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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

6 Feb

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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.   


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 


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 or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section! May Twins Minor League Pitchers of the Month

2 Jun

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Yesterday, we looked at some of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system in May and named Brian Dozier of the Ft. Myers Miracle as the hitter of the month. Today, I want to share with you some of the top pitchers in the Twins minor league system in the month of May. I’ll name the top 3 relievers and the top 5 pitchers, but I’ll start with a few honorable mentions:

  • Rochester – Andy Baldwin – 5 GS, 1-3, 3.64 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 32 H, 4 BB, 24 K
  • Ft. Myers – Matt Schuld – , 6 GS, 3-1, 4.02 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 16 K
  • Rochester – Carlos Gutierrez – 13 G, 1-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 19.2 IP, 16 H, 7 BB, 11 K
  • New Britain – Brett Jacobson – 8 G, 4 GS, 1-0, 1.54 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 14 H, 17 BB, 13 K
  • Ft. Myers – Andrew Albers – 6 G, 2 GS, 2-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 22 H, 3 BB, 15 K
  • Beloit – Matt Hauser – 10 G, 1-0, 3 saves, 1.54 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 9 BB, 17 K
  • Beloit – Jose Gonzalez – 11 G, 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 17 IP, 14 H, 8 BB, 16 K
  • Beloit – Ryan O’Rourke – 9 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 1.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 18 IP, 17 H, 7 BB, 11 K

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

Number 3 – Rochester – Anthony Slama – 11 G, 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 19 K

I can’t help but believe that Slama would have been on the Twins big league roster since Opening Day if not for the elbow issues during spring training. April was his spring training, and he really struggled in his five outings. In seven innings, he gave up six runs on seven hits and six walks. However, he turned things around quickly with the start of May. Control has been one of his concerns throughout his minor league career, so it is great to see just five walks in his 17.1 innings. He’s always been a big strikeout guy, and hopefully we see plenty of those with the Twins too. Slama should be with the team the rest of the season.

Number 2 – Beloit – Clinton Dempster – 11 G, 3-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 18 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 19 K

Dempster was the Twins 16th round draft pick in 2010 from Nicholls State U. The 22 year old southpaw made four appearances in Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit where he made ten appearances, including six starts. This season, he has worked exclusively out of the Snappers bullpen. He has pitched in long relief, and he has been the closer at times. In his last ten games in May, Dempster was 1-1 with a 0.56 ERA. He gave up just one run in 16 innings over that time. He is another guy with the possibility to move up to Ft. Myers soon.

And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month of May is:

Rochester Red Wings – Chuck James – 10 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 17 K

Free Chuck James! That was the cry from many Twins bloggers throughout the month of May when the 29 year old lefty put up incredible numbers across the board. James signed a minor league deal with the Twins this spring after going 10-1 last year with the AA and AAA affiliates of the Washington Nationals after shoulder surgery the year before. Well, after going the entire month of May without allowing a run while walking very few and striking out well more than one per inning, James finally was added to the 40 man roster and promoted to the Twins over Memorial Day weekend. James was my #2 reliever of the month in April and was better in May. Like Slama, hopefully James proves the bloggers’ confidence accurate and remains with the big league club the rest of the year. And no, not just so that I can write new names in here next month.

With that, let’s jump to the starting pitchers. Here are the Top 5 Starting Pitchers for May:

Number 5 – New Britain – Liam Hendriks – 5 GS, 2-1, 2.90 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 31 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 31 K

Hendriks was the #3 minor league starter last month, and he was very good again this month. It is exciting since the Australian right-hander is still just 22 years old. He has more than held his own in Double-A and legitimized himself as a top pitching prospect. Overall, he is now 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He has 51 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched. He has actually pitching better against left-handed batters (.174)  than right-handed batters (.270).

Number 4 – Beloit – Adrian Salcedo – 6 GS, 3-2, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP,36 IP, 35 H, 10 BB, 20 K

Salcedo was actually better in April when he was 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA, but he was just honorable mention then. This month, he was able to make the Top 5. Again, Salcedo is a big-time prospect. He has a long, lanky athletic frame with long arms. He throws pretty hard and has good control In 58.2 innings, he has just 16 walks. He has gone six or more innings in six of his ten starts, and he has failed to go five innings just twice (both times going 4.2 innings).   

