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Twins Target - A Minnesota Twins blog

Written by Jude Walsh | 24 August 2016

Week 2 of the NFL's preseason was headlined by a number of impressive performances from quarterbacks, including many expected starters. As we all know, no position is more important to a team's Super Bowl lines than the quarterback position. Here are the eight best from the preseason's second week:

QB Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

Taylor played like a $92 million quarterback against the Giants, throwing one touchdown and producing one of the best plays of the preseason over four series. He scrambled right and zipped a 13-yard touchdown to LeSean McCoy to finish off his fourth and final drive, and his highlight play came when he spun away from a free blitzer and hit tight end Charles Clay in stride on a 59-yard bomb. T-Mobile finished his night completing 7-of-10 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown, good for a 145.8 passer rating.

QB Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns

The Browns were treated to several flashes of the old RG3 against the Falcons. Over five series in the first half, Griffin III threw two impressive touchdowns while also scrambling three times for 36 yards. He unleashed a 50-yard score to Terrelle Pryor on his second drive, beating Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Truant for the deep touchdown. Later, Griffin III unlocked tight end Gary Barnidge from tight coverage with a perfect throw for 29 yards and another score. He finished with 132 total yards and a 154.2 passer rating.

QB Bryce Petty, New York Jets

No player threw more passes or for more yards in Week 2 than Petty, who completed 16-of-26 attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins. He hit receiver Robby Anderson for a 50-yard bomb and a 42-yard touchdown, while also connecting with tight end Zach Sudfield from 19 yards out for another score. The Jets lost when Petty was unable to lead a late scoring drive, but the second-year quarterback had only 29 seconds to overcome a four-point deficit. It was an otherwise encouraging performance from a young player pushing to be Ryan Fitzpatrick's backup in 2016.

QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

The talk of the preseason continues to be Prescott, who followed up his impressive NFL debut with another hugely productive performance against the Dolphins. The rookie quarterback threw two more touchdowns (giving him an NFL-high four through two weeks) and rushed for two other scores. After two preseason games, Prescott has more total touchdowns (six) than incompletions (five). He produced 227 total yards—averaging 13.3 yards per attempt and 9.3 yards per rush—while powering the Cowboys' blowout over Miami.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Prescott stole the show, but Tannehill was also impressive in Dallas. He threw a pair of touchdowns and a 55-yard completion to receiver Kenny Stills, leading the Dolphins to 14 points and a third trip into the red zone on just four series. Tannehill's attempt at a third score ended when he couldn't find Stills in the end zone on a fourth down from the 5-yard line. It was the lone blemish on a productive night for the Dolphins starting quarterback. He threw for 162 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt over 20 throws.

QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

The reigning NFL MVP was sharp over four series against the Titans. He led the Panthers 93 yards on eight plays to score a touchdown on the game's opening drive, hitting 3-of-4 passes for 80 yards and a 61-yard touchdown to Ted Ginn. Four more completions two drives later helped set up a Carolina field goal. Newton exited the game in the second quarter, but not after throwing for 162 yards and a touchdown on just eight completions. The Panthers once again look dangerous on offense, especially with receiver Kelvin Benjamin (29 yards) back in the fold.

QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars 

Bortles built on his strong preseason debut with another productive showing against the Buccaneers. The Jaguars scored a pair of touchdowns on his three drives, with both scores coming via Bortles. He first connected with T.J. Yeldon for a 14-yard score, before finishing off an 11-play, 80-yard march with a 24-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns. He finished 8-of-11 passing for 85 yards and the two touchdowns. His passer rating this preseason is 147.7.

QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

Smith led scoring drives on three of his four series before leaving the game in the second quarter. He completed six passes on Kansas City's 13-play opening drive, which ended with Spencer Ware's 2-yard touchdown. Two drives later, Smith capped off a 75-yard drive by hitting Jeremy Maclin on a 20-yard scoring play. Overall, Smith completed 9-of-12 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown. His ruthless efficiency is in midseason form.

