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Solarte, 11 Others Become Free Agents

4 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy of the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, be sure to do so! We hope that many of you will develop your own blueprint of and e-mail it to twinscentric@gmail.com to be entered into a random drawing where one winner will receive a copy of the TwinsCentric 2012 Twins Annual next spring. 

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?

Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year

5 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

As games finished on Labor Day in the Twins minor league system, the Twins minor league season came to an end. New Britain had an opportunity to make the playoffs had Reading lost and the Rock Cats won. Unfortunately, the R-Phillies won their game. The Elizabethton Twins were the lone playoff team in the organization, although they lost in the first round. It was a disappointing season in the Twins farm system. However, there are a lot of guys who had very good seasons. Today, I’ll present for you my choices for the Twins Minor League Hitter, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher of the Year in three separate blog entries. We will start with the Relief Pitchers. Feel free to debate them, or ask any questions you may have in the Comments section:

Relief Pitcher of the Year

#4 – Chuck James – Rochester Red Wings (3-2, 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 62.2 IP, 49 H, 27 BB, 67 K)

James was inexplicably not a September call-up, but he had a terrific year with the Rochester Red Wings.

#3 – Matt Hauser – Beloit Snappers/Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats (5-6, 12 saves, 1.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 63.2 IP, 29 BB, 75 K)

Hauser was the Twins 7th round pick in 2010 out of the University of San Diego. He throws hard and racks up strikeouts. The 23 year old threw 17 games for Beloit, 24 games for Ft. Myers, and then gave up just one run in 2.2 innings in this AA debut on Labor Day.

#2 – Jose Gonzalez – Beloit Snappers (5-3, 13 saves, 2.47 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 62 IP, 49 H, 23 BB, 63 K)

At 5-9, Jose Gonzalez is a mini-Jose Mijares, in stature. Like Mijares (circa 2009), Gonzalez throws hard and has a very good slider. He gave up just two home runs and opponents hit just .210 against him. Left-handers hit just .143 off of him.

 Relief Pitcher of the Year – Andrew Albers – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats (8-2, 4 saves, 2.16 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 95.2 IP, 92 H, 14 BB, 80 K)

Albers ended the 2010 season playing independent league ball in his native Canada. He got a late tryout with the Twins this spring and made the most of it. He began the season at Extended Spring Training, but he was quickly promoted to Ft. Myers where he was 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA. Quickly, he moved to New Britain and was 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA. He fulfilled many roles for his teams this year. He made seven starts. He pitched long relief and short relief, and he closed out some games. The 25 year old was a tremendous minor league free agent signing!

Feel free to discuss in the Comments section.

SethSpeaks.net May Twins Minor League Pitchers of the Month

2 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Yesterday, we looked at some of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system in May and named Brian Dozier of the Ft. Myers Miracle as the hitter of the month. Today, I want to share with you some of the top pitchers in the Twins minor league system in the month of May. I’ll name the top 3 relievers and the top 5 pitchers, but I’ll start with a few honorable mentions:

  • Rochester – Andy Baldwin – 5 GS, 1-3, 3.64 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 32 H, 4 BB, 24 K
  • Ft. Myers – Matt Schuld – , 6 GS, 3-1, 4.02 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 16 K
  • Rochester – Carlos Gutierrez – 13 G, 1-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 19.2 IP, 16 H, 7 BB, 11 K
  • New Britain – Brett Jacobson – 8 G, 4 GS, 1-0, 1.54 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 14 H, 17 BB, 13 K
  • Ft. Myers – Andrew Albers – 6 G, 2 GS, 2-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 22 H, 3 BB, 15 K
  • Beloit – Matt Hauser – 10 G, 1-0, 3 saves, 1.54 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 9 BB, 17 K
  • Beloit – Jose Gonzalez – 11 G, 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 17 IP, 14 H, 8 BB, 16 K
  • Beloit – Ryan O’Rourke – 9 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 1.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 18 IP, 17 H, 7 BB, 11 K

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

Number 3 – Rochester – Anthony Slama - 11 G, 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 19 K

I can’t help but believe that Slama would have been on the Twins big league roster since Opening Day if not for the elbow issues during spring training. April was his spring training, and he really struggled in his five outings. In seven innings, he gave up six runs on seven hits and six walks. However, he turned things around quickly with the start of May. Control has been one of his concerns throughout his minor league career, so it is great to see just five walks in his 17.1 innings. He’s always been a big strikeout guy, and hopefully we see plenty of those with the Twins too. Slama should be with the team the rest of the season.

