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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

6 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net 

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

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve pointed out the organizational depth charts for the Twins hitters. We’ve looked at catchers, 3B, 1B, Middle Infielders and Outfielders. Today, I’ll take a look at the starting pitchers. Now, especially as I move to the lower levels, I won’t pretend to know which players will move to the bullpen. Often, due to innings limits, some ‘starters’ will begin the season in the bullpen. Others will begin the season as starters and get moved to the bullpen later due to innings. Frankly, most of the pitchers in the lowest levels have been starters their whole lives and some will be given at least some opportunity. As we saw with Carlos Gutierrez, even guys destined for the bullpen can be given an opportunity to start to work on pitches and gain arm strength.  

That’s OK, though, because the biggest purpose of this was to provide the organization’s depth. I need to reiterate that these are just my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Carl Pavano (RHP), Francisco Liriano (LHP), Scott Baker (RHP), Jason Marquis (RHP), Nick Blackburn (RHP)

Gardy has announced Pavano as his Opening Day starter, an obvious choice based on last season. He’s been solid in his 2 ½ seasons with the Twins, most important he has provided a ton of innings despite an alarmingly low strikeout rate. There’s no question that Francisco Liriano has the best stuff of anyone on the staff, but if he can’t find control of his fastball, it will be another frustrating season. It is a contract season for Liriano, so the goal has to be for him to have a strong season. In 2011, Scott Baker was easily the Twins top starting pitcher. He was pitching the best he had in his career, until elbow problems curtailed his season. Nick Blackburn averaged 200 innings pitched his first two seasons while posting solid ERAs. He’s been pretty bad ever since getting the long-term contract. Unfortunately, the contract has given him many opportunities and likely will continue to do so. He misses very few bats, so we can just hope that a lot of baseballs get hit right at a defender. Many Twins fans are down on the Jason Marquis signing, and although I’m not a bit fan of the contract, he has actually had a pretty solid big league career.

Rochester Red Wings

Liam Hendriks (RHP), Scott Diamond (LHP), Aaron Thompson (LHP), Jeff Manship (RHP), Deinys Suarez (RHP)

We saw Hendriks and Diamond late in the 2011 season. Hendriks was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year and likely needs another half-season. Diamond had his moments, but overall 2011 was the first year in his career that he really struggled. He says he has made some adjustments, so we’ll see how it goes. Manship came up with the Twins and his first major league victory came on the final weekend of the 2009 season, when the Twins needed to sweep the Royals. He was supposed to be in the Twins bullpen last season, but he was hurt the entire season. He likely will pitch in the Twins bullpen, but they may have him start in Rochester first. Aaron Thompson is intriguing, at least. He will turn 25 years old later this month. He debuted with the Pirates last season, but in 7.2 innings, he gave up 13 hits, walked six and struck out just one. He has just six AAA games under his belt, and his AA career numbers are 15-37 with a 5.03 ERA in 96 games (80 starts). Deinys Suarez signed with the Twins last spring. The Cuban defector split time between New Britain and Rochester, not pitching particularly well either place.

New Britain Rock Cats

David Bromberg (RHP), Logan Darnell (LHP), Tom Stuifbergen (RHP), Marty Popham (RHP), Dan Osterbrock (LHP), Bobby Lanigan (RHP)

Bromberg’s 2011 season was unfortunately a lost season. He began the season in Twins spring training, but he went back to New Britain, had a line drive break his arm, spent a lot of time rehabbing, came back too quickly, shut it down, worked hard and then found out the Twins had removed him from the 40 man roster. However, he will be just 24 years old throughout the 2012 season, so don’t forget about him. Logan Darnell was a 2010 draft pick who started last year in Beloit and got all the way to New Britain. Stuifbergen had a solid season in Ft. Myers, had a terrific one-start showing in Rochester, and then was the pitcher of the year in the World Cup tournament that his Netherlands team won. He was then knighted in his homeland. Sir Tom Stuifbergen should spent this season with the Rock Cats. Dan Osterbrock missed most of last season with shoulder problems which was unfortunate because he was coming off of a very good season in 2010. Bobby Lanigan was in the Rock Cats rotation all throughout the 2011 season. Some think his stuff (specifically his slider) will play very well out of the bullpen, and we may see some of that this year too. Marty Popham was selected by the Twins in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. He has pitched in Hi-A, AA and AAA each of the past two seasons. He should spend this season in AA.

Ft. Myers Miracle

BJ Hermsen (RHP), Pat Dean (LHP), Adrian Salcedo (RHP), Alex Wimmers (RHP), Manuel Soliman (RHP), Ryan O’Rourke (LHP), AJ Achter (RHP)

This is certainly an intriguing group of pitching prospects. If not for Liam Hendriks’ terrific 2011 season, my starting pitcher of the year choice would have been BJ Hermsen who pitched very well in Beloit and followed it up with a solid performance in Ft. Myers (minus a rough final start). Alex Wimmers had a rough 2011 season too in Ft. Myers, but it ended with the seven inning no hitter. Assuming he has his control issues under control, he could move quickly. Adrian Salcedo has long been a top ten Twins prospect, and he’ll move up to the Miracle. Manuel Soliman was the innings-eater for the Snappers last year despite only having pitched now for three years. He is an intriguing prospect, but for him to remain a starter, he will need to improve his secondary pitches. Pat Dean is definitely a solid prospect  but like so many others, he missed a lot of time with injury in 2011. His season started about six weeks late, but he still pitched for three teams (including a late-season spot start in New Britain). Ryan O’Rourke is a tough, competitive left-hander with a nasty slider. When I saw him pitch in Beloit last summer, my comment was that I didn’t think big league left-handed hitters could hit that slider. He was successful as a starter, but he could also become a very good relief pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses. The game I saw AJ Achter start last year, he was tremendous. He touches 90-91 with the fastball, but he has a terrific changeup and a curveball that had good bite.

