Archive | Matt Fox RSS feed for this section

Matt Fox Claimed by Red Sox

9 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Just this afternoon, the Boston Red Sox claimed 27-year-old, former 1st round pick of the Twins, Matt Fox off waivers. He had been taken off of the 40 man roster on Sunday to make room for Ben Revere on the 40 man roster. Although disappointed, he saw it as a great opportunity. If not for that crazy Thursday night game against Detroit last Thursday night, he likely would not have been put on the Twins 40 man roster, and at the end of the season, he would have likely left the Twins to go elsewhere. With uncertainty. By getting that one opportunity with the Twins, it opened doors. But to be fair, Fox did well for himself by pitching a terrific game against the Texas Rangers last Friday night. When he was removed from the 40 man roster, I was somewhat annoyed that the Twins did it (on a personal level), but it made some sense. From Fox’s perspective, it was an opportunity, he took advantage of it, scouts and GMs around baseball were able to see it, and the Red Sox claimed him. And now, he will get to spend the rest of the season with the Red Sox. They are on the west coast for the next six games, but of their last ten games, six are against the Yankees and four are against the White Sox. So Matt Fox can still help the Twins the rest of the season. And if the Twins happen to win a World Series championship, he will get a ring too!

Any thoughts?

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1

9 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

  • Be sure to check out the Nine to Noon Show with Paul Allen today on KFAN, its affiliates and KFAN.com. I will be joining the show at 9:20 to talk Twins. With the start of the Vikings season tonight, PA will be live from New Orleans preparing for the Vikings/Saints game, but we will be talking about the Twins.

TWINS ON FIRE, Sweep Royals

The Twins just finished a series at home in which they won eight out of nine games. The only loss on the home stand was the horrible 13 inning loss to the Detroit Tigers where many Twins fans thought the sky was falling down. Many thought that it would be the beginning of the end for the Twins and yet, as they have every other time they met adversity, they have gone on to sweep the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. I don’t care if the Royals have a lineup that could make the Eden Prairie American Legion team look big league caliber, it is still huge to get the sweep. There is a reason such teams are called “spoilers” at this time of year… because they have the ability to spoil playoff runs. The Twins have to bear down against the Royals, or in the upcoming series against Cleveland, in an attempt to not let down. Because if they continue to play good baseball, it’s hard to envision the team not making the playoffs.

Consider this: The Twins have 22 games remaining in their season. The White Sox have 23 games remaining. If the Twins continue on their current pace, they should go 13-9 the rest of the way. If they do that, the White Sox would have to go 19-4 the rest of the way in order to force a third straight Game 163 for the Twins. If the Twins play .500 ball (11-11), the White Sox would have to go 17-6. With a Magic Number of 18, it’s hard to imagine the Twins not winning the AL Central. Is it over yet? Of course not, but like I wrote, if the team just plays well down the stretch, it will be really hard for them not to.

The Twins are on pace to finish the season with a 96-66 record. It would mark the 14th time in the team’s 50 years in Minnesota that they had over 90 wins:

Year Record Win %
1965 102-60 0.630
1970 98-64 0.605
1969 97-65 0.599
2006 96-66 0.593
1991 95-67 0.586
2002 94-67 0.584
2004 92-70 0.568
1963 91-70 0.565
1962, 1967, 1988 91-71 0.562
1992, 2003 90-72 0.556

And five of those 90 win seasons have come during the Ron Gardenhire tenure. And yet there are still Twins fans out there that question every single move the manager makes. No, I don’t say that I agree with everything Gardy does either, and that’s OK, but sometimes I do think it is wise to step back and appreciate what Gardy has done. 

And I will argue that 2010 is his best work yet. I have never seen so many injuries in a season. Yes, other teams have injuries too, but not like this team has gone through. 2006 was an incredible year with a most unlikely second half. I think that this year’s team has more talent all-around, but that team had the AL MVP (Justin Morneau), the stat-heads’ MVP (Joe Mauer), the Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), a should-have-been Rookie of the Year despite his season coming to an early end (Francisco Liriano), and Torii Hunter talking away in centerfield.

One other thing to note about Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson… Baseball Prospectus has put together a statistic on Pitcher Abuse Points. It looks at the number of pitches that each pitcher has thrown. Considers how many pitches they average per start. It looks at the maximum number of pitches that starters have thrown in a game and other things. To no one’s surprise, Edwin Jackson is #1 in pitcher abuse points. Francisco Liriano is the first Twins pitcher to show on the list, at #63. Next on the list for the Twins? Carl Pavano at #118. The others are Kevin Slowey at #130, Nick Blackburn at #157, Scott Baker at #167, and Brian Duensing at #187.

It would sure be nice to get Danny Valencia back into the lineup. Matt Tolbert has done a nice job in his place the last five games. Valencia has put himself into contention for AL Rookie of the Year, but behind Neftali Feliz of the Rangers and Austin Jackson of the Tigers, so it would be great to get him back. That said, Tolbert has done well, and consider this: In 2009, he was the Twins starting 3B in September. In 78 September plate appearances, Tolbert hit .333/.365/.464 and played great defense. It was such a surprise last year because coming into September, he had hit just .178 with the Twins in 129 at bats. His 23 September hits equaled his total for the previous five months put together.  

Speaking of Baseball Prospectus and some of their cool stats, they also look at the odds of teams winning their division, the wild card or advancing to the playoffs. Before last night’s win and White Sox loss, it listed the Twins as having a 89.6% chance of winning the division, and having a 90.1% chance of making the playoffs. I imagine that those numbers will be significantly higher when updated this morning.

The Twins should enjoy their off day today before heading back on the road. Hopefully Valencia, Jim Thome and Brian Fuentes will be able to get back on the field this weekend!

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1

Before getting to the picks, I would like to introduce this year’s panel (Please note that others have been invited and could be joining the weekly panel):

Jeff Manship – Jeff is in his fourth year on this panel. He was the Twins 14th round draft pick in 2006 out of Notre Dame. He has been promoted to the Twins five times this year, making one spot start and otherwise pitching in long relief.  

Alex Burnett – Alex joins the panel for the second time. The Twins 12th round pick in 2005 out of his California high school, Burnett surprisingly was on the Twins Opening Day roster. He showed his promise throughout the first half of the season before being sent back to Rochester. He recently returned to the Twins for September.  

