Tag: Minnesota Twins

Twins Prospect Yorman Landa Dies in Car Accident at Age 22

Minnesota Twins minor league pitcher Yorman Landa died early Saturday morning following an automobile accident in his native Venezuela. He was 22.

Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com passed along the news, including a statement from the Twins via chief baseball officer Derek Falvey:

The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of Yorman Landa early this morning in Venezuela. On behalf of the entire baseball community, we send our sincerest condolences to the Landa family as well as Yorman’s many friends, coaches and teammates.

Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press provided details about the accident from Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, who stated the pitcher was the only person killed. He was riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by his father, and there were four or five people in the vehicle, which struck a fallen tree.

“The ambulance took quite a while to get there,” Szew said. “He was literally the nicest kid. He was my little brother.”

Landa joined the Twins organization as a 16-year-old prospect in 2010. He started his journey through the club’s minor league system in the 2011 Dominican Summer League and reached the Florida State League at the Class A Advanced level this past season.

The right-handed reliever made 31 appearances out of the Fort Myers Miracle bullpen in 2016 and finished with a 3.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.

He earned a spot in the league’s All-Star Game in June, and David Dorsey of the News-Press noted at the time the pitcher was thrilled.

“It’s good to play with them, because they’re the best in the league,” Landa said.

Landa made 130 appearances, including 26 starts, between the Twins organization and the Venezuelan Winter League from 2011 to 2016. He posted a 2.97 ERA and 1.33 WHIP while striking out 241 batters in 257.2 innings.

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Jason Castro to Twins: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Veteran catcher Jason Castro reached an agreement Tuesday with the Minnesota Twins on a new contract.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports cited a source and reported the news. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that it was a three-year, $24.5 million deal.

Although Castro’s overall statistics, including a career .232 average, don’t jump off the page, it’s important to remember evaluating catchers requires grading on a curve. The number of impact hitters at the position is limited, which makes his power potential more valuable.   

The 29-year-old backstop has racked up double-digit home runs in four straight seasons despite not playing more than 126 games in any campaign. His best season came in 2013, when he finished with 18 long balls and a .350 on-base percentage.

Those types of numbers are hard to find at the catcher spot, and that created a little more intrigue around his status entering the offseason, though he had a .307 OBP with 11 homers in 2016.

In September, he didn’t rule out a return to the Astros, but he made it clear he wanted to explore the possibilities, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle.

“It’s kind of a weird feeling coming down to the end here,” Castro said. “It’s been a great six-and-a-half years here, and I’ve really enjoyed everything about it. But the future’s kind of up in the air, so we’ll see what happens.”

In the end, Castro decided it was time for a change of scenery after spending his entire career so far in Houston. The Astros may look to move Evan Gattis behind the plate to fill the void because it’ll be easier to fill a hole at designated hitter than it would be at catcher.

Catchers always require some additional off days due to the wear and tear of the position, but Castro still needs to stay more involved to make the new deal pay off. He played in just 113 games last season, compared to 139 for the Kansas City Royals‘ Salvador Perez, a top-tier option.

That said, it’s still a solid investment for the Twins given the catcher’s power upside. They’d like to see him move back closer to those 2013 numbers going forward, though.


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Thad Levine Named Twins SVP, GM: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

The Minnesota Twins hired Thad Levine as their senior vice president and general manager Thursday:

Levine, 44, will work under chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, who was appointed several weeks ago.

“I am inspired to work for the Twins franchise, known as being one of the best organizations in all of professional sports due to the stalwart leadership of the Pohlad family, commitment of its local workforce, talent of its players and unflagging loyalty of its fans,” Levine told the club’s website

Levine had been the assistant general manager for the Texas Rangers since 2005 and took over the reins of the international scouting program in recent years. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News broke down Levine’s impact with his former organization:

Levine has been a trusted voice for [Rangers general manager Jon] Daniels. While the baseball world seems to spin around “scouting” and “analytics” stars, Levine has a blended background, but his real strength is in understanding interpersonal dynamics. He has been a key in bringing the Rangers management staff closer together following the rift that saw Nolan Ryan leave, followed a year later by the exodus of A.J. Preller to San Diego.

