Now healthy, Twins prospect Matt Canterino ready to get back on the mound – INFORUM


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ST. PAUL — The Minor League Baseball season won’t start for more than a month, but Twins pitching prospect Matt Canterino is well on his way to being ready for it.
For one, he’s already procured a five-pound bag of PEZ, which he estimates will last him around 100 or so games, to fill his Woody and Buzz Lightyear dispensers. As is now his tradition, he’ll eat three packs a game while watching from the dugout — one pack for every three innings, flavors ranging from lemon, his favorite, to raspberry, his least favorite.
And two, for the first time in six months, he threw to hitters on Friday at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers, Fla., after elbow issues disrupted — and then cut short — his 2021 season. The experience, he said, gave him butterflies in his stomach.
“It was super fun to be out there again, even if it just means throwing 16 simulated pitches to guys,” Canterino said Friday. “I definitely had to settle myself down after a little bit.”
His excitement is understandable. Canterino, one of the Twins’ top prospects, threw just 23.0 innings last year, but after re-injuring his elbow and getting shut down, the goal, after an MRI revealed no structural damage, was to have a slow buildup leading to as much as a normal offseason as possible.
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He achieved that, reporting to camp healthy. Now, he’ll hope to build on an impressive, albeit brief, 2021 season.
Canterino, 24, the Twins’ second-round draft pick in 2019 out of Rice University, posted a 0.78 earned-run average in six starts last season, five of which came at Class-A Advanced Cedar Rapids. He struck out 45 in 23 innings, walking just four.
Though his time was limited, Canterino said he felt he accomplished the goals he had for himself.
“I improved my changeup. I was filling up the zone. And I dominated hitters whenever I was on the mound, in my opinion,” he said. “That was what I wanted to do that entire time, so I was just super happy with how I did whenever I was healthy.”
Canterino is the Twins’ No. 9 prospect, per Baseball America, and has been talked about as an important member of the Twins’ next wave of pitching. He just hasn’t had much of a chance — in game action at least — recently to show why.
As a result, this year most of his goals are geared towards health, especially as he looks to increase his workload.
“I can’t really worry too much about a shutdown period, like how my workload’s going to be managed, but I can do the things that I think are going to help me stay healthy in the long run,” he said. “And then I think an opportunity will come eventually, and I’ll just try to run with it whenever that comes.”
When he’s not pitching, Canterino has had plenty of time lately to dedicate to his other hobbies. On Twitter he claims to be a “semi-avid ping-pong player,” a “pool shark,” and a “magician,” recently he’s found himself spending lots of time playing board games, namely ‘Catan,’ though he’ll still perform a magic trick or two when there’s a pack of cards around.
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While rehabbing at the Twins’ academy last year, he introduced ‘Catan’ to others, and now, it’s not uncommon to find a group of minor leaguers playing the board game every day, typically adding on an expansion pack that allows six players to participate.
“The fact that only one out of six uber-competitive people can win every game, there’s definitely some expletives being thrown at some point whenever like a dice roll doesn’t go their way,” Canterino said, while fessing up to being one of the most cutthroat players.
Soon, with minor-league camp nearing its official start and games eventually getting underway, he’ll have another outlet to channel his competitive energy into, and once again show the Twins what he can do as he continues to take steps forward in his development.
“I know I feel completely normal right now and I feel, like, just as good as I did (in 2021), so I’m hoping I can parlay that into a good 2022,” he said.

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