Written by Andrew Kneeland | 26 April 2015

The Twins don't enjoy being outside of Target Field.

Maybe it's the weather, or the travel. Either way, Minnesota last won a series on the road in early August of last year. Joe Mauer's solo shot on August 13, 2014 helped provide the winning advantage and clinch the series win. Mauer came up big again Sunday, with a two-run triple in the top of the eleventh inning to give the Twins a 4-2 lead.

Glen Perkins continued his late-game dominance, drawing three outs on nine pitches to earn the save and give the Twins the win.

Sunday was one of Mauer's best outings this season. He belted a strong single to centerfield in the first, had a double in the third inning, and slapped the ball against the outfield wall for a bases-clearing triple in the 11th. His two outs -- both to left fielder Dustin Ackley -- were also well-hit.

"I felt good seeing the ball, especially off the lefties today," Mauer said after the win. "And hopefully I’ll keep that going. I saw a couple of his breaking balls (last night). I just missed the first one, but was able to get one hanging there at the end and put a good swing on it."

Molitor received some flak for not pinch hitting for the bottom of his order in the 10th and 11th innings. But he's sticking behind his decisions, and doesn't regret leaving Torii Hunter or Kennys Vargas on the bench.

"They were breathing on me," Molitor said of his bench late during the late innings. "They were making their presence known. I had opportunities when Shane went out there, and Torii was an option (for pinch-hitting). But with how I've seen Shane's at-bats during these first games I wanted to give him the chance. (Torii and Kennys) were ready, but at the end of the day I didn't have to use them."

Gibson was adequate in the win, though he struggled to throw strikes and was kept on the mound longer than some would have liked. He threw 99 pitches, 56 of them for strikes. He's walked more batters than Molitor would care to see.

"I think he has 12 this year," Molitor said of Gibson's walks. "It's a little high, obviously. He's just gotta keep pushing it. If someone hits the ball hard you've just got to come right back in and get back on the horse and pelt it back in there."

Molitor spoke about how Gibson was successful early in the game when he used an aggresive approach. After giving up the homerun to Seth Smith in the fourth, he back off that approach and quit pounding the strike zone. But he recovered in time to limit most of the damage and finished after the seventh frame.

Both teams had no shortage of scoring opportunities Sunday afternoon. The Twins had runners on base in every inning except the fifth and seventh, and stranged nine runners throughout the game. Joe Mauer was advanced to third base three times on Sunday, but that's as far as he got.

"We missed some chances early to increase our lead," Molitor said. "We didn't do it. We kind of ran ourselves out of those situations. But it was one of those games where we stuck with it and came back to score in the end."

And winning a road series for the first time since last summer isn't going unnoticed in the Twins' clubhouse.

"Losing the opener here but salvaging a .500 road trip is a step for us," Molitor said. "That's pretty good."

And finally, a little trivia courtesy of Paul Molitor: All of the Twins' hitters today ended at least one inning, giving every hitter a chance to lead off.

Written by Andrew Kneeland | 26 April 2015

UPDATE, 4:08pm -- Good news from Cedar Rapids. Nolasco lasted five innings and gave up three hits and an unearned run. He had good command of the strikezone, too: walking none and striking out five. Most importantly, his curveball seemed to be back to normal.

"Everything was good today, I feel ready to go," Nolasco told the Gazette's Jeff Johnson after the game. He will make the four-hour drive back to MSP tonight and chat with Twins' brass tomorrow. Molitor will need to figure out his rotation soon if Trevor May is unable to pitch on Thursday, but Nolasco will likely not be considered as an option until later in the week.

Check back this evening for Molitor's impressions on Nolasco, and his thoughts on May's timetable.


The Twins take on the Mariners in a couple of hours here at Safeco Field in a deciding game three, but Minnesota's attention will be diverted towards Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where rehabilitating pitcher Ricky Nolasco will be making his first start since April 8.

