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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

Elizabethton Twins

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

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

GCL Twins

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

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

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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40 Man Roster Decisions Due Soon

16 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I expect that the Twins will announce their 40 man roster additions on Friday afternoon, but just in case they announce them a little early, I’m going to make my 40 man roster decisions. I wrote an article for the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook on this decision that the organization needs to make every year.  This will be some of the content from the handbook, but it will be updated, and since I expect the decision to be made in the next two days, I will give my final thoughts on who I think would be added. I will break it into The Givens, the Strongly Considered, the Have To Think Abouts, and the others who are eligible.

Who Must be Added? Players who signed when they were less than 19 in 2007 must be protected or potentially lost. Players that were signed when they were 19 or older in 2008 also have to be added. Typically, this means that high school players drafted in 2007 are eligible, and college players drafted in 2007.

So here are my predictions, for your consideration. I will also put a number after the name for where I would rank their likelihood of being added, relative to the other options.

The Givens

  • Oswaldo Arcia (1) – He has the kind of bat that someone is willing to put on a big league bench even if he isn’t ready.
  • Carlos Gutierrez (2) – The former first-rounder had a tough 2011 season, but if healthy, his sinking fastball and ground ball rate make him a given.

Strongly Considered

  • Tom Stuifbergen (3) – Improved velocity, has three pitches, knows how to pitch, comes up big in big situations, incredible in international play, made one start in Rochester after spending the season in Ft. Myers.
  • Angel Morales (4) – missed most of 2011 with an elbow injury. Came back six weeks after arthroscopic elbow surgery. Although the power hasn’t shown as much, no one doubts he has it. Good speed and defense. Works counts. Can he stick on a big league roster? He is younger than Aaron Hicks.
  • Manuel Soliman (5) – Pitched in Beloit in 2011, so the question is whether or not he would be able to remain on a big league roster. He’s only pitched for 3 years. He throws hard. He could be a bullpen arm if he can develop a second pitch. He could be an impact starter if he develops a third pitch.
  • Tyler Robertson (6) – Lefty came on strong as the New Britain closer in the 2nd half of the 2011 season. 15 saves, 10 wins, and pitched well. He was the 3rd round pick out of high school in 2006 (after Parmelee and Benson were taken in the first two rounds). He’s young and left-handed and smart, but the velocity is low.
  • Andrew Albers (7) – Because he was a free agent when the Twins signed him last spring, he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Like Robertson, he doesn’t throw hard, but he is very aggressive on the mound. Already 26 years old, he was my choice as the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year this year when he pitched well in Ft. Myers and New Britain, in the bullpen and making a few starts.

Have to be Considered

  • Cole DeVries (8) – Sometimes last impressions matter, and DeVries was tremendous in the Arizona Fall League.
  • Bruce Pugh (9) – Sometimes last impressions matter, and Pugh falls down to this level from the Strongly considered due to a rough AFL.

Others Who Are Eligible

The Twins took Anthony Slama off of the 40 man roster last month. He could not become a free agent, but he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. If I’m a GM, I absolutely would take Slama with a Rule 5 pick. He’s ready for the big leagues, and he can actually pitch out of a bullpen. I can’t imagine that the Twins would add him back to the 40 man roster after taking him off last month, but maybe the change at GM will give a different thought.

Phil Dumatrait and Brian Dinkelman were also taken off the 40 man roster. Dinkelman elected to become a free agent because he had been outrighted for the second time. He resigned with the Twins on a minor league deal last week. Dumatrait is a veteran and became a free agent, but yesterday, he returned to the Twins on a minor league deal. Both of these guys are eligible.

Others: Jairo Perez, James Beresford, Anderson Hidalgo, Steve Hirschfeld, Edgar Ibarra, Danny Lehmann, Brett Jacobson, Nelvin Fuentes, Jhon Garcia, Evan Bigley, Bobby Lanigan (10), Danny Rams, Mark Dolenc, Chris Cates, Jonathan Goncalves, Josmil Pinto, Spencer Steedley, Michael Tarsi, Jairo Rodriguez, Miguel Munoz, Wang-Wei Lin, Reggie Williams, Pedro Guerra, Rory Rhodes, Shooter Hunt, Nate Hanson, Deibinson Romero, Michael Hollimon, Ray Chang.