Matt Fox – Matt is on this panel for the second year. He was a supplemental first round pick of the Twins in 2004 out of Central Florida. His story has been well documented in the last week, since I was able to break the news that he would be making his major league debut last Friday. He pitched great against the Rangers.

Dan Osterbrock – Osterbrock was the Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2009. After a difficult 2009, Osterbrock was as good as any pitcher in the Twins farm system in 2010. He returned to Beloit and made five starts. He was twice Midwest League Pitcher of the week and threw a no-hitter. He was just as good the rest of the season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. This is his second year on this panel.

Steve Blevins – Blevins is also on the panel for the second year. The Snappers’ reliever was the Twins 21st round pick in 2008 out of Marshall. He returned to Beloit to start the season  but throughout the course of the 2010 season, he was promoted to Ft. Myers and then to New Britain.

Kyle Gibson – Kyle was the Twins 1st round pick in 2009 out of the University of Missouri. He made his professional debut in 2010 with the Ft. Myers Miracle, but he also made starts in Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. It is likely Gibson will debut with the Twins in 2011. Gibson is on the panel for the second year.

Chris Parmelee – Chris is competing in this panel for the first time this year. He was the Twins 1st round pick in 2010. He began the 2010 season at New Britain but was sent back to Ft. Myers in mid-May. He quickly returned to New Britain where he played some of the best ball of his career. He will also be headed to the Arizona Fall League for the second straight season

Nate Hanson – He is from Chanhassen, went to Eden Prairie high school, moved on to the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. After spending 2008 in Elizabethton and 2009 in Beloit, he moved up to Ft. Myers in 2010. He was one of the team’s top hitters and hit 11 home runs. This is his first year on the panel.

BJ Hermsen – Another first-timer on this panel, Hermsen had a very solid 2010 season. He began the year at Extended Spring Training, but advanced to Beloit where he made several starts. He eventually was moved back to Elizabethton where he pitched really well.

Dan Slowey –Dan is the man behind a very interesting website called Blogonoscopy. This is his third year in the panel. He will be working hard to defend his 2010 championship.

Anthony Maggio – Anthony joins the panel for the first time. He writes on the Twins for Fox Sports North and does a terrific job.

John Bonnes – John has been involved in the world of Twins blogging longer than anyone else. He is The Twins Geek,. He is also one of the TwinsCentric group.

Josh Johnson – Josh has been writing at Josh’s Thoughts, an excellent Twins blog. He is on the panel for the fourth year.

Andrew Kneeland –Andrew is in his third year on the panel. He writes about the Twins blog where you can get your Twins Target.   

Travis Aune – Travis writes the Twins blog Travis Talks. He focuses a lot on the minor league system. He and I co-hosted Twins Minor League Weekly throughout the 2010 season. This will be his second year on the panel.

John Meyer – John is another very busy individual. His business is going strong into its second year and he does a great job as the Twins Most Valuable Blogger. This is his second year on the panel.

LaVelle E. Neal III – LaVelle has been on this panel for several years now. He is a Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune which includes the blog Twins Insider. He also frequently appears on KFAN radio. He’s always a strong competitor in this competition.

Phil Mackey – P-Mac is on the Reusse and Mackey Show from noon to 2 weekdays on 1500espn. He frequently writes on the Twins at 1500espn.com. He is also co-owner of the MNPokerMag.com. He is one of the busiest sports media types in the Twin Cities, and this is his second year on the panel. 

Darren “Doogie” Wolfson – Speaking of busy Twin Cities media types, Doogie can be found everywhere. He now works for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities, and is the host of Twins Wrap on 1500espn. He is joining the panel for the second year.

Seth Kaplan – Seth is the sports director for Fox 9 in the Twin Cities. He often is on Sports on Demand, a weekly Monday afternoon sports talk show on MyFox9.com.

Jack Michaels – Jack competes in this panel for the third straight year. He is the host of The Jack Michaels Show on ESPN 710 The Fan in Bismarck, ND, and has been kind enough to let me be on his show from time to time. He was the original radio play-by-play guy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks where he teamed with former Dodgers great Maury Wills.

Cory Hepola – Cory is currently a sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. You can find much more about him on his personal blog that includes postings and videos and much more.

Vic Quick – Vic has been on this panel for a long time. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota, and proclaims himself the biggest Texas Rangers fan in South Dakota. The Dallas native is also likely the biggest Cowboys fan in the state too! My former college roommate definitely knows his football, at least anything about Emmitt Smith or Troy Aikman, well, and the Concordia Cobbers!

Roger Dehring – Roger is one of the more knowledgeable people you can meet when it comes to the Twins minor league system. He writes a Weekly Minor League Report for the Twinkie Town website.

Cody Christie – Cody writes the North Dakota Twins Fan blog, and is competing in the panel for the first year.

Topper Anton – Topper is on the panel for the first time. He writes the blog Curve for a Strike, and is the co-host on Fanatic Jack’s podcast.

Kirsten Brown – Kirsten will be making her debut on the panel this year. She writes the K-Bro Baseball blog and makes the best brownies ever!

Shawn BergOn the Road with Shawn is the name of his blog. The Minnesota native lives out in New York and frequently gets to Twins minor league games in Rochester and New Britain.

Emily Jipp – Emily joins the panel this year for the first time. She writes Cheap Seats Chatter. She’s also in charge of our Twoggers League, a fantasy football league with 14 Twins bloggers.  

Andrew Bryz-Gornia – You may have met Andrew at Target Field this year where he enjoyed watching games while being an usher. He writes Off the Mark and is competing in the panel for the first time.

Blake Meyer – Blake is the originator of an incredible Twins website, Twins Cards. If you go there, you can see Twins baseball cards back to the team’s inception. You can find autographs and memorabilia and much more. Blake provides us an international flavor to the panel!

Michael Brasel – Long time friend (well over 30 years now), Mike was listed among the best players I have played ball with. He was one of the original panelists.

The Week 1 Picks

Alright, to see this week’s picks, go to www.SethSpeaks.net.

