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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

6 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.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve pointed out the organizational depth charts for the Twins hitters. We’ve looked at catchers, 3B, 1B, Middle Infielders and Outfielders. Today, I’ll take a look at the starting pitchers. Now, especially as I move to the lower levels, I won’t pretend to know which players will move to the bullpen. Often, due to innings limits, some ‘starters’ will begin the season in the bullpen. Others will begin the season as starters and get moved to the bullpen later due to innings. Frankly, most of the pitchers in the lowest levels have been starters their whole lives and some will be given at least some opportunity. As we saw with Carlos Gutierrez, even guys destined for the bullpen can be given an opportunity to start to work on pitches and gain arm strength.  

That’s OK, though, because the biggest purpose of this was to provide the organization’s depth. 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  

Carl Pavano (RHP), Francisco Liriano (LHP), Scott Baker (RHP), Jason Marquis (RHP), Nick Blackburn (RHP)

Gardy has announced Pavano as his Opening Day starter, an obvious choice based on last season. He’s been solid in his 2 ½ seasons with the Twins, most important he has provided a ton of innings despite an alarmingly low strikeout rate. There’s no question that Francisco Liriano has the best stuff of anyone on the staff, but if he can’t find control of his fastball, it will be another frustrating season. It is a contract season for Liriano, so the goal has to be for him to have a strong season. In 2011, Scott Baker was easily the Twins top starting pitcher. He was pitching the best he had in his career, until elbow problems curtailed his season. Nick Blackburn averaged 200 innings pitched his first two seasons while posting solid ERAs. He’s been pretty bad ever since getting the long-term contract. Unfortunately, the contract has given him many opportunities and likely will continue to do so. He misses very few bats, so we can just hope that a lot of baseballs get hit right at a defender. Many Twins fans are down on the Jason Marquis signing, and although I’m not a bit fan of the contract, he has actually had a pretty solid big league career.

Rochester Red Wings

Liam Hendriks (RHP), Scott Diamond (LHP), Aaron Thompson (LHP), Jeff Manship (RHP), Deinys Suarez (RHP)

We saw Hendriks and Diamond late in the 2011 season. Hendriks was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year and likely needs another half-season. Diamond had his moments, but overall 2011 was the first year in his career that he really struggled. He says he has made some adjustments, so we’ll see how it goes. Manship came up with the Twins and his first major league victory came on the final weekend of the 2009 season, when the Twins needed to sweep the Royals. He was supposed to be in the Twins bullpen last season, but he was hurt the entire season. He likely will pitch in the Twins bullpen, but they may have him start in Rochester first. Aaron Thompson is intriguing, at least. He will turn 25 years old later this month. He debuted with the Pirates last season, but in 7.2 innings, he gave up 13 hits, walked six and struck out just one. He has just six AAA games under his belt, and his AA career numbers are 15-37 with a 5.03 ERA in 96 games (80 starts). Deinys Suarez signed with the Twins last spring. The Cuban defector split time between New Britain and Rochester, not pitching particularly well either place.

New Britain Rock Cats

David Bromberg (RHP), Logan Darnell (LHP), Tom Stuifbergen (RHP), Marty Popham (RHP), Dan Osterbrock (LHP), Bobby Lanigan (RHP)

Bromberg’s 2011 season was unfortunately a lost season. He began the season in Twins spring training, but he went back to New Britain, had a line drive break his arm, spent a lot of time rehabbing, came back too quickly, shut it down, worked hard and then found out the Twins had removed him from the 40 man roster. However, he will be just 24 years old throughout the 2012 season, so don’t forget about him. Logan Darnell was a 2010 draft pick who started last year in Beloit and got all the way to New Britain. Stuifbergen had a solid season in Ft. Myers, had a terrific one-start showing in Rochester, and then was the pitcher of the year in the World Cup tournament that his Netherlands team won. He was then knighted in his homeland. Sir Tom Stuifbergen should spent this season with the Rock Cats. Dan Osterbrock missed most of last season with shoulder problems which was unfortunate because he was coming off of a very good season in 2010. Bobby Lanigan was in the Rock Cats rotation all throughout the 2011 season. Some think his stuff (specifically his slider) will play very well out of the bullpen, and we may see some of that this year too. Marty Popham was selected by the Twins in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. He has pitched in Hi-A, AA and AAA each of the past two seasons. He should spend this season in AA.

Ft. Myers Miracle

BJ Hermsen (RHP), Pat Dean (LHP), Adrian Salcedo (RHP), Alex Wimmers (RHP), Manuel Soliman (RHP), Ryan O’Rourke (LHP), AJ Achter (RHP)

This is certainly an intriguing group of pitching prospects. If not for Liam Hendriks’ terrific 2011 season, my starting pitcher of the year choice would have been BJ Hermsen who pitched very well in Beloit and followed it up with a solid performance in Ft. Myers (minus a rough final start). Alex Wimmers had a rough 2011 season too in Ft. Myers, but it ended with the seven inning no hitter. Assuming he has his control issues under control, he could move quickly. Adrian Salcedo has long been a top ten Twins prospect, and he’ll move up to the Miracle. Manuel Soliman was the innings-eater for the Snappers last year despite only having pitched now for three years. He is an intriguing prospect, but for him to remain a starter, he will need to improve his secondary pitches. Pat Dean is definitely a solid prospect  but like so many others, he missed a lot of time with injury in 2011. His season started about six weeks late, but he still pitched for three teams (including a late-season spot start in New Britain). Ryan O’Rourke is a tough, competitive left-hander with a nasty slider. When I saw him pitch in Beloit last summer, my comment was that I didn’t think big league left-handed hitters could hit that slider. He was successful as a starter, but he could also become a very good relief pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses. The game I saw AJ Achter start last year, he was tremendous. He touches 90-91 with the fastball, but he has a terrific changeup and a curveball that had good bite.

