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Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year

6 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Note – Listen to last night’s final episode of Twins Minor League Weekly where Travis Aune and I talked about everything throughout the Twins minor league season. We discussed our choices as top players for each team and in the organization, how each team did, and much, much more. Check it out here!

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:

Starting Pitcher of the Year

There were a lot more good hitters up for Hitter of the Year consideration, or at least mention, than there were pitchers this year. There will be more of a countdown.

#10 – Aaron Bates – Rochester Red Wings (.316/.408/.439, with 23 doubles, 7 HR, 37 RBI)

Didn’t even sign with the Red Wings until May, but played well throughout the season.

#9 – Oswaldo Arcia – Beloit Snappers/Ft. Myers Miracle (.291/.335/.531, with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 13 HR, 51 RBI)

Missed a month with elbow surgery, but came back and moved up to Ft. Myers. Great power to all fields. Very quick bat.

#8 – Michael Gonzales – Beloit Snappers (.289/.371/.468, with 27 doubles, 1 triple, 15 HR, 76 RBI)

Consistent performance in his second season with Snappers. Lost 30+ pounds, and his bat speed was much improved.

#7 – Chris Parmelee – New Britain Rock Cats (.287/.366/.436, with 30 doubles, 5 triples, 13 HR, 83 RBI)

2006 top pick finally gets that big league promotion today. He had a very solid, consistent season with the Rock Cats. He also improved his defense at 1B while still occasionally playing in RF.

#6 – Yangervis Solarte – New Britain Rock Cats (.329/.367/.466, with 36 doubles, 3 triples, 7 HR, 49 RBI)

The 24-year-old Venezuelan hit .300 or higher every month of the season. He also led the organization with 36 doubles.  

#5 – Miguel Sano – Elizabethton Twins (.292/.352/.637, with 18 doubles, 7 triples, 20 HR, 59 RBI)

He had just 290 plate appearances, yet I just couldn’t put him any lower on the list. Sano’s 20 home runs is third-most in Elizabethton history. His 45 extra base hits led the team. At just 18 years old, it was a remarkable season for one of the team’s brightest future stars.  

#4 – Jairo Perez – Beloit Snappers (.337/.413/.580, with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 15 HR, 60 RBI)

Perez missed the entire 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery. His 2011 season didn’t start until June, and yet when he was activated by the Snappers, he did nothing but hit the rest of the summer. Not a large man, Perez takes a huge swing and as you can see, he made a lot of contact in 2011.

#3 – Joe Benson – New Britain Rock Cats (.285/.388/.495, with 28 doubles, 4 triples, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 13 SB)

The Twins 2010 Minor League Hitter of the Year is certainly a candidate to repeat again in 2011 despite missing 4-5 weeks because of knee surgery. Benson is a remarkable athlete with tremendous power and speed. He had great range in the outfield and a very strong arm. The weak point in his game is his contact rate, which did improve significantly from 2010 to 2011. He was also promoted to the Twins and will be flying to Minneapolis on Tuesday. It would be great for him to be able to make his big league debut against his home town White Sox. Benson will be a key for the Twins in the next year or so.

#2 – Eddie Rosario – Elizabethton Twins (.337/.397/.670, with 9 doubles, 9 triples, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 17 SB)

It is hard to put a player from one of the short-season teams up this high on the list, but Rosario was the Appalachian League MVP this year and posted incredible numbers. His 21 home runs were just one shy of Paul Russo’s E-Town single-season record. He also hits for average. He has great speed. Plays very good centerfield and has a canon for an arm. The Puerto Rico high school product drafted in the 4th round just one year ago will soon turn 20. After five homers in June and six homers in July, Rosario hit ten home runs in August. It will be interesting to see how his game translates to the full season.  

Hitter of the Year – Brian Dozier – Ft. Myers Miracle (.320/.399/.491, with 33 doubles, 12 triples, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 24 SB)

Dozier was drafted as a senior out of the University of Southern Mississippi after leading his team to the College World Series. After signing, he hit .353/.417/.431 in Elizabethton. Last year, he started the season by hitting .278/.347/.338 in 39 games in Beloit. He was promoted to Ft. Myers where he hit .274/.352/.354 with 11 doubles and his first five pro home runs. It was surprising when he received an invitation to big league spring training but he made a strong showing. He returned to Ft. Myers and hit .322/.423/.472 with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs in 49 games. He then moved up to New Britain and hit .318/.384/.502 with 22 doubles, seven triples and seven home runs in 78 games. His .885 OPS led the Rock Cats (Benson was at .883). Dozier is not the fastest runner, but he stole 24 bases. He is said to have average range and an average arm, but pitchers I have talked to that have had Dozier playing behind him, love it. Dozier will be representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. He will likely receive another invitation to big league camp next year, and depending upon what other moves that Twins make in the offseason, he could make his debut with the Twins any time in 2012!

Feel free to discuss in the Comments section.

E-Twins Clinch Playoff Spot; Rock Cats Getting Closer

28 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins lost yet again. They are bad.  Oh yeah, I started with that yesterday. Well, it remains true… The story was different for a couple of the Twins minor league affiliates

ELIZABETHTON TWINS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH

Ray Smith has led his Elizabethton team back to the playoffs in 2011. The E-Twins clinched a playoff spot on Saturday with a 5-3 win over Bluefield. Derek Christensen started and gave up just one run on three hits in six innings. He walked three, hit one and struck out five. Justin Parker and Cole Johnson pitched a scoreless inning each. Corey Williams came in for the ninth, but he gave up a hit and walked a batter before Matt Summers was brought in and got the final three outs. The save was Summers’ sixth of the year, and Christensen improved to 5-2.

