Roger’s 2008 Twins Prospect Team – Part II (The Pitchers)

16 Dec

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Yesterday, we presented Roger’s 2008 Starting Lineup and Bench. Today it is time for the pitchers. Roger gives us his choices for the starting rotation and the bullpen.


2008 Twins Organization All-Star Team

Selected by Roger Dehring

                The Twins organization had another successful season with the Ft. Myers Miracle, the Gulf Coast League Twins and the Dominican Summer League Twins all winning division championships and the Miracle going all the way to the Florida State League Championship series.  There were many players with seasons worthy of end of the year recognition, however, the following are my selections of players who all had special seasons.

                This twenty-nine man team will be presented with a nine man starting lineup, nine reserves and eleven pitchers (five starters, one long relief, two middle relief,  two short relief and a closer).  All players will include their age as of the first day of the season, my year-end ranking (in red) and the highest level played during the season.  Players who had significant playing time with the Twins (Denard Span (#1), Brian Buscher (#3) and Francisco Liriano (#2)) are not eligible.


                Tyler Robertson/LHP (20, #4, Ft. Myers Miracle)

                Kevin Mulvey/RHP (22, #5, Rochester Red Wings)

                Jeff Manship/RHP (23, #6, New Britain Rock Cats)

                Michael McCardell/RHP (22, #7, Beloit Snappers)

                Cole DeVries/RHP (23, #14, Ft. Myers Miracle) 


                Tyler Robertson was having a special year before going on the disabled list for the last few months of the season.  A third round pick in the 2006 draft, Robertson has been known as a tall lefty with an unusual motion that some believe may have been responsible for this summers arm problems.  Prior to the injury, Robertson had a 5-3 record in 15 starts (82.2 innings) with 1 complete game, a 2.72ERA and 73K/31BB.  With the best ERA of all starters on the Miracle staff, Robertson was one player the Miracle could not replace as they made a run for the FSL championship.  Assuming he fully recovers from his injuries, Robertson may begin 2009 back at Ft. Myers before moving up to New Britain during the season.

                Kevin Mulvey may be the most successful pitcher of the three obtained in the Santana trade.  Mulvey was the most consistent starter for the Red Wings as he led the team with 148.0 innings in 27 starts.  Mulvey finished with a 7-9 record with 1 complete game, a 3.77ERA and 121K/48BB.  Mulvey, who was recently ranked as the Twins eighth best prospect by Baseball America, should get a long look by the Twins in spring training with his being in contention for a starting role should the Twins trade a starter this winter.  If they do not, look for Mulvey to return to Rochester and be one of the leading candidates for a call up during the 2009 season.    

            One of the best known starters in the organization these past few years has been Jeff Manship.  Jeff began the 2008 season in Ft. Myers where he was selected as an all-star during the first half, finishing with a 7-3 record in 13 starts with one complete game shutout, a 2.86ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 63K/20BB in 78.2 innings.  Jeff moved up to New Britain where he had some very good games as well as several which weren’t up to his standards.  Jeff’s season at New Britain ended with 4.46ERA in 14 starts (76.2 innings) with a 3-6 record and 62K/24BB.  Jeff finished his year in the Arizona Fall League where he had the honor of starting the championship game for the champion Phoenix Desert Dogs.  Jeff wrote a blog during the AFL in which he commented on how tired he was as he was approaching 190 innings.  In this prestigious hitters league, Jeff had a 2-1 record in 8 starts (32.1 innings) with a 5.01ERA and 29K/8BB.  Depending upon what happens with the Twins rotation between now and spring, Manship could begin 2009 back at New Britain or in Rochester.

                There were many raised eyebrows when USA Today named Michael McCardell as the Twins Top Prospect.  Those who have followed the career of this young man since his selection in the sixth round of the 2007 draft were less likely to question USA’s lofty selection.  Other than when he was battling a mid-season injury, McCardell pitched as well as anyone in the organization as he compiled a 9-4 record in 22 games (135.1 innings) with 1 complete game.  He finished with a 2.86ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 139K/25BB.  McCardell should move up to Ft. Myers next season and a second step to New Britain won’t be out of the question if he pitches well during the first half.

                One pitcher who continues to surprise many fans is Eden Prairie, Minnesota native Cole DeVries.  Much as he did at Beloit in 2007 where he finished with a 9-5 record and 3.41ERA, DeVries pitched as well as anyone for the Miracle this year.  Cole appeared in 24 games (135.1 innings) with a 10-9 record, 1 complete game, 2.93ERA and 105K/38BB.  Cole was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 and has been as successful as any of the organization’s top prospects these past two seasons.  Look for Cole to move up another level next year where he will likely continue to pitch beyond most fan’s expectations. 


