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Organizational Depth Chart: Middle Infielders

31 Jan

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.

 Last week, I started looking at the depth throughout the Twins system. I reviewed the catchers, first basemen and third basemen. After a weekend at Twins Fest (which I’ll write about very soon), I thought it would be good to get back into the Organizational Depth Chart series. Today, I am going to write about the Middle Infielders. I decided to put the shortstops and second basemen together because so many of these players can and will play both positions. As I’ve said before, the purpose of this series is two-fold (if not more). First, it’s a look at the depth at or near the big leagues. Second, it’s a glance at the depth at the position throughout the system. You can find out who might be coming up to the Twins if there is a need, and you can find out who the prospects to watch might be.

I need to reiterate that these are 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

Minnesota Twins  

Jamey Carroll (SS), Alexi Casilla (2B), Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes

About the time spring training starts, Carroll will turn 38 years old. Most consider him a utility player, and he probably is because he plays multiple positions. He has accumulated more than 350 plate appearances five of the last six years. The last two years, he has combined for 924 plate appearances. He played 129 games at second base, and another 135 and shortstop. The Twins are bringing him in for the next two seasons to be their starting shortstop. He’s an on-base machine, perfect for the #2 spot in the lineup. Alexi Casilla has proven himself to be a solid utility infielder but has often shown that he can’t handle an every day job. I thought last year was his last chance to prove that, but he’s getting another opportunity in 2012. I’m not going to say Luke Hughes is the answer, but Casilla has received so many opportunities, I’d rather Hughes get a shot at the regular, daily second base job with Casilla as a role player. We don’t know if Hughes will hit, but he does have some pop in his bat. We know that Casilla won’t do much. I’m understanding that Nishioka needs and deserves to start 2012 with an empty slate. 2011 was an awful year for him. He was adjusting to so many things on and off the field, and then he was hurt within the first week and never fully recovered. The best thing would have been for him to get a lot of time in the minors last year. Maybe that can happen in 2012.  

Rochester Red Wings

Brian Dozier (SS), Pedro Florimon (2B), Ray Chang, Brian Dinkelman

Brian Dozier was the minor league player of the year in 2011 and hopes to build upon that starting in spring training in 2012. There is little chance he’ll open with the Twins. In fact, there’s a better chance he returns to New Britain and based on the past, I would not be shocked if he did start the season with the Rock Cats. But he’s ready for AAA, and nearly ready for the big leagues. Part of why I would like to see Hughes get the starting gig with the Twins, is because by June, he could move to the bench with Carroll shifting to second base and Dozier jumping to the Twins. But, let’s see how he starts the 2012 season before counting any eggs, or something like that. The Twins claimed Florimon from the Orioles in December, but nearly immediately placed him on waivers. He cleared and was outrighted to Rochester. He jumped from AA to the big leagues with a September call-up. He will certainly get plenty of time at shortstop with Dozier moving to second. Chang will play all around the infield. He was the Red Wings starting shortstop while he was with the team last year, before his broken leg. Dinkelman finally got his chance with the Twins last year and hit .301. He struggled in Rochester. He can play second base but can also play the corner outfield positions.

New Britain Rock Cats

James Beresford (SS), Estarlin de Los Santos (2B), Chris Cates

James Beresford is tremendous with the glove. He is a smooth fielder with soft hands and a strong arm. He can play both middle infield positions well and is a leader on the infield. His play in international competition has really been impressive. He has hit for average in his minor league career. He takes really good, quality at bats. But because he is almost exclusively a singles hitter, he will not be walked often. He also doesn’t strike out much. He works very hard to gain weight, and hopefully that will happen soon to give the opponents a little concern for extra base hits. De Los Santos was once considered a quality prospect in the Twins system. He was added to the 40 man roster, but that lasted just a year. 2011 was a lost year for him. He spent most of the season on the Disabled List, rehabbed quite a bit in the GCL. He got a little time at Ft. Myers, played second base before he finally ended his season with elbow surgery. Although he could have become a free agent at the end of the season, he signed quickly to remain with the Twins. Cates is a strong defender at both middle infield positions. He also has a very strong arm.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Tyler Grimes (SS), Danny Santana (2B), Reggie Williams, Adam Bryant

Grimes was the Twins 5th round pick just last year out of college baseball power house Wichita State. He missed a little bit of time after signing with the Twins and reporting to Beloit. He can hit. He’s another on-base percentage guy with some pop in his bat. He has good speed and plays solid defense. Santana primarily played shortstop in Beloit, but he will likely get time at second base and in centerfield as well in 2011. He has great range, soft hands and a very strong arm. He does have pop in his bat although his 2011 numbers don’t necessarily show it. He has a immense talent and all the tools, but he will need to start putting it together. Reggie Williams was a fourth round pick in 2007 out of high school. He is a terrific athlete, and he will play all around the diamond in 2012. He can play four infield positions and probably all three outfield positions. He primarily plays 2B, 3B and LF, but who knows, we may even see him behind the plate this year.

Beloit Snappers

Levi Michael (SS), Eddie Rosario (2B), AJ Pettersen, Stephen Wickens, Nick Lockwood

One question we’ve been hearing all offseason is Where will Levi Michael start his 2012 season? The Twins have had top college pitchers jump straight to Ft. Myers. All indications are the Michael will begin the season with the Beloit Snappers. Making me want to get to Beloit early in the season is an infield that should include Michael, Rosario and Miguel Sano. I would also expect that Michael would get no more than a half-season in Beloit before being promoted. Rosario was the Appy League co-MVP last year when he hit .337 with 38 extra base hits, including 21 home runs in 67 games. He also is a tremendous center fielder. During Instructional League, he was moved to second base. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I would assume he will continue to get some time in the outfield as well. Sano will likely see some time at shortstop. Minnetonka native and former Gopher and last year’s 25th round pick AJ Pettersen said he is willing to play anywhere, but he is a natural shortstop who started there for the Gophers four years. Wickens is a Canadian who is a four year college shortstop as well with very good on-base skills. I would expect that Michael will be promoted in mid-June with Niko Goodrum moving up to take his spot. Nick Lockwood is a tremendous defensive second baseman. Although he didn’t hit much at E-town last year, he has a strong, line drive swing and uses the whole field.

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Niko Goodrum (SS), Jorge Polanco (SS), Wander Guillen (2B)

Goodrum had a very strong season with the Elizabethton Twins, even if it was lost behind the big seasons of Sano and Rosario. He is a tremendous athlete who will take a while to develop. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the season at Extended Spring Training. I would, however, be surprised if he spends any more time with Elizabethton. I would expect him to be promoted to Beloit whenever there is a need, or whenever Michael is promoted. Polanco signed with the Twins for over $750,000 two years ago. He and Miguel Sano split 2010 between the DSL and GCL. Polanco returned to the GCL in 2011 and didn’t do much with the bat. Touted for his terrific defense at shortstop, he played 19 games there in 2011, 14 at third base and 11 at second base. He also played all three outfield positions. He will spend 2012 in Elizabethton. Wander Guillen is a third baseman, but with Travis Harrison around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Guillen play more at second base, where he has played a little the past two seasons. He also should advance to E-Town in 2012 after splitting 2011 between the DSL and GCL.

TOP THREE PROSPECTS

1.)    Eddie Rosario, 2.) Brian Dozier, 3.) Levi Michael, 4.) Niko Goodrum, 5.) Danny Santana, 6.) James Beresford, 7.) Tyler Grimes, 8.) Jorge Polanco

SUMMARY

After what Twins fans saw at the shortstop position in 2011, it was pretty clear that the Twins needed a change in 2012! Alexi Casilla started the season as the shortstop and through five weeks was hitting about .150. Trevor Plouffe got a couple of games. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was given an opportunity. It wasn’t pretty all season. Jamey Carroll should bring consistency to the position. He may not have a ton of range, but he will make most of the routine plays and it winds up that trait is pretty important. Cailla and Hughes may be a solid platoon and the Twins should see again what they have in Nishioka, if anything. Brian Dozier is on the cusp and we should (or at least could) see him by July. The lower levels of the system actually provide a bunch of solid prospects to at least be excited about. Rosario is intriguing as a second baseman. Scouts love Levi Michael and he could move fairly quickly. He was one of five college shortstops the Twins drafted in 2011 (Michael-1, Grimes-5, Bryant-9, Pettersen-25, Wickens-33), each of which should get a lot of playing time in 2012. Accumulating a lot of talent in the lower levels is great, and hopefully a couple of them will continue to progress through the system.  

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 Top Moments of 2011

27 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

99 losses. Confusing injuries and rehabilitation stories. Players traded, and players lost via free agency. 2011 was a really tough season for the Twins organization. However, there were a few positive moments during the season as well.

Blyleven to the Hall of Fame

  • Early in January, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Bert Blyleven was finally to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The Twins had some special nights for him, and in August he was inducted.

20 Year Anniversary of the 1991 World Series

  • Also in August, the Twins celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the greatest World Series of all-time, that 1991 thriller against the Atlanta Braves. Many of the Twins players from that roster were in attendance for the reunion. It’s always great to see so many of those players coming back.

No-Hitters

  • On May 4 in Chicago, Francisco Liriano was wild, and yet he completed a no-hitter against the White Sox. The final out came on a line drive to Matt Tolbert off the bat of Adam Dunn. Liriano was pitching to stay in the rotation at the time, and despite all the walks, the no-hitter continued to show how good his stuff can be.
  • On July 6, Jeff Manship made his first start for the Rochester Red Wings. Due to injury, it was his first appearance in seven weeks. Manship threw four no-hit innings. He was followed by Jake Stevens who threw three no-hit innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up no hits in the 8th innings, and Jim Hoey finished the job with no hits in the 9th inning.
  • On July 16, Tim Shibuya, the Twins 23rd round pick a month earlier, started for the Elizabethton Twins. The right-hander threw seven no-hit innings. He was followed by 31st round pick, RHP Garrett Jewell, who threw a no-hit 8th inning. 7th round pick, lefty Steven Gruver, struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the no-hitter.
  • September 3, Alex Wimmers tossed a seven-inning no hitter for the Ft. Myers Miracle. His season started with a six batter faced, six walk outing. He was shut down for a couple of months and brought back slowly. But to end the season in such fashion was a nice way to end a rough season.

Major League Debuts

  • April 1 – Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 1-4 on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.
  • April 28 – Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with an RBI in his debut against the Rays.
  • June 4 – Brian Dinkelman went 1-3 with a walk. In his first plate appearance, he was hit by a pitch. His walk was intentional. The Twins beat the Royals 7-2.
  • July 18 – Scott Diamond was called up for a spot start in the second game of a double header against Cleveland. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks in 6.1 innings.
  • September 5 – Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings against the White Sox. The first inning he pitched was scoreless.
  • September 6 – Joe Benson led off for the Twins and went 0-3 after walking in his first plate appearance in a 3-0 loss to the White Sox.
  • September 6 – Chris Parmelee batted fifth and went 2-4 in the same game.
  • September 6 – Liam Hendriks made the start for the Twins in this game. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings.

The Killebrew Tribute

  • Obviously one of the saddest moments during the 2011 season was the death of legendary Twins great Harmon Killebrew. However, listening and reading the stories of what a great man he was made us almost forget what a great baseball player he was. The Twins had a tribute for Killebrew on May 26. It was great to see so many former players there. Mudcat Grant was again amazing with his rendition of What a Wonderful World. However, the highlight had to be the speech of Nita Killebrew. Her poise and strength in that moment were amazing. Her words were inspirational. It was a great tribute to a great man.

Nathan Sets Twins Saves Mark

  • On August 10, Joe Nathan set the Twins all-time saves record by recording his 255th save. He surpassed Rick Aguilera’s mark of 254.

Thome Hits 600th Home Run

  • On August 15, the Twins traded Delmon Young to the Tigers in the afternoon. That was fairly big news that day, but fortunately, there was much bigger news coming later that night. Through his first two at bats, Jim Thome was 1-2 with a single. In the 6th inning, he hit home run #599 against the Tigers in Detroit. For many, it takes awhile to hit that 600th home run. Thome’s came just one inning later with two runners on against lefty Daniel Schlereth.

Draft Picks Sign

  • Within the final hour before the deadline for teams to sign their draft picks, the Twins signed all three of their first round picks. Levi Michael was the 30th overall pick and signed for $1.175 million (about $86,000 over slot). Supplemental first-rounder, Hudson Boyd, the 55th overall pick, signed for a $1 million bonus (about $350,000 over slot). Travis Harrison, the 50th overall pick in the draft, signed for $1.05 million (about $350,000 over slot). The Twins signed several other players with big potential on that final day, including Minnesota’s top high school player in 2011, LHP Austin Malinowski (the team’s 16th round pick).

Award Winners

  • Brian Dozier and Liam Hendriks were named the Twins minor league hitter and pitcher of the year, respectively.
  • Eddie Rosario was named the player of the year in the Appalachian League after putting up monstrous numbers including 21 home runs, one better than teammate Miguel Sano. Teammate Tim Shibuya was the pitcher of the year in the Appalachian League.

Terry Ryan Reclaims the GM Role

  • On November 7, the Twins announced the Bill Smith was being relieved of his duties as GM of the Twins and that former GM Terry Ryan would resume the duties in an interim role. The question is how long “interim” might be.

It was a tough year, and when trying to come up with positives from 2011, it was quite difficult to make it even this lengthy. I’m certain I missed some things. Were there any other positives from the 2011 Twins season that you can think of? Help me out here!!

TwinsCentric Notes

Twins Winter Meetings Podcast Updates

7 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins have been very active in the Winter Meetings, and they have given us plenty to talk about. I have to tell you that the nightly podcasts have been a ton of fun for several reasons. First, the guests have been great! The three other TwinsCentric guys have each been on one night a piece. Second, Brian Dinkelman and Brian Dozier were both awesome guests! Third, the chat room has been filled and lots of discussion because 4.) The Twins have been involved in a lot of Winter Meetings rumors, transactions and topics.

I’ve found that a few people reading this have not listened to the podcasts before. A couple have even mentioned that they didn’t know how. Worry not! It’s quite easy. See the links below (Sunday night, Monday night and Tuesday night)? Chick on those and within a few seconds, the podcast will be playing through your speakers. If you’re at work, you may want to have some head phones. It really is that easy. It’s really the best of all worlds. If you enjoy what you read at SethSpeaks.net or other Twins blogs, you’ll really enjoy the podcasts because it’s an hour worth of talking. Imagine how long that blog would be to transcribe. So, you get just tons of information and you don’t even have to read!!

Three shows are complete and you can listen to any of them. Tonight, Fanatic Jack will take the lead and host the show. It’ll be enjoyable to get another perspective on the Twins busy Winter Meetings. I’ll be back on Thursday night to discuss the Rule 5 and where the Twins stand as the Winter Meetings come to an end. We’ll figure out what we think the team still needs to do. Here are the links to all the shows and who the guests were. Please listen and feel free to e-mail me any feedback you may have.  

Feel free to comment.

Early Observations

22 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Don’t Forget – The TwinsCentric Viewing Party will be on Saturday at Manitou Station in White Bear Lake during Game 1 of the Twins/Cleveland double header. Get there between 11:30 and 12:00, and stay through the game. 

Another quick posting today. I fell asleep writing early again last night. I’ve got about 20 minutes to write  before I run in to work, so I thought I would jot down some quick, early observations of some of the younger players on the Twins roster. To be fair, small sample means very little, whether the sample is positive or negative. Obviously a positive sample is much more memorable and fun than a negative small sample, but what happens over 50-60 plate appearances this September means little when it comes to long-term success.

It’s been hard to write of late. In fact, I was telling someone last night that I’ve enjoyed just sitting back and watching the young guys play, seeing what they do, seeing what they still need to work on. It doesn’t need to be analytical or statistical at this point, and that’s good. But here are some of the things that I have seen so far.

Chris Parmelee – He has made a terrific first impression on everyone. In my Twins Prospect Handbook, release last January, I ranked Parmelee as my #12 Twins prospect, and many predicted that he would have his breakout season in the Twins minor leagues this year. My reason for optimism was that I believe something clicked with him when he was demoted last May to Ft. Myers from New Britain. He figured out something. He cut down on the strikeouts and became a better all-around hitter. Some of the power he had shown early dropped, but if he could use the whole field more and not strikeout as much, that was a great start. The power is still there. I saw him play in the Arizona Fall League two years ago, and he was a big guy. He has lost more than the 15 pounds that people talk about. What I have seen so far with the Twins is a guy who knows the strike zone. He is willing to be patient at the plate, but when he takes a swing, it is not a singles swing at all. He swings hard. We’ve seen the two home runs, but he has hit a lot of line drives. He uses the whole field. He makes contact. (in other words, even if he was hitting .150, I would be impressed by the approach.) He ended this minor league season as my #10 Twins prospect, but he has made a strong impression. Again, it’s not the high batting average that has been impressive, although that is nice. It’s his impressive approach at the plate that is equal parts patience, contact, and willingness to swing out of his shoes. The defense at 1B has been shaky at times, as expected, but that’s an area he can improve. I think that he will begin the 2011 season in Rochester, and that he definitely should. But when he has done this September is show that if needed next season, he could come up and not just fill in, but be a good contributor.

