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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – Now Available as an e-book for $6.99 by clicking here. You can, of course, still get the print version for $13.99 by clicking here

At this point, we have reviewed the infielders and catchers throughout the Twins organization. Today, we will jump to the outfield. This information, of course, could be completely altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where all of these players will wind up. In reality, there will be changes. Several players will be released. Some will be placed a level higher (or lower) than I would guess. This is just giving readers a reminder of who remains in the Twins system from last year, and who are the new players brought in this year. That said, I try to think about where these guys will

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Ben Revere (LF), Denard Span (CF), Josh Willingham (RF), Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit

A lot of people seem to wonder why Willingham would be the right fielder. To me, that’s an easy choice. At Target Field, left field, centerfield and the gaps are pretty huge. I want Span and Revere covering the ground. Willingham isn’t a good left fielder. As far as playing the strange bounces off of the right field wall, anyone can have difficulties and will have to adjust to hit. Willingham will walk a lot and hit a bunch of home runs. I was chatting with Jamie Ogden at Twins Fest, and the comment that we agreed upon was the he will have the ability to take advantage of a pitcher’s mistakes and hit them a long way. It’s nice to have a guy like that in the middle of the lineup. As for Revere, I think it’s much better for him to play 3B. Simply, the throw from LF to 3B is much shorter than it is from CF. Also, the throw to home from CF is longer. Span doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but he can throw. Span, when healthy, is a good on-base guy with speed and some extra base pop. Revere should be much improved, at least in terms of OBP, in 2012. He said that his goal is to steal 100 bases on 2012. He dropped that number to 80, but he plans on going whenever he gets a chance. Even though he didn’t play great in 2011, he made the Twins fun to watch and he made things happen. Imagine what he can make happen when he actually gets on base at a good clip! Trevor Plouffe should get plenty of time in left field, but he could also DH. He can hit lefties, and it will be interesting to see how he does in left field now that he doesn’t have the infielder’s glove. Ryan Doumit could get some time in right field as well.

Rochester Red Wings

Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Matt Carson (RF), Rene Tosoni, Mark Dolenc, Dustin Martin

Ramirez and Carson were minor league free agents brought in by the Twins. Carson is a power hitter. Ramirez is an all-around player who was a top prospect with the Tigers just a couple of years ago. Joe Benson has spent the past two years at New Britain, so he is ready for the challenges of AAA. He could move up to the Twins as necessary throughout the year, at least after the June Super 2 timeline. The same can be said of Rene Tosoni who will likely play nearly every day between the three outfield spots as well as DHing.  Benson could be a star if everything comes together. He could be a 30/30 guy with plus-defense in time. Tosoni is a guy who I think could fill a role as a platoon player and bench bat and occasional DH. He showed at times the power the he possesses. Dolenc has spent the past two years in New Britain and will likely need to advance to Rochester in 2012. He has averaged 439 plate appearances over the past four years and had a career-high 467 plate appearances in 2011. He has terrific tools, can play all three positions, gets on base, has very good speed, and plays really good defense with a strong arm. Dustin Martin put together his best year at Rochester (in his third season there).

New Britain Rock Cats

Angel Morales (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Evan Bigley (RF), Steve Liddle, Michael Hollimon

Aaron Hicks had a frustrating and inconsistent season in 2011 in Ft. Myers. He was tremendous in June and then struggled for a couple of months. He definitely represented himself well in the Arizona Fall League. His defense and arm are certainly ready for advancement. It is a big year for Hicks. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season, but he will have to continue to show improvement on the field, in his approach at the plate and show consistency. What he does in 2012 may determine whether he remains a switch-hitter as well. Evan Bigley spent all of 2011 in New Britain and showed that he could be a candidate for a midseason promotion. Angel Morales is younger than Hicks (something many seem to forget). 2011 was a lost year for him. He missed three months with his elbow injury. He had arthroscopic surgery and came back at the end of the season. He has good speed and a vastly improved approach at the plate. Although he hasn’t hit as many home runs the last couple of seasons, no one seems to be worried about his power. Liddle really struggled last season in Ft. Myers, and he had shoulder surgery following the year. The Vanderbilt product is the nephew of Twins 3B coach Steve Liddle. Hollimon can play all around the infield and can also play around the outfield. He could be the guy to go back and forth between New Britain and Rochester regardless of where the need is.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Lance Ray (LF), Nate Roberts (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Wang-Wei Lin, Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing

I was surprised when the Twins sent Arcia to Ft. Myers following rehab of his elbow. I would be surprised if he jumps up to New Britain to start the season, but not completely. If he has one thing to work on, it is cutting down on the strikeouts. I think he can end the year with the Rock Cats. Lance Ray can hit, even if his 2011 Beloit numbers didn’t strongly indicate that. He has a very fluid swing and good power. Nate Roberts was the 5th round pick a couple of years ago. He missed a lot of time on the DL with a knee injury. He is an on-base machine, taking walks and always willing to get hit. Wang-Wei Lin has steadily improved over his time, and after two years in Beloit, he will need to play in Ft. Myers. He has a good, line drive swing but the Taiwan native still has plenty to improve. Dan Rohlfing impressed behind the plate and will go to big league spring training in that role, but he can also play the outfield. At Instructs, Rams was moved to the outfield, although he will continue to catch some. The goal is to let him really focus on his swing and his bat.  

Beloit Snappers

Danny Ortiz (LF), JD Williams (CF), Tyler Koelling (RF), Drew Leachman, Matej Hejma, Jhonatan Goncalves

Ortiz was my choice for player of the month last April in Beloit, but it was a struggle through most of his season. He could start with the Snappers and spend a couple of months there (he already played in the Midwest League All-Star game last year). Tyler Koelling and Drew Leachman are two college outfielders who should advance to Beloit. JD Williams had an incredible season in Elizabethton in 2011, yet it went almost unnoticed thanks to Rosario and Sano. Baseball America just called him the fastest player in the Twins farm system, and he has the ability to bunt for hits from both sides of the plate. He played RF usually for the E-Twins because Eddie Rosario was in center. Matej Hejma is from the Czech Republic. Although he didn’t play a lot, or that well, in Elizabethton, he has to move up to Beloit because he has already played three seasons in the short season leagues. Goncalves is an interesting case. He has played most of the past two seasons in Ft. Myers, but he ended last year in Beloit which is probably where he should have been all along.  

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Max Kepler (CF), Candido Pimentel, Romy Jimenez, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez

Like Niko Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will begin the season at Extended Spring Training. Like Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will not return to Elizabethton but will instead advance to Beloit before the short season begins. He has so much talent but is still very raw. Pimentel is similar to Otis Nixon, very thin and very fast. Romy Jimenez (formerly known as Romy Trinidad) missed most of last year with an injury in his first year in the States. Kelvin Mention did miss all of 2011 with injury. Kelvin Ortiz came to the States and really struggled. He should go back to the GCL. And Dereck Rodriguez (the son of Ivan Rodriguez) will certainly spend another season in the GCL.  

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Oswaldo Arcia, 2.) Aaron Hicks, 3.) Joe Benson, 4.) Angel Morales, 5.) Max Kepler, 6.) JD Williams, 7.) Lance Ray, 8.) Danny Ortiz

SUMMARY

Barring injury, the Twins starting outfield should be solid despite the losses of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel (And to a lesser extent, Jason Repko). Benson and Tosoni are fairly close to being ready to contribute on a regular basis. Beyond that, there is a lot of talent but a lot of question marks. Can Aaron Hicks take that next step? Will Angel Morales return in 2012 with some added power? How quickly will the Twins advance Oswaldo Arcia? The ceilings of JD Williams and Max Kepler are very high, and there are so college draft picks (Roberts, Ray, etc.) who could advance fairly quickly. Of course, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano also remain in the future outfield situation as well which provide even more depth over time. Outfield is a position of strength for the Twins system. 2012 will be a big year for many of them! 

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

Twins Minor League Notebook

13 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

This has arguably been the busiest week of my career, certainly the busiest two or three week stretch, so I do apologize yet again for lack of updates. Bear with me. Things will get better!

