Now healthy, Twins prospect Matt Wallner uses Arizona Fall League as period of growth
He was 99% sure it was hamatous bone.
His self-diagnosis was correct, and although a broken right hamate, which required surgery to repair, was better than some of the alternatives – like damage to tendons or ligaments – it still altered the trajectory of what appeared to be a season of escape.
Wallner, a Forest Lake native selected by the Minnesota Twins with the 39th overall pick in the 2019 Draft, returned to Class A Advanced Cedar Rapids about two months later. His hand, he said, didn’t feel quite right until he took a short break after the regular season. On Friday, he completed a painless stint in the Arizona Fall League, playing with and against some of Minor League baseball’s top prospects.
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Wallner took time off between the end of the regular season and the start of the Fall League, allowing himself to rest his hand for the first time since the surgery. During his entire time in Arizona, it didn’t bother him “a bit,” he said, and he was able to take the opportunity in Arizona to make up for the batting he missed during the course. of the season. Wallner finished his time in Arizona with a score of 0.303 with a base percentage of 0.405 and a slugging percentage of 0.606 (1.011 OPS), scoring six homers in 18 games.
“(I) definitely still struggled at times and did well at other times, but it’s just a learning curve anytime,” Wallner said. “Playing with other people when 99% of the other guys aren’t playing definitely gives me an advantage, which is really a good thing.”
While he had hoped to hit less – the outfielder was called out in 34 percent of his home plate appearances – he walked nine walks, which he was happy about. Wallner hit on a similar clip during the regular season, fanning a third of his home plate appearances at Cedar Rapids.
“I definitely hit a bit more than I would have liked, but I think I also walked at a decent pace. So that’s definitely the key for me and just one thing at a time, ”he said. “The walks (are) good, but I think learning some of the throws that I can and can’t handle until next year will hopefully (help me) keep working on fewer shots and put the ball more into play. “
Wallner finished his regular season with a score of .264 with a base percentage of .350 and a slugging percentage of .508, scoring 15 homers in 66 games for the Kernels. Before the injury he was cutting .333 / .384 / .621 and after the surgery and rehab – which was done at the Twins’ facility in Fort Myers, Fla. – Wallner noticed he was unable to take some of the swings he could. normally make and hit some of the throws he would normally hit.
Now he’s back where he physically wants to be and plans to spend the rest of the off-season training in Mississippi, where he has found a spot near his college, the University of Southern Mississippi.
But first, he will enjoy a well-deserved leave after his stint in the AFL.
“It’s just cool to bounce ideas off different guys and strategies that they have in the game, on the plate, on the field, whatever,” Wallner said shortly before the AFL ended. “I have definitely learned a lot since being here, even in just six weeks. So that was really good for me.