Joe Benson – Benson was my #4 Twins prospect, and to this point, all of the reports about him appear to be true. He is a tremendous athlete, very strong, great arm, good power, tremendous speed. He also is one to strike out a lot, and his aggressiveness on the base paths and in the field have been on display, both positive and negative. He has shown some patience at the plate, but he has also seemingly fallen behind 0-2 many times because of it. The 4-4 night with two doubles and a triple shows the kind of potential that Benson has. 15 strikeouts and two walks in 50 plate appearances tells us that he still has some work to do, although that strikeout rate is only minimally higher than it was in New Britain. Benson will also start the 2012 season in Rochester, and it will be a good challenge for him. He will need to continue to work on contact, something he has worked hard on in the past as well. However, I think that the biggest observation in my mind is that reports of his talent and his potential have not at all been overblown. He has the ability to be an all-star. And, he has the ability to be a fan favorite because of his hustle and aggressiveness.

Brian Dinkelman – Singles Machine! Dinkelman was not in my Top 30 Twins prospects this year, and probably would not have been in the Top 50. That’s why I frequently remind people that just because I don’t rank a guy highly on a prospect list does not mean that he can not be a major league contributor. I love following prospects like this, guys who are not going to be super stars, but they just work their way up the system and get an opportunity. In all reality, Dinkelman came up after Labor Day because the Twins needed a body. He was going to be DFAd following the season, and no one would have claimed him, and he would have spent the 2012 season in Rochester (where he hit about .230 this year, by the way). However, at this point, would anyone really have a problem with Dinkelman maintaining his 40 man roster spot through the offseason (in place of Tolbert and if it doesn’t make a prospect get exposed to the Rule 5 draft)? If the Twins take him off the 40 man roster, I still don’t think anyone would claim him. However, he has the 20 singles, pretty much all through the 3.5 hole. He has been solid at 2B, and played most of the last two years in LF or RF. Not a bad utility type.

Rene Tosoni – In the last two years, I have consistently ranked Tosoni between my #9 and #12 prospect in the Twins system. After he missed more than half of the 2010 season with shoulder surgery while playing at AA, I mistakenly dropped him in my rankings. To my surprise, he began the 2011 season in Rochester, and he played very well. That is why, when the Twins first needed an outfielder this season, it was Tosoni that they turned to, not Ben Revere. He had just 19 games of AA under his belt, but he was in the big leagues. Now, I think it is fair to say that Tosoni has struggled to this point in the big leagues. He is a very patient hitter at the plate, and I think that he has found himself if a lot of bad counts. He has 40 strikeouts in just over 160 plate appearances. That’s actually not a terrible rate. He has shown power with three doubles and three home runs, long home runs. That’s the kind of thing that makes me very excited about Tosoni. I think far too many people have written off Tosoni at this point. I still believe that he can be a very good big leaguer. I always called him Kubel-lite, meaning I think his potential can be about a .280 hitter with 15-18 home runs in a full season. He is a very solid outfielder with a good arm. Like Kubel, Tosoni’s one weakness in the minor leagues was hitting left-handers. I think Tosoni would be a great platoon option in the outfield. I think he needs a little more time. The time he has received with the Twins has been valuable for him, but we have not yet seen what he can do.

