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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

Elizabethton Twins

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

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

GCL Twins

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

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

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

Live from Beloit: Game 1

16 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

You may have heard that Travis Aune, my co-host on Twins Minor League Weekly and the blogger at Travis Twins Talk, and I were heading to Beloit, Wisconsin, this weekend to see three games of the Beloit Snappers, the Twins Low Class A affiliate. A year ago, I was able to make the trek with Josh Johnson of Josh’s Thoughts and really enjoyed it, so I am totally looking forward to this trip as well. Sure, BJ Hermsen threw great again on Wednesday, and Adrian Salcedo pitched well on Thursday, so we won’t see them, but that doesn’t mean that there is no one here to watch. There is still plenty of talent, and you never know which of these guys will be competing for a spot with the Twins in coming years. Since I write the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, co-host two episodes each week of Twins Minor League Weekly and generally focus on the Twins minor leagues, it’s great for me to get to Beloit and see these guys play.

If you’re a Twins fan and understand their philosophy of building from within, or even if you just have seen how many transactions that Twins have made between Minnesota and Rochester, you can fully understand the fun I find and the value in knowing the Twins farm system. As I can attest, box scores, stats and scouting reports are wonderful, but there is nothing like actually watching the players in person.

The Twins Triple-A affiliate is in Rochester, New York. The Double-A affiliate is in New Britain, Connecticut. The High Class A affiliate is in Ft. Myers, Florida, where they also have their GCL Twins team. Their advanced rookie league team is in Elizabethton, Tennessee. So, if you want to make a trip and spend a weekend watching Twins minor leaguers develop, make the short drive to Beloit, Wisconsin. A year ago when Josh and I went, we got to see Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales, Brian Dozier, Daniel Santana and several other prospects. Not only that, but Angels’ 19-year-old outfielder Mike Trout played for Cedar Rapids, the team the Snappers were playing. Watching him, he was head and shoulders the best player on the field. The 2011 Snappers team may not have the big name, like Hicks, this year, but they do have some talent, and later in this blog, and in subsequent blogs, I will be writing more and more about them.

I left work at noon on Thursday, and left Warroad at about 2:30. I picked up Travis in Perham at about 6:45, and we headed down to Chanhassen. We arrived there at about 10:00 and met the Twins Geek, John Bonnes, at Buffalo Wild Wings for a little bit. On Friday morning, we left Chanhassen and beat rush hour traffic. We took 94 east and basically took that to 39 south to Beloit. We arrived in Beloit by about 1:15. That was a 6 hour drive that included a stop at Perkins in Menomonie, and a Rest Area stop. So again, if you’re from the Twin Cities, it is only about a 5 ½ hour drive.

We checked into the hotel we had reservations for, the same hotel that the West Michigan team will be staying in during the upcoming series. Around 3:30, we made the short trek over to Pohlman Field, the Snappers home ballpark. There, we were introduced to the GM of the Snappers, Jeff Vohs, on the field. He was kind enough to spend a good 20 minutes talking to us, answering all out questions. As the GM of the Snappers, he wears many hats. Obviously there is the business side of things, the concession stands, the payroll, making sure everything is up and running, etc. However, he also has to do things like play meteorologist before games to help determine rainouts, or determine if a dry field should have the tarp put in it in case of rain before the next day. He helps the grounds crew during the game to drag the infield, and before the game, he’s on the tractor making sure the infield dirt is smooth as can be. He arranges for the special promotions including last night’s and tonight’s fireworks displays, and then has to be out by the fireworks when they are shot off. We joked that during his offseason, when he’s doing sales and promotions and speaking engagements and such, he’s only working 50 hours as opposed to the 80 hours he works each week during the season. At that point, we were corrected, he likely works much more than 80 hours each work during the season.

But as you know, I enjoy watching batting practice. While we are in town this weekend, minor league pitching coordinator Erik Rasmussen is also in Beloit. So is minor league hitting coordinator Bill Springman. Paul Molitor was on the field hitting ground balls, watching BP and talking to players and then he was in uniform and in the Snappers dugout during the game. Terry Ryan was also there, sitting in the stands observing all that was going on. During the game, he sat behind home plate with several other scouts, including White Sox scout Jerry Krause (who you may remember for his role in putting together those Bulls championship teams).

Last night, the Twins lost the third and final game of their three game set against South Bend by a score of 10-2. Hermsen and Salcedo had won the two previous games. Saturday through Monday, the Snappers will play three games against West Michigan. Here is the quick highlight/summary of the game we watched:

Ryan O’Rourke started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits in four innings. He walked five and struckout four. Nelvin Fuentes came in and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out two. Ben Tootle gave up one run on one hit and one walk in one inning. Bart Carter came in and the lefty gave up three runs on four hits in his innings. Finally Jose Gonzalez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame. Lance Ray led the offense. He was 2-4 with his 22nd double and ninth home run. Danny Ortiz and Daniel Santana each went 2-4.

That’s the high level, now what you really want to read, my thoughts and notes:

Ryan O’Rourke – he was a little bit more wild in this game than he has been all year. He entered the game with a miniscule 1.98 ERA, and watching him on the mound, I can understand why. First, watching him come out onto the field before the game to prepare, you can see how intense and competitive he is. When he is on the mound, he works very fast. He catches the ball from the pitcher, takes the sign and delivers. Of his five walks, one was intentional and three of them were to South Bend’s leadoff hitter, a lefty that stood right on top of home plate. He has a good fastball, and worked both sides of the plate. However, left-handed batters had absolutely no chance against O’Rourke’s slider. As I watched him, I could only think that he could almost already be a bullpen lefty up at higher levels just because of that pitch. He has a good to better-than-good fastball, and a great slider. He also threw a few changeups, but that was a pitch that needs work. If he can gain control of that change up, he can continue forward as a starter. If not, he could still have a great career as a lefty bullpen arm with two very good pitches!

Nelvin Fuentes – Completely the opposite of O’Rourke in terms of pace of the game. He walked around, took his time delivering, and looking at the fielders around him, he kind of lost them a little. He has good stuff, decent fastball, OK breaking ball, and what appeared to almost be a screw ball. He struggled though. He almost worked out of O’Rourke’s 5th inning mess, but a pitch around (or just below) the knees was called a ball. The next pitch was lined to center for a base hit and an inherited runner scored. The next batter drilled a double to the gap to score another. In his next inning, he gave up monstrous home run before getting the next two batters out. A single and another hard-hit double later, but he stranded them with a strikeout of the nine hitter. He’s had a lot of success, so I’m chalking this up to ‘one of those games’ but the pace did make it more difficult to watch.

Ben Tootle got an inning and he was all over the place. He has a high leg kick, to go with the high socks, and a motion that looks like it would be hard to know where the elbow is, where the shoulder goes and where the release point is. He didn’t have much control, but he does throw hard. He’s not a big guy. I didn’t see a breaking ball for a strike, although not many fastballs were either. He gave up a single, a walk, then got a line out before a sacrifice fly. Clearly if he can gain any control, he has a future in the bullpen.

Bart Carter – The lefty was pitching his second game for the Snappers after being promoted from E-Town where he walked two and struckout 24 in 12.2 innings. Decent fastball, rolling curveball that a couple of times broke quite sharply. If you look at his box score line (1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER), you would assume he got drilled. Not at all the case. The leadoff hitter blooped a single just over a leaping Danny Santana. The second batter reached on a rolling single that Santana went far to his left to just miss. The third batter hit a hard hopper down the 3B line that Jairo Perez made a very good play on, but had no chance at an out at any of the bases. The cleanup hitter came up and hit a bouncer hard off of the dirt in front of home plate and it bounced over the 1B head and into right field for a two run single. He then got a 1-6-3 double play and ended with a strikeout. Not a good line, but he didn’t pitch poorly at all.