Beloit Snappers

Tim Shibuya (RHP), Madison Boer (RHP), Matt Summers (LHP), Matt Bashore (LHP), Tim Atherton (RHP), Matt Tomshaw (LHP), Derek Christensen (RHP) 

Tim Shibuya was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year and threw seven innings of a no-hitter for the E-Twins. A smart pitcher with a full mix of pitches, he should adapt well to the Midwest League. Madison Boer and Matt Summers both began their pro careers in the E-Town bullpen. Each unsurprisingly dominated. Boer struggled upon his promotion to Beloit. It is likely the Twins will have each start. I believe Boer will move to the bullpen, but I think Summers can stick as a starter. Matt Bashore was a first-round pick in 2009 and has pitched very little since. However, reports indicate that in Instructs last fall, he was looking really good and throwing as high as 93 mph again. He could be one to watch in 2012. Matt Tomshaw was the Twins 43rd round pick just last year. Like many, he was given a shot with the Ft. Myers Miracle after a couple appearances with the GCL Twins. Like few, he was very successful for the Miracle. My guess, however, is that he will step back to Beloit and start. Derek Christensen had a terrific season as a starter with the E-Twins. The side-winder may eventually move to the bullpen but his combination of deception, fastball and slider make him a very intriguing prospect. Tim Atherton was with the Twins organization a few years ago as an infielder. The team let him go, but he came back in 2011 as a pitcher, and he pitched very well. He has all the pitches, but all will need to further develop.

Elizabethton Twins

Tyler Jones (RHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Brett Lee (LHP), Chris Mazza (RHP), Angel Mata (RHP), Hung-yi Chen (RHP)

There are plenty of pitchers from the 2011 draft and from last year’s GCL team that will not be heading to Beloit to start the season. Tyler Jones was the 11th round pick a year ago out of LSU. He’s got great upside, throws hard, good breaking pitches. Kimes is a four year college guy who should probably be up in Beloit due to age, but he got hurt last year shortly after signing. Brett Lee and Chris Mazza both signed very near the deadline and didn’t pitch in 2011. Angel Mata and Hung-yi Chen were the two most intriguing pitching prospects from last year’s GCL team. Both have good stuff and are young.

GCL Twins

Hudson Boyd (RHP), Trent Higginbotham (RHP), Kuo-hua Lo (RHP), Austin Malinowski (LHP)

Boyd and Higginbotham are two very high ceiling high school picks from last year. The Twins had to go over-slot to sign their second supplemental first round pick from Ft. Myers. He touched 96-97 at times last year. Higginbotham was a late-round pick but the Twins went way over slot to sign him as well. He touches 94-95, and some believe he can be a top of the rotation starter or a dominant closer. Time will tell for both of them. Lo signed last year from Taiwan, and he’s fairly advanced for his very young age. He also has hit 94 mph on a radar gun. He debuted in Instructional League last year, and will likely be with the GCL Twins in 2012. Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick out of Centennial High School (MN). He gave up a scholarship to Arizona to sign at the last minute with the Twins.   

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS 

1.)    Liam Hendriks, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) Alex Wimmers, 4.) Adrian Salcedo, 5.) Tom Stuifbergen, 6.) Manuel Soliman, 7.) Hudson Boyd, 8.) BJ Hermsen, 9.) Pat Dean, 10.) Matt Summers 

SUMMARY  

The Twins starting pitching was really bad last year. That was a combination of struggles, injury and poor defense. For the Twins to be successful, Carl Pavano needs to throw 220 innings with a league-average ERA and WHIP. Francisco Liriano will have to pull his regain control of his fastball and show a little bit of self-confidence. Scott Baker needs to pitch like he did the six weeks before he got hurt. All three need to stay healthy. I personally think Jason Marquis will be just fine. He’s not going to post a sub-3 or sub-4 ERA, but I think he can do what Pavano did in 2011. Blackburn needs to pitch like he did his first two seasons… or so badly that Liam Hendriks gets called up. Frankly, there’s not much else waiting in the wings, ready to contribute right away as a starter. Manship can be solid, but I think the team has moved him to the bullpen in their minds. Diamond will have had to improved quite a bit to say he’s ready (which is possible).

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare though. There are some solid pitching prospects throughout the minors. Kyle Gibson should be back in 2013 (if not late in 2012). Alex Wimmers could move very quickly as well. There are several pitchers that have the potential to be a decent #3 pitcher, if all goes well on the way up. The Twins have been successful with “Twins-like” pitchers. Guys like Hermsen, Salcedo, Stuifbergen and Shibuya fit that mold. The Twins have added some power arms in the last draft or two, especially in 2011’s draft with Boyd, Higginbotham, Jones, Boer, Summers, Corey Williams and others. It will be interesting to see how they develop. 

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

Analyzing the Twins Top 20 Prospects

20 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 is now available through LuLu.com. If you order quickly, you could have it in time for Twins Fest! 22 players that are scheduled to be at Twins Fest are profiled in this book. If you are interested in order, you can Order Here.