Nolasco has been on the disabled list ever since his rough start in the season opener. He allowed six runs to the Detroit Tigers in just three innings, and was diagnosed with elbow inflammation following the game. He had a "positive" bullpen session last week, and his very-controlled performance on Sunday will gauge how soon he returns to the club.

His departure has been particularly damaging to the Twins considering the loss of Ervin Santana. The second-highest paid player on the Twins' roster this season, and the team's expected No. 2 starting pitcher, Santana is suspended for the first 80 games of the season. Lacking its top two starting pitchers makes the great performances of Phil Hughes and Trevor May even more appreciated by Twins' fans.

Nolasco, a six-foot-two right hander, signed a big contract in the offseason, and is due $12 million in each of the next three years. At 32 years old, the Twins certainly hope he can return to the rotation quickly so they can make the most of their investment. Minnesota also hopes Nolasco doesn't repeat his disappointing 2014 season, but proves to be an adequate option for the rotation.

The Kernals host the Kane County Cougars today at 2:05 p.m.

Lineup notes

Manager Paul Molitor is taking advantage of the early Sunday start to shake up his lineup a bit. Shane Robinson was moved up to the two-hole, and Oswaldo Arcia is back in right field. Danny Santana has been slumping lately -- but really, who hasn't been? -- and will bat ninth on Sunday.

Kennys Vargas, Torii Hunter, Kurt Suzuki, and Jordan Schafer will all get the afternoon off as the team prepares to continue its brutal spring schedule. The team's next off day will be on Monday, May 11.

First pitch of this afternoon's contest is at 3:10 p.m.

Written by Andrew Kneeland | 26 April 2015

Trevor May

It wasn’t the ideal homecoming for Trevor May. But the Twins’ offense made up for the starting pitcher’s early departure by collecting ten hits and taking advantage of three Seattle errors en route to an 8-5 win.

Pitching for the first time in his home state, May allowed two runs in the first inning. But he quickly settled down and was well on his way to a quality start when a Kyle Seager line drive pelted May’s right wrist in the fourth inning. He managed to get the runner out, but was removed from the game for precautionary reasons. X-rays were negative on his right wrist contusion, and he’s officially listed as day-to-day.

He was just getting going,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of May after the game. “It’s always scary when your pitchers get hit like that. The good news is that the x-rays were negative. But hopefully he can rebound and get himself back in there.”

Molitor was impressed with how May looked, even if his start lasted just a few innings.

He was (just) settling in,” Molitor said. “His changeup was starting to come back and he was starting to use his pitches a little better before he got hit.”

May is optimistic that he’ll make a full and speedy recovery. 

“I didn’t see it until it was about three feet away from me, then I was just trying to get everything valuable out of the way,” May said. “I was lucky that it caught me in one of the few spots near your elbow where it’s okay to be hit by a ball. It just looks like a little bruising. At this point I fully expect to be right back on track.”

If May can make his next start, the Twins might have caught a lucky break. With 17 games scheduled over the next 17 days, Molitor doesn’t have much cushion to tinker with his starting rotation.

Brian Dozier was awarded the lead-off position in Saturday’s contest, and he made the most of his opportunity. Historically, Dozier has led off the batting order more often than not, but this was just his third time this season atop the lineup. He scored two runs and had two hits in Minnesota’s win.

But the offensive rhythm wasn’t limited to Dozier. Six other Twins had hits in Saturday’s win, and Dozier, Torii Hunter, and Eduardo Nuñez each slapped doubles. Nuñez also added a solo homerun in the fourth inning.

Minnesota’s bullpen made things interesting in the mid-late innings by allowing one run in the sixth and a two-run shot to Austin Jackson in the seventh. Tim Stauffer and Aaron Thompson were responsible for the three runs, and the situation remained dicey when Blaine Boyer and Caleb Thielbar took over in the seventh inning. But Casey Fien pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Glen Perkins picked up his fourth save in the bottom of the ninth.