Matt Fox to Start for Twins on Friday

3 Sep

Matt Fox will make his big league debut for the Twins when they take on the Texas Rangers tonight. He was not on the 40 man roster, so a subsequent move will be needed to be made. Could be putting Justin Morneau on the 60 Day Disabled List. More to come. (Got to admit, I’m thrilled. He is a terrific guy with a great perspective!) He also threw to Drew Butera at Central Florida.

Here is what I wrote about Matt Fox in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook:

Matthew Fox – RHP – (12/4/82)

Acquired: Supp. 1st round pick in 2004 from U of Central Florida

2009 Team(s): New Britain Rockcats

2009 Stats: 9-9, 3.58 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 151 IP, 56 BB, 120 K

We always want pitchers to come back quickly from Tommy John surgery. Matt Fox gives us an illustration of the need to be patient. Fox had the surgery early in 2005 and missed that season. He came back in 2006 with the E-Twins, in the bullpen. In 2007 and 2008, he began the seasons in the bullpen before being a starter in the second half. In 2009, Fox was a starter for the full season again. He made 26 starts and threw 151 innings, over 33 innings more than the previous season. Fox is a four-pitch pitcher. His fastball is clocked between 88-92 mph, nearly to the level he was at pre-surgery. He has a cut-fastball that he throws between 85-88 mph. He has a very good curveball and continues to work on a changeup. But the cutter and curveball are his big pitches. Reports say that he only throws about 15 fastballs a game. Instead, he has the confidence to throw his cutter in any count. Because of that, he is able to keep the ball off of the meat of a hitter’s bat. Like Mariano Rivera, the cutter is much tougher on left-handed batters. Lefties hit just .246 against Fox in 2009 while righties hit .261. His curveball has proven to be his strikeout pitch. It’s a nice, tight, twelve-to-six bender. The key for Fox over time will be the development of his changeup, a pitch that has been inconsistent to this point. When he has control of it, he can be very good. If there was one other area to potentially improve would be to find a pitch to get inside on right-handed batters. However, Matt Fox has overcome a lot since his surgery. He, and the Twins, have been very patient, and it is paying off. He continues to get in better shape, and regain his arm strength. Fox should be starting in Rochester in 2010, and if he continues to show progress, he could be a big leaguer in the very near future. 

He began the 2010 season in the Rochester bullpen and has been moving back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation. He was the Red Wings player of the week just last week and has been the team’s top pitcher of late. Consider that David Bromberg and Kyle Gibson have been shut down, and Fox makes a lot of sense. He last started on Monday, so he is going on just three days rest, so it will be interesting to see if he is on a pitch count.

TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Here is a look at the Thursday night’s minor league scores and highlights:

  • Rochester 3, Syracuse 7 – Cole DeVries made another start for the Red Wings. In four innings, he gave up five runs (4 earned) on seven hits and two walks. He struck out five. Jose Lugo gave up one run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Glen Perkins threw three innings and gave up only an unearned run on a hit and two walks. He struck out two. Anthony Slama had a walk in a scoreless inning. The Red Wings managed just six hits. Jacque Jones and Danny Lehmann each hit a double.  
  • New Britain 1, Reading 4 – Mike McCardell has had a rough 2010 season. On this night, he pitched well, a complete game, and still got a loss. In eight innings, he gave up four runs on six hits. He issued no walks and struck out four in eight innings. The Rockcats had seven hits in the game. Ben Revere went 2-4. Juan Portes, Joe Benson and Estarlin de Los Santos each hit a double.  
  • Ft. Myers 5, Palm Beach 2 – David Deminsky, a 2010 draft pick and St. Cloud State alum, started and gave up two runs on six hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out four. Jhon Garcia gave up a hit and a walk but no runs in two innings. Dakota Watts struck out two in two scoreless innings. Angel Morales went 2-4 with a walk and his 11th stolen base. Deibinson Romero and Nate Hanson were each 2-5. Romero hit his 13th and 14th doubles. Nate Hanson hit a walk-off, three run homer for the Miracle win.
  • Beloit, Clinton (Suspended in 2nd) – The Snappers are in contention for a playoff spot. This game started, and Aaron Hicks hit a first inning home run, but in the 2nd inning, the game was halted and will be continued.
  • Elizabethton 6, Pulaski 2 – Elizabethton advances to the Appalachian League championship series against Johnson City after this win. The game went into extra innings tied at one. The E-Twins scored five to advance. Danny Ortiz, Brian Burke, Andy Leer and Kyle Knudson each went 2-5. Leer had a double and three RBI. Knudson had two doubles. Nate Roberts was 2-4 with a double. BJ Hermsen started and gave up one run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out five and did not walk any. David Gutierrez gets the win thanks to two shutout innings. Jose Gonzalez gave up two runs on two hits (two solo homers) in the bottom of the 10th.  

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

Twins Minor League Weekly; Pavano Does It Again

23 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Last night at 11:00, Travis Aune and I hosted this week’s episode of Twins Minor League Weekly. The show is always fun and based on the number of live listeners and call-ins, maybe it is starting to catch on. We can hope, but even if it doesn’t, you know how much I enjoy discussing the Twins minor league system, even through its struggles this year. So, if you have a chance, please listen to the podcast and let me know what you think.

But even in a blog entitled “Twins Minor League Weekly,” it would be sad if I didn’t at least mention Carl Pavano and his terrific performance last night. He threw yet another complete game and a shutout of the Baltimore Orioles. Shortly after the completion of the game, uber-blogger Aaron Gleeman tweeted, “Carl Pavano has now started 32 games for Twins: 17-10 with 3.72 ERA, 140/35 K/BB ratio in 217.1 IP.” To that, I could only respond, “Definitely worth Yohan Pino!” At the time of the trade, I actually liked the idea of Pavano coming to the Twins, but I thought that giving up Pino, who has been a very solid pitcher throughout his pro career including at AAA last year, was maybe a little much. Well, Pavano has not only stuck around for an extra year, but he has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the league. It was his second straight complete game win, his fifth complete game of the year, and the 15th time in 20 starts that he has completed seven innings.