Today, I thought I’d write a few minor league notes. There’s a lot going on, and much more coming.

  • Ft. Myers Miracle 1B/OF Steve Liddle, the nephew of the Twins 3B coach of the same name, recently had surgery to fix a right posterior labrum tear. Although it is not his throwing shoulder, it is the lead shoulder of his left-handed swing. He said he played with the injury “since late July, it was awful.” He is in a sling and plans to be ready for spring training in March.
  • David Dorsey of the News Press (in Ft. Myers) wrote a very nice article on Twins 2011 6th round draft pick Dereck Rodriguez and his future Hall of Fame father Ivan Rodriguez. The elder Rodriguez spent time in recent weeks watching his son participate in the Twins Florida Instructional League. Dereck was born during “Pudge’s” second year in the big leagues. Yet Pudge says that he is not quite ready to hang up his spikes and catcher’s gear. That, of course, fuels speculation that the Twins might be a reasonable location for him to spend the next couple of seasons, backing up Joe Mauer.
  • The Beloit Snappers announced yesterday that after 11 years with the team, GM Jeff Vohs has stepped down from the role. Matt Bosen will take over as the team’s General Manager after being the Assistant GM in 2011. Before that, he was the team’s Director of Ticket Operations and Merchandising for three seasons. Vohs moves on to a job at a Beloit bank. I had the chance to meet Vohs last July when I made my trip to Beloit to watch Snappers games. Jeff was very much supportive and helpful throughout the weekend. So was his entire staff. The Snappers are a well-run organization and the front office staff does a ton.
  • The Twins have signed Estarlin de Los Santos, Deibinson Romero and Michael Hollimon. Each would have been six year minor league free agents.
  • Steve Holm elected to become a minor league free agent, as did former Twins pitcher Pat Neshek.  
  • Tuesday in the Arizona Fall League, Brian Dozier went 0-3. I find it interesting, and a great thing, that he played 2B in this game. I think it is important for him to get time at both positions. Aaron Hicks was 1-2 with a walk and a triple. I tweeted earlier on Wednesday that Hicks was 0-13 with a walk and four strikeouts. In his next two games, he was 2-4 with a triple, three walks and no strikeouts.
  • On Wednesday, Hicks was 0-3. Bruce Pugh gave up three run (2 earned) on four hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Dakota Watts went the next 1.2 innings without allowing a base runner.
  • Tom Stuifbergen has been incredible in World Cup play in Panama. He started with two scoreless innings in relief to get some work. He then threw seven shutout innings against Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, he got the start for The Netherlands against South Korea. He went eight shutout innings, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out two. He threw just 91 pitches in the team’s 5-1 win. James Beresford went 2-5 with a double and three RBI in Australia’s game.
  • The Netherlands and Australia played on Wednesday, but their game was suspended  with three innings to go because of rain. Allan de San Miguel was hit in the helmet by a pitch early in the game, but he stayed in the game. He said after the game that he felt a little sore. He is hoping to play a lot in the World Cup and then in the Australian Baseball League because he is now a minor league free agent, hoping a team will pick him up.
  • Many Twins players are going to be playing in Winter Leagues. The Mexican League started on Monday. The Venezuelan Winter League began on Wednesday. Games will start on Friday in the Dominican Republic. The Puerto Rico League will start on November 4. The Australian Baseball League will start on November 3.
  • Joe Benson was in the opening night starting lineup for los Tigres de Aragua, the team in the Venezuelan League that the Twins have an agreement with. Benson went 0-3, batting 7th and playing CF.
  • Looking at Tigres roster, there are many current Twins minor and major leaguers: Benson, Cesar Ciurcina, Jhon Garcia, Jose Gonzalez, Edgar Ibarra, Jose Mijares, Miguel Munoz, Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia, Jonathan Goncalves, and Yangervis Solarte. There are also many former Twins minor leaguers and major leaguers on the Tigres roster: Yorman Bazardo, Horacio Estrada, Frank Mata, Jean Mijares, Yohan Pino, Wilson Ramos, Luis Maza, and Alex Romero. Other recognizable names on the Tigres roster include: Lastings Milledge, Scott Podsednik, Ronny Cedeno, and Martin Prado.
  • Rene Tosoni mentioned on Wednesday that he was heading to Venezuela for Winter ball as well. He is on the Cardenales de Lara roster. Andy Baldwin and Lester Oliveros are on the Caribes de Anzoategui roster. Deolis Guerra and Pedro Guerra pitch for Navegales del Magallenes.  

