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Plouffe, Revere Promoted

4 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Following last night’s game, the Twins surprised no one by calling up Trevor Plouffe. They put Jim Thome on the Disabled List with the oblique injury.

They also mentioned that Jason Repko would be put on the Disabled List with his quad injury. They didn’t announce a corresponding move, but via Twitter, Red Wings catcher Rene Rivera commented, “Congrats to my roommate @BenRevere9 he going to the big leagues good luck my friend.”

I learned that Ray Chang was being promoted from New Britain up to Rochester as well.

Following a game on April 26th in which he went 0-3, Revere was hitting .194. He went 9-11 over next three games, and in the six games since that 0-3, he is 14-25 (.560), and he is now hitting .293 (I won’t mention the .330 OBP and .315 SLG, or the .645 OPS). It will be interesting to see what happens in the Twins outfield. I assume that if Revere is up, he will play. Could Rene Tosoni move to the bench? And if Delmon Young is back on Friday, who will be sent back to Rochester? I assume Tosoni which would make Revere the fourth outfielder until Jim Thome comes back. Or, does this tell us that Young may not be back as soon as we had hoped?

As for Plouffe, we have been clamoring for him to be called up for some time now. He had a bad spring training, with a bunch of errors. He was sent back to minor league camp early. He has played good defense for the Red Wings. He started the season on fire, particularly with extra base hits. On the season, he is hitting .282/.344/.590 (.934 OPS) with four doubles, a triple and six home runs. However, in his last nine games, he is 7-34 (.206). He went 4-5 with a double and a home run on Sunday. Take that one game out, and he has 3 hits in his last 29 at bats. However, getting Plouffe to the big leagues should help the Twins.

Alexi Casilla was already moved over to 2B last night. Plouffe has played 2B eight of the 21 games he has played at Rochester. Michael Cuddyer, Luke Hughes and Matt Tolbert can all play 2B. So, right now, the Twins have three options at SS, five options at 2B, and several options at 3B .With Revere and Tosoni still both in the big leagues, there is now enough outfield depth.

Ray Chang was promoted from New Britain to Rochester. The infielder was hitting .270/.320/.404 with nine doubles, a home run and 22 RBI so far this season. It is again inexplicable to me why it wasn’t Steve Singleton promoted, but it is possible that an infielder could be sent down when Young comes off the Disabled List. That’s all I can think of. I have to assume that an outfielder will be promoted from New Britain to Rochester, although that isn’t absolutely necessary as the Red Wings still have Jeff Bailey, Brandon Roberts, Dustin Martin and Brian Dinkelman who can play in the outfield.

What affect do you think that Plouffe will have on the Twins? I know he struggled in the big leagues last year when he was promoted to the Twins four times. He struckout quite a bit. He also hit two home runs. Hitting in the bottom of the order, he could be alright with the bat, but the bigger concern is what he can do with the glove. I will say this. It would be hard to believe that he could be worse than Casilla was. What affect will playing 2B have on Casilla, and what do you think the playing time will be at SS, 2B and in the OF? I assume that when he plays, Revere will bat second which should strengthen that spot in the lineup. He can bunt and run, which should be exciting. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Roster Projections: Rochester Red Wings

29 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 that 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.

Now that the Twins have set their own roster, what does it mean for the Triple-A team? After the Red Wings lost nearly 100 games last year, the Twins went out and acquired a lot of minor league veterans. They did this for a few reasons, but the primary one had to be to win more games and keep the Rochester fan base happy. Secondly, it does allow the Twins to be more patient with actual prospects so that they can play and develop at the proper pace. So, let’s take a look at a projected Red Wings roster. These are the guys who could be called up at any time to play for the Twins if needed. I will include whether or not they are on the Twins 40 man roster because if they are not, they will need to be added before being called up.)

(the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Rene Rivera (40 man – No) – Steve Holm (40 man – No) 

With Wilson Ramos with the Nationals and Jose Morales with the Rockies, the Twins went out and acquired two minor league veterans, each with Major League service time and many years of AAA experience. Danny Lehmann impressed in spring training and although I believe he will start at AA New Britain, he is also an option for a call up should Drew Butera be hurt.

Infielders: 1B – Jeff Bailey (40 man – No), 2B – Luke Hughes (40 man – Yes), 3B – Chase Lambin (40 man – No), SS – Trevor Plouffe (40 man – Yes), Utility – Michael Hollimon (40 man – No), 1B/DH – Erik Lis - (40 man – No)

Bailey and Lambin were the first two minor league free agents that they signed. Bailey got some playing time and displayed power with the Red Sox in parts of three season. He and Lambin both have a lot of experience. Lambin was an International League All-Star last year. Luke Hughes showed his power in spring training. He will just need to stay healthy in 2011 (something he hasn’t been able to do in recent years) and he will be with the Twins at some point. So will Trevor Plouffe, despite a tough spring. Bailey can play some right field. The other four infielders listed should move around the infield, including 1B, because their role with the Twins would likely be off the bench. Yes, it is possible that Toby Gardenhire is on the roster, although my guess is that he will be on the “Disabled List.” Steve Singleton and his organization-leading 43 doubles will likely begin the season back in New Britain due to the veterans brought in. Matt Brown and Ray Chang, who each got a Non-Roster Invite to spring training, are also possibilities for the Red Wings roster. Justin Huber, who was another Non-Roster invite, was recently released which likely means that Erik Lis could get a lot of at bats as the Designated Hitter. It is possible Chris Parmelee will end the season with the Red Wings.

Outfielders: LF – Dustin Martin (40 man – No), CF – Ben Revere (40 man – Yes), RF – Brian Dinkelman (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Brandon Roberts (40 man – No).