Beloit Snappers

Tim Shibuya (RHP), Madison Boer (RHP), Matt Summers (LHP), Matt Bashore (LHP), Tim Atherton (RHP), Matt Tomshaw (LHP), Derek Christensen (RHP) 

Tim Shibuya was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year and threw seven innings of a no-hitter for the E-Twins. A smart pitcher with a full mix of pitches, he should adapt well to the Midwest League. Madison Boer and Matt Summers both began their pro careers in the E-Town bullpen. Each unsurprisingly dominated. Boer struggled upon his promotion to Beloit. It is likely the Twins will have each start. I believe Boer will move to the bullpen, but I think Summers can stick as a starter. Matt Bashore was a first-round pick in 2009 and has pitched very little since. However, reports indicate that in Instructs last fall, he was looking really good and throwing as high as 93 mph again. He could be one to watch in 2012. Matt Tomshaw was the Twins 43rd round pick just last year. Like many, he was given a shot with the Ft. Myers Miracle after a couple appearances with the GCL Twins. Like few, he was very successful for the Miracle. My guess, however, is that he will step back to Beloit and start. Derek Christensen had a terrific season as a starter with the E-Twins. The side-winder may eventually move to the bullpen but his combination of deception, fastball and slider make him a very intriguing prospect. Tim Atherton was with the Twins organization a few years ago as an infielder. The team let him go, but he came back in 2011 as a pitcher, and he pitched very well. He has all the pitches, but all will need to further develop.

Elizabethton Twins

Tyler Jones (RHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Brett Lee (LHP), Chris Mazza (RHP), Angel Mata (RHP), Hung-yi Chen (RHP)

There are plenty of pitchers from the 2011 draft and from last year’s GCL team that will not be heading to Beloit to start the season. Tyler Jones was the 11th round pick a year ago out of LSU. He’s got great upside, throws hard, good breaking pitches. Kimes is a four year college guy who should probably be up in Beloit due to age, but he got hurt last year shortly after signing. Brett Lee and Chris Mazza both signed very near the deadline and didn’t pitch in 2011. Angel Mata and Hung-yi Chen were the two most intriguing pitching prospects from last year’s GCL team. Both have good stuff and are young.

GCL Twins

Hudson Boyd (RHP), Trent Higginbotham (RHP), Kuo-hua Lo (RHP), Austin Malinowski (LHP)

Boyd and Higginbotham are two very high ceiling high school picks from last year. The Twins had to go over-slot to sign their second supplemental first round pick from Ft. Myers. He touched 96-97 at times last year. Higginbotham was a late-round pick but the Twins went way over slot to sign him as well. He touches 94-95, and some believe he can be a top of the rotation starter or a dominant closer. Time will tell for both of them. Lo signed last year from Taiwan, and he’s fairly advanced for his very young age. He also has hit 94 mph on a radar gun. He debuted in Instructional League last year, and will likely be with the GCL Twins in 2012. Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick out of Centennial High School (MN). He gave up a scholarship to Arizona to sign at the last minute with the Twins.   

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS 

1.)    Liam Hendriks, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) Alex Wimmers, 4.) Adrian Salcedo, 5.) Tom Stuifbergen, 6.) Manuel Soliman, 7.) Hudson Boyd, 8.) BJ Hermsen, 9.) Pat Dean, 10.) Matt Summers 

SUMMARY  

The Twins starting pitching was really bad last year. That was a combination of struggles, injury and poor defense. For the Twins to be successful, Carl Pavano needs to throw 220 innings with a league-average ERA and WHIP. Francisco Liriano will have to pull his regain control of his fastball and show a little bit of self-confidence. Scott Baker needs to pitch like he did the six weeks before he got hurt. All three need to stay healthy. I personally think Jason Marquis will be just fine. He’s not going to post a sub-3 or sub-4 ERA, but I think he can do what Pavano did in 2011. Blackburn needs to pitch like he did his first two seasons… or so badly that Liam Hendriks gets called up. Frankly, there’s not much else waiting in the wings, ready to contribute right away as a starter. Manship can be solid, but I think the team has moved him to the bullpen in their minds. Diamond will have had to improved quite a bit to say he’s ready (which is possible).

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare though. There are some solid pitching prospects throughout the minors. Kyle Gibson should be back in 2013 (if not late in 2012). Alex Wimmers could move very quickly as well. There are several pitchers that have the potential to be a decent #3 pitcher, if all goes well on the way up. The Twins have been successful with “Twins-like” pitchers. Guys like Hermsen, Salcedo, Stuifbergen and Shibuya fit that mold. The Twins have added some power arms in the last draft or two, especially in 2011’s draft with Boyd, Higginbotham, Jones, Boer, Summers, Corey Williams and others. It will be interesting to see how they develop. 

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!

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Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year

5 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Note – Be sure to listen at 10:00 tonight to the final episode of Twins Minor League Weekly where Travis Aune and I will be talking about everything throughout the Twins minor league season. We’ll discuss our choices as top players for each team and in the organization, how each team did, and many of the players that will be back next year. Check it out here at 10!

As games finished on Labor Day in the Twins minor league system, the Twins minor league season came to an end. New Britain had an opportunity to make the playoffs had Reading lost and the Rock Cats won. Unfortunately, the R-Phillies won their game. The Elizabethton Twins were the lone playoff team in the organization, although they lost in the first round. It was a disappointing season in the Twins farm system. However, there are a lot of guys who had very good seasons. Today, I’ll present for you my choices for the Twins Minor League Hitter, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher of the Year in three separate blog entries. We will start with the Relief Pitchers. Feel free to debate them, or ask any questions you may have in the Comments section:

Starting Pitcher of the Year

#3 – Adrian Salcedo – Beloit Snappers (6-6, 2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 135 IP, 131 H, 27 BB, 92 K)

The 20 year old Top 10 Twins prospect had a very good 2011 season. He made 20 starts and pitched well, although his final start pushed his ERA above three. He had reached his innings limit and moved to the bullpen where he gave up just one earned run in 13.2 innings. Salcedo is young and very talented. Like that kicker from The Replacements, he “wiry.” He will be a good one!

