Old Friend Alert, Twins Sign Four to Minor League Deal Including Pitcher Albers
ST. PAUL, MN - He's been to Japan, Korea, Independent Professional Baseball, and reached the pinnacle of his profession, the Major Leagues. He may not be Johnny Cash, but Andrew Albers can sure relate to Cash's 1993 version of "I've Been Everywhere Man." After spending the last three seasons in the Japanese Professional Baseball League, Albers is back with the organization where he made his Major League debut. The Minnesota Twins have signed left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers and outfielder Keon Broxton to Minor League contracts with an invite to Major League Spring training while also inking pitchers Robinson Leyer and Chandler Shepherd to Minor League contracts.
The 35-year-old Albers has pitched for the Orix Buffaloes in the Nippon Professional Baseball League from 2018-20. While with the Buffaloes he went 15-16 with a 4.02 ERA in 48 games. Over 266.1 innings pitched he walked 53 and struck out 194 and a 1.26 WHIP.
Albers was originally selected in the 12th round of the 2004 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, but did not sign instead electing to play college ball at the University of Kentucky. The San Diego Padres selected him in the 10th round of the 2008 draft and he pitched in the Arizona League going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five games (two starts). He allowed one unearned run in 7.0 innings while walking three and striking out seven while opponents hit .136 against him.
In 2009, Albers missed the entire season due to Tommy John and signed with Les Capitales de Quebec of the Independent Canadian American League in 2010. He proved he was back from the surgery going 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 17 saves in 40 relief appearances. In 57.2 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 59 while opponents hit a miniscule .202 against him. He helped guide les Capitales to the Can-Am League Championship. Albers finished tied for second in the league in saves, fourth in games (40), and tied for fourth in games finished (22).
The Twins signed him as a free agent in 2011 and he began his ascent through the system splitting time between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain. Overall, Albers was 8-2 with a 2.16 ERA and four saves in 35 games (seven starts). In 95.2 innings pitched he walked 14 and struck out 80 while opponents hit .258 against him and a 1.11 WHIP. In his 28 relief appearances, he didn't allow a home run and went 17.0 consecutive scoreless innings from May 13-June 14.
Despite missing six weeks due to injury in 2012, Albers made his mark at Double-A New Britain as he was selected to his first All-Star Game. With the Rock Cats he was 4-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 games (17 starts). In 98.1 innings pitched he walked just 12 while fanning 73 and opponents hit .297 against him with a 1.25 WHIP.
The incredible journey for Albers was complete in 2013 after spending the first four months at Triple-A Rochester where he went 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts, including three complete games and a shutout. In 132.1 innings pitched he walked 32 and struck out 116 while opponents hit .251 against him and a 1.18 WHIP. His complete game shutout was a six-hitter on June 7 at Gwinnett. He was selected to his second consecutive All-Star Game, pitching 1.0 inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game. He finished tied for first in the International League in complete games, tied for fourth in win percentage (.688) and wins, fifth in ERA, WHIP, and lowest on base percentage against (starter) (.294), seventh in lowest OPS against (starter) (.676), tied for seventh in strikeouts (116), and ninth in opponents batting average against (starter) (.251).
Albers was promoted to the Twins on August 3 and made his first Major League start against the Kansas City Royals on August 6, tossing 8.1 shutout innings allowing just four hits. He followed that up with a complete game, two-hit shutout against the Chicago White Sox six days later. During his time with the Twins he went 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts with a complete game shutout. In 60.0 innings pitched he walked seven and struck out 25 while opponents hit .271 against him and a 1.18 WHIP. He was selected as an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star.
After being released by the Twins, Albers spent 2014 with the Hanwha Eagles in the Korean Baseball Organization. With the Eagles he went 6-13 with a 6.42 ERA in 28 starts including a complete game shutout. In 151.1 innings pitched he walked 40 and struck out 107 with a 1.59 WHIP.
Following the 2014 season, Albers signed with the Toronto Blue Jays where he spent all of 2015 at Triple-A Buffalo. He went 2-11 with a 5.70 ERA in 20 games (15 starts) and a complete game. In 83.2 innings pitched he walked 26 and struck out 53 while opponents hit .324 against him and a 1.63 WHIP.
Albers went back to Independent Baseball in 2016, pitching one game for the Atlantic League's Lancaster Barnstormers before being signed by the Twins. He was with Triple-A Rochester through the beginning of August and went 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 21 starts with two complete games. In 124.1 innings pitched he walked 30 and struck out 84 while opponents hit .305 against him and a 1.45 WHIP. He was called up to the Twins on August 11 and went 0-0 with a 5.82 ERA in six games (two starts). In 17.0 innings he walked six and struck out 16 while opponents hit .342 against him and a 1.94 WHIP.