                Zach Ward/RHP/Long relief (24, #35, New Britain Rock Cats)

                Jose Mijares/LHP/Middle relief (23, #16, New Britain Rock Cats/Minnesota Twins)

                Charles Nolte/RHP/Middle relief (22, #12, Beloit Snappers)

                Ben Julianel/LHP/Short relief (28, #15, New Britain Rock Cats)

            Anthony Slama/RHP/Short relief (24, #3, Ft. Myers Miracle)

                Robert Delaney/RHP/Closer (23, #1, New Britain Rock Cats)        


            Z ach Ward was one of the top relief pitchers in the organization while pitching out of the New Britain bullpen during April and May with a 0.54ERA and 1.59ERA, respectively.  In June and July the Twins moved him in and out of the starting rotation and he wasn‘t as successful.  He returned to the bullpen exclusively in August when he compiled a 3.00ERA with a 3-0 record.  Ward finished his season with a 5-6 record in 46 games (5 starts), 93.0 innings, a 3.77ERA and 81K/51BB.  While working out of the bullpen, Ward appeared in 41 games (68.1 innings) with a 3.16ERA, 5-2 record, 1 save and 59K/38BB.  Without being privy to the opinions of New Britain’s management, it appears that Ward was either less effective as a starter or tired as a result of appearing in nearly 50 games in 5 months.  Ward is not on the Twins 40-man roster, however, should move up to Rochester in 2009. 

                Jose Mijares broke his elbow in an auto accident last winter in Venezuela.  As a result he didn’t appear in any games until mid-summer when he began his rehab in the GCL, appearing in 7 games (11.0 innings) with a 0.82ERA, 2-1 record and 16K/1BB.  Mijares moved up to Ft. Myers where he appeared in 5 games (10.1 innings) with a 2.61ERA and 8K/3BB.  He then moved up another level to New Britain where he appeared in 11 games (15.1 innings) with a 1-1 record, 2.93ERA and 17K/7BB.  Mijares was then somewhat of a surprise September call up where he became one of the Twins most consistent late inning options in September.  With the Twins, Mijares appeared in 10 games with a 0-1 record, 0.87ERA and 5K/0BB.  This winter Mijares is being used as a closer for the Aragua Tigres in his native Venezuela where he has a 2-1 record and 8 saves with a 0.59ERA in 17 games (15.1 innings) with 17K/5BB.  All indications are that the Twins will be counting on Mijares to be one of their left-handed short relief options in 2009.

                Charles Nolte was a twenty-fourth round selection in the 2007 draft.  After an excellent rookie season with the GCL Twins in 2007, Nolte moved up to Beloit where he was their most effective reliever throughout the season.  Nolte appeared in 44 games (70.1 innings) with a 4-3 record, 1 save, 2.05ERA and 75K/35BB.  Nolte should move up to Ft. Myers next season where he should continue to impress the Twins.   

                Last winter the Twins signed a left-handed veteran minor league pitcher, Ben Julianel.  Julianel was assigned to New Britain where he tied Bobby Korecky for the most saves in the organization with 26.  Ben was consistently a bright spot for the Rock Cats as they struggled all season, finishing with a 2.37ERA in 56 games (68.1 innings) with 78K/30BB.  Julianel is not on the Twins 40-man roster and should he return, he will likely move up to Rochester next spring. 

                Anthony Slama was one of the most successful relievers in minor league baseball during 2008.  He shared the closer/short-relief duties with Rob Delaney during the first half then was the Miracle closer when Delaney moved up to New Britain.  Many have questioned why Slama remained at Ft. Myers all season, however, he and Delaney had nearly identical seasons and the Twins likely wanted Slama to remain with Ft. Myers to get experience as a closer.  Slama appeared in 51 games (71.0 innings) with a 4-1 record, 25 saves, 1.01ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 110K/24BB.  Slama finished his season with an amazing 1.642 Dominance Ratio (Strikeouts divided by (hits plus walks)).  Slama moved on to the Arizona Fall League where he pitched very well in most appearances, however, in a short season it takes only one or two poor outings to ruin a short relievers numbers.  Slama appeared in 12 games (10.0 innings) with 1 save, 8.10ERA and 10K/7BB.  Look for Slama to move up to New Britain next spring where he will most likely put up numbers similar to what he did in Ft. Myers this season.

                Rob Delaney was another reliever who pitched as well as anyone this year.  My top ranked pitcher in the organization began his season sharing the closer duties with Anthony Slama in Ft. Myers.  Delaney had a 1-2 record with 13 saves in 23 appearances (31.2 innings), 1.42ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 34K/4BB.  Delaney moved up to New Britain following the all-star game where he had a 2-1 record with 5 saves in 23 appearances (34.1 innings), 1.04ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 38K/7BB.  Delaney also moved on to the Arizona Fall League in October where like Slama, he pitched very well in most games with a few so-so outings.  Slama finished his fall season with a 1-1 record in 11 games (11.2 innings) with a 4.63ERA and 11K/4BB.  


