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Thursday Notes

5 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

On Thursday at 9:20 a.m., I’ll again be joining Paul Allen on KFAN, its affiliates and www.KFAN.com. Talking Twins is always fun! Also, check out my newest TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com. It takes a look ahead at the Twins 40 man roster decisions.

The Twins won an ugly 2-1 game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 13 innings last night, and if you listen to some Twins fans, you would think it means nothing. There were some missed opportunities. Delmon Young and Denard Span took turns looking really bad defensively. Span and Michael Cuddyer each went 0-6 in the game. There were several situations with a runner on third base and less than two outs where all you need is a medium deep fly ball and the team didn’t come through. Matt Capps blew a save. 

If you want to think all negative after a game like that, that’s your prerogative… you can do what you want to do. 

But here is how I choose to look at it. The Twins played an imperfect game, on the road, against (arguably, but in my opinion) the best team in baseball, without Justin Morneau and Orlando Hudson, with Joe Mauer only able to DH, against one of the best, young left-handed pitchers in baseball (meaning no Jason Kubel or Jim Thome too) and they still were able to win.

Most important to note is the impressive pitching performance by Scott Baker. Following two, two-run losses to the Rays, the Twins needed a big game from Baker, and he came through. He has not looked that good all year. The fastball was popping a little, and moving a lot. The curveball was as sharp as I’ve seen it. He had good control, and was very impressive. Eight innings. He gave up just three hits and one walk against a good Rays lineup. Despite a couple of bad plays (or non-plays) behind him, he was able to pick up his defense and make big pitches and get big outs. He deserved a “Win” even if I don’t care about that statistic for a starting pitcher in today’s game.

Matt Capps blew the save, so a lot of people thought the sky was falling down. But in reality, if Delmon Young catches that first lazy fly ball, Capps likely saves a 1-0 win for the Twins. But, that didn’t happen. Again, I am not a big fan of Capps, but he did not look bad last night. He does make the 2010 Twins bullpen better, regardless of a blown save. So, we really should not make too much out of that. Also, yes, Young should have caught that ball. No question about that. But in reviewing the tape, he did start out playing very deep. Teams always do that to (ironically) take away doubles. Young hesitated briefly, but not much, and he went a long way to get to that ball. It hit off the tip of his glove, and really, it just looked rather awkward. Should have been caught, but not as easy a play as many are thinking.

But the beauty of baseball is that there is a new game every day, and each at bat and appearance are new. Players and tames have the opportunity to redeem themselves quickly. Young had the play in the 9th inning, and he was 0-5 when he came to the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd in the 13th. He came through with what proved to be the game-winning hit.

On Tuesday night, Matt Guerrier played the role of goat after an awful performance in which he walked two before throwing BJ Upton a 2-0 fastball right down the middle that I think I could have hit out of the park! On Wednesday night, he pitched the 12th and 13th innings and was tremendous.

When asked before this series what I thought the Twins needed to do in this four game series against Tampa, I thought they needed to win one game, and that two wins would have been terrific. Anything more than that would have been pie in the sky. This morning (11 a.m. start time), the Twins can earn a split of the four game series.

Here is a quick glance at what happened on Wednesday in the Twins minor league system:

Red Wings Report   

No game scheduled for the Red Wings on Wednesday.

New Britain Notes

The Rockcats beat Erie 13-6. Bobby Lanigan improved to 2-0. The righty gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He walked one and struck out five. Mike McCardell came out of the bullpen and gave up two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings. He did not issue a walk and struck out four. Cole DeVries gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Juan Portes went 4-5 with his third triple and fifth home run. Erik Lis went 4-5 with his 12th double. Jeff Howell went 3-4 with a walk and his first Rockcats double and home run. Joe Benson was 2-5 with his 17th double. Estarlin de Los Santos went 2-5 with his first triple. It was announced as well that Ben Revere will miss the rest of the season after being hit in the eye, and breaking his eye socket, on Tuesday night.

Miracle Matters

The Ft. Myers Miracle lost 5-2 to Clearwater. Nick Romero went 2-3. Santos Arias gave up one run on five hits and three walks in five innings. Jhon Garcia gave up one run on two hits in three innings.

Snappers Snippets

Tom Stuifbergen improved to 5-0 in the Snappers 7-2 win over Burlington. The Dutch right-hander gave up two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. He walked none, hit two batters and struck out five. Andrei Lobanov struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings. Michael Gonzales has been on fire of late. In this game, he was 2-3 with a walk, his 20th double and his 12th home run. Danny Rams was 3-4 with his fourth triple. Reggie Williams went 2-4.

Brad Stillings, Anderson Hidalgo and Peter Kennelly were put on the Disabled List. Who will replace them?  Check out the E-Twins Talkers for my thoughts.

E-Twins Talkers

Elizabethton did not play on Wednesday. So, who will be heading up to Beloit? I would say that it would make a lot of sense for the Twins to promote Adrian Salcedo, Martire Garcia and Oswaldo Arcia. All three have performed great for the E-Twins and are likely very ready for a promotion. But I don’t think that is what will actually happen. The E-Twins are going to win their division and advance to the league’s playoffs where they have a strong opportunity to win another Appalachian League title. Those three players will be a big part of that. So, I expect that the Twins will not send their primary players to the Snappers. I could be wrong, but I think they will let the Elizabethton team and fans win again. It is likely that all three will end the season at Beloit, following their playoff run for a few games. According to LaVelle, Pat Dean has been promoted to Elizabethton. It will be interesting to see if he starts, or just continues to throw an inning at a time in the bullpen.