The E-Twins box scores have become must-see internet! Whenever the team is playing, it’s almost necessary to watch the box score to see what Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano can do next. On Saturday, Rosario went 3-5 with his eighth triple and his 16th and 17th stolen bases. Sano went 2-4 with a walk and his 18th home run. Max Kepler went 2-4 with a walk. Rory Rhodes went 0-1 with three walks.

NEW BRITAIN ROCK CATS WIN LATE AGAIN

The Rock Cats had won with some late inning heroics the previous two games. Could they do it again? The Rock Cats jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Joe Benson’s 15th home run, a two-run blast. They added two, but in the bottom of the fourth, Matt Schuld gave up four runs and the game was tied at four. It remained that way until the top of the seventh inning. The Rock Cats loaded the bases for Chris Parmelee who came up with a big two-run single. On the play, there was also an error that allowed Joe Benson to score from first base. The Rock Cats had a 7-4 lead that they were able to hold on to.

Schuld started and gave up those four run on five hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out three. Bret Jacobson threw two scoreless innings, and the Dakota Watts pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 7th inning for his second AA save. Chris Herrmann went 2-3. Benson was 1-2 with two walks and that big home run.

Hurricane Irene did affect things. The teams were supposed to play two games (they had moved Sunday’s game to Saturday), but the second game was postponed. Looking at where Trenton is and where New Britain is, I can definitely understand why! The Reading Phillies played two games on Saturday and split which means that the Rock Cats currently have a ½ game lead for the wild card spot. The Rock Cats are 2.5 games back of Harrisburg for the division title.

THE REST STILL MATTER

The Ft. Myers Miracle traveled to Charlotte and swept a double header. In game 1, they won 3-0. Edgar Ibarra started and went five shutout innings. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out five. Matt Hauser struck out three in the final two innings for his seventh save. Angel Morales went 2-4 with his sixth double. Anderson Hidalgo was 1-1 with two walks and his sixth home run.

In Game 2, the Miracle won 6-1. Caleb Thielbar started and threw two scoreless innings despite giving up a hit and walking three. Clinton Dempster gave up one run on four hits over the next two innings. Shooter Hunt threw four shutout innings. He gave up no hits, walked four and struck out four. Dan Rohlfing went 2-4 with his second home run. Aaron Hicks went 2-3 with a walk. James Beresford and Reggie Williams each went 2-4. Oswaldo Arcia went 1-3 with a walk, his 14th double and two RBI.

The GCL Twins beat the GCL Red Sox 3-2. Angel Mata went four shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out five. Josue Montanez gave up one run on two hits and a walk. In two innings, he struck out three. Kyle Wahl improved to 5-1. He gave up one run on three hits in three innings. He walked one and struck out three. The Twins had just five hits. Drew Leachman was 1-2 with a walk. Stephen Wickens walked two.

The Rochester Red Wings fell 4-3 to Stephen Strasburg and Syracuse. The hard-throwing right-hander rehabbing from his Tommy John surgery went five innings. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out seven. Andy Baldwin was on the mound for the Red Wings. He gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out six. Cole DeVries gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in his inning. Kyle Waldrop threw a scoreless inning. Ray Chang went 3-5. Toby Gardenhire went 2-3.

Beloit lost 6-2 to Clinton. Ryan O’Rourke started and gave up four runs on eight hits. In six innings, he walked none and struck out nine. Nelvin Fuentes gave up two unearned runs on two hits and two walks. Michael Tonkin threw a scoreless inning. Jairo Perez went 2-5 with his tenth steal. Lance Ray went 2-3 with a walk and his tenth stolen base. Andy Leer and Tobias Streich each hit a double.

Any thoughts? Comment here.

 

Help Coming?

23 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

We hear so often that the Twins minor league system is bad, that there are not players ready to come up to the big leagues and contribute to the team. I think most Twins fans understand that the Twins have done a lot in the last two or three years to really improve the overall value and talent level of the minor league system. However, most of that high-end talent is in High-A Ft. Myers or lower levels. Names like Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano will pop up in Top Prospect lists very soon. But the Twins also have some very good talent in the upper levels as well.

I am often asked if there are any players in the Twins minor league system that can come up and contribute in 2012. The answer is absolutely Yes, but there are several angles to answering that question.

ALREADY THERE

In 2010, the Twins came into the season with a very veteran lineup. Not one rookie was in the everyday lineup to start the season. Alex Burnett was a surprise in the Opening Day bullpen despite zero innings pitched above Double-A. Danny Valencia came up in June and became a regular in July. Because he was the only rookie playing, there was little pressure on him and he went out and contributed mightily for the Twins down the stretch. In 2011, because of all of the injuries, Valencia has frequently been joined in the starting lineup for three or four players with less than a year of big league service time. That puts a lot of pressure on everyone in the lineup to do more than what they may be ready for. That isn’t good for the team and we have seen those struggles. Consider the current Twins roster. Here are the players with less than two years of big league service time: Valencia, Burnett, Drew Butera, Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Rene Tosoni, Anthony Swarzak and now Lester Oliveros. We have seen already that Valencia can put up some numbers, including some power. We have seen the value of Ben Revere’s speed on the base paths and in the field. Trevor Plouffe has struggled with the glove, but he leads the organization in home runs this season. Luke Hughes was the story of spring training and has contributed a couple of home runs while playing 1B and 2B. Tosoni has shown patience at the plate and good power potential. Swarzak has been very important as the Twins long reliever and spot starter. Butera’s defense has proven to be as good as advertised. Burnett has shown signs of how good he can be out of the Twins bullpen. And, at this point, we don’t know anything about Lester Oliveros, other than that he throws hard, walks and strikes out a lot and is still just 23 years old. Again, that is a lot of players expected to contribute despite such little time. They have certainly struggled at times this year. However, most of these players have also shown that they can contribute to the Twins over the coming years. Valencia, Plouffe, Swarzak and Tosoni are guys who have been Top 10 Twins prospects and have the talent to contribute for years to come.

