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Minor Trending

26 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins had a much-needed off day on Monday, so today, let’s spend a little time talking about the Twins minor league system. We notice at the big league level which players get off to a hot or a cold start. It is the same thing in the minor leagues. Here are a few notes on the starts of players from the Twins affiliates:

Rochester Red Wings:

  • Trevor Plouffe has been able to start off very well. He is hitting .300 with three doubles, a triple and five home runs.
  • Kyle Gibson is again on the mound on Tuesday for the Red Wings. In his most recent start, he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He was named the Red Wings most recent player of the week.
  • Ben Revere is currently hitting just .203/.239/.234. Of course, he will be fine. However, in his past nine games, he has just four hits in 35 at bats.
  • Matt Brown has not played in the past four days. His batting average is down to .162 after he went 0-11 in his previous four games.
  • Jeff Bailey played well in spring training, and he has a game-winning, walk-off homer for the Red Wings, but he is struggling. His last hit was 11 days ago (April 15). In his past eight games, he is 0-23.

New Britain Rock Cats

  • Danny Lehmann made a strong impression on the big league staff in spring training, again. He began the season in Double-A and went 6-13 (.462) with a double. He moved up to Rochester recently where he has gone 5-14 (.357) with a double and a home run.
  • After being named the organization’s top minor league hitter in 2010, it’s great to see Joe Benson off to a fast start. He is hitting .379/.446/.638 with seven doubles, one triple and two home runs. One of his issues had been strikeouts. Through last night’s games, he has 13 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances. The one strikeout every five at bat ratio would be a great number for Benson. In fact, with Ben Revere and Brandon Roberts struggling in Rochester, and Rene Tosoni cooling off, is it possible that if Delmon Young needs to go on the DL for four or five days that they could call up Benson now for a week?  In his past six games, Benson is 9-23 with three doubles, a triple and a home run.
  • Yangervis Solarte is hitting .356 (with a .367 OBP) with six doubles, a triple and a home run. He has six hits in his past ten at bats.
  • Steve Singleton had 43 doubles for the Rock Cats in 2010 (along with four triples and seven home runs). With three doubles on Monday night, he now has seven doubles on this season with a home run. How he is still at Double-A is beyond me.
  • Cole DeVries amazing start to his 2011 season continues. In five games, he has 12.1 innings thrown. He has given up just two hits, one walk, and he has struck out 18 batters.
  • After a fast start, Ray Chang has four hits in his last 26 at bats.
  • Another veteran that the team signed was Michael Holliman. He played for the Detroit Tigers in 2008. After playing in independent league ball in 2010, the Twins signed him. He played very well in spring. He homered in his first regular season game with the Rock Cats. Since then, it’s been a struggle for him. He has three hits in 42 at bats this season, an .071 average.

Ft. Myers Miracle

  • Chris Herrmann’s nine-game hitting streak came to an end in a game that he went 0-1 with two walks. He started a new hitting streak last night. He is now hitting .355/.425/.516.
  • Minnesotan Nate Hanson ‘s 12 game hitting streak came to an end over the weekend. Since then he has gone 1-13 and is now hitting .296 with three homers. David Dorsey of the Ft. Myers News Press wrote a nice article on the First Baseman.
  • Danny Rams played well in spring camp too. He has started the season by hitting. 357/.419/.536 with three doubles, two triples and a home run. He is 8-17 in his past five games, and 14-33 over his past nine games. Like Benson, strikeouts will be worth watching with Rams. So far, he has 18 strikeouts in 62 plate appearances.
  • Through 11.1 innings, Shooter Hunt is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He has 12 strikeouts to go with nine walks. Still a lot of walks, but he has been able to have enough control for those walks not to come back to haunt him.
  • Steve Liddle is struggling. He is hitting just .136 on the young season, but he is also 2-21 in his past 7 games. It is surprising because the nephew of the Twins 3B coach had a terrific college career at baseball power Vanderbilt.
  • Aaron Hicks had a good first week, but in his last seven games, he has gone 4-27 and is now hitting .232.