Any thoughts on Roger’s prospect team, hitters or pitchers? I know Roger would love your thoughts, so please e-mail me, or leave Comments here


23 Responses to “Roger’s 2008 Twins Prospect Team – Part II (The Pitchers)”

  1. Eric Olson December 17, 2008 at 12:05 am #

    Sigh. Thinking about the bullpen (even in a fantasy minor league setting) depresses me.

    My only bone with this write-up is that Duensing isn’t in the rotation. I would replace DeVries with him in a heartbeat.

  2. roger December 17, 2008 at 7:44 am #

    Eric, I think that most Twins fans would replace DeVries with Duensing. The fact is that while Duensing has an excellent chance of pitching for the Twins at some time in 2009, he didn’t pitch as well in Rochester in 2008 as he did in 2007…finishing the season as my 17th ranked pitcher. And lets give Cole some credit, he pitched as well as any starting pitcher in the organization and deserves some kudos!

  3. East Coast Twin December 17, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks again for all the work and insight.

    It will be interesting to see how the Twins handle Mulvey this year as he’s out of options in 2010. Will they make room for him in the rotation if he has an impressive first half?

  4. roger December 17, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    EastCoastTwin…I think the Twins will find themselves in an enviable position the next several years. If we can assume that Baker, Liriano and Slowey are set as 1-2-3, they should have a continual battle for #4 and #5. This should give them the ability to trade some good young starters from time-to-time for key parts elsewhere in the lineup. I don’t see their pipeline ending in the foreseeable future.

  5. Bill in Sarasota December 17, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Info from ESPN Buster Olney:

    The Twins have shown all mid-market and big-market teams that you need to be patient and that you cannot be successful when you have a payroll structure that’s top-heavy with a high-salaried big name. The Indians have demonstrated this, too, and so have the Athletics.

  6. East Coast Twin December 17, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    Actually I misspoke above. Mulvey isn’t even on the 40 man roster yet. Sorry for the confusion.

  7. Chris December 17, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Will Zach Ward be this years Brian Bass?? Hopefully with better success. Any thoughts about that last bullpen spot for the 09′ season?

  8. mike wants wins December 17, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    Actually, those three teams have showed that you need to draft and trade well. None of them have won the world series, and have proven nothing about how to fill gaps and retain your best players over time.

    The Red Sox have a mix of homegrown and acquired talent. They are the ones other teams should be copying. What, exactly, have the A’s proven this decade?

    Those three teams have shown one way to be better than average, if not the best. They have not shown it is the only way, as other teams with other ways have also been successful (and some much more so). Also, lots of other teams have tried to copy the approach of the Twins, A’s, and Indians, and failed. It isn’t the approach that works, but the talent evaluation, acquisition and development.

  9. Bill in Sarasota December 17, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    Teams only have so much resources. The team must decide to resign their players, sign MLB free agents, sign Int’l free agents, draft picks, build Int’l baseball academies, hire scouts,……

    The Red Sox are a big market team and their team salary is in the top four of MLB. Sure it’s easier to add four players from your farm to five major free agents to create a top team.

    One downside to MLB is the inequity of small to big market teams and the lack of a salary cap like the NFL. The Player Association will never allow it.

    Therefore the small market teams must spend wisely since they have less margin for error.

  10. mike wants wins December 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    Correct, but spend wisely does not necessarily preclude occassionally signing a guy from outside your system to fill a gap. Wisely is the key word there. The Yankess spend plenty, but spent it unwisely (and they lost almost every starter to injury last yeat). The Sox spent a ton of money (red) and have been very successful. Why? The bought pitchers (and spent big to keep their own hitters) and bought the right ones.

    Just because it works (sort of) for the Twins and As, doesn’t mean it would work for others, nor does it mean it is the only way. Being the worst team in baseball for 10 years and getting lucky on 4-5 of your top picks also works (as Tampa Bay “proved” last year).

    They clearly have less room for error, which is why a cheap team should never spend money on mediocre middle infielders (#9 hitters like PUnto vs #9 hitters from your minor league system are not the difference between winning and losing) and relievers, but should spend their serious money to keep starting pitchers and 4-5 very good to great hitters.

  11. talesinthesun December 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    I agree with Mike. While the farm system can be used to build a solid team, some money spent the correct way can put you over the top.
    The Red Sox are seen as a money spending team similiar to the Yankees yet the majority of the team is made up of home grown talent or trades. The Yankees during their World Series runs in the 90’s were also based on homegrown talent as well that was supplemented to fill holes.
    The main difference is the holes can be costly (Ramirez, Shilling, etc). The other factor is they are able to keep the players when they do become eligible for free agency. Only a few teams can do both year after year and even fewer do it well.

