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On Saturday evening, I asked Twitter followers to send me Twins Minor League questions. I said I would answer them here today. Thankfully I got quite a few questions. I will answer them, but please feel free to ask more questions in the chat room.
1.) Aaron Hicks, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) Liam Hendriks,4.) Miguel Sano, 5.) Oswaldo Arcia, 6.) Joe Benson, 7.) Adrian Salcedo, 8.) Angel Morales, 9.) Rene Tosoni, 10.) Chris Parmelee, Those are many of the top 10 prospects in the Twins system, and although if you’re looking for a middle reliever, it would be crazy to deal anyone like these mentioned. At that point, it becomes a big guess. Generally, if a team isn’t willing to give up a top 10 type of prospect, it will take two prospects to get a deal done, maybe someone in the 15-20 prospect range plus someone in the 20s. It’s funny because if the right scout sees the right prospect on the right day, it could be that guy.
I heard a story this last week that a Nationals scout happened to be watching the Ft. Myers Miracle last year in July and saw lefty Joe Testa throw 97 mph and he was added to the Matt Capps/Wilson Ramos trade. It can be as simple as that.
They have some hard-throwing relief pitchers. Dakota Watts and Bruce Pugh both throw very hard (95+). Matt Hauser throws about that hard. Travis Aune and I talked to Ben Tootle in Beloit. He was clocked at 100 before being drafted. He said that he came back this spring after rotator cuff surgery and was in the low 80s, gradually got up to the high-80s and is now getting into the low 90s. Hopefully he continues to progress and gets back into the upper 90s. Carlos Gutierrez touched 97 at times. Reports have Madison Boer at that same velocity.
Now, all of those guys are relief pitchers, which is no surprise. Most of the Twins starters (and most pitchers in any organization) sit between 88 and 92. Liam Hendriks, Kyle Gibson, Adrian Salcedo and a few others can touch 93 at times. Tom Stuifbergen has touched 94 this year. Miguel Munoz made one start at the beginning of this season and has been rehabbing an elbow injury ever since. He has made three or four appearances in the GCL this month. He was a starter that could touch 95, so hopefully he comes back ok.
DOx80 “What is your take on Derek McCallum? Tough to see a homegrown talent having such a tough time. Injuries or is he a bust?
It has definitely been a struggle for the former Gopher. Really ever since being drafted in the 4th round in 2009, he hasn’t hit much. He hit just .241 in Elizabethton in 2009. 2010 was a really tough year because he went to Beloit, and immediately he was hurt and missed a bunch of time. Then he came back for a few weeks and just as he started hitting, he got hurt again. On the year, he hit just .228/.323/.296. This year, he returned to Beloit and got more playing time in the outfield, a new position for him. He was hitting under .200 when he was promoted to Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he hit just .191/.295/.191 in 22 games of part-time play before being sent back to Beloit. In 47 games with the Snappers this year, he is now hitting .177/.241/.248. He has seven doubles in 141 at bats and just hit his first home run since 2009 last week.
2010, in my mind, was a struggle because of the injuries. 2011 has just been bad and certainly makes this question appropriate. McCallum turned 23 years old in spring training. I would say that he will head to spring training next year and if he can’t make the Miracle roster as a contributing player, it will be difficult for the organization to keep him much longer. Also, I don’t think that the word “Bust” is really appropriate for anyone taken outside of the first 100 picks in any draft. Most don’t make it to the big leagues… but most put up better numbers than this.
The Twins have a good situation with all of the outfield prospects. It’s really hard to know on any of these guys until after this season. Consider that it is possible than Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel could all be gone. The only for-sure starter in the 2012 Twins outfield is Denard Span. I anticipate the Cuddyer will be back, and if Kubel is back, he will DH a majority of the time. Ben Revere’s defense is incredible and he will play a lot of games either as a starter or as a fourth outfielder. Rene Tosoni has shown that he can be a very productive player in the big leagues.
