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Diaz named MLB's 9th-ranked 1B prospect

Lanky 21-year-old hit .292 in Class A last season
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- With his power potential, Lewin Diaz is one of the Twins' more intriguing prospects and was named the No. 9 first base prospect by MLB Pipeline on Friday.

Diaz, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million in 2013, was left off the 40-man roster this offseason, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December. But Diaz, 21, wasn't selected -- he remains far from the Majors, as he just finished his first season at Class A Cedar Rapids.

MINNEAPOLIS -- With his power potential, Lewin Diaz is one of the Twins' more intriguing prospects and was named the No. 9 first base prospect by MLB Pipeline on Friday.

Diaz, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million in 2013, was left off the 40-man roster this offseason, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December. But Diaz, 21, wasn't selected -- he remains far from the Majors, as he just finished his first season at Class A Cedar Rapids.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

But Diaz has as much raw power as any Twins prospect, and is coming off a solid season at Cedar Rapids, hitting .292/.329/.444 with 12 homers, 33 doubles and 68 RBIs in 122 games. As he continues to fill out his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame, the Twins believe more of those doubles will turn into home runs.

Diaz has a solid approach at the plate, using all fields, but needs to continue to work on his plate discipline. He walked just 25 times in 508 plate appearances, but improved his contact rate, striking out 80 times.

Diaz has hit .280/.341/.457 with 30 homers, 69 doubles and 152 RBIs in 258 career games in the Minors. He's expected to open the season at Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

Defensively, the left-handed Diaz is surprisingly athletic and has a strong arm. He played some right field as a youngster in the Dominican, but is projected to be a solid defender at first base.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Gonsalves earns spot among top lefty prospects

Twins' standout ranked 9th on MLB Pipeline's LHP list
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Stephen Gonsalves has established himself as the Twins' top pitching prospect and is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 left-handed prospect in baseball, as announced on Wednesday.

Gonsalves, ranked as the club's No. 3 prospect and the No. 64 overall by MLB Pipeline, will head to Spring Training with a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation, although he's expected to open the year at Triple-A Rochester.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Stephen Gonsalves has established himself as the Twins' top pitching prospect and is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 left-handed prospect in baseball, as announced on Wednesday.

Gonsalves, ranked as the club's No. 3 prospect and the No. 64 overall by MLB Pipeline, will head to Spring Training with a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation, although he's expected to open the year at Triple-A Rochester.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Gonsalves, 23, reached Triple-A for the first time last year, posting a combined 3.27 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 110 innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester.

"I just need to be a little more consistent," Gonsalves said at the Rookie Career Development Program in early January. "I've been working on my slider a little bit. That's going to be huge for me, hopefully, just staying with that curveball and trusting it. Big leaguers need four pitches to have a long career."

As Gonsalves noted, his slider and curveball remain behind his changeup, which is his best pitch. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but he locates it well and it has one of the highest spin rates in the Minors.

Gonsalves has a career 2.39 ERA in 478 1/3 innings in the Minors, but he struggled a bit in his first taste of Triple-A. He had a 5.56 ERA with 22 strikeouts, eight walks and four homers allowed in 22 2/3 innings. Gonsalves will need to put up better numbers there to get called up, but he's considered close to being Major League ready.

Video: Gonsalves on the Rookie Career Development Program

The 6-foot-5, 213 pounder will also have to stay healthy, as he's dealt with shoulder issues in recent years and threw only 110 innings last year. His career high in innings pitched is 140 in 2016, so the Twins are likely to be mindful about his innings total in '18.

Gonsalves, though, said he's fine with whatever the Twins have planned for him, as he has trust in the organization and is focused on getting better instead of worrying about when he'll make his debut.

"You just have to take it one step at a time and know it's a learning process," Gonsalves said. "You have to trust the club and the future they have in mind for you."

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

 

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves

Prospect Gonsalves working diligently on slider

Left-hander participates in MLB's Rookie Career Development Program
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves is on the cusp of reaching the Majors after putting up impressive numbers in the Minors since being drafted in 2013, and he participated in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.