Levine will be tasked with helping to turn around a Twins team that has had just one winning season in the past six years and hasn’t reached the postseason since 2010.

The Twins do have talent on the roster, however, led by Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. They also have a number of talent prospects in the farm system, namely pitchers Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart and Stephen Gonsalves and shortstop Nick Gordon.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Byron Buxton Finally Ready to Match Hype, Become MLB’s Next Big Star

Remember when touted young Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was the butt of smarmy “Buston” jokes?

Yeah. About that.

It’s too early to declare Buxton anything—boom, bust or in between. He’s just 22 years old, with a scant 404 MLB plate appearances to his name.

But after some significant early struggles, the 2012 first-round pick is showing flashes of the star so many believed he’d become.

Buxton made his feverishly anticipated debut with the Twins last year and finished with a .209/.250/.326 slash line in 46 games. He began this season on the big league roster but hit just .156 in 17 April contests with 24 strikeouts and was shipped back to Triple-A.

Things didn’t go much better after a late-May call-up, and by early August, Buxton and his .193 average were demoted again. As Wayne Cavadi of Today’s Knuckleball noted:

People grew frustrated with Buxton. The Twins, unfortunately, have had some big prospects flail out and not reach expectations of late — take Aaron Hicks for example — and the word bust was being thrown around pretty quickly. People were quick — too quick perhaps — to wonder if Buxton was simply a Quad-A type of hitter who wouldn’t be able to hack big league pitching. 

He returned Sept. 1 when rosters expanded. And if there isn’t cartoonish smoke rising from the barrel of his bat, there should be.

In 12 September games, Buxton has 15 hits, including four doubles and five home runs. He’s driven in 13 runs and scored 12. And he’s raised his OPS for the season by 114 points, from .561 to .675.

“I think one thing we’ve seen in the last few days is he’s shown a little bit more aggressiveness,” Twins skipper Paul Molitor said, per MLB.com’s Scott Merkin and Do-Hyoung Park. “I think his swing looks a little bit better in terms of quickness and reacting to pitches and recognizing pitches.”

Buxton flashed game-changing speed and made some spectacular defensive plays in his previous MLB forays. The defensive metrics like him in center field, a premium position. Now, he’s layering on the pop and getting hits in bunches. He resembles the guy veteran outfielder Torii Hunter branded “Mike Trout Two” in March 2015, per Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves after only a handful of games? Sure. Watch this clip, though, and don’t get giddy. Go on, we dare you:

It’s been a dismal season for the Twins. Minnesota was a surprise postseason contender in 2015 but has backslid to the worst record in baseball and a possible 100-loss campaign.

Buxton‘s emergence could be the shiniest of silver linings, particularly if he keeps raking over these final few weeks.

His MLB results are new, but his approach hasn’t changed much. As Fake Teams’ Rob Parker pointed out, while Buxton has increased his contact rates in September, his swinging strike rate has also gone up slightly, and he’s chasing more balls out of the zone. 

It’s a tiny sample, but it suggests Buxton isn’t a radically different player from the one who yo-yoed between the minors and the big leagues.

FanGraphsAugust Fagerstrom noted that Buxton has re-employed a leg kick in his swing that he utilized in high school but the Twins mostly eliminated during his development. Maybe there’s something to that.

Here’s the bottom line, swing mechanics and sample-size caveats aside: Results are results. These September stats leap off the sheet. Given Buxton‘s age and enviable set of tools, there’s ample cause for optimism.  

We might well be witnessing the emergence of a superstar.

At the very least, we can put the “Buston” jokes on the shelf and leave them there.