Number 3 – New Britain – Bobby Lanigan – 6 GS, 3-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 33 H, 7 BB, 19 K

Lanigan, the Twins 3rd round pick in 2008 out of Adelphi University, turned 24 years old in early May, and he celebrated by pitching very well. He had one clunker during the month (gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings), but he went at least six innings in his other 5 starts and gave up three once and two or less each other time. The highlight came on May 13 when he threw eight shutout innings and gave up just four hits and no walks against Portland. Overall this season, he is 4-3 with a 3.41 ERA.  

Number 2 – Rochester – Kyle Gibson – 6 GS, 3-2, 3.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 35 IP, 32 H, 7 BB, 38 K

For the second straight month, Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson finishes second in the monthly pitcher of the month voting (ok, it’s a one-person vote, but that’s ok). In April, the 23 year old from the University of Missouri went 0-1 with a 3.15 ERA in four starts and in 20 innings. He has tremendous control, and he is striking out more batters this year. He has great stuff, and he is very competitive. Gibson “struggled” in the middle of the month for a few starts. However, when Gibson “struggles”, it is giving up four runs in five innings. In many of his starts where he has given up runs, he has one bad inning and makes some adjustment and still gets through five innings. His last two starts have been very good. In 12.2 innings, he has given up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out 18 batters. I think there is a possibility that sometime in June, Gibson’s minor league career will come to an end, and he will be in a Twins uniform through the 2017 season, or longer!

And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:

New Britain – Steve Hirschfeld – 5 GS, 2-2, 2.93 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 30.2 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 23 K 

For the second straight month, Hirschfeld was the easy choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month. In April, he was 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA and opponents hit just .190. In May, he was just as good. Besides the numbers you see above, opponents hit just .196 against him. Overall, he is 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA. In 52.2 innings, he has given up just 36 hits, walked only 13. Opponents are hitting just .194 off of him. The 25 year old right hander missed most of the 2010 season, but he is making up for it now and there is no reason he should not be pitching in Rochester very soon. In fact, today, he has thrown six more shutout innings for the Rock Cats.

Congratulations to the three choices for players of the month, Brian Dozier of the Ft. Myers Miracle, Chuck James of the Rochester Red Wings and Steve Hirschfeld of the New Britain Rock Cats. But Congratulations to all of those players mentioned in these two articles on a great month of May. I think that this is a time when there will be several transactions and many of these players you have read about could be promoted (and some already have been.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Almost Over… Almost!

14 May

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It was yet another rough day for Twins fans on several levels, and it just gets harder and harder to hold out any hope. Last night, the Twins lost 2-0 to the Blue Jays which in itself is not a big deal. Ricky Romero was tremendous for 8.2 innings. He is one of the better left-handed pitchers in baseball and had a no-hitter into the sixth inning when Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe had soft singles. They got a couple of base runners on in the bottom of the 9th, but Frank Francisco came in and got Michael Cuddyer to check swing at a 96 mph fastball just off the black. On its own, this 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays with a terrific pitcher on the mound is not a big deal. Carl Pavano needed about 1950 pitches to get into the 6th inning, but he kept the strong Jays lineup off the scoreboard. Alex Burnett came on with two of Pavano’s runners on base and nobody out and didn’t allow the runners to score. He went out for the next inning and got a couple of runners on and Jim Hoey was brought in. He gave up a run on a bloop single with a bad Delmon Young throw. He then got a big double play. Glen Perkins was good again. Joe Nathan had a nice battle with Jose Bautista that Bautista won with a solo home run, but I thought Nathan looked much better.

The good news is that Delmon Young was back in the lineup. Again, based on what he did last year, this is a great thing. Trevor Plouffe was back in the lineup as well, and although he’s had just two good games, he at least appears to be a better option than the other options. Jim Thome will hopefully be back next week. Jason Repko will hopefully be back next week.

But, hope is certainly dwindling. Right now, this is a really bad baseball team. No, I don’t believe that it means someone should be fired, or even that anyone needs to be blamed. We’ve discussed all that before. It’s just a bad, bad year. As Aaron Gleeman pointed out after the game, if the Twins play at a 90-win pace the rest of the season, they will end the year with an 82-80 record. 82-80 probably won’t get them to the playoffs (although it could), and frankly, things are not going to just get better overnight, so really, they’ll have to play at an even better level.