Finally, Jose Gonzalez came in. Reports I got last year and wrote in the Prospect Handbook were that he was a shorter version of Jose Mijares. He is not tall. He has a little gut about him. But he is left-handed and throws hard. He throws across his body just enough to probably keep hitters uncomfortable, and he does throw pretty hard.

Wang-Wei Lin led off and I thought he looked comfortable at the plate. He took some good at bats and worked in a walk. He twice stayed back nicely and grounded out to the shortstop who also made a very nice play up the middle on one of them. One the first grounder to short, instead of running through the bag, he watched the play occur. Defensively, he is very solid in CF. He showed good range. Has a strong and accurate arm, and he’s not afraid to get his uniform dirty.

Adam Bryant batted second. He was the Twins 9th round pick just this June and did a nice job. He isn’t flashy at all, but he made the plays at shortstop and has an arm to play that position. In his second at bat, he lined a shot over the right fielder and showed very good speed racing into third for a triple. With runners on second and third in the 5th, he hit a fairly deep fly ball to right-center. Tobias Streich was on 3B and Danny Santana was on 2B. Both tagged. The CF made the catch and a perfect throw to 3B to get Santana out before Streich could touch home plate. Not really Santana’s fault for going. Took a perfect throw. Not Streich’s fault, he went hard to try to score. It didn’t turn out well, turned into a strange double play, but it was a good piece of situational hitting.

Jairo Perez played 3B and batted third. He is not a big guy, yet he has 8 home runs in his first full month with the Snappers after missing all of 2010 and the first two months of 2011 after Tommy John surgery. He walked his first plate appearance before grounding out to short the second time. He then hit a hard ground ball/line drive down the 3B line for a double. In his final at bat, he got a pitch at the letters and tomahawked the ball high into the night sky. It was caught on the warning track in very deep left field. When it left the bat, I was sure it was gone.

Michael Gonzales is still a big man. However, it is very clear that reports that he lost 30+ pounds in the offseason were accurate. He looked a little more mobile at 1B, and his swing does look vastly improved, much, much quicker than it did one year ago. In batting practice, he hit some balls a long way, and he hit a lot of line drives. He also struggled on some pitches up and popped them up which made me think that he still has some room for improvement in the bat-speed category. But it’s great to see that he’s putting up good numbers across the board. In the game, he had just one hit, a first inning line drive single to right in which he pulled a good fastball. In his third at bat, he straight down on a ball on the outer part of the plate and hit what we all assumed was a gapper to left center, but the left fielder covered a ton of ground and made a spectacular catch to rob him of an RBI double. He then walked in his final plate appearance.

Lance Ray was very impressive. He is not real big, but he has a very strong, smooth, left-handed swing. In his second at bat, he drilled a double over the right fielder’s head. In his third at bat, he took a pitch away and hit a long home run to the opposite field that hit off of the new scoreboard. That was truly impressive! In his final at bat, he hit a ball to right field that we thought was long gone, but it was caught on the warning track. He had a very impressive night at the plate. He played 1B in this game, with Gonzales DHing and looked pretty smooth over there. He also plays a lot of outfield.

Danny Ortiz, as I have mentioned many times, packs a big punch in a small body. He is not big, but he is very strong and can hit the ball a long way. In the game, he had two ground ball singles between first and second. He played right field and showed a strong arm. He looked natural out in right field, very comfortable, which is to say that he is a solid outfielder but we didn’t exactly see him have to do anything too difficult.

Derek McCallum was recently demoted from Ft. Myers. He was drafted as a 2B, but has been playing primarily outfield this year. He looked OK out in left field. Offensviely, he has a good approach at the plate. In his first at bat, he lined a shot that the left fielder caught. In his final at bat, he hit a semi-deep fly ball to center. In between, a strikeout and a pop up to 3B.

Tobias Streich is known for his defense abilities behind the plate, but most reports I’ve read said he had an average arm. He does a great job behind the plate. Nothing got by him and that included some sharp sliders in the dirt. Very impressed by his glove. However, South Bend was 5-5 on stolen base attempts in this game. That said, obviously the pitchers have something to do with that. However, the South Bend second run came when a runner stole third and Streich’s throw sailed into left field. But again, he did a great job behind the plate and seemed to really work well with the pitchers. His trips to the mound seemed very well timed.  

Danny Santana is really, really fast. He also looks very solid at second base. He has a lot of range and he has a cannon for an arm and he seems to like showing it off. With a 2-4 night last night, he got his OBP over .300 again. In his first at bat, he laid down a perfect drag bunt down the first base line. He was caught stealing soon after, but the catcher’s throw was right on the bag and it was still close. He was another who was robbed by the South Bend left fielder (Chris Jarrett) on a liner. His last at bat, he grounded out to 2B and it was a close play. Santana has a ton of tools. He definitely is taking better at bats than when I saw him play his first game with the Snappers last year and he swung at everything.

So there you have it. Some pretty detailed game notes and things that I noticed. Again, I don’t claim to be a scout by any means, but it is pretty neat to be able to make your own evaluation of these players that we see in box scores.

The post-game fireworks display was very impressive! It may be worth the 5 ½ hour from the Twin Cities for just that. Tonight’s game is at 7:00 and we will get to see Manuel Soliman, which I am very excited about! On Sunday at 2, the Snappers will start AJ Achter against West Michigan. Come on over! There’s also a noon game on Monday!!

If you have any questions or comments on the Beloit trip, the team, etc., please feel free to e-mail me or leave Comments.

Here is the rest of the Friday night Minor League Scoreboard:

The Rochester Red Wings lost 8-4 to Buffalo. Kevin Slowey started and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. Dusty Hughes came in and got the final out of the fifth, but not before giving up two more earned runs on two hits and a walk. Cole DeVries gave up three runs on five hits in two innings. Jake Stevens pitched a scoreless ninth. Jeff Bailey went 3-5 with his 14th double and fifth stolen base. Rene Tosoni went 3-5 and threw out a runner at third base from right field. Chase Lambin was 2-5 with his 14th double. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 with his 11th double.

The New Britain Rock Cats lost 10-6 to Portland. Brett Jacobson gave up two runs on two hits in 3.1 innings. He walked one and struck out two. Blake Martin threw 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and four walks. Deolis Guerra got just two outs, and he gave up four runs on one hit, two walks and a hit batter. Tyler Robertson got the final two outs but not before giving up four more runs on three hits and a walk. Deibinson Romero was 2-4 with his sixth homer. Chris Cates was 2-4 with his sixth double. Evan Bigley notched his 22nd double, and Chris Parmelee hit his 18th double. Chris Herrmann went 1-3 with two walks and his fourth home run.

Ft. Myers needed a Miracle, and they got it in their 5-4 win over Daytona. Logan Darnell started and gave up three runs on seven hits. In 6.2 innings, he walked none and struck out seven. Brad Stillings came in and gave up one run on two hits and two walks before getting the final out of the 7th. Ricky Bowen came into the 8th inning with the bases loaded and no out, and he got a double play and a strikeout to get out of the jam. He pitched a quick ninth inning for the save. James Beresford went 2-4 with a walk, his seventh double and first stolen base. Steve Liddle went 2-4. Aaron Hicks hit his fourth homer.

Elizabethton topped Greeneville 7-0. David Hurlbut started and threw seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out five. Nick Alloway threw two scoreless innings in relief and gave up one hit and walked two. Miguel Sano went 2-5 with his fourth triple and third stolen base. Nick Lockwood went 2-4 with his eighth double. Max Kepler went 2-4 with a walk. Eddie Rosario hit his third triple.