In my very-recently released Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, I unveiled my 2012 Twins Top 30 Prospects. I thought it would be fun to analyze the Top 20 prospects to see if any interesting notes, or even trends, emerge. I found a few, but maybe you’ll find even more. A reminder, these are my Top 20 Twins prospects. If you make a prospect list of your own, yours will likely look a little different, but most of the players will be the same with some variance.

Here is my Top Top Twins Prospect List:

Ranking Name How Acquired From (Country/State)
1 Miguel Sano Free Agent Dominican Republic
2 Eddie Rosario Drafted – 3rd Round 2010 Puerto Rico
3 Oswaldo Arcia Free Agent Venezuela
4 Aaron Hicks Drafted – 1st Round 2008 US – California
5 Joe Benson Drafted – 2nd Round 2006 US – Illinois
6 Liam Hendriks Free Agent Australia
7 Kyle Gibson Drafted – 1st Round 2009 US – Missouri
8 Adrian Salcedo Free Agent Dominican Republic
9 Alex Wimmers Drafted – 1st Round 2010 US – Ohio
10 Chris Parmelee Drafted – 1st Round 2006 US – California
11 Brian Dozier Drafted – 8th Round 2009 US – Mississippi
12 Travis Harrison Drafted – supp 1st Round 2011 US – California
13 Tom Stuifbergen Free Agent Netherlands
14 Angel Morales Drafted – 3rd Round 2007 Puerto Rico
15 Chris Herrmann Drafted – 6th Round 2009 US – Texas
16 Manuel Soliman Free Agent Dominican Republic
17 Levi Michael Drafted – 1st Round 2011 US – North Carolina
18 Max Kepler Free Agent Germany
19 Niko Goodrum Drafted – 2nd Round 2010 US – Georgia
20 Hudson Boyd Drafted – supp 1st Round 2011 US – Florida

 Some Notes:

  • Nine of my Top 20 Twins prospects were 1st or 2nd round draft picks. There are two 1st round picks and two supplemental 1st round picks since 2006 that are not on this list. 2007 top pick Ben Revere is no longer a “prospect” since he has spent so much time in the big leagues. Matt Bashore was the Twins supplemental first round pick in 2009 from Indiana. He’s had a couple of arm surgeries and returned to limited action in 2011. Reports indicate that by the end of last season, he had regained most of his velocity and he may have the opportunity to move up prospect lists quickly next season.
  • Following the 2007 season, Torii Hunter chose to sign with the Angels instead of the Twins. Because of that, the Twins received the Angels first round pick in 2008 and the first supplemental first round pick of that draft. With the 27th overall pick, the Twins chose Carlos Gutierrez who does not appear on my Top 20 prospect list, but he is a good relief pitching option who throws really hard with a good sinker but needs to throw more strikes. With the 31st overall pick, the Twins chose a hard-throwing right-hander out of Tulane University names Shooter Hunt who fought Steve Blass Disease since the 2008 season. This past December, he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
  • The Twins have a strong scouting presence all around the world, and that is shown in their top prospect list. Three players are from the Dominican Republic, and there is one player from Venezuela, Australia, the Netherlands and Germany. The Twins also have prospects from Cuba, South Africa, Mexico, Panama, Taiwan and the Czech Republic.
  • Of these top 20 prospects, 13 were drafted by the Twins. Of those, seven are high school hitters. The Twins have had great success drafting hitters out of high school (see Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere).Aside from Revere and Mauer, most of these players took five or six years to make their big league debuts and more importantly make a big impression in the big leagues. Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee are also examples of this. Drafted in 2006, they made their big league debuts in September of 2011. Each will likely start making a bigger impression on the Twins in 2012. That’s why I always find it funny when people are so disappointed that we haven’t seen Aaron Hicks dominate at the upper levels of the minor leagues yet. Or, although he was drafted a year earlier, Angel Morales is younger than Hicks. Niko Goodrum is one of the best athletes in the organization as well and played very well in Elizabethton last year. Travis Harrison was one of the top power hitting prospects from the high school ranks in the 2011 draft.
  • Although not drafted, Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Max Kepler were all signed as 16 year olds and certainly fit into the high-upside young hitter mold!!
  • The other thing that the Twins have done is draft college pitchers in the first rounds of the draft. Just two college-drafted pitchers appear on this list, and each of them has some question marks. Kyle Gibson was the team’s top prospect one year ago, and pitched very well the first two months of 2011. Unfortunately, as we all know, he had to have Tommy John surgery in September and will miss most, if not all, of the 2012 season. Alex Wimmers was the two-time Big 10 Pitcher of the Year at Ohio State. He was a control pitcher that draft experts said was closest to the big leagues. Unfortunately, he had a hamstring injury in spring training last year and it led to some very disturbing control issues. However, he seemed to be a rare example of someone overcoming Steve Blass Disease as he came back late in the season and pitched much better. He ended his season by throwing a 7-inning no-hitter for Ft. Myers. I would expect to see both make starts for the Twins in 2013.
  • The Twins did have three pitchers pitch at three levels in 2011. Reliever Matt Hauser (San Diego State) is my top ranked Twins reliever prospect (#28). Pat Dean (#30) was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2010 from Boston College. Lefty Logan Darnell (#25), the 6th round pick in 2010, was the third. All three pitched briefly with Beloit before spending most of their season in Ft. Myers. Darnell spent the most time in Double-A New Britain. The Twins have a history of being willing to promote college pitchers quickly through the minors. The following players have pitched at three levels in one season with the Twins: Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and Jesse Crain. Matt Garza actually pitched at four levels, including the Twins, in 2006.
  • The Twins hadn’t drafted a high school pitcher in the first round since 2004 when they drafted Kyle Waldrop with the 25th overall pick (Anthony Swarzak was taken in the 2nd round). The Twins used their second supplemental first round pick in 2011 on Hudson Boyd, who not only has shown good control, but he has touched 97 mph on the radar gun. He could move up quickly.
  • Here is a quick look at where these twenty players ended the season playing: Three Did Not Play (2011 draft picks), Four ended the season in Elizabethton, Two in Beloit, Four in Ft. Myers, Two in New Britain, two in Rochester and three with the Twins. You often hear that the Twins prospects are all at the lower levels of the farm system. However, Benson, Parmelee and Hendriks are all top ten prospects who made their big league debuts on September 6. Each figures into the Twins long-term future. Brian Dozier and Chris Herrmann were the high-risers among prospects and both will likely debut with the Twins in 2012 after strong seasons in New Britain and strong showings in the Arizona Fall League.
  • When Baseball America releases its Top 100 Prospects list, Miguel Sano will likely rank in the Top 25-30. It is possible that Rosario, Arcia, Benson and maybe even Gibson will appear in the Top 100 lists.
  • If you listen to Baseball America’s most recent podcast, they discussed their Top 10 rankings for AL Central teams. They clearly had the Royals as the best farm system in the division. They ranked the Twins with the second-best prospects in the division (and middle of the pack overall). They ranked the White Sox and Indians as having the two worst farm systems in all of baseball, with the Tigers very close to the bottom.  