#2 – BJ Hermsen – Beloit Snappers/Ft. Myers Miracle (13-8, 3.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 151.1 IP, 165 H, 37 BB, 101 K)

Hermsen was the Twins 6th round pick in 2008 out of Masonville, Iowa, where he was a four-sport star in high school. At 6-5, Hermsen certainly has room to grow, but he works hard and that work really paid off this year. As Salcedo reached his innings limit, Hermsen was at his finest and earned his promotion to the Ft. Myers Miracle (11-7, 3.10 ERA with Snappers). He made five starts for the Miracle and in the middle three, he gave up a total of three earned runs in 18 innings. His first and last starts of the season were rough, but doesn’t take away from a tremendous 2011 season for Hermsen.

Starting Pitcher of the Year – Liam Hendriks – New Britain Rock Cats/Rochester Red Wings (12-6, 3.36 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 139.1 IP, 137 H, 21 BB, 111 K)

For the second straight year, Liam Hendriks is my choice for the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year (Note – if you read the comments, I was told I was an idiot. I’m used to that.). I talk a lot about having seen Angels’ OF Mike Trout in Beloit last year (playing for Cedar Rapids). Hendriks began his 2010 season with the Snappers (Low A). After six starts (1.32 ERA), he moved up to Ft. Myers where he was their top pitcher 1.93 ERA). In 2010, he was 8-4 with a 1.74 ERA. In 108.2 innings, he gave up just 79 hits, walked just 12 and struck out 105! He began the 2011 season with New Britain. He went 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA before pitching in both the Futures Game and the Eastern League All Star game. He then moved up to AAA Rochester where he has gone 4-4 with a 4.56 ERA in nine starts. In AAA, he has three walks and 30 strikeouts. A tremendous control pitcher, Hendriks is also very competitive. The 22 year old Australia native missed the entire 2008 season with a spinal cord injury, but he has been terrific since then. He has a tough delivery that has been described to me as “It’s just Liam, there is no comparison.” That is why I am excited to see him make his Major League Debut on Tuesday night at Target Field against the White Sox.   

Feel free to discuss in the Comments section.

SethSpeaks.net Twins Minor League July Hitters/Pitchers of the Month

2 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It is hard to believe that we are now into August and four months of the baseball season is already complete. The minor league seasons will be complete right around Labor Day, so we are about three-quarters of the way through the season. Today, it is time for me to again consider the top performers in the Twins minor league system for July.

Real quickly, here are the top players from the season’s first three months:

Hitters: 

  • April: Daniel Ortiz – Beloit Snappers
  • May: Brian Dozier – Ft. Myers Miracle
  • June: Aaron Hicks – Ft. Myers Miracle

Relief Pitchers:

  • April: Cole DeVries – New Britain Rock Cats
  • May: Chuck James – Rochester Red Wings
  • June: Andrew Albers – Ft. Myers Miracle

Starting Pitchers:

  • April: Steve Hirschfeld – New Britain Rock Cats
  • May: Steve Hirschfeld – New Britain Rock Cats
  • June: Tom Stuifbergen – Ft. Myers Miracle

So, who are the choices for July? Below, I will post the stats for my choices for #5, #4, #3, and #2 before announcing the choice for the #1. I will write a little about the winner while giving stats for #2-5. For more on the runners-up, and more honorable mentions, go to SethSpeaks.net over the next couple of days.

HITTER of JULY

  • #5 – Jeff Bailey – Rochester Red Wings (.314/.402/.614 with 6 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 21 RBI)
  • #4 – Deibinson Romero – New Britain Rock Cats (.308/.360/615 with 7 doubles, 7 home runs and 16 RBI)
  • #3 – Chris Parmelee – New Britain Rock Cats (.305/.397/.559 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs and 26 RBI)
  • #2 – Lance Ray – Beloit Snappers (.312/389/.602 with 12 doubles, 5 home runs and 22 RBI)

And the July Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is… Jairo Perez, Beloit Snappers.

The Twins signed Perez out of Venezuela in July of 2006. He had a pretty non-descript career coming into this season. In fact, he missed the entire 2010 season after having Tommy John surgery. He did not play in 2011 until mid-June. But since his return, he has done nothing but hit, and hit for power. On the season, he has hit .351/.427/.613 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBI in just 45 games. In July, he hit .320/.393/.610 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBI. With the Snappers, he is primarily playing 3B but also getting some playing time at 2B. At just 5-10 and 160 pounds, the 23 year old takes a mammoth swing and does hit the ball very hard. It will be interesting to see if he advances to Ft. Myers by the end of the season.

RELIEF PITCHER of JULY

  • #4 – Madison Boer – Elizabethton Twins – 1-1, 5 Saves, 3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12 IP, 2 BB, 21 K, .239 BAA.
     
  • #3 – Matt Summers – Elizabethton Twins – 1-1, 3 Saves, 1.50 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12 IP, 3 BB, 21 K, .186 BAA
  • #2 – Matt Hauser – Ft. Myers Miracle – 0-2, 1.72 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 6 BB, 16 K, .167 BA

And the July Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is… Kyle Waldrop, Rochester Red Wings.