What Will Happen?

With the signing of Jamey Carroll, the Twins now have 35 players on their 40 man roster. They could add as many as five players, assuming they don’t sign any other big league free agents before the announcement. I would think that the Twins would prefer to leave one spot open on their 40 man roster which means they would likely add four players from above. (The Twins added four players last year – David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Rene Tosoni) Those players are required to remain on the 40 man roster until after spring training next year. So what happens if the Twins want to sign another free agent, but they are already at 40 on the roster? I think many would agree that there are several of the 35 players currently on the 40 man roster that they could take off without missing too much.

Current 40 Man Roster

Here is the 40 man roster as it sits right now:

  • Pitchers: Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, David Bromberg, Alex Burnett, Scott Diamond, Brian Duensing, Jeff Gray (out of options), Deolis Guerra, Liam Hendriks, Jim Hoey, Francisco Liriano, Matt Maloney (out of options), Jeff Manship, Jose Mijares, Lester Oliveros, Carl Pavano, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, Anthony Swarzak (out of options), Esmerling Vasquez (out of options), Kyle Waldrop.
  • Catchers: Drew Butera, Joe Mauer
  • Infielders: Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Luke Hughes (out of options), Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe (out of options), Danny Valencia.
  • Outfielders: Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Denard Span, Rene Tosoni

Feel free to comment, ask questions and make your predictions.

Friday Night Game Notes, Two Walkoffs

7 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins were on the good side of a blowout on Friday night. Meanwhile, down on the farm, all four affiliates played some close, very exciting games, so be sure to read all of those game stories below.

Let’s start first with the Twins. The Twins had a game last night like they really needed. It was fun to watch a game in which the Twins were the team to jump out to an early lead. With Tim Wakefield taking Daisuke Matsuzaka’s scheduled start, the Twins jumped to an early lead. Trevor Plouffe, batting second in the Twins lineup, hit a long shot over the Green Monster for his first home run, in his first at bat of the season. The Twins scored three more in the second inning. Denard Span drove in two runs with a hit. Later Ben Revere scored on a balk by Wakefield that Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, didn’t necessarily agree with. He was ejected. JD Drew hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second, and Adrian Gonzalez hit one over the Monster to cut the lead to 4-2 after four innings. But in the Top of the 5th, the Twins broke it open. Danny Valencia came up with the bases loaded, and drilled a double off the Monster that scored two runs. Drew Butera hit a hard grounder that the shortstop, Jed Lowrie, booted after being screened on the play by Valencia. All told, the game was now 8-2. Alfredo Aceves then balked in one more run on one of the most obvious balk calls ever. It was as is he started his delivery and forgot where he was and what he was doing.  

Plouffe was 2-4 with a walk, that home run and a stolen base that directly let to a run. Valencia, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer each had two hits.

Scott Baker was tremendous again. He gave up two runs on seven hits in eight innings. Both runs came on solo home runs. He walked just one and struck out eight. He gave up eight runs in 11 innings in his first two starts. He walked six and struck out nine. In his four starts since, he has given up five runs in 28.1 innings. He has walked four and struck out 25 strikeouts. Joe Nathan walked one in a scoreless ninth.

On Saturday, the Twins have a noon start. Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .264 BAA) will face off against Clay Buchholz (2-3, 4.81 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, .311 BAA).

The Twins blew out Boston for their first win at Fenway Park since 2007. Down in the minor leagues, the games were much, much closer!

Minor League Notes

Best wishes to Allan de San Miguel. The Australian catcher found the he has a torn UCL. He is expecting to find out today whether he will have Tommy John surgery or the standard Twins determination to just ‘rest and rehab.’ If it’s a torn UCL, get the surgery done right away and start the rehab right away.

David Bromberg called me last night and we discussed his injury, surgery and rehab. Again, it was about ten days ago that he was pitching his best game of the year when a line drive came back at him. He put up his arm to protect himself and broke his ulna. He could have done the ‘rest and rehab’ thing too, but was told he could be back and pitching sooner if he had surgery. So, earlier this week, he had the surgery and had five screws put into his arm. The surgery went well, and Bromberg is now in Ft. Myers where he will be in a cast the next two weeks. He’ll be on a throwing program and probably make a couple of rehab starts in EST and/or Ft. Myers.

