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Twins Release 12 Minor Leaguers

29 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

We all get wrapped up in the major league players, and I get wrapped up in the minor leaguers. Hopefully we will never get so into these things that we forget that these are real people. They aren’t robots. We can talk about how this player is playing great, and he gets to the big leagues. We too often write about how this player has been really disappointing. But like us, they are all people, subject to ups and downs. And today, for 12 Twins minor leaguers, they have lost their jobs. Some of them may get another opportunity in another organization. Some of them may go on to play independent baseball to keep their dreams alive. For some, that dream of getting to the big leagues may have been shattered. I hope that none of us are so callous not to realize the enormity of this to these players.

Knowing some of these guys, they’ll be just fine regardless of what life puts in front of them going forward. Since I spend some much time covering and writing about the Twins minor leagues, I think it’s important to step back and realize just how difficult it is to get to the big leagues. Realize just how few people live that dream, even among those who get an opportunity to play minor league ball.

Over the past two days, the Twins have informed the following players that they have been released:

  • Steve Blevins – RHP –The 24 year old was the 21st round pick of the Twins in 2008 out of Marshall. He began the 2010 season back in Beloit, but after 12 games, he was promoted to Ft. Myers. There, he pitched in 33 games. When there was a need at New Britain, he pitched 10.1 innings in four games for the Rock Cats. When I saw Blevins in Ft. Myers, I was very impressed with his fastball and slider. I hope that he will get an opportunity with another organization. If not, Blevins is a terrific guy who worked one offseason as a student teacher. He will do well with whatever direction he goes.
  • Brian Burke – IF – The already-24 year old was the Twins 29th round pick in 2010. He played at several colleges. He played 1B primarily for the Elizabethton Twins and hit .286/.343/437 with 15 doubles and six home runs in 60 games.
  • Brett Carroll – LHP – The Twins 42nd round pick in 2010 pitched well for the GCL Twins. The 23 year old was able to pitch in three games for the Ft. Myers Miracle and in eight innings, he walked none and struck out seven.
  • David Deminsky – LHP – The Sartell native and St. Cloud State alum was the Twins 44th round pick in 2010. The lefty did well last year in the GCL and got into two games in Ft. Myers as well. He was a subject of my 2010 Draft Stories article in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. He has overcome a lot in his life, and he will get past this too.
  • Joe Dickerson – OF – Dickerson was a 4th round pick of the Royals in 2005. After a strong start to his career, he fought injuries for two years before being let go in 2009. He didn’t play in 2010. When I talked to him briefly in Ft. Myers, he was just happy for another opportunity.
  • Justin Huber – DH – As I mentioned in an earlier blog today, Huber was released. It is somewhat surprising after he returned from playing in Japan last year.
  • Peter Kennelly – RHP – The 23 year old righty from Fordham University was the Twins 38th round pick of the Twins in 2009. In 69 innings over the last two years at E-Town and Beloit, he struck out 67, but he also walked 55.
  • Michael McCardell – RHP – McCardell burst onto the prospect scene shortly after the team used their 6th round pick in 2007 on the Kutztown University alum. He walked just eight and struck out 95 in his 63 inning rookie league debut. In 2008, he went 9-4 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in Beloit. He split 2009 between Ft. Myers and New Britain. Last year, he went 3-13 with a 5.28 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP in New Britain. He did a Q&A for this site and was a guest on a podcast last year. There is a chance that someone will pick him up. He’s got good size, and has shown very good control in his career.
  • Kyle Orr – P – The 22 year old was the 4th round pick of the Dodgers in 2006. He spent three years and hit just .225 with the Dodgers’ rookie league teams. Last year, he played in the Independent leagues. The Twins recently signed him and gave him a chance as a pitcher.  
  • Derrick Phillips – OF – The 20 year old was the 23rd round pick of the Nationals in 2008. They released him last summer during his third year with the GCL Nationals. He played a few games in Elizabethton. He is a big, strong athlete with power but he just didn’t make enough contact. He would have had to make the Beloit team.
  • Nick Tindall – C – Drafted in the 17th round out of high school by the Twins in 2009, Tindall is a 6-4 catcher. In two years with the GCL Twins, he hit .172.
  • Juan Portes – 3B/OF – Portes could have been a 6 year minor league free agent last offseason, but he quickly signed to stay with the Twins. The team’s 15th round draft pick out of high school in 2004, the 25 year old made some noise in big league spring training in 2010. Then he hit just .213/.287/.331 in his return trip to New Britain.

