Welcome to the 5th annual MiLB Twitter Twenty!
Hard to believe that these rankings are turning five. When the list first debuted, there was little attention paid to it. But by year two, that changed and it grew even bigger when more players began to react to and promote it. Players have angrily tweeted me, as have their fans, for not being included (hi Jeremy Barfield faithful), which actually helped the process. But now I ask that people tweet me suggestions throughout the year. I'm always reading, so it's just a matter of mentioning them so I know to look at their feed.
A reminder: I don't follow every person on these rankings, and they don't all follow me. That's not a requirement. I keep three lists and, combined, includes thousands of players. I check those lists all year. Also, if a player is still with a team, but not playing due to injury, he's still eligible.
Regarding 'Honorable Mentions'. Keep in mind, I'm scrolling through thousands of players accounts daily. Narrowing it down is not easy. You're no slouch if you're on it! *smile*
Also new this year is 'Comin' In Hot', which is all recently drafted players who've not been pro long enough to be eligible for the rankings or Honorable Mentions.
Finally, this is the first year the rankings use images and video, and is interactive. You can click on any of the small photos to read them in a pop up window. My quest with these rankings has always been to make them as fun as possible. And while it's supposed to be fun, there's maximum effort to make the list the best it can possibly be.
Feel free to leave comments and tweet your responses. But most importantly, follow every one of these guys. They've earned your Twitter attention.
#1 Cody Decker @decker6 San Diego Padres- There is just no one like him. When it comes to minor league players who've created social media impact, he's in a league of his own. His social media efforts are almost like a second career. This year, he added to his reach with Instagram and Periscope. An appearance on media honcho Keith Olberman's daily program on ESPN, something Decker proudly promoted, allowed the 2015 All Star to expand his already big following. He's great at finding time to connect in new ways, like Periscoping a date or family outing. Or anything he's doing at any moment. Decker knows how to promote his personal brand perfectly. But more important to note is his great effort to raise money for 'From The Heart Dog', combining philanthropic efforts with his apparel for 'Anti Hero', also the name of his production company. Earlier this year, he contributed another mini movie (you can find them on YouTube) something he invests a ton of creative effort into. With a mix of characteristics, Decker leaves the most memorable impression of any minor league player in the social media realm. The tweets seen here only capture a part of the huge spirit of the thing he creates.
#2 Kyle McKenzie @kmckenzie13 Tampa Bay Rays– Once he was on the radar, he was impossible to ignore. His endlessly fun, clever tweets are a great fix of daily humor. He’s also a consistent contributor, engaging with followers often. For all his humor, what heightens the impact of what he shares is the undercurrent of sensitivity and heart that shines through. A particular highlight are his 'Weekend Pickup Line' tweets (he once posted 'I'm single AF'), showing a guy with insecurities and a sense of humor about himself. He was the subject of the debut of 'Roadtripping', a segment on the 'Heels On The Field' YouTube channel. He shared one of those lines, and allowed viewers to see the most endearing, creative, and hilarious aspect of the Kyle McKenzie Twitter experience.
#3 Wes Wilson @wtwilson5 New York Yankees - He's a no-holds barred kind of guy. He chats casually about the challenges of MiLB life, and brings tons of enthusiasm to everything he shares. His humor is often the college brand, goofy, sometimes gross, and without filters. He's not the guy that's going to share too many personal thoughts or feelings. He'll give you an entertaining show, and it's left to you to observe the deeper meaning, if any, behind the presentation. But, digging a little deeper, he's vocal about many things, including political views, and there's something admirable about the honesty. Some players shy away from being that truthful about playing in the minors, or are afraid to say what's on their mind in light of the Social Media Policy. But he manages to walk the line, have fun, never offend, and still be himself.
#4 Matt Pare @HipHip_Pares San Francisco Giants – He's created one of the most impressive, creative blogs by any minor leaguer that’s attempted the task. ‘Homeless Minor Leaguer’ exhibits a mix of brutal honesty and humor, positioning itself as an exploration of the journey that is baseball, and the value of pursuing the big league dream. He's also taken a multi-media approach with the idea, branding it with a Facebook page and sharing his work on Twitter. http://homelessminorleaguer.com/redefining-sportsmanship/ He also interacts with readers with a mailbag. In the one linked, he answers whether or not he's used 'I'm a baseball player' for a pickup line. He gives a great answer, and follows that with stories about the tough reality of dating in the minor leagues. For anyone in baseball, or any job in sports, it's easy to relate. But he allows an off-the-cuff glimpse into the frustrations and struggles unique to minor league players. http://homelessminorleaguer.com/mattys-mailbag-2-dating-in-the-minors/
#5 Jeremy Barfield @BarfontheField Colorado Rockies - His tweets about the ups and downs of the 2015 season were some of the most revealing about the difficulties of professional baseball, and specifically the minor and independent leagues. The veteran player has seen his share of changes in the past few month. He shares a lot of his personal life, tweeting photos of moments with his father, former major leaguer Jesse Barfield, and his wife Amy. He's similar to Decker in his consistently open approach, and keeping people interested by showing what's going on in his life.