GCL Twins Topics

It was a long day for the Twins Gulf Coast League team. They were able to drive north to Tampa (St. Petersburg) to watch the Twins and the Rays. They got to see 13 innings of that game.  They played early in the day and worked a little overtime to beat the Orioles team 6-4 in 11 innings. Max Kepler went 3-4. Matej Hejman was 2-5 with his third double, first home run and three RBI. Eddie Rosario went 2-5 with his ninth double. Justin Parker gave up four runs (just 1 earned) on four hits and a walk in five innings. Derek Christensen threw two scoreless innings. Matt Schuld struck out four in three scoreless innings. Nick Alloway got his second save with a scoreless inning.

On his way to Tampa, LaVelle E. Neal made a quick stop in Ft. Myers and observed the GCL Twins. Here are his notes on several of the players.

Any thoughts on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and 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.

Free Pass?

18 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Ben Revere got off to a quick start this spring with some multi-hit games. He leads all Twins in plate appearances this spring, in part, because of the lack of other true center field options.

Like Revere, Juan Portes was another non-roster invitee. He hit three home runs and a double in his first 11 at bats. Was it an oversight that he was not in my most recent Top 50 Twins Prospect ranking? Probably. However, I still wouldn’t put him in the top 40. But he has done exactly what you would want a non-roster player to do, make an impression.

Luke Hughes didn’t have a lot of opportunity early in camp, but in the last couple of days, he has had a three-hit game and a walk-off double today. He has also played quite a bit at second base and more than held his own.

Danny Valencia came into camp hoping to be given a shot at winning the third base job. Although he is just 4-18, he has two doubles and a home run. He has 18 at bats, the same number as Brendan Harris and one more than Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto.

Stats mean very little in spring training. Valencia may be hitting .222 (4-18), but a 3-3 puts him a .333. Portes’s batting average has fallen over .400 points over the last week.

But there is one set of statistics that is worth watching. For both hitters and for pitchers, I like to look at their number of walks to their number of strikeouts. I realize that not every player has to be the same, but guys like Denard Span and Joe Mauer walk more than they strike out. For a power hitter like Justin Morneau, it is good just to see those numbers close. You want hitters who are patient and willing to wait for a good pitch.  So how have these four players done in the walk to strikeout ratios?

  • Ben Revere – 32 at bats, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts. Not exactly the walk to strikeout rate you want from a leadoff hitter. Yes, he’s hitting a solid .281, but his on-base percentage is also .281. And that is a high strikeout rate for a contact hitter. This doesn’t take anything away from Revere as a prospect, and is not meant to do so. I just think that many are now of the impression that he is ready. He will go to AA New Britain and let’s just let him play. This has been a good experience for him, but he clearly needs much more development time.
  • Juan Portes – 21 at bats, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts. Portes has never been a real patient hitter. The strikeout rate (1 in 3) is obviously too high. It’s one of those things where he is hitting .381 and has shown the power, but it doesn’t mean he is ready. As I look at potential rosters, I can’t see a scenario in which he isn’t playing in AA again this year, and I think it will be a good thing for him. The thing that I would like to see him do if he does repeat, is maintain the power stroke and show more power.
  • Luke Hughes – 20 at bats, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts. One less at bat than Portes, but basically the same story. No walks and too many strikeouts. I actually compare Portes to Hughes quite a bit as they both do not have a real strong defensive position. They both will advance based on their bats. I expect that Hughes will spend the season in Rochester, playing 2B, 3B and the corner OF positions while DHing too. I do think that he will debut with the Twins sometime during the season.
  • Danny Valencia – 18 at bats, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts – One of the concerns on Valencia. After moving up to Rochester, he had just eight walks to go with 269 at bats. Now, he has always had a solid Isolated Discipline previous to that half-season, so I’m not worried. But it does suggest that it isn’t a mistake by the Twins to let him get a couple more months of AAA time under his belt.

Ideally, it would be nice to start camp by taking some pitches, working counts, being patient and taking good at bats. It should come as no surprise that some players with no big league experience, who are trying to make a good impression on the big league coaching staff, are probably a little too anxious and trying to do too much. This is yet another example of the whole Small Sample Size phenomena. It is why most decisions do not happen in spring training based on 20 to 40 plate appearances. What happens over a couple of hundred at bats matters much more. All four of these players are worth watching in 2010. I expect to see both Hughes and Valencia in a Twins uniform at some point this season. Revere has shown some very positive things considering his age, but he has also shown that he should not be rushed, even to AAA.

From a pitching standpoint, there are a few things to note. First, Scott Baker has one walk and nine strikeouts in nine innings. Kevin Slowey has one walk and eight strikeouts in eight innings. It’s impressive that two guys who are working more on throwing strikes and gaining arm strength still have enough to get a strikeout an inning. How about Francisco Liriano? The lefty has one walk and 12 strikeouts in just seven innings of work. Talk about the types of numbers that create Ace discussions!

On Thursday, the Twins sent Rob Delaney back to minor league camp. He wasn’t going to make the team, but I was hoping he might get a little longer look. I know he had given up some hits (9 hits in 5.1 innings), but when I saw his walk to strikeout rate, I was impressed. In 5.1 innings, he had 0 walks and nine strikeouts. That bodes well for his 2010 season in Rochester. He needs to find a way to miss more bats, but he does have tremendous control.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jeff Manship has five walks and four strikeouts in 5.2 innings. There is nothing in his minor league track record to indicate any control problems, so I definitely attribute this to a small sample size and early season. He has also allowed another nine hits (including two home runs). But in his outing on Wednesday, he fell behind Evan Longoria 3-1 in an at bat, and came back to strike him out on two sharp curveballs. Those are the things that tell you that he will be just fine.

And I would think that the Twins wanted Glen Perkins to have a solid camp so they could trade him. He has written his ticket for Rochester, unless some team saw something. In his six innings, he has five walks and 13 hits allowed. Ouch! He also has just two strikeouts.

Again, I have to reiterate the small sample size nature of spring training numbers for both pitchers and catchers. But I do think we can learn a little bit from walks and strikeouts.   

If you have any thoughts, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 3

19 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

If you would like to hear my interview with Denard Span, please click here.

