Plenty of Topics

17 Nov

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RADIO APPEARANCE TODAY – I will be on The Fan am740 in Fargo, on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. I will be on during the noon hour with Dan Hammer of The Dan Hammer Show. It should be fun talking about the Twins and any other topics that he would like to talk about. So, if you are within a one-hundred or so mile radius of Fargo, try to tune in. If not, and you’re interested in listening, the station does have an online option to Listen Live. Check it out if you have a chance and let me know what you think.


PODCAST TONIGHT – There will be another Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast tonight. It will air live from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. central time. Of course, you will also be able to hear it as a podcast throughout the next week, if you are not able to listen live. Early this afternoon, I intend to post a schedule of guests. So be sure to check back.


BOOK UPDATE – On Monday, I received two copies of Version Two of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2009. I have to admit that it looks pretty good, much better than version one! I have noticed a few things that I would like to edit and change around a little bit, but it is very exciting to see this project really coming together nicely. I want to thank everyone who has already pre-ordered their copy, or copies in many cases, of the book. A big thank you to all of you who have already paid. So again, I will be taking pre-orders for Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2009 through Thursday (or maybe Friday morning). If you want to know a little more information about the book including pricing, payment and such, please click on this link. I still believe that we are on schedule for it to be available online right before Thanksgiving. But if you would like to pre-order the book, or several copies of the book (for a discounted price), check out the pre-order details and send me an e-mail. Again, if there are any retailers (book stores, sports card shops, convenience stores, etc.), please e-mail me for a pricing plan. 


Neshek Surgery Update

LaVelle E Neal informs us that Pat Neshek will be having his Tommy John surgery on Tuesday in the Twin Cities with the team’s doctor, Doctor Buss. Obviously we hope that it goes perfectly, that Pat is able to work through the process to recovery and be back and raring to go for the 2010 season.


Also in LaVelle’s article, he made a couple other nice notes:

·         Congratulations to Twins Director of Minor League operations Jim Rantz on being named the very first winner of the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award for all of his great work in player development. Obviously it is a very well deserved honor.


40 Man Roster Decisions

In the same article, LaVelle also mentions that the Twins have to have their 40 man roster decisions made by Thursday, November 20th. That is this week.  This was going to be my main topic for today, and I do think it is a good topic for discussion. So, the Twins are at 31 roster spots taken. The math mind in me tells me that they could add as many as nine more players to the roster by Thursday. It is also likely that they will leave one or two roster spots open for free agent signings or to be able to draft in the Rule V draft. Here is how I would separate those who need to be added to the 40 man roster without being subject to being taken in the Rule V draft.


The Easy Choices

These guys clearly have to be added to the 40 Man Roster:

·         Trevor Plouffe – Twins first first round pick in 2004 out of high school. He is still just 22 years old and has a half-season of AAA under his belt. Still could be a big league regular.

·         Steve Tolleson – drafted out of college in 2005, Tolleson really showed in 2008 that he has a big league future. Offensively, he may be very close to ready. Defensively, a lot of work could be done. He is already 25.

·         Anthony Swarzak – a second round pick in 2004 out of high school, Swarzak went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven AAA starts. As bad as he was at AA this year, he’s got tremendous potential. Just turned 23.

·         Brian Duensing – Duensing was the Twins first 3rd round pick in 2005 out of college. He climbed up the system quickly, but has now spent a year and a half at AAA. Just waiting for the opportunity.

·         Luke Hughes – Signed out of Australia in 2002, he has been eligible to be drafted the last two years in the Rule V draft. He would not sneak through after his breakout 2008 season.

·         Wilson Ramos – He signed with the Twins in 2004 at the age of 16. He is a tremendous offensive and defensive talent at a premium position. He would be lost if he wasn’t protected.

Not much to add to this section. I mean, as titled, these are the easy choices. I believe any of these six would be drafted if left available.


Have to Consider

There is a second tier of prospects that has to be considered. With the six names above certain to be added to the 40 man roster, we are left with 37 players on the 40 man roster. So the Twins could add one to three more players to their roster. The following players have to at least be considered, but some of them simply will not be on the 40 man roster due to space. So who do you pick?

·         Drew Butera – Can’t hit, but all reports indicate he is excellent behind the plate. Could be Twins #3 catcher as early as 2009.

·         Tim Lahey – He was the #1 overall pick in the Rule V draft in 2007, but came back to the Twins. Throws hard, but numbers not great. Could be taken again.

·         Erik Lis – he is a hitting machine, with no defensive position. However, if a really bad team needs a DH/PH, he could get a shot. Doubles after doubles!

·         David Winfree – yes, the low average and some strikeouts, but he is one of few Twins minor leaguers capable of hitting 20 homers. He also is still very young considering he’s spent two years in AA.

·         Zach Ward – Had a really good first half in New Britain bullpen, just OK in second half. But he and his slider are worth consideration.

·         Deibinson Romero – signed as free agent in 2004, he is a tremendous talent, but two major injuries in 2008 may keep him from being drafted.