#6 Jake Gronsky @14LivinTheDream St Louis Cardinals - He made a huge impression in the weeks leading to a final decision on the top five. With a mix of self-deprecating humor and fun observation, he tweeted some gems in June and July. It was difficult to narrow down the best of what he's offered lately. He's also only one of two players that previously ranked in the 'College Twitter Twenty' (no longer doing that one), and made the move to the 'MiLB' version.
#7 Cameron Monger @CameronMonger Normal CornBelters – He’s used Twitter and Instagram in a way no other player on this list has, as a literal daily journal. Illustrating his progress with a training program each day, with an image or video on Instagram, and on Twitter, giving a post-game notation on that night’s contest. When it comes to connecting he gets it. This is a case of recommending following his Twitter and Instagram accounts. There's something special about the way he shares his life and career by combining the two.
#8 Corey Walter @Coreyy_dubv Oakland Athletics - Debuting on this list, and now in his second year of pro ball, he keeps things energetic with a dose of the personal. The tone is loose and he's always down to earth. Jokes around a lot, but his warm personality always comes through.
#9 Justin Jackson @JaxChillinONE Atlanta Braves - The name of his game is fun and swagger. That's mixed with super positive, motivated, spiritual thoughts he shares daily (one simply read 'Thankful'). He's got the kind of Twitter feed that jumps with personality. You get the feeling you're seeing what it's really like to hang out with him.
#10Anthony Giansanti @GianSanity Chicago Cubs - Super likeable and sociable, and engages fans to converse with him about whatever is on his mind. Tweets to his brother and other family members are incredibly sweet and personal. He hashtags #AllOrNothing to describe his approach to life. But earlier this week, his passionate, fun-loving nature was truly on full display with a series of tweets that got him national attention. The tweet that started it all is below, which was an invitation to his 'celebrity crush' UFC champion Ronda Rousey. PROMMA responded with an article that labeled his actions as "stalking" (they later tweeted responses insisting everyone was taking their use of that word too seriously). What followed was a sweet, funny apology from Giansanti. And then came the lights. ESPN caught word of the incident and featured the story on SportsCenter. Giansanti responded perfectly, and true to form: with goodhearted humor and genuine sincerity. A fun, strange moment that only made him even more worth the follow. And maybe will lead to a Rousey surprise visit to one of his games?
#11 Todd Van Steensel @toddvs35 Minnesota Twins - One of the best MiLBer tweet-fests this year came earlier this season, when Van Steensel's team bus broke down. He shared the #PrayForTheMiracle (a reference to the Fort Myers Miracle) experience of waiting roadside for assistance and food. He also tweeted a perfect response to 50 Cent filing for bankruptcy, and to the Anthony Giansanti/ Rousey Twitter incident.
#12 Maxx Tissenbaum @8_Maxx Tampa Bay Rays - His energy and interaction is awesome to read and WOW did he get into the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. The only thing missing from last year is his blog about being in the minor leagues, something he excelled at. But the photo he posed for with teammates Marty Gantt and Taylor Guerrieri gives him special points. And, side note, his Instagram has become his major form of social media expression.
#13 Jeremy Dowdy @Dowdy413 Chicago White Sox - Knows how to have fun with it & connect with readers by talking about things that everyone loves. Like Taylor Swift and Anna Kendrick. Both of whom he likes to tweet about. A lot.
#14 Justin Toole @TooleyJ24 Cleveland Indians - Continues to use Twitter to promote his book 'Nine in Nine', about playing all nine positions in one game. He does giveaways and constantly interacts with readers who've enjoyed reading his story.
#15 Jiwan James @Jiwan23 Detroit Tigers - One of the most spirited players to follow, he tweets his fandom and admiration for things he loves. He's also incredibly sociable with followers. His down to earth personality is there to read daily on Twitter.
#16 Corey Black @CblackCHC Chicago Cubs - What's always made him a strong player on these rankings is his emotional honesty on any number of circumstances in his life or career. It was the same reason he was such a solid follow all last year.
#17 Ryan Verdugo @teachmetodugi11 Los Angeles Angels - He continues to contribute thoughtful, entertaining stuff throughout the year. Many athletes found it difficult to support Bruce Jenner transitioning to Caitlyn Jenner, but Verdugo did not. He also makes a great point here about geography lessons. We all can admit we learned a lot from tv shows and video games, but pretend we didn't, right?
