Minnesota Twins prospect Zack Littell could accomplish rare feat

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ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 3: The baseball rests on the pitcher's mound during the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels at Angel Stadium on June 3, 2004 in Anaheim, California. The Angels won 5-2. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 3: The baseball rests on the pitcher's mound during the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels at Angel Stadium on June 3, 2004 in Anaheim, California. The Angels won 5-2. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /
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A mid-season acquisition by the Minnesota Twins has a chance to accomplish a rare feat in minor league baseball.

The Minnesota Twins swapped lefty starter Jaime Garcia in and out of the organization in July, and some questioned the move, but after seeing one half of the return, lefty Dietrich Enns, make his major league debut and seeing Garcia struggle mightily since his trade (5.11 ERA, 1.78 WHIP in 5 starts), Twins fans have generally changed their mind, but the other half of that deal may turn that trade into an outright steal.

Zack Littell came to the Minnesota Twins organization in the midst of a monster run of wins already, but he’s continued that run with Chattanooga since being acquired.

What he’s aiming for

Littell’s record is anything but little this season, as he’s gone 18-1 on the season across three different affiliates. With just 5 games left, he has a very outside chance at 20 wins on the season.

Littell is scheduled to take the mound for the Lookouts tonight against Montgomery on his normal turn in the Chattanooga rotation. If he were to get the win tonight, the Lookouts could certainly work with Littell’s throw day or use him on short rest in a combo game on the season finale in order to help get him to the big milestone of 20 wins.

With both the playoffs already in hand, along with the second-half’s best record in the Southern League, the Lookouts can really look to set up their rotation for such things if they’d like.

So far Chattanooga is 5-1 in Littell’s 6 starts, and even the 1 loss was an extra inning loss, so he’s done well to keep the team each game, so certainly it would be something manager Jake Mauer could choose to try to get for Littell.

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How rare is the feat?

The minor league is significantly shorter, and prospects are protected quite a bit more, so it is quite rare for a pitcher to come close to 20 wins on a season. Currently, the second place guy on the season in 2017 is Littell’s former organization mate, Chance Adams in the Yankees system, who has 15 wins.

In going back the last few years, Littell’s current mark would be the high-water mark for a while. In 2016, Ben Lively in the Phillies organization also had 18 wins. The last minor leaguer to record 20 wins was a minor league veteran, John Fritz, who recorded 20 wins in the Midwest League in 1992 at age 23, at least a year older than his average league mate.

The last Minnesota Twin pitcher to win 20 at the major league level was Johan Santana, who won 20 games en route to the 2004 American League Cy Young Award.

Next: Twins AFL selections announced

It will be a long shot with so few games left, but it’s worth cheering for Zack to make his mark in his new organization!

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