We keep reading that the Twins don’t have anyone in Rochester who could help out the Twins bullpen. If you look at Waldrop’s season stats (4.20 ERA, 1.32 WHIP), it is hard to believe that he is ready to contribute, but in July, he was terrific! He went 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. In 13 games, he threw 19.2 innings. He gave up just 12 hits, walked three and struck out 14. What is most impressive is his 11.67 ground balls per fly balls. He has always been a major ground ball pitcher, but those numbers are incredible. One of the Twins first-round picks in 2004, he could have become a 6-year minor league free agent last offseason. Instead, he signed back with the Twins quickly. He did a great job in spring training again, and looks to an opportunity to make his big league debut with the Twins.

STARTING PITCHER of JULY

  • #5 – Hung-yi Chen – GCL Twins – 0-2, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 18 IP, 4 BB, 19 K, .246 BAA
  • #4 – Angel Mata – GCL Twins – 0-0, 0.56 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 16 IP, 4 BB, 12 K, .135 BAA
  • #3 – Pedro Guerra – Elizabethton Twins – 2-1, 3.41 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29 IP, 4 BB, 30 K, .154 BAA
  • #2 – Liam Hendriks – New Britain Rock Cats & Rochester Red Wings, 3-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 26.2 IP, 2 BB, 17 K. 
    •  BONUS INFO (because Twins fans need to start getting to know Liam Hendriks!) – July was a busy month for Hendriks, the one person who has been in the Top 5 all three months previously this year. He began the month in New Britain where he made just one start. He went seven innings and gave up just two runs on four hits and a walk. He then pitched an inning in the Futures Game, representing the Twins and his home of Australia. He then went and played in the Double A Eastern League All Star game. He was then promoted to Triple-A Rochester, where he has gone 2-0 with a 3.66 ERA in three starts. He has given up eight runs on 22 hits and a walk in 19.2 innings. Hendriks began the 2010 season in Beloit before moving up to Ft. Myers for the remainder of the season. This year, he began in New Britain and now is toiling in Rochester. Don’t be surprised if Hendriks earns a September call-up to the Twins because he has to be added to the 40 man roster following the season anyway.

And the July Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is… BJ Hermsen, Beloit Snappers

After spending some time in Beloit in 2010, Hermsen is having a terrific first full season with the Snappers. He is 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA on the year. In 117 innings, he has given up 124 hits and walked just 30. He isn’t a strikeout pitcher (just 75). At 6-5 and 235 pounds, the 21 year old from Iowa was the team’s 6th round pick in 2008. In July, Hermsen went 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. In 38 innings, he walked nine and struck out 25. Opponents hit just .227 against him. Hermsen teams with Adrian Salcedo for a very strong 1-2 punch for the Snappers. 

So there you have it. Congratulations to the July players of the month – Hitter: Jairo Perez (Beloit), Reliever: Kyle Waldrop (Rochester) and Starting Pitcher: BJ Hermsen (Beloit). There were a lot of good hitting and pitching performances in July.

——————–

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.

Young to DL; Tosoni Called Up

28 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

If you missed yesterday’s blog, scroll down for A Look Back at the Capps/Ramos Trade.

Initially Delmon Young was set to be in the Twins lineup last night, but after being unable to get loose during batting practice, he took himself out of the lineup. Because Jim Thome (oblique) and Jason Repko (Quad) were unable to play for a bit, Gardy and GM Bill Smith had only one option, and that was to put Young on the Disabled List and get another body up here. For last night, the Twins could make do with Jason Kubel in left field. However, it also meant that Michael Cuddyer had to play right field, and that meant the Luke Hughes had to move from 2B to 1B. And that meant that Matt Tolbert had to play 2B. And that meant that Gardy’s bench consisted of… Steve Holm as his only available option.

Just after the game started, I got a message that Rene Tosoni was going to be called up from Rochester. My assumption was that meant Young would go to the Disabled List, but I wasn’t able to confirm that. I tweeted about Tosoni being called up. Many Twins writers in the press box retweeted it. However, they were unable to get any confirmation from Bill Smith or anyone with the Twins. I was very confident and comfortable with my source. However, when Francisco Liriano gave up five hits and four runs before getting an out, I got a little nervous. I tweeted, “Paging Anthony Swarzak! Anthony Swarzak, please report to Target Field.” If Eric Hacker had to be used early in this game, he would not be able to start on Saturday ,and if that’s the case, a pitcher would need to be promoted. Maybe that would alter the plan to promote Tosoni. Thankfully in the bottom of the 3rd inning, the press box was informed that Tosoni was being promoted and Delmon Young had been put on the Disabled List. Uffdah! I was relieved. And soon after, Hacker was entering the game in the 4th inning. Immediately it became clear what the next move was. Hacker would be sent down following the game, and someone would be called up. In the end, it was Anthony Swarzak, who will start the 2nd game on Thursday on just three days of rest. So, he was on short rest, and to make Twins fans feel even better, in Swarzak’s most recent start, he gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks in just 4.2 innings. We haven’t seen Swarzak with the Twins in the regular season since 2009. It’s good to see him get another chance… even if it is just for a day or two, until Kevin Slowey is activated.  

For more information on Rene Tosoni, here is what was written (by Josh Johnson) about him in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011 which is still available:

Rene Tosoni – OF – (7/2/86)

Acquired: 36th round pick in 2005 from Chipola JC

2010 Team(s): New Britain Rock Cats        

2010 Stats: .270/.369/.422, 8-2B, 4-3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI

Tosoni was drafted by the Twins in the 34th round of the 2004 draft and then again in the 2005 draft. Signed as a draft-and-follow, the Canadian outfielder attended Chipola Junior College before joining the Twins. Visa problems during the 2006 season delayed Tosoni’s debut until 2007. In his first season of pro ball, Tosoni helped lead Elizabethton to an Appalachian League title by hitting .301/.407/.428 with 20 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases in 63 games. He played in two games for Beloit following Elizabethton’s season, but many figured he’d return to the Midwest League in 2008. But the Twins surprisingly had Tosoni skip Beloit in 2008 and instead he reported to Ft. Myers. He broke his leg in May and was only able to play in 42 games. Tosoni returned for just a handful of games, but he made his presence known. In game one of the 2008 divisional playoff series against Dunedin, Tosoni belted a two-run home run which proved to be the deciding factor in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays. In the end, Tosoni hit .300/.408/.414 with 11 extra-base hits and was also named to the Florida State League All-Star Roster (but was unable to play).