Gonsalves, ranked as the No. 64 overall prospect and the club's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was joined by fellow Twins prospects Fernando Romero, John Curtiss and LaMonte Wade at the event, which provides helpful seminars for prospective big leaguers.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves is on the cusp of reaching the Majors after putting up impressive numbers in the Minors since being drafted in 2013, and he participated in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.

Gonsalves, ranked as the No. 64 overall prospect and the club's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was joined by fellow Twins prospects Fernando Romero, John Curtiss and LaMonte Wade at the event, which provides helpful seminars for prospective big leaguers.

Gonsalves, one of 20 prospects from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list at the event, is considered close to the Majors, and the lefty will head to Spring Training with a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation.

"You just have to take it one step at a time and know it's a learning process," Gonsalves said. "You have to trust the club and the future they have in mind for you."

Video: Top Prospects: Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins

Gonsalves, 23, reached Triple-A for the first time last year, posting a combined 3.27 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 110 innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester. He's likely to open the year at Triple-A again, but he said he learned a lot last season.

"It was fun," Gonsalves said. "Got to work with all the guys I've been with the last couple years. A lot of the same guys from my Draft class. I had Mitch Garver back there [at catcher], and he got to the big leagues in September. It was kinda nice he got there before me, and he can teach what it's like up there."

Gonsalves, who is 41-17 with a 2.39 ERA in 478 1/3 innings in the Minors, has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but he fools batters with his impressive changeup. He's still working on his slider and curveball, which he believes will be important at the next level.

"I just need to be a little more consistent," Gonsalves said. "I've been working on my slider a little bit. That's going to be huge for me, hopefully. Just staying with that curveball and trusting it. Big leaguers need four pitches to have a long career."

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

 

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves

Inbox: Where are Twins at in Darvish pursuit?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers fans' questions
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the first Inbox of 2018 and the Twins were busy late in '17, signing closer Fernando Rodney and lefty Zach Duke to one-year deals to improve the bullpen.

The top priority, however, remains acquiring a frontline starting pitcher, but that market has moved slowly this offseason. It's bound to pick up soon, with Spring Training a little more than a month away, which brings us to our first question of this week's Inbox:

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the first Inbox of 2018 and the Twins were busy late in '17, signing closer Fernando Rodney and lefty Zach Duke to one-year deals to improve the bullpen.

The top priority, however, remains acquiring a frontline starting pitcher, but that market has moved slowly this offseason. It's bound to pick up soon, with Spring Training a little more than a month away, which brings us to our first question of this week's Inbox:

:: Submit a question to the Twins Inbox ::

Tweet from @addisonjmeyer: Where are the Twins at right now in the pursue of Yu Darvish and Do you/or they think Minnesota will end up signing him?

The Twins still are very interested in Darvish, who remains their top target in free agency, and the right-hander confirmed that Minnesota was among six finalists for his services. Darvish has reportedly met with clubs such as the Cubs, Astros and Rangers, but has yet to meet with the Twins.

Video: Twins remain interested in signing Yu Darvish

This fact doesn't worry the Twins, as general manager Thad Levine has a strong relationship with Darvish and his representatives from their time together in Texas. Levine was assistant general manager with the Rangers when Darvish signed with Texas in 2012.

Video: Darvish tops free-agent pitching market

But it's unclear at this point where Darvish is leaning toward signing and his decision appears to be holding up the market, as other top starters such as Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb remain unsigned.

Tweet from @twolvesfan: Do you see Twins still adding a power bat like Napoli this offseason?

There were reports on Christmas Day that the Twins were having extensive talks with Mike Napoli, but MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported those talks were overblown and nothing has come of it since. It doesn't mean the Twins won't eventually sign Napoli, but Levine said at the Winter Meetings the club is more comfortable rotating players such as Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman and Kennys Vargas at designated hitter than having a full-time DH.

Hot Stove Tracker

But Napoli is regarded as a clubhouse leader and the front office is familiar with him from his time with the Indians and Rangers. The Twins could use a right-handed power bat, but they also like having roster flexibility at the DH spot. The 40-man roster is also currently full so they'd have to trim it to make room for a player like Napoli.

Tweet from @enge0280: At what level do you see Royce Lewis, Brent Rooker and Nick Gordon, respectively, playing the majority of their games this season? I ask about Gordon because I'm curious when/if he could make his debut this year. Thanks!

Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, had an excellent first year in the Minors and the shortstop is likely to see most of his playing time at Class A Cedar Rapids this year.

Video: Royce Lewis has adapted quickly to pro ball

Rooker, the No. 35 overall pick in the Draft, also had a strong debut, reaching Class A Advanced Fort Myers and showing off his immense power. He's expected to open at Fort Myers, but is likely to reach Double-A Chattanooga if he continues to dominate offensively.

Gordon, the club's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is likely to open the year at Triple-A Rochester and is a strong candidate to reach the Majors this season. The issue going forward remains where he'll play with Jorge Polanco at shortstop and Brian Dozier at second base. Dozier, though, is in the last year of his contract and many believe Polanco is better suited defensively at second base. Gordon is also a potential trade chip, so it'll be interesting to see what happens with him this year.

Tweet from @BrettCurtis11: Super early starting rotation prediction?

Considering the Twins haven't added a starter via free agency or trade, it's still a little early to predict, but I do think they'll find a way to acquire a starter to join Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios atop the rotation. Kyle Gibson pitched well enough in the second half to be the club's No. 4 starter, while the fifth spot is up for grabs.

Video: Bollinger breaks down Ervin Santana's success in 2017

Adalberto Mejia is a candidate for that spot, while Phil Hughes has to prove he's healthy after undergoing a second rib surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. Prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero will be in the mix, but likely to start at Triple-A Rochester, while Trevor May likely won't be ready to join the Opening Day rotation coming off Tommy John surgery.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Taiwanese right-hander Teng

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins officially signed 19-year-old Taiwanese pitcher Kai-Wei Teng as an international free agent, the club announced. Teng receives a $500,000 signing bonus after reaching an agreement in September. He'll also receive $80,000 for future tuition expenses.

Teng, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, worked out in front of more than 10 teams in May and reached 92 mph with his fastball. He also throws a curveball and a changeup.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins officially signed 19-year-old Taiwanese pitcher Kai-Wei Teng as an international free agent, the club announced. Teng receives a $500,000 signing bonus after reaching an agreement in September. He'll also receive $80,000 for future tuition expenses.

Teng, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, worked out in front of more than 10 teams in May and reached 92 mph with his fastball. He also throws a curveball and a changeup.

Teng is the fifth Taiwanese player ever signed by the Twins, joining Wang-Wei Lin (2006), Hung-Yi Chen (2010), Kuo-Hua Lo (2011) and Chih-Wei Hu (2012). Hu is the lone player from that group to make the Majors, as he made his debut with the Rays last season after being traded for reliever Kevin Jepsen in 2015.

• Hot Stove Tracker

Teng, who turned 19 on Dec. 1, pitched for Taoyuan City National Sports University's baseball team in high school. He also spent time training in Texas in '16 and took part in the Nike Taiwan Youth Elite Camp that year.

The Twins have been loading up on prospects this offseason, signing 18-year-old infielder Yunior Severino for $2.5 million after he was declared a free agent because of the Braves' infractions committed on the international market. Minnesota also traded $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Mariners for catching prospect David Banuelos and $1 million to the Angels for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson.

The Twins also had interest in re-signing 16-year-old shortstop prospect Jelfry Marte after vision issues caused the club to void his $3 million signing bonus. Marte signed with the Rays for $820,000 last week.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Twins add righty Kinley in Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Twins were active in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, selecting right-hander Tyler Kinley from the Marlins. Minnesota also lost right-hander Nick Burdi to the Phillies before he was traded to the Pirates while right-hander Luke Bard was selected by the Angels.

Kinley, 26, is a hard-thrower whose fastball sits in the high 90s to go along with his power slider that ranges in the high 80s. He posted a 3.54 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 22 walks in 53 1/3 innings across Class A Advanced and Double-A last year. The Twins must keep Kinley on their 25-man roster for the entire season or offer him back to Miami.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Twins were active in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, selecting right-hander Tyler Kinley from the Marlins. Minnesota also lost right-hander Nick Burdi to the Phillies before he was traded to the Pirates while right-hander Luke Bard was selected by the Angels.

