It’s finally time. As I’m writing this, the Vikings are throwing away the last vestiges of their playoff hopes (reverse jinx, do your thing). As always, a Vikings January collapse means Spring Training is right around the corner. Let’s catch up on all the minor league (and technically one major league) transactions we’ve missed over the last month.
Jovani Moran and Ronny Henriquez
Let’s group these two since they were non-tendered together. As I wrote back when they were first released, the Twins were hoping and expecting both Moran and Henriquez to return on minor league deals after being taken off of the 40-man roster, which they were able to accomplish. Moran signed a rare two-year minor league pact since he will be out all of 2024 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
Ryan Jensen, RHP, 26
Jensen is technically on the 40-man roster as a recent waiver claim, but I honestly didn’t think this was noteworthy enough to deserve its own post. He’s also much more likely to spend the season in St. Paul than Minneapolis anyway.
Jensen is a former first-round pick by the Cubs who has yet to make it to the majors. His minor league career has been up and down but always filled with plenty of strikeouts and walks. You would expect that to mean he has some good pitches that he can’t control, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. From Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs: “While he now has a five-pitch mix — including two distinct mid-90s fastballs — none of Jensen’s secondaries are especially good, and his command of them is poor; not one of his trio of secondaries (curveball, slider, changeup) garnered a strike percentage over the 50% mark in 2022.”
His 2023 consisted of 64.1 innings with a 5.32 ERA, 25.1% K rate, and a ghastly 1.819 WHIP between Double and Triple-A. Simply put, a 17.4% walk rate won’t play at any level of professional baseball. With two option years remaining, the Twins may feel that they can develop him into a reliable bullpen piece, but he’ll also be the first man out the door if Minnesota needs a 40-man spot for a different player, and there’s a decent chance they could sneak him through waivers if they want to as well.
AJ Alexy, RHP, 26
Alexy, a former Rangers starting pitching prospect, is a decent buy-low option for the Twins. He fits the type of mold they like as a taller pitcher with decent extension, but has battled injuries and effectiveness since dominating the upper minors in 2021. However, those struggles have come with Texas and the White Sox, neither of which have a great track record for pitcher development.
An oblique injury limited him to just 21 disastrous innings in 2023 with a 12.00 ERA while walking 41 batters (!!) and giving up 13 hits and four home runs. For those of you counting at home, that all adds up to an insane 2.571 WHIP and 34.7% walk rate. The White Sox ended up cutting him in July and he finished the year pitching similarly terribly in independent ball. Folks, there’s a reason the Twins got him on a minor league deal in December.
Alexy’s time on the transactional carousel briefly placed him in Minnesota at the start of 2023. After the Twins acquired him, they promptly placed him on waivers, thinking they could sneak him through. He was instead picked up by the White Sox, ending his first Twins stint after a grand total of six days.
With decent stuff, control problems, and injury concerns, a permanent move to the bullpen and some time in the Twins’ pitching lab should give him a decent chance to contribute to the big league team. It’s always a long shot, but the entire back end of the Twins bullpen is built from former failed players like Alexy.
The Rest of the Bunch
The Twins have made four other minor league signings according to their official transaction log, but none of them are anything more than minor league depth.
The name most will recognize is Niko Goodrum, the Twins’ former second-round pick. Goodrum has played 402 big league games across six seasons with the Tigers and Astros in a utility role. He split last season between the Red Sox’s Triple-A squad and KBO’s Lotte Giants. Now 31, if he gets any time with the Twins there’s likely many things that went wrong in 2024.
Next up is Michael Boyle, a career minor league pitcher who just made it to Triple-A last season at 29 years old. He’s spent the last two seasons in the Twins organization and will once again pitch for St. Paul out of the bullpen.
Jeferson Morales was an international signee in 2016 and has been in the org ever since. He’s a 24-year-old catcher and outfielder who’s never played above High-A. He’s essentially a position player innings eater.
Last, and potentially least, is Samuel Perez, who is a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher at Low A. He’s been with the Twins organization since 2021.