And another thing, if Joe Mauer isn’t back in the Twins lineup by Memorial Day, he might as well sit out until the 4th of July. If Joe Mauer isn’t back my Memorial Day, then they need to allow Tsuyoshi Nishioka to use as much rehab time as he needs, and to let him spend time the 20 day rehab schedule playing in the minors and adjusting to American baseball. That is what would be best for his long-term future. If Joe Mauer isn’t back until after Memorial Day, then the Twins should start looking to deal, to be sellers for the first time in over a decade. They might as well start that process right away as many they can get more for guys in June than in late July. At that point, they might as well go with Valencia, Plouffe and Hughes in the Twins infield every single day to see what they have.

I’m not quite ready to discuss all of that, but it likely won’t be long before I start thinking about 2012.

And, that’s why it’s good to keep tabs on what is going on in the Twins minor league system. Yesterday, I posted a bunch of Twins minor league notes, but here are a bunch more:  

  • There have been some transactions:
    • With Delmon Young coming off of the Disabled List, it was Rene Tosoni sent back to Rochester. I think this makes sense. In my mind, Tosoni profiles as a big league starter while Ben Revere profiles as a fourth outfielder… that the Twins will likely make a starter.
    • With Tosoni going to Rochester, 2B Steve Singleton was sent back to New Britain (see how he did on Friday night), which of course makes no sense to me.
    • Ryan Mullins will go to New Britain.
    • Logan Darnell will report to Ft. Myers
    • Pat Dean and Ben Tootle are set to go to Beloit.
    • Last week, when Matt Parker was promoted to Beloit, it was because Kyle Knudson was put on the Disabled List.
  • Want to know what happens in Extended Spring Trainings? Todd Van Steensel is a right-handed pitcher that the Twins signed this offseason from Australia. He has a blog called The Clubhouse Chronicles that is absolutely terrific!
  • Allan de San Miguel is heading to Ft. Myers to rehab his elbow. He is not having Tommy John surgery at this time.
  • It’s Saturday morning, which means you will want to go to Twinkie Town for Roger’s Minor League Report.

If you have any questions or comments about the Twins minor league system, please feel free to e-mail me, ask me in the comments, or on Twitter.

Minor League Notes

Friday Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, New Britain Rock Cats 

Friday Minor League Pitcher of the DayBobby Lanigan, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Friday – Red Wings 4, Charlotte 6 – Scott Diamond gave up six runs on 11 hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. He struck out three. Carlos Gutierrez came in and threw 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out two. Phil Dumatrait pitched one scoreless inning. Ray Chang went 3-4 with a walk. Seven other players had one hit. Dustin Martin had a double and drove in three runs.

Rock Cats Report

Friday – Rock Cats 2, Portland 0 – Bobby Lanigan started and threw eight shutout innings to record his fourth win of the year. He gave up just three hits, walked none and struck out four. Jake Stevens records the same with a scoreless ninth. The offense managed just three hits. Steve Singleton was back from Rochester and went 2-3 with his 12th double and third home run.

Miracle Matters

Friday – Game 1 – Miracle 2, Dunedin 3 – Andrew Albers started the first game for the Miracle. He went five innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He also walked none and struck out three. Shooter Hunt came in and in the two innings he threw, he gave up one run. He walked one and struck out one. The team managed just six hits, and Ramon Santana had the only extra base hit, a double.

Friday – Game 2 – Miracle 1, Dunedin 7 – Tom Stuifbergen gave up three uearned runs on three hits in three innings. He walked none and struck out none. Matt Tone then gave up two earned runs on three hits in his two innings. He struck out two. Jhon Garcia gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in one inning. And Dakota Watts threw a scoreless ninth frame. Nick Romero went 2-3. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with a walk, and Danny Rams hit his sixth double.

Snappers Bites

Friday – Snappers, Quad Cities – Postponed by Rain.  

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Minor League Update

4 May

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There has been a lot going on with the Twins minor league system of late. David Bromberg had successful surgery yesterday. Dan Osterbrock was promoted to New Britain. Brad Tippett returns to Ft. Myers after missing so much time in the last year with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Tom Stuifbergen came off the Disabled List yesterday and Ryan Mullins was put on the DL. This is the time of year when promotions start happening. The Twins have called on guys from Rochester all spring already. But over the next few weeks, we may see some movement in the lower levels too.