The GCL Twins lost 7-4 to the GCL Rays. Jorge Polanco went 3-5 with his third double and first triple. Drew Leachman went 3-4. Dereck Rodriguez was 2-4 with his third double. Hein Robb started and went 3.2 innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on four hits and a walk while striking out five. Nick Cicio gave up two earned runs on four hits in 1.1 innings. Mark Trau struckout three in two scoreless innings. Gonzalo gave up one run on two hits in two innings. He struckout two.

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

Roster Projections: Beloit Snappers

26 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Before we jump into my Beloit Snappers (Twins Low-A affiliate) roster projection, here are a couple of quick updates:

  • Last night was one of my favorite episodes of The Show.
  1. The first guest was Twins prospect Trayvone Johnson. This was one of my favorite interviews that I’ve done. The 2009 draft pick was selected as a catcher, but he has been moved to the mound. He was drafted out of high school, and explained why he had not played organized baseball for three years before the Twins drafted him last June. He is just a really good guy and I was very happy with the interview.
  2. Next, JJ Stankevitz from the White Sox Examiner came on and we talked about the White Sox. We spent time talking about their starting rotation. I also asked for his thoughts on Gordon Beckham and how his name keeps popping up in rumors about Adrian Gonzalez. I asked for his thoughts on Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzynski, Bobby Jenks and more.  
  3. Finally, Twins 17-year-old outfield prospect Max Kepler spent about 15 minutes answering questions. He is currently sidelined by some tendonitis in his shoulder, but talked about how his first spring training is going. We talked about his early baseball days in Germany and the reasons he signed with the Twins. He corrected me on some German pronunciations. It was a lot of fun.  So be sure to listen to The Show.
  4. We also noted that the planned time for The Show throughout the season will be 9 p.m. central time on Sunday nights. I think it’s a good time. Generally, the Twins will play Sunday afternoon games (with a couple of exceptions). They will have ended a weekend series and will be about to start a new series. Hopefully that will mean more major league and minor league interviews can be done. Although I am working on adding other guests, Pat Neshek has already confirmed that he will be on The Show

 

The Beloit Snappers’ season also begins on April 8th with a road series at Cedar Rapids. Starting on April 11th, the Snappers begin their home schedule with games against Peoria. The Snappers will be again managed this year by Nelson Prada. Tommy Watkins begins his full-time coaching career as the Snappers hitting coach.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the Beloit Snappers:

The Hitters

  Beloit
C Tobias Streich
1B Michael Gonzales
2B Derek McCallum
3B Anderson Hidalgo
SS Brian Dozier
LF Chris Herrmann ( C)
CF Aaron Hicks
RF Steve Liddle
DH Josmil Pinto
Bu C Buddy Munroe
Bu IF Matt Gaski
Bu OF Reggie Williams
Bench Jonathan Goncalves
DL (Dan Rohlfing)
  (Adan Severino)

Analysis: The Twins have some quality catching depth in these low levels. In fact, yesterday I pushed Danny Rams up to Ft. Myers, in part, due to the number of catchers that could (or should) be in Beloit. Tobias Streich was the best defensive catcher in the 2009 draft, so he should be here. Buddy Munroe was drafted last year as well and is another defensive catcher. Josmil Pinto has a very strong arm, but he is not known for his defense. However, he has a tremendous bat. Chris Herrmann was drafted as a catcher last year, but he played only outfield in 2009. He moved to catcher in Instructional league, but with his bat, he needs to be in Beloit and needs to be in the lineup. I think that Aaron Hicks will go back to Beloit for at least six weeks. Steve Liddle signed quite late last year, but he’s an advanced hitter, from Vanderbilt, and should play here. The infield has some quality prospects as well. Michael Gonzales is a large man, but he can hit. He had a strong run last year for a few weeks at Elizabethton. Former Gopher standout Derek McCallum will be the primary second baseman. Fellow 2009 draftee Brian Dozier will play a lot at shortstop. Anderson Hidalgo will be at 3B. Reggie Williams is likely to play a lot, but he is a tremendous athlete and should be able to play the infield and outfield positions and be in the lineup most days. Matt Gaski is about the glove. Jonathan Goncalves is another solid athlete who will get plenty of playing time in the outfield. Its’ hard to find a place for Dan Rohlfing even after he was moved to the outfield from behind the plate last year. Also, Adan Severino was hurt most of 2009, so this will be a big year for him.    

The Pitchers

 

  Beloit
SP Liam Hendriks
SP Tom Stuifbergen
SP Edgar Ibarra
SP Miguel Munoz
SP Brad Stillings
   
CL Zach See
8L Nelvin Fuentes
8R Dakota Watts
BP Matt Tone
BP Kane Holbrooks
BP Ben Tootle
BP Tony Davis
   
  (Matt Bashore)
  (Shooter Hunt)
  (Brian Kirwan)

 

 

Analysis: This gets a little bit tricky here. There are still a lot of good pitching prospects, but here are my thoughts. Liam Hendriks missed all of 2008 and last year started with Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit. I think he starts here again, but he could move up quickly. Tom Stuifbergen just knows how to pitch. He’s still very young, but he will do well. He was E-town’s top pitcher last season. However, toward the end of the year, Edgar Ibarra certainly put himself into consideration as well. Miguel Munoz is up and down, but he is probably the hardest thrower and working on other pitches. Brad Stillings was selected in 2009 and started with E-Town. He came up to Beloit but pitched out of the bullpen, so I would suspect that he will be a starter here to start the season at least.

Zach See signed as an undrafted free agent last year and pitched very well, good strikeout numbers. The three lefties that I have on this roster are all capable of dominating. Nelvin Fuentes also missed all of 2008. He pitched well in 2009, especially for Puerto Rico in the World Cup. Matt Tone and Tony Davis were both drafted in 2009. Tone dominated Appy League hitters. At one point, he went over 15 innings without giving up a hit, and over 18 innings without allowing a run. Tony Davis played for a couple of teams, but he ended the season on the New Britain playoff roster. Ben Tootle, when healthy, can approach 100 mph with his fastball. That’s how you get drafted in the third round. Hopefully he is fully healthy and strong in 2010. Dakota Watts was drafted in 2009 as well and played for three affiliates. Kane Holbrooks was a college All-American last year and the Twins got him after the 20th round. He had always started but feels that he is probably better suited for relief work.

If Matt Bashore is healthy, he will definitely be starting somewhere, maybe even in Ft. Myers. It’s hard to tell what the Twins will do with Shooter Hunt. And Brian Kirwan will be back after missing all of 2009 with shoulder surgery.

So, who isn’t here? Who did I not put on a full-season roster?

Those top three pitchers at the GCL last year will probably all have a chance to pitch for Beloit at some point this season. On Tuesday night’s podcast, Adam Foster said that Adrian Salcedo was turning eyes. The 18 year old was hitting 93 mph with a sharp curveball and a very good changeup. BJ Hermsen also put up silly numbers last year in the GCL. Blayne Weller often gets overlooked because of those first two, but his numbers are right on par. All three could be with the Snappers by June, and if any of them go to Elizabethton, I would consider them favorites for Appy League Pitcher of the Year. Michael Tonkin is likely going to E-town, and I think that Martire Garcia may repeat at E-Town. Relief Pitcher Andrei Lobanov had an incredible 2009 in the GCL as well (1 BB, 35 K in 22 IP!), but I think he will go to E-Town too.

The young’ns (Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler) will all likely play for the GCL Twins. Sano and Polanco may go to the Dominican Summer League and play during Extended Spring Training.