Kinley, 26, is a hard-thrower whose fastball sits in the high 90s to go along with his power slider that ranges in the high 80s. He posted a 3.54 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 22 walks in 53 1/3 innings across Class A Advanced and Double-A last year. The Twins must keep Kinley on their 25-man roster for the entire season or offer him back to Miami.

"Tyler is a big, strong kid," said Twins director of Minor League operations Brad Steil. "He has a good fastball and a good slider. He's a potential power arm for our 'pen and he'll come in competing for a job in Spring Training."

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

Kinley has also shined in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, throwing 18 scoreless innings with 29 strikeouts for Tigres de Licey. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has a career 3.83 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 80 walks in 204 1/3 innings.

"We like what he's been doing in the Dominican," Steil said. "Control hasn't been his strength. But he's getting a lot of strikeouts. It's a consistency thing. He has a good delivery for a guy his size who throws that hard. Hopefully we can get him to be a little more consistent."

The Twins were expected to lose Burdi even after he underwent Tommy John surgery in May. The hard-thrower has had trouble staying healthy since being taken by the Twins in the second round of the 2014 Draft.

Bard, a first-round pick by the Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft, was also a strong candidate to be selected after a solid year that saw him strike out 99 batters in 65 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

The Twins, though, were able to keep unprotected prospects such as Kohl Stewart, Lewin Diaz, Ryan Eades and Tanner English.

"We thought going into this we could lose a guy or two," Steil said. "It turned out that way. Those roster decisions are always difficult. Those are two guys we didn't want to lose. Guys that deserved to be taken. Luke had a great year for us and Nick was having a great year until his elbow went. It's unfortunate because he was just starting to come on."

Additionally, the Twins made two selections in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, taking right-hander Yancarlos Baez from the Yankees and right-hander Sandy Lugo from the Reds.

Baez was just converted to pitching last season and posted a 3.51 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings in the Gulf Coast League. Lugo posted a 5.01 ERA between Class A and Class A Advanced but struck out 88 batters in 70 innings.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Report: Twins nab ex-Braves prospect Severino

Minnesota expected to sign 18-year-old infielder for $2.5 million
MLB.com

The Twins have agreed to terms with Yunior Severino, an 18-year-old infielder granted free agency last month after Major League Baseball penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market.

Minnesota's deal with Severino is worth $2.5 million, pending a physical, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The Twins, however, have not confirmed or announced the signing.

The Twins have agreed to terms with Yunior Severino, an 18-year-old infielder granted free agency last month after Major League Baseball penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market.

Minnesota's deal with Severino is worth $2.5 million, pending a physical, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The Twins, however, have not confirmed or announced the signing.

Tweet from @JesseSanchezMLB: Infield prospect Yunior Severino signs his $2.5 million deal with the Twins. The former Braves prospect has officially found a new team. @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/C39CgvSF09

A switch-hitting second baseman, Severino worked out for nearly 200 scouts at the San Francisco Giants academy in the Dominican Republic on Friday morning. Originally signed during the 2016-17 international signing period, Severino was part of a vaunted group of prospects signed by Atlanta, 13 of which the club was forced to forfeit last month as part of penalties enforced by MLB.

Marte still in play for Twins after voided deal

After a two-month investigation, MLB concluded the club circumvented international signing rules during each of the past three signing periods.

Severino is the seventh former Braves prospect to sign with a new team over the past three weeks. He hit .270/.345/.420 with 25 extra-base hits across two rookie levels in 2017, his first season in professional baseball.

Severino, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, originally signed with the Braves for $1.9 million in 2016, and doesn't have to forfeit his original bonus. He played in both the Gulf Coast League and the Dominican Summer League last year, and is likely to play at Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2018.

He's the third prospect to join the Twins this week, as they traded $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Mariners for catching prospect David Banuelos and $1 million to the Angels for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson on Wednesday.

The Angels can use that extra $1 million for Shohei Ohtani, who announced on Friday he's signing with the Angels.