The front office and the advanced scouts that told the Twins brass that Pavano should be targeted deserve a ton of credit. That’s why, although I am not one willing to give up enough in terms of prospects to go after Roy Oswalt of Dan Haren, I believe the Twins will make a deal for a “lesser known” pitcher, and maybe they can’ find lightning in a bottle. The name that came up during our podcast last night was Paul Maholm of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 28 year old lefty is 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP on the season, but he has completed six innings or more in 15 of his 19 starts this season. Just another name to put in the back of your mind as the Trade Deadline approaches. Maholm is in the second year of a three year, $14.5 million contract. He is making $4. 5 million this year and will make $5.75 million in 2011. He also has an option for $9.75 million for 2012 with a $750,000 buyout.

But back to Pavano. He has been everything that the Twins and we as fans could have hoped, and more. The only problem is that he only starts once in every five games. Also on Twitter last night, I asked the question about what the Twins should do with Pavano in terms of contract and the future. I tweeted, “I’d offer Pavano a 2 year, $19 mil deal right now. $9 mil in 2010, $9 mil in 2011, $1 mil buyout of $9 million option for 2012. Thoughts?”

And the comments were excellent, in general. The results were split. There were several that said that the Twins have got to sign him and keep him in the organization. What would they do without him next year?! There are others who essentially said “Take the two draft picks and run.” That’s right, Pavano is pitching at such a level that he is now a Type A free agent meaning that if they offer him salary arbitration and he does not accept it and signs elsewhere, the Twins will receive two draft picks. I typically favor going the way of draft picks in such scenarios. However, I think that the terms of the contract I outlined above are low enough that even if he were to sign it, I would not be upset in the least. Clearly he will be, and should be, looking for a multi-year contract. He says he likes pitching in Minnesota. The off seasons of second-tier Type A free agents the last few years have been difficult because teams are so unwilling to lose draft picks that maybe Pavano would be willing to give up that free agency for comfort and to stay out of that situation. What do you think?   

Tonight, it will be Brian Duensing pitching for the Twins. According to Rick Anderson in his interview with Paul Allen on KFAN yesterday, he will be on a pitch count limit of 60-70. Hopefully that means he can get through five innings, but that’s pretty optimistic probably. It will be interesting to see if Nick Blackburn would be the guy who comes in at that point. (You can listen to the Anderson interview, and my 9:20 segment with The Voice of the Vikings, by going to FAN ON DEMAND and downloading the segments.)  

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

SethSpeaks Thursday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Oswaldo Arcia – Elizabethton Twins

SethSpeaks Thursday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Matt Fox – Rochester Red Wings

Red Wings Report   

Thursday – Rochester 10, Buffalo 0 Matt Fox was excellent in this game. The right-hander threw six shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out four. Alex Burnett made his first AAA appearance and threw 22 pitches, but did not allow a run. Jose Lugo and Rob Delaney each threw a scoreless inning. D’Angelo Jiminez went 3-5 with his seventh double and second triple. Brian Dinkelman went 3-5 with his 23rd double. Trevor Plouffe went 2-5 with a walk, his 18th double and his career-high 15th home run. Brendan Harris hit his 5th and 6th doubles. Wilson Ramos went 2-5.  

New Britain Notes

Thursday – New Britain 10, Harrisburg 11 (10 innings) – Deolis Guerra had another rough start. In five innings, he gave up eight earned runs on six hits and three walks. Cole DeVries gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. Loek Van Mil gave up a run on two hits in his inning. Billy Bullock gave up an unearned run in two innings to take the loss. Juan Portes went 3-4 with a walk and his 12th double. Ben Revere went 2-5 with a walk and his 26th stolen base. Steve Singleton hit his second triple and drove in three runs.   

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Ft. Myers 5, Brevard County 4 – Bruce Pugh gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out five. He also committed three of the six Miracle errors. Nick Romero, Angel Morales and Drew Thompson each went 2-4. Morales hit his fourth double, and Romero hit his third triple.  

Snappers Snippets

Thursday – Beloit 3, South Bend 8 Edgar Ibarra started and gave up only an unearned run on four hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out five. Nelvin Fuentes gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. Matt Tone came in and gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in his inning. Peter Kennelly then gave up two earned runs on two hits and three walks in an inning. Michael Gonzales went 2-4 with his 13th double. James Beresford was also 2-4.  

E-Twins Talkers

Thursday – Elizabethton 7, Johnson City 3 – Oswaldo Arcia had another great game. He went 3-4 with a walk, his 12th double, and his ninth home run. He is now hitting .388/.436/.777 on the season. Danny Ortiz went 3-4 with a walk and his third home run. Brian Burke went 3-4 with his sixth double and first home run. Andy Leer hit his third homer. Manuel Solimon improved to 4-2 by giving up three runs on six hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out five. Jose Gonzalez recorded his first save by striking out three in two hitless, scoreless innings.   

GCL Twins Topics

Thursday – GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 6 – Ricardo Arevalo gave up three runs (2 earned) on two hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out four. Matt Schuld gave up a run on three hits and two walks in two innings. Matt Trau then gave up two runs (1 earned) on one walk in one inning.  Ramon Santana went 3-4 with his second double in his rehab assignment. Fred Hanvi went 2-4 with his second double. Miguel Sano hit 2-4 with his second home run. Jorge Polanco went 1-2 with two walks. Also, the Twins signed draft pick Derek Christensen, a right-handed pitcher from Salt Lake City CC.    

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

Wimmers and More

8 Jun

also available at SethSpeaks.net and StarTribune.com’s TwinsCentric blog -

On Monday night, Major League Baseball held its annual Rule 4 draft, their annual amateur players draft. The Twins, and their fans, had to wait twenty picks before the Twins made their first-round selection. Commissioner Bud Selig announced that with the 21st overall pick in the first round of the 2010 draft, the Minnesota Twins selected Alex Wimmers, a right-handed pitcher from The Ohio State University.

Wimmers certainly fits the Twins mold for pitchers. He is not a flame-thrower. In fact, his fastball tends to be quite average and sits between 89 and 92 mph. However, his fastball has plenty of movement and he has good and improving control. After walking 55 (and striking out 136) in 104.2 innings in 2009, he walked just 23 batters (and struck out 86) in 73 innings in 2010. His best pitch right now is his changeup which is already an above average pitch. He is working on a breaking ball.

Wimmers has been successful wherever he has played going back to his days at legendary baseball school, Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati. In two years as a pitcher for the school, he had a 1.20 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 105 innings. However, he was also a great hitter. He is the school’s all-time leader in career batting average as he hit .457 in his two seasons for the school.

