Class AAA Rochester has been a popular spot for scouts lately, as the Diamondbacks, Padres, Blue Jays and Pirates were present during the Red Wings’ recently completed homestand.
Each team has pitchers the Twins could be interested in dealing for before the July 31 trade deadline. Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks), Kirby Yates (Padres), Ken Giles (Blue Jays), the sore pectoral-muscled Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays) and Felipe Vasquez (Pirates) could be available over the next few weeks. The Twins have definitely checked on Yates and Giles, both ninth-inning specialists.
Infielder Nick Gordon, outfielder Brent Rooker and lefthander Stephen Gonsalves are top-15 prospects with the Red Wings who could potentially be Twins trade chips.
Meanwhile, the Twins have not exhausted all in-house options just yet. So it’s worth paying attention to lefthander Adalberto Mejia and righthander Zack Littell, who joined the team last week and have a chance to prove they can help the Twins’ cause.
Mejia gave up one run over 3 ⅓ innings in relief of Jake Odorizzi during a loss at Oakland on Tuesday. He showed more willingness to throw strikes and was able to throw quality two-strike pitches to finish off hitters. It was his first outing since April, as he has been dealing with a calf strain that wasn’t fully healed until June.
The Twins had Mejia work on some mechanical adjustments during his rehabilitation and liked what they saw when he threw for them in late May while they played a four-game series at Tampa Bay.
“I feel good overall and I feel good now,” Mejia said. “I think the learning process was important for me to be able to get up here and to do the things I have to stay up here.”
Taylor Rogers has been the Twins’ lone lefthander in the bullpen most of the season, so having a second lefty — Mejia would be used differently than Rogers — is a plus.
“Having another lefty, it creates some possibilities for you,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Littell has transitioned from starter to reliever and has seen his fastball velocity increase from an average of 91.9 miles per hour to 93.1. He’s touched 95 a couple of times. He has not allowed a run in his past five outings, and that includes appearances against the A’s on Wednesday and Thursday.
He’s throwing a cut fastball more often and is getting more swings and misses.
“I think he’s just really honed in on his strengths,” Baldelli said. “He’s basically just going out there and his stuff has ticked up in shorter stints, which is what we hoped would have happened when moved to the bullpen.”
The Twins definitely need to add prime-time pitching before the trade deadline and are talking with potential trade targets. But they are making sure that some help isn’t already on board.