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How the Twins won 8 out of 10

12 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we start, a quick reminder:

World Series Contest

I am going to be holding some contests here and on Twitter and Facebook over the next week or two thanks to A&E who has now come out with “A&E Minnesota Twins Vintage World Series Films DVD.”  It includes both the 1987 and 1991 teams! The ’87 team beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. The ’91 World Series was the first that had two worst-to-first teams as the Twins and the Atlanta Braves played one of the greatest seven-game series ever, including Jack Morris’s amazing Game 7. So be sure to look here and other places for some contests for a free copy.

On Saturday afternoon, the Twins scored five first inning runs and Scott Baker threw a complete game as the Twins won for the eighth time in ten games. First, it was a four-game sweep in Kansas City. Then they won two out of three in Cleveland against the division leaders. With the win on Saturday, the Twins have won two of the first three games of this four-game series against arguably the best team in the American League, the Texas Rangers.

After playing horrible baseball through the first 54 games of the season, the Twins have found a way to play great baseball over the past ten games. They have managed to do that without Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and in recent days without Denard Span or Justin Morneau.

Do I believe that this type of success is sustainable? With the current roster? No. But as those aforementioned players come back, along with Glen Perkins, the team is certainly moving back in the right direction.

So, how did a team that was playing so poorly suddenly run off eight wins in ten games? I went to the numbers and it has been a combination of good starting pitching, great bullpen work and very strong offense. Here are some of the numbers for you to consider:

  • Over those ten games, the starting pitchers have thrown 65.1 innings. They have given up 70 hits, walked 11 and struck out 41. That’s a 2.62 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. They have given up eight unearned runs, four of them came on Friday night in Brian Duensing’s seven run second inning. Scott Baker and Carl Pavano each threw a complete game during that time frame and seven innings in their other start. Brian Duensing threw eight shutout innings in one of his starts. Anthony Swarzak picked up his first career win to start this run. Francisco Liriano returned with five shutout innings.
  • As good as the starters have been, the bullpen has been even better. There may be a direct correlation there as well. Starters go longer and pitch better, maybe it’s easier to come in and perform. But they have come through in some tough situations. In those ten games, the bullpen has a 1.09 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 24.2 innings. They have given up just 16 hits, walked eight and struckout 12.
  • Ben Revere made the comment in his Fox interview following Saturday’s win that he likes being a leader and getting the team going. I assume that he meant that he enjoys being a leadoff hitter and setting the table for the game. Revere has been a catalyst, but he has not been the only offensive performer over the past ten days. Here’s proof that a lot of people are contributing:
    • Revere has gone 13-44 (.295) with two walks and a double. He has scored seven runs, driven in four runs. He also has three stolen bases.
    • Alexi Casilla has gone 14-42 (.333) with four walks and three doubles. He has four stolen bases, has scored six runs and driven in four runs.
    • Michael Cuddyer has gone 12-38 (.316) with four walks. He has four doubles, three home runs, six runs scored and ten RBI.
    • Delmon Young has gone 14-40 (.350) with a walk, three doubles and a long home run. He has scored seven runs and driven in six.
    • Matt Tolbert has gone 10-33 (.303) with a walk, three doubles, five runs scored and six RBI.
    • Luke Hughes has gone 9-25 (.360) with a walk, three doubles and seven runs scored.
    • Drew Butera has gone 8-20 (.400) with a walk, three doubles, six runs scored and six RBI.
    • Before his concussion, Denard Span went 4-14 (.286) with a double, a triple, a run scored and three RBI.
    • Jason Repko was 3-12 (.250) with a double, a run and three RBI. He played a huge role in one of the wins in Kansas City.
  • Before missing a couple of days lately, Justin Morneau had gone 2-24 (.083). Danny Valencia has gone 5-35 (.143) with four walks, a double, two runs and two RBI. Rene Rivera has gone 3-16 (.188) with a walk, a double, two runs and an RBI.

So again, in order to go on a nice ten-game run like the Twins have, it takes a whole team. The Twins have been able to get strong starting pitching and bullpen work. They have received offensive contributions from some unlikely sources, some young players and some of the veterans that much had been expected earlier. Ben Revere has been a catalyst, and Michael Cuddyer has been an incredible run producer.

And, as a fan, the best thing is that the Twins have been fun to watch again. Not just because of the wins, but primarily because the brand of baseball is just much better.

Of course, as we are now down to 98 more games, the Twins will need to play very well for the next nine or ten ten-game stretches. Are they capable? As those injured players return, how will they impact the Twins team? Are you surprised to see any of the above numbers? Feel free to comment here.

Plouffe, Revere Promoted

4 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Following last night’s game, the Twins surprised no one by calling up Trevor Plouffe. They put Jim Thome on the Disabled List with the oblique injury.

They also mentioned that Jason Repko would be put on the Disabled List with his quad injury. They didn’t announce a corresponding move, but via Twitter, Red Wings catcher Rene Rivera commented, “Congrats to my roommate @BenRevere9 he going to the big leagues good luck my friend.”

I learned that Ray Chang was being promoted from New Britain up to Rochester as well.

Following a game on April 26th in which he went 0-3, Revere was hitting .194. He went 9-11 over next three games, and in the six games since that 0-3, he is 14-25 (.560), and he is now hitting .293 (I won’t mention the .330 OBP and .315 SLG, or the .645 OPS). It will be interesting to see what happens in the Twins outfield. I assume that if Revere is up, he will play. Could Rene Tosoni move to the bench? And if Delmon Young is back on Friday, who will be sent back to Rochester? I assume Tosoni which would make Revere the fourth outfielder until Jim Thome comes back. Or, does this tell us that Young may not be back as soon as we had hoped?

As for Plouffe, we have been clamoring for him to be called up for some time now. He had a bad spring training, with a bunch of errors. He was sent back to minor league camp early. He has played good defense for the Red Wings. He started the season on fire, particularly with extra base hits. On the season, he is hitting .282/.344/.590 (.934 OPS) with four doubles, a triple and six home runs. However, in his last nine games, he is 7-34 (.206). He went 4-5 with a double and a home run on Sunday. Take that one game out, and he has 3 hits in his last 29 at bats. However, getting Plouffe to the big leagues should help the Twins.

Alexi Casilla was already moved over to 2B last night. Plouffe has played 2B eight of the 21 games he has played at Rochester. Michael Cuddyer, Luke Hughes and Matt Tolbert can all play 2B. So, right now, the Twins have three options at SS, five options at 2B, and several options at 3B .With Revere and Tosoni still both in the big leagues, there is now enough outfield depth.

Ray Chang was promoted from New Britain to Rochester. The infielder was hitting .270/.320/.404 with nine doubles, a home run and 22 RBI so far this season. It is again inexplicable to me why it wasn’t Steve Singleton promoted, but it is possible that an infielder could be sent down when Young comes off the Disabled List. That’s all I can think of. I have to assume that an outfielder will be promoted from New Britain to Rochester, although that isn’t absolutely necessary as the Red Wings still have Jeff Bailey, Brandon Roberts, Dustin Martin and Brian Dinkelman who can play in the outfield.