Following the season, Albers signed with the Atlanta Braves and began 2017 at Triple-A Gwinnett where he went 12-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 games (17 starts). In 120.2 innings pitched he walked 19 and struck out 115 while opponents hit .261 against him and a 1.15 WHIP. Albers was traded to the Seattle Mariners for cash considerations on August 12 and spent the rest of the season with the Mariners going 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA in nine games (six starts). In 41.0 innings he walked 10 and struck out 37 while opponents hit .262 against him and a 1.29 WHIP.
The 30-year-old veteran Broxton has 376 Major League games under his belt and last played in 2019 (he spent 2020 at the Milwaukee Brewers alternate training site). He spent all of 2019 in the Major Leagues with three different teams: New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, and Seattle Mariners. He hit .167 with six home runs and 16 RBI while swiping 10 bases in 100 games.
Broxton was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 29th round in 2008 out of Santa Fe (FL) JC, but did not sign. The moved paid off as he was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He made an impression in his first season with the Rookie level Missoula Osprey hitting .246 with 11 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. In 272 at bats he scored 38 runs, drilled 11 doubles, nine triples, a .302 on base percentage, .474 slugging, for a .776 OPS. He helped guide the team to the playoffs and reached the Championship Series, losing to the Orem Owlz. He finished first in the Pioneer League in triples (9), fifth in extra base hit (31), seventh in at bats (272) & total bases (129), tied for seventh in home runs (11), and 10th in slugging (.474). He also slugged the first of three professional grand slams on August 3 vs. Helena.
In 2010, Broxton led the Midwest League in triples (19), for the Single-A South Bend Silver Hawks. He hit .228 with five home runs and 32 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 133 games. In 531 at bats he cracked 17 doubles, a .316 on base percentage, a .360 slugging percentage for a .675 OPS.
Broxton began 2011 spending a month with the Silver Hawks before being promoted to High-A Visalia. Between the two stops he hit .248 with seven home runs and 45 RBI in 130 games. In 484 at bats he smashed 14 doubles, seven triples, swiped 33 bases, had a .341 OBP, a .349 slugging percentage for a .690 OPS.
In 2012, Broxton played the entire season for Visalia hitting .267 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 139 games. In 490 at bats he scored 84 runs, ripped 24 doubles, one triple, 21 stolen bases, a .326 OBP, .437 slugging, for a .763 OPS. He scored a run in an astounding nine straight games from May 14-24 and hit a grand slam on August 19 at Modesto.
Broxton moved up the ladder in 2013, spending the entire season at Double-A Mobile where he hit .231 with eight homers and 41 RBI in 101 games. In 334 at bats he scored 40 runs, had 13 doubles, three triples, a .296 OBP, .359 slugging, for a .655 OPS. His team reached the playoffs, but lost in the Championship Series.
On March 27, 2014 Broxton was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash. He spent the entire season at Double-A Altoona hitting .275 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in 127 games. In 407 at bats he scored 67 runs, smashed 22 doubles, nine triples, 25 stole bases, a .369 OBP, .484 slugging, for a .853 OPS. He finished first in the Eastern League in intentional walks (6), tied for second in triples, seventh in walks (59), slugging percentage & OPS, eighth in extra base hits (46) & 10th in total bases (197). He was named an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star.
Broxton picked up where he left off in 2015 spending about six weeks with Altoona before being promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. He hit his third career grand slam on April 24 at Erie while with Altoona. Between the two levels he hit .273 with 10 home runs and 68 RBI in 133 games. In 491 at bats he scored 86 runs, ripped 27 doubles, 12 triples, 39 stolen bases, a .357 OBP, .438 slugging, for a .795 OPS. Broxton finished tied for third in the International League in triples (8) and tied for fifth in stolen bases (28). His numbers earned him a call up to the Pirates on September 21 going 0-7 in three games. Following the season, Broxton was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with RHP Trey Supak for first baseman Jason Rogers.
In 2016, Broxton split time between the Brewers and Triple-A Columbus. He collected his first Major League hit on May 25 at Atlanta, a bunt single off Braves reliever Casey Kelly. He hit .242 with nine home runs and 19 RBI in 75 games with the Brewers and .287 with eight home runs and 26 RBI in 47 games with Columbus. He was named an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star.
Broxton spent all, but seven games with the Brewers in 2017 where he hit .220 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 143 games. He finished ninth in the Majors with 21 stolen bases.
In 2018 Broxton played 82 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs, 51 games for the Brewers and three games at Single-A Wisconsin. With the Brewers he hit .179 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 51 games.
The 27-year-old Leyer pitched for the Boston Red Sox last season going 0-0 with a 21.21 ERA in six games (one start). He pitched 4.2 innings and struck out nine. It was his first season in the Major Leagues and he recorded his first Major League strikeout on August 31 against the Braves' Marcell Ozuna.
Leyer was a non-drafted free agent signee by the Chicago White Sox in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He didn't pitch until 2012 with the Dominican Summer League going 1-4 with a 3.12 ERA in 13 starts. In 52.0 innings he fanned 31 with a 1.52 WHIP.