Any other comments on these twenty prospects of the Twins farm system in general? I’ll be happy to answer them in the Comments.  

Here are some other thoughts and links:

 

  • On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins Caravan came to The Shed in Warroad. Ron Gardenhire, Joe Vavra, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins were in attendance, along with TC Bear. TwinsBaseball.com’s Rhett Bollinger was there as well. It was a nice event, and very informal. The Twins contingency seemed to really appreciate and enjoy it. It was great to be up close with the players, talk to them and, as a couple of people told me, see them as regular people. I think we (many fans) forget that at times. I have been to several Twins Caravan events over the past five years. I definitely recommend going if you’ve got one in your area. It’s just a great opportunity to meet players, get autographs if you want, and start getting excited for a new Twins season.
  • Speaking of great events, Twins Fest is next weekend. I just got my tickets in the mail yesterday. I plan to be there on Friday night and Satuurday throughout the day. I don’t get the autographs, but I enjoy talking to people, players and fans alike. SO, if you’ll be there, be sure to say hi!
  • Baseball America will be posting its Top 20 Twins Prospect list on its website today, so be sure to check there this afternoon.

I want to welcome any questions or comments that you might have. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

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.

Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month

2 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

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

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

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rough Night for the Twins

15 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

A lot of Twins fans a feeling a little big down these days. The team came into Thursday’s game against the Rays with a 4-7 record and having just lost a 10-5 decision with their ‘best’ pitcher. Twins fans are starting to realize just how important defense is when you don’t have any, and specifically you don’t have any range. That’s not the fault of the players. Their speed is what it is.

Twins fans are frustrated. Likely, the Twins are very frustrated.

And then came the lineup for Thursday’s game in Tampa against righty James Shields. A day after getting the day game after a night game off, Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for a second straight game. Was it just because Carl Pavano was on the mound and Drew Butera is his catcher? Was he hurt? Was he just being wimpy. Soon after, Gardy told reporters that he was “sore” and that was “all they needed to know.” For me, that made me think that he was fed up with Mauer. We have heard too many reports of Gardenhire’s frustration with Mauer’s subtle hints that he shouldn’t play. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was just sitting him again, benching him to some degree, because of that.

During the game, Drew Butera came through with an RBI single that gave the Twins a 2-0 lead. The Twins had 12 hits, and four of them were doubles, but again scored just two runs. Joe Nathan came in for the bottom of the 9th, to protect a two run lead. With one out, Felipe Lopez had a long at bat the ended with a double. Nathan then walked Ben Zobrist. On a 3-1 count, Joe Maddon sent the runners and Matt Joyce lined a ball to the gap which scored both runs and tied up the game. Nathan was able to get out of the 9th with the game tied. Nathan has been good. All closer’s blow saves, so that doesn’t worry me in the least. Plus, he held on so the Twins still had a chance in extra innings.

With two outs in the top of the 10th, Matt Tolbert singled and advanced to 2B on a passed ball. Danny Valencia came up big again with an RBI single to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.

Then Matt Capps came in to protect the one-run lead. He got the first out, but then Super Sam Fuld singled and Johnny Damon hit a walk-off home run to end the game. Again, Capps has been tremendous this season. So I’m not worried about him. But what are the odds that both of the Twins closers (who have both been good) would blow a save in the same game? The unfortunate thing, besides another loss and the record dropping to 4-8, was that Carl Pavano’s eight shutout innings were essentially wasted. Some may question the decision to take him out of the game. However, with 104 pitches, that’s just the way the game is played. And, had Nathan been able to close out the game, not one would even mention it.