Last winter, the Twins traded catcher Jose Morales to the Colorado Rockies, and in return they got a left-handed reliever named Paul Bargas. As you recall, he collapsed on the ground during spring training in Ft. Myers and was taken to the hospital. In some sad news yesterday that gives us yet another reminder that we need to put baseball into perspective. It was announced that Paul Bargas has been diagnosed with brain cancer at UCLA Medical Center.

As I mention on Twins Minor League Weekly on Monday night, Oswaldo Arcia did have an appointment on his elbow in Minneapolis yesterday. He still insists he will be ready to play on Sunday for the Snappers. We shall see.

Tuesday Game Notes:

Rochester and Syracuse were postponed by weather.

New Britain beat Richmond 4-2. Bobby Lanigan gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked none and struck out six. Cole DeVries picked up another save with two more scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two.  Evan Bigley went 3-4 with his fourth double. Ray Chang went 2-4 with his ninth double. Yangervis Solarte went 2-4 with his fourth steal. Chris Cates went 2-3. Joe Benson went 0-4 and now has three hits in his last 35 at bats.

Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach 8-6. All nine Miracle starters had at least one hit. Danny Rams went 2-4 with his fifth double. Brian Dozier went 2-3 with a walk, his fifth double and his third triple. Nick Romero was 2-5 with his fifth double. Nate Hanson went 2-5. Jhonathan Goncalves hit a two-run triple. Aaron Hicks hit his first home run of the year. Matt Schuld recorded the win. He gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in five innings. Tom Stuifbergen returned from the DL with two scoreless, one-hit innings. Shooter Hunt gave up two runs on two this and two walks in 11 innings. Bruce Pugh got the final two outs for his fifth save.

Beloit beat Clinton 6-3. Logan Darnell got the win. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out five. Ryan O’Rourke threw two scoreless frames. Matt Hauser recorded his fourth save and struck out two in a scoreless ninth. Danny Ortiz went 2-3 with his eighth double. Kyle Knudson was 3-4 with two RBI and is now hitting .367.

Any thoughts, questions or comments on the Twins minor league system? Feel free to Comment.

Roster Projections: New Britain Rock Cats

30 Mar

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  • 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.

The fun of projecting minor league rosters after major league rosters is that we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t always understand the big picture. For instance, I projected that Chris Province would be in the Triple-A bullpen. Yesterday, I found out that he, in his words on Twitter this morning, “voluntarily retired.” The Twins made 12 cuts over the past couple of days, and as I review the names of all of the players still in Twins minor league camp, it is difficult to place all of them. We don’t know injury situations. I was unaware the Bruce Pugh was set back a few days by back soreness. That will likely keep him back in Ft. Myers and in the bullpen for at least a little while. Some of the decisions on these minor league veterans brought in has kept several minor leaguers down a level. In some cases, that’s good. In other cases, it is a little surprising. For instance, I understand that Tony Davis will be heading back to Ft. Myers to start the season.

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins Double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Danny Lehmann (40 man – No) – Jair Fernandez (40 man – No) 

Lehmann was impressive this spring. He has been named the Twins minor league catcher of the year the past two years. Defensively, he is ready to be a backup catcher for the Twins. Offensively, he’s probably a notch above Drew Butera. Fernandez, like Waldrop and Portes, could have been a six-year minor league free agent after last season. He chose to stay with the Twins. He is a big guy with a little pop in his bat. Not a great catcher at all though despite a strong arm.