Beloit Snappers

  • Danny Ortiz was my choice for Breakout Hitter of the Year for the Twins throughout the offseason. Through 15 games, he .360/.411/.680 with 5 doubles, a triple and three home runs. He has been remarkably consistent. In his first 25 at bats, he had nine hits. In his past 25 at bats, he has nine hits.
  • Oswaldo Arcia broke out last year as the Appalachian League MVP. He got off to a fast start, then recently went 1-14 to drop below .300. However, last night he went 2-4 to return to the .300 level.
  • Early in the year, Ortiz and Arcia were joined by Gunner Glad as the guys carrying this offense, but Glad has really struggled of late. He has just two hits in his last 19 at bats and is now hitting .222.
  • Glad’s University of Kentucky teammate Lance Ray, the Twins 8th round pick a year ago, has just three hits in his last 25 at bats. He is hitting .184. It is surprising because after signing last year, he played very well at Elizabethton and was promoted to Beloit. In 47 games with the Snappers, he hit .279/.377/.418 with 14 doubles and three home runs. In other words, he will get it turned around at some point.
  • Derek McCallum was the Twins 4th round choice in 2009 out of the University of Minnesota. He was in Beloit last year but was limited to just 47 games by two separate injuries. He hit just .228 last year, and due to the limited playing time, he returned to the Snappers this year. He’s been healthy, but he is hitting just .135 (5-37) He has three hits in his last 21 at bats which is a .143 average. That means he was 2-16 (.125) to start the season. It has been a struggle, and the 2B also is now playing a lot of left field.

Draft Notes – The draft experts at Baseball America put together their first mock draft, and with the 30th pick, their choice for the Twins was RHP John Stilson from Texas A&M University. The Twins drafted Stilson out of Texarcana Junior College two years ago, but did not reach an agreement with him at the time. In fact, on the deadline day in August of 2009, he and his American Legion team were in Fargo, playing in the American Legion World Series. Had he signed with the Twins, he would have been unable to play in the championship game. As you recall, the Twins went right up to the deadline that year to sign their first-round pick, Kyle Gibson.

Kolten Wong is a 2B from the University of Hawaii who has risen up draft boards. In the same mock draft, they have him going 27th to the Cincinnati Reds. Wong was the Twins 16th round pick in 2008 out of high school as a catcher.

There is a quick glance at who is hot and who is not with the Twins four full-season affiliates. It is important to remember that the season is still very young, that most of the players have played less than 15 games and have less than 50 plate appearances. The weather has made conditions difficult and rain/snow outs make it hard to get into a routine. As the weather improves, they will play every day and it will be interesting to see where some of these players are in another 300 or 400 plate appearances. But it is fun to follow.

Below is a quick minor league report. It is something that I do most days at SethSpeaks.net. It is a look at the highlights from the games of the night before, a hitter and pitcher of the year and some additional links when appropriate. Today, I have also included the team’s standings as play starts today.

Minor League Report

Be sure to check out last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly podcast here.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, New Britain Rock Cats  

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayCole DeVries, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Monday – Red Wings, Pawtucket – Another day, another rain delay. Kyle Gibson will pitch on Tuesday night against Buffalo. The Red Wings are currently 7-10.

Rock Cats Report

Monday – Rock Cats 9, New Hampshire 2 – Each of Liam Hendriks’ scheduled starts had been affected by rain. In fact, he was supposed to start on Saturday for the Rock Cats, but with the rainout, he was pushed back to Monday. With this start, he recorded his first win of the year. In six innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. He walked one, hit one and struck out three. He got eight groundballs to just two fly outs. Cole DeVries incredible start to his season continued. He recorded his second three-inning save pitching three more perfect innings and striking out six. Yangervis Solarte got the Rock Cats on the board with a home run. He was 3-5 in the game. Steve Singleton went 3-5 with three doubles. Joe Benson went 1-3 with two walks and his second home run.  The Rock Cats are now 9-6 and just 1.5 games out of first place.

Miracle Matters

Monday – Miracle 5, Charlotte 11 – The Miracle had been the Twins’ affiliate that you could count on for a game. On this night, their game was delayed by the rains, but they did get it in. Ryan Mullins started and gave up four runs on three hits and two walks in just one inning. Matt Tone gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in two innings. Edgar Ibarra threw four shutout innings before giving up three runs in the 8th inning. Shooter Hunt got the final five outs. He walked two and hit one but did not allow a run. Danny Rams went 2-4. Chris Herrmann went 1-3 with a walk.  The Miracle are now 10-8, a very solid start. They are in second place, but they are already 6.5 games behind the St. Lucie Mets, who are 17-2.

Snappers Bites

Monday – Snappers 3, Burlington 7 – Andrei Lobanov started and the Moscow-native gave up six runs (5 earned) on three hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Clinton Dempster got all four batters he faced out. Ryan O’Rourke gave up one run on three hits in two innings. Martire Garcia struck out two in his scoreless frame. Danny Ortiz remains on fire. He hit his fourth and fifth doubles in four at bats. Oswaldo Arcia went 2-4 with his second stolen base. Wang-Wei Lin was 2-4 with his first double.  The Snappers are 8-7 and 4.5 games back in the division.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments

Hanson Provides Miracle Walk Off

21 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

  • At about 10:20 today, I’ll be on KFAN with Paul Allen to talk about the Twins. Listen on am1130 in the Twin Cities, or on one of their affiliates, or even at www. KFAN.com.

