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Julien, Wallner provide steady bats for Twins

Upper-level talent shines brightest among Minnesota's All-Stars
In his second full season, Edouard Julien batted .300/.441/.490 in 113 games for Double-A Wichita. (Joshua Tjiong/
November 16, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Minnesota Twins.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Minnesota Twins.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A St. Paul: 74-75
Double-A Wichita: 78-59
High-A Cedar Rapids: 73-58 (winner, North Division)
Single-A Fort Myers: 69-59
FCL Twins: 25-30
DSL Twins: 32-28
Overall: 351-309 (.532 winning percentage, 5th among MLB organizations)

Twins Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Noah Cardenas

In his full-season debut, Cardenas made a strong showing both at and behind the plate. The 2021 eighth-rounder out of UCLA topped the pitcher-friendly Florida State League with a .421 OBP and an .834 OPS in 99 games for Single-A Fort Myers. Cardenas led all qualified full-season Twins Minor Leaguers with a 1.04 BB/K rate and was second with a 146 wRC+. Rounding out his tools, the 23-year-old ripped nine homers with 43 RBIs while swiping 11 bases in 16 attempts.

The California native showed strong glove work, not allowing a passed ball all season, and was solid at controlling the run game. Cardenas threw out 29 percent (24-for-82) of would-be basestealers, just below the Major League average of 30 percent. Cardenas also spent 25 games at first base and occasionally served as designated hitter.

First base: Chris Williams

After playing just four games in 10 days for Double-A Wichita, Williams was put on the Development List to get more at-bats and work on his offense. When he returned two weeks later, Williams showed immediate progress, notching a 1.012 OPS in 16 May games for the Wind Surge. The Clemson product continued slugging throughout the summer and earned a promotion to Triple-A St. Paul in August. Although his production dipped as he adjusted to the International League, Williams finished the season with 28 homers to lead all Twins Minor Leaguers. The 2018 Draft pick drove in 89 runs while registering an .843 OPS in 117 games across the two levels.

Williams continues to get reps at both first base and catcher, and while the California native spent the majority (83 games) of his season at first, the Twins aren't ready to tie him to one spot.

“[We] still value him behind the plate and think he has a lot to offer there,” said Twins director of player development Alex Hassan. “We'll see where the at-bats line up and what position that ends up making the most sense at, but we believe in his skills at both those spots and we're excited for future opportunities.”

Second base: Edouard Julien

Before Julien was breaking out in the Arizona Fall League, he was quietly putting together a stellar campaign in the Texas League. In his second full season, the 18th-round pick in the 2019 Draft hit .300/.441/.490/.931 in 113 games for Wichita. Along with 17 homers and 19 stolen bases, Julien showed plenty of patience, leading the farm system with 98 walks.

“He's an incredible hitter, a guy that's really performed well throughout his career,” Hassan said. “He's worked hard on his defensive game. We tried him in a few different spots. Ultimately, we played him at second base a bunch this year and hope to continue to get some really good work in there and try to make that a viable option for him moving forward.”

After playing first, second, third and left in 2021, Julien was exclusively a second baseman this year when he was in the field. The Fall League was much of the same as the Twins wanted him to continue to get reps at second while keeping the strong offense going.

Third base: Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Encarnacion-Strand followed up an electric pro debut in 2021 with another exciting campaign, leading qualified Twins Minor Leaguers with a 163 wRC+ and a .986 OPS in 87 games. As the Oklahoma State product advanced from High-A Cedar Rapids to Double-A Wichita, he only got better, posting a composite .302/.374/.612 slash line with 25 homers and 63 RBIs.

Encarnacion-Strand’s strong showing was a valuable piece at the Trade Deadline as the Twins sent the 22-year-old, along with Spencer Steer and Steve Hajjar, to the Reds in exchange for Tyler Mahle. Encarnacion-Strand is now Cincinnati’s No. 14 prospect.

Shortstop: Jermaine Palacios

Palacios was a solid option for the Twins this season. The 26-year-old posted a .283/.341/.462/.803 slash line with 14 dingers and 60 RBIs in 102 games for Triple-A St. Paul. Palacios’ .350 BABIP was his best mark since 2015 in Rookie ball. Along with his bat, the Venezuela native earned 30 games in The Show across two stints thanks to his versatile glove as he played every position except center field and catcher. The Tigers claimed Palacios off waivers on Oct. 10, but he elected free agency a month later.


