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Minnesotan Twins (in the Minors)

12 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

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

Andy Baldwin

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

Cole DeVries

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

Mark Dolenc

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

Nate Hanson

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

Matt Schuld

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

Derek McCallum

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

Roy Larson

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

AJ Pettersen

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

Madison Boer

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

John Krogstad

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

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

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Here are some more TwinsCentric links:

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

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

Twins Top Ten Prospect Review

14 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

World Series Contest

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

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

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

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

Here are a couple more minor league notes:

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

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

Hanson Provides Miracle Walk Off

21 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

  • At about 10:20 today, I’ll be on KFAN with Paul Allen to talk about the Twins. Listen on am1130 in the Twin Cities, or on one of their affiliates, or even at www. KFAN.com.

The Ft. Myers Miracle scored three runs in the bottom of the 5th inning, and going into the eighth frame, they held a one run lead. Bruce Pugh blew his first save of the season. The teams went into the bottom of the 9th inning tied at five. With the bases loaded, Minnesota native Nate Hanson stepped to the plate and ended the game in style. Sure, all he needed was a walk or a single, but he ended the game by launching a walk-off grand slam giving the Miracle a 9-5 win over Bradenton.

No one is hotter at the plate right now than Hanson right now. In his last seven games played, he has six multi-hit games. He is 13-29 over that stretch (.448). On the season, he is now hitting .352/.390/.574 with three doubles and three home runs.

Hanson was the subject of an article in my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011. Although he was born in California, his family moved to Minnesota when he was young. He went to Eden Prairie High School and the University of Minnesota before the Twins drafted him in the 28th round of the 2008 draft. He spend 2010 with the Miracle as well and hit .254/.324/.385 with 18 doubles and 11 home runs. He probably could be up at Double-A New Britain, but with Chris Parmelee playing 1B there every day, Hanson finds himself back in the Florida State League. He is making the most of the opportunity and the everyday spot in the middle of the lineup.

Another former Gopher is off to a terrific start as well. 2010 was a frustrating season for the professorial right-hander. He split time between New Britain and Rochester and between being a starter and a bullpen arm. In all, he was 1-8 with a 5.79 ERA. He is working out of the bullpen now for the Rock Cats. He has thrown 9.1 innings in four games and is yet to allow an earned run. He has given up just two hits, walked one and has 12 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .065 against him. Another Eden Prairie high school alum, the 26 year old hopes to continue his success and get back to Triple-A. Not bad for a player who was not drafted and signed with the Twins in 2006.

The Twins drafted catcher Kyle Knudson out of the University of Minnesota in the 9th round of the 2010 draft. Right now, he is splitting time with two other catchers at Beloit. He is hitting .313 (5-16) in the early season. Derek McCallum, the Twins fourth round pick in 2009 has really struggled to stay healthy since signing. He is back in Beloit this year playing 2B and some in the outfield. He is off to a slow start, hitting just .148 through his first 27 at  bats.

The Twins generally have a few Minnesota Gophers on their roster. Since the MLB draft starting in 1965, the Twins have drafted 35 Gophers.

Ya’ll, I’m so far behind on the minor league updates, so today is going to be very much just highlights from the past few games, just to get caught up. If you ever have any questions on the Twins minor league system, players, etc., please feel free to e-mail me.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayNate Hanson, Ft. Myers Miracle.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayAndrew Albers, Ft. Myers Miracle

Red Wings Ramblings

Wednesday – Red Wings  – Kyle Gibson will take the mound in Game 1 of a Thursday doubleheader. He was set to start on Wednesday until the game was postponed by rain, snow and freezing conditions.  

Rock Cats Report

Wednesday – Rock Cats 2, New Hampshire 6 – Deolis Guerra had his first rough start of the year. He gave up six runs on nine hits in three innings. Cole DeVries still hasn’t given up a run this year. He struck out two in two scoreless innings. Jake Stevens hasn’t either after two more shutout frames. Tyler Robertson struck out two in his two scoreless innings. Joe Benson and Evan Bigley were each 2-4.  