Ben Revere – He has played a lot more, and the Twins love him. The Twins media (written and spoken) love him. Most Twins fans love him. And why not? He is exciting. He plays hard. He hustles down the line, and he makes some pretty incredible catches out in center field. I believe that he is going to be a solid big league player, but I think expecting anything more than a Juan Pierre-like career would be way too optimistic. In fact, if Revere posts Pierre-like numbers in his career, I will be impressed and a little surprised. He has been better of late, but his offensive game has been pretty horrible this year. His recent hot streak has elevated his on-base percentage to .310. His slugging percentage is just .297. We kept hearing that at some point, he would show power.  No, that’ won’t happen. Outfielders play in so far against him that he could get some gappers or occasionally hit one over their heads. Then we get to watch him run. He almost had an inside the park home run this year. Defensively, he has made some incredible catches, and his range is remarkable. His terrific speed has helped make up for taking some bad angles on baseballs. People always accuse me of not liking Revere. I ranked him as my #8 Twins prospect before the season, and that’s probably fair. He is what he is as a player. Batting average will be his money-maker. If he can hit .300 (as he did throughout the minors), he could post a .350 on base percentage. If he does that, he could steal 75 bases a year. He has stolen 33 bases (in 42 attempts) in 109 games this year with a .310 OBP. Again, I think that the reports on Revere have proven very accurate. He is very exciting, and he is going to get better. In fact, what he has done over the last 3 weeks shows why getting this playing time and experience in the big leagues is so important for all of these guys.

Liam Hendriks – Hendriks came to the Twins, already well over his innings pitched count from last year. He impressed in his debut, and he had a rough game against the Royals in his second start. His most recent start is probably a good indication of where Hendriks is right now. He gave up two runs in the first inning before recording an out, but he worked out of that and got through five innings having allowed just those two runs. He was one pitch away from completing six innings with two runs, but he threw a bad pitch and Alex Liddi tied up the game at four with a long home run. Again, he began this season at AA and pitched great, and then did well at AAA at times. He is up with the Twins because of all the numbers. If he wasn’t, he would most likely be getting ready to join Allan de San Miguel, James Beresford and Todd Van Steensel on the Australian Team at the World Cup in Panama. Hendriks was my #6 Twins prospect after he was selected (by me) as the Twins minor league pitcher of the year last year. He was the repeat choice for me this year. So, what have I seen? Reports of a fastball with movement that is 89-91 is accurate. He has even touched 93, which is good. His changeup can be very good. I like the break on his curveball. In reality, I have seen him pitch well, but consistency with all of those pitches needs to be a little better. We have seen batters where he throws three straight pitches right on the outside corner. We have seen sharp sliders off the outside corner. We have seen him get called strike threes on pitches on the inside corner. But we have also seen him hurt when he (like any pitcher) misses his spots. Hendriks needs another half-season at Rochester, I think. But I have seen more than enough to tell me that he can fit into the back of the Twins rotation as early as next year, and of all the pitchers that have been compared to Brad Radke in recent years, he might be the one that I think most closely resembles him as a pitcher.

Luke Hughes – He’s out of options, and I have no problem with him being a utility infielder and a right-handed bat off the bench. He can adequately play 3B, 2B and 1B, and he has shown good pop in his bat. I think we’ve seen that he probably isn’t a regular at any position, but he can contribute to the team and should play fairly frequently.

Trevor Plouffe – Like Hughes, Plouffe will be out of options next season, so he will have to make the team. He has certainly had his struggles at SS at times, but he’s also gone through semi-long stretches of adequacy there. I think he can be a well below defensive SS and an average to slightly above average offensive SS. I don’t think he’ll get that opportunity with the Twins. Like Hughes, I think he can adequately play the infield positions, and even some in the corner outfield positions. Like JJ Hardy, he is really non-fast. I think he can hit in the big leagues, despite his struggles in September. Again, probably not a big league regular, at least not with the Twins, but he should have his bat in the lineup quite a bit!     

If you have any questions or comments or observations, please feel free to discuss in the Comments section.

Hendriks, Waldrop, Dinkelman Coming Up to Twins

3 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Liam Hendriks will be the Twins Minor League pitcher of the year. He has been terrific in AA New Britain and pitched well his last few starts in Rochester. On Monday, he will make his Major League debut for the Twins. The 22 year old Australian went 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 appearanced with the Rock Cats. He has made nine starts in AAA and gone 4-4 with a 4.56 ERA. In his last four starts, he has gone 22.2 innings and given up just four runs on 15 hits, 0 walks and 17 strikeouts.

He will be joined on the Twins roster by Reliever Kyle Waldrop and IF/OF Brian Dinkelman. Dinkelman spent a few weeks with the Twins earlier in the season. He went 4-14. With the Red Wings, he is hitting .243/.316/.324 with 27 doubles, a triple and three home runs.