In 2009, Tosoni spent the entire season roaming the outfield in New Britain. Having had just five home runs heading into 2009, Tosoni belted three times that much in his first taste of the Eastern League. He hit .271/.360/.454 with 44 extra-base hits in 122 games. In July, Tosoni was selected to play in the 2009 Futures Game for the World team. He hit a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh (and final) inning, to give the World team the victory. He then left New Britain in August to play for Team Canada in the World Cup where he hit .357/.446/.714 with five doubles, three triples and three home runs in the tournament. He finally finished off the year by playing for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. 2010 figured to be a big season for the 24-year-old, but a logjam of outfielders in Rochester meant he’d be returning to the Eastern League. He had a sore shoulder at the beginning of the season and finally had to undergo labrum surgery in June. He spent time in the outfield, but spent the majority of the time as the Rock Cats designated hitter. He played in a total of 52 games in 2010, hitting .270/.369/.422 with 16 extra-base hits. Had he not been injured, he for sure would have finished the season in Rochester or Minnesota.

Tosoni has a very good approach at the plate and gets on-base a lot. He has a smooth left-handed swing that has good gap power. He’s not the fastest outfielder, but what he lacks in range he makes up for with a strong arm. He doesn’t hit left-handed pitchers very well, but he has a history of success against right-handers. He has a future in the major leagues, but with the Twins having a crowded outfield it might be hard for him to stick in Minnesota. JJ

As it is, Tosoni may only be with the Twins until next Wednesday when Young is eligible to come off of the Disabled List. Unless there is another injury, Tosoni will head back to Rochester where he is currently hitting .286/.329/.500 with six doubles, three homers and 16 RBI. For instance, if Jason Repko’s quad does not improve by then, he could be put on the DL.

Just to give you a little more, here is part of what I wrote about Tosoni in the 2010 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook:

Tosoni is most often referred to as a very complete player. Defensively, he has good range and a very strong, very accurate throwing arm. He has primarily played right field in his career, but he has done well when he has played centerfield as well. He has played just a handful of games in his career in left field, although it may make sense for him to get more time out there in 2010. Offensively, he will have the ability to hit for average as well as potentially being a 12-15 home run type of hitter. He is a very patient hitter, taking a lot of walks and consistently getting on base in nearly 10% of his plate appearances. He is a very good base runner despite not stealing a lot of bases. There is really just one negative to the game of Rene Tosoni to this point in his still-young career. He has not hit well against southpaws. For his career, he has hit .302/.387/.473 against right-handed pitching, but against lefties, he has hit just .231/.346/.343. In 2009, he hit .303/.386/.503 against righties. He hit just .183/.285/.302 against left-handers. Unless this trend is quickly corrected, Tosoni may be a lefty-hitting platoon option for the Twins, but if he can gain some confidence and do anything against left-handed pitching, he could be a very good performer across the board for the Twins. Clearly the Twins like him very much, enough to invite him to big league spring training.

Tosoni’s Prospect Rankings

Tosoni has certainly been a prospect since signing with the Twins. Here is where I ranked him each of the past four years:

  • 2008 – 29
  • 2009 – 15
  • 2010 – 9
  • 2011 – 32

I think it is safe to say that I factored Tosoni’s injury and surgery in 2010, along with his age. I also assumed that the lost time would mean that he would return to New Britain rather than move up to Rochester to start the season.

So hopefully with all of that, you have plenty of information on Rene Tosoni for his five or six days in the big leagues for now. Don’t worry, though, he will be around for a long time.

Minor League Report

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, New Britain Rock Cats 

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayBJ Hermsen, Beloit Snappers

Red Wings Ramblings

Wednesday – Red Wings 3, Buffalo 2 – Scott Diamond recorded the win with a very good start. The lefty went the first six innings and gave up two runs on two hits. He walked one and struck out three. Anthony Slama came in and gave up three hits and a walk, but no runs, in 1.1 innings. Phil Dumatrait pitched an inning, and then Alex Burnett got the final two outs for the save. Both came via the strikeout. Matt Brown went 2-4 with his third double and second home run. Brandon Roberts went 2-5 with his first double. Dustin Martin was 1-2 with two walks. Ben Revere went 2-3 with a walk and his fifth stolen base.  

Rock Cats Report

Wednesday – Rock Cats 5, New Hampshire 11 – Deolis Guerra had a rough one. He gave up nine runs on nine hits and three walks in 3.2 innings. He struck out two. Three of the hits were home runs. Brett Jacobson went 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and two walks. Michael Tarsi gave up a solo homer in his inning, but he struck out two. Santos Arias gave up a run on two hits and a walk. Steve Singleton went 3-5 with his eighth double, second home run, and he is now hitting .313. Allan de San Miguel went 2-4. Mark Dolenc hit a triple.

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Miracle 4, Charlotte 3 – Matt Schuld went five innings in this start. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out four. Andrew Albers threw two scoreless innings. Bruce Pugh got the first five batters out. He struck out three. But with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, he gave up a walk-off home run. Danny Rams again led the offense. He went 2-4 with his fourth double. He is now hitting .367. The team had just five hits. Anderson Hidalgo went 1-3 with a walk.  