But then following the game, the news came out that Joe Mauer was going to be put on the Disabled List with “bilateral leg weakness.” Whatever that is. From Livestrong.com:

Bilateral weakness in the leg muscles can be as mild as a generalized feeling of fatigue in your legs or as extreme as complete paralysis. Bilateral weakness indicates a problem in your central nervous system — in your brain, spinal cord or nerves. Many disease processes or trauma can cause bilateral weakness in your legs.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/352012-bilateral-weakness-in-the-leg-muscles/#ixzz1JaSO0PWw

Please go here to read a lot more about bilateral leg weakness, the symptoms, causes, treatments and more. Now I know that sometimes players get put on the DL and an injury is needed to be called out. Sometimes what it is called is not exactly what it is. Even if it is bilateral leg weakness, as you can see, there are many levels of severity. Hopefully some rest, rehab and restrengthening will be in line and it won’t be long before he is back.

So, the Twins called up 31-year-old, minor league veteran Steve Holm from Rochester. He will likely get plenty of playing time while Mauer is out. He has played in 53 games in 2008 and 2009 for the San Francisco Giants, the organization that drafted him in 2001. That summer, he got to catch a 17-year-old Francisco Liriano. He spent a couple of summers catching Matt Cain. He has caught Tim Lincecum in the minor leagues, and Sergio Romo and many other big league pitchers. He is a defense-first catcher, but he can put together a solid at bat at times too. Rene Rivera and Danny Lehmann were likely also considered. None of the three were on the Twins 40-man-roster, so Holm had to be added. The Twins are now at 39 on their 40 man roster.

So, two weeks into the season, things could not be going much worse for the Twins. The one thing they thought they could count on, the offense, is not hitting or scoring runs. Delmon Young has returned to swinging at everything. Several of the Twins key hitters got off to a very slow start. Tsuyoshi Nishioka fractured his fibula and is going to be about six to eight weeks which really highlighted the Twins lack of middle infield quality and depth. That is accentuated by Alexi Casilla being really bad both offensively and defensively. Luke Hughes has been called up and held his own, but now Michael Cuddyer is getting time at 2B against right-handed pitchers which allows the Twins to get Jason Kubel and Jim Thome into the lineup, but it also really weakens and already weak defense. The Twins best pitcher’s work ethic was (Again) called into question this spring and he has been awful in his first three starts. Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jose Mijares and (surprise surprise) Glen Perkins have been very good so far, but the back of the bullpen, where there were some concerns, have had some struggles.

And another concern in the offseason was what the backup plan was if (or when) Joe Mauer would go on the Disabled List. The answer, for me, was that if Joe Mauer gets hurt, it doesn’t matter who becomes the starter, it will be a big step down. At least the Twins do have very good defensive catchers that will work well with the pitching staff. They can bat 8th or 9th and any offense from them should be considered a bonus. Everyone knows that I was probably higher on Wilson Ramos than anyone, frequently discussing my plan for how he and Joe Mauer could split time between catcher and DH for years to come. However, he’s gone, he’s been gone since July, and Twins fans need to move on. Secondly, Matt Capps has been tremendous since coming to the Twins. (Doesn’t mean I think it was a good move long-term, but means that at least the Twins have had a great return in Capps) Others are upset that Jose Morales was traded in the offseason too. Again, he was out of options. He was not going to beat out Drew Butera. Getting anything out of him was what needed to be done. Obviously right now it would be nice to have Jose Morales around, but that doesn’t make the trade the wrong thing to do.

What more could go wrong at the start of this season? I hate to ask the question because, as we all know, things can always get worse. There are 150 games to go. It annoys me when people think that it can’t get better. But as I wrote yesterday, it seems that the more that the Twins have going against them, the more they come through, and the better they play. The Twins have played without Mauer before and done alright. The Twins played last year without Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan and won 94 games. I’m not intimating that the Twins are better off losing its star players, but what I am saying is don’t jump off the bandwagon now. Now is when they need the support, not the complaining.

Thursday Night’s Twins Minor League Weekly Podcast– Travis had a previous commitment. I was a little worried about how I would fill 30 minutes, but somehow, someway, I found plenty to talk about and could have gone longer. I discussed how the teams are doing and who is off to a fast start, but I also mentioned the names of some guys who are really struggling through the season’s first week. I also went much more in-depth with the injury discussion and the catching carousel.

Catching Carousel: Joe Mauer to the Disabled List, Steve Holm promoted to the Twins, Danny Lehmann promoted to Rochester, Dan Rohlfing promoted to New Britain.

MINOR LEAGUE UPDATES

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayRene Tosoni, Rochester Red Wings.

Seth Speaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayLogan Darnell, Beloit Snappers

Red Wings Ramblings

Thursday – Game 1 – Red Wings 3, Lehigh Valley 1 – Eric Hacker started the first game and was excellent. The threw six shutout innings, giving up just two hits. He walked none and struck out five. Phil Dumatrait came in for the 7th, but a hit and two walks later, the bases were loaded with a 1-0 lead. Jim Hoey came in. He struck out the first batter he faced, but he hit the second to allow the game-tying run. He struckout the next batter. In the bottom of the 7th, Rene Tosoni hit a two-run, walk-off home run to end the game. The Red Wings managed just four hits. Ben Revere had a double. Dustin Martin hit his first home run of the year to give the Red Wings their 1-0 lead earlier in the game.

