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Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported on Thursday afternoon that the Twins had signed eight minor league free agents. We already knew a few of them. The Twins brought back 2B/OF Brian Dinkelman and LHP Phil Dumatrait on minor league contracts. Both had been removed from the 40 man roster and elected free agency before coming back to the Twins. The other six came from outside the organization. Here is a quick run-down on each of them. After doing just a little research on each, there are a couple worth keeping an eye on.
Most years, all teams bring in anywhere from five to 15 minor league free agents. They are brought in to help the AAA or AA rosters with the idea that one or two of them will be able to help out the big league club by providing depth at a position of need. I thought it might be good to get to know these guys a little bit more. Why? Last year, the Twins signed a lot of guys to minor league contracts and we saw several of them with the Twins. We saw Dumatrait, Chuck James, Rene Rivera and Steve Holm get some time with the Twins. After looking at these players, I have to admit that I’m as excited about a couple of these guys as I am about several of the players on the 40 man roster. (Reminder, we should find out today which Twins minor leaguers will be added to the Twins 40 man roster this afternoon.)
Here are the signed players from outside the organization (I didn’t include Dinkelman and Dumatrait or previously brought back Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang):
Jared Burton – The 30 year old Burton was the 8th round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2002 out of Western Carolina University. The Reds (and Wayne Krivsky) made him their Rule 5 selection in 2006 which meant he needed to spend the entire 2007 season with the big league club. From 2007 through 2009, he pitched in 154 games for the Reds. He has played in just ten games for the Reds the past two seasons as he has fought shoulder injuries. In his 169 big league innings, he has a 3.41 ERA, 73 walks and 143 strikeouts. He has hit 95 on the radar gun with his fastball. He has a slider and a changeup, but he is best known for his cutter (aka, the pitch that made Mariano Rivera, Mariano Rivera). Like Rivera, he is actually even better against left-handed hitters than righties. Right handed hitters have posted a .705 OPS against him while lefties have struggled to a .665 OPS. I think this is a sleeper signing for the Twins. In fact, don’t be surprised if he competes for the Twins closer role at some point (if they don’t bring back Joe Nathan).
Wilkin Ramirez – Ramirez is only about to turn 26 years old despite being signed by the Tigers way back in 2003. He reached the big leagues with the Tigers in 2009 and went 4-11 with a triple and a home run off of Matt Harrison. He played in the Futures Game in 2008 and 2010. Before the 2010 season, he ranked as the Tigers #8 prospect by Baseball America. By late July, he was Designated for Assignment and traded to the Braves. He got 26 at bats for the Braves in 2011. Two of his six hits were doubles. In 81 games with the AAA Gwinnett team, he hit .267/.307/.458 with 16 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs. He also stole 19 bases. He’s got good speed and pop in his bat that will help Rochester, but he is still young enough to have some upside and who knows, he may get a shot to compete for an outfield job with the Twins out of spring training if they don’t bring back Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel.
Matt Carson – The 30 year old outfielder was the 5th round pick of the Yankees in 2002 out of BYU. He reached the big leagues for the first time in 2009 with the A’s where he went 6-21 with a home run off former Twins pitcher Eddie Guardado. He went 14-79 with the A’s in 2010 with four more home runs. In four seasons of AAA, he has hit a combined .280/.343/.515 (.858). However, a lot of that was with the A’s AAA team in Sacramento in the Pacific League. He went from Sacramento to Durham (Rays) at the July 2011 trade deadline for cash.
Brendan Wise – 25 year old Wise is another Twins player from Perth, Australia. He was the 8th round pick of the Tigers in 2005 out of Pratt Community College. In 2010, he went 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 25 innings. He walked 11 and struck out 17. He moved up to Toledo where he was 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In 52 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 23. In 2011, he went 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. In 61.2 innings, he walked 28 and struck out 39. Interestingly, yet not surprising based on the high walk and low strikeout numbers, his FIP was 4.03. 62% of the time, opponents hit ground balls against him. He has a good slider with a sinking fastball in the low 90s.
Samuel Deduno – The 28 year old Dominican right-hander signed with the Rockies in 2003. He pitched in four games for the Rockies in 2010 before fracturing his elbow. He was on the opening day roster of the Padres in 2011, but he pitched in just two games before going down to AAA Tucson. He went 4-6 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. In 105.1 innings, he gave up 101 hits, walked 58 and struck out 85. He also threw 17 wild pitches. He isn’t overpowering, with a fastball at 91-92, but he has a very good curveball that misses some bats.
Luis Perdomo – Signed by Cleveland in 2006 from the Dominican Republic, Perdomo was traded to St. Louis in 2008. He was a Rule 5 pick by the Giants in 2009 but then claimed by the Padres. He debuted with the Friars in April of 2009 and pitched in 35 games that season. In 60 innings, he went 1-0 with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. He was sent down to AAA in 2010 and pitched in one game for the Padres. Last season, he went 0-8 with 10 saves and a 5.40 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in 71.2 innings. Another hard-thrower, Perdomo touches the mid-90s with his fastball with a slider.
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