I don’t anticipate Joe Benson being traded. I expect that he will head to Rochester next season as a 24 year old. Last year he had the 27 home runs. This year he has eight, but he remains a doubles-machine. He has also cut down somewhat on his strikeout rate. Benson is already a plus-plus defender at all three outfield positions with a plus-plus arm with plus-plus speed. That’s not a guy I would trade, but that’s a guy that I want to be in the everyday lineup starting in 2013.
18 errors in 32 games certainly isn’t good, is it? He is playing a lot of shortstop and a lot of 3B. His errors have been a combination of fielding and throwing errors. But even when the Twins signed him in October of 2009, the assumption was that he would become too big to play SS. He’s already 6-3 and having seen him this spring, the 195 pounds he is listed at is quite low. Personally, I would keep him working at shortstop as long as they can. And 3B is certainly an option as well. Baseball America projected him to be the Twins 1B in five years. He could be a right fielder because he does have a strong arm.
Summary – I have no idea whatsoever what position he will play when he gets to the big leagues. I would also say that I wouldn’t count out shortstop as a possibility quite yet. There have been a lot of big league shortstops who have had just as many of more errors in the lowest levels of the minor leagues. I would guess that someone like Jorge Polanco or Danny Santana would be starting at shortstop ahead of Sano. However, he has a huge bat. With the E-Twins, he is hitting .283/.338/.583 with ten doubles, five triples and six home runs. 21 extra base hits in 127 at bats is pretty impressive. He is striking out about once in every four plate appearances. He is where he needs to be right now.
So, to answer the second part of the question, when will we see him in MN? I would project that he will spend 2012 in Beloit for a full season. In a best-case scenario, he could start 2012 in Ft. Myers and spend the second half in New Britain at age 20. That is the age in which the Twins then traded AJ Pierzynski so that Joe Mauer could get a big league job. That is an incredibly fast track and I don’t think that we would see Sano in the big leagues in 2013, at least not at the start of the season. However, I think he could be up as a 21 year old in 2014.
I don’t know if this was a question or not, but if it is a True/False statement, my answer would be Absolutely Yes. I like Koji Uehera and think he would do a great job in the 7th and 8th innings for the Twins. However, trading top prospects for relief pitchers is absolutely crazy. That said, what happened last year? So, I wouldn’t completely put it out of the realm of possibility. However, I think those three are pretty untouchable. At least for me they would be (unless we’re talking about getting Clayton Kershaw).
I hadn’t yet thought about September call-ups, so let’s think for a moment about who the Twins will call up in September. 1.) Rene Rivera, 2.) Luke Hughes, 3.) Matt Tolbert, 4.) Rene Tosoni, 5.) Scott Diamond (maybe), 6.) Jim Hoey, 7.) Chuck James (assuming he is sent down soon).
I guess I wanted to write that up because my assumption was that there won’t be any September debuts. There is an outside chance that Kyle Gibson and/or Liam Hendriks are promoted to essentially watch, but the Twins don’t typically do that. If the Twins chose one of those two pitchers to give a September call-up to, my guess would be Hendriks because he has to be added to the 40 man roster anyway after this season whereas Gibson does not yet need to be added.
I think this is a tough question, in part because in recent years, I’ve really cooled on the whole #2, #3, #4 pitcher thing. There are definite #1s, but after that it’s so much about profile than about other things. Because Gibson is a ground ball pitcher instead of a strikeout guy, immediately he can’t profile as a #1? So to me, a #3 big league pitcher is pretty good and I would not take that as a negative in any way in the least. Again, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee don’t profile as #1 pitchers because they don’t throw hard or get a lot of strikeouts, and yet they have become great.
I have heard mixed reports on Gibson. The general consensus is that the Rochester infield defense is awful. That doesn’t bode well for a guy who gets a ton of ground balls. So, there have been a lot of seeing-eye singles in Gibson’s starts. However, I have also heard that recently, there have been a lot of really hard hit base hits too. So, it’s naïve to completely go with the “bad infield” angle. He has work to do, and he is the first to admit it. He works hard, so I think any concern is probably premature.