In 2013, Leyer joined the Rookie Level Bristol White Sox going 2-7 with a 6.35 ERA in 13 starts. In 56.2 innings he struck out 38 with a 1.84 WHIP.
Leyer had somewhat of a breakout campaign in 2014 going 5-9 with a 3.81 ERA and one complete game in 25 starts at Single-A Kannapolis. In 134.2 innings pitched he struck out 86 with a 1.39 WHIP. He finished tied for third in the South Atlantic League in double plays (15), tied for sixth in caught stealing (9), and ninth in innings pitched.
Leyer split time in 2015 between High-A Winston Salem and Double-A Birmingham going 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) between the two stops. In 122.0 innings pitched he struck out 94 while opponents hit .252 against him and a 1.34 WHIP. He tossed 20.0 consecutive scoreless innings from May 10-27.
In 2016, Leyer spent the first three months with Birmingham before being sent down to Winston-Salem for the final two months. He was 4-6 with a 4.82 ERA and one complete game in 37 games (10 starts). In 84.0 innings he struck out 75 with a 1.74 WHIP.
Leyer rebounded in 2017, pitching the entire season with Birmingham going 2-4 with a 3.55 ERA and four saves in 38 relief appearances. In 58.1 innings pitched he struck out 62 while opponents hit just .224 against him and a 1.41 WHIP.
Prior to the 2018 season, Leyer was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for future considerations. He pitched the entire season at Double-A Pensacola going 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA and two saves in 42 relief appearances. In 58.0 innings he struck out 65 while opponents hit .208 against him and a 1.20 WHIP. He was selected to the Southern League All-Star Game and pitched 1.0 perfect inning of relief and struck out one. He finished tied for sixth in the Southern League in appearances and his team made the playoffs, but lost in the semifinals.
Leyer was signed by the Seattle Mariners prior to 2019 and spent a month at Triple-A Tacoma before being assigned to Double-A Arkansas. He was released by the Mariners on June 15 and was signed by the Red Sox on June 22 starting at Low-A Lowell before spending the final two months at Double-A Portland. Overall, he was 2-3 with a 5.24 ERA and one save in 40 games (one start).
The 28-year-old Shepherd was at the alternate site for the Baltimore Orioles last season, but never pitched in the Majors. His last professional season was 2019 when he spent time at Triple-A Pawtucket and Triple-A Norfolk along with the Orioles. He was 0-0 with a 6.63 ERA in five games (three starts) with the Orioles. This was his first, and only season, in the Majors. His Major League debut came in relief on August 13 at the Yankees where he allowed one run in 5.0 innings and recorded his first Major League strikeout against Aaron Judge. After beginning the season with Pawtucket, he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on May 17, claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs on May 18, then claimed off waivers by the Orioles on May 22. He was 3-10 with a 6.18 ERA in 22 games (19 starts) at Triple-A.
Shepherd was originally drafted in 2011 in the 41st round by the White Sox out of Lawrence County (KY) HS, but did not sign opting to play college baseball at the University of Kentucky. He was selected in the 13th round in 2014 by the Boston Red Sox. He went 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA in 16 games (one start) at Low-A Lowell. In 33.1 innings pitched he struck out 35 while opponents hit .254 against him and a 1.23 WHIP.
In 2015, Shepherd spent five weeks at Single-A Greenville before being promoted to High-A Salem. Between the two stops he went 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA and seven saves in 35 relief appearances. In 67.0 innings he struck out 62 while opponents hit .247 against him and a 1.10 WHIP. He struck out at least one hitter in his final 18 relief appearances, a career high.
Shepherd split time in 2016 between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket going 2-3 with a 2.81 ERA and seven saves in 40 appearances (one start). In 64.0 innings he struck out 62 while opponents hit just .189 against him and a 0.94 WHIP. He went eight consecutive relief appearances, 7.1 innings, without allowing a hit from May 27-June 17.
In 2017, Shepherd spent the entire season at Pawtucket going 1-5 with a 4.07 ERA and two saves in 34 games (one start). In 59.2 innings pitched he fanned 68 while opponents hit .259 against him and a 1.29 WHIP.
Shepherd became a full-time starter at Pawtucket in 2018 going 7-10 with a 3.89 ERA in 25 starts. In 129.2 innings he struck out 107 while opponents hit .270 against him and a 1.36 WHIP. He finished tied for fourth in games started (25), sixth in number of pitches (2192), and ninth in innings pitched (129.2).
The Twins have signed 11 players this off-season to Minor League contracts with nine receiving Major League Spring Training invitations.
LHP Andrew Albers*
LHP Danny Coulombe*
RHP Luke Farrell*
RHP Derek Law*
RHP Robinson Leyer
RHP Juan Minaya*
RHP Chandler Shepherd
RHP Glenn Sparkman*
C TomÃ¡s Telis*
INF Tzu-Wei Lin*
OF Keon Broxton*
UTL Rob Refsnyder*
UTL JT Riddle*
*Major League Spring Training Invite
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