Roster Preview: 2009 New Britain Rockcats

9 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Over the weekend, I presented my thoughts on the 2009 Minnesota Twins roster, and the 2009 Rochester Red Wings roster. Today, I will try to project how the AA New Britain Rockcats roster will be made up. There is a general opinion that once a player succeeds or dominates at AA, they could be called up and contribute. We saw that last year with Jose Mijares. Brad Radke never pitched at AAA either as he was promoted straight from New Britain. So I do believe it is very important to know these players and their names. And I also think it is important not to make too much out of whether a player starts at AA or AAA. Please remember that these rosters are simply my opinions. I have been following the Twins minor league system for several years and tried to figure out patterns and such. So at worst, it’s a relatively educated guess.

 

2009 NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS

Starting Pitchers

Jeff Manship

Cole Devries

Jay Rainville

Zach Ward

Deolis Guerra

Jeff Manship is one of the Twins top starting pitching prospects. After a great first half in Ft. Myers last year, he spent the second half with the Rockcats and experienced ups and downs. But he came on strong at the end and was solid in the Arizona Fall League. It makes sense for him to spend at least a half season back with the Rockcats. Jay Rainville will likely spend a second season with the Rockcats. He had his moments last year and if he can add velocity, he could still be very good. I’m sure there are a lot of people who will be surprised to see Cole Devries pitching in AA, but he has actually greatly improved as he has moved up, and it will be interesting to see how AA affects him. Zach Ward is a guy who is probably ready for the AAA bullpen, but after a strong showing in Puerto Rico this winter, I think it would be good for Ward to go back into the rotation and see what he can do. Where do you put Deolis Guerra? Should he stay at Ft. Myers, and in the Florida State League for a third straight year? Probably. But at some point, he has to be pushed as well. Video shows that Guerra has a pitcher’s body, and I believe that his stuff will catch up. But again, he is just 20 years old!

Closer

Anthony Slama

Yesterday I projected that Jose Mijares, Rob Delaney and Ben Julianel would start the year at Rochester which opens the door completely for Anthony Slama to be the closer of the Rockcats. After an absolutely amazing season at Ft. Myers in 2008, it will be interesting to see how the already 25 year old Slama does in AA.

Relief Pitcher

Blair Erickson

Sean Henn

Matt Fox

Kyle Aselton

Oswaldo Sosa

Ryan Mullins

The right-handed Blair Erickson had an excellent half-season in Ft. Myers and as he is already 24, I think he is ready to be pushed to New Britain. He strikes out more than a batter an inning, but needs to throw more strikes. Sean Henn pitched for the Padres some last year, but with the lefties in Minnesota and Rochester, I can’t get past how bad his control was, and I can’t put him higher than AA with the Twins. If his control is that bad, it is also possible that the Twins simply let him go. 26 year old former first round pick Matt Fox remains with the organization and as he has the last three years, likely will start in the bullpen but be ready to start when called upon. Like Fox, 25 year old Kyle Aselton has always been a reliever going into the season, but then experiences much more success as a starter in the season’s second half. As you can see, I have five righties in this starting rotation, so it is possible that Aselton will get a chance to start again. Ryan Mullins has been a starter for most of his career. This will be his third year with the Rockcats, and I think that for him to make it to the big leagues, it will be in the bullpen. At 6-6, can he make the transition, or is he a taller version of Jason Miller? Finally, Oswaldo Sosa will be just 23 years old throughout this season. He has tremendous movement on his pitches, but last year he lost all control. He was taken off the 40 man roster, but I think there is a lot of potential for Sosa, so it is good that he is back with the organization.    

Starting Lineup

Brandon Roberts CF

Brian Dinkelman 2B

Danny Valencia 3B

Wilson Ramos C

David Winfree RF

Erik Lis DH

Juan Portes LF

Whit Robbins 1B

Yancarlos Ortiz SS

This lineup is really pretty impressive when you look at it. Brandon Roberts had a very good 2007 season at the Rockcats leadoff hitter and CF. He returned to the Rockcats in 2008 but missed the majority of the season with a hamstring injury. This will be a big year for him. Brian Dinkelman struggled with the bat for the first time when he was promoted to the Rockcats at midseason. He likely would have returned to New Britain either way. As you’ve read, I think Danny Valencia could be very close to big-league ready. The one thing he really needs to work on is cutting down on strikeouts. I think that he will head back to New Britain, but he could be promoted to Rochester within a month or two. And if 3B is a need for the Twins in a couple of months, he could get the call. Wilson Ramos is a very strong catching prospect, both with the bat and glove. I can see him hitting in the middle of the lineup and doing very well. David Winfree provides run production and power from the right side. He still needs to cut back on the strikeouts and work a few more walks, but I think that he has turned a corner. Therefore, I can see him moving up to Rochester if he can get off to a fast start. Erik Lis was the Rockcats #3 and #4 hitter much of 2008, and I think he’ll return to the team to start the season, but again, there is no questioning his bat. Juan Portes is in a position where he has to prove something. He still doesn’t have a strong position defensively, and his bat has not met the expectations to this point. So it is a big year for him. Whit Robbins should not bat 8th in any lineup, but the lefty bat fits well here. It would be nice to see more batting average and power ,but he has a strong ability to get on base. I think that the average and some power will come. If it does, he can move up the lineup. I would love to see the Twins move Steve Singleton back to SS to get his bat up to AA right away, but Yancarlos Ortiz is a very good glove SS and does put together good at bats. 

Reserves

 

Jeff Christy

Backup Catcher

Toby Gardenhire

2B, 3B, SS

Edward Ovalle

OF

Matt Moses

OF

Danny Berg

1B, 3B

Yancarlos Ortiz isn’t much of a hitter, so I would expect to see a lot of Toby Gardenhire at that position as well, but he can play anywhere. Jeff Christy spent half of last season in Rochester, but will likely come back to New Britain to back up Ramos. Matt Moses must hit in order to stick around. I believe he becomes a six year minor league free agent after the season. He must show an ability to hit or he won’t just be let go by the Twins, but he will have a hard time finding another job in affiliated baseball. Edward Ovalle has just nicely progressed through the system, and he had a very nice 2008 season with the Miracle. We shall see if he can adjust up one more level. And Danny Berg ended last season with the Rockcats. He can play the corner infield positions and did improve in 2008. Of course, we can all hope that he’s a late bloomer, like another Australian, Luke Hughes.

I think that the starting lineup of this roster looks very strong, one through eight. There is a decent bench. The pitching staff has plenty of question marks, but also plenty of potential. This is what you would expect from a AA roster. I think this team can absolutely compete for an Eastern League title. That said, we have thought the same thing the last several years and it has not happened!

Any thoughts?  Send me an e-mail, or let’s talk about it in the Comments here.

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2 Responses to “Roster Preview: 2009 New Britain Rockcats”

  1. Funkytown February 10, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    I know Winfree has a low average and a lot of k’s..but isn’t it time for him to move on? 3 years of AA isn’t the answer.

    Toby G is getting too old for AA ball. Time for him to hang it up and start coaching, ala Jake Mauer.

  2. thrylos98 February 10, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Henn will be 28 this season. I think that the last place he belongs is New Britain. Guerra should stay in Ft. Myers, at least to begin the season. He still has things to prove. At this point I think that both Robertson and Gutierrez are ahead of him and one of them should probably be with the Rock Cats before Guerra.

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