The Twins likely aren't done acquiring prospects, as they have $1.25 million remaining in international bonus pool money. They're still interested in re-signing shortstop Jelfrey Marte, who had his $3 million contract with Minnesota voided on Nov. 15 because of vision issues.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Marte still in play for Twins after voided deal

Minnesota nullified contract with 16-year-old shortstop because of vision issues
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite voiding top prospect Jelfry Marte's $3 million deal because of vision issues, the Twins still have interest in signing the 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Marte, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 3 prospect in this year's international class, was considered the jewel of Minnesota's international signings, receiving the third-largest signing bonus among all international prospects.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite voiding top prospect Jelfry Marte's $3 million deal because of vision issues, the Twins still have interest in signing the 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Marte, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 3 prospect in this year's international class, was considered the jewel of Minnesota's international signings, receiving the third-largest signing bonus among all international prospects.

But complications with his vision caused the Twins to void his contract on Nov. 15, which led to the club having the third-most international bonus pool available to offer Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani. After the Twins were notified they weren't a finalist for Ohtani, they used that excess money to trade $1 million to the Mariners for catching prospect David Banuelos and $1 million to the Angels for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson on Wednesday.

The Twins still have $1.25 million left in their bonus pool, which is more than enough to sign Marte, who still has a good relationship with the organization. The 16-year-old is talking to other clubs, but his vision issues will preclude him from signing a large deal.

Minnesota could also still look to trade more international bonus pool money to clubs still in the Ohtani sweepstakes. The top international prospects mostly all signed on July 2, so trading excess money for prospects is a smart way to acquire legitimate talent.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Twins swap pool money for 2 top prospects

Minnesota acquires catcher from Mariners, outfielder from Angels
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing out on Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, the Twins took advantage of having the third-most international pool money available, trading $1 million of that money to the Mariners for catching prospect David Banuelos and $1 million to the Angels for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson.

The Mariners and Angels remain firmly in the mix for Ohtani and acquired the pool money to be able to increase their offers to the two-way player. And if either one is not the team Ohtani picks, the additional money would serve the clubs in pursuit of other international free agents. While Ohtani is regarded as a grand prize, additional players are available and could very well be highly coveted in a uniquely deep market. (Prospects until recently controlled by the Braves, for example, were declared free agents as part of penalties handed down when their GM, since dismissed and banned, was found to have acquired them improperly. The Angels have already agreed to terms with two of them.)

MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing out on Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, the Twins took advantage of having the third-most international pool money available, trading $1 million of that money to the Mariners for catching prospect David Banuelos and $1 million to the Angels for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson.

The Mariners and Angels remain firmly in the mix for Ohtani and acquired the pool money to be able to increase their offers to the two-way player. And if either one is not the team Ohtani picks, the additional money would serve the clubs in pursuit of other international free agents. While Ohtani is regarded as a grand prize, additional players are available and could very well be highly coveted in a uniquely deep market. (Prospects until recently controlled by the Braves, for example, were declared free agents as part of penalties handed down when their GM, since dismissed and banned, was found to have acquired them improperly. The Angels have already agreed to terms with two of them.)

MLB Pipeline: Top 30 International Prospects

The Twins took advantage of the Angels and Mariners looking for more resources, acquiring Seattle's 10th-best prospect and the Angels' fifth-ranked prospect per MLBPipeline.com. Minnesota had saved bonus-pool money to make a run at Ohtani but were notified last week they were not one of the seven finalists. With $3.245 million available, the Twins decided it was best to use $2 million of it for two prospects who were both drafted in 2017 and are closer to the Majors and easier to evaluate than the 16-year-olds that are usually signed with international bonus money.

Banuelos, known as a strong defender, was a fifth-round pick out of Cal State Long Beach. The 21-year-old hit .236/.331/.394 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 36 games at Class A Short-Season Everett. He also threw out 18 of 48 attempted basestealers (38 percent).

Video: Top Prospects: David Banuelos, C, Mariners

Banuelos, 21, is considered to be a leader and is projected to be above average behind the plate going forward. Offensively, he's more adept at getting on base than hitting for power. The 6-foot, 205-pounder was one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award as the best collegiate catcher last year and received a $300,000 bonus from Seattle.

Pearson, 19, was selected by the Angels in the third round out of West Monroe High School in Louisiana. He hit .226/.302/.284 with seven doubles and a triple in 40 games with the Rookie-level Angels.