The Ft. Myers Miracle scored three runs in the bottom of the 5th inning, and going into the eighth frame, they held a one run lead. Bruce Pugh blew his first save of the season. The teams went into the bottom of the 9th inning tied at five. With the bases loaded, Minnesota native Nate Hanson stepped to the plate and ended the game in style. Sure, all he needed was a walk or a single, but he ended the game by launching a walk-off grand slam giving the Miracle a 9-5 win over Bradenton.

No one is hotter at the plate right now than Hanson right now. In his last seven games played, he has six multi-hit games. He is 13-29 over that stretch (.448). On the season, he is now hitting .352/.390/.574 with three doubles and three home runs.

Hanson was the subject of an article in my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011. Although he was born in California, his family moved to Minnesota when he was young. He went to Eden Prairie High School and the University of Minnesota before the Twins drafted him in the 28th round of the 2008 draft. He spend 2010 with the Miracle as well and hit .254/.324/.385 with 18 doubles and 11 home runs. He probably could be up at Double-A New Britain, but with Chris Parmelee playing 1B there every day, Hanson finds himself back in the Florida State League. He is making the most of the opportunity and the everyday spot in the middle of the lineup.

Another former Gopher is off to a terrific start as well. 2010 was a frustrating season for the professorial right-hander. He split time between New Britain and Rochester and between being a starter and a bullpen arm. In all, he was 1-8 with a 5.79 ERA. He is working out of the bullpen now for the Rock Cats. He has thrown 9.1 innings in four games and is yet to allow an earned run. He has given up just two hits, walked one and has 12 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .065 against him. Another Eden Prairie high school alum, the 26 year old hopes to continue his success and get back to Triple-A. Not bad for a player who was not drafted and signed with the Twins in 2006.

The Twins drafted catcher Kyle Knudson out of the University of Minnesota in the 9th round of the 2010 draft. Right now, he is splitting time with two other catchers at Beloit. He is hitting .313 (5-16) in the early season. Derek McCallum, the Twins fourth round pick in 2009 has really struggled to stay healthy since signing. He is back in Beloit this year playing 2B and some in the outfield. He is off to a slow start, hitting just .148 through his first 27 at  bats.

The Twins generally have a few Minnesota Gophers on their roster. Since the MLB draft starting in 1965, the Twins have drafted 35 Gophers.

Ya’ll, I’m so far behind on the minor league updates, so today is going to be very much just highlights from the past few games, just to get caught up. If you ever have any questions on the Twins minor league system, players, etc., please feel free to e-mail me.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayNate Hanson, Ft. Myers Miracle.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayAndrew Albers, Ft. Myers Miracle

Red Wings Ramblings

Wednesday – Red Wings  – Kyle Gibson will take the mound in Game 1 of a Thursday doubleheader. He was set to start on Wednesday until the game was postponed by rain, snow and freezing conditions.  

Rock Cats Report

Wednesday – Rock Cats 2, New Hampshire 6 – Deolis Guerra had his first rough start of the year. He gave up six runs on nine hits in three innings. Cole DeVries still hasn’t given up a run this year. He struck out two in two scoreless innings. Jake Stevens hasn’t either after two more shutout frames. Tyler Robertson struck out two in his two scoreless innings. Joe Benson and Evan Bigley were each 2-4.  

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Miracle 9, Bradenton 5 – If you’re reading this far into the blog, you know how this game finished up. Nate Hanson walked off with a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th to give the Miracle the 9-5 win. Hanson was 2-3 with two walks and it was his third home run of the year. Brian Dozier went 3-4 with a walk and three stolen bases. Danny Rams went 2-4 with his second triple and three RBI. Brad Stillings got the start for the Miracle and gave up four runs (2 earned) on three hits. He walked four and struck out three. Andrew Albers went 2.1 scoreless. Bruce Pugh gave up one run on five hits and a walk in his inning, so he gets the blown save. But he also gets the win thanks to that big, walk-off grand slam by Nate Hanson.

Snappers Bites

Wednesday – Snappers, Wisconsin – The conditions were bad enough that Wednesday night’s game was postponed already on Tuesday afternoon. The Snappers will resume play on Thursday in Peoria.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

More Minor Roster Moves

10 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Deolis Guerra has been terrific in 2010 at New Britain. He was known as having the top changeup in the Twins farm system, but he has made tremendous strides in terms of control. He has just four walks and 21 strikeouts in 29.1 innings. In five AA starts, he is 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA. And for his efforts and improvements, Guerra has been promoted to AAA Rochester. The right-hander just turned 21 years old in mid-April.

