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The Twins Beat

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Sano returning to Florida; Royce Lewis climbing prospect lists

    Miguel Sano will be back in Fort Myers, ready to resume his daily workout routine, on Friday.

    The Twins’ slugger, optioned to Class A on June 14 in order to redouble his conditioning and retool his swing, left the Fort Myers Miracle last Sunday in order to return to his Dominican Republic home because of an illness in the family.

    Sano is traveling back to Florida on Thursday, and is expected to report to the Twins’ complex as usual on Friday. The Miracle are home for games against Lakeland on Friday and Saturday, but it’s not known if Sano will play in those games. The Twins had planned to increase his playing time before his trip home.

    Sano is batting .328 with two home runs and an .895 OPS in 19 games with the Miracle.

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    As Royce Lewis climbs the Twins’ organizational ladder, he’s continued to climb up lists of baseball’s top prospects, too.

    Lewis, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, broke into Baseball America’s midseason top 10 earlier this week, and on Thursday, ESPN.com’s prospect evaluator Keith Law rated the shortstop as the 11th best prospect in the game, up from No. 25 in the preseason rankings.

    Part of Lewis’ ascent in Law’s rankings is due to graduations and injuries — six players ranked ahead of him before the season, including former top pick Ronald Acuna, are now on major league rosters, and three top pitching prospects have been sidelined by arm injuries. But Lewis is also gaining ground with his steady improvement, both at the plate and in the field.

    “The instincts he showed as a high school player, especially as a baserunner, have already made the same impression on pro scouts,” Law wrote in his analysis of Lewis, who turned 19 in June. “The main question he’ll have to answer is about his position. There’s still doubt he’s a shortstop in the long run, although which his speed, he could play anywhere. If he hits this way, it might not matter.”

    Lewis has already climbed to advanced Class A, after being promoted to Fort Myers last week. He’s off to a hot start, too, collecting eight hits, two of them doubles, in his first five games. That comes after hitting .315 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs in 75 games with Cedar Rapids in low-A.

    He’s not the only prospect getting top-level attention, either. Outfielder Alex Kirilloff, 20, the Twins’ first pick in 2016 (and 15th overall) is now appearing on best-prospect lists after getting off to an impressive start at Cedar Rapids (.333, with 13 homers and a .607 slugging percentage) and Fort Myers (.323 in 24 games). Baseball America places him 37th among minor-league prospects, while ESPN.com rates him 47th.

    “He’s playing mostly right field and that should be his long-term home,” Law wrote, “with the kind of big hit/power upside that could make him a No. 4 or No. 5 hitter in a good lineup.”

    Righthanded pitcher Brusdar Graterol, a 19-year-old Venezuelan with a 100-mph fastball, rates 61st on Baseball America’s midseason top 100, and he’s among 13 “honorable mentions” on ESPN.com’s top 50, as is 22-year-old shortstop Nick Gordon, the Twins’ top pick in 2014. Graterol owns a 3.23 overall ERA at the two Class A levels with 61 strikeouts in 56 innings, while Gordon, promoted to Class AAA Rochester in May, is batting .241 with 16 extra-base hits in 52 games.

Berrios pitches the fifth inning of tonight's All-Star Game

Greetings from Nationals Park in D.C., where afternoon thunderstorms have altered the pre-game schedule for tonight's 89th All-Star Game.

The NL was supposed to take batting practice at 5:05 p.m., to 6 p.m.  eastern time, with the AL at 6:05 to 7 p.m. Now the NL will hit from 6 to 6:30 followed by the AL from 6:30 to 7.

First pitch is still scheduled for around 8 p.m.

The infield was covered by a tarp for a chunk of the afternoon, and fans all over D.C> ran for cover as rain intensified. Twitter followers chimed in, with one fan hiding out in the gift shop of the Washington Monument.

Twins righthander Jose Berrios is scheduled to pitch the fifth inning tonight, barring unforeseen circumstances, and he's fired up about it. He's having a blast. He went out to dinner with the other five Puerto Rican players selected for the game - Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, Detroit's Joe Jimenez, St. Louis' Yadier Molina, Seattle's Edwin Diaz, Chicago's Javier Baez and Berrios - Took their families out to dinner last night, a party of over 30.

Berrios said he made a point of introducing himself to every All-Star, but seemed a little nervous about initiating a lengthy conversation with anyone. "I didn't want to bother anyone," he said.

Today was the annual BBWAA meeting during which MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Players Association Chief Tony Clark took turns answering questions.

I'll have a story online shortly about the two biggest nuggets from the meetings - free agent movement and the DH debate. But there were interesting comments on a number of subjects:

Manfred didn't appear to be too concerned with the slip in attendance, - which is down around 1,700 a game - he pointed to the slew of games that were postponed during the first month of the season factoring in the decline. "In 2017, we played two games (all year) with a game time temperature was 40 degrees or less. In April (this year), we played 35 of those and we also set a record I believe for the number of cancellations. So what does that do to you? We all know that rescheduled games, you don't draw what you were going to draw in the regularly scheduled games."

He lated added: "I think it's more weather than anything else."

Clark was asked about pitcher usage - relievers starting games, more bullpen usage - and the ramifications in contracts and arbitration. "The game being a certain way and certain valuations and considerations tied to it, if all of those are going to change, then we have a far more significant conversation that needs to be had, related to the entire industry and the system that's inherent therein. That is something that, based on what we have seen, is an ongoing evaluation."

Clark indicated that the union would be open to more dialogue about shortening the season. He noted that starting the season a few days earlier this year extends the calender and extends, "the grind.": "We've had that conversation in the past. We did not have it this last round of bargaining but we have had conversation in the past, recent past. So there's no reason why we couldn't have that conversation again."

And, finally, Manfred managed to infuriate the city of Portland while answering a question about keeping baseball in Oakland. Portland is making noise about becoming a major league city, but Manfred's answer, if you read between the lines, suggests the league is more interested in returning baseball to Montreal or expanding to Mexico. "There is not another market in the United States that has the upside potential that Oakland has," he said. "We would regret leaving Oakland if we did that." The comment didn't go over well with some Portland fans when it reached the internet.

American League

Mookie Betts, RF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Mike Trout, CF
J.D. Martinez, DH
Jose Ramirez, 3B
Aaron Judge, LF
Manny Machado, SS
Jose Abreu, 1B
Salvy Perez, C

Chris Sale, LHP


National League

Javy Baez, 2B
Noland Arenado, 3B
Paul Goldscmidt, DH
Freddie Freeman, 1B
Matt Kemp, LF
Bryce Harper, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Wilson Contreras, C

Max Scherzer, RHP

7:15 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 44-50
Kansas City 27-68

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