Best wishes to all of these guys going forward.  If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them here.

Top 30 Prospect Review

3 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we get started, if you are curious for my thoughts on Michael Cuddyer, Danny Valencia, Ken Griffey, Armando Galarraga, Jim Joyce, and all of last night’s minor league notes, click here (or scroll down). I actually posted early during the game last night. The Twins loss was a tough one and manager Ron Gardenhire was clearly frustrated during his press conference after the game. Gardy did say that Danny Valencia was brought up to play, not sit, so that’s a good thing. Does that mean that Orlando Hudson could be out for a while, with Nick Punto heading to 2B and Valencia at 3B? Or, are the Twins pulling the plug on the Punto/Harris combination at 3B and giving Valencia a shot? It will be fun to watch. Talking to Valencia last night, he was just excited for the opportunity. I’m happy for him.

At 9:20, I will make my weekly appearance on KFAN and www.KFAN.com with Paul Allen. It’s always fun to talk Twins with him. There are certainly plenty of baseball topics to cover this week, so it should be a lot of fun. On Wednesday, PA is joined by Baseball Bo Mitchell who now is the fantasy baseball and football guru for FS North. Today at noon, he will be hosting a live chat, so be sure to send him your questions.

The Twins lost 2-1 in extra innings to the Seattle Mariners. It was a frustrating loss due to a bad call at the end of the game, but the Twins had a couple of chances. Cliff Lee was definitely on his game and he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. Kevin Slowey was very good as well for seven innings. Jesse Crain was again very good in the 8th. Matt Guerrier threw one-plus good innings, and Jose Mijares actually made the pitch he needed to thanks to a very solid play by Matt Tolbert. I don’t know how this Seattle team is in last place. Doug Fister and Jason Vargas have both been very good, and they rely on a ton of movement on their pitches. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez are both very good. And their lineup is very good. Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Franklin Gutierrez are very good.

If you bought a copy of the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook (still available here, by the way), you know that near the back, you can find my Top 30 Twins Prospects for 2010. In addition, you can find my Top 30 lists from the previous four or five years. It’s always fun to look back and see where I was right or wrong. That’s really the subject of today’s blog posting. I am going to give my 2010 Top 30 Twins Prospects (as found in the Prospect Handbook) and give a brief update on how those players have done in 2010 through two months. On Friday, I will post my updated Top 30 or 40 or 50 prospect list. I definitely encourage any discussion or questions that you may have, in the Comments.