What affect do you think that Plouffe will have on the Twins? I know he struggled in the big leagues last year when he was promoted to the Twins four times. He struckout quite a bit. He also hit two home runs. Hitting in the bottom of the order, he could be alright with the bat, but the bigger concern is what he can do with the glove. I will say this. It would be hard to believe that he could be worse than Casilla was. What affect will playing 2B have on Casilla, and what do you think the playing time will be at SS, 2B and in the OF? I assume that when he plays, Revere will bat second which should strengthen that spot in the lineup. He can bunt and run, which should be exciting. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Roster Projections: Rochester Red Wings

29 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.

Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.

Step 3: Configure that 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.

Now that the Twins have set their own roster, what does it mean for the Triple-A team? After the Red Wings lost nearly 100 games last year, the Twins went out and acquired a lot of minor league veterans. They did this for a few reasons, but the primary one had to be to win more games and keep the Rochester fan base happy. Secondly, it does allow the Twins to be more patient with actual prospects so that they can play and develop at the proper pace. So, let’s take a look at a projected Red Wings roster. These are the guys who could be called up at any time to play for the Twins if needed. I will include whether or not they are on the Twins 40 man roster because if they are not, they will need to be added before being called up.)

(the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Rene Rivera (40 man – No) – Steve Holm (40 man – No) 

With Wilson Ramos with the Nationals and Jose Morales with the Rockies, the Twins went out and acquired two minor league veterans, each with Major League service time and many years of AAA experience. Danny Lehmann impressed in spring training and although I believe he will start at AA New Britain, he is also an option for a call up should Drew Butera be hurt.

Infielders: 1B – Jeff Bailey (40 man – No), 2B – Luke Hughes (40 man – Yes), 3B – Chase Lambin (40 man – No), SS – Trevor Plouffe (40 man – Yes), Utility – Michael Hollimon (40 man – No), 1B/DH – Erik Lis - (40 man – No)

Bailey and Lambin were the first two minor league free agents that they signed. Bailey got some playing time and displayed power with the Red Sox in parts of three season. He and Lambin both have a lot of experience. Lambin was an International League All-Star last year. Luke Hughes showed his power in spring training. He will just need to stay healthy in 2011 (something he hasn’t been able to do in recent years) and he will be with the Twins at some point. So will Trevor Plouffe, despite a tough spring. Bailey can play some right field. The other four infielders listed should move around the infield, including 1B, because their role with the Twins would likely be off the bench. Yes, it is possible that Toby Gardenhire is on the roster, although my guess is that he will be on the “Disabled List.” Steve Singleton and his organization-leading 43 doubles will likely begin the season back in New Britain due to the veterans brought in. Matt Brown and Ray Chang, who each got a Non-Roster Invite to spring training, are also possibilities for the Red Wings roster. Justin Huber, who was another Non-Roster invite, was recently released which likely means that Erik Lis could get a lot of at bats as the Designated Hitter. It is possible Chris Parmelee will end the season with the Red Wings.

Outfielders: LF – Dustin Martin (40 man – No), CF – Ben Revere (40 man – Yes), RF – Brian Dinkelman (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Brandon Roberts (40 man – No).

Martin will return for his third season with the Red Wings. Dinkelman will be there for his second full season. Both should have better seasons in 2011. Brandon Roberts has missed so much time the last few years with leg injuries. When he was healthy last year, he played really well, and in 153 at bats with the Red Wings at the end of 2010, he hit .333. He has primarily played CF in his career. As mentioned above, Bailey can play right field. Ben Revere will be making his Triple-A debut in 2011, even though he made his major league debut in 2010. Some believe he is ready for the big leagues. I believe he is close, but getting a year at AAA can only help him. He will likely be the one promoted to the Twins if there is a need. Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni impressed in spring training, and Tosoni could be the first promoted to AAA, if needed.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Eric Hacker (40 man – Yes), LHP Scott Diamond (40 man – No), RHP Kyle Gibson (40 man – No), Chuck James (40 man – No), Anthony Swarzak (40 man – Yes)

Obviously Gibson is the guy that everyone is going to be anxiously waiting for, but it will be good for him to get at least another 12-15 starts in Rochester. Triple-A hitters frequently have some big league time, and it is a good transition for pitchers to get to see hitters who are usually much more patient. Swarzak lost a lot of weight and he has regained some of the velocity he showed two years ago. Hopefully he can regain some of the effectiveness. The Twins gave up a lot (Billy Bullock) to retain the services of Scott Diamond. Hopefully it will be a good move. Diamond has put up terrific numbers throughout his minor league career, never posting an ERA above 3.52 at any level and striking out 7.3 per nine innings. Chuck James has 24 big league wins, and went 10-1 between AA and AAA last year with the Nationals organization in his return from surgery. Hacker went 16-8 with a league-average 4.51 ERA last year in the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t have a strong showing in big league camp, but he can provide Rochester with a solid season. The surprise omission here is David Bromberg. He made nine starts with the Red Wings last year and pitched well. He was added to the 40 man roster after the season, and he is a very good prospect, but it could be a positive in the long run for him to get a few more starts in AA and use what he learned in AAA late last year and in spring training this year.

Bullpen: RHP Alex Burnett (40 man – Yes), RHP Kyle Waldrop (40 man – No), RHP Jim Hoey (40 man – Yes), LHP Phil Dumatrait (40 man – No), RHP Chris Province (40 man – No), Yorman Bazardo (40 man – No), Andy Baldwin (40 man – No) RHP Anthony Slama (40 man – Yes)

I assume based on his arm issues during spring training that Anthony Slama could start the season on the Disabled List. Jim Hoey was the last guy with a chance to make the team to be sent down. He and his fastball could be promoted soon if he shows any semblance of control. Kyle Waldrop made another very strong impression this spring, and with the open 40 man roster spots, he could be added if needed. Alex Burnett was on the Twins opening day roster one year ago without any time in Rochester. He was sent back down in July before a September call-up. He will get more opportunities with the Twins. Phil Dumatrait is a former first-round pick who has quite a bit of big league time. He was the #4 lefty on a roster that kept three lefties in the bullpen. Chris Province came to the Twins last year from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He pitched mainly in New Britain last year. He did make a couple of starts for the Red Wings late in 2010, but he is a bullpen arm. Bazardo pitched well for the Tigres de Aragua this winter in Venezuela and got a minor league deal with the Twins. Low strikeout numbers, but he could be a long reliever. Baldwin is a Minnesota native who has spent the last three seasons pitching in AAA for the Mariners organization. You likely noticed that I did not include Carlos Gutierrez on this roster which may be a surprise to you. It was also somewhat of a surprise to me as well because he ended 2010 with two games for the Red Wings. I just think that with the minor league veterans, it would be good for him to begin the season pitching as the closer in New Britain. Remember, he has been doing a lot of starting in his pro career. It will be good for him to get some development time in the late innings for the Rockcats.He will get to AAA quickly. Additionally, Ryan Mullins and Minnesota-native Cole Devries remain options for the Red Wings bullpen.