During his freshman year at Ohio State, he pitched in 25 games out of the bullpen and led the team in strikeouts per nine innings (11.6). He moved into the rotation as a sophomore and went 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA. He was co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and named to several All-America teams. As a junior, he was the sole Big Ten Pitcher of the Year after going 9-0 with a 1.60 ERA this year.

There are some similarities between Wimmers and 2009 top pick Kyle Gibson beyond the fact that they were both right-handed pitchers drafted out of strong college programs. Both are quite athletic. Both have strong mixes of pitches. Both have great makeup while being very competitive. Both have very good command and know how to pitch. While Gibson’s big out pitch is his slider, Wimmers’ changeup is his biggest weapon.

Although it would appear that Gibson has a higher ceiling, both should move very quickly through the minor league system and to the big leagues.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Twins will draft another 49 players. Following the draft, they will likely sign between 20 and 25 of those players and assign them to the GCL Twins, Elizabethton Twins, or possibly a player or two could be sent to Beloit.

DRAFT DAY MEMORIES

I thought it would be fun to go back in time and ask some previous Twins first-round picks for some of their memories and thoughts on the day they were drafted.

2009 top pick Kyle Gibson recalls his draft day, a year ago, saying it “was a whirlwind of emotions for myself and my family. The main reason was that we really did not know what was going to happen. I could have gone in the top 5 or not been picked at all. So it was a stressful time, but it was also one of the most fun experiences of my life.”

In 2008, the Twins had three of the first 31 picks in the draft. With their second pick, 27th overall, they selected Carlos Gutierrez out of the University of Miami. Gutierrez remembers that the Miami Hurricanes “were having a pretty good year and had a lot of great players come out of that team. On draft day, I was more excited than anything.”

A supplemental first round draft choice in 2004 out of Central Florida, Matt Fox “was excited, but I knew how unpredictable the draft was after slipping to round 6 out of high school.”

So where were these players while the draft was taking place, and how did they find out they had been drafted? Even among first-round picks the answer to this question was quite different.

Fox recalls that he “was at my brother’s house, with my mom and dad, and the internet broadcast cut off in the first round, so I never heard my name called!” So he had to wait “until my agent called and congratulated me, and we all celebrated with each other. It was a great feeling knowing all my work paid off!”

Gutierrez “had a few guys on the team over to my house to watch the draft. We had a couple of guys on the team go before me, Yonder (Alonso) and Jemile (Weeks), and a few guys after me as well. So there was a lot to celebrate that day.”

He added, “My agent called me a couple picks before number 27, so I knew something was up. Then right before my name was called on TV he said ‘congrats’ and hung up the phone. Needless to say, everyone in the house started screaming. “

It was quite the celebration at the Gibson residence. “We had about 100 people over at the house (family and friends) and we had a big tent outside in our yard with a TV and MLB Network going! It was a huge rush of excitement in the crowd once my name was announced, and it was just a feeling of complete joy!”

What were their thoughts when they were selected by the Minnesota Twins?

Gutierrez said he never tried to guess where he would be selected, but “I did know that the Twins liked me.”

Matt Fox said, “When the Twins picked me, I was rather surprised due to the fact that I didn’t talk to them much. Besides that, I was excited. My agent had good things to say about them, and I was ready to sign and work my way up the system.

Gibson was projected to be picked in the top ten picks, so what went through his mind as the draft headed into the late teens and he still wasn’t selected? “My thoughts didn’t change too much. I think we were just deciding when we were going to have to make a deal with a team just so I was drafted, but thankfully it didn’t come to that.”

What kept Gibson so calm during it all? According to the right-hander, “For me, I think I was able to remain somewhat calm because I know that God had a plan for what was going to happen and it was always going to work out for the best, and it did.”

And when the Twins took him? “I was thinking, Wow, I really don’t remember talking to the Twins a whole lot, and I don’t really know much about them. But I was very excited the more and more I heard about the organization!”

Draft day is a day that all draft picks, whether taken in the first round or the 50th round will remember. As Carlos Gutierrez told me, “It is a day I will never forget.”

BELOIT TRIP

If you are looking for something to do this coming weekend, consider a road trip to Beloit, Wisconsin to see the Beloit Snappers play a game or three. Travis Aune (Travis Twins Talk) and I are headed there on Friday and will watch a couple of games. One of the games, we hope to be in box seats. The other game, we will be partaking in the $25 all-you-can eat section which includes the game ticket. It would be a lot of fun if people came down and said hi. Beloit is approximately 5 ½ hours from the Twin Cities. It is right on the Illinois border, on Highway 90. I know there are many Twins fans in the southeast part of the state too, so from there the drive could be even closer. If you’re interested, head to the team’s website (www.snappersbaseball.com) and call them and order some tickets. If you do, tell them that Seth and Travis sent you!

Speaking of, tonight at 10:00, Seth and Travis will be hosting this week’s episode of Twins Minor League Weekly. It will be a slightly extended podcast as we will talk about all four full season affiliates as well as talk about the team’s 2010 draft, possibly including some interviews.

MINOR LEAGUE NOTES

  • The Twins weren’t the only team with the night off on Monday. The New Britain Rockcats and the Beloit Snappers also did not play.
  • Glen Perkins, former 1st round pick in 2004, recorded his first win of the season. He gave up three runs on six hits in five innings. Tim Lahey threw two scoreless innings in relief in Game 1 of a double header. The Red Wings won that game 15-3 and several hitters contributed mightily. Brian Dinkelman and Dustin Martin were each 3-4 with a triple. Jacque Jones was 3-4 with a double. Jason Repko was 2-3 with two walks and his fifth home run. Jose Morales was 2-4 with a double and three RBI.
  • In the second game, another 2004 first round pick, Trevor Plouffe hit his sixth home run of the year. It was the Red Wings lone hit in a 6-2 loss. Matt Fox started and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. Brad Hennessey gave up three runs on six hits in two innings. Pat Neshek made his 2010 Red Wings debut and gave up just one hit in two scoreless innings.
  • The Ft. Myers Miracle beat Lakeland 5-1. Dan Osterbrock threw seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks. Andrei Lobanov gave up a run in his inning. Tony Davis threw a scoreless ninth. Jonathan Goncalves went 3-4. Joe Benson was 2-2 with a double. Allan de San Miguel hit a home run. Chris Parmelee (2006 1st round pick) went 1-3 with a walk and a double.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

2010 Rochester Red Wings Preview

7 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!