Today, we conclude our look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. Today, I will post our final six selections. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 17-22)

Round 17 – 65th Overall – Roger – LHP – Matt Tone

I debated between two excellent young lefty relievers and decided to go with the more experienced, Matt Tone.  I was hoping that Lobanov could slide through another six picks, however, Seth picked him with the next pick.

Round 17 – 66th Overall – Seth – LHP – Andrei Lobanov

(Lobanov, Lugo or Steedley? How do I pick? Well, I take the youngest, the guy with the 35 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, of course.)

Round 17 – 67th Overall – Josh – IF – Ramon Santana

(I believe that Ramon Santana and Luke Hughes can battle to see where each plays, one will start at second base and the other will start at third base. Santana had a great year in 2009, but he turned 23-years-old this year when the average age in the Midwest League is 21. Santana helps extend my lineup. I also considered both Steven Liddle and Michael Harrington with this pick.)

Round 17 – 68th Overall – Travis – OF – Michael Harrington

(The reason I drafted him is not because of his low batting average but his extra base power.  For quite a long time last season he led the whole organization in doubles and that to me is very impressive.  It will be interesting to see if he can improve on the other parts of his game to become a true prospect.)

Round 18 – 69th Overall – Travis – RHPBobby Lanigan

(I was very happy to get him because he is on the cusp of good things going forward.  He is a little bit inconsistent, but the sky is the limit as he has all the tools to be a very good pitcher.  I will be interested to see if he shows the promise the Twins saw in him when they drafted him as high as they did.)

Round 18 – 70th Overall – Josh – OFSteve Liddle

(As I mentioned above, I considered taking both Steven Liddle and Michael Harrington when I took Ramon Santana. Travis took Harrington which left Liddle, which was completely fine by me. Although he was taken in the 15th round last of June’s draft, he went to Vanderbilt (a college baseball powerhouse) and played great in the Appalachian League this year (but keep in mind that he was a year older than the rest of the competition). Liddle should start in Beloit in 2010 and could move up quickly through the system. His uncle (also named) Steve Liddle is the Twins’ bench coach. )

Round 18 – 71st Overall – Seth – 1BMichael Gonzales

(I need a 1B. Next pick, I’ll take either Miguel Munoz or Martire Garcia, just hoping Roger doesn’t take both of them!)

Round 18 –72nd Overall – Roger – SSDaniel Santana

(I believe that one of the better middle infield prospects in the organization is Daniel Santana.  He was one of the better hitters for the GCL Twins last simmer, while showing excellent speed with 11 stolen bases in only 12 attempts.)

Round 19 – 73rd Overall – Roger – LHP – Spencer Steedley

(I then went back to a veteran of last year’s Arizona Fall League to pick up another top reliever for my bullpen, Spencer Steedley.)

Round 19 – 74th Overall – Seth – RHP – Miguel Munoz

(Well, they were both still available, so I’ll take the guy that hits 94. Not much left in OF or any bats, several good BP options.)

Round 19 – 75th Overall – Josh – LHP – Kyle Carr

(With Andrei Lobanov, Spencer Steedley, Matt Tone and Joe Testa already taken, I knew that Kyle Carr or Jose Lugo would be my pick. I went with Carr primarily because he’s a couple years younger and should be in Ft. Myers in 2010. That’s really what it boiled down to.)

Round 19 – 76th Overall – Travis – LHP – Jose Lugo

(The reason I drafted him is everything that I hear about him is positive.  Everyone tells me that he will be in the big leagues in the not too distant future so I really wanted to know more about him.  After doing research on him I agree he will be a Twin soon.)

Round 20 – 77th Overall – Travis – OF – Dustin Martin

(The reason I selected Martin was the simple fact that last year he was two different people and I want to see which one he is.  In spring training with the Twins he hit the cover off the ball hitting over .400 and doing a good job in center field.  However, with the Red Wings he really struggled and with his age it is almost time to put up or shut up because there is a dealth of center fielders in the upper minors for the Twins so there is definitely an opportunity.)

Round 20 – 78th Overall – Josh – SS – Nick Lockwood

(I needed a middle infielder and at this point its slim pickings. Nick Lockwood was taken in the 9th round and signed to a $125,000 signing bonus last June to forgo his commitment to the University of Southern Florida to sign with the Twins. He is solid defensively and showed good power in High School. Roger took Daniel Santana a couple rounds before, who I was hoping to take in either the 21st or 22nd round, so I wanted to make sure I took Lockwood. I also considered taking Anderson Hidalgo with this pick.)

Round 20 – 79th Overall – Seth – RHP – Bruce Pugh

(Since we’re talking about success 2-3 years down the road, I’ll go with a sleeper pick instead of Chris Province)

Round 20 – 80th Overall – Roger – OF – Mark Dolenc

(I closed out my outfield with a player I was looking to take for about five rounds, Mark Dolenc.  Without a lot of publicity, Dolenc was one of the better outfielders in the organization last summer when he hit .288/.332/.392 for Ft. Myers.  He also had 27 stolen bases in 33 attempts, which is a better stolen base success rate than either Revere or Benson.)

Round 21 – 81st Overall – Roger – LHP – Michael Tarsi

(With Seth picking one spot ahead of my 20th pick, he again picked the player I was eyeing for one of these two picks, Bruce Pugh.  With Pugh gone, I closed out my bullpen with a big left handed long reliever/starter, Michael Tarsi.)

Round 21 – 82nd Overall – Seth – EX – Anderson Hidalgo

(Solid offensive season at E-Town, and Gleeman’s got him in his top 40!)

Round 21 – 83rd Overall – Josh – OF – Romy Trinidad

(With my “Extra” pick, I wanted another outfielder and it came down between two Dominican players, Romy Trinidad and Candido Pimentel. I went with Trinidad because he’s a year younger and is three inches taller than Pimentel. Trinidad hit .312/.443/.363 as an 18-year-old in the DSL last summer and should be making his way to the States in 2010.)