ELIZABETHTON

It’s impossible to project the Elizabethton or GCL Twins rosters because they will also contain players drafted in the 2010 draft. The college draftees will mainly play in E-Town. But just to try to send a reminder of some of the other players in the Twins system, here are some Elizabethton “projections.”

  Elizabethton
C Jhonatan Arias
1B Kennys Vargas
2B Daniel Santana
3B Rory Rhodes
SS Jairo Perez
LF Matej Hejma
CF Oswaldo Arcia
RF Daniel Ortiz
DH Wang-Wei Lin
Bu C Nick Freitas
Bu IF Hyeon-rok Choi
Bu OF Brian Bistagne
Bench Fred Hanvi
   
  Elizabethton
SP Martire Garcia
SP BJ Hermsen
SP Adrian Salcedo
SP Blayne Weller
SP Michael Tonkin
   
CL Andrei Lobanov
8L Jose Gonzalez
8R Jan Rehacek
BP Peter Kennelly
BP Jhon Garcia
BP Jean Mijares
BP Eliecer Cardenas
BP Trayvone Johnson

I hope everyone has enjoyed this series of Roster Projections. Of course, I don’t have any inside information into these rosters, so they are just what they are, projections. I like to think that they may be fairly close, but we shall see in less than two weeks.            

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 3

19 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

If you would like to hear my interview with Denard Span, please click here.

Today, we conclude our look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. Today, I will post our final six selections. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 17-22)

Round 17 – 65th Overall – Roger – LHP – Matt Tone

I debated between two excellent young lefty relievers and decided to go with the more experienced, Matt Tone.  I was hoping that Lobanov could slide through another six picks, however, Seth picked him with the next pick.

Round 17 – 66th Overall – Seth – LHP – Andrei Lobanov

(Lobanov, Lugo or Steedley? How do I pick? Well, I take the youngest, the guy with the 35 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, of course.)

Round 17 – 67th Overall – Josh – IF – Ramon Santana

(I believe that Ramon Santana and Luke Hughes can battle to see where each plays, one will start at second base and the other will start at third base. Santana had a great year in 2009, but he turned 23-years-old this year when the average age in the Midwest League is 21. Santana helps extend my lineup. I also considered both Steven Liddle and Michael Harrington with this pick.)

Round 17 – 68th Overall – Travis – OF – Michael Harrington

(The reason I drafted him is not because of his low batting average but his extra base power.  For quite a long time last season he led the whole organization in doubles and that to me is very impressive.  It will be interesting to see if he can improve on the other parts of his game to become a true prospect.)

Round 18 – 69th Overall – Travis – RHPBobby Lanigan

(I was very happy to get him because he is on the cusp of good things going forward.  He is a little bit inconsistent, but the sky is the limit as he has all the tools to be a very good pitcher.  I will be interested to see if he shows the promise the Twins saw in him when they drafted him as high as they did.)

Round 18 – 70th Overall – Josh – OFSteve Liddle

(As I mentioned above, I considered taking both Steven Liddle and Michael Harrington when I took Ramon Santana. Travis took Harrington which left Liddle, which was completely fine by me. Although he was taken in the 15th round last of June’s draft, he went to Vanderbilt (a college baseball powerhouse) and played great in the Appalachian League this year (but keep in mind that he was a year older than the rest of the competition). Liddle should start in Beloit in 2010 and could move up quickly through the system. His uncle (also named) Steve Liddle is the Twins’ bench coach. )

Round 18 – 71st Overall – Seth – 1BMichael Gonzales

(I need a 1B. Next pick, I’ll take either Miguel Munoz or Martire Garcia, just hoping Roger doesn’t take both of them!)

Round 18 –72nd Overall – Roger – SSDaniel Santana

(I believe that one of the better middle infield prospects in the organization is Daniel Santana.  He was one of the better hitters for the GCL Twins last simmer, while showing excellent speed with 11 stolen bases in only 12 attempts.)

Round 19 – 73rd Overall – Roger – LHP – Spencer Steedley

(I then went back to a veteran of last year’s Arizona Fall League to pick up another top reliever for my bullpen, Spencer Steedley.)

Round 19 – 74th Overall – Seth – RHP – Miguel Munoz

(Well, they were both still available, so I’ll take the guy that hits 94. Not much left in OF or any bats, several good BP options.)

Round 19 – 75th Overall – Josh – LHP – Kyle Carr

(With Andrei Lobanov, Spencer Steedley, Matt Tone and Joe Testa already taken, I knew that Kyle Carr or Jose Lugo would be my pick. I went with Carr primarily because he’s a couple years younger and should be in Ft. Myers in 2010. That’s really what it boiled down to.)

Round 19 – 76th Overall – Travis – LHP – Jose Lugo

(The reason I drafted him is everything that I hear about him is positive.  Everyone tells me that he will be in the big leagues in the not too distant future so I really wanted to know more about him.  After doing research on him I agree he will be a Twin soon.)

Round 20 – 77th Overall – Travis – OF – Dustin Martin

(The reason I selected Martin was the simple fact that last year he was two different people and I want to see which one he is.  In spring training with the Twins he hit the cover off the ball hitting over .400 and doing a good job in center field.  However, with the Red Wings he really struggled and with his age it is almost time to put up or shut up because there is a dealth of center fielders in the upper minors for the Twins so there is definitely an opportunity.)

Round 20 – 78th Overall – Josh – SS – Nick Lockwood

(I needed a middle infielder and at this point its slim pickings. Nick Lockwood was taken in the 9th round and signed to a $125,000 signing bonus last June to forgo his commitment to the University of Southern Florida to sign with the Twins. He is solid defensively and showed good power in High School. Roger took Daniel Santana a couple rounds before, who I was hoping to take in either the 21st or 22nd round, so I wanted to make sure I took Lockwood. I also considered taking Anderson Hidalgo with this pick.)

Round 20 – 79th Overall – Seth – RHP – Bruce Pugh

(Since we’re talking about success 2-3 years down the road, I’ll go with a sleeper pick instead of Chris Province)

Round 20 – 80th Overall – Roger – OF – Mark Dolenc

(I closed out my outfield with a player I was looking to take for about five rounds, Mark Dolenc.  Without a lot of publicity, Dolenc was one of the better outfielders in the organization last summer when he hit .288/.332/.392 for Ft. Myers.  He also had 27 stolen bases in 33 attempts, which is a better stolen base success rate than either Revere or Benson.)

Round 21 – 81st Overall – Roger – LHP – Michael Tarsi

(With Seth picking one spot ahead of my 20th pick, he again picked the player I was eyeing for one of these two picks, Bruce Pugh.  With Pugh gone, I closed out my bullpen with a big left handed long reliever/starter, Michael Tarsi.)

Round 21 – 82nd Overall – Seth – EX – Anderson Hidalgo

(Solid offensive season at E-Town, and Gleeman’s got him in his top 40!)

Round 21 – 83rd Overall – Josh – OF – Romy Trinidad

(With my “Extra” pick, I wanted another outfielder and it came down between two Dominican players, Romy Trinidad and Candido Pimentel. I went with Trinidad because he’s a year younger and is three inches taller than Pimentel. Trinidad hit .312/.443/.363 as an 18-year-old in the DSL last summer and should be making his way to the States in 2010.)

Round 21 – 84th Overall – Travis – IF – Nick Romero

(I am very surprised he was not selected earlier as he was playing just about every day at 2nd for the Miracle.  He has some things to work on in his game, but he plays good defense and if you can do that the rest will take care of itself.)