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Miracle 9, Bradenton 5 – If you’re reading this far into the blog, you know how this game finished up. Nate Hanson walked off with a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th to give the Miracle the 9-5 win. Hanson was 2-3 with two walks and it was his third home run of the year. Brian Dozier went 3-4 with a walk and three stolen bases. Danny Rams went 2-4 with his second triple and three RBI. Brad Stillings got the start for the Miracle and gave up four runs (2 earned) on three hits. He walked four and struck out three. Andrew Albers went 2.1 scoreless. Bruce Pugh gave up one run on five hits and a walk in his inning, so he gets the blown save. But he also gets the win thanks to that big, walk-off grand slam by Nate Hanson.

Snappers Bites

Wednesday – Snappers, Wisconsin – The conditions were bad enough that Wednesday night’s game was postponed already on Tuesday afternoon. The Snappers will resume play on Thursday in Peoria.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

Twins Links – And Excerpts from Twins Prospect Handbook

24 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Good Monday morning to all! Thanks as always for stopping by the site. When I got home from work on Friday, there were some footprints from my driveway to my front door. I hadn’t been there throughout the day, so whose boot prints were they? When I got inside, I realized that it was the mailman, and inside the door of my house was a box with two copies of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011. They are just copies for me to review, but I have to admit, seeing them, looking at the cover, looking at how many pages there are and how good it looks is pretty awesome. I spent a lot of time this weekend editing it, and I also spent too much time editing a couple of articles I have written for the Maple Street Press Twins 2011 Annual that TwinsCentric is working on. So, it has been a very busy weekend from an editing standpoint, and also from a being a dad standpoint, and that’s more fun.

PRE-ORDER PROSPECT HANDBOOK – So, because of that, I will be taking pre-orders through Tuesday at 5:00 when I will put together the final version of the book and place the initial order. So, if you want a pre-ordered copy, get your copy(ies) today. You can send me funds through Paypal ($14.95 sent to SethSpeaksNet@hotmail.com), or e-mail me at the same address to arrange payment. Again, thanks to all of you for your support.

With that, here are some links to Twins-related articles for you to check out:

  • If you’re reading this site, it’s very likely you’re already a frequent guest at Twinkie Town as well. I frequently link to Roger Dehring’s Weekly Minor League Reports, and over the past month Roger has been putting together a community vote/poll of the Top 50 Twins Prospects. They are now voting on Twins #35 Prospect.
  • On Sunday, Jesse from Twinkie Town posted Part 1 of a Q&A with Yours Truly on Twins Minor League pitchers. On Monday, Part 2 (The Hitters) will be posted as well.
  • Jeff A from The WGOM posted some Tigres Tales, an update on the Tigers de Aragua, the team in Venezuela that several Twins players play with.
  • Nick Nelson has been quite busy. On Friday, he wrote about The Mauer Factor, and on Sunday, he got to some comments on Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame election.
  • Kirsten Brown posted a very good blog showing how busy things were with the Twins during the past week.
  • Off the Mark posted a terrific look at Twins Wild Card: Pat Neshek.
  • Sean from Hitting the Foul Pole wrote about the End of the Punto Era.
    • I haven’t really given my thoughts on Punto much this offseason, but to summarize my thoughts, here you go. When given a starting gig, Punto struggled. We all know that. Yes, he made too much the last two years, especially since he was hurt quite a bit. However, I think a strong case could be made that he is baseball’s best utility infielder. His defense at all three infield spots was remarkable. For this interested, his UZR/150 were off the charts at all three positions. He didn’t hit much, but he did take a lot of pitches and found a way to get on base quite a bit. As a #9 hitter with a great glove, that works for me. Now, again, he was a utility player, not an everyday player. The only reason I am happy that Punto is no longer a Twins player is because I think Ron Gardenhire would have found a way to get him into the lineup three or four times a week. However, with an infield that currently includes Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a little depth in the form of a great glove would be perfect for the team. Nick Punto signed for $750,000. Matt Tolbert is going to get paid around $450,000 in 2011. Nick Punto is significantly better than Matt Tolbert. So, I am fine with the Twins letting him go, but like Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain, Punto should be missed by Twins fans for what he did.
  • Finally, I posted at the StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog last night. I posted a blog on the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011, and I included a couple of excerpts from the book. Here is what I posted.

Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011

Posted by Seth Stohs

Last update: January 24, 2011 – 12:26 AM

Minor league baseball players are doing all the same work that the big leaguers do. They are just doing it with far less fanfare, smaller per diems, less luxurious travel and hotel arrangements, and noticeably lighter wallets due to pay checks with far fewer zeroes. These players deserve to be recognized too!

That is a statement that I have used in the Introduction of the first two Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbooks. I really like that statement and as I’m writing the book, and spending the hours, trying to keep my eyes open, it is what keeps me going. There are profiles for well over 150 Twins prospects in this book. How many will play for the Minnesota Twins? Maybe 25? 35? 50? We don’t know, but in my mind, they all deserve to be recognized. They’re all working hard. They all are playing the game that I know I wanted to be playing as a career when I was in school.

The past two years, I have written Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbooks (2009 and 2010). Just within the last few days, I am now taking pre-orders for Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011. Today, I wanted to post just a couple of excerpts from the book to give you a sense of what you can expect from the nearly 170 page book. If you are interested in purchasing a book, please go to SethSpeaks.net to find details for how to pre-order.

Over 160 Prospect Profiles – Players from the Gulf Coast League Twins through Triple-A Rochester will appear in the book. Profiles include some stats, but also a scouting perspective as well. I also give my Top 5 Twins Dominican Summer League Prospects. Here is one example of a player profile.

A.J. Achter – RHP – (8/27/88)

Acquired: 46th round draft pick in 2010 out of Michigan State

2010 Team(s): Elizabethton Twins

2010 Stats: 1-0, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7 IP, 3 BB, 8 K

Many times, teams will draft someone in the later rounds that they like but are not certain they will be able to sign. They want to see something more. After a year at Texas Southern, Achter transferred to Michigan State. In 14 starts in 2009, he went 3-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP for the Spartans. In 2010, he went 4-4 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP (thanks to cutting his walk rate in half). The Twins took a late-round pick on the six-foot-five right-hander, but wanted to see more. Achter went to the prestigious Cape Cod League for the summer. There, he gave up just six earned runs and struck out 34 batters in 38 innings. On the final signing day, the Twins signed Achter and sent him to Elizabethton. In his first outing, he gave up four runs on five hits in 1.1 innings. In his three other appearances, he gave up just two hits (no runs) in six innings.

At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Achter has a good frame, and a strong presence on the mound. He has a fastball that touches 92 but sits at about 90. He is working on a curveball and slider. His best pitch at this stage is his changeup.

There are also a few stories from some other Twins bloggers and other writers. To give an example, here is a bit of an article I wrote called Nate Hanson: Minnesota’s Own.

Every year there is someone in the Twins organization (and likely every organization) who steps up and makes a name for himself. The player may have been a late-round pick. The player may have put up average numbers but nothing that jumps out at you. And then out-of-nowhere, the player has a tremendous season and the front office, scouts and fans all have to take a step back and re-evaluate the prospect. In 2010, that prospect for the Twins had to be Nate Hanson.

Hanson is a Minnesotan. Hanson was drafted by the Twins in the 28th round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Minnesota, but he had been a Minnesota guy for a long time already. Sure, he was born in California, but he moved to Minnesota when he was ten years old. Baseball and hockey were his two loves.

“We arrived in Minnesota, we quickly saw how much the state loved its hockey. I was a hockey and baseball player when we lived in California and continued that into Minnesota. I loved both sports the same amount and it was one of those cases where I loved the sport in which I was in season. I did not know what route I wanted to take in college.”

Which sport would he pick, and why? “I was being recruited for both sports and it was a tough decision. I ultimately thought I could play longer in baseball and knew the U of M had an excellent tradition. I visited a few schools and talked to many, but a big factor was coach (John) Anderson and the way he coaches and produces well rounded young men on and off the field. Minnesota is always at the top of the Big Ten and going to Minnesota was the best choice I could have ever made, especially with being so close to home and having my family there at every game. They really wanted to be able to come to all the home games.”