Snappers Bites

Wednesday – Snappers 10, Burlington 2 – BJ Hermsen picked up his first win of the year. He went seven innings and gave up just one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out seven. Michael Tonkin then gave up a run on a hit in his inning. Martire Garcia walked two, but didn’t give up a run in his inning. There were lots of contributions from the offense. Wang-Wei Lin was 2-4 with his second double, first home run and three RBI. Oswaldo Arcia was 2-4 with a walk and his fourth home run (3rd in last two games). Danny Santana was 2-4 with a walk and his third triple. Derek McCallum hit his first two doubles. Jamaal Hawkins was 2-3. Danny Ortiz was 2-4 with a walk and his seventh double.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

Roster Projection: Beloit Snappers

31 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

  • Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.
  • Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.
  • Step 3: Configure the 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 4: Configure the 2011 Double-A New Britain Rock Cats 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 5: Configure the 2011 Hi-A Ft. Myers Miracle 25-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 6: Configure the 2011 Low-A Beloit Snappers 25-man roster – In progress.

As I am hearing it, more roster moves and decisions are happening this morning. I know that there have been two more players released, and people are continuing to find out where they will be going. There are a few injuries that are mounting up, and likely will affect opening day rosters too.   

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins High-A affiliate, the Ft. Myers Miracle. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Tobias Strech (40 man – No) – Kyle Knudson (40 man – No) – C/DH Josmil Pinto (40 man – No) 

Streich may not be able to hit at all, but his defense is there with Butera and Lehmann in the eyes of many in the organization. Pinto isn’t much of a catcher, but he’ll get some time there and also DH in his return to Beloit. Former Gopher and 2010 draft pick Knudson could get some playing time here as well.

Infielders: 1B – Michael Gonzales (40 man – No), 2B – Derek McCallum (40 man – No), 3B – Reggie Williams (40 man – No), SS – Daniel Santana (40 man – No), Utility – Andy Leer (40 man – No),

Gonzales has a ton of power, but he needs to quicken his swing to have a chance to advance. When he makes contact, it goes a long way. McCallum missed most of the 2010 season, so this is a second opportunity for a first full season. Reggie Williams split time with Anderson Hidalgo last year and should get more time this year. Santana split time between Elizabethton and Beloit. He struggled with the Snappers, but he should show improvement this year. Very solid bat with surprising pop. Good defense. Andy Leer was drafted a year ago out of the University of Mary in Bismarck and he played well at Elizabethton. He will get some playing time.

Outfielders: LF – Lance Ray (40 man – No), CF – Oswaldo Arcia (40 man – No), RF – Danny Ortiz (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Wang-Wei Lin (40 man – No), DL – Nate Roberts (40 man – No)

After saying that I was surprised to hear that Lance Ray would start the season in Ft. Myers, I found out that he was indeed going to go back to Beloit. Oswaldo Arcia has had a sore elbow throughout the spring and has continued to crush baseballs all over the field. Danny Ortiz was my choice for breakout minor leaguer of the year for 2011, and he’ll be doing so with the Snappers. Wang-Wei Lin likely returns to the Snappers and will play around the outfield. Nate Roberts can flat-out hit. The 2010 draft pick will start with the Snappers although he has had some knee issues this spring.

Starting Pitchers: RHP BJ Hermsen (40 man – No), RHP Adrian Salcedo (40 man – No), RHP Manuel Soliman (40 man – No), LHP Logan Darnell (40 man – No), LHP Andrei Lobanov (40 man – No), DL – LHP Pat Dean (40 man – No)

Hermsen is set to be the Snappers’ opening night starter, and he is looking to build on a solid 2010 season in which he pitched for the Snappers for four or five weeks before the Elizabethton season started. Adrian Salcedo’s pre-E-town stint was with the Ft. Myers Miracle, so going to Beloit will be a good thing for him this year. Manuel Soliman will start the season in the Snappers rotation after a terrific 2010 season in Elizabethton where the converted 3B threw one no-hitter and took another into the 7th inning. 2010 pick Logan Darnell will start for the Snappers. Andrei Lobanov, who has put up amazing numbers in the bullpen the last two years, will get an opportunity to start, at least for awhile, as Pat Dean, who is still experiencing some shoulder soreness.

Bullpen: LHP Jose Gonzalez (40 man – No), LHP Martire Garcia (40 man – No), RHP Michael Tonkin (40 man – No), RHP Blayne Weller (40 man – No), LHP Justin Parker (40 man – No), RHP Pedro Guerra (40 man – No), LHP Clinton Dempster (40 man – No), RHP Matt Hauser (40 man – No)

Gonzalez and Garcia are complete opposites physically, but both are very good left-handed pitchers. Pedro Guerra, Michael Tonkin and Blayne Weller may be starters again down the line but should do well out of the bullpen as well. 2010 picks Dempster and Hauser are bullpen guys that should get the job done as well. Sam Spangler and Justin Parker could each pitch with the Snappers, and possibly return to Elizabethton to start at that time.   

Overall: This should be a very solid team. They have a some really impressive young bats to complement a few guys who should be better in their second year in the Midwest League. There are some really good starting pitchers in the opening day rotation, with the likes of Garcia, Tonkin, Weller and Guerra also capable of starting. Those in the Twin Cities should definitely consider making a trip or three down to Beloit to see the Snappers!

As you can see, there are a lot of names that I have not included on the Beloit roster. Those players will most likely stay in Extended Spring Training and be ready if needed in the Midwest League. Names like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler. Guys like Niko Goodrum and Rory Rhodes. Dean will be rehabbing there with the likes of Dallas Gallant, Brad Tippett, Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle. Opening Day rosters are fun to project, but there will, as always, be a ton of transactions, and we’ll be following them here.

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

——————————————————–

  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST TONIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin tonight at 10:00. Travis Aune and I will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. We will talk about what’s going on with each Twins affiliate, how the teams are doing, who is hot, who is not, transactions, and much more.