·         Ryan Mullins – I’m not high on him, but another 3rd round pick in 2005 draft, he is left-handed.

·         Jay Rainville – like Plouffe and Swarzak, he was taken in the 2004 draft. Missed all of 2006. Solid in 2007. Struggled early in AA in 2008, but still so young.

·         Kyle Waldrop – missed all of 2008 with shoulder surgery. But another 2004 high school pick with a lot of ability. Scouts saw him in Instructs. Could he be taken?

Since I said that the Twins could add anywhere from one to three of these, I will give you my top four picks within this group. If I had to decide, here is how I would rank them:

1.)    Jay Rainville, 2.) Erik Lis, 3.) Zach Ward, 4.) David Winfree.


A Couple More…

Here are a few more that would probably surprise me if they were drafted, but there may be some reason.

·         Yohan Pino – was eligible last year and not taken. Two injuries in 2008 and didn’t perform as well means I don’t think he would be drafted this year either.

·         Juan Portes – hit a lot in real low minors, hasn’t done much in two years in Ft. Myers. He also doesn’t have a real position.

·         Danny Berg – another Australian, Berg could be the next Luke Hughes… or just another minor leaguer.

·         Matt Fox – Another 2004 draft pick, he was eligible in 2007 as well and not taken. He had another solid season at Ft. Myers, but isn’t a big prospect. That said, he could be ready soon though.

·         Rene Leveret – the big man from St. Maarten has been in the system for awhile. Moved up to Beloit at midseason and kept hitting.

·         Edward Ovalle – did a lot of good in his second season at Ft. Myers. Does a little of everything. A poor man’s Alex Romero?

·         Matt Moses – Ummmm… No thanks!

·         Brandon Roberts – speedy centerfielder with leg issues… I think the Twins would be OK if he was taken.

·         Jay Sawatski – he is left-handed. I’ll give him that!

·         Brock Peterson – went backwards a little in 2008, but still made it to AAA. Not bad for a 49th round pick.


It is likely that the Twins have known since the organizational meetings what choices they will make. They will let the world know by Thursday (or on Thursday). It should certainly be interesting! I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Arizona Fall League Monday Update

·         The Phoenix Desert Dogs lost 4-3 on Monday to Peoria.  

·         Steve Tolleson was back in the lineup after missing a few games with some nagging injuries. He went 1-4 with a walk and his sixth double. He also stole his sixth base.

·         Danny Valencia was 0-4 with two strikeouts. LaVelle pointed out that he has just one error. I’m not at all worried about Valencia’s bat, so to see him doing so well defensively makes me believe in his ability more.

·         Dustin Martin went 1-4.

·         Jeff Manship started and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in three innings. He struck out two. He was also named as the team’s starting pitcher in the league’s championship game this weekend.

Any thoughts, please e-mail me, or leave Comments here.




25 Responses to “Plenty of Topics”

  1. TT November 18, 2008 at 12:15 am #

    He would not sneak through after his breakout 2008 season.

    Do you think that is true if Hughes only position is left field? You have to wonder about a guy whose defense apparently isn’t good enough to hold down a winter ball job at third base. If I were the Twins I would be more worried about losing a young pitcher.

  2. Seth November 18, 2008 at 12:24 am #

    A guy that can hit and has the power that Hughes has shown (and scouts seem to believe is legit and maintainable), there would be plenty of teams that would happily take him in the Rule V and find a place for him.

  3. Travis Aune November 18, 2008 at 7:28 am #

    my question is dont you have to save a couple spots for possible free agents and so on

  4. TT November 18, 2008 at 8:12 am #

    Seth –

    Hughes hit a good number of home runs, but about the same number of doubles. A more normal proportion of extra base hits to home runs is 3 to 1. Only about 1 in 3 of his hits were for extra basses. Overall, Winfree, Lis and Peterson all had higer percentages. So did Tolleson. Hughes was closer to Dustin Martin.

    If he is a poor fielding outfielder with a limited arm and range, he isn’t going to make up for it with his bat. I am not sure anyone would take him and if they did it wouldn’t be much of a loss. Hughes value depends on his being able to play the infield in the major leagues. That is not something he has shown he will ever be able to do.

  5. Seth November 18, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Anyone else think that the Twins will or should protect Luke Hughes? How many think he would not be drafted by someone in the Rule V draft?

  6. Elliot November 18, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    He’d be gone if not protected. No doubt about it.

  7. Shawn in Binghamton November 18, 2008 at 9:36 am #

    I have seen Luke Hughes play last spring. He jumped out to me right away. I don’t see how he doesn’t get protected.

    I have noticed many of the blogs pimping your book today. Its cool to be in a fanbase that seems to be close. Living in Yankeeland i find it hard to believe that their blog world would be so supportive of each other.

    i look forward to reading the book.

