Seven players in the Minnesota Twins farm system -- four pitchers and three batters – competed in the 2021 Arizona Fall League, which concluded over the weekend.
Left-handed pitchers Zach Featherstone, Kody Funderburk and Evan Sisk as well as right-hander Cody Laweryson, catcher Andrew Bechtold and outfielders Michael Helman and Matt Wallner combined with players from the Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco and Tampa Bay organizations to make up the Scottsdale Scorpions.
As the No. 14 prospect in the Twins system, Wallner -- the 2016 Minnesota Mr. Baseball winner and former first-round pick -- headlined the list.
Wallner had a fantastic showing, batting 20-for-66 (.303) with two doubles and a team-high six homers and 15 RBI. The four home runs tied for fourth in the AFL. Wallner, who whiffed 98 times in 258 at-bats for High-A Cedar Rapids this summer, collected 27 strikeouts and nine walks. His 1.011 OPS led the Scorpions and ranked 10th in the AFL.
Laweryson was the best of the Twins pitchers and was named to the league’s All-Star Game. In eight appearances (one start), Laweryson tallied a 3.86 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Opponents hit just .189 against Laweryson but he walked seven batters in 14 innings.
Laweryson pitched a perfect inning and fanned one hitter in his All-Star Game appearance.
The other Twins prospects didn’t fare as well.
Helman appeared in 16 games for the Scorpions and slashed .216/.355/.255. Only two of his 11 hits went for extra bases, both doubles, although he gathered more walks (9) than strikeouts (6).
Bechtold, one of two catchers on roster, notched 14 hits -- four doubles – in 59 at-bats (.237). It was right around his production in 2021, as he batted .239/.328/.459 in 99 games for the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge.
Funderburk struggled on the mound. He started six games and allowed 12 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings (17 2/3). Opponents batted .325 against Funderburk but no one left the yard.
Sisk surrendered nine runs in 10 2/3 innings (7.59 ERA), walking nine hitters and sending 14 back to the bench with a strikeout.
Featherstone coughed up nine earned runs in 10 innings (8.10 ERA) and gave nine free passes compared to 12 strikeouts.
The Scorpions finished the autumn with a 12-18 record, second in the East division.