Martin will return for his third season with the Red Wings. Dinkelman will be there for his second full season. Both should have better seasons in 2011. Brandon Roberts has missed so much time the last few years with leg injuries. When he was healthy last year, he played really well, and in 153 at bats with the Red Wings at the end of 2010, he hit .333. He has primarily played CF in his career. As mentioned above, Bailey can play right field. Ben Revere will be making his Triple-A debut in 2011, even though he made his major league debut in 2010. Some believe he is ready for the big leagues. I believe he is close, but getting a year at AAA can only help him. He will likely be the one promoted to the Twins if there is a need. Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni impressed in spring training, and Tosoni could be the first promoted to AAA, if needed.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Eric Hacker (40 man – Yes), LHP Scott Diamond (40 man – No), RHP Kyle Gibson (40 man – No), Chuck James (40 man – No), Anthony Swarzak (40 man – Yes)

Obviously Gibson is the guy that everyone is going to be anxiously waiting for, but it will be good for him to get at least another 12-15 starts in Rochester. Triple-A hitters frequently have some big league time, and it is a good transition for pitchers to get to see hitters who are usually much more patient. Swarzak lost a lot of weight and he has regained some of the velocity he showed two years ago. Hopefully he can regain some of the effectiveness. The Twins gave up a lot (Billy Bullock) to retain the services of Scott Diamond. Hopefully it will be a good move. Diamond has put up terrific numbers throughout his minor league career, never posting an ERA above 3.52 at any level and striking out 7.3 per nine innings. Chuck James has 24 big league wins, and went 10-1 between AA and AAA last year with the Nationals organization in his return from surgery. Hacker went 16-8 with a league-average 4.51 ERA last year in the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t have a strong showing in big league camp, but he can provide Rochester with a solid season. The surprise omission here is David Bromberg. He made nine starts with the Red Wings last year and pitched well. He was added to the 40 man roster after the season, and he is a very good prospect, but it could be a positive in the long run for him to get a few more starts in AA and use what he learned in AAA late last year and in spring training this year.

Bullpen: RHP Alex Burnett (40 man – Yes), RHP Kyle Waldrop (40 man – No), RHP Jim Hoey (40 man – Yes), LHP Phil Dumatrait (40 man – No), RHP Chris Province (40 man – No), Yorman Bazardo (40 man – No), Andy Baldwin (40 man – No) RHP Anthony Slama (40 man – Yes)

I assume based on his arm issues during spring training that Anthony Slama could start the season on the Disabled List. Jim Hoey was the last guy with a chance to make the team to be sent down. He and his fastball could be promoted soon if he shows any semblance of control. Kyle Waldrop made another very strong impression this spring, and with the open 40 man roster spots, he could be added if needed. Alex Burnett was on the Twins opening day roster one year ago without any time in Rochester. He was sent back down in July before a September call-up. He will get more opportunities with the Twins. Phil Dumatrait is a former first-round pick who has quite a bit of big league time. He was the #4 lefty on a roster that kept three lefties in the bullpen. Chris Province came to the Twins last year from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He pitched mainly in New Britain last year. He did make a couple of starts for the Red Wings late in 2010, but he is a bullpen arm. Bazardo pitched well for the Tigres de Aragua this winter in Venezuela and got a minor league deal with the Twins. Low strikeout numbers, but he could be a long reliever. Baldwin is a Minnesota native who has spent the last three seasons pitching in AAA for the Mariners organization. You likely noticed that I did not include Carlos Gutierrez on this roster which may be a surprise to you. It was also somewhat of a surprise to me as well because he ended 2010 with two games for the Red Wings. I just think that with the minor league veterans, it would be good for him to begin the season pitching as the closer in New Britain. Remember, he has been doing a lot of starting in his pro career. It will be good for him to get some development time in the late innings for the Rockcats.He will get to AAA quickly. Additionally, Ryan Mullins and Minnesota-native Cole Devries remain options for the Red Wings bullpen.

Overall: This is a very veteran team which should mean a lot more wins in Rochester in 2011. I do believe that it is best for most of the prospects in the system in the long run, but there are not many prospects to watch in Rochester this year. Ben Revere and Kyle Gibson are the two that would be deemed top prospects. Plouffe is still just 24 and a prospect, but he is now in his fourth season with the Red Wings. Hughes and Waldrop made great impressions in spring training again, and we could see both of them this year.. Hoey and Burnett are exciting, but no longer “prospects” due to their time in the big leagues.

Due to the minor league free agents, AA New Britain should be filled with several exciting prospects such as Joe Benson, David Bromberg, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez, Dakota Watts, Steve Singleton and more.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. It will be very interesting to see where some of the team’s top prospects end up. There were more releases in the last couple of days, a couple that surprised me, and there will likely need to be more in the coming days to bring the rosters down to the appropriate level.

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

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Should Twins Fans Worry about Aaron Hicks?

18 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

It is always strange to me when I hear Twins fans and some minor league baseball fans talking about how disappointing Aaron Hicks has been in Beloit. I think part of it is because many, myself included, thought he would end the 2010 season in Ft. Myers. I realize everyone from fans to players to front office personnel are eagerly awaiting his breakout year when his incredible tools become skills and he puts up some terrific numbers. But I wanted to take a look at how his numbers at Beloit compare to other Twins players and their numbers in the Midwest League.

