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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

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

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

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

Minnesotan Twins (in the Minors)

12 Jul

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Joe Mauer has made many All-Star appearances to go with his batting titles, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers and MVP award. Glen Perkins has become one of the best relief pitchers in baseball in 2011. Both were Twins first-round draft picks from their home town state. There have been many other Minnesotans who have played for the Twins, like Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield. Kent Hrbek is a Twins Hall of Famer from Bloomington. St. Paul native Jack Morris provided one of the greatest World Series pitching performances in history for the Twins. Pat Neshek mesmerized hitters out of the bullpen for a couple of years.

However, the Twins have been able to draft and sign several players from Minnesota. Right now, there are ten players from Minnesota in the farm system. Here is a quick look at each of them:

Andy Baldwin

Baldwin is a Duluth, MN, native. He went to Oregon State and then became a 5th round pick of the Phillies in 2004. He quickly worked up the minor leagues and was then traded to the Seattle Mariners. He pitched for AAA Tacoma the past three years. This offseason, the Twins signed him to help their AAA Rochester roster. Now 28 years old, he is 4-7 with a 5.57 ERA for the Red Wings. In 86 innings, he has walked 22 and struck out 71.

Cole DeVries

DeVries is from Eden Prairie and pitched for the University of Minnesota. The Twins signed him in August of 2006 as a non-drafted free agent after he pitched well in the Cape Cod League. He pitched very well as a starter in the lower levels of the minor leagues, but last year he really struggled at AA and AAA. This year, he moved to the bullpen and began the season by dominating AA batters. In 15 appearances, he was 0-0 with nine saves and a 2.28 ERA. In 27.2 innings, he walked just five and struckout 33. He moved up to AAA Rochester where he started out well. At their All-Star break, he is now 3-2 with a 5.00 ERA although 12 of his 14 runs allowed him come in just four appearances. He has done well in late innings and middle relief and even made a spot start recently. 

Mark Dolenc

The Twins used their 15th round pick in 2006 on a very talented outfielder from Minnesota State-Mankato. He had graduated from Eagan high school. Now 26, Dolenc is in his second season with the AA New Britain Rock Cats. He is hitting .280/.331/.345 with eight doubles, three triples and a home run. He also has 13 stolen bases.

Nate Hanson

Hanson went to Eden Prairie High School and then the University of Minnesota. Following the 2008 college season, the Twins drafted him with their 28th round pick. In 2010 in Ft. Myers, he showed some power for the Miracle with 18 doubles and 11 home runs. He returned to the Miracle to start this season and hit .267/.327/.383 with 12 doubles and four home runs in 52 games before being promoted to AA New Britain. With the Rock Cats, he is hitting .245/.306/.372 with six doubles and two home runs in 26 games.  

Matt Schuld

Schuld, a Plymouth native, had a very impressive collegiate career for the Tommies of St. Thomas. When he went undrafted, the Twins quickly signed him. After 11 appearances in the GCL, he made six relief appearances in Ft. Myers. He began this season at Extended Spring Training but quickly was called up to the Miracle where he has been a very solid starter. He went 4-1 with a 3.99 ERA in 70 innings over 11 starts and four bullpen appearances. This weekend, he was promoted to AA New Britain where he went four innings in a start on Monday night. It may be a short-term promotion, but he has certainly been impressive in his year with the Twins organization! And, he is still just 22 years old.

Derek McCallum

The Twins liked the Shoreview native so much, they drafted him twice. They selected him in the 50th round of the 2006 draft, but he instead went to play for the Gophers. Following a tremendous junior season in 2009, the 2B was taken by the Twins in the 4th round. He signed quickly and began his minor league career in Elizabethton. 2010 was a frustrating season for McCallum who was limited to just 47 games in Beloit due to two sepate injuries. He returned to the Snappers for the 2011 season where he hit .200/.278/.264 in his 39 games. he was promoted to Ft. Myers and hit .191/.295/.191 in 22 games (68 at bats). This weekend, the 23-year-old was returned to Beloit.

Roy Larson

Larson was another key component in those talented St. Thomas teams. The 22 year old Burnsville native signed in September and began his pro career this spring. At 6-5, Larson is currently playing 1B and 3B for Elizabethton. He has hit .250/.295/.350 in his first 40 at bats. He’s got four doubles.

AJ Pettersen

The Minnetonka native, Pettersen, who played on that Excelsior American Legion team in the World Series a few years ago, spent four years under the tutelage of John Anderson at the University of Minnesota. Following a very solid college career, he was drafted by the Twins in the 25th round of this year’s June draft. He signed quickly and was sent to Elizabethton. He played in three games and went 2-9 with three walks. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch in the face in that third game and required some nose surgery. He is currently getting healthy and will soon head back to Florida to start getting ready to play again.

Madison Boer

The Twins drafted Boer from the University of Oregon with their 2nd round pick in this year’s draft. The 21 year old pitched for Eden Prairie High School before heading west to play for the Ducks. The hard-throwing right-hander has begun his career in Elizabethton where he is pitching at the end of games right now… and dominating. He is currently 2-1 with four saves and a 2.45 ERA in his seven appearances. In 7.1 innings, he has walked none and struck out 14.  He could advance quickly in 2012!

John Krogstad

J. R. Krogstad was born in Crookston and grew up in Erskine. He did not play baseball in high school in South Dakota because it wasn’t offered. Instead, he got heavily involved in paleantology. But friends encouraged him to go to the American Baseball Institute in Florday. He did, and recently he went to Ft. Myers for a tryout with the Twins who kept him around. He has pitched in two games (2.2 scoreless innings) for the GCL Twins. (Check out this article in the Crookston Times, the town where he still has family and friends.)  