Cole Devries was also promoted to AAA Rochester. The former Gopher pitcher has been pitching out of the Rockcats bullpen this year after spending much of the 2009 season as a starter for New Britain.

The two were promoted because Charlie Zink has been put on the Disabled List in Rochester. Also, after another horrible start, Yoslan Herrera requested his release and the team was happy to grant it.

Also, in a 1500ESPN interview with Jim Rantz this afternoon, he said that there have been several moves made in the last two days. I covered several of them over the weekend, but I apparently missed that Snappers closer Steve Blevins has been promoted from Beloit to AA New Britain. (CORRECTION – Although Mr. Rantz said that Blevins was headed to New Britain, he is heading to Ft. Myers. However, another move has Michael Allen moving from Ft. Myers to New Britain.)

Although he didn’t say it, he acknowledged that Kyle Gibson is ‘up for consideration’ for a promotion as well, and that they will think about it. Gibson starts tonight for the Ft. Myers Miracle, but clearly this move opens up a spot in the New Britain starting rotation for the Twins top pick in 2010. Of course, it is also possible that the Twins could promote Bobby Lanigan, who was excellent in April but had a tough first start in May.  

Any questions? Leave your comments here.

2010 New Britain Rockcats Preview

9 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The 2010 Twins minor league roster previews are brought to you by the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Get your copy here!

And, by the way, if you’re able to, be sure to join me and the rest of TwinsCentric at Majors Sports Café in Blaine on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until the end of the Twins/White Sox game. Drink and appetizer specials. Lots of prizes to give away. Lots of talk with Twins fans. It’d be fun to meet you!

Jeff Smith will be the Rock Cats’ manager in 2010 after managing the Ft. Myers Miracle last year. Rudy Hernandez will be the hitting coach while Stu Cliburn is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Rock Cats roster to start the 2010 season (note – prospect ranking for my choices for Top 30 Twins prospects as updated in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook):

The Starting Pitchers

Carlos Gutierrez (15), David Bromberg (8), Mike McCardell (25), Deolis Guerra (11), Tyler Robertson (17).

This is the group that I predicted would be the starting five for New Britain. That said, it’s actually strange being right. Gutierrez is going to get another shot as a starter, and I like the decision. He could be a very good relief pitcher today, but if he can develop a second and third pitch, through more innings pitched, it will be best long-term. Bromberg, as you all know, has led his league in strikeouts each of the last three seasons. He has terrific stuff, throws hard, gets good movement and has a good idea of what he is doing on the mound. He should continue to be solid. McCardell ended last season with the Rockcats. In the offseason, he had some bone chips removed from his elbow, and he said that he is back to 100% Deolis Guerra is the one remaining direct piece from the Johan Santana trade. All along, he was the one with the biggest upside. He struggled in 2008, but made great improvement, specifically with his control, in 2009. He has the best changeup in the organization and should be even better this year. Finally, Tyler Robertson was my #1 Twins prospect in 2007. But injury hurt him in 2008, and in 2009, he returned, stayed healthy and pitched well. He moves up a level where his high baseball IQ should really help him adjust.

The Bullpen Arms

Santos Arias (28), Cole Devries, Steve Hirschfeld, Chris Province, Joe Testa, Spencer Steedley, (Loek Van Mil).

This is certainly an interesting bullpen. Province was in the same league in 2009 when he was with the Red Sox organization. He came to the Twins in the Boof Bonser trade. He should be solid. Spencer Steedley impressed me when I saw him in the Arizona Fall League. He mixed some slow curves and change ups, and then suddenly would throw fastballs at 92 mph right by hitters. Joe Testa dominated in Beloit and Ft. Myers last year and gets to start with the Rockcats this year. The undrafted lefty has a chance to move up another level this year. Cole Devries signed in 2006 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Minnesota. He began 2009 in the Rockcats rotation and pitched well in the first half, but he really struggled in the second half. He’s back, but this time he begins in the bullpen. Santos Arias and Steve Hirschfeld both started 2009 in the Ft. Myers bullpen, and by the second half, they were arguably the Miracle’s top two starters. Arias is a big-time sleeper, a little guy who is wiry and throws 95! Hirschfeld is a solid prospect who also pitched in the AFL last spring. Loek Van Mil begins the season on the Disabled List again. At this stage, health is his only concern. He became a legit big league prospect last year when he hit 97 on the radar gun, so it’ll be interesting to see how healthy he is.  