Second, I will be on KFAN at 10:30 central time with Paul Allen. If you can get it on the radio, great. If not, head over to KFAN.com and listen live.

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!

On Thursday night, Anthony Swarzak will take the mound for the Rochester Red Wings against Boof Bonser and Pawtucket. Tom Nieto will be the Red Wings manager in 2010 after leading the New Britain Rockcats a year ago. Floyd Rayford will be the hitting coach while Bobby Cuellar is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Red Wings 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

Anthony Swarzak, Jeff Manship (16), Glen Perkins, Mike Maroth, Yoslan Herrera.

As far as upside, I think most would agree that Glen Perkins could be the most talented pitcher in this group. Does that mean he’s the best pitcher? Probably not. Manship and Swarzak both profile as back of the rotation starters. Both showed in 2009, in short stints with the Twins, that they are capable big league pitchers, but they also both showed that they have more to learn. Having talked with Manship several times, I know that he’ll take a lot from what he learned at the big league level and incorporate it into his game. I like to assume the same for Swarzak. Mike Maroth is a veteran. He was the last 20 game loser in the big leagues. I had so much respect for him during his Tigers days for being strong enough mentally to keep pitching, and he wasn’t as bad as that win-loss record indicated. Of course, a couple of years later, he was that bad and out of baseball. This spring, he was given a chance by the Twins and had a solid camp, so he can be a veteran in the AAA rotation. Herrera signed a four year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates after defecting from Cuba. Those four years are up. He became a free agent and signed with the Twins. At 28, he’s not a prospect, but he has been solid enough in the minor leagues that this is a worthy risk to take. I also believe that Matt Fox and Ryan Mullins will each get an opportunity to start at some point during the season.

The Bullpen Arms

Anthony Slama (23), Rob Delaney, Jose Lugo, Kyle Waldrop, Tim Lahey, Matt Fox, Ryan Mullins, Ron Mahay.

The back-end of the Twins bullpen is incredibly talented and should be a strength of this roster. Anthony Slama has done nothing but dominate since signing in early 2007. Rob Delaney has been just about as good, although he struggled more in his time in AAA than did Slama. Jose Lugo is pretty similar to Jose Mijares. Occasional lapses and loss of control, but has tremendous stuff, especially against lefties. Kyle Waldrop was a pleasant surprise in camp this spring. The non-roster invitee was one of the Twins first-round picks in 2004 out of his Tennessee high school. He missed all of 2008 with surgery in his shoulder. He stayed healthy in 2009 and should be strong in 2010. Fellow 2004 first round pick Matt Fox and 2005 3rd round pick will be the righty and lefty (respectively) to pitch out of the bullpen, and as I said earlier, both could get opportunities to start. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, and soon the Twins made him a reliever. He quickly worked through the system and last year he really struggled. But he lost nearly 30 pounds in the offseason and looked strong in camp, so it will be a very big year for the right-hander. And remember, in all likelihood, Alex Burnett will be optioned to Rochester, a place he has not yet played. But he could be the best relief pitching prospect in the Twins system too. Ron Mahay will start the season in Rochester, but he is expected to be up with the Twins relatively soon. Big league veteran, Brad Hennessey, who had a couple of very good years with the San Francisco Giants, missed last year and will spend the first couple of months this year. But this was a nice

The Catchers

Wilson Ramos (2), Allan de San Miguel.

When it came to on-field, baseball decisions, Wilson Ramos was probably the story of spring training. Ramos did not lose the battle to Drew Butera, but Butera was – rightfully – given the Twins backup catcher duties until the return of Jose Morales. Ramos is an incredible prospect. I ranked him the team’s #2 prospect this winter. He has displayed an ability to hit for both average and power, and play a very solid catcher defensively. The incredible thing is that he isn’t even the top prospect in the International League this year. Both Jesus Montero of the Yankees and Carlos Santana of the Indians will also be playing in the league.

De San Miguel has been in the Twins farm system for a long time and yet he is still just 23 years old. He knows and understands that his future with the Twins is as a backup catcher, and he has embraced the role. Offensively, he hasn’t hit for average or power, but he has really improved his ability to get on base. But again, that’s all secondary to what he provides for the pitching staff. Jose Morales would likely rehab in Rochester at some point, and when he returns to the Twins, Drew Butera would likely come back to Rochester to back up Ramos.

The Infielders

Brock Peterson, Luke Hughes (27), Trevor Plouffe (21), Danny Valencia (7), Erik Lis, Matt Tolbert, (Matt Macri)

Peterson became a free agent this past offseason, but the Twins were happily able to bring him back. He was the Red Wings top hitter in the second half of 2009. Plus, it’s fun to cheer for a former 49th round draft pick! Erik Lis likely will not play much first base and will get plenty of at bats as the team’s designated hitter. This is a big year for Trevor Plouffe. He’s still just 23, but now in his third year at Rochester. With the acquisition of JJ Hardy, Plouffe may need to play other positions as well. Danny Valencia is immensely talented, and there are questions at 3B with the Twins. There could be a scenario in which he is up with the Twins by June, but most of that depends as much on the performances of Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, along with his own performance. Matt Tolbert, simply, is not very good, but he can play all around the infield and on opening night, he will actually be the Red Wings leadoff hitter and center fielder. Ron Gardenhire loves him, so he likely remains in the plans. Matt Macri begins the season on the Disabled List.

The Outfielders

Brian Dinkelman, Jason Repko, Jacque Jones, Dustin Martin, (Brandon Roberts)

Jacque Jones was one of the great Twins stories of spring training. Brought back for camp, almost as a courtesy for all he did at the beginning of last decade for the team, Jones was not going to make the big league roster. But he almost did, and now he will head to Rochester. If a need arises in the outfield for the Twins, Jones might be the first promoted. On Monday, the Twins signed Jason Repko, a centerfielder who had spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers four of the past five seasons. Not a great hitter, he is right-handed and probably the best option to play center field. Dustin Martin had a very good 2008, a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, and a nice showing in spring training 2009. And then the season started, and Martin didn’t even get an invite to big league training camp this year. Brian Dinkelman was a second baseman throughout his career, until Steve Singleton was promoted to New Britain last year. Then Dinkelman started playing in the outfield, and he performed fairly well. A good contact hitter who finds ways to get on base, I think he will be hitting near the top of the Red Wings order throughout the year. Finally, Brandon Roberts spent most of the past two years in New Britain, on their Disabled List, and that’s where he will begin the 2010 season with the Red Wings.