John Anderson became the head coach of the Gophers baseball program in the fall of 1981 and remains the team’s coach. He enters the 2011 with a career record of 1038-675-3 in his tenure. When he reached the 1,000 win plateau, he became the 39th coach in Division I history to reach that number, and just the 20th to reach that number with one team. The list of accolades for Anderson is huge, but he has been hugely successful on the field for the Gophers, and more important, he has prepared his players for the game and for life beyond the ball field.

According to Hanson, “Coach Anderson is a flat out leader. He has been winning since he took over as head coach. He is a coach that is well respected not only in the Big Ten, but nationally as well. Players listen to what he has to say and he is a player’s coach. It is always easier to play for a coach that knows the game and doesn’t ever panic if faced with adversity. He expects excellence and hard work on and off the field and that is a big reason why guys get drafted a lot from the U of M and why the Gophers finish in the top of the Big Ten year after year. Coach Anderson has taught me how to represent myself and the Gopher baseball tradition.”

Speaking of the draft, the Minnesota Twins have drafted 35 players out of the University of Minnesota since MLB initiated its Rule 4 draft in 1965. Glen Perkins is the only Gophers player to be drafted in the first round. Others drafted high include Denny Neagle (3rd, 1989), Derek McCallum (4th, 2009), Shane Gunderson (6th, 1995), Tom Jagletta (7th, 1977), Bryan Hickerson (7th, 1986) and Matt Scanlon (8th, 1999). Former Gopher Jay Kvasnicka was also drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of the 1988 draft. In 2010, his son Michael Kvasnicka was a first-round selection of the Houston Astros after playing three years with the Gophers.

That is a little less than half of the Hanson story, but it gives a good flavor of the type of information in the book.

Also in the book are several Top 10 Prospect Lists, Josh Johnson (Josh’s Thoughts) helped me out by writing a terrific article on Twins 1B prospect Chris Parmelee, as well as with several of the prospect profiles. I included his Top 30 Twins prospects as well. Also, for the first time, I asked someone associated with each of the Twins full-season affiliates to write an article related to their team, city, stadium and more. They did a good job of telling us about the affiliates. Regarding the 2010 draft, I was able to write a story telling the draft stories of several of the 2010 Twins draft picks including David Deminski, a Twins draft pick from St. Cloud State University, who had a very interesting story. In part:

His final three college seasons were spent playing for Pat Dolan at St. Cloud State University. However, the story of Deminsky is that he wondered how long, or even if, he would be able to play at all. “My college career was a bit of a roller coaster as I had never expected to be playing at the professional level after having my colon removed after a two-year battle with Ulcerative Colitis up until my freshman year of college baseball. I never even thought that I would be back for my sophomore season after going down to the Mayo (Clinic) in Rochester to have a surgery that would forever cure me from UC.”

But he not only returned to baseball, but he pitched well enough to garner interest from pro scouts. “I talked with (Twins area scout) Mark Wilson every once in awhile, but I was also in contact with several other teams from around the MLB.”

Draft day was exciting for the left-hander. “It was an honor to have my name called and be drafted. I could not be happier to have been selected by my hometown state’s team, as I have always been a hometown boy my whole life.” In fact, signing was a pretty easy decision, “Pretty simple. Where do I sign?”

There is a lot of information on the Twins minor leaguers fit into 170+ pages of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011. It was a ton of work, but it is stuff that I really enjoy. For Twins fans, understanding that the Twins choose to build from within whenever possible, the prospect handbook is a must-have! It’s a coffee table book to be used whenever Dick Bremer or LaVelle of Joe mention a minor leaguer. And, somehow, I am able to keep the price very low. Similar books that I have seen are found for anywhere from $20-$32, and I am trying to keep the book at $13.95. To pre-order, and for all pre-order information, click here. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. And, as always, thank you to all of you who support us!

——————————

  • Be sure to check out the new product offerings at DiamondCentric. Thome is my Homey t-shirts and sweatshirts are available. There is a special on the Punto Plays Dirty shirts. And, you’ll definitely want to check out the new t-shirts that were recently introduced!

