Starting promotion will always be the focal point of the major league franchise, but we’ve seen how impactful having a dominant bowling game can be. After retooling the in-flight relief unit this year, Minnesota will be looking at stronger interior options for 2023 and beyond. This group of newcomers can certainly fit into the equation.
Before getting to the winner, there were a few shooters who were contestants:
Bobby Melaki (Cedar Rapids) – 36 G 2.83 ERA 1.194 WHIP 9.6 K / 9 3.1 BB / 9
owner of Barrington (Fort Myers / Cedar Rapids) – 33 G 3.61 ERA 1.186 WHIP 11.5 K / 9 3.9 BB / 9
Matt Mullenbach (Fort Myers / Cedar Rapids) – 30 g 1.60 ERA 1.111 WHIP 9.2 K / 9 2.2 BB / 9
# 5 Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) – 36 G 51.1 IP 2.98 ERA 1.305 WHIP 10.2 K / 9 3.9 BB / 9
Hicks was signed by the twins in July 2021 after they dropped out of the University of North Carolina without being drafted into the Indy Ball. Hicks only served as a softener this year for Fort Myers, hitting hits in groups. Across over 50 rounds of action, Hicks has only beaten Homer three times. He still has room for improvement, and at 24 he’s well above the average age in the Florida State League, but Hicks definitely gave himself a chance to compete at the next level in 2023.
# 4 Hunter McMahon (Fort Myers / Cedar Rapids / Wichita) – 43 G 73.2 IP 2.81 ERA 0.896 WHIP 9.3 K / 9 2.0 BB / 9
McMahon was a ninth-round pick by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Minnesota acquired him in 2020 when they sent the Savior Rain Harper To Washington after the DFA to make room for Josh Donaldson. He’s played on three levels this season but mostly split time between High and Low-A. His 76 to 16 hits only were a result of his ability to bombard the area and dictate bats to hitters. McMahon routinely worked on the highest levels of leverage and also scored seven saves.
# 3 Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) – 43 G 55.1 IP 3.09 ERA 1.012 WHIP 9.9 K/9 2.6 BB/9
A 19th-round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Schulfer has consistently raised his tally ever since. This season, the talented right collected 0.39 ERAs across 23 rounds in the Double-A to earn his promotion. Schulver battled some on his first taste of Triple-A, but the hits stayed. He got a little burned out walking and jumping in the H/9, but the mods are something he’s shown ability to do. This was Schulfer’s first season as a savior, and he made eight saves in the process.
Second place – Cody Lawrison (Cedar Rapids / Wichita) – 35 G 94.2 IP 0.982 WHIP 10.6 K / 9 2.6 BB / 9
Laweryson was taken in the 14th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Maine. He primarily worked as a rookie throughout the beginning of his career until his transition to a relief role this season. The 2.57 ERA in High-A Cedar Rapids earned him an upgrade, and the 1.06 ERA in 60 rounds shy of the Double-A was remarkable. Over the course of the entire year, Laweryson gave up only two home runs, and his 111/27 K/BB indicates the amount of orders and stuff he owns.
2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year – Ivan Siske (Wichita/St. Paul) – 46 G 57.0 IP 1.58 ERA 1.053 WHIP 10.4 K/9 4.4 BB/9
Last summer, the Minnesota Twins sent a veteran start JA hab To the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Ivan Cesek. Minnesota was going downhill and didn’t need the veteran to keep taking over the hill, and Cesc was an opportunity to get something in return. Since the deal, the Sisk twins have turned into a promising weapon in the pen.
During the 2021 season, Sisk posted a 3.91 ERA but it came in with a 5.9 BB/9. When going up on the Double-A, this free pass frequency wasn’t practical in the majors. This season, Sisk has shaved nearly two walks for every nine walks of the total and has continued to accumulate hits in droves. It’s left-handed with a funky delivery that works to win over hitters with a bit of bluff.
Repeating Double-A Wichita to start in Minnesota, Sisk owned 33/11 K/BB across 28 1/3 innings. Free passes swelled up a bit at Triple-A St. Paul when he went 33/17 K/BB in 28 2/3 runs. There is no doubt that there is a great league savior here, and the more he can control the area while controlling the tracks of the base, the higher his ceiling will be.