  • #1 – Aaron Hicks – OF – Beloit Snappers – It has been a roller coaster year for the 20 year old outfielder. He’s leading off and playing both CF and RF for the Snappers. He had a rough two weeks to his season (began 1-31), then went on a roll that propelled his batting average over .300. But he is now hitting about .240 after another rough stretch. Immensely talented. Good speed. Good power. Good range. Incredible arm. He’s a great prospect, no question. He just has a long way to go. He’s very raw.
  • #2 – Wilson Ramos – C – Rochester Red Wings – The 22 year old catcher almost made the big league club out of spring training, but he has done a good job of making the Twins look very wise in that decision. He hit below .200 in the first month. When Joe Mauer missed some time, Ramos was promoted to be the Twins starting catcher. He went 7-9 in his first two games, and then pretty much stunk after that. Since being demoted, his batting average dropped to about .150 and is now around .170. Yikes! Still a great catching prospect. The power will come. The batting average should improve. Defensively, he has a very strong arm. He has a lot more to develop now.
  • #3 – Miguel Sano – SS – DSL Twins – What do we know about the 17 year old? He’s 17 and has a ton of talent. He was in Ft. Myers from spring training until a week or two ago when he returned to the Dominican Republic to play with the DSL Twins. He hit a home run on the first pitch of his career and later tripled. But he has a ton to learn on the field and off the field. He wants to make the big leagues in three years. Just a guess… not going to happen.
  • #4 – Angel Morales – OF – Beloit Snappers – He was the Snappers co-MVP a year ago, but he was sent back to the Midwest League this year. A tremendous athlete, he has not hit for average this year. He has shown power glimpses, and his speed is tremendous. Again, immensely talented, but he has a lot of room for improvement.
  • #5 – Kyle Gibson – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Gibson began his pro career this spring with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After just a hand full of starts, he was promoted to AA New Britain where he has continued to pitch great. He has proven himself to be an extreme ground ball pitcher. Not only does he have great stuff on the mound, but he understands how to pitch, which is a great combination for a pitcher. Normally, I would assume he will spend the rest of the season in New Britain, but Gibson isn’t a typical pitching prospect and I would not be shocked if he moves to Rochester by year’s end. I can’t see him getting to the big leagues in 2010 unless there is a long-term need for a starting pitcher.
  • #6 – Ben Revere – OF – New Britain Rockcats – No power. Not a great outfielder. Not a strong arm. Not any extra base hits. But the guy hits. He just gets single after single after single. He had a decent showing in spring training, and is doing much better in AA New Britain than I would have guessed. There are some guys who just hit .320 every single year, and Revere might just be that as long as he maintains his terrific speed. He has also done a little better at drawing walks this year.
  • #7 – Danny Valencia – 3B – Minnesota Twins – Valencia got off to a rough start in Rochester this year. At one point he was hitting just .152. He then went on a 20 game hitting streak and has been hitting between .285 and .305 since. There are concerns. He has yet to hit a home run this year, although he has a lot of doubles. He has never walked a ton, but he has his IsoD back up to .050+ which is at least adequate. It will also be interesting to see how much his defense has been improved. With Michael Cuddyer going on the Bereavement List after last night’s game, Valencia was called up to the big leagues for the first time.
  • #8 – David Bromberg – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – 2-4 with a 3.72 ERA in his first ten starts for the Rockcats this season so far. However, he has 28 walks (and 39 strikeouts) in 55.2 innings. It has been a season of ups and downs already. AA is the level when you find out what you have in a prospect. Most pitchers struggle with the adjustment to AA, so I’m not at all worried about Bromberg. He’s still a top prospect, and it will be good to see how he adjusts in the second half.
  • #9 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain Rockcats – The late signing of Jason Repko meant that Tosoni was sent back to New Britain. He has been solid despite being unable to play much in the outfield due to shoulder problems. He’s primarily been a DH. He’s hitting .281 with 14 extra base hits. He still isn’t hitting left-handed pitching much, and his power is definitely down, but that could be related to the injury.
  • #10 – Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Salcedo began the season at Extended Spring Training. When there was a need in Beloit, the first name called was Michael Tonkin. Then BJ Hermsen. But the next need came at Ft. Myers, and Salcedo was chosen to make a few starts for them. He has pitched against the top teams in the Florida State League  and held his own. At just 19, it is likely he goes to Elizabethton or even Beloit for much of the rest of the season. He throws hard though, and he has a very good slider/curveball. He could be special.
  • #11 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – We so often forget that he just turned 21 after the season began. He is so young. He started the season by pitching very well in New Britain. Most important he was walking no one. He was promoted to AAA Rochester and has experienced plenty of struggles. Not a hard thrower, he is known to have the best changeup in the organization.
  • #12 – Joe Benson – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle – Had a bad April in New Britain, but in May, he hit .283 and hit four of his five home runs. It was then that he was demoted to Ft. Myers where he is hitting just .258 but had another five home runs in a couple of weeks. He has Revere-like speed. He is very good defensively and has a strong, accurate arm. He is the total package. He walks a ton. When he hit about .150 in April and when he hit .283 in May, his IsoD was about .120 in each case.
  • #13 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – he also began the year at Extended Spring, but he has made a hand full of starts with the Snappers now. He has had a couple of very good starts and a couple of starts that make me wonder if he could go to Elizabethton too. But the tall right-hander has great control and gets groundballs. He’s just a notch behind Salcedo in my mind.