Have a great week!! If you would like, please feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

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.

2010 Ft. Myers Preview

12 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!

Jake Mauer will be the Miracle’s manager in 2010 after managing the GCL Twins the last couple of years. Former long-time big leaguer Jim Dwyer will be the hitting coach while Steve Mintz is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Miracle 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

Kyle Gibson (5), Michael Tarsi, Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh, Brad Tippett.

Obviously Gibson is the name here, but he isn’t the only pitcher with upside. That said, he clearly has tremendous upside, multiple average or better pitches, and great makeup. Lanigan has a good fastball and is probably best known for having a very strong slider. Pugh throws hard and is still working on secondary pitches. He moved into the Beloit starting rotation late last year and was impressive. The goal would be for him to continue that progression. Brad Tippett doesn’t throw hard, but he absolutely knows how to pitch. Long and lanky, he still has room to grown and add strength. Tarsi is a tall lefty who doesn’t throw hard. He is the one returning to the Miracle rotation for the second year.

The Bullpen Arms

Billy Bullock (20), Henry Arias, Michael Allen, Tony Davis, Shooter Hunt, Blake Martin, Matt Williams.

This group is an interesting mix of hard-throwing talents and guys who have a lot to show. Billy Bullock is arguably the best relief pitching prospect in the system. The hard throwing righty became a reliever one year ago and added velocity to go with a very good slider. Tony Davis was drafted a year ago as well, and he spent time with several of the Twins affiliates, including a AA New Britain. The lefty knows how to pitch. Shooter Hunt had a rough 2009, and his first outing this year was ugly, but Mauer got him back out there the very next day and he was better. His upside is tremendous. Hopefully he can work through his control issues. Matt Williams has been around for a long time yet is still young. The Australian always does a good job and is sometimes overlooked. It is a big year for Arias, Allen and Martin.

The Catchers

Jair Fernandez, Chris Herrmann, Daniel Rohlfing.

This is a solid group of catchers, but the shock (for me) of spring was that Herrmann is skipping Beloit. He has played everywhere. He told me he played a lot of 2B his first year in college. He caught, played OF and played 3B over the next two years. The Twins drafted him as a catcher, but he played LF most days in Elizabethton. He was moved to catcher at Instructs, and in the first couple of games, he has played CF and catcher. Could he be another Craig Biggio type? The big thing is, that he can hit with a smooth lefty-handed swing. Fernandez came to camp this spring and played a little. Rohlfing actually played some in the outfield last year as well.

The Infielders

Nate Hanson, Yangervis Solarte, Drew Thompson, Paul Kelly, Chris Cates, Deibinson Romero, Nick Romero.

In 2005, the Twins drafted high school middle infielders Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson. They both had great starts to their career, but both missed significant time over the next two years. Last year, Thompson made a successful comeback in Beloit. This year, hopefully the same will be said for Kelly. Both are good guys, very talented, and if they can stay healthy through this season, both should jump back into the prospect rankings. Deibinson Romero was taken off of the 40 man roster this winter and returns to Ft. Myers where Twins officials would love to see anything positive. Nate Hanson played all over the Beloit infield a year ago, and will likely spend more time at 1B this year. Likewise, Solarte has the ability to play as many as seven positions. Chris Cates is great defensively and pitchers love when he is playing SS behind them. Nick Romero is another guy fully capable of playing around the infield. He has some real pop in his bat as well.

The Outfielders

Evan Bigley, Michael Harrington, Ramon Santana.

Three games into the season and there are already rumblings that Aaron Hicks or Angel Morales could move up to Ft. Myers in an attempt to give them an actual center fielder. Evan Bigley is a very good player, a very good hitter. Harrington can play all three positions and last year had a lot of extra base hits. Ramon Santana is an infielder that has now moved to the outfield, probably because of how good of an infielder he was. Chris Cates and Chris Herrmann have already played centerfield this year.

SUMMARY

To be completely honest, this is a team that has the ability to lose a lot of games early in the season. However, there are a few guys that are clearly have a chance to advance, but this could be a team built for a second half playoff run when some guys from Beloit are added to the roster.  

If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to ask… Leave your questions or comments.

Roster Projection: Ft. Myers Miracle

25 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we jump into my Ft. Myers (Twins Hi-A affiliate) roster projection, here are a couple of quick notes on some upcoming podcasts:

  • On Wednesday, I was on This Call to the Bullpen, a Kranepool Society podcast. I talked about Mauer, Nathan, Target Field, and much, much more.  
  • Then later on Wednesday night, the Twins Geek and I will joined Fanatic Jack and Topper Anton on Jack’s Twins Talk show.  We discussed/argued the Twins bullpen, the backup catcher spot and much more.
  • There will be an episode of The Show on Thursday night at a special time of 8:00 p.m. The show is already filled with guests.
  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 Ft. Myers Miracle’s season also begins on April 8th with a road game at Bradenton. The following night, the two teams will play in Ft. Myers. The Miracle will be managed this year by Jake Mauer, who has managed the GCL Twins in Ft. Myers the last couple of years, after spending a couple of seasons in the Twins farm system.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the Ft. Myers Miracle:

The Hitters 

  Ft. Myers
C Danny Rams
1B Jonathan Waltenbury
2B Drew Thompson
3B Deibinson Romero
SS James Beresford
LF Evan Bigley
CF Joe Benson
RF Angel Morales
DH Michael Harrington
Bu C Jair Fernandez
Bu IF Ramon Santana
Bu OF Dominic de la Osa
Bench Nick Romero
DL (Paul Kelly?)
  (Nathan Hanson)

Analysis: If Danny Rams begins the 2010 season in Beloit, it would probably be for the best, but with the catching situation and the higher levels and the depth of catchers at Beloit, he may begin at Ft. Myers. Fellow non-roster invite to Spring Training, Jair Fernandez will likely spend the summer with the Miracle. Jonathan Waltenbury had a disappointing offensive season in Beloit in 2009, and I would anticipate seeing Nick Romero and Nate Hanson playing quite a bit of first base, Hanson against lefties. Hanson and Nick Romero can play around the infield and back up any of the other infielders. It will be good to see what Drew Thompson can do with a full, normal offseason. Deibinson Romero came off of the 40 man roster after a disappointing 2009 season, so I expect him to remain with the Miracle. James Beresford is definitely worth watching at shortstop. Joe Benson and Angel Morales are both high-ceiling prospects. Evan Bigley and Michael Harrington are just good hitters, both should hit a lot of doubles. I put Harrington as the DH because I think they’ll get his bat in the lineup and he will play a lot in the outfield too. Dominic de la Osa was shifted to the outfield from second base during the offseason. Yesterday I mentioned that I thought Rene Tosoni would move from New Britain to Rochester and Joe Benson would be promoted to New Britain. I anticipate that happening six to eight weeks into the season, and at that time, I would project Aaron Hicks to move up to Ft. Myers.   

The Pitchers 

  Ft. Myers
SP Kyle Gibson
SP Bobby Lanigan
SP Brad Tippett
SP Dan Osterbrock
SP Michael Tarsi
   
CL Billy Bullock
8L Matt Williams
8R Steve Blevins
BP Bruce Pugh
BP Kyle Carr
BP Dan Berlind
BP Michael Allen
   
  (Blake Martin)
  (Thom Wright)
   

Analysis: Apparently Kyle Gibson has been impressive already this spring, and the team’s top 2009 pick has a chance to move quickly. I expect him to start at Ft. Myers, spend a couple of months there and then move up to New Britain. There’s even an outside chance he gets to Rochester. Lefty Michael Tarsi missed some time at the start of last season but did adequately. I expect him to spend much of the season here. Bobby Lanigan finished 2009 in Ft. Myers’ bullpen, but I assume he will return to the role of a starter. Dan Osterbrock was disappointed with his 2009 season with the Snappers, but I anticipate him pitching better in 2010 with the Miracle. Finally, Brad Tippett is a guy every Twins fan should know out. He has impeccable control, but he knows how to pitch. I think he’s got a chance to be good. 