RETREADS AT ROCHESTER

The Twins went out of their way to appease the Rochester masses and brought in a ton of minor league veterans. After losing 95 games in 2010, the Twins wanted to give Rochester a more competitive team. It didn’t work. The Red Wings are currently 48-82 this season. Sure, guys like Phil Dumatrait and Chuck James have pitched for the Twins, but those veterans were not really brought in to help the Twins. They were brought in to help the Red Wings. Guys like Jeff Bailey and Chase Lambin really struggled early in the season. However, the real purpose in bringing in the veterans was so that the real prospects who were not ready for AAA were able to stay in New Britain and develop appropriately. The best players of the Red Wings were the prospects. Unfortunately for the Red Wings, all those injuries meant that the Red Wings carousel was continuous again throughout the season. The Twins again called to Rochester frequently, taking the pitchers and top hitters from the Red Wings. Plouffe was one of the International League’s best hitters. Revere, Hughes, and Tosoni were also all in the opening day lineup for the Red Wings.

There are prospects in Rochester, but at this point, there are question marks with them.

  • Scott Diamond – His best start of the season may have been his Major League debut when he went 6.1 innings and gave up three runs. It has been a real struggle for the lefty with the Red Wings. The 25-year-old has gone 4-14 with a 5.88 ERA. It will be very interesting to see how he responds with the team in 2012 because coming into the season, he had never posted an ERA above 3.52 at any stop along his trek up the Braves minor league system. That includes a 3.30 ERA in ten 2010 starts with Gwinnett, Atlanta’s AAA affiliate in the International League.
  • Kyle Gibson – He came into the season as the Twins top prospect and rightfully so. The Twins top pick in 2009 made his minor league debut in 2010 and advanced from Ft. Myers to Rochester. He began the 2011 season with the Red Wings and went 3-3 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in the season’s first two months. He walked very few, got a ton of ground balls and even struck out a batter an inning. He was definitely on pace to debut with the Twins in 2011. Unfortunately, in his final eight starts, he went 0-5 with a 6.47 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP. Clearly something wasn’t right, and he is currently in Florida rehabbing an elbow injury, hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery that would cost him his 2012 season. However, this does not make him a lesser prospect. It will just be 2013 before he is able to contribute to the Twins.
  • Carlos Gutierrez – The Twins second first-round pick in 2008 has been a starting pitcher to start each of his previous seasons in the minors. This season he finally went full-time into the bullpen. He has had his ups and downs with the Red Wings. His overall numbers are not impressive. He is 2-3 with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He almost made the Twins roster out of spring training. Control continues to be his problem at times. However, he also missed most of July with an arm injury and has struggled since his return. But again, in terms of ‘stuff,’ Gutierrez definitely has it. He throws hard and gets a lot of ground balls due to his sinker. He will play a role with the Twins at some point in 2012.
  • Liam Hendriks – The Twins pushed Hendriks to AA New Britain to start the 2011 season and he pitched great. The Australian went 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA. Because of the need for pitching in Rochester, he was promoted after pitching in the Futures Game and in the Eastern League All-Star Game. He began his AAA tenure with three very good starts before two clunkers. His last two starts have again been solid. The 22-year-old has walked 21 and struck out 100 batters in 125.1 innings this year overall. Hendriks needs to be added to the 40 man roster following the season, so it is possible that he could get a September call-up.
  • Kyle Waldrop – Another reliever who impressed in Spring Training (For the second straight year), Waldrop struggled in the first half this season. However, since the All-Star break, he has been wonderful. His big sinker ball has been in full effect for the last month and he should be given a September opportunity. If so, he will be another important possibility in the Twins bullpen in 2012.

PLAYOFFS FOR PROSPECTS

The New Britain Rock Cats are 64-64 this season, but they remain in contention for a spot in the Eastern League playoffs. Since the Twins and Red Wings (and Ft. Myers Miracle) are out of contention for the playoffs, there are some terrific prospects who are staying with the Rock Cats in an attempt to make the playoffs. Many believe that being on a winning team, and playing for the team, is an important part of the development process. I would say that it can’t hurt. But the Rock Cats also have several players who could contribute to the Twins in 2012. A couple could be in contention for an opening day spot while each of them could be seen at some point in the 2012 season. Here is a look at the top prospects:

  • Joe Benson – The Twins Minor League Hitter of 2010, Benson has been a much better all-around player in 2011. He is hitting .284/.379.499 with 26 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs. He also has 13 stolen bases. All that, despite missing five weeks after knee surgery. Benson is an incredible athlete with tremendous power who is also probably the second fastest player in the organization after Ben Revere. Benson is also a terrific outfielder with great range and a rocket for an arm. His biggest area for needed improvement was his strikeout rate. In 2010, he struck out every 3.5 plate appearances. This year, that number is about four. Depending upon which outfielders the Twins bring back next year, Benson could play a very big role for the Twins starting in 2012.
  • Chris Parmelee – Benson was the team’s second round pick in 2006. Parmelee was the team’s first round pick, and he backed up a very good 2010 with an even stronger 2011. The left-handed hitting first baseman is hitting .291.371/.451 with 27 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. He does struggle against left-handed pitching. He has more power potential. It isn’t fair to expect him to be Justin Morneau offensively or defensively, but he can be a very solid big leaguer at 1B, maybe in the Lyle Overbay mold. He has a terrific approach at the plate, and if the Twins have a need at 1B in 2012, Parmelee will be ready to step in. He could also DH against right-handed pitching. He also can play a little bit of right field if needed.
  • Brian Dozier – I would argue that no Twins minor leaguer has made a stronger impression in 2011 than Brian Dozier. The Twins surprised a lot of people when they invited Dozier to big league camp this spring. But he has come through with a tremendous season. It began in Ft. Myers and hit .322/.423/.472 in 49 games. In 64 games with the Rock Cats, he has hit .317/.384/.500. Overall, he has 30 doubles, 11 triples and seven home runs. He also has 24 stolen bases. As a top of the order hitter, he has 50 walks and 60 strikeouts. He profiles as a good #2 hitter. Twins minor league pitchers love when Dozier is playing shortstop behind them. With the struggles of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the 24 year old Dozier should go to spring training with a legitimate opportunity to be the Twins starting shortstop.
  • Yangervis Solarte – Solarte broke out in 2010 when he hit at Ft. Myers and got an opportunity with New Britain, but he got hurt and missed a couple of months. He began this season with the Rock Cats and he has hit the entire time. He hit .300 or higher in April, May, June and July. Overall, he has hit .320/.361/.441 with 30 doubles, three triples and four home runs. He doesn’t walk a lot, but he also strikes out only about once every 13 plate appearances. The only question with Solarte is if there is a position that he can play adequately. That will be the thing that will determine how big his future role with the Twins will be. The 24 year old has played primarily at second base and can also play both corner outfield positions, but not really well.
  • Deolis Guerra – This may be a surprise name to many, especially if you look at his overall numbers in 2011, but Guerra has been terrific. Overall, he is 7-7 with a 5.83 ERA on the season. He began the year with ten starts. He went 3-5 with a 9.00 ERA. In 43 innings, he gave up 66 hits, walked 15 and struck out 30. Opponents hit .357. Then he was moved to the bullpen, and he has been great since. In 24 relief appearances,e he is 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA. In 45 innings, he has given up 33 hits, walked 11 and struck out 55. Opponents have hit just .198 against him. The still-just-22 year old right-hander has a good fastball and a great changeup. It’s remarkable how the role change has improved his control, but his strikeout rate is very improved. He still has an option year in 2012, so hopefully he continues to make improvements and plays a role with the Twins as early as mid-2012.
  • David Bromberg – Twins fans should not forget Bromberg. He was an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after last season. He has consistently moved up the Twins farm system, three times leading his league in strikeouts. He began this season in New Britain, but in late April, he was hit in the forearm by a line drive and he missed three months of the season. He returned recently, but probably too quickly. It’s important to note that his injury was not to his elbow or shoulder, it was a fluke injury. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t regain his form which means he will compete for a job with the Twins in 2012.

There are others on that Rock Cats roster who could find themselves with the Twins in time. Evan Bigley is an outfielder in the Chad Allen mode. Danny Lehmann is the most respected catcher by pitchers in the Twins minor leagues. His defense is on par with Drew Butera’s, with probably a little better offense. Andrew Albers has had a tremendous season with the Miracle and the Rock Cats. The lefty could continue to work his way up. Dakota Watts and Bruce Pugh are two pitchers who can throw into the upper-90s and are potential bullpen arms. Brett Jacobson has had an up and down season, but he has a chance. Bobby Lanigan has struggled some as a starter, but he profiles well as a future reliever because of a good fastball and a very good slider. Steve Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in April and May. Finally, lefty Logan Darnell began the season in Beloit and is now with the Rock Cats.

ONE MORE

Although it is a rarity for a player to jump from Ft. Myers to the big leagues in one season, I would encourage people to keep an eye on Oswaldo Arcia. The 20-year-old outfielder was the Appalachian League Player of the Year last year for Elizabethton. He spent a month at Beloit this year, posting an OPS over 1.000. He then missed six weeks due to arthroscopic elbow surgery. Instead of going back to Beloit, Arcia went to Ft. Myers where he has continued to hit well. I believe his bat is legit. I posted on Twitter a couple of days ago that I think Arcia may be the best hitting prospect that the Twins have had since Jason Kubel in 2005. He seems to be a natural hitter. It might be a little aggressive to consider Arcia as a possibility for the Twins in 2012, but if there is a hitting prospect for Twins fans to really get excited about, it is Arcia.

Get to Know: Joe Benson

18 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

First things first… I will be on KFAN, on The Paul Allen Show at 9:55 this morning to talk about the Twins. You can find it online at www.KFAN.com, on its many affiliates, and please remember, that KFAN is now on 100.3 FM in the Twin Cities. So, tune in if you are able, or download the podcast later.