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

13 Jan

available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

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

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

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

#25 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – New Britain

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

#24 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester

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

#23 – Billy Bullock – RHP – New Britain

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

#22 – Pat Dean – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Minnesota

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

#20 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain

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

#19 – Daniel Ortiz – OF – Elizabethton

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

#18 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit

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

#17 – Max Kepler – OF – GCL Twins

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

#16 – Eddie Rosario – OF – GCL Twins

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

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

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

#14 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester

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

#13 – Manuel Soliman – RHP – Elizabethton

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

#12 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – New Britain

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

#11 – David Bromberg – RHP – Rochester

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

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

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1

9 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

  • Be sure to check out the Nine to Noon Show with Paul Allen today on KFAN, its affiliates and KFAN.com. I will be joining the show at 9:20 to talk Twins. With the start of the Vikings season tonight, PA will be live from New Orleans preparing for the Vikings/Saints game, but we will be talking about the Twins.

TWINS ON FIRE, Sweep Royals

The Twins just finished a series at home in which they won eight out of nine games. The only loss on the home stand was the horrible 13 inning loss to the Detroit Tigers where many Twins fans thought the sky was falling down. Many thought that it would be the beginning of the end for the Twins and yet, as they have every other time they met adversity, they have gone on to sweep the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. I don’t care if the Royals have a lineup that could make the Eden Prairie American Legion team look big league caliber, it is still huge to get the sweep. There is a reason such teams are called “spoilers” at this time of year… because they have the ability to spoil playoff runs. The Twins have to bear down against the Royals, or in the upcoming series against Cleveland, in an attempt to not let down. Because if they continue to play good baseball, it’s hard to envision the team not making the playoffs.

Consider this: The Twins have 22 games remaining in their season. The White Sox have 23 games remaining. If the Twins continue on their current pace, they should go 13-9 the rest of the way. If they do that, the White Sox would have to go 19-4 the rest of the way in order to force a third straight Game 163 for the Twins. If the Twins play .500 ball (11-11), the White Sox would have to go 17-6. With a Magic Number of 18, it’s hard to imagine the Twins not winning the AL Central. Is it over yet? Of course not, but like I wrote, if the team just plays well down the stretch, it will be really hard for them not to.

The Twins are on pace to finish the season with a 96-66 record. It would mark the 14th time in the team’s 50 years in Minnesota that they had over 90 wins:

Year Record Win %
1965 102-60 0.630
1970 98-64 0.605
1969 97-65 0.599
2006 96-66 0.593
1991 95-67 0.586
2002 94-67 0.584
2004 92-70 0.568
1963 91-70 0.565
1962, 1967, 1988 91-71 0.562
1992, 2003 90-72 0.556

And five of those 90 win seasons have come during the Ron Gardenhire tenure. And yet there are still Twins fans out there that question every single move the manager makes. No, I don’t say that I agree with everything Gardy does either, and that’s OK, but sometimes I do think it is wise to step back and appreciate what Gardy has done. 

And I will argue that 2010 is his best work yet. I have never seen so many injuries in a season. Yes, other teams have injuries too, but not like this team has gone through. 2006 was an incredible year with a most unlikely second half. I think that this year’s team has more talent all-around, but that team had the AL MVP (Justin Morneau), the stat-heads’ MVP (Joe Mauer), the Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), a should-have-been Rookie of the Year despite his season coming to an early end (Francisco Liriano), and Torii Hunter talking away in centerfield.

One other thing to note about Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson… Baseball Prospectus has put together a statistic on Pitcher Abuse Points. It looks at the number of pitches that each pitcher has thrown. Considers how many pitches they average per start. It looks at the maximum number of pitches that starters have thrown in a game and other things. To no one’s surprise, Edwin Jackson is #1 in pitcher abuse points. Francisco Liriano is the first Twins pitcher to show on the list, at #63. Next on the list for the Twins? Carl Pavano at #118. The others are Kevin Slowey at #130, Nick Blackburn at #157, Scott Baker at #167, and Brian Duensing at #187.

It would sure be nice to get Danny Valencia back into the lineup. Matt Tolbert has done a nice job in his place the last five games. Valencia has put himself into contention for AL Rookie of the Year, but behind Neftali Feliz of the Rangers and Austin Jackson of the Tigers, so it would be great to get him back. That said, Tolbert has done well, and consider this: In 2009, he was the Twins starting 3B in September. In 78 September plate appearances, Tolbert hit .333/.365/.464 and played great defense. It was such a surprise last year because coming into September, he had hit just .178 with the Twins in 129 at bats. His 23 September hits equaled his total for the previous five months put together.  

Speaking of Baseball Prospectus and some of their cool stats, they also look at the odds of teams winning their division, the wild card or advancing to the playoffs. Before last night’s win and White Sox loss, it listed the Twins as having a 89.6% chance of winning the division, and having a 90.1% chance of making the playoffs. I imagine that those numbers will be significantly higher when updated this morning.

The Twins should enjoy their off day today before heading back on the road. Hopefully Valencia, Jim Thome and Brian Fuentes will be able to get back on the field this weekend!

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1

Before getting to the picks, I would like to introduce this year’s panel (Please note that others have been invited and could be joining the weekly panel):

Jeff Manship – Jeff is in his fourth year on this panel. He was the Twins 14th round draft pick in 2006 out of Notre Dame. He has been promoted to the Twins five times this year, making one spot start and otherwise pitching in long relief.  

Alex Burnett – Alex joins the panel for the second time. The Twins 12th round pick in 2005 out of his California high school, Burnett surprisingly was on the Twins Opening Day roster. He showed his promise throughout the first half of the season before being sent back to Rochester. He recently returned to the Twins for September.  

Matt Fox – Matt is on this panel for the second year. He was a supplemental first round pick of the Twins in 2004 out of Central Florida. His story has been well documented in the last week, since I was able to break the news that he would be making his major league debut last Friday. He pitched great against the Rangers.

