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Twins prospect Charlee Soto relishes chance to pitch again

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The results may not have been what he was looking for, but as Charlee Soto was walking back to the minor league side of the Twins complex after pitching in front of a crowd of fans at Hammond Stadium in the Spring Breakout game, he was all smiles.

The 18-year-old, whom the Twins drafted 34th overall last year, gave up four runs while only retiring two batters in an 8-8 tie in a game featuring the Twins and Tampa Bay Rays’ top prospects Saturday.

“I didn’t have the outcome I wanted,” Soto said. “It was just fun to be out on the field with those guys and go out there and compete.”

Soto, currently the Twins’ third-ranked pitching prospect per MLB Pipeline, was amped up — he was trying to calm himself down, he said, and his body wouldn’t allow it — and it was clear.

And why wouldn’t he be?

He’s pitched some on back fields but was not sent out to an affiliate after being drafted last year, instead spending that time primarily in the weight room and building his arm up. Now, he’s finally pitching in games as a professional, and Saturday he got to do so in front of an enthusiastic cheering section made up of family members.

As he prepares for his first season as a professional, Soto is working on developing his sinker, which he’s trying to get to be the same velocity as his four-seamer, and his slider, which he said is “getting there.”

“All those pitches are coming along very well,” Soto said.

While the Spring Breakout offered each organization’s brightest prospects the chance to play together, Soto has also relished the opportunity he’s had this spring to spend time around Twins major leaguers.

“It’s just fun being around all those guys,” he said. “I was around Pablo López, (Jhoan) Duran a little bit. Just being around those big (league) guys, you learn a lot from them on the weight room side and on the baseball side, as well.”

DeSclafani sees game action

On the Lee County Sports Complex back fields, away from the main stadium, Twins starter Anthony Desclafani saw his first game action of spring, throwing (almost) two innings in a minor league game.

DeSclafani, who has been behind in his build-up for the season after experiencing some elbow soreness earlier this spring, threw 36 pitches on Saturday. He allowed a pair of singles in his first inning while striking out a pair of batters.

In the second, he issued a walk (the runner was subsequently thrown out trying to steal by Christian Vázquez), struck out a batter and then allowed another walk before the Twins opted to end the inning.

“He looked good for those two innings. Now we build up and see what comes next,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ll see how he comes out of his two innings and go from there.”

López goes five

The results may not have been what he was looking for — he gave up four home runs in his five innings of work against the Rays — but López stretched it out to 73 pitches on Saturday. It will likely be the longest start of the spring for López, the team’s Opening Day starter.

“The five ups, with seventy-some pitches, I feel like my body is where it should be,” López said. “I was throwing harder the last two innings and that’s a good sign.”

Briefly

Byron Buxton finished Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Rays with a single and a double, scoring from first base in the first inning on a Royce Lewis two-bagger. He also made a diving grab in center field. … The Twins will send a group up to Dunedin on Sunday to take on the Blue Jays. Reliever Jorge Alcala is listed as the starter.

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