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Solarte, 11 Others Become Free Agents

4 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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Yangervis Solarte was one of 12 Twins minor leaguers who were allowed to become Six-Year Minor League Free Agents five days after the World Series. Solarte signed with the Twins from Venezuela in June of 2005. In 2011, he hit .329/.367/.466 with 36 doubles, three triples, seven homers and 49 RBI. Not bad for a 2B. For a team that has struggled with middle infield development, it’s hard to believe that Solarte would not have been added to the 40 man roster before becoming a free agent. He can now sign with any team, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him get a 40 man roster spot with another team. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise me if he re-signed with the Twins still.

Here are the others who became six-year free agents:

  • RHP Andy Baldwin – The Duluth native pitched in Rochester last year.
  • LHP Dusty Hughes – Spent time with the Twins early in the season and pitched alright in Rochester the rest of the season.
  • LHP Chuck James – The #FreeChuckJames campaign, and his tremendous early-season pitching, got him a couple of very brief looks with the Twins.
  • LHP Jake Stevens – The Naples native pitched in New Britain and Rochester. Following the season, he mentioned that he was called in to the Twins minor league offices, was given a ring for his part in throwing a no-hitter in Rochester, and then told his services were no longer needed with the Twins.
  • C Jair Fernandez – The catcher came to the Twins from Seattle for RA Dickey, and played pretty well. He was just too injured in 2011.
  • C Allan de San Miguel – The Aussie catcher signed when he was so young. Great defense. Struggled with the bat. Elbow surgery in 2011.
  • 1B Jeff Bailey – Brought in quickly after becoming a free agent last year to help the Red Wings, he struggled mightily the first couple of months of the season.
  • IF Toby Gardenhire – The manager’s son has been a utility infielder throughout his minor league career. Great teammate and leader, not much of a hitter. Can’t help but assume he’ll be back. Should be.
  • 3B Chase Lambin – 32 year old came to the Twins last offseason as a free agent. Struggled early.
  • SS Paul Kelly – 2nd round pick in 2005 from Texas high school. Solid debut in 2005, and played well for half of 2006 before he was hurt. Since 2007, he has played a combined 24 games in five seasons with various injuries. If healthy, he probably (maybe?) could have been the Twins shortstop the past few years already. After three games this season, they found a blood clot in his neck and he missed the rest of the season. What could have been!? And, hopefully he can continue to play!
  • OF Brandon Roberts – Came to the Twins in the Kyle Lohse trade, the speedy outfielder had too many knee issues and missed a lot of time.

It’s possible some of these guys will be back. It’s possible some of these guys won’t play again.

Here are some other names you may recognize that became free agents for other organizations:

  • Michael Restovich – Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Armando Gabino – Baltimore Orioles
  • Brendan Harris – Baltimore Orioles
  • Matt Fox – Boston Red Sox
  • Jose Morales – Colorado Rockies
  • Matt Macri – Colorado Rockies
  • Alex Romero – Florida Marlins
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith – Houston Astros
  • Gil Velazquez – Los Angeles Angels
  • Anderson Machado – Milwaukee Brewers
  • Boof Bonser – New York Mets
  • Mike Lamb – New York Yankees
  • Steve Singleton – Philadelphia Phillies
  • Jeff Clement, Brandon Wood – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Steve Tolleson, Bobby Kielty – San Diego Padres
  • Casey Daigle – San Francisco Giants
  • Doug Deeds – Texas Rangers
  • Yohan Pino – Toronto Blue Jays

Any thoughts?

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.

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Twins Non-Roster Invitees

11 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Via Twitter, the Twins announced that they are inviting 19 non-roster players to big league spring training. According to the Tweet, the list will include “6 pitchers, 6 catchers, 5 infielders and 2 outfielders.”

According to the press release sent later, here are the players who will come to Major League spring training camp along with the players on the team’s 40 man roster.

Pitchers: Kyle Gibson, Carlos Gutierrez, Yorman Bazardo, Phil Dumatrait, Chuck James, Kyle Waldrop.

Catchers: Steve Holm, Rene Rivera, Jair Fernandez, Danny Rams, Chris Herrmann, Danny Lehmann.

Infielders: Chase Lambin, Brian Dozier, Justin Huber, Matt Brown, Ray Chang.

Outfielders: Jeff Bailey, Brian Dinkelman.

Shocked that wasn’t invited to spring training: Steve Singleton. It makes no sense at all. Twins need to release him and let him catch on with a team that will give a second baseman with a good glove and pop in his bat a chance. When guys like Chase Lambin and Matt Brown and Ray Chang are getting an opportunity ahead of him, it’s really disappointing. Not sure what’s going on there.

I have written about each of the players added throughout the offseason as the Twins added so many minor league free agents. Chris Herrmann is an interesting add. They really like him and keep calling him a catcher, but he’s actually a tremendous defensive outfielder. Obviously he’s 2-3 years away from big league ready, but it’s a nice honor for him. With all of the pitchers in camp, they need a lot of catchers as well.

The big picture is that Waldrop and maybe Dumatrait are the only players above that have a chance to make the team out of spring training. Gibson and Gutierrez, their 2009 and 2008 first round picks respectively, won’t make the team out of camp. They are actually prospects, so expect to see them promoted in June, when they pass that Super-2 date.

Any thoughts? Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

Twins Ink Chase Lambin

13 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins have come to an agreement with minor league infielder Chase Lambin. The 31 year old switch-hitter spent the 2010 season playing for Syracuse, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. He hit .252/.327/.414 with 28 doubles, 15 home runs and 58 RBI. He spent 2009 in Japan playing for Chiba Lotte. In 58 games there, he hit .192/.254/.358 with four homers. He was in the Marlins organization for the 2007 and 2008 seasons and posted a .896 OPS in 2008 at AAA when he hit .300/378/.518 with 15 doubled, five triples and 14 RBI. Lambin was originally a 34th round pick by the New York Mets in 2002 out of the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. In his nine professional seasons, he has played all around the infield, primarily at 2B and 3B. Last year, he saw time at 1B (19 games), 2B (48), 3B (51), LF (6) and RF (4). He has been solid at worst with the glove throughout his career, although the .910 fielding percentage at 3B last year isn’t good.

At this point, I am not aware of whether it is a minor league contract, or if it is a spot on the 40 man roster. Honestly, he looks like an improvement as a utility infielder in Rochester over Matt Macri or Toby Gardenhire. But I guess I wouldn’t mind if he was brought in to Spring Training and given a shot to compete with Matt Tolbert for a Twins utility spot. Lambin has not played in the big leagues to this point in his career.

If nothing else, it appears that the Twins are looking to help the Rochester Red Wings in 2011 by providing some early signings for their roster. Obviously this isn’t the kind of signing that will win a division title for the Twins, but as I’ve said before, teams need all 40 players on their roster and usually another half-dozen or so who get added throughout the season.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments here.

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