The Twins drafted another former Gophers pitcher TJ Oakes in the 41st round of the 2011 draft. In the 16th round, they drafted the 2011 Mr. Baseball Austin Malinowski, a pitcher from Centennial High School. Add 2010 25th round pick, North Dakota native Andy Leer, who is playing in Beloit this year, and the Twins do a nice job of keeping several local ball players in their system. I think that is a good thing.

—————————

Here are some more TwinsCentric links:

  • Twins Minor League Weekly last night  discussed the first-half for the Twins minor league affiliates and who stood out so far this season.
  • I will be traveling to Beloit this weekend to watch the Snappers games on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Check out www.SnappersBaseball.com and if you’re going to be going to Beloit (5 1/2 hours from the Twin Cities!) this weekend, call them and mention SethSpeaks.net and Seth will be donating $5 to the charity of the Snappers’ choice. The Snappers will have fireworks on both Friday and Saturday nights, and they will have Canvas Pictures as giveaways on Sunday. Be sure to consider the all-you-can-eat special as well.
  • Do you remember the story of the Perham (MN) high school basketball team. One of their best players, Zach Gabbard, collapsed on the court with a heart attack. Several surgeries later, Gabbard is much-improved. The Yellowjackets story was incredible, led by National high school coach of the year (named by Max Preps) Dave Cresap led the team to the Class AA State championship. Assistant coach Brent Hanson, who himself has twice collapsed while playing/coaching basketball, put together a documentary/movie of the 2011 Perham Yellowjackets called For Three. Check out the trailer here. The movie will premiere at the Comet Theatre in Perham on Thursday night and show again on Sunday. You can also order a DVD now through the website www.ForThreeMovie.com.

Please feel free to leave your comments on anything discussed today or any other Twins topics.

Twins Top Ten Prospect Review

14 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we start, a final reminder. It is the last day to enter the below contest:

World Series Contest

I am going to be holding some contests here and on Twitter and Facebook over the next week or two thanks to A&E who has now come out with “A&E Minnesota Twins Vintage World Series Films DVD.”  It includes both the 1987 and 1991 teams! The ’87 team beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. The ’91 World Series was the first that had two worst-to-first teams as the Twins and the Atlanta Braves played one of the greatest seven-game series ever, including Jack Morris’s amazing Game 7. So be sure to look here and other places for some contests for a free copy.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at my pre-season Top 30 Twins prospect list and see how they are doing through just over two months of the season. Some have impressed. Some have disappointed. And, seemingly to keep up with the big league club, there have been a bunch of injuries. This list was compiled and presented in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook -2011, after looking at a ton of stats and reading a bunch of scouting reports. It is a great example of how, with prospects, you just never know. Let’s get started:

  1. Kyle Gibson – RHP – Last night, Gibson gave up two runs in six innings, but fell to 3-6. However, he has a 3.79 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. In 71.1 innings, he has given up 71 hits, 17 walks and struck out 74. Many fans want the 23 year old to be pitching in the big leagues today. Honestly, I believe that if the Twins really needed a starting pitcher today, he could come up and fill in adequately. It’s exciting to see him striking out more than a batter per inning while still exhibiting tremendous control. He will likely be with the Twins this year, maybe even around the All Star break.
  2. Miguel Sano – 3B – Sano has been in Ft. Myers working out with the Extended Spring Training. He will likely soon be reporting to Elizabethton. After hitting .291/.338/.446 with the GCL Twins. Sano recently turned 18 years old. He is listed at 6-3 and 195 pounds, but he is bigger than that. He has huge legs and a hand shake that I have to assume rivals that of Adrian Peterson. Again, I know a lot of people want this Dominican Bonus Baby to be playing at a higher level, but there is no rush. Last year in the GCL, he struck out 43 times in 148 at bats with just 10 walks. This guy’s ceiling is up there with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, but let’s have some patience and let that power develop.
  3. Aaron Hicks – OF –  To look at Aaron Hicks’ .268 batting average this season in Ft. Myers only tells a small part of the story. Since May 1st, he is hitting .305 with 11 doubles and two homers. His season on base percentage is an impressive .375. Aaron Hicks has amazing tools. He has made some great catches in centerfield for the Ft. Myers Miracle this season, and has several assists due to a very strong and accurate arm. While he continues to walk, his strikeout rate has dropped some as well. To understand fully how much talent and athleticism he has requires actually seeing him practice and play. He is going to be a very good big leaguer. Keep the faith, and keep the patience.
  4. Joe Benson – OF – Benson got off to a very fast start this year in New Britain and then struggled from late April until mid-May. At that time, Benson went on a run that saw him hit .484/.556/.774 between May 24 and June 2. And then Twins doctors found something in his knee, so he had it scoped and will likely miss three weeks of action. Benson is ready defensively. He is a very good outfielder with great range and a big arm. In terms of speed, only Ben Revere is probably faster than him in the organization. Although he is not on pace to match his 27 home runs from 2010, his slugging percentage is better. Strikeouts continue to be what he needs to watch. After striking out every third plate appearance a year ago, he is striking out in one of four plate appearances so far this year.
  5. Alex Wimmers – RHP – After signing with the Twins last year in August, the two-time Big 10 Pitcher of the Year went 2-0 with a 0-57 ERA in 15.2 innings for the Miracle. He gave up just six hits, walked five and struck out 23. He returned to the Miracle to start this season, and it took him just five batters to walk as many as he walked last year, and a sixth batter to surpass it. And he hasn’t pitched for the Miracle since. The team immediately sent him to Extended Spring Training where he continues to work. He entered spring training with a hamstring injury. My hope is that the leg injury affected his mechanics and that he can get it back. That was two months ago, and he still isn’t back. So, hopefully he can get it back soon.
  6. Liam Hendriks – RHP – I wrote last week that Hendriks is now in the discussion, for me, of top Twins prospects. Still just 22 years old and with only 12 starts last year in Ft. Myers, the Twins decided that Hendriks was ready for Double-A. He has responded so far by going 6-2 with a 2.63 ERA. In 65 innings, he has allowed 58 hits, walked 14 and struck out 61. The Australian has thrown a Quality Start in eight of his last nine starts. In his last three outings, he has given up just two runs in 20 innings. He is a very smart pitcher, very competitive and I think has a chance to be very good.
  7. Angel Morales – OF – The Twins drafted Morales in the 3rd round in the 2007 draft out of high school in Puerto Rico, and he is still just 21 years old. Last year between Beloit and Ft. Myers, he hit .280/.362/.405 with 24 doubles, ten triples and five home runs. He also stole 29 bases. He is a very good outfielder with a strong arm. However, it is his arm that has caused him to miss all of the 2011 season. He fought elbow pain in spring, and they shut him down and had him rehab. He had a setback two weeks ago, and there was thought that he would need Tommy John surgery. When he got to the surgery, it was determined that they would just clean his elbow with arthroscopic surgery. This is obviously great news. I talked to GCL Twins coach and former big leaguer Milt Cuyler this spring training. We were watching Morales stand in the batter’s box against some bullpen pitching. He raved about Morales’s balance and approach. No one in the organization questions his power. Hopefully he can rehab and play some winter league ball in preparation for spring training.
  8. Ben Revere – OF – Twins fans have definitely already seen the best of Ben Revere. He can be a catalyst at the top of the lineup. He can hit a ton of singles and steal second at will. His range in centerfield is tremendous and he has shown the glove to play all three outfield spots. In 81 big league at bats, he his hit .272 and has just a .306 batting average with a .284 slugging percentage. In 132 at bats in AAA Rochester, he hit .303/.338/.364 with five extra base hits. We’ve also seen proof of the arm that we’ve heard so much about. We have seen the value and the excitement that the speed of Ben Revere brings to the table. We have also seen signs of why I may not have been crazy to have him as the Twins 8th prospect (many thought it was too low).
  9. Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Seeing Adrian Salcedo throw in the  bullpen, it is easy to see why scouts would be excited about his potential. He is long (6-4) and lean (175… if that). He has long arms and tremendous delivery. He is a terrific athlete as well, having seen him basically sprint the mile run. Still just 20 years old, Salcedo has been the Snappers most consistent start this season. Overall, he is 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA. In 72.2 innings, he has given up 68 hits, walked 18 and struck out 51. He has work to do, to be sure, but he is a very exciting prospect.
  10. Oswaldo Arcia – OF – You always have to be a little cautious of the numbers that hitters put up when they play at Elizabethton. In 2010, Arcia was the Appalachian League Player of the Year after he hit .375/.424/.672 with 21 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs for the E-Twins. He moved up to Beloit this spring and put on an offensive display in April. He hit .352/.420/.704 with eight doubles and five home runs in just 71 at bats. However, he went on the Disabled List on May 1 with a sore elbow. A week later, he had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow and is expected to miss two months. To watch him take batting practice in spring training was impressive. Everything he hit was solid. Line drives and home runs to all parts of the field. Of course, every time he came out of the cage, he would grab his left elbow. Arcia is compactly built and very strong. Hopefully he can get back to the Snappers and continue to mash.

To see my choices for 11-50, check out SethSpeaks.net, and for much, much more on these prospects and over 100 more Twins prospects, pick up a copy of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011.

Here are a couple more minor league notes:

  • LHP Pat Dean, the team’s 3rd round pick a year ago out of Boston College, missed the first six weeks of the season. He was named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week last week. On June 6, he threw six shutout innings. Then on June 11, he left the game with two outs in the 7th inning, having not yet allowed a hit in the game. He had issued two walks and struck out nine. So, for that week, he went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. In 12.2 innings, he gave up six hits, walked three and struck out 18. Not too shabby.
  • There are several Minnesotan in the Twins minor leagues including 25thround pick last week, AJ Petterson, the former Gopher SS. Here are the others:
    • Derek McCallum hit just .196/.276/.262 in 107 at bats in Beloit, but he was recently promoted to Ft. Myers. There, he has hit .241 in 29 at bats.
    • Nate Hanson was hitting .267/.327/.383 with 12 doubles and four home runs in Ft. Myers. Last week, he was promoted to AA New Britain where he has just one hit in 10 at bats. The hit was a double.
    • Matt Schuld is from Plymouth and pitched at St. Thomas. He is now 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA in 59.1 innings for the Ft. Myers Miracle.
    • Schuld’s former college teammate, 3B Roy Larson, is working in Extended Spring Training this season and will most likely report to Elizabethton.
    • Mark Dolenc went to Minnesota State- Mankato. He is in his second year at Double-A new Britain. He is hitting .257/.313/.337 with seven doubles, two triples and a home run in 175 at bats. He also has nine stolen bases.
    • Cole DeVries had a rough 2010 season between New Britain and Rochester. He began this season in New Britain where he went 0-0 with nine saves and a 2.28 ERA. In 27.2 innings, he gave up just 17 hits, walked five and struck out 33. He was promoted to Rochester where he has continued to pitch well. In six games (9.1 innings), he has give up just eight hits, walked four and struck out 12.
    • Andy Baldwin is 28 years old and spent the last three seasons with Tacoma, the Mariners’ AAA affiliate. The Duluth native has made ten starts for the Rochester Red Wings and is 3-5 with a 4.97 ERA. In 58 innings, he has 13 walks and 44 strikeouts.
  • The Twins signed 27 year old Cuban defector Dennis Suarez. He made an appearance in an Extended Spring Training game. Now he is starting for the New Britain Rock Cats. In his two starts, he has gone 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA. In his most recent start, he took the loss despite allowing just one run in seven innings. It will be interesting to see how he responds to Double-A and if he gets pushed forward.
  • A year ago, 2B Steve Singleton led the Twins organization with 43 doubles, all in New Britain. He began this season with the Rock Cats again and has had two stints with the Rochester Red Wings. He has 17 AA doubles, and now has seven more AAA doubles meaning he is currently on pace to eclipse 50 doubles this year.
  • Brian Dozier was my choice for Twins minor league hitter of the month of May. He was remarkably consistent through the first two months and in early June was finally summoned to play in Double-A New Britain. He went 3-8 in his first three games with the Rock Cats. Unfortunately in that third game, he was also hit in the face with a pitch. He had a fractured sinus bone. After seeing a specialist, it was determined that surgery was not needed. The doctor said that he could play as soon as the swelling goes down. He hopes within the next week.
  • Tom Stuifbergen first made a name for himself when he threw four shutout innings for Team Netherlands in the WBC a couple years ago. He is currently 2-4 with a 3.74 ERA in nine starts with the Ft. Myers Miracle. However, after coming back slowly from some shoulder discomfort, Stuifbergen has been terrific. In his past four starts, he has given up two runs in 24.2 innings. He is now consistently hitting 92 and 93 mph with his fastball, touching 94-95 at times. He has a four-pitch mix, but his changeup is tremendous.
  • Be sure to check out last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly for much more on the Twins minor league system.  