  • #14 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – Ft. Myers Miracle – We all know that Parmelee won’t hit for batting average, but he really struggled to start the year at New Britain. He didn’t even take walks and didn’t show a lot of power. When he was demoted to Ft. Myers, it was well deserved. The goal would be for the game to slow back down for him so he can respond. So far, so good. He’s got three homers with the Miracle and has been taking more walks.
  • #15 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – In his 11 starts, he has had one start in which he gave up seven runs and one that he gave up eight runs in. In another, he gave up four runs. In 8 out his 11 starts, he has given up two runs or less. And most important, he is getting to work on his additional pitches so that when he does eventually move back to the bullpen, he has a couple of pitches to choose from.
  • #16 – Jeff Manship – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Nick Blackburn left the Twins for a family emergency and Manship came up to the team and made a spot start. He gave up two runs in six innings. He did a great job. That was probably his best start of the year as he has been a good starter in Rochester throughout the year. He has made strides from last year and will continue to pitch better as the season moves forward. He’s a solid #6 starting pitching option. He has actually pitched better with the Twins in limited duty than he has with the Red Wings.
  • #17 – Tyler Robertson – LHP – New Britain Rockcats – The lefty is currently 0-5 with a 4.89 ERA in AA, but most important, he is healthy. He made one start for Rochester when Manship was summoned to the Twins. The lefty doesn’t strike many out, and needs to cut down on the walks. Opponents have hit .333 off of him through his nine AA starts. Robertson has the size. He’s left-handed. He has a high baseball IQ. I believe he will be just fine, but clearly he will need to adjust to AA, just like everyone.  
  • #18 – Alex Burnett – RHP – Minnesota Twins – When the Twins promoted Alex Burnett for opening day because of the Clay Condrey injury, I was surprised. Pleasantly. But I figured it was a short-term situation, and it was. He was sent back to Rochester, but he never pitched because Jose Mijares went on the DL and he was brought back. He has stayed, and he has been impressive. He struggled with control early, he has been tremendous of late. Burnett has not allowed a run since May 8, a span of eight games and 13 innings.
  • #19 – Blayne Weller – RHP – Extended Spring Training – The right-hander remains in EST and likely will spend the summer in Elizabethton, Tennessee, pitching for the E-Twins. I had him ranked third among the big four, but he isn’t far behind Salcedo and Hermsen in my book.
  • #20 – Billy Bullock – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – The Twins 2nd round pick in 2009 has been pitching pretty well, most of the time. He is 0-3 with nine saves in 20 appearances. In 27.1 innings, he has 14 walks to go with 36 strikeouts. He was very good in May and continues to improve. He could be in New Britain in the next month.
  • #21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Rochester Red Wings – The 23 year old Plouffe has seemingly put it together in 2010. The acquisition of Hardy makes his future with the Twins uncertain, but he is playing well at Rochester. Well enough that he was promoted to the Twins for a 3 game series against the Brewers. He struggled upon his return to Rochester, but last night, he hit his fifth homer of the year.
  • #22 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit Snappers – Rams is strong. He has tremendous power. He does a decent job behind the plate and has a very strong arm. He is even solid at 1B. He can hit a fastball a long ways. However, he struggles with breaking pitches. Six walks and 49 strikeouts in 138 plate appearances.
  • #23 – Anthony Slama – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – It’s still hard to understand completely why Slama is not in the big leagues at the age of 26. In 26 AAA games this year, he is 0-1 with 11 saves. Opponents are hitting .142 against him and his ERA is 2.03. In 31 innings, he has 36 strikeouts. The only negative is the 15 walks.
  • #24 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Extended Spring Training – He remains in EST and will likely go to Elizabethton.
  • #25 – Mike McCardell – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – The 25 year old McCardell is currently 0-5 with a 4.45 ERA for the Rockcats. He certainly pitches to contact. In 57 innings, he has just 28 strikeouts to go with 20 walks.
  • #26 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain Rockcats – Started the season quite slowly but turned it around in May. He is able to play three infield positions well. He can hit for average and is at his best when he is patient at the plate. He has enough power to be a big league middle infielder.
  • #27 – Luke Hughes – 2B – Rochester Red Wings – Hughes was one of the good stories of the first half. The Australian who signed with the Twins in 2002 finally made his big league debut in April and in his first big league at bat, he launched a home run against Max Scherzer. Unfortunately, after he was sent back to Rochester and he has been hurt since then. That has been the story of his last two seasons. He plays well and gets noticed, and then gets hurt. With Singleton, they could compete for the 2B job in 2010.
  • #28 – Santos Arias – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Arias was a breakout candidate for me this year, but he has really struggled in his time with the Rockcats. He was their closer early in the season and that did not go well. He is 0-6 with a 4.28 ERA in 20 games (2 starts). Again, control has been the problem. In 33.1 innings, he has 24 strikeouts to go with 19 walks. He throws hard and has good offspeed pitches, so I think he’ll have a good second half.
  • #29 – Max Kepler – OF – Extended Spring Training – Still just 17 years old and at EST. He’ll play in the GCL this year, and maybe next year.
  • #30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Stuifbergen made a big name for himself last year in the WBC and the World Cup, but he also pitched well for Elizabethton after missing the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He began this season in Beloit pitching very well, but he missed time recently with some elbow discomfort. He told me last night that he has an MRI scheduled for next week on his elbow. He made a start last weekend and although he hit 90, he said there was pain in the elbow. Hopefully he will get good news because he is a guy that, if healthy, could move up this list very quickly.