Let’s start by reviewing the numbers that Aaron Hicks has put up the last two years in Beloit:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Aaron Hicks 19 2009 Beloit .251/.353/.382 (735) 15/3/4/29 40/55
Aaron Hicks 20 2010 Beloit .279/.401/.428 (829) 27/6/8/49 88/112

Here are some current and former Twins players and how they did in the Midwest League (Note – Delmon Young’s A-ball numbers from the Sally League):

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Torii Hunter 18 1994 Ft. Wayne .293/.358/.439 (797) 17/1/10/50 25/80
Michael Cuddyer 19 1998 Ft. Wayne .276/.364/.451 (815) 37/7/12/81 61/107
Justin Morneau 20 2001 Quad Cities .356/.420/.597 (1017) 17/2/12/53 26/38
Joe Mauer 19 2002 Quad Cities .302/.393/.392 (785) 23/1/4/62 61/42
Jason Kubel 20 2002 Quad Cities .321/.380/.521 (901) 26/4/17/69 41/48
Denard Span 20 2004 Quad Cities .267/.363/.308 (671) 4/3/0/14 34/49
Delmon Young 18 2004 Charleston .320/.386/.536 (922) 26/5/25/115 53/120
Alexi Casilla 20 2005 Cedar Rapids .325/.392/.409 (801) 11/3/3/17 29/31

Here are a few notes:

  • Everyone talks about how Torii Hunter didn’t put up great numbers in the Midwest League. Well, he did, and he did it at the age of 18. He was already showing some of that power.
  • Michael Cuddyer put up some incredible minor league numbers all the way up the ladder, and it started as a 19 year old in 1998. Look at all those extra base hits.
  • Justin Morneau didn’t get to the Midwest League until he was 20, and he only spent a half season there because he completely dominated the level.
  • Joe Mauer’s OPS isn’t exciting, but we did get a glimpse of the player he has become too. Many more walks than strikeouts, a few doubles, and a good batting average.
  • How fun would it have been to see Quad Cities play in 2002 with Mauer and Jason Kubel? You can see why so many people back then saw Kubel as a mix between Morneau and Mauer.
  • Denard Span didn’t exactly put up monster numbers, and he did miss quite a bit of time with injury. The take-away from those numbers is that he had a very nice Isolated Discipline already even though he was, like Hicks, very raw at the time.
  • Delmon Young was a beast after being taken with the 1st overall pick in the 2003 draft. Ever wonder why people still think he’ll develop a lot of power, check out those numbers!
  • Alexi Casilla was with the Angels organization, but what he did for Cedar Rapids made him the guy they wanted in a trade of JC Romero the next offseason.
  • I included international players and high school drafted players in this group. Danny Valencia hit .302/.374/.500 (874) with 15 doubles and 11 homers in a half-season with the Snappers, but he was 22 years old after spending three years playing Division I baseball. Matt Tolbert played four years at the University of Mississippi, so the Twins had him skip the Midwest League and go right to Ft. Myers.

Can we take anything away from these numbers? With Hicks, you have to love his Isolated Discipline and On-Base skills from both years. The strikeouts increased some in 2010, but he has shown some extra base power. Delmon Young, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel put up really tremendous numbers in the Midwest League, and that has translated to the big leagues eventually. Cuddyer was an extra base machine as a 19 year old in Beloit, and yet his OPS was lower than Hicks’ was in 2010, as a 20 year old. Joe Mauer has always had a terrific eye, and yet Hicks has produced significantly better IsoD while producing more extra base hits.

Of course, we don’t know what will happen. We know that all players develop differently, but I think that this quick, cursory glance at Hicks’ numbers compared to current big leaguers gives us no reason to believe he won’t continue developing and become a very good big league player.

Let’s also take a look at the Midwest League numbers of some of the other Twins hitting prospects to see how they compare:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Trevor Plouffe 19 2005 Beloit .223/.300/.345 (645) 18/0/13/60 50/78
Chris Parmelee 19 2007 Beloit .239/.313/.414 (727) 23/5/15/70 46/137
Chris Parmelee 20 2008 Beloit .239/.385/.496 (881) 10/3/14/49 52/83
Joe Benson 19 2007 Beloit .255/.347/.368 (715) 18/8/5/38 49/124
Joe Benson 20 2008 Beloit .248/.326/.382 (708) 16/3/4/27 24/73
Ben Revere 20 2008 Beloit .379/.433/.497 (930) 17/10/1/43 27/31
Angel Morales 19 2009 Beloit .266/.329/.455 (784) 22/5/13/62 30/104
Angel Morales 20 2010 Beloit .289/.381/.474 (855) 13/7/4/36 24/65
James Beresford 20 2009 Beloit .289/.342/.313 (655) 11/0/0/38 34/70
James Beresford 21 2010 Beloit .297/.349/.363 (712) 19/5/1/59 34/56
Danny Rams 20 2009 Beloit .229/.308/.429 (737) 14/0/7/23 18/77
Danny Rams 21 2010 Beloit .243/.310/.450 (760) 28/4/16/68 31/145
Anderson Hidalgo 21 2010 Beloit .316/.375/.443 (818) 25/1/3/28 24/50
  • Trevor Plouffe put up those numbers only because he played much better in the 2nd half of the season. Good power numbers, but he could have used another year with the Snappers.
  • Both Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee struggled in their first seasons in the Midwest League. Then both got hurt halfway through their second season with the team. However, in the second year, you can see why people are excited about his patience and power potential.
  • Looking at Revere’s Beloit numbers, what a year he had. Very much batting average based, of course. But if we were to only look at OPS, his is right up there with anyone (except Morneau). And he stole 44 bases that year too.
  • Angel Morales… how/why is he so overlooked in many prospect rankings?
  • James Beresford showed good improvement from 2009 and 2010. Reports are that he has gained some weight this offseason. If he can add any semblance of power to his game, he could jump up prospect rankings quickly!
  • Danny Rams has so much power potential, but he just needs to put the ball in play more. His 77 strikeouts in 2009 came in just 175 at bats. He struck out 145 times in 407 at bats in 2010. Yet, his power numbers still make him intriguing.
  • Anderson Hidalgo may be the least known, or maybe underrated, prospect in the organization. He had another solid year in 2010.