Overall: This is a very veteran team which should mean a lot more wins in Rochester in 2011. I do believe that it is best for most of the prospects in the system in the long run, but there are not many prospects to watch in Rochester this year. Ben Revere and Kyle Gibson are the two that would be deemed top prospects. Plouffe is still just 24 and a prospect, but he is now in his fourth season with the Red Wings. Hughes and Waldrop made great impressions in spring training again, and we could see both of them this year.. Hoey and Burnett are exciting, but no longer “prospects” due to their time in the big leagues.

Due to the minor league free agents, AA New Britain should be filled with several exciting prospects such as Joe Benson, David Bromberg, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez, Dakota Watts, Steve Singleton and more.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. It will be very interesting to see where some of the team’s top prospects end up. There were more releases in the last couple of days, a couple that surprised me, and there will likely need to be more in the coming days to bring the rosters down to the appropriate level.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.

——————————————————–

Should Twins Fans Worry about Aaron Hicks?

18 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

It is always strange to me when I hear Twins fans and some minor league baseball fans talking about how disappointing Aaron Hicks has been in Beloit. I think part of it is because many, myself included, thought he would end the 2010 season in Ft. Myers. I realize everyone from fans to players to front office personnel are eagerly awaiting his breakout year when his incredible tools become skills and he puts up some terrific numbers. But I wanted to take a look at how his numbers at Beloit compare to other Twins players and their numbers in the Midwest League.

Let’s start by reviewing the numbers that Aaron Hicks has put up the last two years in Beloit:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Aaron Hicks 19 2009 Beloit .251/.353/.382 (735) 15/3/4/29 40/55
Aaron Hicks 20 2010 Beloit .279/.401/.428 (829) 27/6/8/49 88/112

Here are some current and former Twins players and how they did in the Midwest League (Note – Delmon Young’s A-ball numbers from the Sally League):

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Torii Hunter 18 1994 Ft. Wayne .293/.358/.439 (797) 17/1/10/50 25/80
Michael Cuddyer 19 1998 Ft. Wayne .276/.364/.451 (815) 37/7/12/81 61/107
Justin Morneau 20 2001 Quad Cities .356/.420/.597 (1017) 17/2/12/53 26/38
Joe Mauer 19 2002 Quad Cities .302/.393/.392 (785) 23/1/4/62 61/42
Jason Kubel 20 2002 Quad Cities .321/.380/.521 (901) 26/4/17/69 41/48
Denard Span 20 2004 Quad Cities .267/.363/.308 (671) 4/3/0/14 34/49
Delmon Young 18 2004 Charleston .320/.386/.536 (922) 26/5/25/115 53/120
Alexi Casilla 20 2005 Cedar Rapids .325/.392/.409 (801) 11/3/3/17 29/31

Here are a few notes:

  • Everyone talks about how Torii Hunter didn’t put up great numbers in the Midwest League. Well, he did, and he did it at the age of 18. He was already showing some of that power.
  • Michael Cuddyer put up some incredible minor league numbers all the way up the ladder, and it started as a 19 year old in 1998. Look at all those extra base hits.
  • Justin Morneau didn’t get to the Midwest League until he was 20, and he only spent a half season there because he completely dominated the level.
  • Joe Mauer’s OPS isn’t exciting, but we did get a glimpse of the player he has become too. Many more walks than strikeouts, a few doubles, and a good batting average.
  • How fun would it have been to see Quad Cities play in 2002 with Mauer and Jason Kubel? You can see why so many people back then saw Kubel as a mix between Morneau and Mauer.
  • Denard Span didn’t exactly put up monster numbers, and he did miss quite a bit of time with injury. The take-away from those numbers is that he had a very nice Isolated Discipline already even though he was, like Hicks, very raw at the time.
  • Delmon Young was a beast after being taken with the 1st overall pick in the 2003 draft. Ever wonder why people still think he’ll develop a lot of power, check out those numbers!
  • Alexi Casilla was with the Angels organization, but what he did for Cedar Rapids made him the guy they wanted in a trade of JC Romero the next offseason.
  • I included international players and high school drafted players in this group. Danny Valencia hit .302/.374/.500 (874) with 15 doubles and 11 homers in a half-season with the Snappers, but he was 22 years old after spending three years playing Division I baseball. Matt Tolbert played four years at the University of Mississippi, so the Twins had him skip the Midwest League and go right to Ft. Myers.

Can we take anything away from these numbers? With Hicks, you have to love his Isolated Discipline and On-Base skills from both years. The strikeouts increased some in 2010, but he has shown some extra base power. Delmon Young, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel put up really tremendous numbers in the Midwest League, and that has translated to the big leagues eventually. Cuddyer was an extra base machine as a 19 year old in Beloit, and yet his OPS was lower than Hicks’ was in 2010, as a 20 year old. Joe Mauer has always had a terrific eye, and yet Hicks has produced significantly better IsoD while producing more extra base hits.

Of course, we don’t know what will happen. We know that all players develop differently, but I think that this quick, cursory glance at Hicks’ numbers compared to current big leaguers gives us no reason to believe he won’t continue developing and become a very good big league player.

Let’s also take a look at the Midwest League numbers of some of the other Twins hitting prospects to see how they compare:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Trevor Plouffe 19 2005 Beloit .223/.300/.345 (645) 18/0/13/60 50/78
Chris Parmelee 19 2007 Beloit .239/.313/.414 (727) 23/5/15/70 46/137
Chris Parmelee 20 2008 Beloit .239/.385/.496 (881) 10/3/14/49 52/83
Joe Benson 19 2007 Beloit .255/.347/.368 (715) 18/8/5/38 49/124
Joe Benson 20 2008 Beloit .248/.326/.382 (708) 16/3/4/27 24/73
Ben Revere 20 2008 Beloit .379/.433/.497 (930) 17/10/1/43 27/31
Angel Morales 19 2009 Beloit .266/.329/.455 (784) 22/5/13/62 30/104
Angel Morales 20 2010 Beloit .289/.381/.474 (855) 13/7/4/36 24/65
James Beresford 20 2009 Beloit .289/.342/.313 (655) 11/0/0/38 34/70
James Beresford 21 2010 Beloit .297/.349/.363 (712) 19/5/1/59 34/56
Danny Rams 20 2009 Beloit .229/.308/.429 (737) 14/0/7/23 18/77
Danny Rams 21 2010 Beloit .243/.310/.450 (760) 28/4/16/68 31/145
Anderson Hidalgo 21 2010 Beloit .316/.375/.443 (818) 25/1/3/28 24/50
  • Trevor Plouffe put up those numbers only because he played much better in the 2nd half of the season. Good power numbers, but he could have used another year with the Snappers.
  • Both Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee struggled in their first seasons in the Midwest League. Then both got hurt halfway through their second season with the team. However, in the second year, you can see why people are excited about his patience and power potential.
  • Looking at Revere’s Beloit numbers, what a year he had. Very much batting average based, of course. But if we were to only look at OPS, his is right up there with anyone (except Morneau). And he stole 44 bases that year too.
  • Angel Morales… how/why is he so overlooked in many prospect rankings?
  • James Beresford showed good improvement from 2009 and 2010. Reports are that he has gained some weight this offseason. If he can add any semblance of power to his game, he could jump up prospect rankings quickly!
  • Danny Rams has so much power potential, but he just needs to put the ball in play more. His 77 strikeouts in 2009 came in just 175 at bats. He struck out 145 times in 407 at bats in 2010. Yet, his power numbers still make him intriguing.
  • Anderson Hidalgo may be the least known, or maybe underrated, prospect in the organization. He had another solid year in 2010.

