Wind Surge opening day is here: What Wichita fans can expect from a top Twins prospect

With opening day at Riverfront Stadium on Friday, as the Wind Surge begin their fourth season in Wichita, local baseball fans should appreciate watching Emmanuel Rodriguez this month.

Wind Surge manager Ramon Borrego, the only skipper in organization history, has seen MLB talent come through Wichita before and believes the 21-year-old outfielder could be the best yet.

Wichita hosts the Frisco RoughRiders for games at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Wind Surge tickets are available to purchase through the team website. Fireworks are planned following Friday’s game, while a hat giveaway is slated for Saturday and kids can run the bases following Sunday’s game.

“I don’t know how long we’re going to have him,” Borrego said. “He can run, he can throw, he can hit, he can play defense. He has the potential to hit more than 25 homers in the big leagues. He’s going to be really fun to watch in the short time he’s here with us.”

After discovering Rodriguez, who was only 16 at the time, in the Dominican Republic in 2019, the Minnesota Twins signed him to a $2.5 million contract as an international free agent.

His blend of power and speed at the plate and in the outfield have made Rodriguez one of the top prospects in the Twins’ farm system and the No. 42 overall prospect across the minor leagues, according to

The left-hander returned from a season-ending knee injury in 2022 to hit 16 home runs, 13 doubles, nine triples and steal 20 bases to go along with 87 runs scored and 55 RBIs at the plate this past season at the High-A level. After a slow start to the season, Rodriguez hit .261 at the plate in the final four months of the season.

“His defense, his offense, his baserunning are all good,” Borrego said. “Right now the biggest thing for him is to just gain experience every game. It’s going to be exciting to watch this guy and what he can do here because if he’s healthy, he’s going to do a lot of damage.”

Marco Raya, the Twins’ No. 6-ranked prospect, will open the season on the mound for Wichita, where he ended last season with a 5.28 earned run average in 29 innings spread across 11 starts.

The 6-foot-1 right-hander said his goal this offseason was to add strength to his slender frame, as well as improve his cutter. He has only thrown 128 innings since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft, as Raya wants to prove he can handle a larger workload in Wichita.

“It’s a great honor (to be an opening-day starter), but I’m just trying to take it one game at a time,” Raya said. “I have to focus one day at a time, one week at a time. I don’t really think about when am I going to move up, I just go out there and take it one pitch at a time. And whenever that call comes, it will come.”

Borrego said Raya will lead a revamped pitching staff that should be much improved after Wichita’s 64-73 season last summer, its first losing season after playing for the Texas League championship the first two summers.

Half of Wichita’s 28-player roster spent time with the Wind Surge last summer, which gives Borrego some familiarity to work with. The coach is also excited about the infusion of talent on the roster from players who spent last season at Cedar Rapids, which won a High-A championship.

Other top prospects starting the season in Wichita include infielder Tanner Schobel, outfielder Kala’i Rosario, catcher Andrew Cossetti, catcher Noah Cardenas and infielder Ben Ross.

“We have a lot of talent on the roster this year,” Borrego said. “A lot of names you’re going to see as top prospects when we have them here. These guys are hungry. They want to be here and they want to learn how to play the game the right way. We have a talented group from pitching to position players, I can’t wait to get started and watch these guys play.”