The Twins should be calling up Joe Benson today. There are many reasons. I’m sure the Twins brass was considering whether to call him up in September anyway. But right now, the Twins need an outfielder. Obviously Delmon Young was traded earlier this week. Jason Repko is on the Disabled List. We know that Luke Hughes is coming up today and that either Michael Cuddyer or Denard Span will be going on the Disabled List. The fact that they’re not sure which one tells me that neither of them will be available tonight. Jason Kubel will be unavailable at least for tonight due to some family reasons. Matt Tolbert can’t swing a bat, so he isn’t really even an outfield option. So, if my calculations are correct, tonight against CC Sabathia, the Twins three outfield options are Ben Revere, Rene Tosoni and Trevor Plouffe with no fourth outfielder available. Two of them are left-handed, so good luck against CC!

Why Joe Benson and not someone at AAA like Brian Dinkelman, Dustin Martin, Brandon Roberts or Jeff Bailey? Those guys are not on the Twins 40 man roster. Joe Benson was one of four players added to the 40 man roster after last season. Last night for New Britain, Benson went 2-5 with two home runs and six RBI. So, here are some things you should know about Joe Benson:

 

  • Twins 2nd round pick in 2006 out of Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, Illinois.
  • By signing with the Twins, he gave up a scholarship to play football (RB) at Purdue.
  • Former NFL great Mike Alstott went to the same high school as Benson.
  • Benson was the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2010 when he hit .259/.343/.538 with 31 doubles, eight triples and 27 home runs between AA New Britain and Hi-A Ft. Myers.  (23 of the home runs were in AA)
  • This year with the Rock Cats, he is hitting .283/.379/.489 with 25 doubles, two triples and 13 home runs.
  • He missed a little more than a month of the season when he had his knee scoped.
  • At 6-1 and 210 pounds, he is very strong. However, he is probably the second fastest player in the Twins organization behind only Ben Revere.
  • He is a terrific outfielder, capable of playing all three positions. He has the speed for centerfield and the arm for a right fielder.
  • He is a season ticket holder of the Chicago Bears. “Bear Down!”
  • He has done Football Picks here at SethSpeaks.net for several years.
  • He is 23 years old.
  • He is very intense and competitive. This is primarily a positive thing, but can have its negative moments.
  • His strikeout rate was something that he and the Twins needed to watch this year. Last year in New Britain, he struck out 115 times in 423 plate appearances (1 K every 3.68 PA). This year with the Rock Cats, he has 92 strikeouts in 378 plate appearances (1 K every 4.11 PA).  

I haven’t heard yet if Benson will be promoted. I’m sure we won’t know more until early this afternoon. But I think it is exciting when young players, especially those that are such highly regarded prospects, get an opportunity. Calling him up from AA is not an indication that he is ready for the big leagues, so fans need to have their expectations tempered. He will most likely start the 2012 season in Rochester and that would be the right thing. But for a short-term fix and just to see where he is at, this would be a good thing.

Any thoughts?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Twitter Mailbag – Part 1 (Contest)

3 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

As I noted yesterday, the second contest (for two 1991 World Series DVDs) began yesterday afternoon. It’s a simple Twitter contest. On Twitter, ask me a Twins-related (specifically minor league related) question, and be entered into a drawing. I will accept questions through 5:00 p.m. central time on Wednesday. At that time, I will take all of the names, put them into a hat, and pick out the winner.

To be honest, I already have had a lot of questions submitted, so the Twitter Mailbag will be multiple parts. Here is Part 1, and again, to get your question asked and be entered into the contest, follow me on Twitter and send a question to @SethTweets. Enjoy the questions and responses today. And again, I will be back later with Part 2.

thecazbah @SethTweets #91worldseriesdvds What is your fondest Twins memory?

Tough first question because there are so many. As far as games I have been at, it is hard to get better than Jim Thome’s walk-off homer off of Matt Thornton at Target Field last August. Getting a Batting Practice foul ball from former Red Sox pitcher John Henry Johnson when I was 8 or 9 years old was pretty cool! And of course, I remember Game 7 of the 1987 World Series. I remember being in my parent’s then-unfinished basement, watching it by myself on a snowy, black-and-white TV because I was too nervous to watch it with other people. Game 163s have been great. So many great memories as a Twins fan!

JoshuaJSwain @SethTweets Is there any way the Twins offer arb to Capps? It has to be too big of a risk….right?

Dave_MN @SethTweets Is there any reason on Earth that the #Twins would offer Matt Capps arbitration this offseason? #ContestEntry

Absolutely not! OK, I wouldn’t be 100% shocked, but I think it would be crazy unless they can somehow tell him that he can’t accept it (which they can’t). He is a Type A free agent which means declining arbitration would mean another team would have to give up a draft choice and pay Capps. That will hurt him. He would accept and that would not be good.

thundernation41 @SethTweets Hi Seth. In your opinion, who will be in the starting OFs on opening day next season?

Ben Revere in LF, Denard Span in CF, and Michael Cuddyer in RF.

Hattsmoustache @SethTweets Would it be wise to consider Joe Benson for the 2012 outfield? Defense alone makes him an upgrade over Delmon.

Good question, but really two very distinct questions too. Personally, I would be shocked if Delmon Young remains with the Twins. If he hits like he did in 2010, the defense isn’t a big deal. If he hits like he has through most of 2011, it just isn’t acceptable.

