ST. PAUL, MN (May 1, 2021) - First round draft picks. Check. Baseball America top prospects. Check. Major League experience. Check. The St. Paul Saints roster will have it all to begin the 2021 season. The Saints, in conjunction with the Minnesota Twins, announced their first Triple-A roster that will
ST. PAUL, MN (May 1, 2021) - First round draft picks. Check. Baseball America top prospects. Check. Major League experience. Check. The St. Paul Saints roster will have it all to begin the 2021 season. The Saints, in conjunction with the Minnesota Twins, announced their first Triple-A roster that will include 18 pitchers, four catchers, four infielders, and four outfielders.
The Twins, who are considered to have a Top 12 Minor League system by many publications, will showcase a ton of talent just 10.6 miles from Target Field at CHS Field. The Saints, who open the season on May 4 at Werner Park against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) will open with the second, fourth, fifth, 12th, and 25th best prospects in the organization by Baseball America with outfielder Trevor Larnach, catcher Ryan Jeffers, pitcher Jhoan Duran, outfielder Brent Rooker, and infielder Travis Blankenhorn, respectively. Larnach and Jeffers are the 33rd and 54th best prospects in baseball according to Baseball America.
The pitching staff has more than 25 combined seasons of Major League experience, but two arms that don’t have big league time may be the most intriguing. Duran, whom the Twins received in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade, who has an upper-90s fastball and the famous “splinker” pitch. Duran fanned 136 batters in 115.0 innings between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola in 2019. Griffin Jax, a third-round pick by the Twins in 2016, dominated at Double-A Pensacola in 2019 earning a Southern League All-Star nod. He was named the pitcher with the best control in the Twins system following the season by Baseball America.
Luke Farrell, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, and Brandon Waddell have all spent time with the Twins in 2021. Along with those four pitchers, 10 others pitched for Major League teams either during the shortened 2020 season or the last full season in 2019. Those pitchers are Shaun Anderson (Giants, 2020), Daniel Coulombe (Twins, 2020), Ian Gibaut (Rangers, 2020), Ian Hamilton (White Sox, 2020), Derek Law (Blue Jays, 2019), Robinson Leyer (Red Sox, 2020), Juan Minaya (White Sox, 2019), Chandler Shepherd (Orioles, 2019), Glenn Sparkman (Royals, 2020), and Andrew Vasquez (Twins, 2019). Also on the staff are Andrew Albers, who has spent the last three seasons with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan and returns for his third stint with the Twins organization, Charlie Barnes, a fourth round pick by the Twins in 2017, and Bailey Ober, a 12th round selection by the Twins in 2017.
The Saints will carry four catchers to start the season with Jeffers being the highest profile backstop. Jeffers, a second-round pick in 2018, was one of the biggest surprises last season hitting .273 with three home runs and seven RBI in 26 games with the Twins. He’s played 11 games with the Twins this season. Joining Jeffers is Caleb Hamilton, a 2019 Southern League All-Star with Pensacola and 23rd round pick by the Twins in 2016. Roberto Pe**ñ**a, a 10-year veteran who was a seventh-round pick by the Houston Astros in 2007, a Rawlings Gold Glove winner, and rated the best catcher in the Astros organization from 2011-14. He spent 2019 in the Angels organization. The fourth catcher is nine-year veteran Tomà**s Telis**. He is a six-time mid-season All-Star, including in 2019 with the Rochester Red Wings.
The position players will add some pop and include top prospects. The infield which will consist of the Twins third round pick from 2015 and an All-Star the last three seasons, Blankenhorn. He got his first taste of the Major Leagues on September 14, 2020 when he collected his first Major League hit, a double in the ninth against the Chicago White Sox. Nick Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Twins, is a two-time mid-season All-Star and played in the Futures Game in 2017. He hit .298 at Triple-A Rochester in 2019 and got his first call up to the Major Leagues on April 23 of this season. Drew Maggi is a three-time All-Star who hit .258 with 10 home runs in 2019 at Rochester. The 10-year veteran was acquired by the Twins as a Minor League free agent in 2019. Zander Wiel put on a power display in 2019 at Rochester finishing first in the International League in doubles (40) and extra base hits (69), second in runs (86), tied for second in total bases (241), tied for sixth in RBI (78), 11th in slugging (.514) and T14th in home runs (24).
The outfield might be one of the most exciting in all of Triple-A. Larnach, the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft, finished the 2019 season sixth in the Florida State League in batting average (.316), ninth in OPS (.842), and 10th in slugging (.459). Rooker, the 35th overall choice by the Twins in 2017, has played 15 games with the Twins over the last two seasons, and hit .281 with 14 homers and 47 RBI in his last full season in 2019 with Rochester. Keon Broxton has the most Major League experience of any players on the team with 376 games under his belt. He has 133 home runs and 261 stolen bases in his 11 year professional career. He signed as a Minor League free agent with the Twins on February 12 of this year. Finally, Rob Refsnyder, who was signed as a Minor League free agent in November of last year, played 15 games for the Texas Rangers in 2020 and is a three-time MiLB.com Organizational All-Star in his nine year career.
The Saints season begins on May 4 against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) at Werner Park at 6:35 p.m. The Saints first home game as the Triple-A affiliate of the Twins is Tuesday, May 11 at 7:05 p.m. against the Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs). A limited number of single-game tickets are available for all Saints games by going to saintsbaseball.com or contacting the Saints office during normal box office hours, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. or Saturday 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., by calling 651-644-6659.