  12. mike wants wins December 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    On the topic of the post, I really enjoyed reading today’s and yesterday’s work. This is well thought out, well written, and enjoyable to read. I might have a nit or two here or there, but I’m not expert on these guys, and think most of the conclusions make sense (though, as these guys move up, who moves out would be one question).

  13. Michael December 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm #

    Do you not consider McCardell a bit old for the level of competition?

  14. thrylos98 December 17, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    Just a couple of comments on this (and I assume that it is a performance-based and not a prospect list, because Julianel 28 years old at AA, does not belong in any prospect list esp. ahead of Mijares) :

    a. The biggest omission is Dan Osterbrock. A 8 BB, 104 K, 1.04 WHIP in 75 IP in any level of professional ball is nothing to sneeze at. By far the best pitching performance by any Twins’ pitcher in any level

    b. The poor folks at the DSL are (again) ignored. Some of the best Twins’ pitching prospects are there. For some reason, most of the attention goes to the drafted prospects than the ones signed out of Latin America. Big mistake…

  15. roger December 17, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    thrylos98, I actually had Osterbrock penciled into the rotation for about a week while I was debating this years team. Although Osterbrock was my 9th ranked pitcher in the organization, in the end I had to give the nod to DeVries who pitched so very well in the FSL.

    I do try to include information on the DSL kids in my weekly reports during the season. If I were going to mention anyone from there it would have been Adrian Salcedo who had an excellent 1.65ERA in 12 starts at the age of 17. But the DSL is so far away from the full season leagues that it is nearly impossible to give one of the starting spots to a player from the DSL.

  16. SteveHoffmanSlowey December 17, 2008 at 9:20 pm #

    Great Job Roger Dehring!

    I’m a little surprised That Tyler Robertson still gets the nod at the top spot….I would actually have been OK with either one of him or Anthony Swarzak. I think the Twins have plenty of Pitching coming on the way that they can funnel in and out….Lets just hope the Deals that they make in the near future are solid trades and not “give-aways”

    Like Kyle Lohse for Zach Ward has pretty much turned out to be.

  17. thrylos98 December 17, 2008 at 9:50 pm #


    cool. And I understand the DSL issue. It is hard to get information about these guys (esp. in English) For all it matters, I had 4 of the DSLers ranked in the top 6 of my starting pitcher prospect list: Pedro Guerra #2, Adrian Salcedo #4, Eliecer Cardenas #5 and Ramon Acosta #6 (#1 was Osterbrock and # 3 was Miguel Munoz. From the ‘conventional’ prospects (i.e the ones everyone is talking about), Bobby Lanigan was 7th, Michael McCardell was 8th, David Bromberg was 9th, Anthony Swarzak was 10th and Tyler Robertson 11th. I tried to use objective criteria to make the list… if you care here is the link:

  18. Rosterman December 17, 2008 at 9:50 pm #

    Nice list. Especially the names that were left out that have the potential to make the Twins this year (Duensing, Swarzak) and in the future (Osterbrock). Think Mullins is still a possibility. Be interested to see what happens with Fox, Rainville and Waldrop in 2009.

  19. roger December 18, 2008 at 7:49 am #

    Swarzak opened a lot of eyes at Rochester, but had a very disappointing season at New Britain. My formula for ranking players and this team is based on results on the field in the organization during 2008. Thus, you will see players like Ben Julianel and Randy Ruiz who both had incredible years for their teams this year…yet, will not be high on anyone’s prospect list.

    thrylos98, found your approach very interesting. My formula is different and perhaps not as techinical. On the other hand I discount the final results for level of play which makes it very difficult for a player in the DSL and rookie leagues to move up into the top 10 or 20. The reason for this is that very few players who put up tremendous numbers in the DSL, GCL and Appy League ever make it to the big leagues…thus, the discounting as I try to equate performance and liklihood that they will someday contribute to the Twins.

  20. dish December 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    Where do the rankings come from? What goes into them?

  21. roger December 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    dish, This is an all-star team chosen by me, based on their play this season. The rankings included with each player is the ranking system that I developed and have fine tuned over the past four years. The rankings are not a prospect ranking, rather the ranking of players performance during the season.

  22. Beerbear December 19, 2008 at 2:45 pm #

    great job as usual Roger. I am glad you added some “under the radar” players that don’t always make the top ten prospect lists. I think Mulvey should be in the Twins starting lineup next season.

  23. dishwash December 22, 2008 at 1:07 pm #

    what is involved in the ranking system? Do we get to know why you think a particluar player is better than another? Robertson v. Mulvey, for example? I mean, with no explanation what’s the point of ‘a system’ anyway? You may as well make the numbers up. It’s like a math proof with only the solution…

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