What is the summary? There really isn’t one. There is no science to prospect rankings and we don’t know how things will turn out, but if nothing else, I believe this data shows that Twins fans should continue to be very excited about the future of Aaron Hicks.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments here. Also, for more links to Twins articles and thoughts throughout the weekend, be sure to follow me on Twitter where I like to retweet Twins-related articles and post thoughts frequently. Have a great weekend!

Twins 2011 Impact Prospects

15 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

As you have seen, Danny Valencia graces the cover of my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011. Under his picture reads, “Danny Valencia arrived in 2010 and held the Twins to the A. L. Central Title.” Under four pictures of Twins minor leaguers, the question is asked, “Which Prospect(s) will help the Twins in 2011?”

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011

Now, as you know, there are over 160 profiles of Twins minor leaguers in the book. How many of them could we see in Minnesota, and under what circumstance would we see them? Here are some names (alphabetically) to keep in the back of your mind heading into spring training.

Let’s start with the prospects that we have already seen play for the Twins.

Luke Hughes - We didn’t get to see a lot of Hughes in 2010, but what we saw was positive. I mean, he became the first Twins player since 1984 to hit a home run in his first at bat. Hughes struggles defensively, but at least he can play multiple positions, and most important, he is right-handed and has a lot of power in his bat. His role with the Twins could be a right-handed bench bat and designated hitter who can fill in from time to time around the field.

Trevor Plouffe - Plouffe was back and forth between Rochester and the Twins throughout last summer. He struggled late in the Triple-A season, but he displayed power and improved his defense. I think he’ll compete with Alexi Casilla for the starting shortstop job. As this is his final option season, I would anticipate that he will play at 3B and 2B in 2011 than he did in 2010 as he could potentially be a utility infielder as well.

Ben Revere - We got a glimpse of Revere in September and I think that is the role we will see him fill in 2011 as well. If Denard Span is hurt, Revere could replace him for a couple of weeks in centerfield and in the leadoff spot. Some think he should be a fourth outfielder already, but he is just 22, hasn’t spent a day in AAA, and despite hitting .300 yet again and having game-changing speed, he still has parts of his game that need to improve, specifically defense.

Next, there are two guys that we haven’t seen yet, but we know we will hear a lot about this spring:

Scott Diamond - The Twins Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves organization has to spend the season with the Twins or go through waivers and be offered back to the Braves. It is likely he would be claimed or the Braves would take him back, so the Twins will likely give the left-hander every opportunity to make the team.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka - The Twins made big news last Thanksgiving when they won the bid to negotiate exclusively with Nishioka. The two sides agreed to a three year contract with an option for a fourth year. It’s almost a given that Nishioka will be with the Twins and playing at 2B, although he will also see time at shortstop in spring.

The following are Twins minor leaguers that I think have at least some chance of debuting with the Twins in 2011:

Joe Benson - The Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year hit 31 doubles and 27 home runs in 2010. He is an excellent defender with Revere-like speed, and a Cuddyer-like arm. He has work to do before he’s ready for a full-time big league job. It woudl be great if he could spend the year at Double-A.  He has to work on putting the ball in play more consistently, but if he does, he could get a September call-up.

David Bromberg - After leading three minor league levels in strikeouts from 2007 to 2009, his strikeout rate was down at Double-A last year. However, he ended the season with nine starts and AAA where he struck out just over eight per nine innings. He will start the season in the Rochester rotation, and if the Twins have a need for a starter and Bromberg is pitching well, he very easily could be the one promoted for a spot start, or even possibly a long-relief role.

Billy Bullock - Bullock throws gas. The 2nd round pick from 2009 consistently throws around 95 mph with a very good slider. He began the 2010 season by striking out 45 in 37.1 innings at Ft. Myers. After being promoted to Double-A, he struck out and incredible 60 batters in 36.2 innings. Of course, he also walked 24. If he can display any semblance of control in 2010 in the upper levels of the minor leagues, he becomes very intriguing for the Twins in the second half of the season.

Tony Davis - Bullock’s college teammate is a left-hander who also pitched well in his first full season. He began the season by posting a 2.87 ERA in Ft. Myers and followed it up with a 2.64 ERA in New Britain. Again, control is his issue. He walked 46 batters and struck out 45 batters in 2010. The Twins added some left-handed veterans this offseason, so it would take a lot of control and some breaks for Davis to debut in 2011.

Kyle Gibson - The 2009 top pick is clearly the Twins top pitching prospect. He moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain and ended the season with three starts at Rochester. Gibson is clearly going to be a starter for the Twins at some point. The question is whether it is in June, August, or if they can wait for him to debut until 2012. If he pitches well early in the 2011 season, he should be starting for the Twins by June. If he’s pitching well later in the season, but the Twins starters are doing their part, there is some opportunity for him to debut later in the summer in the bullpen.

Carlos Gutierrez - The Twins second first round pick in 2008 throws hard and induces a lot of ground balls because he gets a lot of sink on his pitches. He has struggled as a starter, and he thrives in the bullpen. He has a chance to contribute to the Twins in the second half of the 2011 season if he is pitching well.

Chris Parmelee - The Twins 2006 first-round pick had always shown an ability to take a walk and hit for some power. In 2010, he made major strides in putting the ball in play and hitting for average. Hopefully in 2011, he can put it all together and become a big-time, all-around hitting prospect. It would be great if he could spend the full season in AA, but if he’s hitting well and (the worst-case scenario occurs and) Justin Morneau needs to miss extended time, Parmelee becomes an option for the big league club.

Chris Province - Province came to the Twins last year in spring training from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He is a reliever, although he made several starts a year ago between Double-A and Triple-A. A lot would need to happen for him to debut with the Twins, but he has a fastball that darts in on a right-hander’s hands. If he’s pitching well at a given time when there is a need, he has an outside shot.

Brandon Roberts - Roberts has generally played well throughout the four years he has been in the Twins organization. The problem is that he has been hurt so much. Last year, he finally remained healthy enough to work up to AAA where the CF hit over .300. He has had some knee problems, but speed is his game. Again, there is a smaller chance, but if he stays healthy and produces like he did last year, you never know.

Steve Singleton - After a slow start in 2010, he came on well late in the season. He led the organization with 43 doubles, and had 54 extra base hits on the year. He puts the ball in play and plays solid defense at 2B and has also played 3B and shortstop. He has a lot of pop for a second baseman, and if he can continue to play well, if there is an injury, he deserves an opportunity.

Rene Tosoni - Tosoni is just a solid all-around player. The only weak part of his game has been an inability to hit left-handed pitching. He tried to play in 2010, but his shoulder was experiencing just too much pain, so his season ended with surgery. He profiles similarly to Jason Kubel in terms of hitter. He is a little better defensively, has a little bit more speed, and has a strong arm. It will be interesting to see how he returns from missing so much time last year.