Round 22 – 85th Overall – Travis – OF – Jonathan Goncalves

(I selected him because we don’t know much about him and if he has the ability to be a good prospect or someone that will hang around for a year or two.  He did not do much at E-Town, but he did not get a lot of opportunities so my hope is that he gets more at bats so we can know if he a contender or a pretender.)

Round 22 – 86th Overall – Josh – 1B – Jonathan Waltenbury

(I kind of shot myself in the foot on this pick. I had a feeling Travis might take Nick Romero and I took the risk of waiting for him in the 22nd round. Travis ended up taking Romero with his next pick and Jonathan Waltenbury was really the only other player that appealed to me. He climbed prospect charts in 2008 but fell off in 2009. He’ll likely repeat Single-A Beloit but he still has good upside.)

Round 22 – 87th Overall – Seth – OF – Matej Hejma

Not much to choose from. D. de La Osa is older. Wang-Wei Lin is a 5-tool type, but 22 and not out of GCL due to injuries.

Round 22 – 88th Overall – Roger – C – Allan de San Miguel

(With the final selection in the Seth Stohs 2010 draft, I selected my extra player/back up catcher.  It seems like Alan de San Miguel has been around for forever.  But he didn’t turn 22 until last week, thus, is very young for someone who played on all four full-service teams last year.  An excellent defensive catcher who has never hit for a high average, de San Miguel had his best season at the plate last year.  At his age, should he continue to improve with his bat again this year his future will also continue to brighten.)

SETH’S TEAM SUMMARY

Real Briefly, I am going to write about my team, and then I will encourage you to check out the other drafters/bloggers for their thoughts on their rosters (here is Josh’s):

LINEUP

James Beresford – SS

Steve Singleton – 2B

Rene Tosoni – RF

Danny Valencia – 3B

Aaron Hicks – CF

Michael Gonzales – 1B

Chris Herrmann – C

Anderson Hidalgo – DH

Oswaldo Arcia – LF

Bench: Reggie Williams, Matej Hejma, Estarlin de Los Santos

Starting Rotation: Deolis Guerra, Blayne Weller, Matt Bashore, Miguel Munoz, Edgar Ibarra

Closer: Carlos Gutierrez

Bullpen: Santos Arias, Rob Delaney, Andrei Lobanov, Bruce Pugh

There you have it, Part 3 of the Minor League draft, and my team. For more information, lineups and more from each of the other teams, check out the sites of Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson and Travis Aune. Have yourself a great weekend. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 2

18 Feb

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net

Just a quick update on tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Podcast. I really am excited about the new format and hope that it goes well. I’ll be able to mention more later about the specifics, but I can now say that both Denard Span and Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi have confirmed that they will be guests on the show. Be sure to check back right here for a link to the podcast itself. It will be posted right around 9:00. I will also be setting up a chat room for you to talk Twins and ask questions. There will be time at the end to take your questions and comments. There is even a toll-free phone number which is new, so anyone can call! It should be a fun show. I’ll head to the studio a little early to make sure we’ve got everything set up.

Today, we continue to look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. The specifics of the draft can be found in yesterday’s blog posting in which I showed our first eight rounds of picks. Today, I will post our selections for rounds 9 through 16 before finishing the draft on Friday. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 9-16)

Round 9 – 33rd Overall – Roger – 3B – Wander Guillen

(I may have overreached with the selection of my third baseman, Wander Guillen, who was leading the DSL Twins in hitting and OBP at the age of 16!)

Round 9 – 34th Overall – Seth – OF – Oswaldo Arcia

(Had thought of taking him with my previous pick (or Wander Guillen, just to make Roger mad), but Arcia is another guy with five tools..)

Round 9 – 35th Overall – Josh – RHP – Shooter Hunt

(As I’ve said, I knew I needed to take a high-upside guy at some point and Hunt is just that. I originally wanted to take Oswaldo Arcia to fill out my outfield, but Seth took him with the pick before. Hunt may have the best ‘stuff’ out of any Twins farmhand and is thus a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, which is just what this staff needs. If he can regain any of sense of control, Hunt shouldn’t have a problem at becoming this staff’s ace.)

Round 9 – 36th Overall – Travis – RHP – Liam Hendriks

(I am very excited about the potential Liam has as he can be dominant.  He is very similar to Tom Stuifbergen except that I think Hendricks has the potential to be better.  I look for him to get better and better the farther we get away from his arm injury of a couple years ago.) (Seth Note – Hendriks missed the 2008 season, but it was not with an arm injury. He had some surgery on his spine.)

Round 10 – 37th Overall – Travis – 3BDeibinson Romero

(My interest in him is well documented as I used to always have him in my top 10’s and he has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.  I am curious how many chances the Twins are going to give to him because the potential is there to be very good.)

Round 10 – 38th Overall – Josh – SSJorge Polanco

(Something that is worth noting about this process is that I’m not necessarily sticking to my Top 50 Prospect list. With the 38th Overall pick, I chose someone who didn’t even make my original Top 50. But since I’m making my team and I have to look at different aspects, Jorge Polanco (and others) have been taken higher than where they’d rank on my Top 50 List, which is kind of interesting to note. I wanted to have a defensively-gifted shortstop and I thought Polanco would be gone by my next pick, so I wanted to strike early. I also considered to wait a round or two and take Estarlin De Los Santos, but I am taking the risk on Polanco. Besides being defensively-gifted at a premium position, I also like that he’s viewed as a #2 hitter and incase I can’t grab someone who can handle the bat later (such as Brian Dinkelman), I want someone to bat near the top that possess good on-base skills and reports suggest that he has that potential. With this pick, I also considered Matt Bashore, who would have filled out my rotation.)

Round 10 – 39th Overall – Seth – RHPRob Delaney

(He just has had such an amazing track record of success in his minor league career. He’s close to the big league club.)

Round 10 –40th Overall – Roger – RHPCesar Ciurcina

(I went back to the DSL with my tenth pick to close out my starting rotation with Cesar Ciurcina.  Although he is a bit older, Ciurcina had numbers similar last summer to those put up by Salcedo the previous year.  Is Ciurcina as good as Salcedo?  We will know more about him after this season when we see him in the GCL.)

Round 11 – 41st Overall – Roger – 2B/OF – Brian Dinkelman

(I went back to the infield and took a young man who has been one of the better hitters every step of his career, Brian Dinkelman.  Dinkelman’s best position appears to be second base.  Is he good enough defensively to earn a spot with the Twins in the next 16 months?)

Round 11 – 42nd Overall – Seth – LHP – Matt Bashore

(I really want to grab a SS (probably Beresford), but Bashore, if healthy, was a top pick, and he’s left-handed.)

Round 11 – 43rd Overall – Josh – RHP – Michael Tonkin

(Out of all of the rounds, this one has stung the most. Both Roger and Seth consecutively stole my picks (Brian Dinkelman and then Matt Bashore), but thankfully there were still high-upside pitchers (like Michael Tonkin) available.  Tonkin has projectable size and should add velocity as he matures. I really feel comfortable with my rotation after adding Tonkin. Hopefully I can get to the same point with my lineup, because I’m concerned about what’s left and what I still need.)

Round 11 – 44th Overall – Travis – OF – Evan Bigley

(The sky is the limit for Bigley who hit the cover off the ball in E-town and then again in Beloit.  That led to a promotion to Fort Myers where he struggled a bit.  I look for a big year this year from Evan as I look for him to dominate the FSL and will be in New Britain before the end of the year.)

Round 12 – 45th Overall – Travis – LHP – Joe Testa

(This is a guy that just splashed across the scene in 2009 and turned many heads.  He changed the feeling of many that he was just another relief pitcher and convinced many that this is a guy that is worth keeping track of myself included.  I look for his career to continue to skyrocket after his monster 2009 season.)

