This could be a year to treasure for Twins ace Pablo López , outfield prospect Walker Jenkins and hometown hero Joe Mauer.
MLB.com authority Anthony Castrovince wrote recently that López is his choice for 2024 American League Cy Young winner. He noted the 27-year-old right-hander pitched a career-high 194 innings in 2023, improved his strikes-walks ratio (struck out 234) and was “awesome” in two postseason starts against the Blue Jays and Astros going 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA. Lopez’s regular season record was 11-8 in 32 starts with a 3.66 ERA.
Castrovince wrote: “…He might have only scratched the surface, because now that he’s added a sweeper that held opponents to a .173 average and .287 slugging percentage, he has a genuine five-pitch mix that could even improve in effectiveness as he gets more comfortable utilizing it. López has the command to do so. If he does, he’s a Cy winner waiting to happen.”
Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com talked about Jenkins on a recent podcast. They predict big things for the 18-year-old who was Minnesota’s No. 1 draft selection last year. Callis believes Jenkins could be the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball for 2024.
The athletic Jenkins is a five-tool player who in coming years could become the Twins’ starter in right field or center field. His impressive swing and power are attributes that often first draw attention, with observers raving about his potential. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jenkins was taken fifth overall and he might be the steal of last year’s draft.
Jenkins didn’t sign his $7.1 million contract until late July, but he turned heads in the minors and perhaps will play in Double-A this year. His stats last season with two farm system teams included 102 at bats, .362 batting average, three home runs, 21 RBI and a .988 OPS.
Mauer, the St. Paul native who excelled at first base and catcher for the Twins before retiring after the 2018 season, has been tracking well in votes for acceptance into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Select members of the Baseball Writers Association of America do the voting that ended December 31 and votes made public so far indicate there’s strong support for Mauer to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Approximately 400 association members had an opportunity to vote. A candidate must receive 75 percent or more of the votes and Mauer has impressive credentials.
In addition to Mauer’s three batting titles and MVP Award, he was named to six American League All-Star teams, earned five Louisville Slugger Awards and three Rawlings Golden Glove Awards. He is also the only American League catcher ever to win a batting title.
Voting results will be announced beginning at 5 p.m. January 23 on the MLB Network.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins continues to progress on rehab from Achilles tendon surgery and NBC reported Sunday night that he expects to go from just walking to jogging by February 1.
Who starts for the Vikings at QB in the final regular season game Sunday in Detroit against the Lions? The prediction here is Nick Mullens because he has played more recently than Josh Dobbs and better than Jaren Hall.
Word has been Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is a target for the Vikings in April’s NFL Draft. His passing accuracy might be questionable, and he wasn’t that impressive in the high stakes semifinal playoff win over Alabama Monday night. He looks far from ready to play in the pros and maybe not first round worthy.
A trusted source believes Bethel’s Brian Raabe, who has coached the Royals for 12 seasons and is known for his prowess as a baseball instructor, could be the next head coach replacing legendary John Anderson who is retiring after the 2024 season.
The Gophers, seeking to add experience to their running back roster, have offered a scholarship to Northwestern transfer Anthony Tyus III. As a junior in 2023, he was third on the team in rushing yards with 254 and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. The Portage, Michigan native was an Associated Press first team All-State selection in high school.
That was former Gopher defensive tackle Trill Carter playing for Texas Monday night in the Longhorns’ semifinal playoff game against Washington. He didn’t record any defensive stats but has been a contributor for Texas while participating in 13 of 14 games.
Among Gophers who transferred after 2022, no one was more recognized for his accomplishments with his new team than cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr. He was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-American second team and was first team All-Big 12.
Former Gopher edge rusher Austin Booker, who led Kansas with eight sacks for 61 yards, also made first-team All-Big 12. Defensive lineman Gage Keys also transferred from Minnesota to Kansas and played a lot of snaps in 2023 before recently deciding to play for Auburn in 2024.
Running back Trey Potts and wide receiver Dylan Wright were highly visible offensive players for the Gophers before transferring. Potts was fifth for Penn State in rushing with 155 net yards while Wright caught 11 passes for 187 yards at TCU.
Think there will be a little drama November 9 when the Gophers play at Rutgers if their former quarterback, Athan Kaliakmanis, is playing for the Scarlet Knights?
It might not be widely known but the Gophers weren’t the first college football team from Minnesota to play in a January bowl game when they met Washington in the Rose Bowl on January 2, 1961. This college football bowl season is the 75th anniversary of St. Thomas’ 1949 trip to the Cigar Bowl in Tampa where the Tommies tied Missouri Valley, 13-13. http://tommiesports.com
The Michigan basketball team the Gophers (10-3) play in Ann Arbor Thursday night is the only Big Ten club with a below .500 record at 6-7. The Wolverines are giving up a conference worst 79.1 points per game. Peacock televises the game starting at 8 p.m.
Hit by injuries, including star forward Kirill Kaprizov and goalie Filip Gustavsson, the Wild has lost three consecutive games and has to find a way not to go on a long losing streak.
In a state where many residents claim Norwegian descent, it’s interesting the Wild’s Mats Zuccarello is one of only eight players from Norway ever to play in the NHL. Norwegian Americans are 13.8 percent of Minnesota’s population, per Worldpopulationreview.com.
The Pelicans, who play the Timberwolves tonight in Minneapolis, are a difficult team for Minnesota when forward Zion Williamson plays. The Pels played last night and it could be Willamson is rested tonight by sitting out the game.