The Minnesota Twins announced their minor league player and pitcher of the year on Wednesday.
The Minnesota Twins had an extremely successful season on the farm in 2017, seeing 6 of their 7 affiliates make the postseason, with 2 bringing home championships. MLB Pipeline announced the Twins’ prospects of the year, as covered by our Nate Palmer, but this was the players selected by the Minnesota Twins organization.
Player of the Year: Mitch Garver
Garver has played the underdog role much of his career in the Minnesota Twins organization. He was the third catcher that the Twins selected in the 2013 draft when he was picked in the 9th round by the team out of the University of New Mexico.
Garver is a solid-built 6’1″, 210-225 pound guy that can still hold a good target behind the plate and move fairly well with a good arm to keep base runners honest. Most of all, pitchers LOVE working with Garver and even MLB pitchers that have been down to the minor league level have raved about his presence behind the plate and their comfort throwing to him for that reason.
As quality as his defense may be, Garver’s calling card has always been at the plate more than behind the plate. He has a career .364 OBP in the minors, and his power has developed well. In 2017, Garver hit .291/.387/.541 with Rochester, with 29 doubles and 17 home runs in just 372 plate appearances. He posted a rough .196/.288/.348 line, but his ability to draw a walk was still evident, and his 3 triples in just 52 major league plate appearances was evidence of his ability to drive the ball.
Garver very well may pair with starter Jason Castro to make a very impressive 1-2 combination behind the plate for the Twins in 2018.
Pitcher of the Year: Aaron Slegers
Slegers was likely often mistaken coming out of the athletic complex at Indiana due to being 6’10” and going to a basketball-crazy school like Indiana, but he has quality stuff that has seemingly flown under the radar as he’s come up the minor league system after being drafted in the 5th round in 2013. Slegers has Minnesota family ties with a mother from the state, and they were out in force at his debut with the big league club this year.
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Slegers has been a workhorse type in the minor leagues, throwing at least 130 innings every season in his minor league career. He’s never put up a season with a crazy-low ERA or crazy-high strikeout rate, but he’s a consistent pitcher that’s around the zone and works through innings.
In 2017, the tall righty enjoyed a long streak of success that led to a 15-4 record with the AAA Rochester team overall. He threw 148 1/3 innings, with a 3.40 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 29/119 BB/K ratio. Slegers saw his ERA escalate in the major leagues, though some of that was due to a rough pair of appearances in early September. More than anything, Slegers was a guy who took the ball every five days and was in a rhythm, and then he got to the majors and threw three times (once in relief) in the entire month of September.
Slegers isn’t a guy who has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter, but his excellent heavy fastball and ability to stay around the zone should allow him to be effective in the back of the rotation, giving the Twins deep performances every 5 days, if he’s at the big league level.
That pretty much wraps up the minor league season for the Minnesota Twins organization. They’ll now focus on hiring new coaches and managers for the minor league system and preparing to hopefully have further success in 2018!