Kyle Waldrop - He had an absolutely incredible first-half of the season a year ago. It started with a great spring training before being sent to Rochester. Prior to the AAA All-Star game, he had posted both an ERA and a WHIP of under 1.00. He struggled some in the second half. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but he gets a lot of movement and sink on the fastball and could be a groundball reliever option sometime this season.

Dakota Watts - Maybe the biggest long-shot on the list, the Twins 16th round pick in 2009 pitched at Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2010. He was clocked at 99 mph while in Ft. Myers. That along makes him worth watching. He can get a strikeout, probably walks too many, but is at least worth watching, and maybe he would be a long-shot September call-up.

Finally, there are some more veteran minor leaguers that the Twins brought in for the 2010 season that are worth noting:

Justin Huber is back after a year in Japan. Consider the day that Michael Cuddyer took over at 1B for an injured Justin Morneau in September of 2009, Huber was initially supposed to play 1B, but an oblique injury took him out of the lineup the rest of the season. Jeff Bailey spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox from 2007 to 2009 and showed some power.  He can play 1B and the corner outfield positions. Chase Lambin was an International League All Star a year ago. He can play 3B, 2B and 1B. Matt Brown has spent a little bit of time in the big leagues and can play the four infield positions and spent time in the OF last year. Ray Chang is an option at 3B and 2B. Rene Rivera and Steve Holm are backup catcher options with big league service time.

Yorman Bazardo has always pitched well in the minor leagues, but still just 26, it hasn’t transferred to success in the big leagues. He pitched well in Venezuela this winter. Chuck James pitched well for the Braves for a couple of years before he was injured. The lefty went 10-1 between AA and AAA with the Nationals organization. Phil Dumatrait is a lefty-reliever option with big league time. Eric Hacker had a decent 2010 with the Giants AAA team and got a 40 man roster spot for it.

In a typical year, the Twins will promote between 12 and 18 players from Rochester throughout a season . Sometimes it is a straight promotion. Sometimes it is an injury-fill. There are various reasons. I mentioned 18 names above before discussing the minor league veterans that the organization added.

How many of these guys will come up and contribute in some way? Who will be surprise candidates? Can any of them have an impact in 2011 the way that Danny Valencia did in 2010? That is the fun part about following prospects. We can guess, but once the season gets started, you never know how it will play out.

—————————————————————————————–

John and the TwinsCentric guys helped put together the Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011, and it has been quite the project. However, the results are tremendous. The magazine is 128 pages of Twins content, with no advertisements. Just pure Twins talk. The TwinsCentric crew wrote player profiles on the Twins roster, and we each wrote an additional article or two.

I wrote one article on the success that the Twins Advanced-Rookie League team in Elizabethton, Tennessee, has had over the last 25 years and the role that consistency has played in that. Their manager, Ray Smith, signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 1978 and debuted with the Twins in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He spent parts of three years with the Twins. When his playing career ended, he became the Elizabethton Twins manager, in 1987. 25 years later, he has won a lot of games and a lot of championships, but more important, he has helped a lot of young men and young ball players begin their path up the Twins system. His pitching coach, Jim Shellenbeck, and his hitting coach, Jeff Reed, have ton of playing and coaching experience. It was a really fun article to research and write, and I think it turned out very well.

The other article I wrote was essentially an organizational depth chart. In the article, as I did last year, I broke out the Twins prospects into Infielders, Outfielders, Catchers, Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers, and gave my top five prospects in each category along with a Sleeper and One to Watch. There are also charts with 2011 roster projections.

Minnesota Twins Organizational Depth Chart Article

There is a lot of Twins information in the magazine. There is information on the current roster, Target Field, the minor leagues, several historical articles and much, much more.

The magazine is now available for pre-order at the Maple Street Press website. The magazine will be available on news stands around Minnesota starting March 1. However, if you pre-order, the magazines are set to ship out on February 17, so you can get it before it hits the news stands. For those of you outside the Minnesota areas, it will not be available in your market, so ordering online is the way to go if you are interested.

Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects

14 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Jim Thome is coming back, and that is a good thing. Joe Christensen is doing a great job covering it, so be sure to read his work and comment there (or scroll down to my quick thoughts on Thome’s return). But here today, we are going to talk Twins prospects, and hopefully it’ll create some good discussion on Twins minor leaguers. I’ll certainly try to answer your questions if you have any in the comments.

Alright, if you missed prospects 26-50ish, click here or if you missed 11-25, click here, or scroll down, but it is time for the

SethSpeaks.net Top Ten Twins Prospects.  

At SethSpeaks.net, I have been posting Top 50 Prospect lists twice a year (and sometimes more frequently) since 2004. I’ve been right on a few surprises, and way wrong on many more. That’s the fun thing about prospects and prospect lists. There are few sure things. You never know. And everyone can have their own rankings that could be just as accurate in the end (ten years down the line?) as anyone, even the experts. There is no science behind this, but I tried to make my list this time around a little bit more scientific. I am just putting the final touches on the Minnesota Twins 2011 Prospect Handbook (more information coming soon), so I have been looking at stats and scouting reports and more for a few months on all of these guys. Before getting to my Top 50 Twins Prospects, here is some detail on how I approached this ranking: 

I did something a little bit different in compiling my Top 50 list. I took the entire list of Twins minor league prospects from the GCL through Rochester, and in an Excel spreadsheet, I put each name in the first column and each name in the first row. Then I went through and compared every prospect to every other prospect, picking which of the two I thought was the better prospect. My ‘vote’ on each was based on a ton of research, stats, scouting reports and more. I considered which of the two players I would trade if a team said that I could pick which prospect to send in a potential deal. I compared Aaron Hicks to Kyle Gibson and Miguel Sano, and also against Matt Schuld and Matt Trau. I compared Manuel Soliman to Dan Osterbrock, Joe Benson and Dallas Gallant. After doing that for every player (which took WAY too long), I added up the total number of times I selected each player. The player that I chose above all players obviously ended up with the most points at the end of the day. The one with the second most votes would be the #2 prospect. And so on. Of course, there were ties, sometimes three-way ties, which I broke by my head-to-head results, so to speak. The results were interesting, at least in the middle of the list, but really throughout. Today I will post my choices for Twins Prospects #26 through 50 with a brief description. As you would expect, there was a tie at 50, so in fact, here are prospects 26-51. As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

#10 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Elizabethton

                When you hit .375/.424/.672 with 21 doubles, seven triples, 14 homers and 51 RBI, you get noticed, no matter what level it’s at. He led the Appalachian League in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. He led the league in hits (by 16) and RBI. He finished second in home runs and triples. He was third in doubles and runs scored. Oh, and he’s pretty solid defensively too.  

#9 – Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Ft. Myers

                Salcedo will be 19 years old when the 2011 season begins. Overall, his 2010 numbers don’t stand out, but that’s in part due to jumping up to Ft. Myers for six starts. He held his own against much older, more experienced competition. In E-town, he won four games and posted a 3.16 ERA as a starter. The Twins were cautious with his arm and put him in the bullpen at the end of the season. Salcedo throws hard and his stuff is described as “filthy.”

