Minnesota Twins land two on International League award team

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 22: Zach Granite
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 22: Zach Granite /

Minor leagues have begun to wrap up, and many are announcing their end-of-season awards. The Minnesota Twins landed two players on the International League list.

The Minnesota Twins have enjoyed a very positive season in the minor leagues with all affiliates currently competing for the postseason with roughly 10 days remaining on the regular season for stateside leagues and the Dominican Summer League regular season completed.

The International League released their awards on Wednesday, and with Gwinnett in a 3-game lead for the wild card spot in the playoffs, it served that the team would have multiple players make the team. However, it could be argued that the team actually should have at least one more honoree, and we’ll explore that as well!

Let’s take a look at the honorees:

Mitch Garver, C

While fans may have wanted to see Garver in the Minnesota Twins lineup for a long time, it’s nowhere near as long as International League pitchers wanted to see him there – so they no longer had to face him!

Garver was originally selected by the Twins in the 9th round of the 2013 draft out of the University of New Mexico, the third catcher the Twins selected in that draft. Yet, all along, Garver has pushed forward and shown himself to be much more than where he was rated by prospect lists or draft status.

This season, Garver has shown his power in his bat, ranking in the top 10 in home runs and doubles in the International League in spite of playing catcher and having roughly 20 less games played than anyone else in the top 10 of either list. His line with Rochester this year was .291/.387/.541 with 29 doubles and 17 home runs.

Zack Granite, OF

Granite’s speedster/defense profile worked him up to the major leagues this year, and he very well could be done with the minor legaues at this point, so getting honored in what could be his final minor league season is an excellent honor.

Granite was drafted by the Minnesota Twins out of Seton Hall University in 2013 in the 14th round. He’s never been a power hitter, and that put him outside of the notice of a lot of people, but he has always played excellent center field defense and had incredible speed to burn. Last season, he really got a lot of notice when he stole 56 bases at AA.

Moving up to AAA this season, Granite was tough to keep off the bases, but he wasn’t so much stealing as he was running wild once the ball was put into play by the rest of the Rochester lineup. He ended up finishing just short of the qualifications for the batting title, but his .338 batting average would have put him 2nd in the International League, and he was able to drive the ball around the field to the tune of a .475 slugging percentage.

Granite still may have a career as a 4th outfielder in the major leagues, but he’s shown enough with his glove, speed, and contact ability to be able to hold down a 4th outfielder job that will likely keep Granite with the big league club from day 1 of 2018.

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The snub: Aaron Slegers, RHP

Because of the way that the International League chooses its positions, it’s hard to argue for Slegers over the honoree for the “starting pitcher” slot, which was Pirates prospect Steven Brault, who finished with an ERA under 2 on the season.

However, the IL is one of the few leagues that doesn’t offer at least a pair of starting pitchers to be honored, one from each hand, or even 2-3 general starting pitchers to be honored, which leaves the tremendous season that Slegers was able to produce to go unrecognized, sadly.

Slegers put up one of the most dominant runs in the minor leagues in June and July, winning 8 straight starts from June 15th through July 30th, with a crazy 1.73 ERA during that stretch.

While Slegers did not get chosen, he is currently leading the International League in wins with 14, is 8th in ERA with a 3.37 mark, is 4th in innings with 141 2/3, and tied for 10th in WHIP at 1.24. He’s certainly got nothing to be ashamed of in his 2017 season!

Next: Twins AFL selections announced

More of the Minnesota Twins affiliate leagues should be announcing their end-of-season awards soon, and as the Twins have some very good teams this year, you can bet there will be more players receiving notice!