The Catchers

Danny Lehmann, Alexander Soto.

I was a little surprised that Lehmann didn’t start the season in Rochester, but the more I think about it, the more it says about what the Twins think of him. First, they must want him to play. If he was backing up Wilson Ramos in Rochester, he wouldn’t play a lot. By sending him back to AA, he can play more. Secondly, all five of the pitchers in the Rockcats starting rotation, and at least half of the bullpen, are realistically future big leaguers. The Twins are wise to set them up with a great defensive catcher, and a smart catcher who can work with them and help make them better. Soto is a solid defensive catcher. Several pitchers like throwing to him. He doesn’t hit for average, but he has shown glimpses of power in his career.  

The Infielders

Chris Parmelee (14), Whit Robbins, Steve Singleton (26), Estarlin de Los Santos, Yancarlos Ortiz, Juan Portes, Toby Gardenhire.

Chris Parmelee had a very strong year in 2009 in Ft. Myers. He continued to take walks and display some good power, but he also cut down on the strikeouts a little bit. He had a solid performance in the AFL last year too. Whit Robbins was an All-Star in the Eastern League a year ago, and displays a tremendous glove. He will likely play a lot of 1B with Parmelee at DH or in the OF. Singleton is a strong prospect who can play three positions. Now a switch-hitter, he has certainly put himself on the map. Juan Portes surprisingly spent the entire spring camp with the Twins as a non-roster invite. He primarily played in the corner outfield spots, but he is expected to play a lot of 3B for the Rockcats this year. Estarlin de Los Santos was the surprise name added to the 40 man roster, but there is no question that he has a ton of talent and speed. Ortiz was the shortstop quite a bit last year in AA and will likely play significantly up the middle. And Gardenhire is a solid defensive player at all four infield positions, can play the outfield and is even willing to don the tools of ignorance. Having a glove like his on a roster is a good thing for the pitchers.

The Outfielders

Joe Benson (12), Ben Revere (6), Rene Tosoni (9), Mark Dolenc.

This outfield is incredibly talented and incredibly athletic. I’m sure Tosoni was disappointed in the Twins signing of Jason Repko as it means he heads back to the Rockcats where he hit 15 homers a year ago. I actually think that it makes the most sense to send him back to New Britain. Tosoni’s game is pretty well-rounded, but he still needs to figure out how to hit left-handed pitchers. Since he isn’t on the 40 man roster, and there isn’t a need in the Twins outfield, there is zero need to push him when he still has much to improve. Ben Revere had a very good showing in big league camp. He is a very good batting average hitter. He still needs to work on his patience at the plate and has room to improve tremendously. I am still waiting for some power to show, as his power numbers dropped in 2009. Joe Benson is arguably the best athlete in the Twins system (all due respect to Aaron Hicks). He had a very good season in 2009 at Ft. Myers. He is one of the fastest players in the system, but he is also very strong and capable of power. His eye at the plate vastly improved, and he plays a very strong outfield with a strong arm. Dolenc is a guy who is a great athlete. The Minnesota State-Mankato alum has all the tools, but he isn’t young. He is a potential fourth outfielder who should still get some good playing time this year.

SUMMARY

This is an incredibly talented team, probably the most talented in the system. Many of the Twins top prospects are here. The starting five all has high potential. There are two other guys that could be starting that are currently in the bullpen. The lineup should be quite strong as well and improve over the course of the year.

If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to ask… Leave your questions or comments.

Roster Projections: New Britain Rock Cats

24 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Before we jump into my Twins AA New Britain projection, here are a couple of quick notes on some upcoming podcasts:

  1.  
    1.  Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi who was at the Joe Mauer press conference on Monday night. We talked about his trip to Ft. Myers, and what he hopes to do while there, but much of the discussion was on the Mauer press conference and the contract, of course.  
    2. Scott Povolny, owner of Twins Train came on for a bit to talk about some of his Twins trips and a few other Twins topics. I am seriously trying to pick a Twins Train trip. They’re providing trips to Chicago, Kansas City, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit, all-inclusive, at very reasonable rates. I asked last week, but where have you gone? Where should I go? I’ve been to Milwaukee, but that’s it.  
    3. Finally, Adam Foster from Project Prospect joined us. He too was in Ft. Myers and spent a lot of time watching Aaron Hicks and other Twins prospects. Read more about his Digital Prospect Guide, something that is absolutely remarkable and ahead of its time! If you would like to learn more about the Digital Prospect Guide, you can e-mail Adam and he can send you the Digital Guide of their Top 10 Prospects. Oh, and if you buy a copy of the Digital Prospect Guide, he’ll send you video of your favorite Twins prospect that he took today. He got a lot of Aaron Hicks, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Adrian Salcedo (who he said was throwing 93 with a plus changeup and a good curveball with mechanics that looked very good) and more.
  1. I will be joined by Twins prospect Trayvone Johnson. The 2009 draft pick was selected as a catcher, but he has been moved to the mound.
  2. Next, JJ Stankevitz from the White Sox Examiner site will come in to talk about the team most of us believe will be the Twins primary competitor in the AL Central.
  3. Finally, Twins 17-year-old outfield prospect Max Kepler will join us for the last part of the show. Listeners to the show have been asking for me to try to get Kepler on the show and it finally appears to work.
  4. During The Show, we will also announce the regularly scheduled night and time for The Show throughout the 2010 season. So be sure to take in that show.

The Twins open their season on April 5th. Like the Rochester Red Wings, the Rock Cats season begins on April 8th with a four game home stand against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. They will be managed this year by Jeff Smith, who managed the Ft. Myers Miracle a year ago.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the New Britain Rockcats:

The Hitters 

  New Britain
C Alexander Soto
1B Chris Parmelee (RF/DH)
2B Steve Singleton
3B Whit Robbins (1B)
SS Estarlin de Los Santos
LF Juan Portes (3B)
CF Ben Revere
RF Rene Tosoni
DH Rene Leveret
Bu C Allan de San Miguel
Bu IF Yancarlos Ortiz
Bu OF Mark Dolenc
Bench Chris Cates
DL (Yangervis Solarte)

Analysis: Again, the effects of the catching situation at the big league level trickle down throughout the system. When Danny Lehmann comes back to New Britain, he will play. Until then, I think that the combination of Alexander Soto and Allan de San Miguel can do a solid job. Soto has some power. De San Miguel knows how to get on base and run a pitching staff. We know that Ben Revere will be in centerfield. If I’m right and Rene Tosoni is in AA, he will be in right field and bat third. Chris Parmelee will probably bat fifth, but he will spend time at 1B, RF and DH. Whit Robbins is tremendous defensively at 1B. He hasn’t played much at 3B since his pro debut. I actually anticipate Juan Portes spending a lot of time at 3B. Portes will play some in left field again, but when he is in the infield, Mark Dolenc will get plenty of time in the outfield. Rene Leveret can hit. That’s about it, but he’ll get some time too. I think that Steve Singleton and Estarlin de Los Santos will get the majority of playing time up the middle, but I would think that Singleton will also play 3B and SS and de Los Santos will play some 2B. Likewise, I expect Yancarlos Ortiz and Chris Cates to get plenty of playing time because pitchers love having those two behind them.  I think there are some players that are definitely worth watching at this level. I think Singleton, Revere and Tosoni are all guys that are close to big-league-ready and we may see them if something negative happens at the big league level. Side notes – I fully expect Tosoni to only get a couple of months in AA before being promoted to AAA. At that time, I expect that Joe Benson will come up to play right field for the Rock Cats.

The Pitchers 

  New Britain
SP Mike McCardell
SP Deolis Guerra
SP David Bromberg
SP Carlos Gutierrez
SP Tyler Robertson
   
CL Alex Burnett
8L Spencer Steedley
8R Blair Erickson
BP Joe Testa
BP Cole Devries
BP Steve Hirschfeld
BP Santos Arias
   
  (Henry Arias)
  (Loek Van Mil – DL)

Analysis: There is some serious talent in this pitching staff. Mike McCardell pitched pretty well upon his promotion to AA last year. After a couple of AFL outings, he went home and had some bone chips removed from his right elbow. Deolis Guerra had a couple of very good performances, and he could really take a step forward in 2010. David Bromberg has quickly and consistently improved his standing in the Twins farm system. Can he lead the Eastern League in strikeouts in 2010 (as he led the Florida State League in 2009, and the Midwest League – and all minor league baseball – in 2008, and the Appalachian League in 2008)?  Tyler Robertson is ready for the chance to move up to New Britain. His four pitches and strong baseball IQ will be put to the test. The big question becomes how long Carlos Gutierrez is a starter. We know that he will begin the season as a starter to build arm strength, but primarily to work on secondary pitches. I really believe that at some point, he could be the closer for the Minnesota Twins.