There you have it, a review of how my Top 30 Twins prospects have done to start the 2010 season. I would love to hear your thoughts on my Top 30. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my updated Top 50. But if you have any thoughts, comments or would want to post your top 10/20/30, please feel free to comment here.

Decisions, Decisions

10 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins will enjoy a day off on Monday after winning the final two games of their series against Baltimore to split the series. One of the great things about baseball is that you just never know what will happen. We saw enough of that. On Saturday night, with the bases loaded and one out, the Twins pinch hit Joe Mauer for Alexi Casilla. Mauer proceeded to strike out. Light-hitting Drew Butera came up and lined a single to left field to give the Twins two insurance runs. Who can predict that happening? No one. But things like that happen on the time in baseball. When Twins fans saw the team’s lineup on Sunday morning, some may have thought it was a “B” lineup. And out of necessity, it really was. Joe Mauer was back in the lineup, but only as a DH which meant that Jim Thome and Jason Kubel were out of the lineup. JJ Hardy needed another day off, and Orlando Hudson requested a day off (according to the manager) and got it. So Sunday’s lineup consisted of Nick Punto batting second, Brendan Harris and Alexi Casilla against one of the game’s best young, left-handed pitchers, Brian Matusz. So of course, Punto went 2-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI. Harris went 3-4 with a double. Alexi Casilla went 2-4 with his first double. Denard Span stole the show going 3-4 with a triple, three RBI and his eighth stolen base. Baseball, it’s a funny game, and it’s a great game.

But that said, the Twins have some fairly big decisions to make in the coming days:

1.)    WITH JOE MAUER HEALTHY AND PROBABLY ABLE TO CATCH A GAME AGAINST THE WHITE SOX, WILL THE TWINS SEND WILSON RAMOS OR DREW BUTERA TO ROCHESTER?

  1. ANSWER 1.) This is a really easy question to answer. Wilson Ramos is a starter and a future star. This is the same story and explanation given at the end of spring training. It’s the same story and explanation given after Ramos had seven hits in his first two games. And it’s the same simple explanation and story now that he has gone 1-17 since his fast start. He is young. He has things to work on. He can get better and he will. But it is an easy decision; Wilson Ramos should go to Rochester.

 2.)    WHEN THE TWINS OPTION WILSON RAMOS TO ROCHESTER, WHO SHOULD THEY PROMOTE TO THE TWINS?

  1. ANSWER 2.) This one is a little more difficult to answer. Since the Twins have three catchers and are short a relief pitcher, I think that is the direction to go, especially heading into a weekend series against the Yankees. Here are some options:

                                                              i.      Anthony Slama  The 26 year old right-hander is certainly the name that most Twins fans want to see promoted. He has been strikeout machine throughout his minor league career.  This year, he has 25 strikeouts and a 1.77 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP in 20.1 innings in Rochester. The only negative number on his resume is his nine walks. He’s as ready as he will ever be. The only thing against Slama right now is that he is not on the Twins 40 man roster, but that is easily remedied. Clay Condrey or Jose Morales could be put on the 60 Day Disabled List.

                                                            ii.      Rob Delaney – The 25 year old is 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP in 19.1 innings, he has 21 strikeouts with just five walks. Delaney was added to the Twins 40 man roster this past November so he could easily come up.

                                                          iii.      Jose Mijares – The lefty has made his two scheduled rehab appearances in Rochester. If those went well, he could be taken off of the Disabled List. But he did poorly in both outings, so I don’t think it makes sense to push him back. Brian Duensing and Ron Mahay have both done very well in their left-handed reliever roles through the Twins first six weeks of games. When he is on, Mijares is better than either, and Duensing could be used as a long reliever, something the Twins don’t currently have.

                                                          iv.      Jeff Manship – As I just said, the Twins currently don’t have a long reliever. Duensing has not been stretched out at all yet. Manship is the best option for the role at Rochester. To me, this is an important role, and I think that Manship is the right decision, although I have no problem with either Anthony Slama or Rob Delaney being promoted.

 3.)    THERE ARE RUMORS THAT JJ HARDY COULD BE HEADED FOR THE DISABLED LIST. HE WILL BE EVALUATED ON TUESDAY. IF HARDY WERE TO REQUIRE A TWO-WEEK STINT ON THE DISABLED LIST, WHO SHOULD THE TWINS PROMOTE?

  1. ANSWER 3.) Again, this is another questions with several answers, including:

                                                              i.      Trevor Plouffe – The 23 year old has now been in AAA Rochester for two full years. He is off to a solid start in 2010, hitting .288/.355/.468 with eight doubles, three triples and two home runs. A terrific guy, he has also shown improvement with the glove. Personally, I would like to see him get a two week opportunity to be the team’s starting shortstop.

                                                            ii.      Danny Valencia – The 25 year old got off to a very slow start. At one point, he was hitting .152, but an eight-hit weekend increased his average to .246. He has been much more consistent of late and is hitting .276/.319/.362 with nine doubles. He is currently on a 14 game hitting streak during which he is 22-59 (.373) with eight of his doubles. Defensively, he has just three errors on the season and has continued to show improvement. Valencia could take over at 3B with Nick Punto taking over at shortstop until Hardy is ready.

                                                          iii.      Luke Hughes – Hughes was the one promoted when Punto went on the Disabled List a couple of weeks ago because he was the hot hitter at the time. He is 3-16 in four games since his return to Rochester. He does have the ability to play 2B and 3B.

                                                          iv.      Matt Tolbert – We know how much Gardy loves Tolbert, and his ability to play three infield positions. He is currently hitting .231/.284/.333 with six doubles, a triple and a home run. He is 3-19 in his last five games.

  1. Personally, I would be happy if the Twins promoted Trevor Plouffe or Danny Valencia. I would not be surprised at all if the Twins decided to promote Tolbert again.