#8 – Ben Revere – OF – Minnesota

                Another year, another .300+ batting average for Ben Revere. He jumped up to Double-A New Britain and hit .305/.371/.363. He showed his toughness too, returning less than a month after breaking two orbital bones when hit in the face by a fastball. He came back, played well, and earned a September promotion to the Twins. There is no rush to bring him up. He can still improve his defense, throwing and base running, things that will do him well over time. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt for him to spend another half-season in New Britain.  

#7 – Angel Morales – OF – Ft. Myers

                Morales will spend the entire 2011 season at age 21, and yet it will be his fifth minor league season after the Twins drafted him out of high school in 2007. Although the strikeouts are still high, his approach at the plate is terrific, especially after he was moved to the leadoff spot in the Ft. Myers lineup after a promotion from Beloit. No one questions his power potential. He also stole 29 bases in 2010, second only to Revere’s 36. He’s a good outfielder defensively as well. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s full of potential.  

#6 – Liam Hendriks – RHP – Ft. Myers

                Hendriks made opposing batters look silly all year in 2010. His 8-4 record with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP in 108.2 innings between Beloit and Ft. Myers were impressive. His 12 walk to 105 strikeout ratio was also impressive. The only thing that stopped him was an emergency appendectomy that cost him 4-5 weeks, and an opportunity to represent the Twins and Australia in the Futures game in Anaheim.

#5 – Alex Wimmers – RHP – Ft. Myers

                Wimmers was the Twins 1st round pick in 2010 out of THE Ohio State where he had won the past two Big Ten Pitcher of the Year awards. He’s a very polished starter with three good pitches. He made four starts for the Miracle after signing, so we shouldn’t make too much of his 15.2 professional innings in which he went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA, a 0.70 WHIP and five walks to go with 23 strikeouts. Like their 2010 top pick, Wimmers could advance quickly in 2011.  

#4 – Joe Benson – OF – New Britain

                2010 was an interesting year for the Twins 2nd round pick from 2006. He started out slow in Double-A, was sent back to Ft. Myers for a month, and when he came back, he was very good. In all, he hit .259/.343/.538 with 31 doubles, eight triples, 27 home runs and 19 stolen bases. He’s got a ton of real, raw power when he makes contact, and he is nearly as fast as Ben Revere. He was the Twins 2010 Sherry Robertson Award recipient as the Twins top minor league hitter. He was added to the 40 man roster and should return to New Britain to start the 2011 season.  

#3 – Aaron Hicks – OF – Beloit

                I so frequently read Twins talk about how disappointing Hicks was in 2010. He hit .279/.401/.428 with 27 doubles, six triples, and eight home runs. He was a year younger than the average Midwest League player and performed over 20% better than average. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement. He wasn’t as consistent as you’d like, he struggled from the left-side of the plate, and he’s still got work to do in the field and on the bases. But there is still no question that Hicks has all the talent in the world, and he can be a very good all-around player at the big league level. He just needs time and patience. Comparisons are never fair, or easy, but I think the comparison to Carlos Beltran is fair for what Hicks’ ceiling could be. A future #2 or #3 hitter, who can hit .280-.300, get on base 38-40% of the time, hit a lot of doubles, hit 20-25 home runs, steal some bases, drive in and score runs while playing terrific defense in centerfield or right field.  

#2 – Miguel Sano – 3B/SS – GCL Twins

                The Twins shocked a lot of people late in the 2009 season when the signed Sano to a $3.15 million signing bonus. The early returns from the 17-year-old in the GCL in 2010 were impressive. He hit .291/.338/.466 with 14 doubles and four home runs. He also hit very well in his time in the Dominican Summer League early in the season. So, why is he ahead of Hicks? First, because it’s my list, and you can certainly disagree. But second, this guy has amazing power potential. He’s big, strong and has incredibly quick hands and bat speed. Yes, he has a long way to go. He’ll have to cut down on his strikeouts. But when talking about ceiling, Sano’s is as high as it gets. Miguel Cabrera comes to mind. What position will Sano end up at? He actually primarily played 3B in 2010. Many think he could be a corner outfielder, and in Baseball America’s prospect content, John Manuel had him as the Twins 1B by 2015. It is going to be fun tracking his minor league progress.

#1 – Kyle Gibson – RHP – Rochester

                If ceiling was the only factor that went into prospect rankings, then Gibson would probably be fourth on this list (behind at least Hicks and Sano, and maybe even Benson), but Gibson has a very good likelihood of becoming a terrific major league pitcher. And that likely will happen sometime in 2011. The Twins top pick in 2009 didn’t sign until late, so he made his official professional debut this year, and he was very good. Between Ft. Myers, New Britain and three starts in Rochester, he went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. In 152 innings, he walked just 39 and struck out 126. A ground ball machine when he is on, Gibson has four big league caliber pitches and the confidence to use them at any time. He is also a great competitor. I think Gibson will be promoted in June, and I think he could have a strong impact on the 2011 AL Central race.  

So, now you’ve seen it, my Top 50 Twins prospects. What do you think about it? Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here. I also posted my Top 50 list at the StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog, so you can follow the comments and questions there.

Roger’s 2010 Twins Minor League All Stars

24 Nov

also available (with pictures) at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we dive into Roger’s All-Stars, a couple of quick notes:

  • Last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast was one of my favorites. Baseball America posted its Twins Top Ten Prospects yesterday, and John Manuel came on to talk about his choices and other Twins prospects. Then Danny Valencia came on and talked about his 2011 Twins season for a good 15 minutes. He hadn’t been on a podcast since spring training, so it was great to catch up with him after such a memorable season.  
  • Yesterday on the TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com, I wrote about the Twins arbitration decisions. They had to decide whether to offer arbitration to their six Type A and Type B free agents. During the podcast, the Twins announced their decisions. They offered arbitration to Carl Pavano, Jesse Crain and Orlando Hudson. They decline offering arbitration to Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch. The three that were offered arbitration have until next Tuesday to decide whether or not they will accept. If none of three accept, the Twins will gain four draft picks next June. If the three accept, then it could cost the Twins an extra $19-21 million in 2011.
  • Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Blogging and podcasting and all this writing can be a lot of fun, but a huge part of what makes it fun is the interaction with the readers. I definitely appreciate all of you for coming to SethSpeaks.net daily, and hope that you will continue to find it worth your time.

With that, those that are interesting in the Twins minor leagues know about Roger Dehring. He has written here before, but he writes a weekly Twins Minor League Report for Twinkie Town. He is very detailed and does a great job. He has even developed a very interesting prospect ranking in which he considers performance, age, level of competition and many other factors. We are trying to make it a tradition to include his Twins Minor League All Stars every year around Thanksgiving. By the way, thank you to Twins Cards for the pictures of the autographed cards you see below. Here are his 2010 Twins All Stars:

2010 Twins Organization All-Stars

Thanksgiving is the time each year when Seth provides me the opportunity to post my annual Twins Organization All-Star Team on his site.   