Now to the Hendriks part of the question. I have heard reports from Ft. Myers, New Britain, Rochester and other places saying that they are more impressed with Hendriks in terms of stuff and in terms of deception and fire. When I did my top ten recently, I put Hendriks at #4 and Gibson at #2, but I really strongly considered Hendriks at #2 behind Aaron Hicks. Since that time, I’ve done a lot of discussion with sources from all around the system, and if I had done that a month earlier, I may have gone with Hendriks.
However, the big picture is this: I can see a Twins rotation early in 2012 including Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, and either Nick Blackburn or Brian Duensing. Both should be very solid big league starters, and if people want to call them #2s, or #3s, I’m fine with that.
He was put on the Disabled List and shut down by the Twins again. In 30.1 innings this year with the Miracle, he gave up 30 hits, walked 51 and struck out 31. His last outing was June 24th when he went 0.2 innings and gave up five runs on one hit and seven walks. In his last ten outings, he had 34 walks in 10.2 innings. It was time. He is going to turn 25 in August. It’s hard to envision a situation in which he is able to turn it around at this point. It’s really unfortunate because his stuff was incredible coming out of Tulane. Very good fastball. Unbelievable curveball. And, he has always been stand up. He is a good guy who has participated in my football picks in the past.
Gutierrez had a terrific spring training in terms of runs allowed, although he did struggle to throw strikes some. He pitched well for Rochester and in May there was a lot of question about whether he should be called up. On June 29, he entered a game against Pawtucket and gave up two runs on a hit and three walks without recording an out. That is the last time he has pitched. He was put on the Disabled List. I have been told that he “has a sore arm” which doesn’t sound so bad. In the next sentence, I was told that he “could be out for awhile.” So, hopefully he will pitch again in 2011, but I can’t imagine that he will be called up to the Twins unless he comes back quick and dominates.
I like this question, how about this (and obviously be sure to use the Comments section to discuss or make any suggestions):
- Catcher – Danny Rams
- First Base – Chris Parmelee
- Second Base – Yangervis Solarte
- Third Base – Miguel Sano
- Shortstop – Brian Dozier
- Left Field – Joe Benson
- Center Field – Aaron Hicks
- Right Field – Oswaldo Arcia
- Starting Five – Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, Adrian Salcedo, David Bromberg, Tom Stuifbergen
- Relievers – Carlos Gutierrez, Manuel Soliman, Bobby Lanigan, Dakota Watts, Bruce Pugh
For the second straight year, he had a very strong showing in big league training camp. Unfortunately, unlike 2010 when he was tremendous in Rochester, 2011 has been a struggle. Not long ago, he had an ERA well north of five. However, if you look at what he has done in his last ten outings, I think the argument could be made for him to get a call up at some point, maybe in September. In his last ten games, he is 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA. In 15 innings, he has given up just one run on eight hits. He has walked three and struck out 12. Always a groundball pitcher, he has an absolutely amazing 27/1 ground ball to fly ball ratio. Basically, he is pitching as well as he has ever pitched right now!
It’s hard to understand why Slama has never really been considered much of a prospect by the Twins. Stats people and anyone who has paid attention to Slama’s minor league career sees that he has been incredible ever since signing with the Twins before the 2007 season after the Twins drafted him in the 39th round in 2006. In five minor league seasons, he has 387 strikeouts in 286 innings (12.2 per nine innings). Even in AAA, he has 135 strikeouts in 118 innings (10.3 per nine innings). Yes, his career walk rate is 3.8 per nine innings, and in AAA it has been 4.3 per nine. However, in seven big league innings, he has seven walks and eight strikeouts. When he was up earlier for the Twins, he got two games, and he was wild in those games, even though he didn’t give up any runs.
From a scouting standpoint, they have never been real high on Slama. His fastball has only been between 88 and 92. His secondary pitches are good, but not great. He is always known for his deceptive delivery, but scouts never thought it would translate to the big leagues. So, as much as Slama has never been a big prospect, he has done absolutely everything in the minor leagues that he can do.
