Closing system

Retooling and refreshing at trade deadline leads to overhaul of the Twins farm system

Ryan seized the opportunity – and was helped out by a teammate out of a traffic jam – throwing a solid 4 1/3 innings in which he gave up just one race. He will return from Japan with a medal, the color of which remains to be determined. When he does, Ryan will join a Twins Farm System that was recharged last month through a series of exchanges, and he will become one of the organization’s top prospects.

“It is certainly very exciting to have new players, especially the caliber of player that we were able to acquire at the trade deadline,” said Alex Hassan, manager of the Twins farm. “Obviously it’s bittersweet because to have really good players you have to give up really good players.”

And that’s exactly what the twins did.

They started this season probably thinking they would complete the major league squad before the July 30 trade deadline. Instead, they revamped the farm system, adding players who they believe will help them in the future.

Shortstop / center fielder Austin Martin, a top 25 overall prospect who was acquired as part of the trade for José Berríos, has become the organization’s top prospect, according to Baseball America, edging out the ‘Royce Lewis shortstop. Simeon Woods Richardson, who is also part of the Berrios trade, has become one of the Twins’ top two pitching prospects along with Jordan Balazovic, and Ryan, acquired for Nelson Cruz, is their No. 4 pitcher prospect, by BA.

Pitcher Drew Strotman, who was also part of the Cruz deal with Tampa Bay, is just outside the Twins’ top 10 on Baseball America’s roster. Strotman was added to the Twins’ 40-player roster and Strotman and Ryan have both been in Triple-A all year, near the big league.

The influx of talent – the Twins also added minor league pitchers Evan Sisk and Alex Scherff as well as major league pitcher John Gant on deadline – was part of what the president of baseball operations of the Twins, Derek Falvey, called their plan a “reshuffle,” and “freshen up,” as they add to a core that they believe will form their next contending team.

Martin, who is Baseball America’s 20th overall prospect and 5th overall in last year’s draft, got off to a quick start at Double-A Wichita. The Blue Jays have played him both at center field and shortstop, and the Twins plan to keep him on a 50-50 split between those two positions, Hassan said, as they assess the best positional adjustment.

Hassan praised his batting skills and his ability to control the strike zone. While he hasn’t shown much pop this year at Double-A, Hassan said this is an area where the Twins believe he can improve.

“I think ideally we can help him improve in this area, but given all the other skills and tools he has, I think if we could add a little more damage to his game, we have a chance to have a really premium player, ”he said.

Woods Richardson, who is also on Team USA competing at the Olympics with Ryan, will join Martin at Double-A on his return. The starter, who was acquired by the Blue Jays in 2019 in a trade for Marcus Stroman, had a 5.76 double-A earned-run average and inflated walk rate, but he struck out 13.3 batters per nine sleeves. At only 20 years old, Double-A is an aggressive task for him, but a testament to his level of advancement.

“He’s young for the level and he’s missing a ton of bats,” Hassan said. “It’s generally a very good combination. We’re excited about him (and) his stuff and think there are pieces of his performance that are quite exceptional at this point.

Both Strotman and Ryan are closer to the majors and could potentially hang out with the Twins this season.

And while it took treating fan favorites to get some of their next wave of talent, this group of pitchers are joining existing arms like Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Josh Winder, Matt Canterino and others, who according to the twins, will impact their big league team in the future.

“These are tough moves to make because obviously they make your major league team worse in the short team, but at the end of the day we have guys who we think have a really bright future and we are really excited to (them) make an impact as an organization on the road, ”said Hassan.

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