  8. East Coast Twin November 18, 2008 at 10:09 am #

    We’re too impressed by the Rule 5 “success stories” (Santana, Uttley, Hamilton, etc). Very few players are “lost” via the Rule 5 draft. Few teams are willing to use a roster spot for somebody who isn’t contributing.

    Only 12, 19 and 18 players were even drafted in the major league portion of the last three drafts. Most of last year’s picks ended up back with their original teams. Several other were kept by the new team only after compensating the old team – in effect turning the draft into a trade.

    Remember that the Twins “lost” three players in the major league portion of last year’s draft. We ended up getting Lahey back and getting compensation for Guzman and Dickey.

  9. East Coast Twin November 18, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Another point – the vast majority of players selected in the Rule 5 draft are pitchers. I looked at the three most recent drafts (major league portion) and found out the following:

    2005 – 10 of 12 players were pitchers
    2006 – 11 of 19 players were pitchers
    2007 – 14 of 18 players were pitchers

    Thus 35 of the 49 players selected in the above three drafts were pitchers. Only 4 were outfielders and only 2 were third basemen.

    I just don’t think there are many teams out there who are willing to keep an outfielder or third baseman on their roster for a full year unless that player can contribute right away.

    In all honesty, I’ve never seen Hughes play in my life so would have no idea how talented his is. But I just don’t think there are many teams out there

  10. mike wants wins November 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    Another possibility is that teams have tons of pitchers in their minor league system, leave some unprotected that have/had upside, so teams take chances on them. That is, since so many pitchers are out there, most of those ‘worth’ taking in the draft are pitchers by default. You may have the cause and effect backwards (or not, I have no idea).

  11. TT November 18, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    Isn’t it a little of both? It seems to me teams take rule 5 players for two reasons. One is that they think a player may be able to fill an immediate need. The other is that they think a player has the talent for a great future and that future is worth a roster spot for a year.

    Pitching is something teams always need – aka “you can never have too much pitching”. In addition, there are 11 or 12 spots for pitchers on the roster. That means there are both more opportunities to win a roster spot and a greater ability to hide a guy with talent who might not be quite ready.

    On the other hand, hiding an everyday player on the roster is hard. And players who are ready to play in the major leagues are usually going to be kept on a team’s roster. The exceptions tend to be players that have had injuries or a team considers failures. The players who get taken tend to be guys with good gloves who can contribute defensively even if their bats aren’t ready. Machado was an example of that.

    The rap on Hughes is that his glove is not minimum major league quality at any infield position. I don’t see any evidence his bat is special enough to make up for that. But I haven’t seen him play either.

    As I have said before, the Twins have a lot of room on their roster, so its likely Hughes will be protected. But I hope that choice doesn’t mean losing anyone on Seth’s other lists.

  12. Shawn in Binghamton November 18, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    I think Hughes would get drafted. He has enough hitting ability to at least be a bench bat right now.

  13. Shawn in Binghamton November 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    First time i saw Hughes play in the spring it was basically a … “Holy Crap, who the hell is that….” type moment. Saw him play a couple more times… he was the best player on either team every game.

  14. SAM November 18, 2008 at 7:51 pm #

    do you think winfre will be taken in the rule 5
    same age as plouffe alot better power

  15. Bill in Sarasota November 18, 2008 at 8:53 pm #

    After the Easy Choices, I would protect Rainville, Lahey, and Ward (unprotected if Twins leave one spot open).

    As shown above, teams are more willing to grab pitchers.

    Rainville is still young and has had some success in the minors. Lahey is still learning how to pitch. Besides he was the #1 pick in the Rule V draft last year.

  16. East Coast Twin November 19, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    How do free agent signings figure into this? I understand that we have to have our 40 man roster “set” by tomorrow. Is that only for purposes of the rule 5 draft – ie can we remove somebody from the 40 man roster after the draft if we sign a free agent? Or do we have to leave a couple of spots open for potential signings?

  17. TT November 19, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    can we remove somebody from the 40 man roster after the draft

    Yes, but they have to clear waivers so that is not a very likely scenario.

    They can also sign free agents to minor league contracts and then add them to the roster before the start of the season. I don’t know if Casey Blake would agree to that. Probably not. But it has happened even with players who were pretty much guaranteed a roster spot.

  18. Brent M. November 19, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    What is the status of Neshek in regards to the roster? Maybe this was discussed before and I missed it. If he is on the roster now, when can he be put on the disabled list and have another spot opened?

  19. Seth November 19, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    Brent – Neshek is on the 40 man roster and has to stay there until sometime in Spring Training. HE can then be added to the 60 Day DL and another roster spot added.

    I did not know this, but players added to the 40 man roster at this time can not be removed until sometime in Spring Training. They likely will leave a spot or two open for free agents or trades.

  20. TT November 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    Seth, just to clarify, are you referring to the players added, not players who are already on the roster? As I recall, David Ortiz was released after the rule 5 roster was set and I recall other teams releasing players to open up a spot once they saw someone available that they wanted to take.

  21. marthafines December 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

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