Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Done in the minors

A little before the Twins bullpen imploded in Target Field against the Yankees on Monday, the Fort Myers Miracle won the Florida State League playoffs.

That concluded the season for the Twins' minor league affiliates. Fort Myers and Elizabethton won their league titles, Cedar Rapids got bounced in the second round of the Midwest League playoffs by Peoria, and neither Chattanooga nor Rochester made the post season.

This essentially matches my perception of the Twins system: Strong at the lower levels, lacking in bona fide prospects at the upper levels. The Twins did not draft effectively the last few years of the Terry Ryan administration. There was a particular emphasis on power-armed collegiate relievers; few of them remain in the organization and even fewer have contributed to the big league club.

Next up: The Arizona Fall League and instructionals.

For the AFL, the Twins this year are contributing talent to the Salt River Rafters: Four pitchers (Adam Bray, Griffin Jax, Hector Lujan and Devin Smeltzer); one infielder (Travis Blankenhorn) and three outfielders (Jaylin Davis, Luke Raley and Brent Rooker).

I won't dismiss anybody sent to the AFL as a prospect, but Rooker and Jax strike me as the most significant of the Twins contingent.

Rooker is listed on the roster as an outfielder, but I expect his future to be at first base, and I expect him to get to Target Field sometime next season. Jax is also a significant prospect, although his military committment -- he's an Air Force Academy graduate -- has been a hurdle for his professional baseball career. (Apparently the restoration of baseball as an Olympic sport cleared the way for him to go on reserve status and focus on his athletic endeavor.)

Also worth noting is that Tommy Watkins will be managing the Rafters. Watkins' Chattanooga club did not fare well -- they finished last in their division overall -- but that doesn't appear to have damaged his status.

The Twins didn't hold instructionals last year; in the wake of Hurricane Irma, their complex was used as a staging area for relief efforts.

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