SUMMARY

Overall, I think this is a very solid roster. For AAA, it is a good mix of veteran players, with decent AAAA types of players and a good number of prospects who will likely contribute to some degree, some significantly, in the next couple of seasons. On Opening Night, Danny Valencia will be batting 8th with Brian Dinkelman betting 9th. I’m not saying agree with that, but if that is the case, this should be a very strong lineup. As I mentioned before, the back end of the bullpen should be very strong, so the starters can hopefully provide at least six good innings each night. The fans in Rochester should get to see some quality baseball this season. Hopefully they can not only develop players for the Twins to use as necessary, but also compete for a playoff spot in the International League.  

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: Rochester Red Wings

23 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net – 

Before we jump into my Twins AAA projection, here are a couple of quick notes:

  • I was on part of Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast last night talking about Twins minor leaguers which obviously I always thoroughly enjoy doing that.
  • Tonight, I will be hosting an episode of the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I’ll be joined by Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi who was at the Joe Mauer press conference on Monday night. There may be another guest or two as well, and lots of Twins talk.
  • There will be an episode of The Show on Thursday night at a special time of 8:00 p.m. I already two Twins minor leaguers (one of which some have been clamoring for me to bring on for awhile now).  During that show, we will also announce the regularly scheduled night and time for The Show throughout the season. So be sure to take in that show.
  • And please be sure to go to the Star-Tribune’s TwinsCentric blog today. Parker had a chance to sit down with Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony down in Ft. Myers last week. He transcribed his interview and posted the first half of it here. The rest of it can be found at Over the Baggy.

The Twins open their season on April 5th. The Rochester Red Wings season begins on April 8th in Pawtucket. Their first home game is on April 17th.  They will be managed this year by Tom Nieto, who managed the New Britain Rockcats a year ago.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the Rochester Red Wings:

The Hitters

  Rochester
C Wilson Ramos
1B Brock Peterson
2B Luke Hughes
3B Danny Valencia
SS Trevor Plouffe
LF Brian Dinkelman
CF Charlton Jimerson
RF Dustin Martin
DH Erik Lis
Bu C Danny Lehmann
Bu IF Toby Gardenhire
Bu OF Jacque Jones
Bench Matt Tolbert
DL… (Brandon Roberts)

Analysis: I discussed my thoughts on the Twins backup catcher situation yesterday, and I will stand behind my feelings that Wilson Ramos needs to play, not sit on the bench. That is why I have him starting in Rochester. When Drew Butera is optioned to AAA (when Jose Morales comes back), he will take over as the Red Wings backup catcher, behind Ramos. Danny Lehmann would then go back to New Britain. Lehmann is very respected among pitchers and coaches. Bringing back Brock Peterson (a six year free agent) is a great thing for the Red Wings, and I am just hoping that the former 49th round draft choice gets a chance to get a cup of coffee with the Twins. He was the Red Wings best hitter during the second half of 2009. Although I expect to see Matt Tolbert play a lot, I really believe that we will see a lot of Luke Hughes at second base. He played there, and played pretty well there, in spring training, and he could be another option for 2010. Think Jeff Kent? Danny Valencia should play most days at 3B, and hopefully he can get off to a fast start and be in Minnesota by mid-June. Trevor Plouffe will likely see time at all three infield positions as well, and if anything happens to JJ Hardy (or he doesn’t come back well), Plouffe could get a big league call too. Brian Dinkelman played mainly 2B until last year when Steve Singleton was promoted to New Britain. Then he started playing in left field where he is still learning, but works hard and can get better. The other two outfield positions could be a rotating carousel. Charlton Jimerson’s defense and speed is terrific. Dustin Martin needs a rebound season. Jacque Jones needs to play well. Really, all three of them need to play well because Rene Tosoni may not be far away from AAA. Erik Lis has hit well in AA New Britain for two years, so he needs to move up. And the DL seemed like an appropriate place to place Brandon Roberts at this time. Yes, I am not including Matt Macri here, although it is possible he could be another utility infield type. That said, defensively, I think Toby Gardenhire is just as good and can play eight positions. And no, this is not at all a choice, by me, that has anything to do with nepotism. He’s got a very strong glove.  

The Pitchers

  Rochester
SP Anthony Swarzak
SP Jeff Manship
SP Matt Fox
SP Ryan Mullins
SP Brian Duensing
   
CL Rob  Delaney
8L Jose Lugo
8R Chris Province
BP Yoslan Herrera
BP Kyle Waldrop
BP Mark McLemore
BP Mike Maroth
   
  (Glen Perkins)
  (Brad Hennessey – DL)
  (Tim Lahey)

Analysis: As you can see there several question marks in this pitching rotation. That really starts with Glen Perkins. If he doesn’t make the Twins roster (which he won’t), will they be able to trade him? If not, he will be sent to Rochester. Will he start? Will he pitch out of the bullpen? Will he be put on the Fake DL? Since I included Anthony Slama on the Twins roster, it meant Brian Duensing goes to the Red Wings, and I believe he will start. Should there be an early-season injury, he would be the first promoted. Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship both were rushed to the big leagues a year ago, and both showed signs that they can be solid big league performers, but each showed that they could also use more seasoning. Matt Fox spent the entire season in the New Britain starting rotation last year. It was the first time that the 2004 supplemental first round pick had done that. I think he deserves the shot to do it again as he has improved remarkably his arm strength and seen success. Ryan Mullins had a solid season last year in New Britain. It was his third with the Rockcats. He needs to move up. He actually pitched a couple of games for the Red Wings in 2007. So there is my starting five. 