Infielders: 1B – Chris Parmelee (40 man – Yes), 2B – Steve Singleton (40 man – No), 3B – Nick Romero/Deibinson Romero (40 man – No/No), SS – Estarlin de Los Santos (40 man – No), Utility – Chris Cates (40 man – No), IF/OF/DH – Yangervis Solarte – (40 man – No)

Chris Parmelee is going to be my choice for preseason Twins minor league hitter of the year. Hopefully he will be able to stick with the Rock Cats all season, as I believe that would be best for his development. Steve Singleton should be in Rochester. I know, I’m shy about expressing that, aren’t I? He should get some time at both 3B and SS as well. Estarlin de Los Santos should get a couple of months here to regain his prospect status or else Brian Dozier will be here and get the playing time. 3B is where I’m not certain. So, I can see a scenario in which Nick Romero and one-time prospect Deibinson Romero split time, or even platoon. Solarte can play anywhere on the field, kind of like Luke Hughes. He has hit when healthy and was up with the Rock Cats last year before getting hurt. The utility infield spot will be interesting. Chris Cates is the incumbent, but could Ray Chang or Matt Brown be sent to AA? Neither can play SS well, so I’m leaning toward Cates.

Outfielders: LF – Evan Bigley (40 man – No), CF – Joe Benson (40 man – Yes), RF – Rene Tosoni (40 man – Yes), 4th outfielder – Mark Dolenc (40 man – No).

At this time last year, Rene Tosoni thought he was packing to go to Rochester, but then the Twins signed Jason Repko right before Opening Day and Tosoni went back to New Britain. His shoulder was bad, and he was DHing until a midseason shoulder surgery ended his season. But he was still added to the 40 man roster, and he could move up quickly if he swing returns. Joe Benson was last year’s Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year. The sky is the limit for Benson. The only thing is his contact rate will need to improve for him to advance where we all hope he will. Again, I think the best thing for his development would be to stay in New Britain for the entire season, get comfortable, make adjustments and see what kind of numbers he can put up in a full season. Evan Bigley is an underappreciated prospect. He’s got some power, and he can hit for average. He can play solid defense. When he moved up to New Britain last year, he played better than he had with the Miracle early in the season. I mention Dolenc as the 4th outfielder, and that’s where he is always put. However, every year, he gets a lot of at bats, and he performs better than expected. He is fast and plays very good defense at all three positions.

Starting Pitchers: RHP David Bromberg (40 man – Yes), RHP Deolis Guerra (40 man – Yes), RHP Bobby Lanigan (40 man – No), Liam Hendriks (40 man – No), Dan Osterbrock (40 man – No)

I was very much surprised to learn that David Bromberg would start this season in Double-A after he made nine starts in Rochester last year. That said, I think that it can be a good thing for him to spend a couple of months. He’s seen Triple-A. He’s now been to big league spring training and likely learned a lot. It will be great for him to implement some of the things he’s learned at Double-A, perfect them and get back to Rochester. Deolis Guerra pitched well in New Britain last year before being promoted to Rochester, and from that point on he was never able to find it again. Guerra is the best example of why bringing in some minor league veterans at the upper levels can be good. Guerra should not have been rushed, but the team was forced to. Bobby Lanigan’s fastball/slider combination is tough. I think long-term he can be a terrific reliever, but might as well keep him starting as long as he keeps putting up the numbers and stays healthy. I would be surprised if both Hendriks and Osterbrock start the season with the Rock Cats, but both pitched so well at Ft. Myers last year that they could be ready for this next challenge. Pitchers often say that they experience their first struggles at AA. Osterbrock experienced some struggles with Beloit in 2009, but figured things out last year. Hendriks is a tremendous prospect, very driven and competitive, and worth watching closely.

Bullpen: RHP Carlos Gutierrez (40 man – No), RHP Brett Jacobson (40 man – No), RHP Steve Hirschfeld (40 man – No), LHP Tyler Robertson (40 man – No), RHP Dakota Watts (40 man – No), RHP Santos Arias (40 man – No), LHP Spencer Steedley (40 man – No), LHP Jake Stevens (40 man – No), LHP Paul Bargas (40 man – Yes)