Benson’s defense would be a HUGE upgrade over Delmon’s. However, I don’t think he would be considered as an Opening Day 2012 guy yet. Maybe midseason though. As we’ve said, the biggest part of his game that needs to improve to get a good shot is his contact rate. He knows it, and he has improved it somewhat in 2011.

jjlee1980 @SethTweets Who gets to the bigs first Benson or Hicks?

Benson, and it’s not even close. I do think that Benson gets to the big leagues in 2012. With Hicks, he will need to be added to the 40 man roster following the 2012 season, and it will be late 2013 at the very earliest that we would see him.

George__Damian @SethTweets Twins starting OF in 2012 and then 2013. With explanations of course. And why not, how should Gardy handle it the rest of 2011?

Like I wrote above, I think the starters in 2012 on Opening Day will be Ben Revere in LF, Denard Span in CF and Michael Cuddyer in RF. The Twins love Revere and his speed and his range, even if he can’t get on base. I also believe that Revere will improve and be an average OBP guy in time. Span should be around for awhile, and I do think that Cuddyer will come back for multiple years.

Because of multi-year contracts, I think that Span and Cuddyer remain in the OF in 2013 (unless Cuddyer is at 1B, but Morneau will still be under contract). I think we could see some sort of Joe Benson/Ben Revere platoon system in LF or CF (if Span does move to LF in time).

I think Rene Tosoni will be a 4th OF, part time DH, corner OF, pinch hitter type. I don’t think Jason Repko will be around next year. I’m curious what happens with Trevor Plouffe going forward. And, would the Twins bring back Jason Kubel to play RF and DH since Jim Thome will not be back.

coryjensen @SethTweets Who do you like for the Twins to either call up or acquire to make a run at the division?

In previous Augusts, GM Bill Smith has brought in Carl Pavano, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, so I definitely think that the Twins will be watching the waiver wire closely throughout the month for anyone that makes sense. The Twins allegedly had discussions with the Blue Jays about bringing back Rauch, so that is something that could happen in August. The Twins have such a low record in the AL, so they have a great spot in the waiver order. It is possible that the Twins could acquire Heath Bell, although the Padres would likely pull him back unless the Twins made a big offer. Most players get put on waivers in August, so really the Twins could go a number of directions.

As for call ups, the only players that I think could be called up that has not already spent time with the Twins is Liam Hendriks and Kyle Waldrop.

bbeecken @SethTweets What level do you think Miguel Sano will start next season at?

He will start the season (and probably spend the whole season) in Beloit.

thecazbah @SethTweets #91worldseries As of right now what do you see as a starting rotation for next year? Gibson, does he make the squad?

That is such a tough question because I don’t know that there is a given in the group other than Scott Baker. I can’t imagine teams would be terribly excited to acquire Carl Pavano, but he could be traded in August to a contender looking for a veteran. Can the Twins trade Francisco Liriano in the offseason for anything interesting? Nick Blackburn has the bad contract and low strikeout rate, so he’s not tradable. Brian Duensing has been a solid big league starter the last three years. So there are five guys, plus until Kevin Slowey is traded, he is still a Twin. Anthony Swarzak has warranted a look.

So, I will guess that the starting rotation out of spring training next year will be Pavano, Baker, Blackburn, Duensing and Slowey. However, I think that by mid-June, we could see any or all of Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks and David Bromberg in the Twins starting rotation.

nibbish @SethTweets Who are some of the bigger prospects that you think will be included in September callups?

My thoughts on September call-ups is that the Twins will bring up Rene Rivera, Luke Hughes, Rene Tosoni, Jim Hoey and Chuck James. Tosoni is the only prospect in that bunch. If they are way out of contention, I would like to see Deolis Guerra brought up since he is doing a very good job since he was moved to the Rock Cats bullpen. And, I do think there is a chance that we could see Liam Hendriks in September.

bgipple @SethTweets Will the Twins ever draft a high-ceiling high school pitcher in 1st rd.? Or will we continue to see “safer” college pitchers?

High School Pitchers drafted in Round 1 by Twins in last 25 years: Willie Banks (1987), Johnny Ard (1988), Todd Ritchie (1990), Dan Serafini (1992), Kyle Waldrop (2004), Jay Rainville (2004).

Aside from when the Twins drafted Ben Revere in 2007 instead of the big-bonus-demanding Rick Porcello, who else have the Twins passed on… and based on where the Twins have drafted, who have they passed on that every other team passed on too?

And, in 2011, the Twins took Hudson Boyd with a supplemental first-round pick. Let’s hope they can sign him and his upper-90s fastball.

cdelzer @SethTweets With the contract the Span has, the emergence of Revere, what are the plans for Benson and Hicks?

Let them develop. See, as excited as we get, and I get in prospects, they are prospects because they haven’t done it yet. Guys like Span, Kubel and Cuddyer have already done it. Until guys do it at the big leagues, we just don’t know what will happen. So, you just let them develop in the minor leagues, and when they get up to AA and AAA, then you start thinking about where they ‘might’ fit in over the next couple of years.

Joe Benson definitely fits into the planning for 2013, but some of that does depend on what happens with Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel in the offseason. Ben Revere hasn’t done enough on the field to earn for-sure status in 2012. He would be best served to go back to Rochester and play. However, we know that Gardy loves him, and he’s fun to watch and he has the great smile, so we have to assume that he will be in the lineup somewhere in 2012.

gaborik24 @SethTweets when do you think Liam Hendriks will be ready to pitch in the MLB?