Round 21 – 84th Overall – Travis – IF – Nick Romero

(I am very surprised he was not selected earlier as he was playing just about every day at 2nd for the Miracle.  He has some things to work on in his game, but he plays good defense and if you can do that the rest will take care of itself.)

Round 22 – 85th Overall – Travis – OF – Jonathan Goncalves

(I selected him because we don’t know much about him and if he has the ability to be a good prospect or someone that will hang around for a year or two.  He did not do much at E-Town, but he did not get a lot of opportunities so my hope is that he gets more at bats so we can know if he a contender or a pretender.)

Round 22 – 86th Overall – Josh – 1B – Jonathan Waltenbury

(I kind of shot myself in the foot on this pick. I had a feeling Travis might take Nick Romero and I took the risk of waiting for him in the 22nd round. Travis ended up taking Romero with his next pick and Jonathan Waltenbury was really the only other player that appealed to me. He climbed prospect charts in 2008 but fell off in 2009. He’ll likely repeat Single-A Beloit but he still has good upside.)

Round 22 – 87th Overall – Seth – OF – Matej Hejma

Not much to choose from. D. de La Osa is older. Wang-Wei Lin is a 5-tool type, but 22 and not out of GCL due to injuries.

Round 22 – 88th Overall – Roger – C – Allan de San Miguel

(With the final selection in the Seth Stohs 2010 draft, I selected my extra player/back up catcher.  It seems like Alan de San Miguel has been around for forever.  But he didn’t turn 22 until last week, thus, is very young for someone who played on all four full-service teams last year.  An excellent defensive catcher who has never hit for a high average, de San Miguel had his best season at the plate last year.  At his age, should he continue to improve with his bat again this year his future will also continue to brighten.)

SETH’S TEAM SUMMARY

Real Briefly, I am going to write about my team, and then I will encourage you to check out the other drafters/bloggers for their thoughts on their rosters (here is Josh’s):

LINEUP

James Beresford – SS

Steve Singleton – 2B

Rene Tosoni – RF

Danny Valencia – 3B

Aaron Hicks – CF

Michael Gonzales – 1B

Chris Herrmann – C

Anderson Hidalgo – DH

Oswaldo Arcia – LF

Bench: Reggie Williams, Matej Hejma, Estarlin de Los Santos

Starting Rotation: Deolis Guerra, Blayne Weller, Matt Bashore, Miguel Munoz, Edgar Ibarra

Closer: Carlos Gutierrez

Bullpen: Santos Arias, Rob Delaney, Andrei Lobanov, Bruce Pugh

There you have it, Part 3 of the Minor League draft, and my team. For more information, lineups and more from each of the other teams, check out the sites of Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson and Travis Aune. Have yourself a great weekend. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 2

18 Feb

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net -

Just a quick update on tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Podcast. I really am excited about the new format and hope that it goes well. I’ll be able to mention more later about the specifics, but I can now say that both Denard Span and Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi have confirmed that they will be guests on the show. Be sure to check back right here for a link to the podcast itself. It will be posted right around 9:00. I will also be setting up a chat room for you to talk Twins and ask questions. There will be time at the end to take your questions and comments. There is even a toll-free phone number which is new, so anyone can call! It should be a fun show. I’ll head to the studio a little early to make sure we’ve got everything set up.

Today, we continue to look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. The specifics of the draft can be found in yesterday’s blog posting in which I showed our first eight rounds of picks. Today, I will post our selections for rounds 9 through 16 before finishing the draft on Friday. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 9-16)

Round 9 – 33rd Overall – Roger – 3B – Wander Guillen

(I may have overreached with the selection of my third baseman, Wander Guillen, who was leading the DSL Twins in hitting and OBP at the age of 16!)

Round 9 – 34th Overall – Seth – OF – Oswaldo Arcia

(Had thought of taking him with my previous pick (or Wander Guillen, just to make Roger mad), but Arcia is another guy with five tools..)

Round 9 – 35th Overall – Josh – RHP – Shooter Hunt

(As I’ve said, I knew I needed to take a high-upside guy at some point and Hunt is just that. I originally wanted to take Oswaldo Arcia to fill out my outfield, but Seth took him with the pick before. Hunt may have the best ‘stuff’ out of any Twins farmhand and is thus a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, which is just what this staff needs. If he can regain any of sense of control, Hunt shouldn’t have a problem at becoming this staff’s ace.)

Round 9 – 36th Overall – Travis – RHP – Liam Hendriks

(I am very excited about the potential Liam has as he can be dominant.  He is very similar to Tom Stuifbergen except that I think Hendricks has the potential to be better.  I look for him to get better and better the farther we get away from his arm injury of a couple years ago.) (Seth Note – Hendriks missed the 2008 season, but it was not with an arm injury. He had some surgery on his spine.)

Round 10 – 37th Overall – Travis – 3BDeibinson Romero

(My interest in him is well documented as I used to always have him in my top 10’s and he has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.  I am curious how many chances the Twins are going to give to him because the potential is there to be very good.)

Round 10 – 38th Overall – Josh – SSJorge Polanco

(Something that is worth noting about this process is that I’m not necessarily sticking to my Top 50 Prospect list. With the 38th Overall pick, I chose someone who didn’t even make my original Top 50. But since I’m making my team and I have to look at different aspects, Jorge Polanco (and others) have been taken higher than where they’d rank on my Top 50 List, which is kind of interesting to note. I wanted to have a defensively-gifted shortstop and I thought Polanco would be gone by my next pick, so I wanted to strike early. I also considered to wait a round or two and take Estarlin De Los Santos, but I am taking the risk on Polanco. Besides being defensively-gifted at a premium position, I also like that he’s viewed as a #2 hitter and incase I can’t grab someone who can handle the bat later (such as Brian Dinkelman), I want someone to bat near the top that possess good on-base skills and reports suggest that he has that potential. With this pick, I also considered Matt Bashore, who would have filled out my rotation.)