Number 2 – Beloit – Clinton Dempster – 11 G, 3-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 18 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 19 K

Dempster was the Twins 16th round draft pick in 2010 from Nicholls State U. The 22 year old southpaw made four appearances in Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit where he made ten appearances, including six starts. This season, he has worked exclusively out of the Snappers bullpen. He has pitched in long relief, and he has been the closer at times. In his last ten games in May, Dempster was 1-1 with a 0.56 ERA. He gave up just one run in 16 innings over that time. He is another guy with the possibility to move up to Ft. Myers soon.

And the SethSpeaks.net Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month of May is:

Rochester Red Wings – Chuck James - 10 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 17 K

Free Chuck James! That was the cry from many Twins bloggers throughout the month of May when the 29 year old lefty put up incredible numbers across the board. James signed a minor league deal with the Twins this spring after going 10-1 last year with the AA and AAA affiliates of the Washington Nationals after shoulder surgery the year before. Well, after going the entire month of May without allowing a run while walking very few and striking out well more than one per inning, James finally was added to the 40 man roster and promoted to the Twins over Memorial Day weekend. James was my #2 reliever of the month in April and was better in May. Like Slama, hopefully James proves the bloggers’ confidence accurate and remains with the big league club the rest of the year. And no, not just so that I can write new names in here next month.

With that, let’s jump to the starting pitchers. Here are the Top 5 Starting Pitchers for May:

Number 5 – New Britain – Liam Hendriks - 5 GS, 2-1, 2.90 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 31 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 31 K

Hendriks was the #3 minor league starter last month, and he was very good again this month. It is exciting since the Australian right-hander is still just 22 years old. He has more than held his own in Double-A and legitimized himself as a top pitching prospect. Overall, he is now 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He has 51 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched. He has actually pitching better against left-handed batters (.174)  than right-handed batters (.270).

Number 4 - Beloit – Adrian Salcedo - 6 GS, 3-2, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP,36 IP, 35 H, 10 BB, 20 K

Salcedo was actually better in April when he was 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA, but he was just honorable mention then. This month, he was able to make the Top 5. Again, Salcedo is a big-time prospect. He has a long, lanky athletic frame with long arms. He throws pretty hard and has good control In 58.2 innings, he has just 16 walks. He has gone six or more innings in six of his ten starts, and he has failed to go five innings just twice (both times going 4.2 innings).   

Number 3 - New Britain – Bobby Lanigan - 6 GS, 3-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 33 H, 7 BB, 19 K

Lanigan, the Twins 3rd round pick in 2008 out of Adelphi University, turned 24 years old in early May, and he celebrated by pitching very well. He had one clunker during the month (gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings), but he went at least six innings in his other 5 starts and gave up three once and two or less each other time. The highlight came on May 13 when he threw eight shutout innings and gave up just four hits and no walks against Portland. Overall this season, he is 4-3 with a 3.41 ERA.  

Number 2 - Rochester – Kyle Gibson - 6 GS, 3-2, 3.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 35 IP, 32 H, 7 BB, 38 K

For the second straight month, Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson finishes second in the monthly pitcher of the month voting (ok, it’s a one-person vote, but that’s ok). In April, the 23 year old from the University of Missouri went 0-1 with a 3.15 ERA in four starts and in 20 innings. He has tremendous control, and he is striking out more batters this year. He has great stuff, and he is very competitive. Gibson “struggled” in the middle of the month for a few starts. However, when Gibson “struggles”, it is giving up four runs in five innings. In many of his starts where he has given up runs, he has one bad inning and makes some adjustment and still gets through five innings. His last two starts have been very good. In 12.2 innings, he has given up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out 18 batters. I think there is a possibility that sometime in June, Gibson’s minor league career will come to an end, and he will be in a Twins uniform through the 2017 season, or longer!

And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:

New Britain – Steve Hirschfeld - 5 GS, 2-2, 2.93 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 30.2 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 23 K 

For the second straight month, Hirschfeld was the easy choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month. In April, he was 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA and opponents hit just .190. In May, he was just as good. Besides the numbers you see above, opponents hit just .196 against him. Overall, he is 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA. In 52.2 innings, he has given up just 36 hits, walked only 13. Opponents are hitting just .194 off of him. The 25 year old right hander missed most of the 2010 season, but he is making up for it now and there is no reason he should not be pitching in Rochester very soon. In fact, today, he has thrown six more shutout innings for the Rock Cats.