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Anderson Hidalgo – Beloit Snappers

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mike McCardell – New Britain Rockcats

  • As you know, Dan Osterbrock was promoted from Beloit to Ft. Myers and made his first start over the weekend. Danny Rams was promoted temporarily to New Britain due to the catcher situation at the Twins highest levels. Likewise, Jair Fernandez went to Rochester to back up Allan de San Miguel. When Ramos is sent down, these catchers will likely move back.
  • Steve Hirschfeld was put back on the Disabled List for New Britain. Matt Williams moved up from Ft. Myers to New Britain.
  • Liam Hendriks was promoted to Ft. Myers. His strong start at Beloit earned him the promotion.
  • Beloit added swing-men Jhon Garcia and Eliecer Cardenas. Michael Tonkin was also promoted, and I would think that he would start. I must admit, that when I heard that the Snappers were adding a starter, I would have guessed Martire Garcia, Adrian Salcedo, BJ Hermsen or Blayne Weller would get the call ahead of Tonkin, but let’s just see how he is used and what happens.

Red Wings Report   

Sunday – Rochester 2, Louisville 5 Ryan Mullins gave the Red Wings their best start in awhile. The lanky lefty gave up three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out six. Rob Delaney came in and got the final out of the 6th frame. Jose Mijares came in and got two outs. He gave up two runs on two hits and a walk, but he did strike out two. Matt Fox got the final four outs, allowing just one hit. Brock Peterson went 2-3 with a triple. Luke Hughes hit a solo home run. The Louisville starter was Aroldis Chapman who gave up just the one run on four hits and five walks in 5.2 innings. He struck out six.  

New Britain Notes

Sunday – New Britain 1, Portland 2Juan Portes hit a single to drive in Ben Revere, who had been hit by a pitch and stole his tenth base. It was the only hit of the game for the Rockcats. Steve Singleton walked twice. Mike McCardell started and gave up one run on four hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out four. Henry Arias gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Chris Province threw two scoreless innings.   

Miracle Matters

Sunday – Ft. Myers – No Game Scheduled.

Snappers Snippets

Sunday – Beloit 1, Burlington 5Peter Kennelly made his first start of the season. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in four innings. Jhon Garcia threw two scoreless innings. Ben Tootle came in and gave up two unearned runs in two innings. Eliecer Cardenas then pitched a scoreless ninth inning. The Snappers managed just five hits. Anderson Hidalgo had three of them, all doubles. He already has eight doubles on the season.  

Any questions? Leave your comments here.

Oh My Goodness!

28 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins beat the Tigers 2-0 on Tuesday night. That was a great baseball game. I know everyone likes to see a lot of runs scored, but I love a good pitching duel. Francisco Liriano was incredible again. Justin Verlander was dominant, as usual. But the patience that the Twins lineup has clearly made a focus this season paid off. Even though Verlander is allowed to throw 120 pitches most times out, those 120 pitches last night came in just 5.1 innings. That allowed the Twins to get to the Tigers bullpen. Now, they added just one more run off of their bullpen, but the bigger picture tells us that the earlier they can get a starter out of the game matters. Several relievers had to pitch last night, and they may tire earlier tomorrow night. In the long run, this patient approach is going to pay off. Denard Span led off one inning with a stand-up triple. Orlando Hudson popped up. Joe Mauer grounded weakly to shortstop. Justin Morneau struck out (again). Another situation of a runner left on base? Of course it was. That said, with Verlander throwing like he was, it’s not like the batter has terribly much control. Verlander was still in control.

The other thing to remember is that when there are runners in scoring position and two outs… there are still two outs. It means that a hit is likely required to extend the inning and score some runs. Remember that the league average is less than .270. So no, you’re not going to score very often, even with a runner on 3B with two outs.