Pearson was Louisiana's Gatorade state Player of the Year in 2017, and the Angels signed him for above slot value at $1 million. The left-handed hitter possesses both speed and power with the potential to be a 20-20 offensive player. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder's lone negative tool is a below-average arm after undergoing labrum surgery as a sophomore.

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

 

Minnesota Twins, David Banuelos, Jacob Pearson

Source: Twins out of running for Ohtani

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have been told they are not one of the seven finalists for Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Sunday.

The club, however, has not confirmed the report.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have been told they are not one of the seven finalists for Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Sunday.

The club, however, has not confirmed the report.

Hot Stove Tracker

Ohtani narrowed down his list of finalists on Sunday, as he strongly prefers the West Coast, with the Mariners, Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers and Cubs the only clubs that made the cut, per reports published Monday. The Rangers, who have the most bonus money to offer Ohtani at $3.535 million, join the Cubs as the only non-West Coast clubs still in the running for Ohtani. None of the clubs train in Florida either, which put the Twins at a disadvantage.

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

Ohtani's Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, posted the two-way star on Friday, and he has until Dec. 22 to sign with a Major League team. Ohtani is subject to the international bonus pool signing restrictions.

Ohtani's agency, CAA, had clubs submit a pitch for him, and Twins general manager Thad Levine said the club put together a compelling case in hopes of signing the 23-year-old, which Levine called a top priority on MLB Network Radio last week. But Ohtani ultimately informed Minnesota he intended to sign elsewhere.

The Twins have the third-most international money available, at $3.245 million, behind the Rangers and Yankees. But with the club now out of the running to use that money toward the two-way superstar, the Twins could look to trade some of that bonus money to clubs interested in him, potentially netting a prospect in that scenario.

Ohtani's decision otherwise doesn't have much of an effect on Minnesota's offseason plans, as the Twins were never considered a likely landing spot for him, and acquiring a front-line starting pitcher remains the top goal this offseason. And despite falling short of signing Ohtani, Minnesota still has interest in fellow Japanese star Yu Darvish, who is expected to command the largest contract for a pitcher this offseason.

The Twins have a favorable payroll situation going forward, as only Phil Hughes and Jason Castro are signed beyond the 2018 season, and both contracts expire after '19. Minnesota, though, is looking to sign some of its young core to extensions, but even that shouldn't have much of an affect on the club's efforts in free agency.

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

 

Minnesota Twins

Pursuing Ohtani a 'top priority' for Twins

MLB.com

The Twins are fully invested in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, senior vice president and general manager Thad Levine said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday.

In response to Ohtani's memo to all 30 Major League clubs, which requested written explanations on why each would be a good fit for his services, Levine said the Twins' front office is working closely with CAA, which represents Ohtani, on preparing a pitch for the two-way Japanese superstar.

The Twins are fully invested in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, senior vice president and general manager Thad Levine said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday.

In response to Ohtani's memo to all 30 Major League clubs, which requested written explanations on why each would be a good fit for his services, Levine said the Twins' front office is working closely with CAA, which represents Ohtani, on preparing a pitch for the two-way Japanese superstar.

Hot Stove Tracker

"We, like every other club out there, is diligently putting together materials as to why we think our situation can be conducive to a player like Ohtani," Levine said. "And working through CAA, his agency, who's kind of given us all a blueprint of things to file with them, we are working diligently on that. That is a top priority for our club at this point."

Video: Twins hope to woo two-way talent Ohtani

Ohtani's memo was distributed on Friday through the Commissioner's Office as the latest development to his free-agent process, one that hurdled through posting negotiations between the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization and the MLB Players Association. All 30 MLB clubs will hold a formal vote on Friday to decide on the new posting system.

The Twins make a compelling case as a promising club with blossoming talent that catapulted from the worst record in the Majors in 2016 to the second American League Wild Card spot in '17. Ohtani is reportedly putting a premium on winning, though how he is utilized in MLB could also play a significant factor in where he decides to play. Ohtani possesses elite velocity on the mound and prominent power at the plate, which may make an American League club more favorable, with the chance to start every five days and be the designated hitter in between.

Video: Morosi on Ohtani being eligible to play in MLB in '18

"He is looking for a competitive environment in which he thinks he can thrive and develop at the Major League level," Levine said, "and clearly by bypassing the payday that he would've received by staying in Japan for two more years, he wants to start competing against Major League hitters right now. So that's very exciting for a club like Minnesota, because we feel as if we've got an opportunity here to recruit him."