Billy Bullock became a closer last year at the University of Florida. He did well in his pro debut, and people are very excited about him. This is also a very strong bullpen. Matt Williams is from Australia and has always done well in the bullpen throughout his career. Steve Blevins had a good year in 2009 in the Snappers bullpen with the exception of struggles against one team. I really expect him to do well in 2010. Bruce Pugh is a guy that several of us have called a sleeper. It will be interesting to see whether he is starting or if he’s going to pitch out of the bullpen. I think this will be another case where he’ll start in the Miracle bullpen and by midseason, he’ll be starting. Kyle Carr needs to be healthy, but the lefty has put up terrific strikeout numbers when healthy. Dan Berlind needs to show something in 2009. It’s also possibly the last chance for Michael Allen, or Blake Martin or Thom Wright.

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

Spring Training Q&A: Nate Hanson

15 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we get to the Q&A with Twins prospect Nate Hanson, here are a couple of notes from the weekend:

  • One Saturday, the TWINSCENTRIC Viewing Party at Major’s Sports Café in Apple Valley was a great success. Although we don’t have an official count, we know that there was at least 60 and probably closer to 70 in attendance. It was a ton of fun meeting many of you and putting faces to e-mail addresses and names. I got there about 11:25 and there were already people there, including a father-son from Iowa. They had made the 200 mile trek that morning and it was great to meet them. I told them that they would likely be the winner of the farthest distance traveled award (if there were such a thing!), but soon after, I met someone who had driven up from Chicago for the day. So… wow! But again, I think it was a great time. It was so much fun to be seeing live baseball again, although with all of the mingling, I’m not certain how much of the game I actually saw, but that’s alright. The crowd was excited for the Wilson Ramos double off the centerfield wall. They were thrilled for Pat Neshek’s two strikeout performance. Matt Tolbert’s horrendous defensive outing didn’t go unnoticed. I shouldn’t even mention names because then I know I’ll forget someone and feel bad, but here’s a try. All four TwinsCentric guys were there (John Bonnes, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and myself). Doogie Wolfsen and Phil Miller were in attendance. Andrew-Bryz Gornia (Off the Mark), Karlee Kanz (OMG Mn Twins), Eric Johnson (Undomed), Josh Johnson (Josh’s Thoughts), Barb and Kristie (Knuckleballs). Roger Dehring of Twinkie Town fame was there. Phil Mackey couldn’t be there, but he sent shots over the phone! And Scott from the Twins Train was there as well. Of course, what people who were there are still talking about today is the Kirsten Brown brownies!! They were incredible, and in fact, I mentioned on Facebook that I thought she should change the name of her blog from K-Bro’s Baseball Blog to K-Bro’s Baseball and Brownies Blog! Overall, I think the day was an incredible success. I had a great time, and I hope everyone that was there did. Hopefully we can try to do something like this once a month around the Twin Cities. Let us know what you think.
  • By the way, the general consensus at the event regarding Joe Mauer was surprisingly similar to my thoughts. Maybe he doesn’t want to play in Minnesota. Maybe he does want the money. All of that is his right as a free agent at the end of the year. Therefore, the Twins need to do what they have to. Committing $20-25 million to a catcher who missed a month of the year LAST YEAR, missed most of 2004, and has missed time with stress reactions and other injuries caused by being a catcher, it isn’t the smartest allocation of funds. I know, we all know, that with Mauer, the hometown kid, there is more to the story, but it is going to be interesting to see how this plays out, and what the fan reaction is to whatever happens.
  • As I was getting myself ready for the viewing party, I was running around tying up loose ends. I also was on another podcast. DW The Great (Twin-Keys) asked me last minute if I could be a guest for a few minutes on his new Saturday morning/10:00 a.m. podcast, so I said I would. First question was “So, Seth, what do you think of the Denard Span extension?” “umm… well… what is it?” It was announced just before 10:00, so I hadn’t seen it yet, but we did know it was five years. I know a lot of people are leery of these long-term extensions, but I am a huge proponent of them. Later it came out that the deal was for five years and $16.5 million. To me, that sounds very fair. There is risk. I mean, Span isn’t even arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season, but I love the idea of these deals. If Span simply stays on the same level that he has in his first two seasons, this is a great deal for the Twins. If he improves at all, that’s where the true benefit to the team comes in. That said, for Span it’s great because anything can happen and he is assured that he will make $16.5 million. I love long-term deals. They can be risky, but they provide salary certainty for the Twins, and they show commitment to the build-from-within philosophy. I love this deal for the Twins, and I’m thrilled for Denard Span too.