The bullpen is even more perplexing. Again, with Slama on my big league roster, I’ll move Rob Delaney to the closer role. Jose Lugo will certainly be back in the Red Wings bullpen. I have Tim Lahey on the outside looking in, but he would be another option. Chris Province came from the Red Sox in the Boof Bonser deal. Yoslan Herrera was signed as a free agent recently. The lefty was very solid last year in AA, but needs to show he can pitch well in the International League. I really like this signing. He can replace Reid Santos as a lefty who could pitch both out of the bullpen and start as well. Mark McLemore could be that as well. He started his comeback from Tommy John surgery last year, and this will be his second year back. Mike Maroth has done better in spring training than I would have guessed he would do. That’s not to say great, but enough that if he wants to, he could go to AAA. There is really no risk in signing a former big leaguers like Herrera, McLemore and Maroth, letting him get healthy and seeing where he is at. Maybe he comes back fully. Speaking of healthy, Brad Hennessey was a solid bullpen arm a couple for a couple of years in the big leagues. He is likely to miss at least a couple of months, but I like this signing as well as a no risk, potentially decent reward signing.  

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here. 

Spring Training Q&A: Matt Fox

6 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

It has been a long, and at times frustrating ride through the Twins minor league system for Matt Fox. Drafted in the supplemental first round in 2004 by the Twins out of the University of Central Florida (where he was caught by Drew Butera). Tommy John surgery cost him the entire 2006 season. He has slowly and patiently worked his way up the Twins farm system since his return in 2007. He has typically started in the bullpen and by the half-way point of the season, he was in the team’s starting rotation and one of their better pitchers. 2009 was the first season in which he spent the whole year as a starter. He should start the 2010 season in AAA and depending upon need, he could make his big league debut in 2010.

Here is today’s Q&A with Twins pitcher, Matt Fox. Clearly he took time to leave terrific responses. (To see all previous SethSpeaks.net Q&As, click here) (and feel free to leave questions or comments here)

…Let the Questions Begin!

SethSpeaks: Now that you’ve had a few months to look back and reflect, what are your thoughts on your 2009 season?

Matt Fox: Overall I was happy with my 09 season. Being my 1st season being in the rotation from Day 1, I made every single start, threw 150+ innings and felt like I gave my team a chance to win more often than not. That and being named an ALL STAR allowed me to complete 2 of my goals, just short of getting to my other goal of getting a promotion.

SethSpeaks: What do you do when you’re not playing baseball or working out in preparation for the upcoming season?

Matt Fox: I follow the workout program they give us pretty close, maybe tweaking it a little with some things I’ve learned through my 5 years and 5 offseasons. Besides getting ready for the season, which is my number 1 priority, I work at a local Country Club in the Pro shop. I love golf, enjoy playing it, and enjoy working there in the offseasons.

SethSpeaks: When did you start getting ready for the 2010 season, and what was your routine?

Matt Fox: I took 2-3 weeks off after our last game in SEPT and started to go to gym and work out. Throwing wise, I start throwing January 1st, slowly start throwing more and more as times goes on. Starting in late January, I try and throw 2 light bullpens each week and get my running and workouts in.

SethSpeaks: What are your goals for the 2010 season? Where would you like to play, and are there any statistics that you are looking to improve?

Matt Fox: My goal is to start in the AAA rotation, and of course at some point get a taste of the big leagues. It’s up to me to put up the numbers in order for that to happen. A couple things I’d like to improve on is my changeup, it’s a pitch I’ve always struggled to get a consistent feel for, and I know it’s a pitch I’ll need in the top 2 levels. Also I had too many walks last years, so I’d like to cut those down.

SethSpeaks:  What does spring training mean for you, and what are you looking forward to this year?

Matt Fox: I enjoy spring training, enjoy seeing all the guys again, and try to use it as much as possible to get me ready for my season. I’ve learned to not read into my stats and results in the games i pitch, and to just try and improve a little each outing in order to get me ready for the regular season.

SethSpeaks: Who was your favorite player to watch when you were growing up?

Matt Fox: I’ve had a couple, I really liked Barry Larkin growing up, liked the reds and he was the man back in the day. More recently I’ve kind of enjoyed following Chris Carpenter. He’s had some similar injuries that I have had and I’ve always enjoyed following his career.

SethSpeaks: What team did you grow up watching and cheering for?

Matt Fox: The Reds were my favorite team growing up until the Marlins came around, and then they became my team.

SethSpeaks: What do you remember about the draft and events leading up to your signings?

Matt Fox: In 2 drafts (HS and college), I just remember how unpredictable it was. In HS I was supposed to go high and fell to the 6th round. So in college I went into the process with an open mind, not stressing too much about it. When I got drafted my MN I was surprised (didn’t talk to them much), but had heard good things about them and was excited.

SethSpeaks: Best thing of career in baseball?

Matt Fox: A combination of things, being a ALL American in college, getting drafted to play a game I love, and being named a AA All Star Last year. All those things are things I’m pretty proud of.

SethSpeaks:  Toughest thing about career in baseball?

Matt Fox: Without a doubt my shoulder surgery in 2005. It was tough on me mentally and physically. I wanted to prove myself after getting drafted high, but my shoulder was hurt and I couldn’t. Then the process of coming back, and not having my pre surgery stuff at first was hard mentally. But I’m at a good place now, and feel good about my arm and career and have realized that certain things happen for reasons, and that was something that I couldn’t control.

SethSpeaks: Funniest story in your minor league career?

Matt Fox: There have been too many things that I’ve seen and that have happened throughout my career to name.

SethSpeaks: What would it mean to make your big league debut?

Matt Fox: I’m sure it’s a common answer, but it would mean everything to me. I’m playing a game that I love for a living and it’s been a lifelong dream to become a Major League baseball player, so it will definitely be special. 

Thank you so much to Matt Fox for clearly taking some time to respond to all the questions.. If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 2

18 Feb

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

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

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

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 9-16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 10 – 38th Overall – Josh – SSJorge Polanco

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

Round 10 – 39th Overall – Seth – RHPRob Delaney

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

Round 10 –40th Overall – Roger – RHPCesar Ciurcina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 16 (and links)

24 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Here are our expert panels’ picks for Week 16. I would like to thank all of them for participating throughout the year. I am off to church now, but I hope you’ll check out the below sites. When I get back, I may have time to post the links, but they should all be on the left side of this screen. Many of the bloggers and writers are on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to follow them there as well. Here are our NFL “Expert” Picks Panel:

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Christmas Eve. Please feel free to discuss here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers