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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

Today, we will conclude our Organizational Depth Chart by looking at the Relief Pitchers. Frankly, it is kind of a mess thanks to about 89 minor league veterans brought in, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. As I said on Monday, many starters will get time as a reliever, and vice versa. This is especially true in the lower levels of the minor leagues where innings limits are still so important. The Twins bullpen in 2011 was pretty much horrible. They had lost Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, both guys who had long been in the Twins bullpen. They also let Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, and Ron Mahay departed via free agency. Each made huge money for relievers in free agency. As I’ve said, I would have wanted to bring back Crain, but I definitely understood letting the others go. The Twins brought in some minor league free agents, but as they had done so many times before, they made the decision to build a bullpen from within. Needing two or three pitchers to step up, only Glen Perkins really stepped up throughout the season. Anthony Swarzak was a surprise success as well in long relief and as a spot starter. Joe Nathan struggled in his return. Matt Capps just struggled. Two pitchers that likely would have been counted on to perform, Jeff Manship and Anthony Slama were out most of the season with injuries. Had those two been healthy all season, it could have been a better situation. To the surprise of many, the Twins seem to have gone with much the same philosophy in 2012. Instead of going after retread relievers, they are choosing to believe in their in-house options. They brought back Capps, are taking a flyer on Joel Zumaya, and have invited a small village of minor league veteran pitchers with some big league experience. All in the attempt to hope that three or four of them step up. It’s a philosophy I completely agree with despite the fact that it went very wrong in 2011. Then again, pretty much everything went wrong for the Twins in 2011. Fortunately 2012 is a new year. You can clamor for guys like Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey all you want. Or you can realize that they all struggled early in their careers and didn’t become big league regulars until late in their careers. They didn’t succeed in their first opportunities in the big leagues, and they have all had their struggles in the big leagues even after being given regular bullpen duties. So, although I am incredibly nervous about the Twins bullpen, and don’t have any idea how they will perform in 2012, I do think they have some talent, some young talent that should continue to get opportunities. That’s just smart.  Relievers who are good year in and year out are a rarity. Are there a dozen  in the entire big leagues that you could say have been lights out, have been difference-makers each of the past five seasons? (I’ll give you Mariano Rivera… you name another 10.) Because of that, bringing in 26-30 year olds with good arms and some measure of success makes a lot of sense to me.  

Below you will get a look at the names of many Twins minor league pitchers who will likely spend a lot of time in bullpens this upcoming season. I need to reiterate that these are just my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Matt Capps (RHP), Glen Perkins (LHP), Joel Zumaya (RHP), Brian Duensing (LHP), Alex Burnett (RHP), Anthony Swarzak (RHP), Jeff Gray (RHP), Terry Doyle (RHP-R5)

Some Twins fans choose to say that Matt Capps has been pretty bad in two of the last three years. Since it’s less than two weeks before spring training, so I’ll say that he’s been really good in four of his last six seasons! If healthy, he’ll be solid at the end of games. I think Glen Perkins proved himself throughout the 2011 season to believe he can be a dominant lefty reliever again in 2012. Brian Duensing likely moves to the bullpen. He is one of baseball’s best at getting left-handed hitters out, but one of the worst at getting right-handers out. Joel Zumaya hasn’t pitched since 2010, and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2006, but I guess there is a chance he could be really good for half of the season! Anthony Swarzak is out of options and he really proved himself in long-relief and spot-starting last year. He could find himself being thrown into more high leverage situations in 2012. Alex Burnett has the arguably the best stuff in the bullpen and hopefully he will be able to put it all together. He won’t turn 25 until late July. If Terry Doyle pitches fairly well in spring training, I believe that he will make the team. If a starter is hurt, he could be the guy to make some starts early in the season, or he could be a long reliever. I also believe that Jeff Gray will make this roster as well. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options.  

Rochester Red Wings

Anthony Slama (RHP), Carlos Gutierrez (RHP), Lester Oliveros (RHP), Cole DeVries (RHP), Deolis Guerra (RHP), Kyle Waldrop (RHP), Esmerling Vazquez (RHP), Tyler Robertson (LHP), Jared Burton (RHP), Jason Bulger (RHP), Samuel Deduno (RHP), Phil Dumatrait (LHP), Casey Fien (RHP), Luis Perdomo (RHP), Daryl Thompson (RHP), PJ Walters (RHP), Brendan Wise (RHP), Luke French (LHP), Brad Thompson (RHP), Matt Maloney (LHP)

What a mess spring training will be? The Twins will have to play a few split-squad games to get all of these guys innings. Inexplicably, Anthony Slama has never been given a shot by the Twins despite 10.3 K/9 and a 2.59 ERA in 92 AAA appearances. I think Lester Oliveros has a chance to be pretty good but he needs more time. The Twins don’t need to rush him (like they did with Alex Burnett). The Twins claimed Vazquez from the Diamondbacks on the last day of the 2011 season. He’s a hard-thrower with control issues. The same can be said for Deduno and Perdomo. Kyle Waldrop finally got a shot with the Twins in September and he should be given a very legitimate opportunity to make the Twins opening day roster and get time throughout the season with the Twins. The two non-roster invites that have a legitimate chance of making the big league roster early in the season are Jared Burton and Jason Bulger. Each has had quite a bit of big league success. Burton has been hurt much of the past two seasons. Bulger spent a long time with the Angels. Phil Dumatrait got way too much time with the Twins last year. Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson were added to the 40 man roster this offseason. Gutierrez made the move to the bullpen last year and pitched pretty well until shoulder issues. Still walks too many though. Robertson was terrific in the second half of last season as the New Britain closer. The lefty may not throw hard, but he was quite successful in his first season in the bullpen. Cole DeVries had a tremendous 2011 including a very good performance in the hitting Arizona Fall League. Matt Maloney is on the 40 man roster. The left-hander was brought in before Terry Ryan was named GM, but as a former Reds pitcher, it is likely that he was recommended by Wayne Krivsky, which makes him intriguing. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options, but there is a chance he could go unclaimed. Non-roster invites Burton, Bulger, Deduno, Dumatrait, Fien, Perdomo, Walters, French and the two Thompsons all have spent some time in the big leagues. Liam Hendriks said in a recent podcast that Brendan Wise is similar to Kyle Waldrop in terms of ability to get a lot of ground balls. The Aussie has been very good in AAA the last two years. Finally, it is a huge year for Deolis Guerra. After being really bad as a starting pitcher, he moved to the New Britain bullpen last year and was incredible. Suddenly he had better control, gave up less hits and struck out more than a batter an inning. How will he perform in AAA in 2012? It will be interesting to watch. I suspect we will see him by season’s end. He has one option left.  

New Britain Rock Cats

Matt Hauser (RHP), Andrew Albers (LHP), Brett Jacobson (RHP), Daniel Turpen (RHP), Tony Davis (LHP), Blake Martin (LHP), Cole Nelson (LHP), Spencer Steedley (LHP), Ricky Bowen (RHP), Jhon Garcia (RHP), Bruce Pugh (RHP), Dakota Watts (RHP), Steve Hirschfeld (RHP)

Will any of the leftovers from the Twins minor league signings move down to AA? We shall see. Matt Hauser ended the 2011 season with one appearance with the Rock Cats. He is a hard-throwing right hander who I think will be a big breakout candidate in 2012. Andrew Albers was the story of the year in the Twins system last year and my choice for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Brett Jacobson, Blake Martin and Spencer Steedley spent 2011 in New Britain, each splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Turpen came over from Colorado in the Kevin Slowey deal. He throws hard and side-arm but gets no strikeouts. Bruce Pugh and Dakota Watts both had disappointing 2011 seasons between Ft. Myers and New Britain. Each struggled in the Arizona Fall League. But each throws really hard and if they can find any measure of control, they are legit prospects. Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in both April and May. He struggled in June and moved to the bullpen, which is likely where he’ll wind up. Tony Davis is not a big guy, but he throws left-handed and touches 94-95 mph. He missed about half of last season with a shoulder surgery. He will be ready for spring training. Cole Nelson is a Minnesota native who came over from Detroit in the Delmon Young trade. Ricky Bowen signed with the Twins in May and did a nice job pitching out of the Ft. Myers bullpen. Jhon Garcia throws hard and can pitch in any role in the bullpen and spot start.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Jose Gonzalez (LHP), Michael Tonkin (RHP), Clinton Dempster (RHP), Bart Carter (LHP), Nelvin Fuentes (LHP), Edgar Ibarra (LHP), Kane Holbrooks (RHP), Matt Schuld (RHP), Brad Stillings (RHP), Caleb Thielbar (LHP), Blayne Weller (RHP), Miguel Munoz (RHP)

Jose Gonzalez was the closer in Beloit last year. He’ll likely continue in that role with the Miracle. He’s not tall and resembles Jose Mijares, but he throws hard and has a terrific slider. Michael Tonkin moved to the bullpen in 2011 and pitched very well. Dempster was terrific in the bullpen for Beloit but struggled upon his promotion to Ft. Myers. Carter dominated in Elizabethton and then pitched very well for the Snappers. A four year college guy, he should be pushed. Nelvin Fuentes has been pitching well for Puerto Rico in international competition. He has also steadily moved up the Twins system. The lefty works slow but he gets hitters out. Edgar Ibarra struggled in the Miracle rotation last year but finished strong in the bullpen. Kane Holbrooks had a tremendous 2010 season that saw him pitch well in Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain. 2011 was disappointing. He pitched well with no run support in April, but then he really struggled. He then missed the last couple of months. St. Thomas alum Matt Schuld pitched very well in Ft. Myers and then threw pretty well in New Britain. I only have him in Ft. Myers because of the numbers crunch at the higher levels. Caleb Thielbar became the first player the Twins signed from the St. Paul Saints and pitched in a few games for the Miracle. Blayne Weller pitched in the bullpen in Beloit although he ended the season pitching well as a starter. Miguel Munoz made his first start last year with the Miracle, hurt his elbow and then didn’t pitch again until late in the season. In his return to the Miracle, he re-aggravated the elbow injury and was shut down. Reports indicate that he did not have elbow surgery and rehabbed throughout the offseason.

Beloit Snappers

Corey Williams (LHP), Steve Evans (LHP), Steven Gruver (LHP), Jason Wheeler (LHP), David Hurlbut (LHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Garrett Jewell (RHP), Cole Johnson (RHP), Tobias Streich (RHP), Jhonatan Arias (RHP).

Corey Williams was the Twins 3rd round pick just a year ago. The lefty signed for nearly double the slot recommendation. But the Twins are quite excited about him. He’s another hard thrower, said to have nasty stuff and a strong mentality. Evans, Gruver, Hurlbut and Johnson were all 2011 draft picks out of college that pitched well at Elizabethton during the summer. Kimes pitched in just a couple of games before suffering from mono. Jason Wheeler was the team’s 8th round pick and signed at the deadline. He will debut in 2012. Tobias Streich and Jhonatan Arias were both strong-armed catchers without much bat. Last year at Instructs, the two were moved from behind the plate to the mound. The Twins have done this in the past with mixed results. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, but a year later he moved to the mound, and although he didn’t get to the big leagues, he spent 3 years in AAA as a reliever. Danny Santiesteban was an outfielder with a bunch of tools in the lower levels of the Twins system for a few years. He was moved to the mound but was released soon after. (By the way, Santiesteban has been a hitting star for the Newark Bears of the independent leagues the last couple of years.)

Elizabethton Twins

Luis Nunez (LHP), Ricardo Arevalo (RHP), Nathan Fawbush (RHP), Tyler Herr (RHP), Gonzalo Sanudo (RHP), Markus Solbach (RHP), Dallas Gallant (RHP)

Luis Nunez went 5-0 with 5 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 16 relief appearances in the GCL. The 20-year-old lefty throws gas with decent (but improving) secondary stuff. He is certainly one to watch. Tyler Herr is a tall right-hander who showed improvement in his second year in the GCL. Arevalo has gone 0-11 with a 4.37 ERA in 25 games over the past two years in the GCL. Nathan Fawbush is another tall kid with a lot of talent, but he has missed time each of the past two seasons since the Twins drafted him. Sanudo signed with the Twins in 2011 and in 20.2 innings in the GCL, he walked seven and struck out 22. He just turned 20. Markus Solbach signed about this time last year from Germany, and he went 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings in the GCL. He also pitched well in the World Cup.  Gallant had Tommy John surgery last spring and will be brought back slowly.

GCL Twins

Josh Burris (RHP), Josue Montanez (LHP), Gerardo Ramirez (RHP)

The Twins signed Ramirez last year out of Mexico and threw 17.1 innings in the GCL. He just turned 18. Montanez just turned 20 years old. He signed with the Twins last year as their 15th round pick a year after being taken in the 25th round in 2010 by the Padres. His first outing didn’t go well, and then he was really good his next seven outings. Josh Burris signed very late with the Twins last year out of LSU-Eunice. Last year, he played some 2B and some in the outfield. He hit .273 with a triple and a homer and stole 13 bases. He also was a reliever who walked too many. However, he hits 94 mph on the radar gun and is best known for his great 12-6 curveball.

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Corey Williams, 2.) Matt Hauser, 3.) Lester Oliveros, 4.) Deolis Guerra, 5.) Carlos Gutierrez, 6.) Luis Nunez, 7.) Tyler Robertson, 8.) Dakota Watts, 9.) Bruce Pugh 10.) Steven Evans

SUMMARY

The Twins bullpen was really bad last year. I don’t think there is any way around that. Glen Perkins stepped up, and once he was called up, Anthony Swarzak pitched well. If the Twins have any hope at being successful in 2012, they are going to need a few more guys to really step up. Capps is going to have to be healthy and pitch well. Zumaya may have to be healthy and successful. Duensing will have to fill the role of lefty-reliever. They brought in a bunch of minor league veterans, and it would be great if one or two of them would step up and contribute when called upon. There are several Twins minor leaguers who deserve an opportunity to step up, guys like Waldrop, Gutierrez, DeVries and even Anthony Slama. The Twins have made an effort to bring in some strong arms, and in doing so have found guys who also walk a bunch. In recent drafts, the Twins have also added some power arms to mixed results. Guys like Matt Hauser and Tony Davis could move up. 2011 draft picks Corey Williams, Matt Summers, Madison Boer, Trent Higginbotham and Josh Burris throw hard. Oh, and remember a couple of years ago when the Twins had something like three or four left-handed relievers in their entire farm system? Now, it appears that each team may have three or four lefties! There is definitely some talent in the bullpen, some very strong arms. Of course, we also have to remember that many starting pitchers who have decent stuff and aren’t working out as starters could be moved to the bullpen as well.  

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

Friday Twins Minor League Scoreboard

29 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Here are the scores and highlights from the Twins minor league system from Friday. But when you’re done checking out how the teams and players did tonight, but sure to check out John Sickels’ Minor League Ball site for his review of his preseason Top 20 Twins prospects.

Rochester Red Wings

Rochester 3, Louisville 8 – Yes, Denard Span did play, and he went 1-4. It was one of eight hits by the Red Wings, and no player had more than one. Jeff Bailey, Aaron Bates and Rene Rivera each hit a double. Scott Diamond started and gave up eight runs on 12 hits and two walks in just 2.2 innings. Cole DeVries gave up a hit and two walks in 2.2 scoreless innings. Chuck James gave up two hits in 1.2 scoreless innings. Jake Stevens pitched one scoreless inning.

New Britain Rock Cats

Game 1 – New Britain 4, Bowie 3 – For the first time since April 26, David Bromberg was on the mound for the Rock Cats. He went four innings and gave up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out three. Deolis Guerra then gave up one run on two hits in two innings. He walked none and struck out three. Tyler Robertson recorded his 11th save with a scoreless seventh inning, despite two walks. Deibinson Romero went 2-3 with his 20th double. Joe Benson doubled for the 22nd time, and Nate Hanson knocked his tenth double. Benson and Chris Parmelee each recorded an outfield assist in the game as well.

Game 2 – New Britain 3, Bowie 1 – Steve Hirschfeld gave up one run on three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out six. Brett Jacobson recorded the save with a 1-2-3 seventh frame. The Rock Cats won despite just five hits. Chris Herrmann knocked his sixth home run. Brian Dozier hit his sixth triple.  

Ft. Myers Miracle

Ft. Myers 0, Lakeland 11 – The Miracle lost for the 9th straight game. Tom Stuifbergen started and gave up seven runs on ten hits and a walk. Two of the hits were home runs. Brad Stillings then gave up one run on five hits and a walk in two innings. Matt Tone gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in his two innings. The Miracle had just four hits. Angel Morales was 2-4. James Beresford went 1-3 with a walk.

Beloit Snappers

Beloit 0, Burlington 2 – AJ Achter gave up two runs on four hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out three. Bart Carter came in and struck out three in two scoreless innings. Nelvin Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 eighth frame. The Snappers had just five hits. Lance Ray was 2-4. Michael Gonzales was 1-2 with two walks and his fourth stolen base.

Elizabethton Twins

Elizabethton 4, Danville 5 (10) – Pedro Guerra started and pitched well again. The righty gave up two runs on six hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out six. Steven Gruver then gave up an unearned run on three hits in two innings. Matt Summers gave up a run on two hits and two walks in two innings. He struck out four. Cole Johnson took the loss. He pitched the tenth and gave up a solo home run. JD Williams continues to impress with his bat. He went 2-2 with three walks, his fifth double and fifth stolen base. The team had just five hits. Rory Rhodes hit his fifth double, and Miguel Sano hit his seventh home run.  

GCL Twins

GCL Twins 9, GCL Red Sox 15 – The Twins offense broke out nicely in this game. Unfortunately, the pitching really struggled. Bobby O’Neill started and threw three shutout innings. Then Josue Montanez made his pro debut and gave up five runs on four hits and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning (that’s a 135.00 ERA). Gonzalo Sanudo got the final two out of the fourth inning, but not before giving up two runs (1 earned) on one hit and two walks. Kyle Wahle came in and gave up four runs on three walks and a hit and got just one out. Nick Cicio then gave up three hits but got the final out of the fifth inning. Gerardo Ramirez gave up two runs on three hits in two innings. Markus Solbach then gave up two runs (1 earned) on two hits in one inning. Stephen Wickens went 2-3 with two walks and two doubles, his third and fourth. Jacob Younis went 2-5 with his first double. Josh Hendricks and Michael Quesada each went 2-5. Jorge Polanco hit his fifth double, and Philip Chapman hit his ninth.  

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

SethSpeaks.net May Twins Minor League Pitchers of the Month

2 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Yesterday, we looked at some of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system in May and named Brian Dozier of the Ft. Myers Miracle as the hitter of the month. Today, I want to share with you some of the top pitchers in the Twins minor league system in the month of May. I’ll name the top 3 relievers and the top 5 pitchers, but I’ll start with a few honorable mentions:

  • Rochester – Andy Baldwin – 5 GS, 1-3, 3.64 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 32 H, 4 BB, 24 K
  • Ft. Myers – Matt Schuld – , 6 GS, 3-1, 4.02 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 16 K
  • Rochester – Carlos Gutierrez – 13 G, 1-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 19.2 IP, 16 H, 7 BB, 11 K
  • New Britain – Brett Jacobson – 8 G, 4 GS, 1-0, 1.54 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 14 H, 17 BB, 13 K
  • Ft. Myers – Andrew Albers – 6 G, 2 GS, 2-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 22 H, 3 BB, 15 K
  • Beloit – Matt Hauser – 10 G, 1-0, 3 saves, 1.54 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 9 BB, 17 K
  • Beloit – Jose Gonzalez – 11 G, 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 17 IP, 14 H, 8 BB, 16 K
  • Beloit – Ryan O’Rourke – 9 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 1.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 18 IP, 17 H, 7 BB, 11 K

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

Number 3 – Rochester – Anthony Slama - 11 G, 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 19 K

I can’t help but believe that Slama would have been on the Twins big league roster since Opening Day if not for the elbow issues during spring training. April was his spring training, and he really struggled in his five outings. In seven innings, he gave up six runs on seven hits and six walks. However, he turned things around quickly with the start of May. Control has been one of his concerns throughout his minor league career, so it is great to see just five walks in his 17.1 innings. He’s always been a big strikeout guy, and hopefully we see plenty of those with the Twins too. Slama should be with the team the rest of the season.

Number 2 – Beloit – Clinton Dempster – 11 G, 3-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 18 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 19 K

Dempster was the Twins 16th round draft pick in 2010 from Nicholls State U. The 22 year old southpaw made four appearances in Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit where he made ten appearances, including six starts. This season, he has worked exclusively out of the Snappers bullpen. He has pitched in long relief, and he has been the closer at times. In his last ten games in May, Dempster was 1-1 with a 0.56 ERA. He gave up just one run in 16 innings over that time. He is another guy with the possibility to move up to Ft. Myers soon.

And the SethSpeaks.net Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month of May is:

Rochester Red Wings – Chuck James - 10 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 17 K

Free Chuck James! That was the cry from many Twins bloggers throughout the month of May when the 29 year old lefty put up incredible numbers across the board. James signed a minor league deal with the Twins this spring after going 10-1 last year with the AA and AAA affiliates of the Washington Nationals after shoulder surgery the year before. Well, after going the entire month of May without allowing a run while walking very few and striking out well more than one per inning, James finally was added to the 40 man roster and promoted to the Twins over Memorial Day weekend. James was my #2 reliever of the month in April and was better in May. Like Slama, hopefully James proves the bloggers’ confidence accurate and remains with the big league club the rest of the year. And no, not just so that I can write new names in here next month.

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

Number 5 – New Britain – Liam Hendriks - 5 GS, 2-1, 2.90 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 31 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 31 K

Hendriks was the #3 minor league starter last month, and he was very good again this month. It is exciting since the Australian right-hander is still just 22 years old. He has more than held his own in Double-A and legitimized himself as a top pitching prospect. Overall, he is now 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He has 51 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched. He has actually pitching better against left-handed batters (.174)  than right-handed batters (.270).

Number 4 – Beloit – Adrian Salcedo - 6 GS, 3-2, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP,36 IP, 35 H, 10 BB, 20 K

Salcedo was actually better in April when he was 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA, but he was just honorable mention then. This month, he was able to make the Top 5. Again, Salcedo is a big-time prospect. He has a long, lanky athletic frame with long arms. He throws pretty hard and has good control In 58.2 innings, he has just 16 walks. He has gone six or more innings in six of his ten starts, and he has failed to go five innings just twice (both times going 4.2 innings).   

Number 3 – New Britain – Bobby Lanigan - 6 GS, 3-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 33 H, 7 BB, 19 K

Lanigan, the Twins 3rd round pick in 2008 out of Adelphi University, turned 24 years old in early May, and he celebrated by pitching very well. He had one clunker during the month (gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings), but he went at least six innings in his other 5 starts and gave up three once and two or less each other time. The highlight came on May 13 when he threw eight shutout innings and gave up just four hits and no walks against Portland. Overall this season, he is 4-3 with a 3.41 ERA.  

Number 2 – Rochester – Kyle Gibson - 6 GS, 3-2, 3.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 35 IP, 32 H, 7 BB, 38 K

For the second straight month, Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson finishes second in the monthly pitcher of the month voting (ok, it’s a one-person vote, but that’s ok). In April, the 23 year old from the University of Missouri went 0-1 with a 3.15 ERA in four starts and in 20 innings. He has tremendous control, and he is striking out more batters this year. He has great stuff, and he is very competitive. Gibson “struggled” in the middle of the month for a few starts. However, when Gibson “struggles”, it is giving up four runs in five innings. In many of his starts where he has given up runs, he has one bad inning and makes some adjustment and still gets through five innings. His last two starts have been very good. In 12.2 innings, he has given up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out 18 batters. I think there is a possibility that sometime in June, Gibson’s minor league career will come to an end, and he will be in a Twins uniform through the 2017 season, or longer!

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

New Britain – Steve Hirschfeld - 5 GS, 2-2, 2.93 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 30.2 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 23 K 

For the second straight month, Hirschfeld was the easy choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month. In April, he was 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA and opponents hit just .190. In May, he was just as good. Besides the numbers you see above, opponents hit just .196 against him. Overall, he is 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA. In 52.2 innings, he has given up just 36 hits, walked only 13. Opponents are hitting just .194 off of him. The 25 year old right hander missed most of the 2010 season, but he is making up for it now and there is no reason he should not be pitching in Rochester very soon. In fact, today, he has thrown six more shutout innings for the Rock Cats.

Congratulations to the three choices for players of the month, Brian Dozier of the Ft. Myers Miracle, Chuck James of the Rochester Red Wings and Steve Hirschfeld of the New Britain Rock Cats. But Congratulations to all of those players mentioned in these two articles on a great month of May. I think that this is a time when there will be several transactions and many of these players you have read about could be promoted (and some already have been.

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

Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month

2 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

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

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

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twins Minor League Breakout Pitchers

6 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Last night, I began a series of blog postings in which myself and four other Twins minor league bloggers will be making some picks. Yesterday, we shared our Twins Minor League Breakout Hitters in both the Upper and Lower Levels of the Twins minor league system. Today, I will share with you our thoughts on who could be Twins minor league breakout pitchers in 2011. Of course, the term “Breakout” means something different for everyone. For me, it isn’t about who will have the best year. Instead it is about who is probably not real well known, but by the end of the year the player will be known by more and more people because they have a very good year. Others may define it differently. In the Comments at the bottom, please feel free to discuss your choices. But here is just a reminder of who is on the panel:

Roger Dehring – He has been tracking the Twins minor league system and players for a long time. He is an occasional guest writer here, but he does a tremendous job of keeping the fine folks of Twinkie Town updated on the Twins minor leagues with his Weekly Minor League Reports each Saturday.

Josh Johnson – Finishing up college may inexplicably understandably been his top priority of late, but when it comes to knowing the Twins minor league system, Josh is among the top! He has written at Josh’s Thoughts for several years.

Steve Lien  – Steve writes the Twins content for Gear Up for Sports. He has written a lot of information on Twins minor leaguers and spent nearly as much time watching minor league practices in Ft. Myers as I did.

Cody Christie – Cody is the North Dakota Twins fan even if he now makes his residence in the Twin Cities. He has been a he addition to the Twins blogosphere in the past year writing on all levels of Twins baseball from the minors to the history.

Her are our choices for the Breakout Pitchers of the Year. Each of us will make two selections, one in the upper levels (AA/AAA) And one in the lower levels of the system.

TWINS BREAKOUT PITCHER – UPPER LEVELS

Seth – Steve Hirschfeld – He was tremendous in Ft. Myers two seasons ago and pitched in the Arizona Fall League. He was hurt most of last year. But he is a big guy with a good mix of pitches, and after a missed 2010, he will be anxiously awaiting 2011! Runner-Up: Bobby Lanigan.

Roger – Deolis Guerra – We all continue to have high expectations from this young man who is the lone player remaining from the Santana trade.  Like Hicks, he has yet to live up to both expectations and the hype.  But we all need to remember that he will still be only 21 years old on opening day.  Reports from spring training say he is the most improved player in camp.  Like Hicks, I believe this will be the year his performance meets expectations.  Runner-up:  Billy Bullock

Josh – Bobby Lanigan – Lanigan was on his way to a breakout ’10 before missing a month-and-a-half with an arm injury. He has good control of his fastball and a slider that will make hitters swing out of their shoes.