Dan Osterbrock – Osterbrock was the Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2009. After a difficult 2009, Osterbrock was as good as any pitcher in the Twins farm system in 2010. He returned to Beloit and made five starts. He was twice Midwest League Pitcher of the week and threw a no-hitter. He was just as good the rest of the season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. This is his second year on this panel.

Steve Blevins – Blevins is also on the panel for the second year. The Snappers’ reliever was the Twins 21st round pick in 2008 out of Marshall. He returned to Beloit to start the season  but throughout the course of the 2010 season, he was promoted to Ft. Myers and then to New Britain.

Kyle Gibson – Kyle was the Twins 1st round pick in 2009 out of the University of Missouri. He made his professional debut in 2010 with the Ft. Myers Miracle, but he also made starts in Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. It is likely Gibson will debut with the Twins in 2011. Gibson is on the panel for the second year.

Chris Parmelee – Chris is competing in this panel for the first time this year. He was the Twins 1st round pick in 2010. He began the 2010 season at New Britain but was sent back to Ft. Myers in mid-May. He quickly returned to New Britain where he played some of the best ball of his career. He will also be headed to the Arizona Fall League for the second straight season

Nate Hanson – He is from Chanhassen, went to Eden Prairie high school, moved on to the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. After spending 2008 in Elizabethton and 2009 in Beloit, he moved up to Ft. Myers in 2010. He was one of the team’s top hitters and hit 11 home runs. This is his first year on the panel.

BJ Hermsen – Another first-timer on this panel, Hermsen had a very solid 2010 season. He began the year at Extended Spring Training, but advanced to Beloit where he made several starts. He eventually was moved back to Elizabethton where he pitched really well.

Dan Slowey –Dan is the man behind a very interesting website called Blogonoscopy. This is his third year in the panel. He will be working hard to defend his 2010 championship.

Anthony Maggio – Anthony joins the panel for the first time. He writes on the Twins for Fox Sports North and does a terrific job.

John Bonnes – John has been involved in the world of Twins blogging longer than anyone else. He is The Twins Geek,. He is also one of the TwinsCentric group.

Josh Johnson – Josh has been writing at Josh’s Thoughts, an excellent Twins blog. He is on the panel for the fourth year.

Andrew Kneeland –Andrew is in his third year on the panel. He writes about the Twins blog where you can get your Twins Target.   

Travis Aune – Travis writes the Twins blog Travis Talks. He focuses a lot on the minor league system. He and I co-hosted Twins Minor League Weekly throughout the 2010 season. This will be his second year on the panel.

John Meyer – John is another very busy individual. His business is going strong into its second year and he does a great job as the Twins Most Valuable Blogger. This is his second year on the panel.

LaVelle E. Neal III – LaVelle has been on this panel for several years now. He is a Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune which includes the blog Twins Insider. He also frequently appears on KFAN radio. He’s always a strong competitor in this competition.

Phil Mackey – P-Mac is on the Reusse and Mackey Show from noon to 2 weekdays on 1500espn. He frequently writes on the Twins at 1500espn.com. He is also co-owner of the MNPokerMag.com. He is one of the busiest sports media types in the Twin Cities, and this is his second year on the panel. 

Darren “Doogie” Wolfson – Speaking of busy Twin Cities media types, Doogie can be found everywhere. He now works for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities, and is the host of Twins Wrap on 1500espn. He is joining the panel for the second year.

Seth Kaplan – Seth is the sports director for Fox 9 in the Twin Cities. He often is on Sports on Demand, a weekly Monday afternoon sports talk show on MyFox9.com.

Jack Michaels – Jack competes in this panel for the third straight year. He is the host of The Jack Michaels Show on ESPN 710 The Fan in Bismarck, ND, and has been kind enough to let me be on his show from time to time. He was the original radio play-by-play guy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks where he teamed with former Dodgers great Maury Wills.

Cory Hepola – Cory is currently a sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. You can find much more about him on his personal blog that includes postings and videos and much more.

Vic Quick – Vic has been on this panel for a long time. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota, and proclaims himself the biggest Texas Rangers fan in South Dakota. The Dallas native is also likely the biggest Cowboys fan in the state too! My former college roommate definitely knows his football, at least anything about Emmitt Smith or Troy Aikman, well, and the Concordia Cobbers!

Roger Dehring – Roger is one of the more knowledgeable people you can meet when it comes to the Twins minor league system. He writes a Weekly Minor League Report for the Twinkie Town website.

Cody Christie – Cody writes the North Dakota Twins Fan blog, and is competing in the panel for the first year.

Topper Anton – Topper is on the panel for the first time. He writes the blog Curve for a Strike, and is the co-host on Fanatic Jack’s podcast.

Kirsten Brown – Kirsten will be making her debut on the panel this year. She writes the K-Bro Baseball blog and makes the best brownies ever!

Shawn BergOn the Road with Shawn is the name of his blog. The Minnesota native lives out in New York and frequently gets to Twins minor league games in Rochester and New Britain.

Emily Jipp – Emily joins the panel this year for the first time. She writes Cheap Seats Chatter. She’s also in charge of our Twoggers League, a fantasy football league with 14 Twins bloggers.  

Andrew Bryz-Gornia – You may have met Andrew at Target Field this year where he enjoyed watching games while being an usher. He writes Off the Mark and is competing in the panel for the first time.

Blake Meyer – Blake is the originator of an incredible Twins website, Twins Cards. If you go there, you can see Twins baseball cards back to the team’s inception. You can find autographs and memorabilia and much more. Blake provides us an international flavor to the panel!

Michael Brasel – Long time friend (well over 30 years now), Mike was listed among the best players I have played ball with. He was one of the original panelists.

The Week 1 Picks

Alright, to see this week’s picks, go to www.SethSpeaks.net.