Thursday – Game 2 – Red Wings 3, Lehigh Valley 5 (8 innings) – Kyle Gibson got the nod in the second game. He gave up two runs on five hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out three. Carlos Gutierrez pitched a scoreless inning. Chuck James then threw a scoreless 7th inning. He started the 8th inning and gave up one run. He left with two runners on base. Kyle Waldrop came in and gave up a hit that scored both runners, but he got the final two outs. Matt Brown was 2-3. Dustin Martin hit his second home run of the day, and of the season. Rene Tosoni tied the game up at three with a two-run double.  

Injury Notes – Trevor Plouffe suffered some whiplash and a slight concussion on Wednesday. He did not play on Thursday. Ben Revere bruised his knee on a stolen base attempt in the second game. Anthony Slama  was activated from the Disabled List. Ryan Mullins was also activated from the DL, but he was optioned to Ft. Myers.

Rock Cats Report

Thursday – Rock Cats 6, Portland 2 – The Rock Cats finally got to play their home opener. Bobby Lanigan went the first six innings. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He walks two and struck out four. Cole DeVries did a great job out of the ‘pen again. He threw three innings of one-hit ball to record the three inning save. Joe Benson hit his third and fourth doubles in four at bats. Ray Chang launched his first home run. Chris Parmelee hit his fourth double.

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Miracle 7, Bradenton 8 – The Miracle found themselves down 7-0 after two innings, and 8-2 after three innings. They made a big comeback, but it came up just short. It was a rough start for Tom Stuifbergen, to say the least. He gave up eight runs (7 earned) on nine hits and a walk in three innings. Ryan Mullins came in and threw three shutout innings. Blake Martin then threw two scoreless innings.  Jhonathan Goncalves went 3-5. Nate Hanson was 2-4 with a double. Steve Liddle went 2-5 with a double. James Beresford was 2-4 with a walk.

Injury Notes – Paul Kelly will again miss some significant time. He had a blood clot in his right shoulder. As I wrote the other day, He left the game earlier this week because his right arm was numb. He has already had surgery to remove the clots, but they still don’t know how long he’ll be out. Miguel Munoz appears to be headed toward Tommy John surgery. I was told that the ligament did not tear, but it actually came off of the bone (which just sounds painful, doesn’t it?). And Tom Stuifbergen had a rough start last night, but more worrisome, he left the game with shoulder pain. It will be evaluated, but hopefully it is nothing serious.

Snappers Bites

Thursday – Snappers 0, Clinton 2 (13 innings) – A day after getting just one hit in a 1-0 win over Clinton, it was another pitcher’s duel between the two teams. This one had no scoring until Clinton batted in the 13th inning. Logan Darnell started and went eight shutout innings. He allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out six. Blayne Weller gave up two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings, but did not allow a run. He struck out four. Clinton Dempster went 2.1 scoreless innings, but he gave up two runs in the top of the 13th before Matt Hauser got the final two outs.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

Roster Projection: Beloit Snappers

31 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

  • Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.
  • Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.
  • Step 3: Configure the 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 4: Configure the 2011 Double-A New Britain Rock Cats 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 5: Configure the 2011 Hi-A Ft. Myers Miracle 25-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 6: Configure the 2011 Low-A Beloit Snappers 25-man roster – In progress.

As I am hearing it, more roster moves and decisions are happening this morning. I know that there have been two more players released, and people are continuing to find out where they will be going. There are a few injuries that are mounting up, and likely will affect opening day rosters too.   

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins High-A affiliate, the Ft. Myers Miracle. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Tobias Strech (40 man – No) – Kyle Knudson (40 man – No) – C/DH Josmil Pinto (40 man – No) 

Streich may not be able to hit at all, but his defense is there with Butera and Lehmann in the eyes of many in the organization. Pinto isn’t much of a catcher, but he’ll get some time there and also DH in his return to Beloit. Former Gopher and 2010 draft pick Knudson could get some playing time here as well.

Infielders: 1B – Michael Gonzales (40 man – No), 2B – Derek McCallum (40 man – No), 3B – Reggie Williams (40 man – No), SS – Daniel Santana (40 man – No), Utility – Andy Leer (40 man – No),

Gonzales has a ton of power, but he needs to quicken his swing to have a chance to advance. When he makes contact, it goes a long way. McCallum missed most of the 2010 season, so this is a second opportunity for a first full season. Reggie Williams split time with Anderson Hidalgo last year and should get more time this year. Santana split time between Elizabethton and Beloit. He struggled with the Snappers, but he should show improvement this year. Very solid bat with surprising pop. Good defense. Andy Leer was drafted a year ago out of the University of Mary in Bismarck and he played well at Elizabethton. He will get some playing time.

Outfielders: LF – Lance Ray (40 man – No), CF – Oswaldo Arcia (40 man – No), RF – Danny Ortiz (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Wang-Wei Lin (40 man – No), DL – Nate Roberts (40 man – No)

After saying that I was surprised to hear that Lance Ray would start the season in Ft. Myers, I found out that he was indeed going to go back to Beloit. Oswaldo Arcia has had a sore elbow throughout the spring and has continued to crush baseballs all over the field. Danny Ortiz was my choice for breakout minor leaguer of the year for 2011, and he’ll be doing so with the Snappers. Wang-Wei Lin likely returns to the Snappers and will play around the outfield. Nate Roberts can flat-out hit. The 2010 draft pick will start with the Snappers although he has had some knee issues this spring.