Steve – Billy Bullock Carlos Gutierrez.  For the first time in his Minor League career, Gutierrez will begin the season pitching out of the bullpen, where he excels with a 95 MPH power-sinker that induced over 3 Ground Ball Outs per Fly Ball Out in 2010 (60% GB Rate at AA, which is phenomenal).  His overall numbers aren’t impressive at first glance (which is why he’s my “breakout” pick) and he needs to harness his control, but he should see significant improvement across the board working exclusively out of the ‘pen. RUNNER-UP: Dakota Watts.

Cody – Liam Hendriks – Hendriks was well on his way to being the break-out pitcher of the lower levels last season with the Twins. He fits the mold of a “Twins Pitcher” by throwing strikes and keeping the ball down in the zone. It is going to be great to see what kind of season he can have without an injury interrupting the middle of his year. Runner-Up: Kyle Waldrop.

TWINS BREAKOUT PITCHER – LOWER LEVELS

Seth – Tom Stuifbergen – He first broke out in 2009 for Netherlands in the WBC. He had missed all of 2008 with some shoulder problems, but he did great against the Dominican Republic. At the time, some Twins fans thought he should have gone to the Miracle that year because of those four innings. However, he went to Elizabethton and pitched well. And in 2010, he pitched well when healthy for the Snappers. He will begin the 2011 season with the Miracle. I think he stays healthy, and if he does, he has a terrific changeup, very good control and is very smart on the mound. Runner-Up: BJ Hermsen.

Roger – Manuel Soliman – Soliman is a native of the Dominican Republic who spent his first two seasons in the organization as a third baseman for the DSL Twins.  It soon became clear that his strong arm would not overcome his inability to hit much over the Mendoza line, thus he was converted to a pitcher with the DSL Twins in 2009.  Soliman would report to the Elizabethton Twins last year, skipping the GCL.  With what we saw from this young man in the Appy League, we can look for him to have a huge 2011.  He should begin his season in Beloit with a promotion to Ft. Myers following the all-star break.       

Josh – Bruce Pugh – Pugh was on his way to a great 2010 season until an elbow strain derailed his season. When he returned from his month-long stint on the D.L., he couldn’t find the strike zone consistently and just wasn’t the same pitcher. He started two games in New Britain and walked eight batters in seven innings, but he’ll be back in Ft. Myers to start the 2011 season.

Steve – Manuel Soliman.  Another area where its hard for me to pick out a “breakout” pitcher, as many of the Twins pitching prospects have already excelled at the lower levels (i.e.: Dan Osterbrock, Liam Hendriks, Tom Stuifbergen).  Soliman was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, and at Elizabethton last year, he led the team in Strikeouts while posting a 5-2 record, 3.48 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP in 12 starts.  RUNNER-UP: Pat Dean

Cody – Alex Wimmers – Many are comparing Wimmers to last year’s break-out prospect, Kyle Gibson. Wimmers has the chance to make some big strides this year and it will be interesting to see if he can advance all the way to AAA like Gibson did in 2010. Since he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, keep an eye on his ability to strike out batters as moves through the Twins system. Runner-Up: Adrian Salcedo

We’ll be back later with our predictions for Twins Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Year. Feel free to leave your pitcher choices in the comments today.

Roster Projections: New Britain Rock Cats

30 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————–

  • Cody Christie, the North Dakota Twins Fan, joined me on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast last night. Lots more Twins topics covered such as the Jim Thome/Jason Kubel playing time question, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps, food options at Target Field, and many, many more topics.
  • If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin on Thursday night at 10:00. Travis Aune and Seth will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. We will talk about what’s going on with each Twins affiliate, how the teams are doing, who is hot, who is not, transactions, and much more.

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.

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