Congratulations to the three choices for players of the month, Brian Dozier of the Ft. Myers Miracle, Chuck James of the Rochester Red Wings and Steve Hirschfeld of the New Britain Rock Cats. But Congratulations to all of those players mentioned in these two articles on a great month of May. I think that this is a time when there will be several transactions and many of these players you have read about could be promoted (and some already have been.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Perkins to Disabled List

22 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

If you stayed up to watch the Twins and Diamondbacks finish their second of three games this weekend, I’m sorry! Many of you likely went to bed with the Twins leading 4-3 or maybe even 6-3 going into the 8th inning. Joe Nathan, who needed just eight pitches to get through the 7th inning, gave up a leadoff single in the 8th frame. Ron Gardenhire went to Glen Perkins as the Diamondbacks had three straight left-handers coming to the plate, well, and Perkins has been the team’s top relief pitcher this year. Just a few pitches later, the game’s outlook changed completely. Perkins gave up a single to right-field, but as he was moving toward the 3B line to back up the bag, he stopped and summoned the training staff. He immediately left the game and was replaced by Matt Capps.

Obviously these were the correct moves for the manager to make at the time, but things just went bad. Capps allowed a couple of inherited runners to score, but the team held on to a one-run lead when Kelly Johnson came to the plate. I immediately tweeted that Kelly Johnson is so similar to Adam Kennedy in my mind that this would not be a good matchup. A couple of pitches later, the Johnson crushed a Capps fastball into the right field bleachers to give the Diamondbacks the 9-6 lead that they would hold on to.

But, back to the key point in the game, the Glen Perkins injury. After the game, the manager acknowledged that the Perkins injury would put him on the Disabled List. He said that it was an oblique injury.

UPDATE – less than 3 minutes after I posted this, StarTribune’s LaVelle E. Neal informed us that the Twins announced that Dusty Hughes was being promoted to replace Perkins. No surprised at all, but definitely disappointing. You can still read the below to see what some of the other options were.

This of course brings about several questions.

1.)     Which Rochester reliever will come up, and

2.)     If that pitcher is not on the 40 man roster, who could be removed from the 40 man roster?

Let’s start with the first question: Which Rochester reliever will come up? Terry Ryan and Tom Kelly are actually in Rochester right now evaluating players. Bill Smith likely called them not long ago to ask who the right person to promote would be. Seemingly, these would be the options:

1.)     Chuck James – Why he wasn’t called up and added to the 40 man roster last week instead of Phil Dumatrait is unknown to me, but he has been terrific for the Red Wings. He threw two scoreless innings last night, but he is now 1-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 17 games. In 25.2 innings, the left-hander has allowed 17 hits, walked nine and struck out 35. Seems the most deserving, but again, he is not on the 40 man roster.

2.)     Dusty Hughes – If they want to replace the lefty Perkins with another lefty, Hughes is an option. He has posted a 5.06 ERA in 5.1 innings over five games with the Red Wings. However, he is on the 40 man roster so the paperwork would be easier.

3.)     Carlos Gutierrez – I said all winter I thought he could come up in July or August and really play a big role for the Twins bullpen. That timeline may be pushed ahead. Gutierrez is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 16 games. In 27 innings, he has given up 20 hits, walked 13 and struck out 18. He has been very good of late and may be an option. He throws hard, and has a big sinker and groundball rate. He is right-handed, and the Twins may feel that they need a second left-hander in the bullpen to go with Dumatrait.

4.)     Kyle Waldrop – Another right-hander, Waldrop’s season numbers don’t look too good. He is 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA. This would be a case of going with the hot hand. In his last two games, he has seven strikeouts in four innings. He came in to one game and struck out the International League’s best hitter to record the save. Two days later, he struckout six in 3.2 perfect innings. He had given up runs in five of his previous six outings. He admitted to me the other day that he finally found his proper release point and believes that will make a huge difference.

5.)     Others – Eric Hacker and Scott Diamond have struggled in their last 2-3 starts. Kyle Gibson has been struggling his last four starts. It wouldn’t make sense to bring up a starter, unless the plan would be to move Brian Duensing back to the bullpen, which would be a mistake. Anthony Slama is still working his way back to success since missing most of spring training and early April. Jeff Manship has moved back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation and it hasn’t gone well. Jim Hoey needs to stay down there to work on control and that split-finger pitch that has potential to be a great one for him.