Any other thoughts or questions on the Twins minor leaguers? Feel free to comment here.

Roster Projections: New Britain Rock Cats

30 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.

The fun of projecting minor league rosters after major league rosters is that we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t always understand the big picture. For instance, I projected that Chris Province would be in the Triple-A bullpen. Yesterday, I found out that he, in his words on Twitter this morning, “voluntarily retired.” The Twins made 12 cuts over the past couple of days, and as I review the names of all of the players still in Twins minor league camp, it is difficult to place all of them. We don’t know injury situations. I was unaware the Bruce Pugh was set back a few days by back soreness. That will likely keep him back in Ft. Myers and in the bullpen for at least a little while. Some of the decisions on these minor league veterans brought in has kept several minor leaguers down a level. In some cases, that’s good. In other cases, it is a little surprising. For instance, I understand that Tony Davis will be heading back to Ft. Myers to start the season.

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins Double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Danny Lehmann (40 man – No) – Jair Fernandez (40 man – No) 

Lehmann was impressive this spring. He has been named the Twins minor league catcher of the year the past two years. Defensively, he is ready to be a backup catcher for the Twins. Offensively, he’s probably a notch above Drew Butera. Fernandez, like Waldrop and Portes, could have been a six-year minor league free agent after last season. He chose to stay with the Twins. He is a big guy with a little pop in his bat. Not a great catcher at all though despite a strong arm.

Infielders: 1B – Chris Parmelee (40 man – Yes), 2B – Steve Singleton (40 man – No), 3B – Nick Romero/Deibinson Romero (40 man – No/No), SS – Estarlin de Los Santos (40 man – No), Utility – Chris Cates (40 man – No), IF/OF/DH – Yangervis Solarte - (40 man – No)

Chris Parmelee is going to be my choice for preseason Twins minor league hitter of the year. Hopefully he will be able to stick with the Rock Cats all season, as I believe that would be best for his development. Steve Singleton should be in Rochester. I know, I’m shy about expressing that, aren’t I? He should get some time at both 3B and SS as well. Estarlin de Los Santos should get a couple of months here to regain his prospect status or else Brian Dozier will be here and get the playing time. 3B is where I’m not certain. So, I can see a scenario in which Nick Romero and one-time prospect Deibinson Romero split time, or even platoon. Solarte can play anywhere on the field, kind of like Luke Hughes. He has hit when healthy and was up with the Rock Cats last year before getting hurt. The utility infield spot will be interesting. Chris Cates is the incumbent, but could Ray Chang or Matt Brown be sent to AA? Neither can play SS well, so I’m leaning toward Cates.

Outfielders: LF – Evan Bigley (40 man – No), CF – Joe Benson (40 man – Yes), RF – Rene Tosoni (40 man – Yes), 4th outfielder – Mark Dolenc (40 man – No).

At this time last year, Rene Tosoni thought he was packing to go to Rochester, but then the Twins signed Jason Repko right before Opening Day and Tosoni went back to New Britain. His shoulder was bad, and he was DHing until a midseason shoulder surgery ended his season. But he was still added to the 40 man roster, and he could move up quickly if he swing returns. Joe Benson was last year’s Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year. The sky is the limit for Benson. The only thing is his contact rate will need to improve for him to advance where we all hope he will. Again, I think the best thing for his development would be to stay in New Britain for the entire season, get comfortable, make adjustments and see what kind of numbers he can put up in a full season. Evan Bigley is an underappreciated prospect. He’s got some power, and he can hit for average. He can play solid defense. When he moved up to New Britain last year, he played better than he had with the Miracle early in the season. I mention Dolenc as the 4th outfielder, and that’s where he is always put. However, every year, he gets a lot of at bats, and he performs better than expected. He is fast and plays very good defense at all three positions.