Matt Wallner

Wallner made his third pro season his best one yet, advancing from Double-A to The Show. The Twins’ No. 5 prospect got off to slow starts for both Wichita and St. Paul, but it wasn’t long before he started to take off. Wallner led the farm system with 95 RBIs and 32 doubles as he left the yard a career-high 27 times and registered a 0.57 BB/K rate.

“He really made significant adjustments,” Hassan said. “He controlled the strike zone a lot better than in years past, so his walk rates were significantly improved, but also was able to cut down some of the swing and miss, especially in the strike zone, especially after he got settled at each level.”

The corner outfielder -- whose 65-grade arm is his best tool -- finished the season on the Target Field grass. While Wallner once again proved to need an adjustment period to get his strikeouts back down, the Minnesota native now has the tools and experience to know how to get back to raking.

Anthony Prato

After being limited to 94 games through his first three pro seasons due to the pandemic and injury, Prato showed just what he could do during a full campaign. The 2019 seventh-rounder out of the University of Connecticut posted a career-best slash line of .285/.383/.444/.827 with 10 homers, 64 RBIs and a Twins farm system-leading 136 hits in 132 games between Cedar Rapids and Wichita.

Perhaps most impressive is that Prato kept such a steady bat while moving across the field all season. The 24-year-old played every position except center, catcher and pitcher, with left field getting the plurality.

“He's a guy that's had to fight for it bad,” Hassan said. “So being able to play multiple positions, depending on where there's an opening and where there are at-bats has been important for him, and certainly that was the case this year. And he made strides offensively, especially in terms of his ability to impact the ball this year.”

Kyler Fedko

While Fedko hasn’t yet replicated what made him the Big East Player of the Year as a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, he continued to put up decent numbers in the Twins system. Across 110 games for Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids, the 23-year-old notched a .740 OPS with a 0.62 BB/K rate that led qualified Twins Minor League outfielders. Fedko also swiped 13 bags in 16 attempts across the two levels.

Left-handed starter: Brent Headrick

From the start of the season, Headrick was locked in. The 24-year-old southpaw held foes to a .174 average while notching a 1.86 ERA through his first 10 starts (48 1/3 frames) for Cedar Rapids. Headrick earned a promotion to Wichita in July. Although the 2019 Draft pick struggled in his debut, he got right back on track with four hitless frames the following start. In total, Headrick went 10-5 with a 3.32 ERA, 136 strikeouts and 25 walks in 108 1/3 frames across 25 games (23 starts).

“His slider got a lot better; [it’s] something we feel really good about,” Hassan said. “His fastball velocity ticked up throughout the year too. So we really feel like he made a lot of strides that we saw start to manifest at the end of the season.”

Right-handed starter: Simeon Woods Richardson

After being traded in back-to-back seasons, Woods Richardson pitched an entire campaign in one organization for the first time since his debut in 2018. The result was his best season yet. Woods Richardson went 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA with 115 strikeouts and 36 walks while registering a career-best 1.05 WHIP in 107 1/3 innings across 22 starts for Wichita and St. Paul before getting his first call to the bigs.

“The velocity was a tick higher than we saw last year, but he really made strides with his slider development as well,” Hassan said. “The slider really took a step forward and had sustained performance across multiple levels.”

The Twins hope Woods Richardson -- who went five frames in his first MLB start -- can stick in the rotation, with Hassan adding that the club’s top right-handed pitching prospect will be competing for a spot in the spring.

Reliever: Evan Sisk

Sisk came over from the Cardinals during the 2021 season as a solid reliever. But this year, he found a new level of dominance. With a lower arm slot that allows for a sinking fastball and sweeping slider, the southpaw posted a 1.57 ERA with 76 punchouts against 29 walks in 63 frames across 50 appearances for the Wind Surge and Saints. Mainly used as an eighth-inning setup man, Sisk held opponents to a .162 average while notching a 1.02 WHIP.

“He's got a couple of nasty pitches that come from an unorthodox angle that make it really tough, especially on lefties but really overall,” Hassan said. “And when he's able to get that stuff in the strike zone, it's really tough. It's a tough at-bat, it's a tough angle. He did a really nice job of reducing his walks and being in the strike zone and put together an outstanding year.”

Kelsie Heneghan is a writer for Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.