Round 12 – 46th Overall – Josh – 1B/DH – Erik Lis

(I am lacking a strong bat from the left side and I am at the point where I want to start focusing on the bullpen, so I wanted to make sure I had Erik Lis wrapped up. He’ll fit well in the middle-of-my-order and will play first base (depending on who I could possibly grab later). I also considered Loek Van Mil with this pick).

Round 12 – 47th Overall – Seth – SS – James Beresford

(It is time to address the middle infield. There are three solid SS prospects, and I would like two of them. I guess that means I would rank Beresford the highest of the three.)

Round 12 – 48th Overall – Roger – LF – Juan Portes

(I needed to fill in the balance of my outfield and was elated that spring training invitee Juan Portes was still available. A very raw prospect when drafted in 2004, Portes had a break out year last summer when he led the Rock Cats in hitting.  Does he have enough power to make it to the Twins as a corner outfielder appears to be the biggest question?)

Round 13 – 49th Overall – Roger – 1B – Brock Peterson

(I filled out my infield with the best story in the organization the last several years, former 49th round pick Brock Peterson.)

Round 13 – 50th Overall – Seth – SS – Estarlin de Los Santos

(I guess that means I would rank De Lo second. The third guy to consider was Brian Dozier, but de Los Santos was added to the 40 man roster, and when healthy, he is probably the most pure Twins SS prospect (other than apparently 16 year old Jorge Polanco.))

Round 13 – 51st Overall – Josh – RHP – Loek Van Mil

(I’ve never been very high on Loek Van Mil. Besides his height, he doesn’t really appeal to me. He walks a lot of guys and at 25-years-old he will likely be starting the year in Double-A. But…but… I do believe that his high 90’s fastball would be perfect as a setup man and hopefully I’ll be able to nab Kyle Waldrop in the next round. Plus, I think a Van Mil growth chart would be a good promotion.)

Round 13 – 52nd Overall – Travis – RHP – Matt Fox

(I was hoping that Matt Fox would fall to me because I am very high on him.  He has battled through injuries and setbacks to become an option for the Twins.  I look for him to keep going on that road and, by season’s end, possibly get a call-up by the twins.)

Round 14 – 53rd Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Hirschfeld

(He is another guy I was hoping to get as he is another overachiever that just knows how to get hitters out.  He was very good for Fort Myers last year and can either start or relieve which I look to help him going forward.)

Round 14 – 54th Overall – Josh – RHP – Kyle Waldrop

 (As I mentioned above, I wanted to get Kyle Waldrop to help solidify my bullpen. So when I saw that he was available, it was an easy choice. I also considered both Spencer Steedley and Andrei Lobanov with this pick but I’ll probably end up waiting a few rounds with them…)

Round 14 – 55th Overall – Seth – RHP – Edgar Ibarra

(Ibarra was a very good pitcher for the E-Twins the second half of their season. Still some very good players left. Considered Reggie Williams.)

Round 14 – 56th Overall – Roger – OF – Brandon Roberts

(Seth again picked the player I was looking at for my next pick when he selected Edgar Ibarra, although he took him as a starter and I was looking at him in long relief.  With Ibarra gone, I went back to the outfield and selected Brandon Roberts who will be my center fielder and leadoff hitter.)

Round 15 – 57th Overall – Roger – RHP – Ben Tootle

(I followed with the selection of a high ceiling, hard throwing short reliever, Ben Tootle. Assuming his arm problems of last summer are behind him, Tootle could be on a fast track towards Minnesota.)

Round 15 – 58th Overall – Seth – C – Chris Herrmann

(Herrmann is moving to catcher. There are lots of catchers in the Beloit picture. I need a catcher, but Reggie Williams can’t last until my next pick, can he?)

Round 15 – 59th Overall – Josh – RHP – Pedro Guerra

(With short relief already under wraps, I felt the need for a long reliever. Guerra has dominated the Dominican Summer League two years in a row and should be making his appearance in the States this season. It was a coin flip between Guerra and Danny Ortiz, but hopefully I’ll be able to get Ortiz in the next round.)

Round 15 – 60th Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Blevins

(One of my favorite people in the organization, and that has nothing to do with his stuff, as he is a genuinely nice guy.  On the field, he is a pretty good pitcher also, as he put up good numbers at Beloit.  I look forward to seeing what he can do going forward as he has the talent to be a future Twin if he keeps improving.)

Round 16 – 61st Overall – Travis –  SS – Brian Dozier

(He is one of those guys that I was not sure how good he could be and dealt with some injuries down the road.  With the promotion of Tyler Ladendorf, Dozier got to show what he could do and man did he deliver.  I am interested to see how fast he can move through the system as a college guy if he wants to play for the Twins he is going to have to skyrocket, but the talent is there to do it.)

Round 16 – 62nd Overall – Josh – OF – Danny Ortiz

(As I mentioned with Pedro Guerra, it was a coin flip between the two. Luckily, I got both. Danny Ortiz missed all of the 2009 season with injury but was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. At 5’11’’ and 166 lbs., he still has a lot of power and will fit in nicely with the rest of my lineup.)

Round 16 – 63rd Overall – Seth – CIF – Reggie Williams

(He lasted until my next pick!! Need a 1B and a CI, and Reggie Williams played a lot of 3B, but can also play MI and OF.)

Round 16 – 64th Overall – Roger – 1B – Whit Robbins

(I filled my reserve corner infield spot with the selection of Rochester/New Britain first baseman Whit Robbins.)

There is Part II. Check back tomorrow for the third and final part of the minor league draft, and more.. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Perfect Ending to Horrible Game

21 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

  • I’m generally known as the positive Twins blogger, right? Well, I kind of go against that in my most recent Star Tribune Your Voices blog titled Twins Need to Deal.
  • Also, be sure to listen in to last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. Doogie Wolfson joined me for the first 25 minutes, and stuck around while fellow TwinsCentric writers John Bonnes and Nick Nelson joined for the last half hour. There was a ton of Twins talk, primarily focused on the Trade Deadline, but on a ton of Twins topics. It was fun to have such a strong panel answer many Twins-related questions, and I think you will enjoy it, so please check it out and let me know what you think.
    • HELP! I have been meaning to ask this for awhile. Does anyone with any technical knowledge know how to put all of my podcasts onto a CD? I, of course, have no clue how to do it, or how long it might even take. If anyone can help me out, please let me know. Thanks!
  • As I mentioned last night, I spent some time chatting with Twins 3B prospect Danny Valencia last night and he agreed to doing an interactive Q&A with SethSpeaks.net readers. So, if you would like to ask the future Twin a question (or two, or up to 3), please e-mail me and I will send him the questions. I will accept questions until Wednesday night (around 10:00 p.m.).
  • And, of course, as the Trade Deadline is fast approaching, please consider picking up a copy of the TwinsCentric 2009 Trade Deadline Primer for just $9.95.

Cuddyer was safe. Clearly he was safe. Slow-motion instant replay showed that it really wasn’t that close. But it’s hard to be upset at the call. It’s not like the Twins deserved to win the game. Sure, all wins are great, but they did not deserve to win a game that they played that bad. Too many mistakes. Too many bad at bats against the A’s bullpen. Yes, Cuddyer was safe, but the Twins did not deserve to win that game.

