The Arizona Fall League announced their initial rosters today. Four Minnesota Twins are headed to the AFL.
The Minnesota Twins have often sent out a combination of top prospects and players that they’d like to see get particular work to the Arizona Fall League each season. This year’s grouping is very similar.
Let’s take a look at the four players headed to Surprise this fall:
Thomas Hackimer, RHP
Hackimer is one of the best Twitter follows in the Twins minor league system for certain, and his work off the mound could be even better than his Twitter presence.
He was drafted by the Twins out of St. John’s University in the 4th round in 2016. He went immediately to Cedar Rapids, where he was right at home, in spite of the aggressive placement, posting a 2.39 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 21 games and 26 1/3 innings, with a 12/26 BB/K ratio.
This season, Hackimer opened the season in Cedar Rapids again, and he moved up quickly to Fort Myers. He has combined between the levels for 41 appearances and 58 1/3 innings thrown. He has posted a 7-1 record and 11 saves along with a 1.85 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and a 21/68 BB/K ratio.
Hackimer has a sidearm delivery that is tough on hitters from both sides of the plate, and the Twins would like to see how he handles facing the top prospects in the game night in, night out in the AFL.
Tyler Jay, LHP
A top prospect that has hit hard times due to injury, Jay made the permanent move to the bullpen this season before having surgery take out a large chunk of his season.
Jay was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins with the 6th overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Illinois. He had primarily been a reliever in college until that final year before he was drafted, and the Twins have found that perhaps he was better left as a reliever going forward.
Jay can dial up upper-90s velocity with a wicked breaking ball out of the bullpen, and he could factor in the 2018 major league bullpen, so the Twins will want to see how he handles facing the top bats in the minor leagues every game. He is also hoping to pick up the innings he’s lost this year after being injured much of the season.
Chris Paul, 3B
The Twins grabbed Chris Paul out of Cal in the 6th round of the 2015 draft, and he struggled with the bat his first two seasons as he’s adjusted to pro ball, hitting .228/.283/.308 in 2016 between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers.
Paul returned to Fort Myers to open 2017, and not only was he hitting well, but while he’s struggled some while he moved around before among a few positions, he was able to handle playing all four corners of the infield and outfield without skipping a beat at the plate before breaking his hamate bone.
He’s just recently returned to the Fort Myers lineup after a few rehab games in the Gulf Coast League. His season line is .324/.378/.456 with 19 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 home runs.
The Twins are really hoping to get Paul the at bats that he missed this season, and they could have an idea to work him more in the outfield or more strenuously at third base, as he’s shown the arm and instincts to be a good third baseman, but he’s still very raw at that the position.
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LaMonte Wade, OF
A 9th round selection out of the University of Maryland in 2015, Wade is a superior athlete that has struggled some to stay healthy in the last few years, but he has an exceptional eye at the plate.
Wade has played all season with Chattanooga, and he’s had by far his most healthy season, playing 110 games this year for the Lookouts, hitting .282/.393/.390 with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 6 home runs, and 8 stolen bases.
Where Wade makes his chops is at the plate, where he currently owns a career 175/145 BB/K ratio in the minor leagues over 266 games along with a .402 on base average. While he’s not an elite base stealer, he stolen at over an 80% rate in his minor league career, and he’s been noted as an exceptional base runner once he is on base, which has allowed him to project as a possible top-of-the-order type.
Wade has been splitting his time among all three outfield positions, so the Twins could have an idea of where they intend to have him focus going forward, or they could simply want to see him face consistent velocity and impressive stuff to hone his skills while in the AFL.
More players could be selected as injury fill-ins if players are unable to compete in the entirety of the league, and that often happens as the season comes closer and players realize where they are physically after the long season.
A few guys that could be interesting to see if the team may send to be injury replacements include 2017 draft pick Brent Rooker, along with a host of relief arms like Alex Robinson, Sam Clay, Andrew Vasquez, and Michael Theofanopoulos. I could also see the team sending lefty Lewis Thorpe to the AFL if a spot opened up as well. It would all depend on a number of circumstances that would allow them to send more than their initial four.