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, Rochester Red Wings  

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayBruce Pugh, Ft. Myers Miracle

Red Wings Ramblings

Friday – Red Wings 7, Gwinnett 5 – Before Thursday’s games, the Red Wings added Ray Chang and Steve Singleton. On Thursday, Chang played hero with a game-winning single. On Friday, it was Singleton’s turn to play hero. Eric Hacker made his first start since returning to the Red Wings. In 4.1 innings, he gave up one run (his first earned run allowed of the season) on four hits. He walked two and struck out three. Jeff Manship gave up two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings. Phil Dumatrait walked one in 1.1 scoreless innings. Anthony Slama gave up two unearned runs in the top of the 9th, to set the table. Steve Holm went 1-1 with three walks and drove in two runs with his single. Ray Chang went 2-4 with a walk and second double. Steve Singleton went 1-3 with a walk on Thursday. He started the Friday game 1-3 as well before he came to bat in the 8th inning. The Red Wings were down by a run and Singleton hit his first AAA home run to tie the game. Unfortunately Gwinnett scored those two unearned runs in the top of the 9th frame, but that just set the table. With two outs and two on, Singleton came to the plate again. This time, he hit a three-run game-winning, walk-off home run.

Kyle Gibson will start for Rochester on Saturday night (6:05 CT) against Gwinnett. Not certain who will start for the Braves. Julio Teheran (one of the top prospects in baseball) was supposed to start, but he was promoted to the Braves to make a spot start for Tim Hudson.   

Rock Cats Report

Friday – Rock Cats 10, Portland 7 – Down 7-3 going into the 8th inning, the Rock Cats scored two in the 8th and five in the 9th to win this game. Dan Osterbrock made his first Rock Cats start, and it didn’t go as well as he would have hoped. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks and two hit bats in 3.1 innings. Brett Jacobson threw 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up a hit, walked two and struck out two. Spencer Steedley got four outs, two of them on strikeouts. Mike Tarsi walked two in a scoreless inning. Cole DeVries came on and pitched another scoreless inning for his seventh save. Michael Holliman went 2-4 with a walk. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with his first two AA doubles. Chris Parmelee came up big. He was 3-5 with his third home run and four RBI. He had a two-run homer in the 8th, and he drove in another run with a single in the ninth. Evan Bigley went 2-5 with his seventh double. Bigley, Dan Rohlfing and Yangervis Solarte each had doubles in that five-run ninth inning.

Deolis Guerra and his 8.31 ERA will take the mound for the Rock Cats at noon on Saturday.

Miracle Matters

Friday – Miracle 4, Jupiter 3 (10) – Down 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Ramon Santana singled in Anderson Hidalgo with the tying run. Fast-forward to the bottom of the 10th. Hidalgo singled and advanced to 2B on wild pitch. Ramon Santana came to the plate again and singled in Hidalgo with the game-winning run. Hidalgo is now hitting .338 after he was 3-4 with a walk in this game. James Beresford is hitting .347 after going 2-5. Jhonathan Goncalves went 1-2 with two walks. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with two walks. Ramon Santana went 2-5, but I think it’s fair to say that his two hits were both fairly important. Andrew Albers started and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in four innings. Matt Tone then threw three shutout innings. Bruce Pugh gets the win after throwing three shutout innings, including four strikeouts.

On Saturday at 5:05 CT, Tom Stuifbergen will take the mound for the Miracle against Jupiter.

Snappers Bites

Friday – Snappers 3, Wisconsin 4 – Manuel Soliman started this game and gave up two runs on five hits. In five innings, he walked two and struck out seven. Michael Tonkin was charged with an unearned run in his two innings. Clint Dempster came in and gave up an unearned run on a walk and recorded just one out. Matt Hauser got the final five outs, three of them on strikeouts. The Snappers were without Danny Ortiz for this game (although he did pinch hit late in the game), so it should come as no surprise that they managed just six hits. Michael Gonzales drove in two runs, both on sacrifice flies. Lance Ray was 1-2 with a walk. Jamaal Hawkins hit his third double.

The Snappers travel to Cedar Rapids for a three game series. BJ Hermsen will take the mound to start for the team in the 5:35 game. You will recall that Hermsen is from a city about an hour from Cedar Rapids. Last year, he made a start in Cedar Rapids and took a no-hitter into the 9th inning.   