May lasted three and one-third innings on Saturday, giving up two runs on three hits. He struck out five. He had an impressive start earlier this week against the Indians, so he’s made a case for sticking in the rotation once Ricky Nolasco considers himself ready to come off the disabled list.

It was another disappointing night for Kennys Vargas. Spelling Joe Mauer at first base on Saturday, the switch-hitting power hitter struck out four times.

Kyle Gibson will take the mound for the Twins Sunday afternoon. His mound opponent is officially unknown, but Roenis Elias was seen roaming the clubhouse before Saturday’s game. He’ll probably be officially recalled from Tacoma later tonight.

Gibson has a 5.87 ERA through three starts this season. He’s lasted an average of just five innings per start, and is allowing nearly two base runners per inning. How he fares against Seattle’s potent lineup could have a significant impact on his position in the starting rotation going forward.

Written by Andrew Kneeland | 10 May 2013

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 16 April 2013

There might be a reason to watch Minnesota baseball, after all.

Don't mind the bullpen scrubs, pay no attention to the patchwork starting rotation, and overlook the snow-covered stadium. With another series win clinched Tuesday night -- Minnesota's third of the young season -- it's becoming clear that the Twins aren't the terrible team we thought they'd be.

Sure, they'll still struggle to keep opponents from scoring double-digits and won't be able to hold many late leads. They'll probably finish last in the division and might even lose 100 games this year, but at least there are a few reasons for hope in the midst of an otherwise gloomy season.

It's time to turn in those despondent scowls for an optimistic gaze.

Don't hold your breath, but Kevin Correia is showing signs of his former self. And not the 'former self' that punched a ticket to the All-Star Game despite having an ERA north of four. The 32-year old winter signee has thrown at least seven innings of quality ball each of the three times he's taken the mound this year. He's gotten hit around quite a bit, but the defense has gotten it done.

He pitched in Monday's arctic temperatures against Los Angeles and turned in a gem: seven innings, two runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. For Kevin Correia, that's absolutely better than we excepted.

Joe Mauer is impressing everyone again, too, knocking the ball all around Target Field. And he's not just poking singles into the outfield like he did in 2010; Mauer's slugging percentage rivals any power-hitter in the conference.

Anthony Swarzak turned in over three stellar innings of relief Tuesday night, striking out four and rescuing Mike Pelfrey from a rough night.

But, again, the season is young. Pitchers will get hurt, hitters will slump, and the team will go through a painful month or two of loss after loss. But these first few weeks have shown us that there's life on this team. Probably.

The Twins are destined for an awful year. There's no changing that. But maybe, just maybe, we can all have some fun along the way?

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Written by Shawn Berg | 16 June 2012

It's been awhile since I posted prospect #4 on April 24th.... and that is even quite late. 

So, we profile the top 3 in one post.


3. Joe Benson, Outfield, 24 years old

2011 stats: .285/.388/.495 with 16 HRs for New Britain in 472 PAs.
Last Year's Rank4
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft out of Joliet Catholic Academy.

Joe Benson has always been a great athlete with five tool potential, but until 2010, he really hadn't found his power tool. That changed in 2010, when he hit 27 HRs between Fort Myers and New Britain with a .538 slugging percentage. His .881 OPS combined with 19 stolen bases and great defense as a 22 year old vaulted Benson up to the #100 ranked prospect by Baseball America. He followed that up in 2011 with a .285/.388/.495 line in his return to New Britain. This earned Benson a late season call-up. He hit .239/.270/.352 in 74 plate appearances with the Twins.

Fast forward to 2012. Benson was sent down to Rochester early in spring and he struggled in his first exposure to AAA. He hit .179/.269/.316 in 108 plate appearances before being demoted back to AA New Britain. He wasn't any better there, going .156/.250/.250 in 8 games. ....and now he is injured and out until late July. It's been a tough year for Benson!