Round 10 – 39th Overall – Seth – RHPRob Delaney

(He just has had such an amazing track record of success in his minor league career. He’s close to the big league club.)

Round 10 –40th Overall – Roger – RHPCesar Ciurcina

(I went back to the DSL with my tenth pick to close out my starting rotation with Cesar Ciurcina.  Although he is a bit older, Ciurcina had numbers similar last summer to those put up by Salcedo the previous year.  Is Ciurcina as good as Salcedo?  We will know more about him after this season when we see him in the GCL.)

Round 11 – 41st Overall – Roger – 2B/OF – Brian Dinkelman

(I went back to the infield and took a young man who has been one of the better hitters every step of his career, Brian Dinkelman.  Dinkelman’s best position appears to be second base.  Is he good enough defensively to earn a spot with the Twins in the next 16 months?)

Round 11 – 42nd Overall – Seth – LHP – Matt Bashore

(I really want to grab a SS (probably Beresford), but Bashore, if healthy, was a top pick, and he’s left-handed.)

Round 11 – 43rd Overall – Josh – RHP – Michael Tonkin

(Out of all of the rounds, this one has stung the most. Both Roger and Seth consecutively stole my picks (Brian Dinkelman and then Matt Bashore), but thankfully there were still high-upside pitchers (like Michael Tonkin) available.  Tonkin has projectable size and should add velocity as he matures. I really feel comfortable with my rotation after adding Tonkin. Hopefully I can get to the same point with my lineup, because I’m concerned about what’s left and what I still need.)

Round 11 – 44th Overall – Travis – OF – Evan Bigley

(The sky is the limit for Bigley who hit the cover off the ball in E-town and then again in Beloit.  That led to a promotion to Fort Myers where he struggled a bit.  I look for a big year this year from Evan as I look for him to dominate the FSL and will be in New Britain before the end of the year.)

Round 12 – 45th Overall – Travis – LHP – Joe Testa

(This is a guy that just splashed across the scene in 2009 and turned many heads.  He changed the feeling of many that he was just another relief pitcher and convinced many that this is a guy that is worth keeping track of myself included.  I look for his career to continue to skyrocket after his monster 2009 season.)

Round 12 – 46th Overall – Josh – 1B/DH – Erik Lis

(I am lacking a strong bat from the left side and I am at the point where I want to start focusing on the bullpen, so I wanted to make sure I had Erik Lis wrapped up. He’ll fit well in the middle-of-my-order and will play first base (depending on who I could possibly grab later). I also considered Loek Van Mil with this pick).

Round 12 – 47th Overall – Seth – SS – James Beresford

(It is time to address the middle infield. There are three solid SS prospects, and I would like two of them. I guess that means I would rank Beresford the highest of the three.)

Round 12 – 48th Overall – Roger – LF – Juan Portes

(I needed to fill in the balance of my outfield and was elated that spring training invitee Juan Portes was still available. A very raw prospect when drafted in 2004, Portes had a break out year last summer when he led the Rock Cats in hitting.  Does he have enough power to make it to the Twins as a corner outfielder appears to be the biggest question?)

Round 13 – 49th Overall – Roger – 1B – Brock Peterson

(I filled out my infield with the best story in the organization the last several years, former 49th round pick Brock Peterson.)

Round 13 – 50th Overall – Seth – SS – Estarlin de Los Santos

(I guess that means I would rank De Lo second. The third guy to consider was Brian Dozier, but de Los Santos was added to the 40 man roster, and when healthy, he is probably the most pure Twins SS prospect (other than apparently 16 year old Jorge Polanco.))

Round 13 – 51st Overall – Josh – RHP – Loek Van Mil

(I’ve never been very high on Loek Van Mil. Besides his height, he doesn’t really appeal to me. He walks a lot of guys and at 25-years-old he will likely be starting the year in Double-A. But…but… I do believe that his high 90’s fastball would be perfect as a setup man and hopefully I’ll be able to nab Kyle Waldrop in the next round. Plus, I think a Van Mil growth chart would be a good promotion.)

Round 13 – 52nd Overall – Travis – RHP – Matt Fox

(I was hoping that Matt Fox would fall to me because I am very high on him.  He has battled through injuries and setbacks to become an option for the Twins.  I look for him to keep going on that road and, by season’s end, possibly get a call-up by the twins.)

Round 14 – 53rd Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Hirschfeld

(He is another guy I was hoping to get as he is another overachiever that just knows how to get hitters out.  He was very good for Fort Myers last year and can either start or relieve which I look to help him going forward.)

Round 14 – 54th Overall – Josh – RHP – Kyle Waldrop

 (As I mentioned above, I wanted to get Kyle Waldrop to help solidify my bullpen. So when I saw that he was available, it was an easy choice. I also considered both Spencer Steedley and Andrei Lobanov with this pick but I’ll probably end up waiting a few rounds with them…)

Round 14 – 55th Overall – Seth – RHP – Edgar Ibarra

(Ibarra was a very good pitcher for the E-Twins the second half of their season. Still some very good players left. Considered Reggie Williams.)

Round 14 – 56th Overall – Roger – OF – Brandon Roberts

(Seth again picked the player I was looking at for my next pick when he selected Edgar Ibarra, although he took him as a starter and I was looking at him in long relief.  With Ibarra gone, I went back to the outfield and selected Brandon Roberts who will be my center fielder and leadoff hitter.)

Round 15 – 57th Overall – Roger – RHP – Ben Tootle

(I followed with the selection of a high ceiling, hard throwing short reliever, Ben Tootle. Assuming his arm problems of last summer are behind him, Tootle could be on a fast track towards Minnesota.)