Starting Pitchers: RHP BJ Hermsen (40 man – No), RHP Adrian Salcedo (40 man – No), RHP Manuel Soliman (40 man – No), LHP Logan Darnell (40 man – No), LHP Andrei Lobanov (40 man – No), DL – LHP Pat Dean (40 man – No)

Hermsen is set to be the Snappers’ opening night starter, and he is looking to build on a solid 2010 season in which he pitched for the Snappers for four or five weeks before the Elizabethton season started. Adrian Salcedo’s pre-E-town stint was with the Ft. Myers Miracle, so going to Beloit will be a good thing for him this year. Manuel Soliman will start the season in the Snappers rotation after a terrific 2010 season in Elizabethton where the converted 3B threw one no-hitter and took another into the 7th inning. 2010 pick Logan Darnell will start for the Snappers. Andrei Lobanov, who has put up amazing numbers in the bullpen the last two years, will get an opportunity to start, at least for awhile, as Pat Dean, who is still experiencing some shoulder soreness.

Bullpen: LHP Jose Gonzalez (40 man – No), LHP Martire Garcia (40 man – No), RHP Michael Tonkin (40 man – No), RHP Blayne Weller (40 man – No), LHP Justin Parker (40 man – No), RHP Pedro Guerra (40 man – No), LHP Clinton Dempster (40 man – No), RHP Matt Hauser (40 man – No)

Gonzalez and Garcia are complete opposites physically, but both are very good left-handed pitchers. Pedro Guerra, Michael Tonkin and Blayne Weller may be starters again down the line but should do well out of the bullpen as well. 2010 picks Dempster and Hauser are bullpen guys that should get the job done as well. Sam Spangler and Justin Parker could each pitch with the Snappers, and possibly return to Elizabethton to start at that time.   

Overall: This should be a very solid team. They have a some really impressive young bats to complement a few guys who should be better in their second year in the Midwest League. There are some really good starting pitchers in the opening day rotation, with the likes of Garcia, Tonkin, Weller and Guerra also capable of starting. Those in the Twin Cities should definitely consider making a trip or three down to Beloit to see the Snappers!

As you can see, there are a lot of names that I have not included on the Beloit roster. Those players will most likely stay in Extended Spring Training and be ready if needed in the Midwest League. Names like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler. Guys like Niko Goodrum and Rory Rhodes. Dean will be rehabbing there with the likes of Dallas Gallant, Brad Tippett, Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle. Opening Day rosters are fun to project, but there will, as always, be a ton of transactions, and we’ll be following them here.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.

——————————————————–

  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST TONIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin tonight at 10:00. Travis Aune and I will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. We will talk about what’s going on with each Twins affiliate, how the teams are doing, who is hot, who is not, transactions, and much more.

Minnesota Twins Top Prospects (Part 1: 26-50)

13 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Interview – Did an interview for Bullpen Banter regarding the 2010 Twins and many Twins minor leaguers. Check it out here.

Before we jump into Part 1 of a two-part prospect ranking, I need to point out a terrific article in today’s Ft. Myers News-Press. Remember last week when Bert Blyleven got into the Hall of Fame? (You’re Twins fans… you remember!) He, and many others, gave a lot of credit to BaseballAnalysts.com’s Rich Lederer for pushing Blyleven’s case. It should have been an easy case for baseball’s writers, but obviously it took 14 attempts to get it right. Lederer and Blyleven had spoken several times on the phone in the past with Blyleven frequently crediting Lederer for his help and efforts. On Tuesday night, the two met and embraced. The Twins surprised Blyleven by inviting Lederer to their fantasy camp. Lederer’s answer to their request was easy. Blyleven’s response to Lederer being there was priceless. Just a great story by the News-Press’s David Dorsey; a must read.

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

As you know, I have been working on the 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook for months. After of research and writing, a conclusion is finally in sight. In the next week, I will provide more information on the book, and how you can order or pre-order.

One thing that the book includes is my Top 30 prospects and a reminder of my previous Top 30s, going back to 2005. The book will include top 10 lists from many of your favorite bloggers.

I did something a little bit different in compiling my Top 50 list. I took the entire list of Twins minor league prospects from the GCL through Rochester, and in an Excel spreadsheet, I put each name in the first column and each name in the first row. Then I went through and compared every prospect to every other prospect, picking which of the two I thought was the better prospect. My ‘vote’ on each was based on a ton of research, stats, scouting reports and more. I considered which of the two players I would trade if a team said that I could pick which prospect to send in a potential deal. I compared Aaron Hicks to Kyle Gibson and Miguel Sano, and also against Matt Schuld and Matt Trau. I compared Manuel Soliman to Dan Osterbrock, Joe Benson and Dallas Gallant. After doing that for every player (which took WAY too long), I added up the total number of times I selected each player. The player that I chose above all players obviously ended up with the most points at the end of the day. The one with the second most votes would be the #2 prospect. And so on. Of course, there were ties, sometimes three-way ties, which I broke by my head-to-head results, so to speak. The results were interesting, at least in the middle of the list, but really throughout. Today I will post my choices for Twins Prospects #26 through 50 with a brief description. As you would expect, there was a tie at 50, so in fact, here are prospects 26-51. As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

#50 (Tie) – Kyle Waldrop – RHP – Rochester

The Rochester relief pitcher has a terrific 2010 season and will head to spring training with the Twins again in 2011. Throws strikes and gets ground balls.