Of those four options, only Dusty Hughes is on the 40 man roster, so if the Twins choose one of the other three, someone will need to be removed from the 40 man roster. Who could that be? Here are some options:

1.)     Deolis Guerra – still just 22 years old, Guerra is about two years younger than the average player in the Eastern League. However, in his seven starts for the Rock Cats this spring, he is 3-4 with a 9.85 ERA. In just 28.1 innings, he has given up 31 earned runs on 43 hits and eight walks while recording just 19 strikeouts. A year ago, he posted a 6.24 ERA in 19 starts and went 2-10. He was added to the Twins 40 man roster on November 20, 2009, which means he can stay in the minor leagues until the 2013 season. Despite the struggles and numbers, there is a lot of talent here, so it would be hard to remove him from the 40 man roster.

2.)     Dusty Hughes – With Jose Mijares and Glen Perkins now on the Disabled List, it is hard to imagine the Twins would take a lefty off the 40 man roster.  Hughes is likely better long-term than Dumatrait, so removing him would not make sense.

3.)     Phil Dumatrait – If they were going to call up James in Dumatrait’s place, they would have called up James last week instead of Dumatrait.

4.)     Alexi Casilla – This is an interesting option. When Jason Repko comes off the DL on Monday, Ben Revere likely goes back to Rochester. Jim Thome will also come off of the DL on Monday. The Twins could option Matt Tolbert or Luke Hughes, or they could designate Casilla for assignment. If DFAing Casilla is an option on Monday, it should be an option on Sunday. Of course, then someone else would need to be optioned on Monday still (Burnett, Hughes or Tolbert probably).

There are a couple of guys who could go to the 60 Day Disabled List to open up a spot:

1.)     Joe Mauer – if the Twins don’t believe that he will be able to play until late in June, then this is a possibility. If they think he could be back any sooner than that, it won’t happen.

2.)     David Bromberg – This has some gray ground for me. He is on the Disabled List right now, and could be out until mid-June already, he would be a possibility. However, he is on a minor league Disabled List, so would the Twins have to promote an injured player to the big leagues first?

3.)     Tsuyoshi Nishioka – This may make the most sense. Again, depending upon when it is realistic for him to return, Nishioka has not played since April 7, so if he is going to be out until about June 10th or so anyway, this could buy them some time.  

In my mind, those are the options (unless they have some sort of trade lined up, which is unlikely. What do you think will or should happen? Comment here.

Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month

2 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Yesterday, we looked at some of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system in April and named Danny Ortiz of the Beloit Snappers as the hitter of the month. He had hit .377/.429/.768 with seven doubles, a triple, six home runs and 15 RBI. The choice for #2 hitter was his teammate Oswaldo Arcia, who was put on the disabled list on Sunday.

Today, I want to share with you some of the top pitchers in the Twins minor league system in the month of April. I’ll name the top 3 relievers and the top 5 pitchers, but I’ll start with a few honorable mentions:

  • Rochester – Eric Hacker – 3 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 13 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 13 K (probably the run-away choice if not for his time with the Twins)
  • Rochester – Phil Dumatrait – 9 G, 0-0, 4 saves, 1.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 11 K
  • Ft. Myers – Dan Osterbrock – 4 G, 3 GS, 2-0, 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 18.1 IP, 19 H, 3 BB, 20 K
  • Ft. Myers – Shooter Hunt – 7 G, 2-0, 1.35 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 11 H, 11 BB, 15 K
  • Ft. Myers – Dakota Watts – 7 G, 0-1, 5 saves, 3.12 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.2 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 6 K
  • Beloit – BJ Hermsen - 4 GS, 2-2, 2.74 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 23 IP, 26 H, 5 BB, 14 K
  • Beloit – Adrian Salcedo – 4 GS, 1-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 22 H, 6 BB, 19 K
  • Beloit – Manuel Soliman – 4 G, 3 GS, 0-0, 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 10 H, 8 BB, 22 K

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

Number 3 – Beloit – Blayne Weller - 7 G, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 12 K

The Twins drafted the 6-5 right-hander with their 14th round pick in 2008 and signed him on the deadline date. After primarily starting the last two years in the rookie leagues, Weller is working out of the Snappers bullpen and may get more opportunities to start especially if he pitches this well. His peripherals don’t look as good as that snazzy 0.00 ERA, but Weller does have terrific upside.