What is the summary? There really isn’t one. There is no science to prospect rankings and we don’t know how things will turn out, but if nothing else, I believe this data shows that Twins fans should continue to be very excited about the future of Aaron Hicks.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments here. Also, for more links to Twins articles and thoughts throughout the weekend, be sure to follow me on Twitter where I like to retweet Twins-related articles and post thoughts frequently. Have a great weekend!

Twins 2011 Impact Prospects

15 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

As you have seen, Danny Valencia graces the cover of my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011. Under his picture reads, “Danny Valencia arrived in 2010 and held the Twins to the A. L. Central Title.” Under four pictures of Twins minor leaguers, the question is asked, “Which Prospect(s) will help the Twins in 2011?”

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011

Now, as you know, there are over 160 profiles of Twins minor leaguers in the book. How many of them could we see in Minnesota, and under what circumstance would we see them? Here are some names (alphabetically) to keep in the back of your mind heading into spring training.

Let’s start with the prospects that we have already seen play for the Twins.

Luke Hughes - We didn’t get to see a lot of Hughes in 2010, but what we saw was positive. I mean, he became the first Twins player since 1984 to hit a home run in his first at bat. Hughes struggles defensively, but at least he can play multiple positions, and most important, he is right-handed and has a lot of power in his bat. His role with the Twins could be a right-handed bench bat and designated hitter who can fill in from time to time around the field.

Trevor Plouffe - Plouffe was back and forth between Rochester and the Twins throughout last summer. He struggled late in the Triple-A season, but he displayed power and improved his defense. I think he’ll compete with Alexi Casilla for the starting shortstop job. As this is his final option season, I would anticipate that he will play at 3B and 2B in 2011 than he did in 2010 as he could potentially be a utility infielder as well.

Ben Revere - We got a glimpse of Revere in September and I think that is the role we will see him fill in 2011 as well. If Denard Span is hurt, Revere could replace him for a couple of weeks in centerfield and in the leadoff spot. Some think he should be a fourth outfielder already, but he is just 22, hasn’t spent a day in AAA, and despite hitting .300 yet again and having game-changing speed, he still has parts of his game that need to improve, specifically defense.

Next, there are two guys that we haven’t seen yet, but we know we will hear a lot about this spring:

Scott Diamond - The Twins Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves organization has to spend the season with the Twins or go through waivers and be offered back to the Braves. It is likely he would be claimed or the Braves would take him back, so the Twins will likely give the left-hander every opportunity to make the team.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka - The Twins made big news last Thanksgiving when they won the bid to negotiate exclusively with Nishioka. The two sides agreed to a three year contract with an option for a fourth year. It’s almost a given that Nishioka will be with the Twins and playing at 2B, although he will also see time at shortstop in spring.

The following are Twins minor leaguers that I think have at least some chance of debuting with the Twins in 2011:

Joe Benson - The Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year hit 31 doubles and 27 home runs in 2010. He is an excellent defender with Revere-like speed, and a Cuddyer-like arm. He has work to do before he’s ready for a full-time big league job. It woudl be great if he could spend the year at Double-A.  He has to work on putting the ball in play more consistently, but if he does, he could get a September call-up.

David Bromberg - After leading three minor league levels in strikeouts from 2007 to 2009, his strikeout rate was down at Double-A last year. However, he ended the season with nine starts and AAA where he struck out just over eight per nine innings. He will start the season in the Rochester rotation, and if the Twins have a need for a starter and Bromberg is pitching well, he very easily could be the one promoted for a spot start, or even possibly a long-relief role.

Billy Bullock - Bullock throws gas. The 2nd round pick from 2009 consistently throws around 95 mph with a very good slider. He began the 2010 season by striking out 45 in 37.1 innings at Ft. Myers. After being promoted to Double-A, he struck out and incredible 60 batters in 36.2 innings. Of course, he also walked 24. If he can display any semblance of control in 2010 in the upper levels of the minor leagues, he becomes very intriguing for the Twins in the second half of the season.

Tony Davis - Bullock’s college teammate is a left-hander who also pitched well in his first full season. He began the season by posting a 2.87 ERA in Ft. Myers and followed it up with a 2.64 ERA in New Britain. Again, control is his issue. He walked 46 batters and struck out 45 batters in 2010. The Twins added some left-handed veterans this offseason, so it would take a lot of control and some breaks for Davis to debut in 2011.

Kyle Gibson - The 2009 top pick is clearly the Twins top pitching prospect. He moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain and ended the season with three starts at Rochester. Gibson is clearly going to be a starter for the Twins at some point. The question is whether it is in June, August, or if they can wait for him to debut until 2012. If he pitches well early in the 2011 season, he should be starting for the Twins by June. If he’s pitching well later in the season, but the Twins starters are doing their part, there is some opportunity for him to debut later in the summer in the bullpen.

Carlos Gutierrez - The Twins second first round pick in 2008 throws hard and induces a lot of ground balls because he gets a lot of sink on his pitches. He has struggled as a starter, and he thrives in the bullpen. He has a chance to contribute to the Twins in the second half of the 2011 season if he is pitching well.

Chris Parmelee - The Twins 2006 first-round pick had always shown an ability to take a walk and hit for some power. In 2010, he made major strides in putting the ball in play and hitting for average. Hopefully in 2011, he can put it all together and become a big-time, all-around hitting prospect. It would be great if he could spend the full season in AA, but if he’s hitting well and (the worst-case scenario occurs and) Justin Morneau needs to miss extended time, Parmelee becomes an option for the big league club.

Chris Province - Province came to the Twins last year in spring training from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He is a reliever, although he made several starts a year ago between Double-A and Triple-A. A lot would need to happen for him to debut with the Twins, but he has a fastball that darts in on a right-hander’s hands. If he’s pitching well at a given time when there is a need, he has an outside shot.