This year’s Team will include the best players at each position, including a designated hitter.  There will be six pitchers; the top right and left handed starters, a long reliever, right and left handed set-up men and a closer.  As with all all-star teams, some very good players are left out.  One of those is Liam Hendriks who was my second ranked pitcher.  Unfortunately, my top ranked pitcher, Kyle Gibson, is also a right handed starter leaving Hendriks out in the cold.  Same holds for Brandon Roberts, who was my fifth ranked player.  Unfortunately, all five of the top ranked players on my list were outfielders so he also has been left off this team.

Looking back at the previous teams, it was somewhat surprising that this will be the sixth year we have done this.  It was also interesting seeing which players made it and many others who had great seasons and are no longer in the organization.  What the future holds for this group remains to be seen. They all had special years this past season, including four of the six pitchers who were selected by the Twins in the 2009 draft. 

 Following are this year’s All-Stars, including my year-end ranking which ranks position players and pitchers separately:

Danny Rams  (18)                   Catcher                                                                                                     

Chris Parmelee  (9)                  First Base                                                                                     

Steve Singleton  (15)              Second Base                                                                                  

Trevor Plouffe  (6)                  Shortstop                                                                              

Anderson Hidalgo  (25)          Third Base                                                                                           

Ben Revere  (2)                       Left Field                                                                                          

Aaron Hicks  (3)                     Center Field                                                                                          

Joe Benson  (1)                       Right Field                                                                                                  

Oswaldo Arcia  (4)                 Designated Hitter                                                                          

Kyle Gibson  (1)                   Right Handed Starter                                                                      

Dan Osterbrock  (8)               Left Handed Starter                                                                   

Kyle Waldrop  (3)                 Long Relief                                                                                        

Kane Holbrooks  (4)              Right Handed set-up                                                                                                                                                       Tony Davis  (16)                   Left Handed set-up                                                                          

Billy Bullock  (11)                Closer

Danny Rams was a player who was recognized as having a powerful bat when drafted in the second round in 2007.  Rams didn’t hit as expected his first two years, then gained notice when he hit .355 average in 62 at bats in Elizabethton in 2009.  Rams had another slow start this year, hitting for only a .217 average before the all-star break.  Rams would hit for a .266 average following the break to finish at .238/.302/.439 in 421 at bats.  More important, Rams hit 4 triples and a team best 28 doubles and 16 home runs so that nearly half (48 of 100) of his hits would be for extra bases.  Rams has developed the power expected of him when drafted.  The one area of his game he must improve is that like many young power hitters, he strikes out to often (154 times or 36.5%).  If he can cut down on his strikeouts as he moves through the organization, he will have an exciting future with the Twins. 

Chris Parmelee is a former first round pick who saw his star become a bit tarnished with a slow start at AA New Britain.  Parmelee would be sent back to Ft. Myers in May where he would hit .338/.430/.463 in 80 at bats.  He would return to New Britain as a different hitter, going on to hit .275/.341/.389 in 411 at bats.  When drafted, Parmelee was considered the best high school power hitter in the 2006 draft.  Although he hit 25 doubles; he wouldn’t hit many home runs (6) at New Britain.  After striking out more than 25% each year since joining the Twins, he would reduce his strikeout ratio to 16.5%.  Parmelee joined the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL where he hit .339/.405/.477, in 109 at bats while tying for the most doubles (11) in the league.  He walked twelve times while striking out seventeen times for a strikeout ratio of 15.6%.  Parmelee, who began his career alternating between first base and right field, played about two-thirds of his games at first base and appears poised to move up to Rochester in the spring. 

Steve Singleton returned to New Britain this spring for a second season.  He would go on to hit .267/.325/.410 in 502 at bats with a team best 68 runs scored and 134 hits.  His 43 doubles were the most in the organization and tied for the most in the Eastern League.  A solid defensive second baseman, Singleton is often overlooked when discussing the top prospects in the organization.  The Twins are high on his abilities as evidenced by their inviting him to spring training.  A solid number two hitter who struck out only 57 times in 502 at bats, Singleton could move up to Rochester next spring.

This past spring Trevor Plouffe returned to Rochester for the third straight season, yet, on opening day he was only 23 years old.  Should he return to Rochester next spring for a fourth year, he will still be about two years younger than the average player in the International League.  Plouffe hit .244/.300/.430 in 402 at bats which at first glance isn’t impressive.  He did, however, improve his power numbers with 22 doubles, 4 triples and 15 home runs.  What may be most promising, he reduced his errors from 26 in 2009 to 12 this season.  Plouffe also made a couple trips to Minnesota where he had his first exposure to the major leagues.  While with the Twins he hit only .146/.143/.317 in 41 at bats, however, did hit two home runs.  Plouffe has a role in the Twins future plans.  It just isn’t known whether he will go north with the Twins out of spring training or join them later in the year.  

After being one of the top hitters in 2008/2009 with the GCL Twins and Elizabethton, Anderson Hidalgo was the Beloit Snappers leading hitter in 2010.  When he suffered a season ending injury in late July, Hidalgo was one of the league’s leading hitters and had he had enough at bats he would have finished second in the league.  In 81 games (282 at bats), Hidalgo hit a team best .316 average with a .375 on base percentage and .443 slugging percentage.  He would finish his shortened season with 25 doubles which trailed Rams by three with 125 less at bats.  Hidalgo isn’t your typical power hitting third baseman, however, with Danny Valencia moving up to the Twins he is the organization’s best third baseman.

Ben Revere likely is the organization’s best leadoff man.  He spent this year at AA New Britain where he seemed to be out of the lineup every few weeks with five different injuries.  When he suffered a broken orbital bone when hit in the face with a pitch in early August, it was thought that his season was over.  We would learn that this young man is a quick healer and his season was far from over.  Revere returned from his injury to play in the last few games of the Rock Cat season, finishing with the Eastern League’s third most stolen bases (36) and tied for the second highest batting average (.305).  Revere’s play at New Britain earned a spot for him in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.  But before heading to Arizona, the Twins had a big surprise for Revere as they added him to their 40-man roster and called him up in September.  Revere’s play with the Twins was limited as he hit only .179 average (5-28).  After the Twins season ended, Revere reported to the Peoria Saguaros where he was one of the hottest hitters in the league before cooling the last two weeks.  He finished his AFL season hitting .295/.358/.330 in 112 at bats with a league best thirteen stolen bases without being thrown out.  He also demonstrated great patience at the plate as he struck out only twelve times while taking eleven walks.           

Aaron Hicks has been thought by many to have the highest ceiling of anyone in the organization.  He is a player who would blossom into that special player who a future championship Twins team could be built around.  Thus, when Hicks returned to Beloit for a second season it was a surprise to most fans.  Most assumed that Hicks stay in Beloit would be a short one and he would move on to Ft. Myers where his star would continue to brighten.  That progress was not to be as Hicks spent his entire season in Beloit, hitting .279/.401/.428 in 423 at bats with 27 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs and a team best 21 stolen bases.  Hicks would improve throughout the year, hitting for a .308 average following the all-star break.  Hicks continued to strike out to much (112 times), however, he also took an amazing 88 walks.  Following the season, Baseball America ranked Hicks the fifth best prospect in the Midwestern League.