Number 2 – Rochester – Chuck James – 9 G, 0-1, 3.14 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 20 K

The 29 year-old southpaw signed with the Twins before spring training. He went 11-4 for the Braves in 2006, and won another 11 games in 2007. Things didn’t go well for him in 2008, and it was then that he had arm surgery and missed all of 2009. Last year, the Nationals gave him a shot and he went 10-1 between AA and AAA. He appears to be back, posting very good numbers in April. In fact, don’t be too surprised if you see him in a Twins uniform in the not-so-distant-future.

And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:

New Britain – Cole DeVries - 7 G, 0-0, 4 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.27 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 21 K

In the bullpen, a 0.00 ERA can be misleading, but that is not the case for the former Eden Prairie High School and Minnesota Gophers star. Not only is he not giving up runs this year, he’s hardly allowing any base runners. His saves have typically been the three inning variety so far. Just take another look up at that WHIP, the walks and the hits per inning. And then he’s averaging nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings. Just a remarkable start to DeVries season after a frustrating 2010 season that saw him struggle with the Rock Cats and with the Triple-A Red Wings.

With that, let’s jump to the starting pitchers. Here are the Top 5 Starting Pitchers for April:

Number 5 – Ft. Myers - Kane Holbrooks - 5 GS, 0-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 27 H, 6 BB, 9 K

Win-Loss record sometimes can be indicative of how a pitcher is pitching, but not always. Holbrooks has been terrific so far this year for the Miracle, yet due to lack of run support, he is 0-4. He is eating innings. He isn’t allowing many runs or base runners. Holbrooks broke out with a tremendous 2010 season, his first full-season with the organization. Despite a lack of strikeouts, he had a very good first month.

Number 4 - Beloit – Logan Darnell - 4 GS, 1-1, 2.78 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 16 K

The Snappers had a winning record in April despite a struggling offense that got runs from basically just two hitters. How did they win? Because of pitching, and Logan Darnell has been the best. You saw the Honorable Mention included several Snappers, but Darnell was the best in April. The lefty was the Twins 6th round pick a year ago out of the University of Kentucky. He hasn’t allowed base runners, and his stuff is touted as nasty. May be a dominant lefty reliever over time, but for now, he is pitching really well.  

Number 3 - New Britain – Liam Hendriks - 5 G, 4 GS, 2-1, 3.43 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 21 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 20 K

I was a little surprised when, with all of the veterans brought in, Hendriks started this season with the Rock Cats after spending just over half of 2010 in Ft. Myers. But Hendriks is a Top 5 prospect for the Twins, and he has it all. He has really good stuff. He is very smart. He is very competitive. Hendriks has had just one start this April that has not been affected by the weather conditions and yet he put up sparkling numbers again. In fact, he has given up runs in just three of those 21 innings (and five runs came in just one inning). The 22 year old Australian right-hander missed all of 2008 with a neck/spine injury, but he has made up for lost time very quickly. 

Number 2 - Rochester – Kyle Gibson - 4 GS, 0-1, 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 20 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 21 K

While Twins fans are clamoring for Gibson to be promoted to the Twins, Gibson is quietly and humbly going about his business with the Red Wings. In fact, he made the start for the Red Wings on Sunday (May 1, so not included in the above stats), and picked up his first Rochester Win. He went six innings and gave up three runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out six. All three runs (and four of the hits) came in the second inning. Consider now that he has four walks and 27 strikeouts in 26 innings. Yet, he is the first to admit that he is still working on things, still trying to figure things out. That said, it has to be tempting for Bill Smith to add Mr. Gibson to the 40 man roster and get him in to the Twins rotation.

And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:

New Britain – Steve Hirschfeld - 4 GS, 1-0, 2.05 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 22 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 18 K 

2009 was a great season for Hirschfeld at Ft. Myers. He went to the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately 2010 was a lost year for the 6-5 right-hander. He fought injuries and made just three starts all season. The 25-year-old is back and healthy now, and pitching great for the Rock Cats. He is a big, strong guy who can carry the Rock Cats this season, although it is also possible that he sneaks up to Rochester at some point.

Congratulations to the three choices for players of the month, Danny Ortiz of the Beloit Snappers, Cole DeVries of the New Britain Rock Cats and Steve Hirschfeld of the New Britain Rock Cats. But Congratulations to all of those players mentioned in these two articles on a great start to their 2011 seasons.

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.

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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.

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