Roster Projection: Ft. Myers Miracle

31 Mar

also avaialble at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

It may have been easier to project these rosters if I would have done them a week ago. By waiting until now, I am getting reports of which players are going where, so my projections continue to be updated. I can’t verify, but I have been told that Brian Dozier will start the season at New Britain. I hadn’t included him yesterday, and now I won’t include him today, which is why I needed to write about it. Not only does that confuse my Ft. Myers projection, but now consider the infield options in New Britain. Between the three positions, Deibinson Romero, Estarlin de Los Santos, Brian Dozier, Steve Singleton, Ray Chang and Chris Cates, not to mention Toby Gardenhire. I continue to hear about some minor injuries that either mean a season will be started on the Disabled List or at a lower level to work back.

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

Catchers: Danny Rams (40 man – No) – Dan Rohlfing (40 man – No) 

Danny Rams made a strong impression on the Twins this spring. After two years in Beloit, he will move up to the Miracle. He continues to be a work in progress behind the plate, but he does continue to improve. He will also get time at DH and at 1B. Rohlfing skipped Beloit last year and held his own until a couple of freak injuries cost him much of the second half to his season. There was some talk that he would go to Beloit to start the season so he could get even more playing time. Also, don’t forget that Chris Herrmann was a non-roster invitee to big league spring training as a catcher and he will get plenty of time behind the plate.  

Infielders: 1B – Nate Hanson (40 man – No), 2B – Nick Romero (40 man – No), 3B – Anderson Hidalgo (40 man – No), SS – James Beresford (40 man – No), Utility – Paul Kelly (40 man – No),

Nate Hanson had a very good 2010 season with the Miracle. However, assuming Chris Parmelee returns to New Britain (as he will), he won’t be platooned, so Hanson will likely return to Ft. Myers. Anderson Hidalgo missed time last year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he drops back to Beloit, but I will put him here. Nick Romero, James Beresford and Paul Kelly will be the three players to man the middle infield spots, and Romero and Kelly can also play 3B while Beresford is a solid 2B.  

Outfielders: LF – Chris Herrmann (40 man – No), CF – Aaron Hicks (40 man – No), RF – Lance Ray (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Jonathan Goncalves (40 man – No), 1B/OF/DH – Steven Liddle (40 man – No), DL – Angel Morales (40 man – No)

Angel Morales is fighting some elbow soreness and will likely start the season on the Disabled List. He told me last night that it is feeling better, so it should not cost him too much time. Aaron Hicks tweeted the other day that he will play for the Miracle this season which likely surprises no one. Chris Herrmann was called the best defensive left fielder in the Florida State League, but he will also get time behind the plate. Steve Liddle will get time in left field, first base and DH. Jonathan Goncalves will likely return to the Miracle outfield where he did a nice job last year, especially defensively. Finally, at least while Morales is out, Ray will get a lot of playing time with the Miracle. One person told me that Ray is the team’s best pure hitter right now.  

Starting Pitchers: RHP Kane Holbrooks (40 man – No), RHP Tom Stuifbergen (40 man – No), RHP Alex Wimmers (40 man – No), Miguel Munoz (40 man – No), Brad Stillings (40 man – No)

Holbrooks is scheduled to make the Opening Day start for the Miracle. He was terrific at Beloit, in the bullpen the first half of last year, and did a very good job for the Miracle as a starter. He ended the season with one start in New Britain. Alex Wimmers signed late and impressed in 15 innings with the Miracle in August. It will be interesting to see if he stays with the Miracle through the season’s first half. Stuifbergen and his changeup have people in Ft. Myers talking. He is a smart, young pitcher with very good stuff who just needs to stay healthy. Brad Stillings has a terrific changeup and has pitched in the bullpen and rotation in his two seasons with the organization. Miguel Munoz throws hard, but sometimes he thinks too much on the mound. He does have really good stuff though.  