I think he’s pretty much ready now. But I’m sure getting some more AAA innings under his belt and facing AAA hitters that have been in the big leagues will help him. But I’m convinced from all reports that he is pretty close to ready now. That said, I would say early in the 2012 season.

hoss792 @SethTweets will Liam Hendricks be an expanded roster call-up, not hard throwing, but a “pitcher” could be useful.

I don’t know if he will be. I think it will be more about where the Twins are in the standings and how many they plan to bring up. Like Ben Revere a year ago, Hendriks has to be added to the 40 man roster in November, so there is no logistical reason not to bring him up in September.

themnjocksniffe @SethTweets Where does Chris Parmelee stand with the #Twins? Will we see him ever?

I would think he stands pretty well with that Twins right now. He is hitting for average, along with taking walks and cutting down the strikeouts, and he has a lot of doubles and 11 home runs in AA. I definitely think we will see him. Of course, a big part of that is the future status of Justin Morneau. I think he can be a very solid big league first baseman in the mold of a Lyle Overbay-type.

Again, head over to my Twitter page, follow me, and submit a question to me and be entered into the contest for the two 1991 World Series DVDs. Any thoughts or comments on what you’ve read today?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Saturday Minor League Scoreboard

31 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

As Denard Span to the Nationsls’ rumors continued to swirl, he was not in the Red Wings Saturday lineup. Officially, the Twins said it was because of the travel from Louisville to Rochester… I am not certain I believe that. Today if the trade deadline and after a rough loss by the Twins last night, it will be a very interesting day, to be sure. Saturday was very interesting. First, the Tigers acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from Seattle. Later, Cleveland gave up Alex White and Drew Pomeranz and two other prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez. Cleveland then dealt Orlando Cabrera to the Giants.

So, what will today bring? Will the Twins get Drew Storen, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina from the Nationals for Span. Will Jason Kubel remain a Twin? How about Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer and others? How will Kevin Slowey’s performance for the Red Wings on Saturday affect his trade prospects today, or is it possible he remains with the Twins?

To see how Slowey and the rest of the Twins minor leaguers did on Saturday, see below:  

Rochester Red Wings

Rochester 6, Scranton/Wilkes Barre – Amid all the trade discussions surrounding him, Kevin Slowey put together his best start in his time with the Red Wings. The righty went eight innings and allowed only an unearned run. He gave up just five hits, walked none and struck out eight. Kyle Waldrop gave up only a run on two hits in his inning. Aaron Bates went 3-5. Michael Hollimon, promoted due to the Luke Hughes promotion, went 2-4. Jeff Bailey and Toby Gardenhire were also 2-. Rene Rivera celebrated his 27th birthday just a little early with his fourth home run with the Red Wings.  

New Britain Rock Cats

New Britain 0, Bowie 1 – Joe Benson went 2-2 with two walks and two stolen bases in this game. Those were the only two hits and two of the three walks that the Rock Cats managed in this game. Blake Martin started and gave up one run on five hits. He walked three and struck out three in 5.2 innings. Spencer Steedley threw two scoreless innings, and Dakota Watts got the final four outs.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Ft. Myers 9, Lakeland 2 – The Miracle ended its losing streak at nine games with a big win on Saturday night. James Beresford went 3-5 with his ninth double. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with a fourth-inning grand slam. It was his fifth home run of the year. Oswaldo Arcia hit his sixth double, and Danny Rams went 1-2 with a walk. Logan Darnell improves to 8-2 with the Miracle. The lefty went the first seven innings and gave up one run on four hits. He walked two and struck out six. Ricky Bowen gave up an unearned run in two innings with three strikeouts.

Beloit Snappers

Beloit 10, Cedar Rapids 5 – BJ Hermsen improved to 11-7 with a Quality Start in front of friends and family in Cedar Rapids. The righty went the first six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk. Blayne Weller then gave up two hits and a walk in two innings ,but no runs. Ben Tootle came in and gave up two unearned runs in the 9th on two hits and a walk. Reggie Williams went 4-5. Tobias Streich went 3-4. Lance Ray was 2-3 with two walks and his 30th double. He also stole his ninth base. Jairo Perez went 2-5.Michael Gonzales doubled for the 21st time. Danny Ortiz hit his ninth home run.   

Elizabethton Twins

Elizabethton 2, Danville 3 – The E-Twins recorded ten hits, but just two runs, in this loss. Eddie Rosario went 2-4 with his sixth double. Niko Goodrum also had two hits. Rosario also stole his ninth base. David Hurlbut started and gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Derek Christensen got the next four outs. Steve Evans and Madison Boer each pitched a scoreless inning.  

GCL Twins

GCL Twins 2, GCL Red Sox 4 – The Twins managed just four hits in this game and Jacob Younis had two of them. Josh Hendricks hit his fifth double and drove in both runs. Hung-yi Chen went the first three innings and gave up two hits and a walk and struck out three. Ricardo Arevalo went the next 1.1 innings and gave up two runs (1 earned) on one hit. He walked four and struck out one. JR Krogstad came in and gave up just one hit in 1.2 innings, striking out two. Tyler Herr gave up a run on three hits and a walk in two innings. Luis Nunez pitched a scoreless inning.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Minor League Scoreboard (Perez, Benson, Wimmers and More)

27 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Here are the scores and highlights from the last two days of Twins minor league baseball:

Rochester Red Wings

On Tuesday, the Red Wings topped the Louisville Bats 11-3. Liam Hendriks started and gave up all three runs (on 5 hits) in the first inning. On the game, he went six innings and gave up just those three runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out three. Brian Dinkelman went 3-5 with his 20th double. Aaron Bates was 2-4 with a walk and his 15th double. Rene Rivera and Dustin Martin were each 2-5 with a double.