All statistics current as of Tuesday, Sept. 13, and courtesy of MLB.com, FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Brian Dozier Joins Only 2 Other Twins Players to Homer in 5 Straight Games

Fact: Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier hit a home run in his fifth straight game on Tuesday. He joins Harmon Killebrew and Marty Cordova as the only players in Twins history to accomplish that feat. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.
Source: @Twins

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Kepler Becomes 1st Twins Rookie to Hit 3 Homers in a Game

Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler turned in a historic performance during Monday’s 12-5 win over the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to hit three home runs in a single game, per Sportsnet Stats.

The 23-year-old slugger connected for a trio of two-run home runs, coming in the first, third and sixth innings, which gave him a shot at the first four-homer game in franchise history.

Alas, Kepler grounded out and singled in his final two at-bats, finishing the night with four hits, six RBI and three runs.

He’s one of just five players to hit three home runs in a game since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, joining Justin Morneau (2007), Tony Oliva (1973), Harmon Killebrew (1963) and Bob Allison (1963), per ESPN Stats & Info.

What’s more, Monday’s performance didn’t just come out of nowhere, as Kepler now has an MLB-best 11 home runs since the beginning of July, per MLB Stat of the Day.

While any hope for 2016 was lost back in April, the Twins do have some promising middle-of-the-order hitters to help move the rebuilding process along, with Kepler joined by veteran second baseman Brian Dozier and 23-year-old outfielder Miguel Sano.

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Twins’ Max Kepler Becomes 3rd Rookie with 8 Homers in July

Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler recently hit his eighth home run during the month of July, making this the first month in MLB history in which three rookies recorded eight or more homers, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN.com).

The 23-year-old lefty slugger did the honors during Thursday’s 6-2 home win over the Baltimore Orioles, smacking a solo shot to right field in the sixth inning off of Orioles reliever Odrisamer Despaigne to tie the contest at two apiece.

Kepler then played a role in a four-run rally the very next inning, with his RBI single bringing home Twins first baseman Joe Mauer to extend the lead to 4-2.

Kepler would later come around to score on a triple by outfielder Eddie Rosario, extending Minnesota’s advantage to 6-2, which ended up being the final score.

The other rookies with eight or more homers in July are San Diego Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf (nine) and Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (eight), the latter of whom leads the National League with 27 home runs this season.

While Story’s magnificent campaign has him in pole position for Rookie of the Year honors in the National league, Kepler will have a tough time earning AL honors, as he has only been a regular starter for the Twins since the beginning of June.

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Terry Ryan Fired by Twins: Latest Comments and Reaction

With the Minnesota Twins‘ struggles to the tune of an American League-worst record of 33-58, general manager Terry Ryan was relieved of his duties Monday.

According to a press release issued by the organization, assistant general manager Rob Antony will replace Ryan on an interim basis. Twins owner and CEO Jim Pohlad had the following to say regarding Ryan’s service:

Since joining our organization as a player in 1972, Terry has been a dedicated, loyal and respected member of the Minnesota Twins family. Terry has been a gifted leader of the baseball department for over eighteen seasons. It is impossible to overstate his contribution to our game, our team and the Upper Midwest baseball community. The decision to part ways with Terry was difficult, painful and not obvious.

Ryan also commented on his departure:

While disappointed we were unable to bring Minnesota a third world championship, I leave the GM post with immense pride in being part of the Twins organization for the better part of three decades. I’m grateful for the leadership opportunities provided by the Pohlad family; the collaboration and talents of my colleagues in the front office; the hard work and dedication of our manager, coaches and clubhouse personnel; the commitment and professionalism of our players; the passion and attention to detail of our minor league staff and scouts; and most importantly, the incredible support of our fans.

The 62-year-old Ryan has been part of the Twins front office since 1986, serving as general manager from 1994 through 2007 and again from 2011 until his dismissal Monday.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Twins “are expected to consider candidates [to replace Ryan] in the coming weeks.”

As Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller pointed out, the Twins have had little turnover at the GM post over the past three decades:

Ryan’s tenure as general manager experienced plenty of ups and downs. The Twins reached the playoffs in four of five seasons from 2002 through 2006, including a trip to the American League Championship Series in 2002.

Since Ryan reclaimed the GM title in 2011, however, Minnesota has just one winning season and no postseason appearances.

Progress was expected of the Twins in 2016 after they went a surprising 83-79 in 2015, but the drop-off has been significant. However, manager Paul Molitor told reporters Monday he was informed he would remain in the dugout for the rest of the season, saying, “I’m grateful because I want to keep doing it.”

Struggles in the starting rotation, the failure of highly touted outfielder Byron Buxton to find his footing at the major league level and injuries to several key players have factored into Minnesota’s fall to the basement.

The Twins have plenty of assets despite their poor season, and with the trade deadline just a couple of weeks away, Antony has a chance to make his mark on the franchise instantly and prove that Minnesota is working toward a new era.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Byron Buxton Injury: Updates on Twins OF’s Knee and Return

Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton suffered an apparent right knee injury when he crashed into the center field wall while trying to make a leaping catch during Friday night’s game against the Texas Rangers.

Continue for updates.

Latest on Buxton’s Playing Status

Saturday, July 9

According to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, Buxton suffered a bone bruise. His MRI didn’t reveal any other damage, so he “could be available soon.”

Buxton was initially diagnosed with a knee contusion and listed as day-to-day, Bollinger reported Friday.

Injuries Continue to Nag Buxton

Buxton suffered a bruised left hand when he was hit by a pitch during an April 14 loss to the Chicago White Sox, and while it wasn’t serious, it continued a trend.

The 22-year-old was limited to 31 games in the minors in 2014 prior to playing 13 games in the Arizona Fall League, and he was sidelined again last year with a sprained left thumb.

During the 2016 campaign—which has included a demotion to the minors—Buxton is batting .212 with one home run, 12 RBI, a .253 on-base percentage and six steals in 47 games.

Should Buxton miss more time, Danny Santana would likely fill in as Minnesota’s center fielder. Eddie Rosario or Max Kepler can also play center.

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Glen Perkins Injury: Updates on Twins Pitcher’s Shoulder and Recovery

Minnesota Twins pitcher Glen Perkins will reportedly miss the remainder of the season due to a torn labrum and rotator cuff issues in his left shoulder, a source revealed to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Continue for updates.

Perkins Likely Will Require Surgery, Could Return for Start of 2017 Season

Thursday, June 16

Per Neal, “Perkins’ labrum is definitely torn, although it’s unclear how severe the tear is, the source said.” 

Perkins, 33, already had an MRI this week and received another opinion on the injury from Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Anaheim, California, per Neal. He’s been on the disabled list since the first week in April. 

According to Neal, Perkins “had at least two known MRI exams and sought three opinions during his ordeal.” He tried to throw during his stint on the disabled list but experienced too much discomfort to make a return to the team this season.

Now, an optimistic timetable for his return is the start of next season, though his recovery could take him well into the 2017 campaign.

He appeared in just two games this season, giving up two runs while striking out three batters in 2.0 innings pitched. He’s served as the team’s primary closer since 2013, registering 102 saves in the prior three seasons.

But the last year has been a tough one for Perkins. After going into last year’s All-Star break with a 1.21 ERA and 28 saves in 28 opportunities, earning his third straight All-Star appearance along the way, he saved just four more games down the stretch and blew three save opportunities. His ERA ballooned up to 3.32, he battled injuries, and he eventually lost the closer role to Kevin Jepsen.

The fear in Minnesota will be that Perkins never fully recovers from this injury.

That fear is compounded by the fact that Jepsen has struggled in the closer’s role this season, blowing three saves in 10 opportunities while posting a 5.40 ERA. Perkins’ injury and Jepsen‘s struggles have made the closer’s role a major question mark for the team, both this season and beyond.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter

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