But the story of the game was Francisco Liriano, again. The lefty extended his scoreless streak to 23 innings with eight more shutout frames. He gave up just four hits. He walked just one (and that runner was eliminated when the next batter grounded into a double play) and struck out ten. He got nine groundball outs to four fly outs. He was throwing 94-96 with the fastball. His slider and changeups were both anywhere from 84-88 mph. He had great control. Here is what I tweeted and put on my facebook page: “Francisco Liriano “may never get back to 2006 form.” At what point do we all start saying that he just might? 25 scoreless innings? 30? 50? Yikes!

It’s at this point that it starts becoming fair to ask that question. As some have said, it will take more than four starts, for sure. But as others have said, his stuff and velocity are back, but now he probably understands the art of pitching better, so maybe he can be even better. That is a scary thought!

Jon Rauch came in for the 9th inning, and another save opportunity. This would be his most difficult opportunity, facing the Tigers 2-3-4 hitters. Johnny Damon got a hit, but he was forced out at second by a nice play by JJ Hardy. He then got Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez for the final outs. He recorded his 7th save of the year. And as I told several people, it’s just another three outs. And Rauch is proving that. As long as he can maintain that attitude, he will be just fine.

 What were your thoughts of the game and the Liriano performance?

Last night, I was the host of this week’s edition of Twins Minor League Weekly. Co-host Travis Aune had some other priorities, college-related, which take priority. I was joined by Justin Murphy who writes at Seamheads.com and at Auburnpub.com. He goes to school at Syracuse, so he took in a couple of the Rochester Red Wings games in Syracuse over the weekend. Then Joe Testa of the New Britain Rockcats called in and talked about things with that team. Later, Chris Herrmann of the Ft. Myers Miracle called in to talk about several topics with that team. It was a fun show. I shared Travis’s choice for Who’s Hot and Who’s Not for each of the affiliates. Hopefully you have a chance to listen.  

SethSpeaks Monday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Evan Bigley – Ft. Myers Miracle

SethSpeaks Monday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mike McCardell – New Britain Rockcats

 

Red Wings Report   

Monday – Rochester 3, Lehigh Valley 6 Yoslan Herrera made another start for the Red Wings. The Cuban righty went the first five innings. He gave up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out three. Tim Lahey gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in an inning. Matt Fox walked two and struck out three in two scoreless innings. The offense managed just five hits. Erik Lis hit his second home run, and Trevor Plouffe hit his third triple.  

New Britain Notes

Monday – Game 1 – New Britain 1, Richmond 3 – The Rockcats managed just three hits in the first game. Steve Singleton and Rene Tosoni each hit a double. Tosoni drove in the lone run with his. Ben Revere singles and stole his fourth base. Joe Benson walked twice. Tyler Robertson gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. Chris Province gave up a run on three hits and recorded the final five outs.  

Monday – Game 2 – New Britain 0, Richmond 2 – The Rockcats managed just three hits in the second game. No, that is not just copying the first sentence from the first game. They really did have just three hits, again. Ben Revere hit a double. Mike McCardell went the distance for New Britain. The right-handed gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.

Miracle Matters

Monday – Ft. Myers 2, Jupiter 6 – Brad Tippett struck out nine batters and walked none in six innings. But he gets the loss because he gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. Michael Allen came in and, in two innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. Yangervis Solarte went 2-4 with a walk and double. He also committed three throwing errors at 2B. Evan Bigley was 2-4 with an RBI double. Deibinson Romero and Chris Cates were each 2-4 as well.  

Snappers Snippets

Monday – Beloit 3, Burlington 13 – This game just got out of control in a hurry. Starter Brad Stillings gave up eight runs (6 earned) on eight hits and a walk in just two innings. Ben Tootle then gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in three innings. Peter Kennelly gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in his two innings. Edgar Ibarra pitched a perfect inning. Brian Dozier went 2-5. Aaron Hicks went 1-3 with two walks. Angel Morales was 1-3 with a walk and his eighth stolen base. Danny Rams walked twice.  

Do you have any thoughts on Francisco Liriano, the Twins, or their minor league system? Leave your 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.

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.

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