Brandon Roberts - Roberts has generally played well throughout the four years he has been in the Twins organization. The problem is that he has been hurt so much. Last year, he finally remained healthy enough to work up to AAA where the CF hit over .300. He has had some knee problems, but speed is his game. Again, there is a smaller chance, but if he stays healthy and produces like he did last year, you never know.

Steve Singleton - After a slow start in 2010, he came on well late in the season. He led the organization with 43 doubles, and had 54 extra base hits on the year. He puts the ball in play and plays solid defense at 2B and has also played 3B and shortstop. He has a lot of pop for a second baseman, and if he can continue to play well, if there is an injury, he deserves an opportunity.

Rene Tosoni - Tosoni is just a solid all-around player. The only weak part of his game has been an inability to hit left-handed pitching. He tried to play in 2010, but his shoulder was experiencing just too much pain, so his season ended with surgery. He profiles similarly to Jason Kubel in terms of hitter. He is a little better defensively, has a little bit more speed, and has a strong arm. It will be interesting to see how he returns from missing so much time last year.

Kyle Waldrop - He had an absolutely incredible first-half of the season a year ago. It started with a great spring training before being sent to Rochester. Prior to the AAA All-Star game, he had posted both an ERA and a WHIP of under 1.00. He struggled some in the second half. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but he gets a lot of movement and sink on the fastball and could be a groundball reliever option sometime this season.

Dakota Watts - Maybe the biggest long-shot on the list, the Twins 16th round pick in 2009 pitched at Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2010. He was clocked at 99 mph while in Ft. Myers. That along makes him worth watching. He can get a strikeout, probably walks too many, but is at least worth watching, and maybe he would be a long-shot September call-up.

Finally, there are some more veteran minor leaguers that the Twins brought in for the 2010 season that are worth noting:

Justin Huber is back after a year in Japan. Consider the day that Michael Cuddyer took over at 1B for an injured Justin Morneau in September of 2009, Huber was initially supposed to play 1B, but an oblique injury took him out of the lineup the rest of the season. Jeff Bailey spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox from 2007 to 2009 and showed some power.  He can play 1B and the corner outfield positions. Chase Lambin was an International League All Star a year ago. He can play 3B, 2B and 1B. Matt Brown has spent a little bit of time in the big leagues and can play the four infield positions and spent time in the OF last year. Ray Chang is an option at 3B and 2B. Rene Rivera and Steve Holm are backup catcher options with big league service time.

Yorman Bazardo has always pitched well in the minor leagues, but still just 26, it hasn’t transferred to success in the big leagues. He pitched well in Venezuela this winter. Chuck James pitched well for the Braves for a couple of years before he was injured. The lefty went 10-1 between AA and AAA with the Nationals organization. Phil Dumatrait is a lefty-reliever option with big league time. Eric Hacker had a decent 2010 with the Giants AAA team and got a 40 man roster spot for it.

In a typical year, the Twins will promote between 12 and 18 players from Rochester throughout a season . Sometimes it is a straight promotion. Sometimes it is an injury-fill. There are various reasons. I mentioned 18 names above before discussing the minor league veterans that the organization added.

How many of these guys will come up and contribute in some way? Who will be surprise candidates? Can any of them have an impact in 2011 the way that Danny Valencia did in 2010? That is the fun part about following prospects. We can guess, but once the season gets started, you never know how it will play out.

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John and the TwinsCentric guys helped put together the Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011, and it has been quite the project. However, the results are tremendous. The magazine is 128 pages of Twins content, with no advertisements. Just pure Twins talk. The TwinsCentric crew wrote player profiles on the Twins roster, and we each wrote an additional article or two.

I wrote one article on the success that the Twins Advanced-Rookie League team in Elizabethton, Tennessee, has had over the last 25 years and the role that consistency has played in that. Their manager, Ray Smith, signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 1978 and debuted with the Twins in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He spent parts of three years with the Twins. When his playing career ended, he became the Elizabethton Twins manager, in 1987. 25 years later, he has won a lot of games and a lot of championships, but more important, he has helped a lot of young men and young ball players begin their path up the Twins system. His pitching coach, Jim Shellenbeck, and his hitting coach, Jeff Reed, have ton of playing and coaching experience. It was a really fun article to research and write, and I think it turned out very well.

The other article I wrote was essentially an organizational depth chart. In the article, as I did last year, I broke out the Twins prospects into Infielders, Outfielders, Catchers, Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers, and gave my top five prospects in each category along with a Sleeper and One to Watch. There are also charts with 2011 roster projections.

Minnesota Twins Organizational Depth Chart Article

There is a lot of Twins information in the magazine. There is information on the current roster, Target Field, the minor leagues, several historical articles and much, much more.

The magazine is now available for pre-order at the Maple Street Press website. The magazine will be available on news stands around Minnesota starting March 1. However, if you pre-order, the magazines are set to ship out on February 17, so you can get it before it hits the news stands. For those of you outside the Minnesota areas, it will not be available in your market, so ordering online is the way to go if you are interested.

Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011

Minnesota Twins Top Prospects (Part 2: 11-25)

13 Jan

available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Alright, if you missed prospects 26-50ish, click here or scroll down, but for now, it is time to take a brief look at my choices for Twins prospects 11 through 25. If you missed it earlier, I also did an interview with Bullpen Banter, talking about the 2011 Twins and Twins prospects. Check it out here.

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

As you know, I have been working on the 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook for months. After of research and writing, a conclusion is finally in sight. In the next week, I will provide more information on the book, and how you can order or pre-order.