Kyle Waldrop is a terrific story. He has been terrific with the Twins the past two spring trainings. He could have been a 6-year minor league free agent after last season, but he made the decision to stay with the Twins. He had a rough first half, but he has been terrific in the second half. He has a great sinker ball and induces a ton of ground balls. He was the Twins third, first-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Tennessee where he was a great hitter as well as a dominant pitcher. He was a good prospect, but then he missed the entire 2008 season due to shoulder surgery. He was unable to achieve full range-of-motion. Since he came back, he has been in the bullpen and done a very nice job. He is still just 25 years old.

None of the three are currently on the 40-man roster, so additional moves will be made. Remember, the Twins are at 39 players on their 40 man roster since the Jim Thome trade. I’ve been speculating for two weeks that Hendriks would get Thome’s spot.  But the Twins will need to make two additional roster moves to make room for Waldrop and Dinkelman. I would guess that Denard Span would be moved to the 60 Day DL. Would anyone be surprised if Joe Mauer was put on the 60-Day DL with a cold?  I would doubt it, but who knows? (Update – As others have said, it’s possible the Twins could put Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn or even Scott Baker on the 60 Day DL to make roster room)

Will the Twins reach down to New Britain to grab a few more players when the Rock Cats season ends?  The Rock Cats tonight split a double header with Trenton while Reading won their game. That means that New Britain is one game back with two games to go. It is possible that the Twins could promote 40 man roster players Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Deolis Guerra. Yangervis Solarte is another option, as he would need to be protected following the season anyway. Brian Dozier does not need to be added to the 40 man yet this offseason, so it makes no sense to call him up.

Anyway, a HUGE Congratulations to Liam Hendriks, Kyle Waldrop and Brian Dinkelman!

Any thoughts?

Thursday Minor League Scoreboard

29 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Here are the scores and highlights from the Twins minor league system from Thursday:

Rochester Red Wings

Erik Hacker put together a quality start and the Red Wings topped Louisville 7-3. Hacker went six innings and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk. Jeff Manship then struck out three in two scoreless innings. Dusty Hughes gave up no runs in the 9th. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his 21st and 22nd doubles. Jeff Bailey went 2-3 with his fifth triple. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 with his 12th double.

New Britain Rock Cats

Rock Cats lost to Bowie 3-2. Matt Schuld had a terrific rebound start after really getting hit hard in his previous outing. He gave up one run on four hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out four. Bruce Pugh gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in three innings. He struck out four. Chris Parmelee went 2-3 with a walk, his 11th home runs and the two RBI. Joe Benson went 2-4 with his tenth steal. Deibinson Romero went 2-4. Mark Dolenc was 2-3.

Ft. Myers Miracle

The Miracle fell 12-2 to Tampa. Pat Dean started and gave up six runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings. He walked two, hit two and struck out seven. Clinton Dempster gave up three runs on four hits and a walk and a hit batter in 2.1 innings. Matthew Tomshaw joined the Miracle from the GCL and he gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits in two innings. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-3 with a walk. Oswaldo Arcia knocked his third homer. Angel Morales and Dan Rohlfing each doubles. It was the Miracle’s eighth straight loss.  

Beloit Snappers

The Snappers beat Burlington 4-1. Manuel Soliman threw six shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out three. Michael Tonkin then gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Michael Gonzalez recorded his tenth save with a scoreless ninth. Adam Bryant went 2-2 with a walk and his ninth double. Derek McCallum was 2-4 with his eighth double. Lance Ray was 2-4 with his eighth stolen base. Reggie Williams added an RBI double.  

Elizabethton Twins

The E-Twins lost 8-1 to Danville. Todd Van Steensel gave up seven runs on six hits and two walks in 2.2 innings. Cesar Ciurcina then gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk in 3.1 innings. Garrett Jewell threw a scoreless inning, and Nick Alloway threw two scoreless innings in relief. Eddie Rosario went 3-4 and notched his 11th home run. He also threw out a runner at 2B. Tyler Koelling added a double.  

GCL Twins

Angel Mata just continues to dominate GCL hitters. In this game, he went three innings and gave up just one hit. Mark Trau and Tyler Herr each threw two scoreless innings. Nathan Fawbush threw three one-hit innings for the win. The GCL Twins won 1-0 in the tenth inning on a Jacob Younis single. Michael Quesada went 2-4 with his seventh double and second triple. The team had just five hits.