I think that Gutierrez is ready for Triple-A. Some could argue he’s ready for the big leagues. But this is the first time he has gone into a season as a reliever, and I think it would be good to start him back with New Britain for a month or two, let him close and pitch in more tough situations and get comfortable. It also gives some of those AAA guys a couple of months to prove what they have. There is no rush with Gutierrez. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the season, and they aren’t going to want to use an option, so patience is a good thing. Jacobson was the second piece that came over from the Orioles in the Hardy trade. He has an interesting delivery, but he does throw hard and has a good curveball. Hirschfeld is definitely an option to start. He was terrific in 2009 but missed more of 2010 with injury. Robertson struggled as a starter with the Rock Cats last year, and when he went to the Arizona Fall League, it was announced that he would be moved to the bullpen. I think he has the makeup and the stuff to be successful in the role. Dakota Watts started the 2010 season (his first full season) with Beloit and ended in New Britain, and in the middle, he was touching 98 and 99 on the radar gun in Ft. Myers. Arias really struggled with the Rock Cats last year, but he should be given another shot. Steedley had a terrific April for the Rock Cats last year, but by the end of May, he had his elbow worked on. He could start this season on the Disabled List, but if he can come back, he is a good LOOGY possibility down the road. Jake Stevens is also left-handed. He was out of baseball last year, but the Twins gave the Naples, FL, native a chance to make the team. Paul Bargas was acquired by the Twins in the trade of Jose Morales. He’s got decent numbers in his minor league career, especially against left-handers. Bargas also has meningitis, and on one of the first days of minor league camp, he collapsed on the field and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He has not yet returned to the team, but he should at some point.

Overall: This is where some really exciting Twins prospects will be. A couple of these guys would be ready to play at Rochester, but in terms of development, I think that Parmelee, Benson, Bromberg, Tosoni and Gutierrez may be best served by spending more time in AA. The first four were only added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and Gutierrez isn’t even on the 40 man yet, so time is on their side. This should be a solid team. Don’t be surprised if the likes of Ray Chang and Matt Brown end up here as well, which would make them a more veteran team. This should be a fun team to watch and several of them could be called up to the Twins at some point this season, if needed.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. In fact, most of the roster spots have been determined and players are finding out. I have been quite surprised by some of the reports I have heard, but without knowing background, injuries, etc., it’s hard to determine from afar what some of the reasoning might be. Either way, it will be fun to find out and more importantly, to get this season started!

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


  • Cody Christie, the North Dakota Twins Fan, joined me on the Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast last night. Lots more Twins topics covered such as the Jim Thome/Jason Kubel playing time question, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps, food options at Target Field, and many, many more topics.
  • If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin on Thursday night at 10:00. Travis Aune and Seth 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

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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. 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.

Twins Notes

20 Jul

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First things first, I wrote my weekly TwinsCentric blog last night. It is titled “Who’s to blame?” In it, I discuss who I think the blame for the Twins disappointing season should go to, but I have a feeling that many will disagree. What do you think?

Following last night’s debacle against Cleveland, the Twins announced that they finally made the decision to put Clay Condrey on the 60 Day Disabled List. They also demoted Alex Burnett to AAA Rochester which means, that it is now officially Slama Time. Yes, the Twins called up 26 year old reliever Anthony Slama. As I mentioned during last night’s Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, Slama and the rest of that Rochester bullpen have been beaten up and way overused thanks to horrible starting pitching. Here is a look at how much the Red Wings bullpen has been used this year:

  • Jose Lugo (0-4, 6.17 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 39 G, 65.2 IP)
  • Tim Lahey (5-1, 5.00 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 35 G, 63.0 IP)
  • Kyle Waldrop (4-3, 2.09 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 41 G, 60.1 IP)
  • Rob Delaney (7-5, 5.49 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 43 G, 57.1 IP)
  • Anthony Slama (0-1, 1.71 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 43 G, 52.2 IP)
  • Brad Hennessey (1-2, 7.89 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 11 G, 21.2 IP)
  • Pat Neshek (2-0, 4.64 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 16 G, 21.1 IP)

To put that into some perspective, here are the same numbers for Twins relievers:

  • Brian Duensing (3-1, 1.67 ERA, 39 G, 43.0 IP)
  • Alex Burnett (1-2, 4.39 ERA, 35 G, 41.0 IP)
  • Matt Guerrier (1-5, 2.88 ERA, 43 G, 40.2 IP)
  • Jesse Crain (1-0, 3.65 ERA, 38 G, 37.0 IP)
  • Jon Rauch (0-1, 3.31 ERA, 34 G, 35.1 IP)
  • Ron Mahay (0-1, 3.49 ERA, 31 G, 28.1 IP)
  • Jose Mijares (1-0, 2.75 ERA, 26 G, 19.2 IP)

So, if you think tha the Twins bullpen has been overused, what do you think about the Red Wings bullpens. I am shocked that more of their arms have not fallen off. When I see some of those high ERAs, I don’t worry about it because they have got to be dead tired.