Alright, that Twins/A’s game was crazy! Twins get off to a fast lead, but Nick Blackburn has nothing and struggles to get through five innings despite the offense (Even without Joe Mauer) scoring him 12 runs. Justin Morneau had two home runs and seven RBI before the fourth inning. Jason Kubel had a three run homer. It was his 16th. Michael Cuddyer had a solo homer. His 16th. Blackburn was awful. Brian Duensing came in and struggled in the 6th inning. Part of that was due to bloop hits, part of it due to an error. Then in the 7th inning, he gave up another three bloop hits to load the bases, so they brought Bobby Keppel in. Now, Keppel has been excellent in his very small sample size of innings. Orlando Cabrera hit a blooper down the right field line that landed in just the right spot and scored two runs. A walk to Scott Hairston brought Matt Holliday to the plate as the tying run… and he delivered a game tying home run, a grand slam tying the score at 13. Jose Mijares came in and on the first pitch Jack Cust hit a long home run to dead center field that gave the A’s the 14-13 lead. The game is three hours long, and it’s only the 7th inning, and it’s ridiculous. It’s hard to even be upset because outside of the two home runs in the 7th inning, the A’s have not hit much hard. And then the play at the plate at the end, and there you have it.

That said, Message to Bill Smith… The Twins still need pitchers I don’t care of they are starters or relievers. They need help. Tonight was just another illustration. This simply should not happen. I know, it does happen. It happens several times a year around the big leagues, but it should never happen. Let’s not forget that along with two web-gem-like plays from Nick Punto, he also had an error and could have been given another one. Let’s not forget that with Duensing on the mound, Justin Morneau didn’t catch a foul pop up that should have been an out. This was an ugly game all around. I know, it even happens to playoff teams. But again, if you’re counting on Brian Duensing, Bobby Keppel and Jose Mijares, you’re not going anywhere. And yet yesterday, ground ball expert Cla Merideth, a 26 year old submarine pitcher was traded from the Padres to the Orioles for a 31 year old infielder who may have been designated for assignment within days by the Orioles.

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Monday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Jason Pridie/David Winfree, Rochester Red Wings

Monday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Tom Stuifbergen, Elizabethton Twins – Steve Hirschfeld, Ft. Myers Miracle

ROCHESTER REPORT

Monday – Rochester 12, Pawtucket 5 – Yohan Pino had a successful AAA debut thanks to a lot of run support. The righty went the first five innings and gave up three runs on three hits. Two of those hits were home runs. He walked none and struck out three. Of the 65 pitches that he threw, 45 of them were strikes. Jesse Crain came in and struck out three in two one-hit innings. Crain in July has walked three and struck out 12 in 12 innings pitched. Tim Lahey gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out three. The offense was abundant for the Red Wings. Jason Pridie went 4-5 with five RBI and his 20th stolen base. David Winfree went 3-5 with his 22nd double and 13th home run. Matt Macri went 3-4 with his 18th double. Steve Tolleson went 2-3 with a walk. Matt Tolbert went 2-5 with a triple.  

ROCKCAT RECAP

Monday – New Britain 1, Portland 19 – I am just guessing that Michael McCardell’s dreams for his AA debut went a little better than the reality that occurred. McCardell gave up 11 runs on 11 hits and three walks in just four innings. He struck out seven, and he really took one for the team in staying out there for so long. Carlos Gutierrez came in and was brutal again. He gave up four runs on four hits in his inning. Jose Lugo gave up two runs (1 earned) in the 6th innings, but he did pitch a scoreless seventh frame. Then Alex Burnett pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Anthony Slama came in for the ninth and gave up two runs on a hit and a walk. He did strike out two. Brandon Roberts went 2-4 with his 15th double. Steve Singleton went 2-4 with the lone RBI. Of course, going 2-4 dropped his batting average to .600.    

MIRACLE MEMOS

Monday – Ft. Myers 6, Dunedin 3 Steve Hirschfeld started for the Miracle and threw five shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked one and struck out four. Blair Erickson struck out three in 1.2 innings. Joe Testa then gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and a walk. Loek Van Mil recorded the save with a perfect ninth inning. Estarlin de Los Santos went 2-3 with a walk. Ben Revere was 2-4 with fourth triple. Evan Bigley drove in two runs with his 11th double.   

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Monday – Beloit 3, Dayton 6 Liam Hendriks threw another really strong game for the Snappers. He gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out eight. Matt Williams came in and gave up two runs on three hits. Then Billy Bullock gave up two runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter. Ozzie Lewis went 3-3 with two doubles. Michael Harrington hit his fourth home run.     

E-TWINS EXTRAS

Monday – Elizabethton 6, Burlington 4 (13 innings) Reggie Williams came to bat with a runner on and two outs in the top of the 13th. He gave the E-Twins a 6-4 lead with a two run home run. Ben Tootle recorded his first professional save with a scoreless bottom half of the 13th and the E-Twins improved to 21-6 on the season. Tom Stuifbergen started and threw five shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out five. There was a half-hour rain delay in the 3rd inning that he did return from, but because of that, he was limited to the five innings. Tony Davis then struck out four in two one-hit innings. Matt Tone gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in his inning. The E-Twins still held the lead going into the bottom of the ninth, but Kyle Carr gave up a run on two hits and two walks and the game headed to extra innings. Kane Holbrooks through three shutout innings before Tootle closed the door. Williams also hit his fifth double. Michael Gonzalez went 2-3 with three walks. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-5 with a walk and his fifth double.   

GCL TWINS THOUGHTS

Monday –GCL Twins, GCL Reds – Postponed by Rain.

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Twins Draft Thoughts

22 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It was about ten days ago that the MLB Draft finished up. The Twins made 51 selections over the three days (And 50 rounds) of the draft. This blog posting is probably a week over due, but before I posted anything, I wanted to get some opinions from people much closer to it than myself. This article is a compilation of thoughts from several people in and around the Twins organization and others.

The Twins went in to the draft with several organizational needs to address. I think we all knew that they needed to get some middle infielders, but also needed to stock up on some pitchers. We talked about how the Twins have a bunch of #3 and #4 pitchers in the minor league system, but don’t have many that really ever project to be top of the rotation starters. The Twins bullpen the last two seasons has taught us that having guys who are able to bridge the gap between the starter and the closer is something we grew to overlook, we were spoiled for several years.

The first three rounds of the draft occurred on Tuesday, June 9th. The Twins had four picks due to a supplemental first round pick for losing Dennys Reyes to free agency. All four picks were college pitchers. (I will discuss all four in more detail below) Was that a surprise? Well, it was not something that was intentional. Simply stated, all four were at the top of the Twins draft board when their pick came up. The strength of this draft crop was pitching, and as we mentioned, it was something that the Twins needed and were looking to acquire. They were looking to add velocity, and got four guys who, when right, have very good velocity.

The Twins first pick was a right-hander from the University of Missouri named Kyle Gibson. He fell some in the draft due to injury. He had a fracture in his forearm. The Twins doctors have obviously reviewed all of his information and believe there will be no long term affects. The injury is not to his elbow or shoulder, so it is just a matter of healing and rest and he should be just fine. He is a very talented yet still projectable (6-6) college performer. Even through this injury, he continued to pitch and succeed. That also speaks to the type of competitor that he is, and again, could add to a thought that he could be a top of the rotation type of starter. He really knows how to pitch. He mixes his pitches well, he’s got very good control, and in general, just knows how to get hitters out. All reports indicate that he is a person with very strong character. The Twins were surprised that he was still available with the 22nd pick which made it a very easy selection. The team expects to sign him and think he will still pitch in 2009. How much is still to be determined. It depends upon when he would sign, but we also have to remember that he has already thrown 106 innings this year.

With their supplemental first round pick, the Twins went with left handed starter Matt Bashore from the University of Indiana. He pitched as well as any left-handed pitcher in college the last six weeks of the season. He has displayed very good stuff and the ability to pitch. He throws his fastball between 89-94 (and pitches generally at 90-91), with a good curveball. Due to his size, stuff, innings and control, there is a good chance that he could be a Major League starter.