#18 Tyler Watson @TyWatson35 Los Angeles Angels- The photo below is the reason he made a push into the 'Twenty'. His fiery brand of Texas humorand pride is just big fun.
#19 Matt Marksberry @SirLEFTYDuro Atlanta Braves - sometimes it's just a statement about his breezy state of mind, other times it's about his ambition to overcome any obstacles. But he's also very vocal about his beliefs, and his conviction is admirable. His tweets about a very frightening bus crash were funny, but also genuinely expressed his gratitude for the safety of him and his teammates. He has that kind of social media approach that's the most interesting and fun.
#20 Adam Lopez @Lopezillaaa Chicago White Sox - Like the flow. It's always interesting.
Matt Hockenberry @Hocktimus_Prime - His girlfriend tweeted photos of him faux-posing in what looks like a lake, with the caption 'You're embarrassing', which he proudly shared. (PHOTO)
Chris Devinski @ddddeevvvoooo
Nick Ciuffo @nciuffo14
Andrew Woeck @AndrewWoeck (PHOTO)
Taylor Guerrieri - (PHOTO)
Cale Coshow @c_coshow
Caleb Smith @CalebSmith12
Chris Kirsch @chriskirsch9
Kyle Hunter @nickrickles
Scott Carcaise @SCarcaise
Andrew Tomasovich @tomasovich_13
Daniel Poncedeleon @_ponce14 (PHOTO)
Brent Honeywell @brent_honeywell
Bryan Harper @ Washington Nationals - A highlight was his tweets about pitching to brother Bryce in the 2015 Home Run Derby. His feed is full of tweets about his devotion to his close knit family.
CJ Beatty @CJBeatty44 - An actual motivational speaker, he offers daily tweets to inspire not just those in baseball, but anyone needing some encouragement and clarity.
Brody Greer @BG19_
Bryan Holaday @jbholoday
Ian Kendall @Ian_RK91 - He tweeted 'Avocados' one day. No other explanation needed.
Marcus Hatley @MHatley99
Sean Manaea @BABYSMGIRAFFE
Jack Mayfield @jackmayfield8
Pat Light @Pat_Light
Dom Leone @DLeone54
Michael Marjama @MMarjama
Austin Gomber @Gomber31
Lenny Linsky @leonardo_marco
Tyler White @twhite409
Jared Wilson @JaredDWilson
Robby Rowland @RobbyRow_12
Nick Rickles @nickrickles
Victor Roache @_Heavy28Hitter
Mac James @MacJames_28
Jared Mortenson @jaredmortenson
Christian Williams @Chris_w10
Grant DeBruin @GrantDebruin
Christian Williams @Chris_w10
Matthew Boyd @mattboyd31
Matt Fields @Matt_Fields35
Jarrett Casey @JCasey13
Matt Bywater @byweezie
Austin Robichaux (PHOTO)
Riley King @ryking3
Braxton Lee @Brax_Lee
Jacob Faria @JDFaria - The best thing about his timeline is his interactions with girlfriend Jessica. Always good for a smile or laugh.
Ian Giabut @igibaut33
Tyler Smith @Smithin_It_Up
Enderson Franco @efranco44
Brett Gerritse @BaseballBrett30
Chipper Smith @Chipper_Smith3
Branden Kline @BrandenKline16
Jamie Ritchie @JamieRitchie35
Austin Bailey @austinbailey07
Kyle Grana @kgrana37
Michael Fransoso @M_Fransoso
Christopher Pike @cpike992
Jake Hager @JakeHager1
Ryan Gunther @Gunther_7
Tony Thomas @GoldGlover2B
John Mincone @JMincone
Taylor Motter @taylormotter7
Cody Buckel @CheatCode7
Kevin Vance @SorryBoutIt - Where'd he go? #FeelYourWayBack
Comin' In Hot
2015 MLB Draftees who only went pro recently, but are already making their mark.
Nick Plummer @nplum11
Connor Hale @RICHHOMIEHALE20 Seattle Mariners
Bradley Keller @keller_bradley
Cam Gibson @GibNasty_23
Chris Betts @ChrisBetts26 Tampa Bay Rays
Nathan Kirby @KathanNirby
Kyle Survance Jr. @Survance_Jr Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Bryce Denton @brycedenton25 St. Louis Cardinals
Jacob Cronenworth @JCronenworth10 Rays
Carl A. Wise @Wiseman_Tweets Toronto Blue Jays
Joe Hudson @joehud4
Kevin Alexander Kevin_Alex5 - In response to PHOTO, also the guy playing Carl Weathers on 'Arrested Development' is the same guy too.
Dalton Hicks @DHicksMTB Minnesota Twins
Jaret Hellinger @JaretHellinger Atlanta Braves
Blake Hickman @BlakeHickman18 Chicago White Sox
Ryan Kellogg @RyanKellogg49 - (PHOTO)