But it is a good day when Anthony Slama finally gets that much-deserved big league promotion. He has had another good, dominant season and hopefully can show scouts around the league that his delivery can get big league hitters out. Slama had not given up an earned run in over a month when he left to pitch in the Futures Game in Anaheim. He gave up three hits in an inning in that game, but no runs. He was the winning pitcher in the AAA All-Star Game. Since coming back to the Red Wings, he has given up one run in all three of his outings. Right-handed batters hit just .103 against him while left-handed batters hit .250 against him. Can he help the Twins bullpen? Certainly. But be patient with him as well since he has thrown so many innings. This is a good move because Gardy and Rick Anderson will take care of him better than he has been in Rochester… I hope!

Here are some quick notes on what happened in the Twins minor league system on Monday:

  • There were several transactions:
  1. Bobby Lanigan moved up to New Britain and started in place of David Bromberg who was promoted to Rochester to start last night.
  2. BJ Hermsen and Michael Tonkin were both sent to Elizabethton, which is probably where they should have been through this season. It will be fun to see what they are capable of doing at a level that they should be playing at.
  • Rochester lost 6-2 to Buffalo. Bromberg had a Quality Start in his AAA debut. He gave up three runs on five hits in six innings. He walked just one and struck out seven. Rob Delaney pitched a scoreless inning. Pat Neshek gave up two unearned runs 0.2 innings. Anthony Slama then gave up a run on four hits in the last 1.1 innings. The Red Wings had just four hits. Matt Macri hit his fifth home run.
  • New Britain lost to Harrisburg by a score of 6-3. Lanigan went six innings and gave up just one run on seven hits and two walks. Loek Van Mil went just 0.2 innings and gave up five earned runs on two hits and three walks. Billy Bullock got the final four outs. Jair Fernandez went 3-4 with his third home run. Alexi Casilla went 2-4. Joe Benson hit his 13th doubles and drove in two runs.
  • The Ft. Myers Miracle lost 1-0 to Lakeland. They managed just three hits in the game. Nate Hanson hit his eighth double. Michael Harrington went 1-3 in his return from suspension. Matt Williams started in place of Lanigan and threw five no-hit innings. He walked two and struck out four. Shooter Hunt walked four and allowed one run in 0.1 innings. Dakota Watts came in and got out of the sixth and pitched two more scoreless innings. Michael Allen pitched a scoreless inning despite allowing two hits.
  • Down in Beloit, the Snappers beat Lansing 3-1. Eight hitters had one hit each. The lone starter without a hit was Josmil Pinto. Danny Rams hit his third triple, and Lance Ray hit his first home run. Tom Stuifbergen started and went three innings. He gave up one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out three. Clinton Dempster threw three shutout innings. Jhon Garcia threw two shutout frames. Andrei Lobanov recorded his first save with the Snappers with a scoreless ninth.
  • Adrian Salcedo led the E-Twins to a 6-0 win over Bristol. Salcedo went eight shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked one and struck out 11. He improved to 3-2 with a 2.41 ERA. Jose Gonzalez pitched a scoreless inning. Daniel Santana went 2-5. Danny Ortiz hit his eighth double.
  • Down in the Gulf Coast League, the Twins lost to the Orioles 5-1. Eddie Rosario went 2-4 with his seventh double and 11 stolen base. Candido Pimental hit his sixth double. David Deminsky gave up three runs on nine hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out eight. Luis Nunez gave up two runs on four hits in two innings.
  • Finally, Jordan Tuwiner, a follower of the Baltimore Orioles minor league system, was at a couple of GCL Twins/GCL Orioles games last week. He wrote scouting reports and shows videos of Miguel Sano, Candido Pimentel, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. Check them out.

Kevin Slowey will take the mound tonight against Justin Masterson and Cleveland. Hopefully things can turn around!

Daily Summary:

  1. Star Tribune TwinsCentric Blog – Who’s to Blame?
  2. Last night’s emotional Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast
  3. Anthony Slama, like other Rochester relief pitchers, has been overused, but he is now heading to Minnesota to join the Twins bullpen. Alex Burnett optioned to Rochester and Clay Condrey put on the 60 Day Disabled List.

If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them here.