#50 (Tie) – Dan Osterbrock – LHP – Ft. Myers

Based on the season he had in 2010, he should be way up this list. A no-hitter in Beloit and sub-3 ERAs in Beloit and Ft. Myers. The soft-tossing strike thrower is intriguing. It will be interesting to see how he does when he gets to New Britain

#49 – Rory Rhodes – 3B – GCL Twins

                The 6-7 infielder from Australia had a solid season in the GCL. I have mentioned him as a 2011 breakout candidate.

#48 – Cesar Ciurcina – RHP – GCL Twins

                The righty came to the States and held his own in 2010 after putting up very good numbers in the Dominican in 2009. A long way to go, but plenty of potential.

#47 – Daniel Santana – SS – Beloit

                Split time between E-Town and Beloit. Little guy who struggled some in Beloit, but played well in E-Town, including showing some decent power numbers.

#46 – Evan Bigley – OF – New Britain

                The outfielder struggled to start the season back in Ft. Myers, but heated up in June. Played very well following a promotion to New Britain.

#45 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit

                Lone Snappers hitter to hit over .300 in 2010. Has good doubles power already. Missed some time with injury again.

#44 – Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit

                Twins 8th round pick in 2010 out of Kentucky, he quickly moved up from Elizabethton and played very well in Beloit. Good power.

#43 – Brian Dozier – SS – Ft. Myers

                Just one of those solid, solid players. Hit about .280 at both Beloit and Ft. Myers. Good defense. OK speed. No power. Surprise non-roster invitee to big league camp.

#42 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit

                Experienced ups and downs throughout the season, but the lefty has four good pitches, just needs to be more consistent with them.

#41 – Dakota Watts – RHP – New Britain

                2009 pick pitched at three levels in 2010. Some control issues, but the guy throws consistently in the upper 90s and hit 99 in Ft. Myers.

#40 – Logan Darnell – LHP – Elizabethton

                Twins 6th round pick from Kentucky (yes, he teamed with Lance Ray and non-drafted free agent Gunner Glad there), the lefty had a nice debut with the E-Twins. Three good pitches.

#39 – Kane Holbrooks – RHP – New Britain

                Began the season by dominating in the Beloit bullpen, then made a couple of starts before being promoted to Ft. Myers where he pitched even better. Ended season with a start in AA.

#38 – Nate Roberts – OF – Elizabethton

                Twins 5th round pick in 2010 from High Point University put up some of the best numbers of an Elizabethton Twins player over the last quarter-century.

#37 – Chris Herrmann – OF – Ft. Myers

                The 2009 pick skipped Beloit and held his own (including an All Star appearance) with the bat. Tremendous defensive LF but will also catch, including in big league training camp.

#36 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit

                It was surprising when he was the first starting pitcher promoted from Extended Spring Training, but he pitched well in Beloit before going back to Elizabethton.

#35 – Luke Hughes – IF/OF/DH/PH – Minnesota

                Homered in first big league at bat. OK at Rochester, but again was injured and didn’t play after June 6. Two surgeries (knee and groin). Potential big league super utility bat and pinch hitter.

#34 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit

                Returned to the Snappers in 2010. Tremendous power. Improving catcher. If he can learn to hit a breaking ball, he could fly up this list. Time will tell.

(NOTE  – I just realized that I neglected to include Anthony Slama in my analysis/rankings. I will put the right-handed reliever with the tremendous K-Rate who should be in the Twins bullpen throughout 2011 right here at #33.5)

#33 – James Beresford – SS – Beloit

                Also returned to Beloit for second straight year, and was the team’s MVP for the second straight year. Amazing defensive middle infielder who just needs to get bigger to be a real big time prospect.

#32 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain

                He’s been a top 10 guy for me in previous years. He was OK last year in New Britain before his season-ending shoulder surgery. Just a solid all-around player. If healthy, he will move up quickly.

#31 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit

                Hard-throwing right-hander did a nice job as a starter early in the Snappers season. Tired late, and did alright in the Snappers bullpen. Has great stuff.

#30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit

                Another guy who will move up this list if he is healthy in 2010. He was top pitcher in Beloit after Hendriks and Osterbrock promoted, when healthy. Good stuff, and a very smart pitcher.

#29 – Martire Garcia – LHP – Elizabethton

                Garcia struggled in E-Town in 2009 after strong ’08 in GCL. Returned to E-Town in ’10 and started 6-0 before promotion to Beloit. Throws hard, good movement. Young.

#28 – Scott Diamond – LHP – Gwinnett

                Pitched well in Braves organization since signing as undrafted free agent after 2008 college season. He’ll give up some hits, but he gets a lot of ground balls. Twins Rule 5 pick has legitimate shot to make Twins roster.

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain

                After bad April, Singleton played well for Rock Cats the rest of the season. Led organization with 43 doubles (2 behind Doug Mientkiewicz’s New Britain record). 54 extra base hits. Just 57 strikeouts. Not sure why the Twins don’t seem to like him more.

#26 – Niko Goodrum – IF/OF – GCL

                Don’t worry about the numbers that he put up in the GCL. Goodrum is as good of an athlete as Hicks, Torii Hunter, Joe Benson, any other great athlete in the Twins system. He’s just very raw and has a long way to go, but the sky is the limit.

So there you have it, my choices for Twins Prospects 26-50. What do you think? Any surprises? Remember that the top 25 prospects are yet to come. If I’m able, I will separate them, maybe posting 11-15 later tonight and my top ten around noon on Friday. Check back when you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

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