One thing that the book includes is my Top 30 prospects and a reminder of my previous Top 30s, going back to 2005. The book will include top 10 lists from many of your favorite bloggers.

I did something a little bit different in compiling my Top 50 list. I took the entire list of Twins minor league prospects from the GCL through Rochester, and in an Excel spreadsheet, I put each name in the first column and each name in the first row. Then I went through and compared every prospect to every other prospect, picking which of the two I thought was the better prospect. My ‘vote’ on each was based on a ton of research, stats, scouting reports and more. I considered which of the two players I would trade if a team said that I could pick which prospect to send in a potential deal. I compared Aaron Hicks to Kyle Gibson and Miguel Sano, and also against Matt Schuld and Matt Trau. I compared Manuel Soliman to Dan Osterbrock, Joe Benson and Dallas Gallant. After doing that for every player (which took WAY too long), I added up the total number of times I selected each player. The player that I chose above all players obviously ended up with the most points at the end of the day. The one with the second most votes would be the #2 prospect. And so on. Of course, there were ties, sometimes three-way ties, which I broke by my head-to-head results, so to speak. The results were interesting, at least in the middle of the list, but really throughout. Today I will post my choices for Twins Prospects #26 through 50 with a brief description. As you would expect, there was a tie at 50, so in fact, here are prospects 26-51. As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

#25 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – New Britain

                Hard-throwing young right-hander pitched very well in Ft. Myers until an injury. Returned and pitched well enough to get in a couple games with the Rock Cats.

#24 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester

                Guerra may be one of the more polarizing prospects in the Twins system. He is still young, has a tremendous changeup and he’s got great makeup. Unfortunately the numbers tell a different story. 2011 is a big year for him as it is his final option season.

#23 – Billy Bullock – RHP – New Britain

                Bullock throws very hard and has an improving slider. He’s succeeded as a closer and gets plenty of strikeouts. The only concern is how quickly his walk rate has raised at each level the past two years. No rush though. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the 2012 season.

#22 – Pat Dean – LHP – Elizabethton

                My choice for breakout pitching prospect in 2011, the Twins 3rd round pick in 2011 walked one and struck out 34 in his 25 innings between GCL and E-Twins. The lefty could move up quickly next year.

#21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Minnesota

                Plouffe was promoted to the Twins three times in 2010. He struggled making contact in limited time, but he did hit two home runs. He had a career-high in home runs in 2011. His batting average was actually around .300 for Rochester most of the year, until he went on a horrible slump to end the season.

#20 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain

                Lanigan had an incredible, dominant month of April, but then he was hurt and missed about two months. When he came back, he did alright and ended the season by making a few starts in AA.

#19 – Daniel Ortiz – OF – Elizabethton

                My choice for breakout hitter of the 2011 Twins minor league season. Ortiz impressed in the GCL after being drafted in 2008. He missed all of 2009 with a knee injury. After a slow start in 2010, he had a great month of August, hitting over .300 with eight home runs.

#18 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit

                Hermsen started the season in Extended Spring Training, but he was soon promoted to Beloit where he held his own. The highlight was a one-hit complete game shutout in Cedar Rapids, less than an hour from his hometown, in which he had a no-hitter into the 9th inning. Struggled a lot late and then pitched well in Elizabethton.

#17 – Max Kepler – OF – GCL Twins

                I didn’t know what to expect from “the greatest prospect ever from Europe.” However, the 17-year-old more than held his own in the GCL. He’s a five-tool talent, and most important, he improved over the course of the season. Long ways to go, but huge upside.

#16 – Eddie Rosario – OF – GCL Twins

                The Twins took Rosario in the 2010 4th round out of his high school in Puerto Rico. He came to the GCL and immediately performed well, all-around. Good defense and arm. Hit for average and got on base and extra base hits. Also stole 22 bases.

#15 – Tsuyoshi Nishioka – SS/2B – Chiba Lotte

                You all know about Nishioka. He’d probably be higher if he weren’t 26. Can he be a very good big league player? Average big leaguer? We will certainly find out. But I think he will be solid all-around.

#14 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester

                On a podcast a few weeks ago, Gutierrez said he much prefers to pitch out of the bullpen. He saw great value in his time starting, working on secondary pitches. But anyone with a sinking, 97 mph fastball who thrives in the bullpen can be very effective. I think he will be in the big leagues in June, if not sooner.

#13 – Manuel Soliman – RHP – Elizabethton

                Two years ago, he was a 3B prospect struggling in the DSL. He was moved to pitcher the last two seasons, and he throws hard with adequate second pitches. At Elizabethton, he threw one seven inning no-hitter and carried a second into the 7th. Still improving.

#12 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – New Britain

                April in New Britain was bad for Parmelee. He was sent back to Ft. Myers in May and made some adjustments. He was back in AA in a month and didn’t stop hitting. In fact, he led the Arizona Fall League in hits. Cut down strikeouts and hit for average in 2010, but the power is still there. Will be fun to see what he is capable of in 2011.

#11 – David Bromberg – RHP – Rochester

                Bromberg had moved up one level each year. He began the 2010 season in New Britain, but he made several starts for AAA Rochester. And he held his own. Ceiling is probably mid-to-back-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s got good stuff and knows how to pitch.

So there you have it, my choices for Twins Prospects 11-25. What do you think? Were there any surprises? Still to come is my top ten Twins prospect list, which I will post on Friday morning. Check back when you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

Preliminary Twins Top 30 Prospects

8 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Happy Monday! Monday marks Day 3 of a three day weekend, so today’s blog will be shorter, and yet, hopefully it will create a ton of discussion. With the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook now available, my attention is turning quickly to my third annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. If you’re interested in the 2009 version or the 2010 version, they are still available! In fact, if you would like to buy a copy of the 2009 version, I have about ten of them at home, ready to send out. If you’re interested, e-mail me for details.