Round 15 – 58th Overall – Seth – C – Chris Herrmann

(Herrmann is moving to catcher. There are lots of catchers in the Beloit picture. I need a catcher, but Reggie Williams can’t last until my next pick, can he?)

Round 15 – 59th Overall – Josh – RHP – Pedro Guerra

(With short relief already under wraps, I felt the need for a long reliever. Guerra has dominated the Dominican Summer League two years in a row and should be making his appearance in the States this season. It was a coin flip between Guerra and Danny Ortiz, but hopefully I’ll be able to get Ortiz in the next round.)

Round 15 – 60th Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Blevins

(One of my favorite people in the organization, and that has nothing to do with his stuff, as he is a genuinely nice guy.  On the field, he is a pretty good pitcher also, as he put up good numbers at Beloit.  I look forward to seeing what he can do going forward as he has the talent to be a future Twin if he keeps improving.)

Round 16 – 61st Overall – Travis –  SS – Brian Dozier

(He is one of those guys that I was not sure how good he could be and dealt with some injuries down the road.  With the promotion of Tyler Ladendorf, Dozier got to show what he could do and man did he deliver.  I am interested to see how fast he can move through the system as a college guy if he wants to play for the Twins he is going to have to skyrocket, but the talent is there to do it.)

Round 16 – 62nd Overall – Josh – OF – Danny Ortiz

(As I mentioned with Pedro Guerra, it was a coin flip between the two. Luckily, I got both. Danny Ortiz missed all of the 2009 season with injury but was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. At 5’11’’ and 166 lbs., he still has a lot of power and will fit in nicely with the rest of my lineup.)

Round 16 – 63rd Overall – Seth – CIF – Reggie Williams

(He lasted until my next pick!! Need a 1B and a CI, and Reggie Williams played a lot of 3B, but can also play MI and OF.)

Round 16 – 64th Overall – Roger – 1B – Whit Robbins

(I filled my reserve corner infield spot with the selection of Rochester/New Britain first baseman Whit Robbins.)

There is Part II. Check back tomorrow for the third and final part of the minor league draft, and more.. Feel free to leave your comments here.

14 Invited to Spring Training

8 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Each spring, all players from the 40 man roster are required to report to big league training camp. Teams are also able to invite players not on their 40 man roster to camp. This afternoon, the Twins announced that they have invited 14 players to Major League training camp, four pitchers and ten hitters. Here are my thoughts. Feel free to add yours.

The Pitchers

  • Jose Lugo – Lefty reliever throws 94 mph with a very good slider. Too many walks, but I think we will see him in 2009.
  • Mike Maroth – Lefty who throws about 64 mph with speeds that are even slower than that. 32 year old hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2007. He has zero chance of pitching with Twins, but wants just one more chance, and if he can contribute at Rochester, that would be great… and surprising.
  • Anthony Slama – No question here. Obviously he’ll start in the Rochester bullpen, but he could be ready soon.
  • Kyle Waldrop – Waldrop was the third first round pick of the Twins in 2004 out of his school in Tennessee. After missing all of 2008 with a shoulder injury, he came back in 2009 and pitched well in Ft. Myers and better in New Britain.

The Catchers

  • Jair Fernandez – Teams have a lot of pitchers in spring training. They need a bunch of catchers.
  • Danny Lehmann – Defense on par with Drew Butera. Offense on par with 2009 Mike Redmond.
  • Danny Rams – Tremendous power, when he makes contact. Struck out a ton at E-Town in 2008. Dominated E-Town in 2009. Moved up to Beloit. Struck out a ton. He’s got a long way to go, but huge power potential. And a strong arm.

The Infielders -

  • Chris Parmelee – Another solid year for Parmelee in terms of power and walks, but he also struck out a little less and hit for more average than previously. He showed good improvement.
  • Brock Peterson – played very little in Rochester’s first two months. Didn’t hit. Played nearly every day the rest of the way and was the Red Wings best hitter. He became 6-year minor league free agent, but the former 49th round pick signed back with the Twins.
  • Steve Singleton – After promotion to New Britain, he really hit well. Singleton plays a very solid 2B, but he also has good pop in his bat. A year from now, I think he’ll be the frontrunner for Twins 2B for 2011.

The Outfielders

  • Brian Dinkelman – Doubles hitting machine, it’s no surprise he’s on this list. It is surprising that in the Twins press release, he was listed, by the Twins, as an OF. He has played mainly 2B in his minor league career. Only after Singleton was promoted to New Britain did Dinkelman start playing primarily LF.
  • Juan Portes – A nice, surprising add, Portes had struggled in two seasons in Ft. Myers. 2009 was a big year for him. He moved up to New Britain and played very well, hitting .300 much of the season. He can also play 3B and 2B.
  • Ben Revere – 2007 top pick has made the Twins scouting group look great so far. If he hits .300 in 2010, he could be in the 2011 plans too!
  • Rene Tosoni – Twins high on this talented, left-handed hitting Canadian. He does pretty much everything well, except hit lefties. That said, he could be ready in a platoon role later in 2010.

My general thoughts – This list makes sense to me. I’m sure there are some guys that could also be added. I would be very surprised if even one of these 14 started the season with the Twins without some strange scenario happening. Guys like Jose Lugo, Anthony Slama, Brock Peterson and Rene Tosoni could see time with the Twins in 2010. The team has more ‘prospects’ on this list than normal. It gives the coaching staff three or four extra weeks to see guys that could compete for big league roster spots in 2011. In fact, a few of them could be September call-ups.

Any thoughts on any of the selections? If you have any questions or comments, please comment here.

Quick Update

26 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I am taking an extra day away from work this weekend. I have plans in the morning, but will be around in the afternoon. I will be hosting a Live Twins Chat at 1:00 central time. I will open up the chat room 15-20 minutes early and take any and all questions you may have. To sign up for an e-mail reminder, to ‘watch’ and participate in the live chat, or to view the transcript after the fact, please Click Here.