Until then, Alex Burnett will likely get the majority of Save opportunities for the Rock Cats. We learned how good he can be in 2009 when he was moved to the bullpen. Spencer Steedley did a nice job after his promotion to AA last year. He got off to a slow start in the Arizona Fall League but came on quickly. The lefty can pitch, but has enough pop to surprise hitters when a fastball gets past them. Cole Devries likely returns to New Britain. He may get another shot as a starter, or he could move to the bullpen and work long relief. Similarly, I think that Steve Hirschfeld and Santos Arias will start the season in the Rock Cats bullpen. However, at Ft. Myers last year, they moved into the starting rotation and the two were probably the Miracle’s top pitchers down the stretch, along with Bromberg. Knowing how the Twins typically work, I almost expect that Joe Testa starts the season back with Ft. Myers. He was just so good, that I would really like to see him pushed to AA. Blair Erickson may get pushed to AA just because he’s now old enough that they need to see what he can do. I hope that Loek Van Mil can be healthy and see what he can do with that 95-97 mph fastball. Henry Arias is a guy that needs to move up to AA. He throws very hard, and he could be a Fake DL, injury replacement type in the bullpen.  

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Fest – Day 1

30 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I think for these Twins Fest blogs, they will be written in an almost diary or journal form. I absolutely enjoy Twins Fest and it is always fun. I enjoy seeing players up close, listening to interviews, shaking hands and saying congratulations to minor leaguers and just being in the presence of thousands of Twins fans. As I have said before, if you are able to attend, even just for a few hours, it is worth it.

Tonight, I went with my whole family. My dad and 3 ½ year old daughter went in as the gates opened. The lines were huge and very unorganized. And it was cold outside! But eventually we got inside. My mom, brother and sister showed up a little later. But here is a quick run-down of the night. 

  • The first place we went was to the Photo area where Jozie and I got our picture taken with Jeff Manship and talked for a minute.
  • From there, we went to Corner #7, which is the free line comprised of minor league players. The first was Eden Prairie native and former Gopher Cole Devries. Next in line was Canadian top outfield prospect Rene Tosoni. Then came Team USA hero and Twins shortstop prospect Trevor Plouffe. Next was Twins infield prospect Toby Gardenhire. Finally, Twins minor league pitcher of the year, David Bromberg signed a ball. My daughter went through the line with a baseball and asked each for their autograph. When she got to Plouffe, he said to her, “OK, I’ll sign your baseball if you write your name for me.” He gave her a pen and she “wrote her name” on the table in front of him. It was pretty cool. Bromberg said that the Diamond Awards went well last night, and that he was given his award first, so a little extra pressure.

  • Then we saw that Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson were available for photos in the Photo area. Obviously Gibson has been on my podcasts five times, but it was very nice to finally get a chance to meet him in person. I had not met Hicks before, but he also appears to be a genuinely good guy.
  • At that point, it was time to let my daughter get her picture taken with the one that she was most excited to get her picture taken with, TC Bear. While she played in the kids section, my dad, brother and I went to the KSTP radio area and listened to their interviews with Jim Thome and Joe Mauer. Both were excellent. Mauer wasn’t asked about the contract situation until the final question and he gave the same answer you would expect to hear. He basically said nothing.
  • We grabbed something to eat. Interestingly, hot dogs were $3.50. 2 hot dogs were $3.50. So, when I went up and ordered four hot dogs (no, not just for me!), I had to specify that I wanted two two-for-one hot dogs, and not four single hot dogs. Seriously.
  • We had a picture of us taken at the Target Field display area with a nice background.
  • Then I stood in line for the third group of the minor league autograph section. The line was incredibly long. I must have been in line for 50 minutes, which is crazy! The lineup for this group was pretty impressive. First was Carlos Gutierrez, who was excellent on my podcast on Tuesday night and is one of the Twins better pitching prospects, a sure-fire future big leaguer. Then came Drew Butera was next. Both were very nice. Next was Chris Parmelee who took a big step forward with a very strong 2009 campaign in Ft Myers and more than held his own in the Arizona Fall League. Next up was Iowa native and another strong pitching prospect, BJ Hermsen. Last in line was Kyle Gibson, and he was the one that most that I overheard in line were excited to get to sign something.

At that point, it was time to head out for the evening. When you have a three-and-a-half year old, and it’s 8:30 and it’s been a long day, 8:30 is plenty late! I posted a couple of pictures on here, but if you would like to see more, you can see them on my Facebook page.

Although I haven’t figured out how to Tweet from my phone, you can also follow me in Twitter @sethtweets

I will be back on Saturday night with more thoughts, from Day 2, of Twins Fest.

And, of course, you can still pre-order the SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook by clicking here.  

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or leave them in the Comments section.