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

Friday Notes

3 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I meant to blog last night after I got to my parent’s place, but I kind of fell asleep. So, here is a quick ten-minute blog posting for the morning.

  • First things first, I am on my way to the Twin Cities, in 11 minutes, for tonight’s TwinsCentric/KFAN’s Lindsay Viewing Party. The Twins play the Royals at 7:00 tonight, and we will all be at Smalley’s 87 Club down by Target Field. There will be drink specials throughout the night. There will be some prizes. Basically it is an opportunity for a bunch of Twins fans to get together and watch the Twins play. Sure, it’s been a frustrating year, but we can still have fun talking about the team. It is also an opportunity to contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations will be encouraged, but certainly not required. So, if you’re able, join us tonight!
  • I have to admit that I am thrilled that the Twins called up Brian Dinkelman. Drafted by the Twins in 2006 out of a small NAIA school in Illinois. He has gradually worked his way through the Twins entire system. He has been in big league training camp the last year. He has been very consistent, and he is again having a terrific year. It does tell us where the Twins season is going, sure, but you have to feel happy for a guy like that.
  • Of course, it comes, in part because Trevor Plouffe has struggled defensively, and he has made his way into Ron Gardenhire’s doghouse. Has Plouffe struggled? Sure. Is it as bad as Gardy and the team is making it sound? I don’t think so. But, as the Rochester Baseball Observer pointed out very well, the Twins need to trade Plouffe now because as long as Gardy is manager, he will never get a real opportunity. It’s all part of the double-standard that the manager has with some of his players. Plouffe gets called out for everything wrong he does and we rarely hear about the good stuff.. Danny Valencia gets called out every day for something. Matt Tolbert made a play the other day that he threw past Valencia at third that cost at least two runs. Gardenhire’s response? It was the right play, just a bad throw. And frankly, I agree. But Tolbert wasn’t thrown under the bus, was he? In fact, the only thing we heard was that Valencia wasn’t back in the right position. Well yeah, he tried to make the play in the hole. Plouffe is a doghouse guy, even though he is as good of a person as there is. It’s not the first occurrence of this. It happened to Pat Neshek a year ago. Matt Garza. Jason Bartlett. The only one that has escaped it is Glen Perkins, and I have no idea how that happened. Gardy learned from Tom Kelly who was notorious for being tough on your players, preferring sometimes the scrappy veterans. Gardenhire is the same way. And this isn’t a fire-able offense, but it is my one frustration with Ron Gardenhire.
  • Last night, I was on the Twins Minor League Weekly podcast with Travis Aune. We talked about last night’s box scores, some transactions and our players of the month of May, so please check it out. (Note, you’ll have to bear with a short technical difficulty early in the show, but it’s only about a minute)
  • The Twins acquired former top outfield prospect Jeremy Reed from the Brewers AAA team as depth at Rochester.
  • A few injury updates to report on.  It sounds like Aaron Hicks could be back within a few more days from his thumb bruise. I have heard that Brandon Roberts could be back from his oblique injury in the next week. Angel Morales is likely out 2-3 more weeks with his elbow injury. Estarlin de los Santos will be out at least another four weeks with his elbow injury. The Twins have gone the way of rest and rehab with elbow injuries again this year. It’s the way they went with Neshek and Loek Van Mil. This year, they have done so with Miguel Munoz, Angel Morales and Estarlin de Los Santos. Hopefully it is the right decision for them.
  • Brian Dozier, Danny Rams and Bruce Pugh were named to the Florida State League All-Star team yesterday. Congratulations to them.
  • SS/2B Steve Singleton and LHP Michael Tarsi were promoted from New Britain to Rochester yesterday after their game.
  • Final thought, I know people don’t like him and think it is all about the nepotism, but you have to have a ton of respect for Red Wings infielder Toby Gardenhire. Maybe it is just a small sample (ok, no maybe about it), but after a 2-4 day yesterday with two doubles, he is hitting .294 in AAA with six doubles. There’s no way he sustains that, but I do think it shows that he has worked really hard, and he can play at that level. Am I saying he’s great? No. But he should not get beaten up as bad as he does. And if he gets a brief promotion, oh well. I have no problem with that (well, depending on who comes off the 40 man roster to make it happen, of course.)

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