Blue Wahoos Now Boast Twins Top Three PIcks In Past Three Drafts

Kirilloff, Lewis, Larnach give franchise its most No. 1 picks on same team in club history

The top Minnesota Twins No. 1 draft picks in the last three years are now together with the Blue Wahoos. This kind of touted talent at same time has never happened before in Blue Wahoos club history. (Daniel Venn)

By Bill Vilona, Senior Writer / Pensacola Blue Wahoos | August 1, 2019 10:33 AM

The Blue Wahoos lineup during their road series against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp included a franchise distinction.

The top three hitters in the batting order the last two games were shortstop Royce Lewis, first baseman-outfielder Alex Kirilloff and outfielder Trevor Larnach. They are the Minnesota Twins' No 1 picks the past three years (2016-18) of the Major League Baseball Draft. 

The same three players batted 1-2-3 in Sunday's game as well.

That kind of marquee attachment has never happened before in the Blue Wahoos' eight-year history. Only once as a Cincinnati Reds affiliate did the Blue Wahoos have two No. 1 draft picks at the same time.

All three touted prospects are set to remain together in Pensacola, following Wednesday's much-anticipated MLB trade deadline, when the Blue Wahoos begin a five-game homestand Thursday night against the Birmingham Barons. The Blue Wahoos enter this weekend series with wins in eight of their last 10 games.

At least for now, barring any promotion to Triple-A Rochester, it will give fans the opportunity in the final 15 home games of August to see an acclaimed trio, all of whom are projected to eventually reach the big leagues.

After days of speculation, the Twins opted not to part with any of their Top 30 prospects, as rated by MLB Pipeline, amid a flurry of moves from other teams.

Outfielder Jaylin Davis, a Southern League All-Star with the Blue Wahoos in the first half, who then moved to Triple-A Rochester and has hit 15 homers, was part of the Twins 11th-hour, four-player trade Wednesday with the San Francisco Giants to land reliever Sam Dyson.

The Twins also gave up young, pitching prospects Kai-Wei Teng and Prelander Berroa in the deal. But they kept all of their highest rated minor league players intact.

Former Blue Wahoos first baseman and fan favorite Lewin Diaz, traded Saturday to the Miami Marlins in exchange for veteran MLB reliever Sergio Romo, who joined the Twins, did not begin the year rated among the top 30, but was on the list a year ago.

The 3 p.m. MLB trade deadline Wednesday was immediately followed by several blockbuster trades announced, led by the Houston Astros acquiring former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Moments before that trade was announced, the Chicago Cubs landed right fielder and rising star Nicholas Castellanos from the Detroit Tigers.

This year, unlike any other in MLB, the trade deadline is a hard-fast one. The only way teams can now add to their roster is if a player is released on waivers and acquired with nothing in return.

In addition, there will be no expansion to 40-player rosters on Sept. 1 like past years. Teams may carry only three additional players to the 25-man roster.

Four of the five top-rated prospects in the Twins organization, led by Lewis (1), Kirilloff (2) and pitcher Brusdar Graterol (3), who made any injury rehab start Tuesday in Fort Myers, are on the Blue Wahoos' current roster. Larnarch is No. 5 overall.

The only time there were multiple first-rounders on the Blue Wahoos roster as a Cincinnati Reds' affiliate occurred in 2016 when outfielder Philip Ervin (2013 No. 1) and pitcher Nick Travieso (2012) were together that season in Pensacola.

Ervin is now with the Reds. Travieso was released June 29 by the Reds, after he was trying to make a comeback with their Rookie League affiliate, the Billings (Mont.) Mustangs. Travieso missed all of the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to shoulder surgery and ensuing complications.

Lewis made his Double-A debut with the Blue Wahoos on Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a two-run double, along with turning a pair of double plays from his shortstop position.

The Blue Wahoos entered Wednesday's series-finale in Jacksonville with a 57-51 overall record. They are 19-19 and four games behind the Biloxi Shuckers in the SL South Division second-half race. But the Blue Wahoos have a 4.5 game lead on the Mississippi Braves as the team with the second-best overall record,

Should Biloxi win the second-half, after winning the first half, their playoff opponent would be the team with the second-best overall record.

The only time there were multiple first-rounders on the Blue Wahoos roster as a Cincinnati Reds' affiliate occurred in 2016 when outfielder Philip Ervin (2013 No. 1) and pitcher Nick Travieso (2012) were together that season in Pensacola.

Ervin is now with the Reds. Travieso was released June 29 by the Reds, after he was trying to make a comeback with their Rookie League affiliate, the Billings (Mont.) Mustangs. Travieso missed all of the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to shoulder surgery and ensuing complications.

Lewis made his Double-A debut with the Blue Wahoos on Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a two-run double, along with turning a pair of double plays from his shortstop position.

The Twins minor-league system, ranked No. 8 overall by Baseball America, No. 6 by MLB.com, has shown its strength this year. The two Single-A teams, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels and Fort Myers Miracle, both won their respective first half, league division titles. Both teams posted their 60th win Tuesday night.

The Blue Wahoos set a franchise record by winning their first eight series this season, before infielder Luis Arraez and pitcher Devin Smeltzer both made MLB debuts with the Twins. Other players like Graterol become injured, or in the case of Jaylin Davis, elevated to Triple-A.

Only two players on the Blue Wahoos' opening-day, active roster, shortstop Jordan Gore and pitcher Jorge Alcala, are still with the team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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