Joe Benson was the Twins second round pick in 2006 who has often been compared to Torii Hunter who also was a highly recruited football player out of high school.  Although Benson began his season in a slump and returned to Ft. Myers with Parmelee in May, he certainly had his break-out season this year.  Benson finished his Rock Cat season hitting .251/.336/.527 in 374 at bats.  He had 20 doubles, 7 triples, 14 stolen bases and 23 home runs, which were the fourth most in the league although he had 135 less at bats than the leader who had 33.  Benson’s 27 home runs at New Britain and Ft. Myers led the organization with his eight triples second most.  Benson finished his year playing in the AFL where he got off to a slow start and would go on to hit .236/.300/.400 in only 55 at bats with six doubles and one home run.

            We all remember players who put up eye popping numbers in the Appalachian League, but none had years like nineteen year old Oswaldo Arcia had this year.  Arcia led the Appalachian League (his closest competitor and their age is listed in parenthesis) with a .375 batting average (Ramon Morla/20, .323), .424 on base percentage (Marcus Nidiffer/23, .393), .672 slugging percentage (Morla, .610), 259 at bats (Drew Lee/22, 255), 97 hits (Morla, 81), and 51 runs batted in (Morla, 49).  Arcia also tied for the league’s second most triples (7) and home runs (14) while hitting the third most doubles (21).  Arcia didn’t make a single error this year, playing centerfield in more than half his games although his bat is ideally suited for a corner outfield spot in a future Twins lineup.  Following the season, Baseball America named Arcia the third best prospect in the Appy League this season. 

Kyle Gibson began his professional career a year ago in the Twins Fall Instructional League.  The few people to comment about him glowed as to what we could expect in the future.  In a move unusual for the Twins, Gibson began his career in the Florida State League.  After posting a 4-1 record with a 1.87 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in seven starts (43.1 innings), Gibson moved on to New Britain where he would be voted an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star.  While with the Rock Cats, Gibson pitched so well that he earned recognition from Baseball America as their seventh ranked Eastern League prospect.  On a team that was one of the worst in franchise history, Gibson posted a 7-5 record with a 3.68 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 16 starts (93.0 innings).  The Twins kept Gibson on a fast track as he finished his first professional season in Rochester where he had an excellent 1.72 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in three starts (15.2 innings).  Gibson is not the hard thrower that many fans would like to see at the front of the Twins rotation.  He is however, an excellent pitcher who just may have the ability to be the front of the rotation Ace the Twins are looking for.

            Daniel Osterbrock had an awesome rookie season in 2008 following his being drafted out of the University of Cincinnati in the seventh round.  After posting a 7-2 record and 3.00 ERA at Elizabethton in 2008, Osterbrock would struggle some at Beloit last year where he had a 7-9 record and 5.19 ERA.  Osterbrock would return to Beloit this spring, but not for very long.  After making only five starts, He got the call to move up to the Florida State League after pitching a 7.0 inning complete game no hitter and being selected the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks.  He left Beloit after posting a 2-1 record with a 2.30 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.  Osterbrock moved up to Ft. Myers where he would lead the Miracle in innings pitched (112.0) while posting a 7-8 record with a league best 2.73 ERA and league fourth best 1.13 WHIP.  With his break-out season behind him, Osterbrock should move up to New Britain next spring where if successful he will be one step away from joining the Twins.

            Kyle Waldrop was a 2004 first round pick who missed all of the 2008 season following shoulder surgery.  A former starter who had been on the fast track, Waldrop returned in 2009 when the Twins put him in the bullpen at Ft. Myers.  He earned a mid-season promotion to New Britain where he would have a 1.46 ERA in 55.2 innings.  He spent all of this season at Rochester where he had a first half as good as anyone in the International League, a first half that included one month in which he didn’t allow a single earned run.  Waldrop would tire the last few months, yet, he finished with an excellent 2.57 ERA with a 5-3 record on a team that was within a few losses of being the worst season in their 100+ year history.  Waldrop continued his reputation as one of the better control pitchers in the organization as he walked only 20 batters in 87.2 innings while ringing up 60 strikeouts.  Waldrop was assigned to this fall’s Arizona Fall League where his numbers weren’t good.  In a hitter’s league, Kyle had a 1-0 record with a 16.05 ERA in only 12.1 innings.

            Kane Holbrooks wasn’t high on any team’s prospect lists when selected by the Twins in the twenty-first round of the 2009 draft.  After an ordinary first exposure to professional ball at Elizabethton in 2009, no one expected the year Holbrooks would have this season.  He began as Beloit’s closer where he posted a 5-3 record with 9 saves, a 1.67 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 54.0 innings (11.8/9 innings).  After earning a spot on the Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star Team, Holbrooks moved up to Ft. Myers where after one relief appearance he was converted to a starter.  Holbrooks would post a 3-3 record with an excellent 2.27 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 43.1 innings.  He didn’t strike out as many (36) which may have been the result of his moving to the starting rotation or perhaps because he was pitching to hitters at a higher level.  The Twins were so impressed with his work at Ft. Myers however, that they gave him a late season promotion to AA where he made one start, allowing three earned runs in 5.0 innings.  With a logjam of starters ahead of him, look for Holbrooks to begin next spring back at Ft. Myers with an early season promotion likely.

            Tony Davis was selected in the twelfth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Florida.  Like Holbrooks, his 5.35 ERA in 35.1 innings in his professional debut was not an indication of what he would accomplish this season.  The Twins would assign him to Ft. Myers this spring, skipping Beloit.  He would become one of their best set-up men, pitching 31.1 innings with a 2.87 ERA.  That performance would earn him a mid-season promotion to New Britain where he was even better, pitching 37.0 innings with a 2.68 ERA.  The one concern that may limit his progress is a low strikeout ratio (45 strikeouts in 68.1 innings) and a relatively high number of walks (46).  Davis overcame this concern by holding hitters to a .203 average.  What was surprising was that right handed hitters hit for a lower average (.194) than did left handed hitters (.214).  In an organization with few lefty relievers in the upper levels, look for Davis to return to New Britain next spring where he will attempt to prove that he still has the magic to get nearly 80% of the hitters facing him out when the ball is put in play.

            The Twins selected Billy Bullock, a hard throwing closer out of the University of Florida, in the second round of the 2009 draft.  After opening his professional career with the Elizabethton Twins, Bullock moved up to Beloit where he had a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 innings with eight saves.  This past spring, Bullock reported to Ft. Myers where he would become a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star before moving on to New Britain.  Bullock had a 0-4 record with the Miracle with 14 saves, a 3.63 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 19 walks in 37.1 innings.  Bullock would move up to AA where he had a 0-2 record with 13 saves, a 3.44 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 24 walks in 36.2 innings.  There is no question that 43 walks in 74.0 innings are more than the Twins like to see, however, nearly fifteen strikeouts per nine innings in AA is an indication that Bullock may have what it takes to become a closer on the big stage a few years from now.  There were higher ranked closers, such as fifth ranked Anthony Slama, however, Bullock is my all-star closer based on his leading the organization with 27 saves. 

Of course, I’m certain Roger would love to hear your feedback. I want to thank him for putting this together. It’s another great look at the 2010 Minor league season and some of the guys who deserve to be recognized. As always, please feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

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