MLB clubs will only be able to sign Ohtani to a Minor League contract using money from their international signing bonus pool. In this regard, the Twins can offer him roughly $3.1 million, which is the third-highest rate behind the Yankees and Rangers, who can offer roughly $3.5 million each.

"He's been a little bit more to himself," Levine said. "I think fewer people really know him extremely well, so I think the understanding we have is that he hasn't really narrowed this down to specific markets."

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

 

Minnesota Twins

Twins' Wade out of hospital after sustaining concussion

MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Twins outfield prospect LaMonte Wade was treated for a concussion and released from a local hospital after being involved in a scary collision with Cardinals outfielder Oscar Mercado in right-center field during the second inning of the Arizona Fall League Military Appreciation Game on Saturday. Wade, who was playing right field for the Surprise Saguaros, was able to return to the stadium before the end of the game, which the Saguaros lost to the Peoria Javelinas, 11-10.

Braves prospect Austin Riley hit a ball into the right-center-field gap and Wade, the Twins' No. 17 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, and Mercado collided at full speed. Mercado managed to hold onto the ball for the third out of the inning, but he remained on the ground for several minutes before staying in the game.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Twins outfield prospect LaMonte Wade was treated for a concussion and released from a local hospital after being involved in a scary collision with Cardinals outfielder Oscar Mercado in right-center field during the second inning of the Arizona Fall League Military Appreciation Game on Saturday. Wade, who was playing right field for the Surprise Saguaros, was able to return to the stadium before the end of the game, which the Saguaros lost to the Peoria Javelinas, 11-10.

Braves prospect Austin Riley hit a ball into the right-center-field gap and Wade, the Twins' No. 17 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, and Mercado collided at full speed. Mercado managed to hold onto the ball for the third out of the inning, but he remained on the ground for several minutes before staying in the game.

Tweet from @BallengeeGroup: Full recovery expected after #Twins prospect Lamonte Wade was involved in collision in AFL game tonight. Get well soon @WadesWorld6! pic.twitter.com/dWw25R7Fye

After a lengthy delay, Wade was carried off on a stretcher and managed to give a thumbs-up to the crowd on his way out of the stadium. According to a Fall League spokesperson, Wade never lost consciousness, and he had his head and neck area stabilized before being taken to the hospital. X-rays were negative, and a full recovery is expected. 

Wade, 23, hit .292 in 117 games with Double-A Chattanooga this season and is hitting .238 through 19 games in the Arizona Fall League.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

 

Minnesota Twins

LHP Rosario, OF Palka claimed off waivers

Goodrum clears waivers, outrighted off Twins' 40-man roster
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins opened three spots on their 40-man roster Friday, as left-hander Randy Rosario was claimed off waivers from the Cubs, outfielder Daniel Palka was claimed off waivers from the White Sox and infielder Niko Goodrum cleared waivers and was outrighted off the roster.

Hot Stove Tracker

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins opened three spots on their 40-man roster Friday, as left-hander Randy Rosario was claimed off waivers from the Cubs, outfielder Daniel Palka was claimed off waivers from the White Sox and infielder Niko Goodrum cleared waivers and was outrighted off the roster.

Hot Stove Tracker

Palka was the club's No. 22 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, while Rosario and Goodrum both made their Major League debuts in 2017.

Rosario, 23, is a hard-throwing lefty who struggled in his first taste of the Majors, allowing eight runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 innings. He posted a 4.08 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 23 walks in 57 1/3 innings at Double-A Chattanooga last season. It was his first full season pitching in relief. He has a career 3.37 ERA with 289 strikeouts in 352 1/3 innings in the Minors.

Palka, 26, is a left-handed-hitting slugger who batted .274/.329/.431 with 11 homers and 13 doubles at Triple-A Rochester last year. He hit a combined 34 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016.

Goodrum, Minnesota's second-round pick in 2010, made his Major League debut in September after eight years in the Minors. He hit .265/.309/.425 with 13 homers and 66 RBIs while mostly splitting time between shortstop and right field at Triple-A in 2017. Goodrum went 1-for-17 in 11 games with the Twins.