I certainly hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day. Since I spent all of Sunday and much of Monday up north at the lake, this is going to be a relatively quick blog posting. I did get home and hosted a SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I didn’t prepare any guests, but I am a rambler, so I was able to talk Twins for about 40 minutes straight. Hopefully you have a chance to listen to it, if so, please do. I would love to hear your feedback. Please note that the show will air again next Monday at 9:00 and I promise to have at least a couple of guests. For today, I will share with you some of my notes from the podcast last night:

  • Is there a better top five or top six hitters in any lineup in baseball than the Twins? If so, let me know. I can’t think of one.
  1. Denard Span is hitting about .300 and getting on base 38% of the time. Just can’t argue with that production from the top of the lineup.
  2. Joe Mauer batting second. After his pinch-hit home run on Monday, he is not batting .444, and he is getting on base over 53% of the time. He also has hit 11 home runs. On Saturday night, Mauer hit his 9th home run. John Meyer (the Twins MVB) read that Mauer hit nine home runs all of 2008, so he hit his 9th home run this year in 459 less at bats. On Sunday, he hit his 10th, and on Monday hit his 11th. He has played in just 23 games, and he has 31 RBI!
  3. Justin Morneau has moved up to the #3 spot. He is hitting .341 and getting on base 42% of the time. He has driven in 41 runs on the season, which is very good, but again puts Mauer’s numbers into greater perspective.
  4. Jason Kubel will hit fourth most of the time against righties. He is now hitting .340 and getting on base 38% of the time. He has five homers and 24 RBI, but typically when he is batting, Morneau and/or Mauer have already driven in runs. He doesn’t walk a lot, but with those guys on base ahead of him, teams don’t want to put on another runner.
  5. Michael Cuddyer is now hitting .286 and getting on base 37% of the time. He had eight home runs and 31 RBI. He’s on pace to put up some very impressive numbers.
  6. Joe Crede’s defense has been impressive, and he has shown the ability to hit the long ball. Essentially the Twins are getting from Crede exactly what they should have expect.
  • However, the bottom of the lineup hasn’t been good. Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young have been what they are. I made my point about the Twins getting a fair deal with Nick Punto in the offseason, but the one caveat to me liking that deal was that he would not revert back to 2007 Nick Punto. Well, he may be even worse than that.
  • It is interesting how the concerns of the bullpen go away when the Starter completes seven innings. Thursday, Nick Blackburn went 7 innings. Twins win. Friday, Kevin Slowey worked 7.1 innings. Twins win. On Saturday, Anthony Swarzak threw seven shutout innings in his big league debut. Twins win. On Sunday, Scott Baker pitches into the 9th inning, and the Twins win. Francisco Liriano gave up five runs on 11 hits in just four innings on Monday. But then R.A. Dickey came in and gave the Twins four innings and gave up just one run. Exactly what you would want from him in that role. Late inning situations go to Joe Nathan, Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier. The other guys fill in when needed. But again, the key to the Twins success in 2009 is the starting pitching.
  • Ubelman has a quick note for those of you who want to compare Matt Weiters to Joe Mauer.
  • Here is a request for help from a Twins fan out of state, looking for someone to help him acquire a couple of things at the Twins Autograph Party. If you are interested, send me an e-mail and I will put you in contact with this gentleman:
  1. Is there anyone here that is going to (or considering going to) the Twins Autograph Party on Saturday June 20?  I have an item that I would like to get autographed by Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew, and seeing that I live in Philadelphia I am looking for someone to do the leg-work for me.  I would consider flying in for the day, but since I am out of work at the moment, I won’t even try to explain that frivolous expenditure to my wife.

    My proposal would be to find someone who would be willing to commit to going to the event, and standing in the alumni line (2:30-4:00) to (try to) get the two signatures.  In exchange I would pay the fee for the autograph card, which you could use to get your own autographs during the Current Twins session (12:30-2:00).  I would also pay your driving expenses including parking, plus a reasonable “time and effort” fee, which we will negotiate in advance.  I will send the item to you via FedEx and include a prepaid return envelope, as well.

    So, if anyone is wanting to go but not sure due to cost, maybe we could help each other out. 

    Thanks in advance for any assistance that anyone can provide.

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Monday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Nathan Hanson, Beloit Snappers

Monday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Jay Rainville, New Britain Rockcats

OF NOTE –

ROCHESTER REPORT

Monday –Rochester 2, Durham 3 – Jason Jones was much better in this start. In six innings, he gave up just two runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out three. Juan Morillo got the loss. He gave up a run on two hits and two walks in two innings. Bobby Keppel pitched a scoreless inning. Jason Pridie had a good game against his former team. He went 2-3 with a walk and his seventh double. The Red Wings had just six hits. Trevor Plouffe added his sixth double.   

ROCKCAT RECAP

Monday – New Britain 4, Binghampton 5 Jay Rainville had his best start of the season. He threw six shutout innings and gave up just three hits. He walked three and struck out four.  Yohan Pino went one shutout inning despite giving up two hits and a walk. Frank Mata gave up two unearned runs in two innings. Zach Ward went 1.1 innings for the loss. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks. Whit Robbins led the way, again, by going 3-4. Rene Tosoni had two hits. Danny Valencia was 0-1 with three walks. Jeff Christy went 1-2 with two walks.

What a Lineup – I talked about the impressive top of the Twins lineup, but the Rockcats are pretty impressive too. Brandon Roberts is hitting around .300. Steve Tolleson has been on fire, raising his average from about .140 to .250 in no time. Brian Dinkelman went 3-3 with two walks on Sunday. He is hitting .343. Danny Valencia is hitting .339. Whit Robbins is hitting .326. Sixth hitter Erik Lis is right around .300. Juan Portes is hitting a little over .300. And remember that Wilson Ramos has been out of the lineup. This would be a fun team to watch.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Monday – Ft. Myers No Game Scheduled.