So, if anyone thought that there was nothing to follow during the offseason, guess again! Any thoughts or questions?

Twins Sign RHP from Taiwan; Also Sign Dereck Rodriguez

30 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins have signed 18-year-old right-handed pitcher Kuo-hua Lo from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He is believed to be the top high school pitching prospect in the country. At 5-11 and 170 pounds, he throws a fastball that touches 94 on occasion. He has a slider and a split-finger fastball that have good speed differential from the fastball. He is working on a curveball. He has a very good makeup and he has been very successful in international competition.

He was signed by Twins International Scout Cary Broder and International Scouting Director Howard Norsetter. Last year, the same combination signed another right-hander from Taiwan, Hung-yi Chen. Chen made his first start last week for the GCL Twins and threw four shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out six. Also, outfielder Wang-Wei Lin signed with the Twins in October of 2006 out of Taiwan and is currently hitting .276/.380/.392 with 16 doubles, a triple and three home runs.  

Another quick note, the Twins have signed their 6th round pick, OF Dereck Rodriguez, from high school in Florida. He is the son of Nationals’ catcher and future Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. He is making his debut today for the GCL Twins in centerfield.  

Looks like another terrific international signing for the Twins. Any comments?

Twins Select Two More in First Round

7 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins drafted Levi Michael, a shortstop from the University of North Carolina believed to be the college position player closest to being ready for the big leagues, with the 30th pick in the first round. But they didn’t stop there. The Twins had two more picks in the supplemental first round, compensation for losing Orlando Hudson and Jesse Crain via free agency.

With the 50th overall selection, the Twins drafted Travis Harrison, a high school third baseman from California. He is committed to USC, but I’m sure a little money could convince him to forgo that opportunity. At 6-2 and 215 pounds, he is a power hitter. He was a preseason high school All-American and during the season, he hit 13 home runs. He was up and down during the season which may have dropped him down the draft to some degree. But when a guy has that kind of power potential, it’s never a bad pick.

Soon after, the Twins used the 55th overall pick to take Hudson Boyd, a stocky, right-handed pitcher from Ft. Myers. He is committed to the University of Florida, but he could see the Twins training facility location as a good reason (along with the near-million dollar signing bonus he would get) to sign with the Twins. He is about 6-3 and 235 pounds, not exactly what you would call projectable at this point. In his analysis, mlb.com’s Jonathan Mayo said that he may end up as a reliever. He already throws into the mid-90s, so that is a positive. The Twins, as any smart team would, will have him work as a starter first.

No, I’m not going to bash any of their picks. The reality, as we have said here for years, is that we won’t be able to judge this draft for six to eight years, maybe longer. What looks like a questionable pick now may prove to be great, and what people think might be a great pick may prove not to be.

The Twins will make their 2nd through 30th picks today, and then tomorrow they will make their final 20 picks. You can find a little information on each pick they make by going to SethSpeaks.net, so be sure to check there throughout the day for more. Here will be the Twins draft tracker with minimal thoughts:

  • 1 – Levi Michael (30) – SS – U. of North Carolina
  • 1s – Travis Harrison (50) – 3B from Tustin, CA (HS)
  • 1s – Hudson Boyd (55) – RHP from Ft. Myers (HS)
  • 2 – Madison Boer (87) – RHP from U. of Oregon – Eden Prairie native, good athlete.
  • 3 – Corey Williams (117) – LHP from Vanderbilt U.-
    •  From John Manuel of Baseball America (via Twitter) – “Ooh, #Twins take a tough sign in LHP Corey Williams, power reliever this year, redshirt soph., highest ERA on Vandy staff but touched 94-95”
    • From Jordan Schelling: Corey Williams had his knee cap shattered by a line drive last April. Got up, made throw to first.
  • 4 – Matthew Summers (148) – RHP from UC-Irvine (drafted in 43rd round by Yankees… was an OF, so arm may be fresh (via Jonathan Mayo).)
  • 5 – Tyler Grimes (178) – SS – Wichita State -
  • 6 – Ivan Rodriguez (208) – CF – High school in Florida – Yes, the Hall of Fame catcher’s son.  
  • 7 – Steven Gruver (238) – LHP University of Tennessee – It’s one of those names that just isn’t good for a pitcher. Like Balfour. Or Homer.
  • 8 – Jason Wheeler (268) – LHP – Loyola Marymount
  • 9 – Nick Bryant (298) – SS – Troy University
  • 10 – Brett Lee (328) – LHP – St. Petersburg JC    
  • 11 – Tyler Jones (358) – RHP – LSU    
  • 12 – Matthew Koch (388) – C – Loyola Marymount    
  • 13 – Steven Evans (418) – LHP – Liberty University    
  • 14 – Adam McCreery (448) – LHP from California    
  • 15 – Josue Montanez (478) – LHP from Miami-Dade CC   
  • 16 – Austin Malinowski (508) – LHP – from Centennial High School in Lino Lakes, MN.
  • 17 – Josh Burris (538) – RHP – from LSU-Eunice
  • 18 – Corey Kimes (568) – LHP – from U of Illinois    
  • 19 – Tyler Koelling (598) – CF – from U. of Southern Mississippi
  • 20 – Brian Anderson (628) – SS – from Deer Creek (OK) HS
  • 21 – Michael Howard (658) – LHP – from Prescott (AZ) HS
  • 22 – James Ramsey (688) – RF – from Florida State U.
  • 23 – Timothy Shibuya (718) – RHP – from UC-San Diego
  • 24 – Nick Burdi (748) – RHP – from Downers Grove South (HS) in Illinois
  • 25 – AJ Petterson (778) – SS – from the University of Minnesota
  • 26 – Trent Higginbothom (808) – RHP – from Clay Chalkville (AL) HS
  • 27 – Chris Mazza (838) – RHP – from Menlo College   
  • 28 – David Hurlbut (868) – LHP – from Cal State – Fullerton
  • 29 – Derek Thompson (898) – LHP – from Teutopolis (IL) HS
  • 30 – William Clinard (928) – RHP – from Vanderbilt
    • 31 – Garrett Jewell (958) – RHP – from Southern New Hampshire U
    • 32 – Dylan Chavez (988) – LHP – from American River College
    • 33 – Stephen Wickens (1018) – SS – from Florida Gulf Coast U
    • 34 – Ryan Tella (1048) – CF – from Ohlone College
    • 35 – Philip Chapman (1078) – C – from the University of Memphis
    • 36 – Austin Barrois (1108) – OF – from Belle Chasse HS in LA
    • 37 – Andrew Leachman (1138) – LF – from Birmingham Southern
    • 38 – Alexander Keudell (1168) – RHP – from U of Oregon
    • 39 – Edwin McCord (1198) – RHP – from Spanish Fort HS in AL
    • 40 – Kyle Barraclough (1228) – RHP – from St. Marys College (CA)
    • 41 – TJ Oakes (1258) – RHP – from U of Minnesota
    • 42 – Matthew Tomshaw (1288) – LHP – from Jacksonville U.
    • 43 – Robert O’Neill (1318) – RHP – from Biola University
    • 44 – Cole Johnson (1348) – RHP – from Notre Dame
    • 45 – Julio Torres (1378) – 2B – from Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
    • 46 – Jared Dettmann (1408) – LHP – from Somerset HS in Wisconsin
    • 47 – John Hochstatter (1438) – LHP – from San Ramon Valley HS (CA)
    • 48 – Garret Peterson (1468) – RHP – from Du Bois Area HS (PA)
    • 49 – Drake Roberts (1498) – 2B – from Brenham HS (TX)
    • 50 – Bryan Burgher (1527) – RHP – from Emerald Ridge HS (WA)     

Any thoughts on the picks, please feel free to comment

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