Anyway, one of the big parts of SethSpeaks.net has been a Top 50 Prospect List. Last year, I came out with my top 50, and then did a ton of research for the book, and in the book, my top 30 looks a little bit different. When I write the book, I do find it fun to make a projected Top 30 prospect list to see what I think based on following box scores daily, reading some reports on players and general knowledge. Then as you would hope, I learn a ton more about each player while researching and writing the book, so it shouldn’t look identical.

So today, I am going to share with you my current Top 30 Twins Prospect list. Please remember that it is a preliminary list, but what I would love would be for you to post your thoughts in the Comments section. Who is ranked too high? Too low? Why? And of course, I would love for you to post your top 10 list as well.

SethSpeaks.net Twins Preliminary Top 30 Prospects

  1. 1.      Kyle Gibson
  2. 2.      Aaron Hicks
  3. 3.      Miguel Sano
  4. 4.      Joe Benson
  5. 5.      Alex Wimmers
  6. 6.      Angel Morales
  7. 7.      Ben Revere
  8. 8.      David Bromberg
  9. 9.      Oswaldo Arcia

10.  Liam Hendriks

11.  Adrian Salcedo

12.  Chris Parmelee

13.  Eddie Rosario

14.  Max Kepler

15.  Manuel Soliman

16.  Danny Ortiz

17.  BJ Hermsen

18.  Trevor Plouffe

19.  Niko Goodrum

20.  Carlos Gutierrez

21.  Martire Garcia

22.  Pat Dean

23.  Rene Tosoni

24.  Billy Bullock

25.  Tom Stuifbergen

26.  Bruce Pugh

27.  Miguel Munoz

28.  Steve Singleton

29.  Danny Rams

30.  Michael Tonkin

General Thoughts:

  • The #1 spot is still up in the air for me. Do you take the guy who could be a very good #2 starter as early as the middle of next season, or do you want the guy in Low A ball with no fewer than six great tools, several of which have not developed into skills yet. Or, do you take the 17 year old Dominican infielder for whom the sky is the limit?
  • Ben Revere is a tough one for me too. The guy can flat out hit singles. He’s incredibly fast. He is improving defensively in CF, but he has no arm. He has shown know extra base power at all, but his short, compact, strong swing tells me that he should be able to hit a lot of doubles and triples, and how many of his singles can be turned into doubles thanks to a stolen base?
  • And while we’re talking about outfielders, we know that Joe Benson put up serious power numbers in 2010, but how do we evaluate the monster Appy League season of Oswaldo Arcia and try to determine what it means going forward? How about the impressive return to the field for Danny Ortiz after missing all of 2009 with a knee injury? What about the 2010 debut in the GCL for OF Eddie Rosario? And, the guy that gets forgotten way too often is Angel Morales, who despite a lack of home runs, showed steady improvement in areas he needed to.
  • I don’t rank relief pitchers terribly high traditionally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the importance of a bullpen to a team. I have two relievers here in the top 30 that I believe can be very good for the Twins. But that isn’t to take anything away from Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Dakota Watts or other relief pitchers.
  • Rene Tosoni is one that should probably be ranked higher. He was right around nine or ten last year at this time in my rankings. He returned to AA New Britain and was putting up similar offensive numbers despite playing with a bad shoulder that finally had to be operated on. He’ll be 24 through most of the 2010 season, and he has a chance to be very good.
  • It is also always interesting to see how I end up ranking upside versus likelihood of contributing to the Twins. For instance, if Max Kepler meets his potential, he could be a perennial All-Star. David Bromberg’s big-league upside is likely a #4 starter. But I believe that Bromberg will soon make the big leagues and get that opportunity  after holding his own for a couple of months in Rochester. Meanwhile, Kepler has to be promoted six times to reach the big leagues.

So, what do you think? Help me choose. Give me any stats or notes that you may have to help me make the right choices. Finally, feel free to post your Top 10 Twins Prospects as well. You can e-mail me if you would like,, or you can leave Comments here.

Monday Morning Notebook

21 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I apologize for some inconsistent blogging of late. Things are crazy and over the weekend, I barely touched the computer, which was nice as well. But I do want to give you something to read on this lovely Monday, the first day of summer. The Twins have an off day today before starting a three game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers. It comes on the heels of a terrific weekend of baseball in Philadelphia.

No, not all was good in the City of Brotherly Love. I mean, the starts of Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey on Friday night and Saturday afternoon left plenty to be desired. Neither was able to get out of the 2nd inning. Fortunately, the Twins got nice, extended performances from Jesse Crain (2.1 shutout innings) on Friday night and Jeff Manship (4.1 innings of 1 run, 2 hit ball) on Saturday. Friday night’s game wasn’t as close as the 9-5 final score would indicate, but the late comeback attempt maybe had some effect. On Saturday, the Twins were behind 9-4 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. Jim Thome came to bat as a pinch hitter and got another standing ovation from the Philly crowd. He proceeded to hit a two-run home run off of Jose Contreras. A Denard Span single cut the lead to two runs. When Joe Mauer came up with a runner on and two outs, the hope was that he could slap another single and give Justin Morneau a chance. Instead, Mauer returned to his 2009 form and drilled a long home run to dead centerfield to tie the game. The game went to the 10th inning and the team was out of pinch hitting options. Drew Butera was on the bench and got to hit for the pitcher to lead off the inning. He proceeded to uncoil for his first home run, a huge shot to left field that gave the Twins a lead. Jon Rauch came in and got the first two outs, but long-time Twins killer Ross Gload came up and drilled a line drive over the fence in right to tie the game. Then in the 11th, after Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau walks, Jon Rauch was asked to bunt. On his third attempt, he was successful. But I have no idea why the Phillies chose to pitch to Delmon Young who hit an infield single to deep shortstop to score Mauer with the go-ahead run. Then Matt Tolbert doubled in two runs to give a 13-10 lead. Rauch was able to finish the job in the bottom of the inning and the Twins had their most improbable win of the year.