Starting Pitchers: RHP David Bromberg (40 man – Yes), RHP Deolis Guerra (40 man – Yes), RHP Bobby Lanigan (40 man – No), Liam Hendriks (40 man – No), Dan Osterbrock (40 man – No)

I was very much surprised to learn that David Bromberg would start this season in Double-A after he made nine starts in Rochester last year. That said, I think that it can be a good thing for him to spend a couple of months. He’s seen Triple-A. He’s now been to big league spring training and likely learned a lot. It will be great for him to implement some of the things he’s learned at Double-A, perfect them and get back to Rochester. Deolis Guerra pitched well in New Britain last year before being promoted to Rochester, and from that point on he was never able to find it again. Guerra is the best example of why bringing in some minor league veterans at the upper levels can be good. Guerra should not have been rushed, but the team was forced to. Bobby Lanigan’s fastball/slider combination is tough. I think long-term he can be a terrific reliever, but might as well keep him starting as long as he keeps putting up the numbers and stays healthy. I would be surprised if both Hendriks and Osterbrock start the season with the Rock Cats, but both pitched so well at Ft. Myers last year that they could be ready for this next challenge. Pitchers often say that they experience their first struggles at AA. Osterbrock experienced some struggles with Beloit in 2009, but figured things out last year. Hendriks is a tremendous prospect, very driven and competitive, and worth watching closely.

Bullpen: RHP Carlos Gutierrez (40 man – No), RHP Brett Jacobson (40 man – No), RHP Steve Hirschfeld (40 man – No), LHP Tyler Robertson (40 man – No), RHP Dakota Watts (40 man – No), RHP Santos Arias (40 man – No), LHP Spencer Steedley (40 man – No), LHP Jake Stevens (40 man – No), LHP Paul Bargas (40 man – Yes)

I think that Gutierrez is ready for Triple-A. Some could argue he’s ready for the big leagues. But this is the first time he has gone into a season as a reliever, and I think it would be good to start him back with New Britain for a month or two, let him close and pitch in more tough situations and get comfortable. It also gives some of those AAA guys a couple of months to prove what they have. There is no rush with Gutierrez. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the season, and they aren’t going to want to use an option, so patience is a good thing. Jacobson was the second piece that came over from the Orioles in the Hardy trade. He has an interesting delivery, but he does throw hard and has a good curveball. Hirschfeld is definitely an option to start. He was terrific in 2009 but missed more of 2010 with injury. Robertson struggled as a starter with the Rock Cats last year, and when he went to the Arizona Fall League, it was announced that he would be moved to the bullpen. I think he has the makeup and the stuff to be successful in the role. Dakota Watts started the 2010 season (his first full season) with Beloit and ended in New Britain, and in the middle, he was touching 98 and 99 on the radar gun in Ft. Myers. Arias really struggled with the Rock Cats last year, but he should be given another shot. Steedley had a terrific April for the Rock Cats last year, but by the end of May, he had his elbow worked on. He could start this season on the Disabled List, but if he can come back, he is a good LOOGY possibility down the road. Jake Stevens is also left-handed. He was out of baseball last year, but the Twins gave the Naples, FL, native a chance to make the team. Paul Bargas was acquired by the Twins in the trade of Jose Morales. He’s got decent numbers in his minor league career, especially against left-handers. Bargas also has meningitis, and on one of the first days of minor league camp, he collapsed on the field and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He has not yet returned to the team, but he should at some point.

Overall: This is where some really exciting Twins prospects will be. A couple of these guys would be ready to play at Rochester, but in terms of development, I think that Parmelee, Benson, Bromberg, Tosoni and Gutierrez may be best served by spending more time in AA. The first four were only added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and Gutierrez isn’t even on the 40 man yet, so time is on their side. This should be a solid team. Don’t be surprised if the likes of Ray Chang and Matt Brown end up here as well, which would make them a more veteran team. This should be a fun team to watch and several of them could be called up to the Twins at some point this season, if needed.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. In fact, most of the roster spots have been determined and players are finding out. I have been quite surprised by some of the reports I have heard, but without knowing background, injuries, etc., it’s hard to determine from afar what some of the reasoning might be. Either way, it will be fun to find out and more importantly, to get this season started!

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

——————————————————–

  • Cody Christie, the North Dakota Twins Fan, joined me on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast last night. Lots more Twins topics covered such as the Jim Thome/Jason Kubel playing time question, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps, food options at Target Field, and many, many more topics.
  • If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin on Thursday night at 10:00. Travis Aune and Seth 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.

Five Minute Notes

24 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

If you are able, I will be on the radio with Paul Allen this morning at 9:20 on KFAN (am 1130 in the Twin Cities, affiliates around the state/region) or listen live in on KFAN.com. Or, be sure to listen to the podcast (Fan on Demand) an hour later.

Time is of the essence today, so here are some quick thoughts on the Twins game last night and highlights from the affiliates:

  • The Twins lost to the Brewers. The decision to go with a lefty-laden lineup worked well for Ron Gardenhire. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each had two hits while Jason Kubel had two hits off of a lefty. Of course, pinch hitting Jim Thome against a lefty in the top of the 6th really hurt.
  • Also, Danny Valencia needs to be playing 3B on this team… not Michael Cuddyer. I’m as big of a Michael Cuddyer fan as there is, but he is not a 3B. I get that it is nice to have that ability and get his bat in there along with Young and Kubel, but he’s not a 3B. There were two plays last night that most 3B make that he didn’t come close to, and those plays led to three Brewers runs. Oh yeah, the Brewers won, by three. This isn’t at all a knock on Cuddyer. He’ll do anything he’s asked to for the time, and I admire that. I can’t even really blame Gardy for playing him there since in his two games at 3B in Philadelphia, he only had one play to make. You can’t hide a guy at 3B for very long. I think this is a great cautionary tale for all of the Twins fans who seem to think that Joe Mauer can easily move to 3B. Seriously, it’s not that easy.
  • Glen Perkins got crushed again last night in Rochester. He gave up six runs on eight hits and four walks in just 3.2 innings. Fortunately Tim Lahey threw 3.1 hitless innings in relief. Then Pat Neshek came in and gave up five runs on six hits and got just one out. Of the 23 pitches he threw, 18 were strikes. Kyle Waldrop came in and gave up a hit but got the final two outs. Rob Delaney struck out the side in the 9th. The Red Wings lost 11-2 and had just six hits including four doubles (Trevor Plouffe, D’Angelo Jimenez, Jose Morales, Jacque Jones).
  • New Britain beat Binghamton 10-2. Chris Parmelee was 3-4 with a walk. Mark Dolenc went 3-5 with his seventh double and four RBI. Erik Lis was 3-5. Jair Fernandez went 2-3. Joe Benson was 2-5 with a walk and his seventh double. Carlos Gutierrez started and gave up one run on six hits and a walk in six innings. Chris Province gave up a run on three hits in two innings, and Cole DeVries threw a perfect inning.
  • Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach 9-6. Brian Dozier went 4-6. Estarlin de Los Santos went 3-5 with a walk. Evan Bigley went 3-5 and drove in three runs. Nate Hanson went 2-4 with a walk. Angel Morales went 2-4 with his first FSL double. Santos Arias gave up three runs on six hits in four innings. Andrey Lobanov gave up one run on three hits in 2.2 innings. Billy Bullock notched his 13th save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning.
  • Beloit did not play. They are still on their all-star break and start playing games again tonight. Tom Stuifbergen told me that he expects to be back on the mound around the 4th of July.
  • Elizabethton lost to Bristol 8-4. Blayne Weller got knocked around a bit. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on nine hits in four innings. Sam Spangler gave up one run on two hits in two innings. David Gutierrez debuted and struck out two in a perfect innings. Kyle Necke gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in an inning. Oswaldo Arcia hit his first triple and his second home run (in 2 games). Brandon Henderson went 2-2 with a walk and his second stolen base.
  • The GCL Rays topped the GCL Twins 7-4. Eddie Rosario went 3-4 with his first homer and his first stolen base. Candid Pimental went 3-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Nick Lockwood hit two doubles in five at bats. Kennys Vargas went 2-3 with a walk and his second double. Clay Condrey started for the team and pitched the first inning. He gave up two hits and a walk in an inning but no runs. Ricardo Arevalo went the next 4.1 innings and gave up four runs (3 earned) on four hits. He didn’t walk any hitters and struck out four. Bart Carter struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings. Brett Carroll gave up three runs on five hits in an inning. Matt Trau struck out two in a scoreless inning.

Any thoughts of 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.

Sweep Complete! Bring on the Yankees!

15 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

  • The Twins completed a three game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a dramatic come-from-behind 6-5 win on Thursday afternoon. Through five innings, both Scott Baker and Justin Verlander were throwing shutouts and cruising. However, in the sixth inning, Baker gave up five runs. Down 5-0, the Twins were able to work Verlander over 120 pitches and he left the game after a walk and a single in the bottom of the 7th. At that point, the Twins bats came alive. Then with the Twins down 5-4 with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Joe Crede blooped a two-run single to centerfield that gave the Twins a 6-5 lead. The bullpen got the job done the rest of the way to hold the lead. Jason Kubel went 3-4 with two doubles. Denard Span went 2-4. Craig Breslow went 1.2 innings of shutout relief, and Matt Guerrier got the final out of the 8th inning. Joe Nathan struck out two in a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save.
  • How good was Justin Verlander on this day. 6+ innings pitched. 13 strikeouts. According to Denard Span, “”I knew he was nasty today when I saw Joe Mauer offering at pitches he normally doesn’t swing at. That’s how you know someone is going good.””
  • Speaking of Joe Crede playing hero. He came to the plate with the bases loaded and the scored tied at ten on Wednesday night. On a 1-2 pitch, he hit a grand slam to help the Twins win that game in the 13th inning. If we go back to an old statistic that has not been used over the last several years, in the series, Joe Crede would have had all three Game-Winning RBI. He was 4-15 in the series. Jason Kubel raised his batting average from .308 to .333 by going 6-10 in the three games. Kubel came in to pinch hit with a runner on, down by two, in the bottom of the 8th, against Joel Zumaya, and on the first pitch hit a home run to tie the game. Joe Mauer went 4-11 with four walks and a home run in the series as well.
  • Next up for the Twins? A four game series in New York against the Yankees. The Twins will face Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins to the mound against Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte
  • If you had May 14th on the Gardy’s First Ejection pool, congratulations!
  • Delmon Young will be away from the team for a little while with Jose Morales being called up to take his place. Young has been placed on the Family Medical Emergency list as a family member of his is very ill, according to LaVelle E. Neal. Jim Mandelaro discusses the Morales promotion, and says that it is Delmon Young’s mother that is very ill. Obviously we wish Young and his family the best.
  • In the same article, Mandelaro also commented that Mike Radcliff, Twins Director of Player Personnel, was in Rochester to watch Sean Henn and Bobby Keppel.
  • Ed Thoma of the Mankato Free Press find the selection of Jose Morales as intriguing, particularly with the Twins going to New York. You see, the Yankees top two catchers are Jorge Posada and Jose Molina. Both of them are injured. So, is it possible that the Twins are trying to showcase Morales? Thoma admits that is a stretch. In reality, Morales becomes a DH option with Jason Kubel likely to see more time in LF in the short-term.  
  • Matt Guerrier has been very good much of this season. Nick Nelson points out that the team’s (meaning the other bullpen arms) need to protect his arm so that he doesn’t tire in the second half of the season.
  • According to Phil Mackey, Jason Kubel thinks he can be a .300 hitter. The Twins could really use that!
  • Travis Talks presents his Top 5 Most Disappointing Players in the Twins organization so far this year. That was after posting his Top 5 Biggest Surprises the other day.
  • On Wednesday, Justin Murphy posted his Upstate Update, a look at the Rochester Red Wings play of late. He e-mailed me something that is certainly worth mentioning, “David Winfree’s batting line, with an OBP under .300 and slugging (almost) .500. I poked around a little bit and found that, on the major league level, only two players EVER have done that over a full season- Dave Kingman in 1976, Mike Jacobs in 2008.”
  • Phil Miller tells us what kind of music bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek is not a fan of!
  • At Over the Baggy, Parker analyzes the Twins starting five, looking at their run support and games scores and more.            

 MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Thursday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Mark Dolenc, Ft. Myers Miracle

Thursday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Robertson, Ft. Myers Miracle 

ROCHESTER REPORT

Thursday –Rochester 5, Indianapolis 4 – David Winfree has made a career out of coming up with big hits in big situations. Late in this game, Winfree came up with two on and two outs, and drilled a long, three run homer to give the Red Wings the lead. It was his fifth homer of the season. Luke Hughes went 2-3 with a walk and his sixth home run. Justin Huber was 3-4 with his second triple. Jason Jones started and gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks in just 4.1 innings. Bobby Keppel then worked 2.2 scoreless innings in relief. Sean Henn recorded his fifth save. He struck out four in two innings and allowed only an unearned run.    

ROCKCAT RECAP

Thursday – New Britain, Portland – This game was suspended by rain in the top of the 4th inning. Portland was leading the Rockcats 8-1 already. Jay Rainville started and gave up seven runs (6 earned) on five hits and two walks in just 2.2 innings.    

MIRACLE MEMOS

Thursday –Ft. Myers 19, Sarasota 4Mark Dolenc led the potent offensive attack in this game by going 5-6 with three doubles. Evan Bigley is still unfazed by the Florida State League. He went 4-5 with a walk. Ben Revere was 3-5 with a double. Danny Berg was 3-6 with a double. Deibinson Romero went 2-4 with two walks. Jair Fernandez and Chris Cates each had a single and a double. Cates drove in three runs. Tyler Robertson was the beneficiary of the offensive support. The lefty gave up just two runs on five hits in 5.2 innings. He walked two and struck out three. Alex Burnett got the next four outs, three of them on strikeouts. Santos Arias then gave up two runs on four hits in the final two innings. 

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Thursday – Beloit 6, Clinton 7 (13 innings) Danny Rondon had pitched two scoreless innings before coming back out for the 13th inning. It was in that inning that he gave up the winning run. Brad Tippett started and gave up three runs (2 earned) on eight hits and no walks. Henry Reyes gave up two runs (1 earned) on two hits and a walk in two innings. Steve Blevins struck out five in three innings of one run ball. The Snappers managed just five hits in this game. They did walk seven times. James Beresford was 2-6. Jonathan Waltenbury and Angel Morales each hit their three-run homer.

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

True of False? Over or Under?

8 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Yesterday, I asked people to send me some True or False statements that I would try to answer today. I also asked for you to consider sending me some Over/Under types of questions, and I would answer them too. It is fun to do this because it allows me to provide content that you actually want to read, that you are participating in. One of the most difficult things in blogging is coming up with topics to write about. By answering your questions, the topics you are most interested in, I am able to do that. The other part is that we can always look back on today’s article in a month, or at the end of the season, and see how I did. So don’t hold me too accountable!

 

With that, let’s get to your questions:

 

  1. From Topper – T/F: Punto plays out the next couple years of his new contract as the primary 2B instead of SS.
    1. Seth – False. As long as he makes most of the plays and shows up on web gems and hits over about .200, Gardy will continue to play him as the team’s primary SS. There are other options for 2B.

 

  1. From Topper – T/F: Dan Osterbrock falls off the map after this year
    1. Seth – False – He got off to a horrific start this season, but see below. He had a very strong start today. I think he will turn it around this year. I think he’ll pitch well enough to advance to Ft. Myers in 2010. It is pretty clear though that without the impeccable control he showed in 2008, his lack of velocity will become a detriment.

 

  1. From Topper – Over/Under: Joe Mauer’s next contract: $70 million
    1. Seth – I think it will be Over because I think it will be for five seasons and around $89 million. If it were a four year deal, I think it would be very close to the $70 million range, with a slight possibility of it being even a little lower. But I think he will make some serious money.

 

  1. From Topper – T/F: Kevin Slowey is the next pitcher signed to a long-term contract
    1. Seth – False – I think that the Twins will sign both Francisco Liriano and Jesse Crain to long-term contracts before the 2010 season. Slowey is not arbitration-eligible until after the 2010 season, so unless he turns things around and has an incredible season, there is little incentive to signing him next winter.

 

  1. From Topper – T/F: Target Field’s opening bullpen will feature Slama, Delaney, Mijares, Crain, and Neshek bridging to Nathan
    1. Seth – False – First, I can’t imagine Gardy or Bill Smith being OK with having both Slama and Delaney in the opening day bullpen unless both of them are with the team in late August. I also think Boof Bonser will be there.

 

  1. From Jeff L – Over/Under of Anthony Swarzak making his major league debut-August 1
    1. Seth – Over, or whichever would mean After August 1st. I think that the Twins will continue to go with the current starting five and I do believe that they will remind us of why we had so much confidence in them coming into the season.

 

  1. From Jeff L – True/False – Matt Moses will get back to AAA this season.
    1. Seth – True – but that is a tough question. It is good to see him getting off to a fast start at New Britain, but I also think that it would require an injury at Rochester. There aren’t other outfielders at AA right now who I would consider ready for AAA.

 

  1. From Jeff L – Over/Under Aaron Hicks debuts in Beloit-June 1 (Can’t happen fast enough for me.)
    1. Seth – Under, as in, I think he will debut with Beloit days before June 1. I hope so at least.