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

 

Minnesota Twins, Niko Goodrum, Daniel Palka, Randy Rosario

Fall League showing evidence of Jay's health

Twins prospect opens with three scoreless frames for Surprise
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins prospect Tyler Jay is off to a strong start in the Arizona Fall League, and he's showing he's healthy after unfounded rumors that he suffered from thoracic outlet syndrome in July and was headed for season-ending surgery.

Jay, ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, has thrown three scoreless innings with four strikeouts, three hits allowed and no walks for the Surprise Saguaros. He was shut down for nearly 2 1/2 months from early June until mid-August with neck and shoulder issues, but thoracic outlet syndrome was ruled out and he never underwent surgery. It was diagnosed as shoulder impingement and he also dealt with biceps tendinitis early in the season.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins prospect Tyler Jay is off to a strong start in the Arizona Fall League, and he's showing he's healthy after unfounded rumors that he suffered from thoracic outlet syndrome in July and was headed for season-ending surgery.

Jay, ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, has thrown three scoreless innings with four strikeouts, three hits allowed and no walks for the Surprise Saguaros. He was shut down for nearly 2 1/2 months from early June until mid-August with neck and shoulder issues, but thoracic outlet syndrome was ruled out and he never underwent surgery. It was diagnosed as shoulder impingement and he also dealt with biceps tendinitis early in the season.

Jay suffered a similar injury in 2016, landing on the disabled list in early August with shoulder weakness and a mild nerve injury after posting a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts with Class A Advanced Fort Myers and a 5.79 ERA in five appearances with Double-A Chattanooga. He was also tested for thoracic outlet syndrome last year, but again never suffered from the ailment.

Jay, 23, was moved to the bullpen before this season, and posted a combined 3.09 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks in 11 2/3 innings between the Gulf Coast League Twins, Fort Myers and Chattanooga.

Jay, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, has a fastball that can reach the mid-90s. His best pitch is his plus-slider, while he also has a changeup and curveball. He has the stuff to be a future closer if he remains in the bullpen, though health remains a question mark. He's likely to open next year in Chattanooga's bullpen, but he could move quickly through the system given his impressive stuff and Minnesota's need for lefty bullpen help.

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

 

Minnesota Twins, Tyler Jay

Garver, Slegers net Twins' organizational honors

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins named catcher Mitch Garver and right-hander Aaron Slegers as the organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, the club announced Wednesday.

Garver is the Sherry Robertson Award winner, while Slegers is the Jim Rantz Award winner. Both will be honored at the annual BBWAA Diamond Awards dinner at Target Field on Jan. 18.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins named catcher Mitch Garver and right-hander Aaron Slegers as the organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, the club announced Wednesday.

Garver is the Sherry Robertson Award winner, while Slegers is the Jim Rantz Award winner. Both will be honored at the annual BBWAA Diamond Awards dinner at Target Field on Jan. 18.

Ranked the Twins' No. 23 prospect, Garver hit .291/.387/.541 with 17 homers, 29 doubles and 45 RBIs in 88 games with Triple-A Rochester. He also played 23 games with the Twins, hitting .196/.288/.348 with a double and three triples. The 26-year-old made four starts at catcher, three at first base and one in left field while serving as designated hitter three times.

Garver is expected to be the club's backup catcher to veteran Jason Castro next season.

Video: DET@MIN: Slegers fans Machado in the top of the 1st

Slegers, a 6-foot-10 right-hander, went 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 24 starts with Triple-A Rochester. He struck out 119, walked 29 and allowed 11 homers in 148 1/3 innings. He pitched well in his Major League debut against the Indians on Aug. 17, allowing two runs on two hits over 6 1/3 innings.

His made his final start on Sept. 30, allowing three runs on three hits over 4 1/3 innings, and the 25-year-old his time in the Majors helped his confidence. He's likely to open next year at Triple-A Rochester, giving the Twins some rotation depth.

"Mentally, it helps that what I'm doing is working," Slegers said. "In terms of my program, keeping it the same. Doing what I did last year."

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

 

Minnesota Twins, Mitch Garver, Aaron Slegers