On Wednesday, it was a pitcher’s duel between the Red Wings and the Bats. Andy Baldwin started and threw five shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out one. Jake Stevens threw two scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop got the final eight outs for the win. Denard Span went 2-5 with a double and a stolen base. He played nine innings. Aaron Bates went 2-4 with his 16th double. Chase Lambin went 2-5.  

New Britain Rock Cats

Tuesday night, the Rock Cats lost 5-4. Dennys Suarez started and gave up five runs on seven hits. In seven innings, he walked four and struck out six. Brett Jacobson threw two scoreless innings. Deibinson Romero was 2-4 with his 17th and 18th doubles. Joe Benson was 2-4. Michael Hollimon hit his 11th homer.

The Rock Cats had a double header on Wednesday. In the first game, the teams needed 11 innings to decide a winner. The Rock Cats won 7-6 when Chris Parmelee singled in Deibinson Romero with the game-winner. Joe Benson went 4-5 with a walk, his 21st double, 8th home run and three RBI. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with two walks and his fifth home run. Brian Dozier, Nate Hanson and Deibinson Romero went 2-5 on the day. Romero hit his 19th double. Andrew Albers started and gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk in 4.1 innings. He struck out five. Dakota Watts then gave up two run on four hits and a walk in 2.2 innings. He struck out four. Deolis Guerra struck out three in three scoreless innings. Tyler Robertson struck out two in a perfect innings.

The second game did not go well for the Rock Cats. They lost 17-3 to New Hampshire. Bobby Lanigan gave up 11 runs (6 earned) on 14 hits in 2.2 innings. Spencer Steedley gave up just one hit over the next 2.1 innings. Infielder Chris Cates threw the final two innings. He gave up six runs on four hits and four walks. He did strike out two. Brian Dozier went 3-4. Joe Benson was 2-3. Michael Hollimon hit his 12th home run.

Following the games, Albers was sent back to Ft. Myers. David Bromberg was activated from the Disabled List.

Mark Dolenc Report – On Monday, Dolenc went 4-5 with a double, triple and the game-winning hit in the Rock Cats big extra inning win over New Hampshire. In the three games since then, he is 0-7. On the season, he is now hitting .279/.333/.357 with ten doubles, four triples and two homers. He has 16 stolen bases as well.

Ft. Myers Miracle

On Tuesday, the Miracle lost a 2-1, 11 inning game to Tampa. They managed just six hits, and Aaron Hicks had two of them. Jhon Garcia started and gave up just one run on six hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five. Matt Hauser threw three scoreless innings before allowing the winning run in the 11th inning.

Angel Morales was activated, and Ramon Santana was released.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Miracle lost 6-1 to Tampa. Miguel Munoz came off of the Disabled List and made his first start since April. Unfortunately, he left after recording just one out and giving up five runs on five hits and a walk. He left the game injured. He had been rehabbing an elbow injury, so obviously best wishes to him as he finds out what’s going on and needs to be done. Edgar Ibarra went 4.2 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out three. Alex Wimmers threw the final four innings. He gave up one run on four hits. He walked none and struck out two. James Beresford went 2-3 with a walk. Oswaldo Arcia, Josmil Pinto and Nick Romero each doubled.

Aaron Hicks is in a bit of a slump. He is now 2-31 in his last eight games.

Beloit Snappers

The Snappers had the day off on Tuesday. The day off did wonders for their bats as the Snappers won 21-8 over Burlington. Jairo Perez was the star in this one. He went 4-5 with a walk, his 11th double, 10th and 11th home runs and eight RBI. Not a bad week’s worth in one game. Michael Gonzales went 3-4 with his 19th double. Wang-Wei Lin went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth homer. Reggie Williams went 2-6 with his second double and second home run. Danny Santana went 2-5 with a walk and his 22nd stolen base. Andy Leer was 2-6. Ryan O’Rourke started and gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out five. Blayne Weller struck out two in two scoreless innings. Nelvin Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 inning and hit a double. Ben Tootle pitched the final inning and gave up four runs on four hits and a walk.

Elizabethton Twins

The E-Twins beat Burlington 6-4 on Tuesday. Tim Shibuya gave up two runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings. He didn’t walk any and struck out five. Steven Evans got one out (and walked one). Matt Summers got the final out of the 7th. Then Madison Boer gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. He struck out two in his two innings. Max Kepler was 2-3 with his first triple. Eddie Rosario was 2-5 with his 5th triple. Miguel Sano went 2-4.

The E-Twins had a day off on Wednesday.

GCL Twins

The team was postponed by rain on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the team lost 5-2 to the Rays. They managed just six hits. Candido Pimentel and Dereck Rodriguez each went 2-5. Hein Robb went the first four innings and gave up only an unearned run on five hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out three. Kyle Wahl gave up an unearned run in his two innings. Markus Solbach then gave up just one hit in two scoreless innings. Luis Nunez struck out two in two scoreless innings. Marcus Limon gave up three runs (2 earned) on two hits and a walk in two innings.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

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