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Monday – Beloit 4, Wisconsin 7 Michael Allen fell to 0-6 in this game. In five innings, he gave up four runs (2 earned) on six hits. He walked five more. Nathan Hanson went 3-4 with a walk. Ozzie Lewis went 3-5. Jonathan Waltenbury and James Beresford each had two hits. Angel Morales was 1-3 with two walks.  

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

Saturday Night Lights

17 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Be sure to tune in live to tonight’s MNGameNight.com podcast. The Twins Geek will be hosting the show tonight. I will not be on the show as I am taking a couple of days away from blogging, unless of course, there is any breaking news. There will also not be a new SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast on Monday night. During Saturday afternoon’s Twins telecast on FSN, I hosted a Live Chat. There weren’t a ton of questions, which is fine, but you can read the transcript by clicking here.

By the way, I did go to see Angels & Demons on Saturday night. I don’t know if it was quite as good as The Da Vinci Code, but obviously Tom Hanks was excellent, and it was very good and interesting.

TWINS 4, YANKEES 6 (11 Innings)

For the second straight game, the Twins lost to the Yankees on the Bombers’ final at bat. Friday night is was Melky Cabrera with a well-place soft line drive. On Saturday afternoon, it was an A-Bomb, from A-Rod. Rodriguez hit it high and he hit one far, a two run homer off of Craig Breslow with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th inning. Here are some other notes:

  • Nick Blackburn was excellent. If not for Mark Teixeira, his day would have been wonderful. In 7.2 innings, Blackburn gave up four runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out four. Then remember that Teixeira went 4-4 against him with four RBI, three on a home run, and see just how good Blackburn was against everyone else.
  • Gardy decided to leave him out there for the 8th inning. It was absolutely the right decision. Gardy decided to let him pitch to Teixeira with a runner on third and two outs that inning. It probably was the right move. I mean, you could walk him and have him pitch to A-Rod. There just really isn’t a right answer in that situation.
  • Denard Span and Brendan Harris, the team’s top two hitters on the day, combined to go 0-11.
  • #3 hitter, Joe Mauer, had a hit and a walk. The hit was a long home run, his sixth of the year already. He has five home runs in his last seven games.
  • #4 hitter, Justin Morneau, went 2-3 with two walks. One of his hits was a home run, his 12th of the year. He has six home runs in his last eight games.
  • #5 hitter, Jason Kubel, went 2-5. He has now had four straight multi-hit games. He is 10-19 in his last five games to raise his average to .341 on the season.
  • Matt Guerrier finally got a day off on Friday, but he was right back in there on Saturday afternoon. So, he has now pitched in six out of seven games. He threw two hitless innings, walked one and struck out two.
  • Craig Breslow got the final out of the 10th inning, coaxing a pop up out of Johnny Damon. He was about the only option to pitch the 11th, and it was really an impossible situation for him. He walked Teixeira before serving up the game-winning homer to Alex Rodriguez.
  • Sunday, Kevin Slowey gets his opportunity against the Yankees on Sunday afternoon when he faces off against AJ Burnett.  

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Juan Portes, New Britain Rockcats

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Dan Berlind, Beloit Snappers

ROCHESTER REPORT

Saturday –Rochester 3, Durham 4 – Anthony Swarzak threw a lot of strikes in this game. 70 of his 106 pitches were strikes. Unfortunately, many of those strikes were hit well. Swarzak gave up four runs on 11 hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out four. Juan Morillo then struck out one in a perfect inning. David Winfree went 2-4 with his tenth double. Jason Pridie was 2-5 with his tenth stolen base.       

ROCKCAT RECAP

Saturday – Game 1 – New Britain 4, Portland 5 Cole Devries started this game and gave up five runs on ten hits (2 HR) and two walks. Jose Lugo then got the next four outs. Rob Delaney struck out two in a perfect relief inning. Juan Portes went 2-2 with a walk and his third stolen base. Steve Tolleson went 1-2 with a walk.  

Saturday – Game 2 – New Britain 4, Portland 1 Juan Portes had a second good game on this day. In this game, he was 2-2 with a walk. Rene Tosoni was also 2-2 with a walk. Zach Ward made the start for the Rockcats. He threw three no-hit innings. He walked two and struck out two. Frank Mata came in and gave up a run on two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. He struck out two. Anthony Slama recorded his sixth save with 2.1 no-hit innings. He walked two and struck out three.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Saturday –Ft. Myers 11, St. Lucie 9 (13 innings)Carlos Gutierrez started this game and gave up four runs in five innings. None of the runs were earned. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out three. David Bromberg entered in relief and gave up three runs (1 earned) on a hit and a walk in just 0.2 innings. Steve Hirschfeld gave up a run on two hits in 1.1 innings. Henry Arias came in and struck out three in two scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up a run to blow the save, but in all, he went three innings and gave up just the one run. Santos Arias struck one out in his inning. Danny Berg went 3-6. Danny Rams made his first start and it went quite well. He went 2-4 with a double and two RBI. Late in the game, Ben Revere pinch hit for him and stayed in the game. He went 2-2 with a walk. Evan Bigley went 2-5 with two walks and his first double. Steve Singleton was 2-5. Juan Richardson went 2-7, but his two run single in the 13th gave the Miracle the win.     

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Saturday – Beloit 5, Peoria 6 Angel Morales keeps giving glimpses that he is ready to bust out. In this game, the young outfielder went 2-3 with a walk and two doubles. Ozzie Lewis went 2-5. Dan Berlind made the start. In six innings, he gave up four hits and one walk while striking out six. Bruce Pugh gave up two runs on two hits and a walk and got just one out. Joe Testa came in and gave up two runs on a hit and a walk in 1.1 innings. He struck out two. Matt Williams allowed the losing runs to score in the 8th. He gave up two hits in 1.1 innings.   

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