With the Twins in need of a right-handed bullpen arm, Slama would be perfect (potentially) for the role. Unfortunately, he hasn’t pitches since July 1st with arm problems. Arm issues made him miss most of spring training. He struggled in April because that was his spring training. He was great in May and pitched some of the Twins. He was incredible in June, and now injuries have cost him again. If healthy, I fully believe that Slama would have played a huge role in the Twins bullpen this year.
The Twins got five shutout innings from Scott Baker in his return, and then the bullpen got the job done for the final four as the Twins beat the Tigers and cut their lead to six. The Twins have a late start today so that fans can watch the Hall of Fame speech of Bert Blyleven this afternoon.
Minor League Updates
Be sure to check out Roger’s Minor League Report at Twinkie Town later this morning.
Rochester Red Wings
Rochester beat Indianapolis 12-5. Brandon Roberts went 4-6 with his fifth double. Rene Rivera was 4-5 with his fifth double and his second and third home runs. Denard Span was 2-4 with a stolen base before being replaced late by Dustin Martin who hit his tenth home run. Jeff Bailey went 2-5 with his 17th double and eighth home run. Eric Hacker started and gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings, and got the win. He struck out five. Dusty Hughes came in and struck out four in two scoreless innings. Jake Stevens struck out two in two scoreless innings.
New Britain Rock Cats
New Britain lost 7-2 to Altoona on Saturday. Matt Schuld started and gave up five runs on nine hits and four walks in just 2.2 innings. Andrew Albers went the next 4.1 innings and gave up one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five. Brett Jacobson gave up one run on one hit in one inning. The Rock Cats managed just three hits. Deibinson Romero hit his 16th double, and Mark Dolenc hit his second home run.
Ft. Myers Miracle
The Miracle lost 8-6 to Clearwater. Oswaldo Arcia went 3-5 with his fourth double. Josmil Pinto went 2-4 with his seventh double and four RBI. Jamaal Hawkins was 2-3 with his sixth and seventh doubles. James Beresford went 2-5. Pat Dean gave up six runs on nine hits and a walk in four innings. Alex Wimmers came in and struck out the side in the fifth inning. He returned for the sixth and gave up two runs on one hit and four walks (and he struck out three more). Listening to Alex Margulies, Wimmers was getting squeezed. Good to hear that he wasn’t all over the place, but instead was just missing. Matt Tone threw a scoreless inning despite a hit and two walks. Matt Hauser struck out three in his inning.
The Snappers lost 3-1 to Lansing. Snappers starter AJ Achter returned to his college stomping grounds at Michigan State and pitched well. In six innings, he gave up two runs on three hits and two walks. He struck out seven. Blayne Weller struckout two in his inning. Nelvin Fuentes gave up one run on two hits and a walk in his inning. The Snappers had just three hits. Reggie Williams hit his first home run, and Adam Bryant walked twice.
Elizabethton topped Princeton 3-1. Pedro Guerra started and threw 6.1 scoreless innings. He gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out six. Steven Gruver gave up one run on three hits in 1.1 innings. Madison Boer recorded his seventh save by striking out three batters in the four outs he got. The E-Twins had six hits and five walks. Tyler Koelling went 1-3 with a walk and his second steal. Jairo Rodriguez went 2-4. Miguel Sano walked twice. Eddie Rosario hit his fifth double.
The GCL Twins beat the Red Sox 6-1. Hyun-yi Chen gave up one run on five hits and a walk in three innings. He struck out three. Nathan Fawbush threw two scoreless innings. Gonzalo Sanudo struck out four in two scoreless innings. Marcus Limon gave up two hits in two scoreless frames. Candido Pimentel went 2-5 with his third stolen base. Michael Quesada went 2-4 with his fifth double. Jorge Polanco was 2-4. Angel Morales went 1-3.
Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.