Thursday Game Notes

7 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

A couple of my favorite Twins prospects of years past were quite involved in last night’s Arizona 11-6 win over Pittsburgh. As recently as June of 2007, I ranked Trent Oeltjen as my #10 Twins prospect. The Australian was all about speed and could hit. He has experienced tremendous success helping Australia in international competitions over the years. He left the Twins organization after the 2007 season as a six year minor league free agent and signed with the Diamondbacks. After two good years at AAA, last night, he made his major league debut. He went 2-6 including his first home run. He also stole two bases.

After the 2006 season, Oeltjen was my choice for the Twins #9 prospect. At #10 was another OF, Alex Romero. Following the 2005 season, I had ranked Romero 6th on my Twins prospect list. He peaked at #6 in June of 2006. The Twins decided to keep a third catcher in 2007 (was it Chris Heintz or Corky Miller?) and tried to take Romero off of the 40 man roster. The Diamondbacks quickly claimed the OF and added him to their roster. Romero was 4-7 in last night’s game with a double and a stolen base.

Why am I writing about a couple of former Twins prospects, you may ask?

The alternative would be to spend a lot of time writing about the Twins 2-1 loss to Cleveland. It also meant a series loss. Nick Blackburn gave up two runs in 6.1 innings. He had quick innings in the 5th and 6th, but gave up another run in the 7th that proved to be the winning run. The Twins lone run came on a wild pitch. Michael Cuddyer scored that run. He was 2-3 with a walk and his 22nd double. Orlando Cabrera went 2-3 and is not 10-20 in five games with the Twins.

Things are definitely starting to get ugly in and around the Twins clubhouse. The evidence comes from some of the blunt quotes uttered by several Twins players in Joe Christensen’s very interesting article. Justin Morneau pinning the loss on one player. Mike Redmond basically admitting that he should not have been player. 

Check back later for another blog entry.

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Thursday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Luke Hughes, New Britain Rockcats

Thursday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Cole DeVries, New Britain Rockcats – Edgar Ibarra, Elizabethton Twins

ROCHESTER REPORT

Thursday –Rochester 2, Louisville 5 – Kevin Mulvey didn’t get the help me needed from his defense. Just one of the five runs he allowed was earned. He gave up four hits and three walks in seven innings. Rob Delaney struck out three in two one-hit innings. Matt Tolbert played LF and went 2-5. Trevor Plouffe was 1-3 with his fourth triple. Danny Valencia hit his 13th double. Brian Buscher was 0-2 with two walks while playing 1B.  

ROCKCAT RECAP

Thursday – New Britain 10, Erie 0 – Luke Hughes had a big game. He went 4-4 with a walk and two doubles. Rene Tosoni went 3-5 with his 11th home run. Brian Dinkelman went 2-4 with a walk, his 32nd double and seventh homer. Erik Lis went 2-4 with a walk. Mark Grudzielanek went 0-4 with a walk. Cole DeVries went the first 7.1 shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out eight. Spencer Steedley struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Thursday – Ft. Myers 5, Charlotte 4 Chris Cates singled in Mark Dolenc with the winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Estarlin de Los Santos went 4-4 with his fifth triple. Evan Bigley hit two doubles in his five at bats. Dolenc went 2-4. Allen de San Miguel went 1-3 with two walks and his first home run. Michael Tarsi threw the first seven innings. He gave up four runs on ten hits. He walked one and struck out six. Matt Williams struck out four over the final two innings.  

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Thursday – Beloit 2, Peoria 7 Liam Hendriks gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out seven. Blake Martin gave up two runs on two hits in two innings. Thomas Wright gave up a run on three hits in his inning.  Danny Rams was 2-4 with his seventh double. Nate Hanson went 2-4.   

E-TWINS EXTRAS

Thursday – Game 1 – Elizabethton 6, Johnson City 7 – Four games in two days is harsh, but that is exactly what was in store for the E-Twins. Brad Stillings started the first game but went just 1.2 innings. He gave up six runs (5 earned) on eight hits. Peter Kennelly came in and gave up just an unearned run over the final 4.1 innings. Tobias Streich went 3-4 with his eighth home run. Chris Herrmann was 2-4 with his second stolen base. Josmil Pinto was 2-4 with his 10th double.

Thursday – Game 2 – Elizabethton 7, Johnson City 0 Edgar Ibarra gave the team exactly what it needed in the second game, a complete game. He threw seven shutout innings and allowed three hits. He walked none and struck out nine. Reggie Williams went 2-4 with his sixth homer, a solo shot. He had four RBI in the game. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with his first triple. Michael Gonzalez went 1-2 with two walks.  

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

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