We had our monthly TwinsCentric Viewing Party on Saturday and it was well attended. Even when the Twins got behind, it was a fun event and people were talking about baseball and the team. It was a fairly quiet crowd until the top of the 9th inning. When Mauer’s home run ball left his bat, no one responded. It was eerily quiet. Apparently we have all grown accustomed to Target Field’s affect on balls hit to centerfield. When it actually landed, in the outfield seats, the Tavern erupted. Now, I’m not one to react too much while watching games. I generally don’t clap or yell, and just calmly watch. When Butera came to bat in the top of the 10th, Andrew Bryz-Gornia asked the crowd, “Why is he batting?” One pitch later, even I was jumping in the air, yelping and slapping high-fives with the TwinsCentric party crowd. I looked over at Andrew and yelled laughingly, “That’s why!” HA! When Ross Gload came out, it was Dan Wade who said, ‘This guy has been a major Twins killer.” In the 11th, we were all trying to manage along with the game. Do you walk Morneau to bring up Rauch with one out but move Mauer to 2B? Do you have Rauch bunt or just stand there so he doesn’t bunt into a double play. With 1st base open, why pitch to the Twins hottest hitter, Delmon Young?’

And yes, it’s true as Aaron Gleeman tweeted. I missed the final pitch of the game, one that struck out Ryan Howard, because Dan Wade and I were on our phones, looking to find the name of the Amanda Bynes movie that was on one of the other TVs in the room. It was She’s the Man.

As I mentioned in my podcast last night, that may have been the most exciting game since Game 7 of the 1991 World Series!! OK, that may be slight hyperbole and exaggeration, but oh well. It was a lot of fun.

And then the Twins absolutely needed someone to pitch on Sunday, someone who could eat some innings and help rest that bullpen. Carl Pavano definitely did just that. He gave the Twins a nine inning, complete game win against that vaunted Phillies lineup. He mixed and matched and had terrific movement. It was his best start of the season, and maybe of his year in a Twins uniform. It certainly was timely. The Twins were able to knock Phillies starter Roy Halladay around. The right-hander gave up four runs (3 earned) on 11 hits in eight innings. Justin Morneau and Denard Span each homered.

One thing that was obvious was that I now understand how Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and others have such high home run totals over the previous years. That stadium is the anti-Target Field. Popups and not-necessarily-well-hit balls turn into home runs there.

Speaking of the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, last night’s show was a lot of fun. In fact, I almost wish we had scheduled another hour! Topper Anton of Curve For a Strike helped me out by running the switchboard. He was in Philadelphia for Saturday’s exciting game. Also, Travis Aune of Travis Twins Talk was a guest. The Twins gave us plenty to talk about, so listen to it and enjoy.  

Speaking of Travis, be sure to tune in to his Travis Talks Minnesota Sports Podcast tonight where he will talk plenty of Twins, but also discuss the Minnesota Timberwolves draft options.

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

Miracle Baseball tweets today that Allan de San Miguel is headed back to AAA while Bruce Pugh and Bobby Lanigan come off the DL. Should we assume that means that Jose Morales is on his way to the Twins? It could. I’m sure that Gardy would love an extra bat in these NL games. But it could just be that Wilson Ramos has a mild strain of his oblique and they may need to give him a couple of days. This weekend, Toby Gardenhire had to catch the remainder of that Saturday game, according to Jim Mandelaro. Toby G is now hitting .279 at AAA.

  • With Jeff Manship with the Twins, Jose Lugo had to make a spot start for the Red Wings on Sunday. He gave up three runs in three innings. Tim Lahey threw three shutout innings. Rob Delaney then gave up three runs in two innings. Kyle Waldrop went a scoreless inning.
  • Since he returned from the Twins, Trevor Plouffe has homered in both of his games back with the Red Wings. Yesterday, he hit his 7th home run of the year.
  • For New Britain, Joe Benson went 2-5 including his 8th home run of the year, with the Rockcats. Add the four he hit in Ft. Myers and he is tied for the organizational lead with Brock Peterson with 12 home runs on the season. Chris Parmelee added his fourth AA home run. He had two in his brief stint in Ft. Myers.
  • Deolis Guerra gave up two runs (1 earned) in six innings on Sunday. His battery-mate, Danny Lehmann went 3-4 in the game as well.
  • The Miracle didn’t play on Sunday. On Saturday, Shooter Hunt went just 1.2 innings and gave up three runs on no hits. He walked five before being replaced by Andrei Lobanov. The lefty from Moscow came in and threw 4.1 scoreless innings in relief.
  • I think it’s fair to say that Angel Morales is working through an adjustment phase in his early Florida State League games. So far, he is 2-14 with nine strikeouts.
  • The Midwest League All Star game is on Tuesday night, and their regular season games will begin again on Thursday.
  • The Appalachian League schedule begins on Tuesday night. Elizabethton will be in Bristol.
  • The GCL League starts on Tuesday as well. The GCL Twins will host the GCL Orioles.
  • I will try to get rosters for the two Extended league teams although as more and more draft picks sign, those rosters will continue to change. If Miguel Sano has played in his last DSL Twins game and is on his way to Florida to play for the GCL Twins, he ends with a hitting line of .341/.444/.629 with two doubles, a triple and three home runs. He walked eight times and struck out 14 times in 52 plate appearances. Jorge Polanco is hitting just .213 in the DSL so far.

Have I mentioned that I am on Facebook, and you can follow me on Twitter at SethTweets.

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

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