 

  1. From Jeff L – Over Under Ben Revere Steals- 55
    1. Seth – Over, but barely. He is on pace for about 75 right now (14 in 27 games), and he hasn’t hit as much to this point as we may think he will. When he gets on, he goes, so I think he will go over 55, but obviously the big factor to doing that will be staying healthy.

 

10.  From Jeff L – True or False Drew Butera is Joe Mauers back up in 2010

  1. Seth – True – At some point. I think that Morales will likely start the season as the backup, but at some point in the season Butera will be up as the backup.

 

11.  From Andrew – True/False: Shooter Hunt will finally gain some control and start 2010 in Fort Myers.

  1. Seth – True – I would think (and certainly hope) that he will be able to work out these control issues now that he has been sent to the bullpen. I think he’ll come on strong at some point, and earn the move to Ft. Myers in 2010.

 

12.  From Andrew – True/False: David Winfree will have at least 25 plate appearances as a Twin in 2010.

  1. Seth – True – I don’t think it will happen in 2009, but I think his right-handed, power bat would be a good bench option in 2010;.

 

13.  From Andrew – True/False: Rene Tosoni will remain in New Britain for the duration of 2009.

  1. Seth – True – He certainly won’t be moving up to Rochester, but I also don’t think he will be sent back to Ft. Myers. He is now hitting over .200, and he does have three home runs already. The alarming number would the the 26 strikeouts in 80 at bats.

 

14.  From Andrew – True/False: Joe Mauer will be a Twin in five years.

  1. Seth – True – I think he wants to stay here. He may take a little discount to stay here, it is his home. However, he is very smart and hired a good agent. Mauer has never given a hometown discount to this point. I do think that it is in each’s best interest to keep him around.

 

15.  True/False: Ben Revere will start 2010 as a Rock Cat.

  1. Seth – True, and I believe that to be the case whether he moves up there in a couple of months or next season.

 

I’ve got more questions to answer, so be sure to check back later in the day. Feel free to send in more questions. What are your thoughts? Leave your questions or comments here.

 

GAME RECAPS

 

TWINS 4, ORIOLES 5

 

Glen Perkins was on the mound, and in the 2nd innings, he gave up a Melvin Mora solo home run, and a second run. Then in the third inning, Aubrey Huff hit a two run homer. It had the looks of a real blowout, but Perkins was able to keep the O’s at just four runs through six innings. Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven outings. The Twins battled back. Delmon Young cut the deficit to 4-3 with an RBI single in the sixth frame. In the top of the 7th, Joe Mauer drilled a single up the middle to score the game-tying run. Unfortunately in the 8th inning, Jose Mijares gave up three hits. The third hit was by Lou Montanez, and it wasn’t hit hard at all, but it scored what proved to be the game winning run.

 

Mauer went 3-4 with a walk. Delmon Young went 3-4 to raise his average to .288. Joe Crede went 2-4 with a double. Matt Tolbert went 2-4 with a sacrifice bunt. Denard Span went 2-5.   

 

Weekend Matchups

Friday night, the Twins will send Scott Baker to the mound to face Chris Jakubauskus who will be making his fifth Major League start. The 30 year old veteran of the independent leagues made his big league debut against the Twins during the first series of the season. Baker has shown signs of improvement his last two starts, but really needs to take a step forward tonight.

On Saturday, it will be a repeat of the Opening Night matchup with Francisco Liriano going against Felix Hernandez.

Sunday afternoon, the Twins will start Nick Blackburn to the mound against Erik Bedard, who is actually pitching like the Mariners probably thought he would when he was acquired for Adam Jones, George Sherrill and three minor league pitchers.  

 

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Mark Dolenc, Ft. Myers Miracle, Jason Pridie, Rochester Red Wings

SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – David Bromberg, Ft. Myers Miracle

ROCHESTER REPORT

Thursday –Rochester 1, Louisville 6 – Philip Humber was back on the mound and it didn’t go so well for him. In just 3.2 innings, he gave up five runs on eight hits (2 home runs) and two walks. He struck out five. Tim Lahey gave up a run on a hit in 1.1 innings. He struck out two. Armando Gabino struck out two in two perfect innings. Bobby Keppel worked a scoreless eighth inning. The Red Wings managed just seven hits on the game. Jason Pridie went 2-4. Tommy Watkins came into the game late and hit the team’s lone extra base hit, a double.   

ROCKCAT RECAP

Thursday – New Britain 0, New Hampshire 12Jeff Manship had a day reminiscent of last Sunday’s Scott Baker start. Through 6.1 innings, he had given up just one run on four hits. But after getting the first batter out in the 7th inning, it went single, single, triple, double, replaced by Frank Mata, inherited run scores. So his overall line of five earned runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings isn’t as impressive as his outing really was. He walked none and struck out six. Frank Mata game up another run in 1.2 innings. Zach Ward has been struggling. In his inning of work, he gave up six earned runs on five hits and two walks.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Thursday –Ft. Myers 1, Sarasota 0David Bromberg was the story in this one. The big righty did not allow a hit until he gave up a two out triple in the 7th inning. He was able to strand that runner. He got two more outs in the eighth inning before leaving the game. Spencer Steedley came in and got the last four outs, three on strikeouts. Bromberg gave up just the one hit in 7.2 innings. He walked four and struck out five. He got a no decision because the Miracle bats only scored one run, and it came in the bottom of the 9th. The Miracle had just five hits, and Mark Dolenc had two of them.  

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Thursday – Beloit 0, West Michigan 2Dan Osterbrock fell to 0-4 in this game, but he had, by far, his best outing of the season. He gave up just one run on five hits over 6.2 innings. He walked just one and struck out six. Danny Rondon then gave up a run on three hits and a walk in the last 1.1 innings. The Snappers managed just four hits in this game. James Beresford had a single and a walk and another stolen base.

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

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