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"I knew [Triple-A manager Joel Skinner] was from Ohio, and I was like, I think that's Skins," Stewart recalled Saturday. "So, I called him right back. We were all sitting in a booth, and he said, 'You're going to the big leagues.' A lot of emotions overtook everybody."

The Twins have not made the official roster move yet. Adalberto Mejia would have taken his turn in the rotation Sunday, but was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left wrist strain.

Stewart's road to the Majors has been an unsteady one. He dealt with a shoulder injury two years ago and had left knee tendinitis that was "killing me" last season. Between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Stewart made four trips to the disabled list.

"I never felt like myself, and I couldn't figure it out," said Stewart, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Twins' No. 28 prospect. "I was trying to pitch through it and maybe made some mistakes there. But some of those things you can't control, and sometimes you probably have to look at the way you're training, and I had to make some changes and give myself an opportunity to stay healthy for a full season."

Along with getting healthy, Stewart made some adjustments on the mound. He talked with the staff during Spring Training, and they decided to transition from a two-seam to a one-seam grip on his fastball. They also determined he needed to dial back on his fastball usage. The difference is not only in Stewart's confidence, but in the numbers. His groundout-to-flyout rate, for example, was a career-best 2.22 in the Minors this season.

"I try not to look too far into things like that, but there are obviously some answers in there," Stewart said. "I'm not as smart as some of the people they have looking at those things. When they do come to me with something and tell me to make some adjustments, I'm gonna trust what they have to say."

Manager Paul Molitor said Stewart had been on their radar in the past, but his up-and-down performance kept him out of the Majors. Molitor said the consistency is finally there now, and Stewart agreed.

"I didn't ever feel like I was really ready to do it until some starts this year where I was feeling like I was getting more confident," Stewart said. " … I feel like I'm more ready now than I ever have been."

Injury updates

• Unless there is a setback, Byron Buxton is expected to play Tuesday when the Twins start a two-game set against the Pirates, Molitor said. Buxton was placed on the 10-day DL with a left big toe fracture on May 30. Since then, he's been sent to rehab with Triple-A Rochester, but has been placed on the DL twice with a left wrist strain.

Video: MIN@SEA: Buxton crashes into wall, exits the game

Robbie Grossman will hit in the cage Sunday in Detroit and then continue his work on Monday's off-day, according to Molitor. From there, Grossman will take batting practice on the field Tuesday. Grossman has been on the 10-day DL since Monday with a right hamstring strain. Molitor said they're being cautious with Grossman because of how delicate hamstring injuries can be.

"There have been so many times when hamstrings have reoccurred because you feel you're on a good track, you're practicing well, and then the game is a different animal," Molitor said. "So, you have to be careful."

• Mejia will undergo more tests in the next couple days, Molitor said after the Twins' 4-3 win over the Tigers on Saturday. Molitor also mentioned that Mejia has a nerve traction injury and that he's been having discomfort in his forearm and up to his biceps.

"I think most of it is around a nerve injury, and that's why we had such a large area that was being affected," Molitor said, adding that he does not believe it's the ulnar nerve. " … I think it's probably above the elbow, not below."

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Minnesota Twins

Magill rejoins Twins after birth of son

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Right-handed reliever Matt Magill rejoined the Twins on Tuesday after missing three games to attend the birth of his son, Maverick, on Saturday. To make room for him on the roster, fellow right-handed reliever Matt Belisle was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right knee chondromalacia, which is also known as runner's knee.

Magill, who was reinstated from the paternity list, left Minneapolis on Friday to arrive in time for the birth of his son in San Diego on Saturday. It was the first child for him and his wife, Melissa. He flew on a red-eye flight through Detroit to get to Cleveland, and he has enough adrenaline he doesn't feel tired.

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CLEVELAND -- Right-handed reliever Matt Magill rejoined the Twins on Tuesday after missing three games to attend the birth of his son, Maverick, on Saturday. To make room for him on the roster, fellow right-handed reliever Matt Belisle was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right knee chondromalacia, which is also known as runner's knee.

Magill, who was reinstated from the paternity list, left Minneapolis on Friday to arrive in time for the birth of his son in San Diego on Saturday. It was the first child for him and his wife, Melissa. He flew on a red-eye flight through Detroit to get to Cleveland, and he has enough adrenaline he doesn't feel tired.

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"It went great," Magill said. "He's doing great and Mom is, too. It couldn't have gone any smoother."

Magill, 28, has been solid in relief for the Twins this season, posting a 3.86 ERA with 39 strikeouts and eight walks in 39 2/3 innings. But he's going to see a prominent role down the stretch after the Twins traded away both right-hander Ryan Pressly and left-hander Zach Duke. He's essentially going to take Pressly's former role, according to Twins manager Paul Molitor.

"I think it's time to see what he can do in those type of situations," Molitor said. "The trust has grown throughout the year. As we've lost some people, I've talked to him about using him in higher-leverage situations. He's a right-hander who hopefully gets us big outs, whether it's the sixth or seventh inning. Somewhere along the way."

Magill, who was signed as a Minor League free agent before the season, had previously pitched with the Dodgers in 2013 and the Reds in '16. He spent last season at the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, but was used mostly as a starter before converting full-time to relief this season. He's shown good velocity with his fastball averaging 94.4 mph, while he's mixed in more sliders to go with his curveball and occasional changeup.

"I think the way he's improved his breaking ball is what has elevated his effectiveness against both righties and lefties," Molitor said. "He had that cutter-slider early, but he's kind of added more depth. Basically, it's almost like two different breaking balls now and they seem to be playing better with the combination of velocity that he has."

Video: CIN@MIN: Magill picks up first strikeout of season

Belisle, meanwhile, has dealt with this knee issue in the past and will rest his knee after feeling discomfort while pitching against the Indians on Monday. Belisle gave up four runs, including two homers, over two innings in the 10-0 loss. The 15-year veteran has made 19 appearances with the Twins, posting a 9.15 ERA.

"Just a little inflammation," Molitor said. "Gets that hot spot in the knee. I think the outing and the length last night added to the irritation. We talked about it some last night. We're just in a position where we can back you off for a little bit and get you feeling a little bit better so hopefully you finish the season strongly."

Larnach promoted
Outfielder Trevor Larnach, the No. 20 overall pick in this year's Draft, was promoted to Class A Cedar Rapids on Tuesday. Larnach, 21, hit .300/.405/.467 with two homers, four doubles and 15 RBIs in 17 games with Rookie-level Elizabethton. The Oregon State product is Minnesota's No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Diaz undergoes successful surgery
First baseman Lewin Diaz, the club's No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline, underwent successful surgery on his right thumb. He's expected to be cleared to swing the bat in six to eight weeks. The 21-year-old was hitting .224/.255/.344 with six homers, 11 doubles, three triples and 35 RBIs in 79 games with Class A Advanced Fort Myers prior to the injury that saw him get placed on the Minor League disabled list with a right thumb fracture on July 24.

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

Minnesota Twins, Matt Belisle, Matt Magill