Brian Bullock was someone who some teams believed was the Top Relief pitching prospect. Now, Drew Storen went to the Nationals with the 10th overall pick, but he’s been a reliever. Bullock’s transition to the bullpen is more recent. This was his first year as the closer at the University of Florida. He is a fastball/slider guy. His velocity spiked this year, up to 97-98 miles per hour. His slider improved over the course of the season and could be a potential strikeout pitch.

You have likely heard the story of Ben Tootle. He got sick this season and lost 15-20 pounds that he really didn’t have to lose, so his stock fell some in some eyes. But when he is healthy, he has two above average pitches. He has a darting fastball between 93 and 95 miles per hour. He also have a very hard breaking ball that could be a strikeout pitch. He has very strong makeup and throws a lot of strikes. That makes him versatile in the Twins eyes. They’re not certain if he will be best used as a starter or out of the bullpen. My guess is that he will pitch out of the bullpen much of the rest of this season just to keep his innings for the year down. I would guess he will be given a chance to start in 2010 but over time, if he can be best utilized out of the bullpen, they won’t, and shouldn’t, hesitate to develop that.

It is likely that each of these four pitchers (assuming they sign) would start at Elizabethton. As I posted yesterday, Bullock has already signed and will start out with the E-Twins. But don’t be surprised if one of more of them would end up pitching for the Beloit Snappers at some point. Brad Stillings was the Twins 7th round pick out of Kent State, and he will start in the E-Twins bullpen. But several believe that he could be a big league starter.

As you also saw yesterday, the Twins will send Minnesota native and former Gopher Derek McCallum to Elizabethton where he will primarily play 2B. It is believed that he profiles as an offensive 2B, but he has the hands to play shortstop from time to time. Although he will maybe play some SS this summer, it is likely his future lies at 2B.

The Twins then took catchers with their fifth and sixth round picks. In the fifth round, they took Tobias Streich out of the West Virginia University. Then in the sixth round they took Chris Hermann out of the University of Miami. For a team that has Joe Mauer as its starter for (hopefully) the long term, has Wilson Ramos as a potential high ceiling catcher, and have several catchers that are defensive specialists (Butera, Christy, de San Miguel, Lehmann, etc.), it was surprising to see the Twins take two catchers this early. However, catchers traditionally go off the board quickly. If you want some quality catchers, you get them fairly early. The Twins believe in having catching depth throughout the minor leagues. Like pitching, you can never have enough catching. The position is so demanding that attrition tends to deplete many from the position before they get near the big league level. Streich is a defensive guy. He has a very strong arm and a durable body. Hermann provides some versatility. As I mentioned yesterday, he is already signed and will play in Elizabethton where he is currently listed as an outfielder. . He will likely get at bats this summer in the corner outfield positions as well as 2B and 3B. But the hope is that eventually he could be a left handed hitting catcher with top of the lineup hitting potential.

8th round pick, James Dozier from Southern Mississippi, is another guy that may have gone higher in the draft if he were healthy. A broken collarbone meant that he could not play for quite some time during his senior season, and even when he came back, he was used as a DH. If he signs, he could be a steal this late.

When the Twins drafted outfielder Steve Liddle in the 15th round, you had to do a double take. Was this one of those nepotism picks? Those usually don’t happen until the late rounds. Then you realize that Liddle, the son of the Twins bench coach with the same name, was one of the top hitters at Vanderbilt. He is a very good player. He is a good corner outfielder with a strong and accurate arm. He has a very good swing, and has a strong hitting presence. He has the type of swing that should develop more power over time. Although it is uncertain if he wants to sign, the Twins drafted him with every interest in signing him.

Erik Decker was obviously one of the more interesting names drafted by the Twins. The Gophers football (and baseball) player was drafted for the second straight year in the baseball draft despite teams knowing that his #1 sport at this time is football. As one of the top wide receivers in college football, Decker will enter his senior season for the Gophers this fall and will likely be drafted in the NFL somewhere between the third and fifth rounds, maybe even higher if he can stay healthy all season. So, what does this mean for baseball? He is a very good baseball player, particularly with the glove. He has good baseball speed and knows the game. He is intriguing because he has never played baseball full-time and his athleticism and strength make him a very intriguing prospect. Now, does he have any interest in playing baseball this summer? I don’t know. Could the Twins find a way to sign him creatively, allowing him to continue playing football and pursuing that career, but inking him so that he does not go back into the draft in another year. One thing to remember is that dual sport athletes can receive their signing bonus over five years, which could alleviate some of the concern. It will be interesting to see what happens.

In the 28th round, the Twins drafted another guy that, in my mind, is very intriguing. Pat Light was selected out of Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey. He is 6-5 and just 195 pounds, so very projectable. He was consistently in the high 80s and low 90s, topping out at 93. His out pitch may be his slider and he has a changeup. His curveball is still a work in progress. He has signed to play at Monmouth where he could be a top pitcher already next season since their #1 and #2 pitchers were selected in the 8th and 10th rounds this year. This is a guy that, as Twins fans, we should watch whether he signs with the Twins as the summer progresses.

The Twins selected Aaron Senne with their 12th round pick three years ago out of Rochester Mayo High School. Instead of signing, he went to the University of Missouri where he has spent three seasons. He was All-Big 12 in his sophomore season. He fell back during his junior season although he hit .305. He hit just six home runs. The Twins drafted him in the 32nd round this year. The Twins really like his offensive potential. He had a disappointing year, but the power is still there. Hopefully he will seriously consider signing with the Twins, but he may want to go back to school and have a better senior season and move back up the draft. It’s a tough decision, but I was told that he certainly is strongly considering signing, and the fact that it was the Twins that drafted him, could factor into his decision.

Another local draftee was Ryan Abrahamson. The Twins drafted the 6-3, 200 pound Tartan High School outfielder in the 37th round. The Twins will meet with him and his family to discuss options. The odds of him signing with the Twins is probably small. He definitely is looking forward to playing for the Gophers.

Just a couple other notes – The Twins took Marc Bourgeois in the 39th round out of Chipola Junior College. That is the same school that fellow Canadian Rene Tosoni was drafted out of. His skill is his bat, but we probably shouldn’t expect similar results. The Twins drafted David Gutierrez out of the University of Miami in the 34th round. He was a senior and brother of Twins #1 pick in 2008 Carlos Gutierrez. Both pitchers rely on their sinkers, but David does not throw as hard as Carlos. Still well worth the risk.

One player that the Twins would really like to sign is Ronnie Richardson. The Twins were able to draft him in the 11th round because he fell due to signability concerns. He has signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Central Florida. He is a tremendous athlete with good skills and a very quick bat. His best skill is his incredible speed. At just 5-7 and 171 pounds, speed is his game, but he does have some gap power as well. On my podcast last week, Richardson told us that although the signing bonus will play a huge role in if he signs, he said that he will listen and other things will factor in. He specifically said that if he could get his college paid for that would help.

Following a draft, every team believes in their draft and the players that they selected. In reality, we won’t know for five or more years how good the Twins draft of 2009 really was. Once signed, those in player development have to go to work to make these guys what they can become. The Twins went in hoping to replenish their pitching and specifically a few power arms. This year, the overall draft crop was very mediocre, but the strength was in pitching. The Twins were also happy to get a quality middle infielder (McCallum) in a draft where there wasn’t too many.     

So what do you think now? Did the Twins draft as they should have, or is there no way to know that, as we said, for five years or more? Who are some of the names and/or stories that you are most intrigued by. Let me know what you think.