Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 60, Standing Tall

CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Jon Rauch
CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Jon Rauch /

The Minnesota Twins are just 60 days away from opening day in Baltimore. As we near that day, we will tap into Twins history related to each number as we get closer!

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until opening day on March 29th in Baltimore.

Baseball is glorious as a sport in that a player of any shape or size can excel at the game and have a chance to be a professional at the sport. Of course, the extremes are always intriguing, and today, we celebrate the tallest player to ever wear a Minnesota Twins uniform, #60 Jon Rauch.

Rauch’s career

Rauch was the 3rd round selection of the White Sox out of Morehead State University in Kentucky. He quickly established himself as a dominating minor league pitcher, ranking as the #4 prospect in baseball before the 2001 season by Baseball America.

He would go on to be ranked two more seasons by Baseball America, but he was unable to reach the major leagues, stalling in AAA as a starter before the White Sox traded him to the Expos with Gary Majewski for Carl Everett.

It was with the Expos/Nationals that Rauch would establish himself in the bullpen, pitching in 173 games combined in 2006 and 2007. He would take over as Washington’s closer in 2008 before he was traded to Arizona at the trade deadline.

The Twins acquired Rauch at the trade deadline in 2009, and he was brilliant in his time as a Twin, posting a 1.72 ERA over 15 2/3 innings. He served as the Minnesota Twins closer in 2010, saving 21 games over 59 appearances with a 3.12 ERA.

He signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays before 2011 and pitched his final three major league seasons with three different organizations, pitching in his final game in 2013.

Over his big league career, he threw in 556 games, with a 3.90 ERA and 62 saves.

Twins franchise extremes in height

As the tallest player to have played in the major leagues, Rauch is the tallest Twins player at 6’11”, but the Twins do currently have a pitcher who is just a hair shorter than Rauch in 6’10” righty Aaron Slegers, who made his MLB debut in 2017.

The Twins have also employed the tallest ever pitcher in the minor leagues in their system as well, as Loek van Mil pitched for the Minnesota Twins in the minor leagues from 2007-2010 at 7′ tall (some list him as 7’1″). He pitched again for Rochester in the Twins organization in 2015 and 2016.

The Twins have employed four pitchers in their history who were 6’8″ or taller – Rauch, Slegers, Alex Meyer (6’9″) and Mike Smithson (6’8″).

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On the other end, the current Minnesota Twins roster doesn’t have a lot of players who are on the shorter end of the spectrum, as the shortest players are Zack Granite and Eduardo Escobar, who are both listed at 5’10”.

On the minor league side, the Twins have the shortest player who has played in the game in recent time as one of their draft picks in Chris Cates, who was a 38th round draft pick in the 2007 draft out of Louisville. Cates played in the Twins system from 2007-2011, reaching as high as AA.

Interestingly, the 5’3″ Cates and the 7′ van Mil played together at multiple levels, starting with 2 games in Elizabethton in 2007. The two would spend 2008 in Beloit and 2009 in Fort Myers together and also were both in Fort Myers and New Britain in 2010 before van Mil was traded to the Angels.

At the major league level, the shortest player the Twins have ever employed is 5’7″, which is held by four players, Quinton McCracken, Jarvis Brown, Sergio Ferrer (who turns 67 years old today!), and Jackie Collum. Kirby Puckett was among a number who stood just an inch taller at 5’8″.

Next: Who will be next in Twins team HOF?

As we get closer to opening day, we remember #60 by remembering the tallest of those who stood tall on the mound, Jon Rauch.

We look forward to that first day of the season against Baltimore!