Ideal Scenario: Benson is just 24 years old and has all of the tools. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and can resume his climb toward the major leagues. He has to work on his contact rate a little, but coming back strong puts him in the majors by the end of the season.

Path to the majors: He has potential to be a great defensive center fielder in the majors, and with Aaron Hicks not quite ready, Benson should still have the inside track if/when Denard Span gets traded. If Benson brings his bat, he could be similar to what Torii Hunter was.

 I've always been a Joe Benson guy, profiling him in here and here in fall 2010.

2. Oswaldo Arcia, Outfield, 21 years old

2011 stats: .291/.335/.531 with 13 HRs in 308 PAs for Beloit and Fort Myers.
Last Year's Rank7
Acquired: Signed by the Twins in 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela

Arcia has been a solid power prospect for the Twins since he was a 19 year old in Elizabethtown. He ripped through the competition with a .375/.424/.672 line with 14 HRs, 7 triples and 21 doubles in 279 plate appearances. Last year, he followed up with a .291/.335/.531 line while spending most of his 20 year old season at Fort Myers.

So far this year? More of the same. He is hitting .323/.385/.538 with 7 HRs, 3 triples and 15 doubles in 219 plate appearances. While some of us have referenced calling up other guys (cough, Sano, cough), my fearless leader at Puckett's Pond instead insists that It's time to promote Arcia. The way he is hitting while repeating Fort Myers, it's hard to disagree. He could use tougher competition.

Ideal Scenario: Arcia is just 21 and is looking more and more like a solid major league contributor that could add even more power as he fills out. He does need to improve his K rate and there have been some reports of maturity issues, but Arcia has the look of a solid or better corner OF sooner rather than later. I see a lot of his fellow country-man Bobby Abreu in Arcia's numbers. A look at those numbers really seem to validate the argument.

Path to the majors: Arcia is probably 2 years away, A promotion this season and a continuance of his current production could give him a shot at a September call-up next year.

1. Miguel Sano, Third Base, 19 years old

2011 stats: .292/.352/.637 line with 20 HRs in 66 games with Elizabethtown.
Last Year's Rank3
Acquired: Signed by the Twins in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.

Miguel Sano went into last Monday as the unquestioned Twins #1 prospect. He is hitting .243/.351/.517 with 15 HRs. With the drafting of Byron Buxton, that could come into a little bit of a debate. Keith Law has said he'd rank Buxton ahead of Sano and "that's saying something". To even mention another prospect near Sano's level is a good thing for the future of the Twins. For now, Sano is #1.

We all know about Sano by now. He signed for a Twins ametur free agent record $3.15 million. He started his Twins career with a .344/.463./.547 line in a brief stint with GCL in 2010. He followed this up with a monster .292/.352/.637 line with 20 HRs in 66 games with Elizabethtown as an 18 year old. This season, he started so hot, that I asked if it was too soon to call up Sano to Fort Myers. His .276/.422/.586 in 25 April games while still 18 years old was ridiculous, but he has cooled since. His line of .243/.351/.517 in 63 games is solid, but the reduction since April shows that the league has figured him out some. His high strikeout rate has remained but he has taken less walks. He still leads the league in HRs, is 4th in slugging and 2nd in ISO while ranking near the bottom in BABIP all while being one of the youngest players in the league. He's also second in strikeouts. As good as he's been, he's probably been a little unlucky.

Ideal Scenario: Sano has shown huge power and whether he sees a promotion in 2012 or not, he still has all of the makings of a future force. The strikeouts and defense could be an issue, but, by the time he is major league, those flaws may not even matter, his power is that special. If Sano can improve his weaknesses, he could be a perennial MVP candidate.

Path to the majors: As much as I'd like Sano to move up, it is pretty likely he will spend all year in Beloit. With some aggressive promoting starting next year, Sano could make the majors in 2014.

Prospects in low-A are by no means guarantees, but Sano is the closest the Twins have had since Joe Mauer in 2002.

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