With that, let’s get to the Q&A of the Day! Nate Hanson was born in California, but he grew up in Minnesota. He went to Eden Prairie High School before being a member of the University of Minnesota Gophers baseball team. So when the Twins made him their 28th round draft pick in the 2008 draft, it was a very exciting thing for him and his family. He was primarily a 3B in college, but with the Beloit Snappers in 2009, he also played some at first base, shortstop and second base. He even pitched in one game. He can even boast a 0.00 ERA! That said, he is quite humble and likely won’t boast about anything. He should move up to Ft. Myers in 2010 and again probably play around the infield. Today, he answers our questions so we can get to know him a little better.

(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?

Nate Hanson: I had a decent year overall. Played a lot of games and actually played some first base which was a new experience for me and a fun one at that. I finished the year strong and was healthy the entire year which was big.

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

Nate Hanson: This past fall I went back to school. I also give lessons to youth kids in my community, so I stay busy when I am not preparing for the upcoming season. I also am a crazy Vikings and Wild fan so I watch a ton of hockey and football!

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

Nate Hanson: I started in October. I eased my way back into lifting and hitting. Around Christmas time, I was hitting and lifting 3-4 times a week. Then after the first of the year, I was throwing and hitting and lifting about 5 days a week.

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?

Nate Hanson: My goals for 2010 are to have a successful year statistics wise and help our team make the playoffs wherever I am. I want to improve my batting average a bit and that will come with more consistency. More so just have good at bats and do whatever I can to help the team win ball games when I am at the plate.

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

Nate Hanson: Spring Training is a time to get prepared for the upcoming season. You must work hard and show you belong. I can’t wait to get rolling with spring training and the season and run into the big leaguers and pick their brains a bit on the game of baseball.

SethSpeaks: Who was your Favorite Player?

Nate Hanson: I had a few favorite players, but I would say right now David Wright. He plays the game the game with passion and plays it hard. I love the way he plays 3B!

SethSpeaks: Any question who your Favorite Team was/is?

Nate Hanson: When I was younger I was a huge Angels fan as I was born in CA. But when I moved to MN, I became a Twins fan. I like all my MN sports team, especially the Wild!

SethSpeaks: What were you hearing leading up to the draft about where you might be selected? when it was the Twins that took you, what went through your mind?

Nate Hanson: I heard some stuff but I wanted the process to run its course. I knew if it was meant to happen it would happen, if not, I had another year of school. Then when Mark Wilson called to tell me he and the Twins had drafted me, it was awesome. Nothing better than the home town team drafting you!

SethSpeaks: Best thing of career in baseball? 

Nate Hanson: Well, I am getting paid to play a game and a game I love to play. I get to be a role model for the youth in my community and that really is what it is all about.

SethSpeaks: Toughest thing of career in baseball? 

Nate Hanson: It is tough playing 142 game season after you have played 56 in a college year. Also tough finding it deep inside you when you are in slump. You know you have a game every day and need to find a way to stay positive.

SethSpeaks: Funniest story in your minor league career? 

Nate Hanson: There have been many, but I will say last year in Beloit it seemed like everyone was a prankster! It kept the team loose when we were struggling as a team.

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

Nate Hanson: It would be a dream come true. That is what everyone says, but it would be. Being from MN, playing at Target Field would be mean the world to me and everyone who helped me throughout my baseball career.

Thank you very much to Nate Hanson for taking some of his time to respond. As you can see, he spent some time and put some thought into his response. If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

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