Bullpen: RHP Bruce Pugh (40 man – No), RHP Shooter Hunt (40 man – No), RHP Jhon Garcia (40 man – No), LHP Blake Martin (40 man – No), RHP Brad Tippett (40 man – No), RHP Edgar Ibarra (40 man – No), LHP Tony Davis (40 man – No), LHP Nelvin Fuentes (40 man – No)

Bruce Pugh ended last season with a couple of starts in New Britain. He has been experiencing some back problems this spring, so the hard thrower will return to the Miracle and work out of the bullpen to start the season. It was surprising to hear that, after spending the 2nd half of 2010 in New Britain, Tony Davis returns to the Miracle. Hopefully he will find his control. Speaking of, Shooter Hunt returns to the Miracle in hopes of improving up his 2010 season. Brad Tippett has been a terrific pitcher for the Twins, whatever role he finds himself in, but last year was a wasted year thanks to some arm injuries. He is throwing well this spring though. Jhon Garcia actually got better and better as the season went along, and e pitched quite well in the Miracle bullpen at the end of 2010. Edgar Ibarra impressed me in a start I watched last year in Beloit. He has four pitches and is left-handed and throws hard. He and lefty Nelvin Fuentes will really make it difficult for left-handed hitters.  

Overall: Hicks is obviously the biggest name on this roster, but he is not alone. Alex Wimmers and Tom Stuifbergen are exciting pitchers. Angel Morales has tremendous upside. Danny Rams, Anderson Hidalgo, James Beresford and Miguel Munoz are all solid prospects who will try to improve in their jump to the Miracle. And, if Twins fans are looking for someone to cheer loudly for this year in the Twins farm system, look no further than Paul Kelly. Pat Dean will start the season in Extended Spring with some shoulder discomfort, but he could move up quickly to the Miracle. Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle will also be starting at EST, but could be moved up to the Miracle, if not first in Beloit.

Later today, I will post my roster projection for the Low-A Beloit Snappers.

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

——————————————————–

  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST TONIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin 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

available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

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

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

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

#25 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – New Britain

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

#24 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester

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

#23 – Billy Bullock – RHP – New Britain

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

#22 – Pat Dean – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Minnesota

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

#20 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain

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

#19 – Daniel Ortiz – OF – Elizabethton

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

#18 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit

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

#17 – Max Kepler – OF – GCL Twins

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

#16 – Eddie Rosario – OF – GCL Twins

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

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

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

#14 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester

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

#13 – Manuel Soliman – RHP – Elizabethton

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

#12 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – New Britain

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

#11 – David Bromberg – RHP – Rochester

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

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

Preliminary Twins Top 30 Prospects

8 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –

Happy Monday! Monday marks Day 3 of a three day weekend, so today’s blog will be shorter, and yet, hopefully it will create a ton of discussion. With the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook now available, my attention is turning quickly to my third annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. If you’re interested in the 2009 version or the 2010 version, they are still available! In fact, if you would like to buy a copy of the 2009 version, I have about ten of them at home, ready to send out. If you’re interested, e-mail me for details.

Anyway, one of the big parts of SethSpeaks.net has been a Top 50 Prospect List. Last year, I came out with my top 50, and then did a ton of research for the book, and in the book, my top 30 looks a little bit different. When I write the book, I do find it fun to make a projected Top 30 prospect list to see what I think based on following box scores daily, reading some reports on players and general knowledge. Then as you would hope, I learn a ton more about each player while researching and writing the book, so it shouldn’t look identical.

So today, I am going to share with you my current Top 30 Twins Prospect list. Please remember that it is a preliminary list, but what I would love would be for you to post your thoughts in the Comments section. Who is ranked too high? Too low? Why? And of course, I would love for you to post your top 10 list as well.

SethSpeaks.net Twins Preliminary Top 30 Prospects

  1. 1.      Kyle Gibson
  2. 2.      Aaron Hicks
  3. 3.      Miguel Sano
  4. 4.      Joe Benson
  5. 5.      Alex Wimmers
  6. 6.      Angel Morales
  7. 7.      Ben Revere
  8. 8.      David Bromberg
  9. 9.      Oswaldo Arcia

10.  Liam Hendriks

11.  Adrian Salcedo

12.  Chris Parmelee

13.  Eddie Rosario

14.  Max Kepler

15.  Manuel Soliman

16.  Danny Ortiz

17.  BJ Hermsen

18.  Trevor Plouffe

19.  Niko Goodrum

20.  Carlos Gutierrez

21.  Martire Garcia

22.  Pat Dean

23.  Rene Tosoni

24.  Billy Bullock

25.  Tom Stuifbergen

26.  Bruce Pugh

27.  Miguel Munoz

28.  Steve Singleton

29.  Danny Rams

30.  Michael Tonkin

General Thoughts:

  • The #1 spot is still up in the air for me. Do you take the guy who could be a very good #2 starter as early as the middle of next season, or do you want the guy in Low A ball with no fewer than six great tools, several of which have not developed into skills yet. Or, do you take the 17 year old Dominican infielder for whom the sky is the limit?
  • Ben Revere is a tough one for me too. The guy can flat out hit singles. He’s incredibly fast. He is improving defensively in CF, but he has no arm. He has shown know extra base power at all, but his short, compact, strong swing tells me that he should be able to hit a lot of doubles and triples, and how many of his singles can be turned into doubles thanks to a stolen base?
  • And while we’re talking about outfielders, we know that Joe Benson put up serious power numbers in 2010, but how do we evaluate the monster Appy League season of Oswaldo Arcia and try to determine what it means going forward? How about the impressive return to the field for Danny Ortiz after missing all of 2009 with a knee injury? What about the 2010 debut in the GCL for OF Eddie Rosario? And, the guy that gets forgotten way too often is Angel Morales, who despite a lack of home runs, showed steady improvement in areas he needed to.
  • I don’t rank relief pitchers terribly high traditionally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the importance of a bullpen to a team. I have two relievers here in the top 30 that I believe can be very good for the Twins. But that isn’t to take anything away from Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Dakota Watts or other relief pitchers.
  • Rene Tosoni is one that should probably be ranked higher. He was right around nine or ten last year at this time in my rankings. He returned to AA New Britain and was putting up similar offensive numbers despite playing with a bad shoulder that finally had to be operated on. He’ll be 24 through most of the 2010 season, and he has a chance to be very good.
  • It is also always interesting to see how I end up ranking upside versus likelihood of contributing to the Twins. For instance, if Max Kepler meets his potential, he could be a perennial All-Star. David Bromberg’s big-league upside is likely a #4 starter. But I believe that Bromberg will soon make the big leagues and get that opportunity  after holding his own for a couple of months in Rochester. Meanwhile, Kepler has to be promoted six times to reach the big leagues.

So, what do you think? Help me choose. Give me any stats or notes that you may have to help me make the right choices. Finally, feel free to post your Top 10 Twins Prospects as well. You can e-mail me if you would like,, or you can leave Comments here.

Moving Day

30 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Before we get started, I want to let people in the Twin Cities know that I will be on Fox 9’s Primetime show tonight at about 10:15 for a few minutes to discuss the Twins and the trade deadline. If you have a chance to watch it, please let me know what you think. If anyone can send it to me, or youtube it, cool!

Wilson Ramos is packing and moving today. So is Joe Testa. Matt Capps is moving, and I am moving. The two Twins minor leaguers were traded late on Thursday night for the Nationals All Star closer. Me? After three years of living in the Twin Cities, I am packing up and moving back up to Warroad today and throughout this weekend. (in other words, I don’t know if I will be able to post any updates here, but I will be on Twitter a lot, so as I hear anything, I’ll post some quick thoughts there. So, follow me at www.Twitter.com/SethTweets.  

But to the important stuff, the Twins acquired a bullpen arm, but at what cost? I have to be honest, my thoughts on the deal have kind of gone back and forth in the last couple of hours since the deal was made official. When I first read the reports that Wilson Ramos had been pulled from the Rochester Red Wings lineup and there was speculation that the Twins were close on Capps, I didn’t think that the Twins would give up that much.

When I heard that the deal was official, and complete, I was in awe, shocked that the Twins would give up their most expendable trade prospect for a reliever that, frankly, isn’t any better than current closer Jon Rauch.

I know I’m not a good blogger in that I tend to look at everything from various angles, players, front office, fans and more. So, as I was driving home, my mind was all over the place on why this trade might make sense from the Twins perspective. Over the last few hours, I have had several conversations with people who have asked, “why does this move make sense for the Twins?” I have had to come up with answers, but in the end, my general opinion of the trade does not change.

So, why is this trade good for the Twins?

To get an established All-Star reliever for a minor leaguer makes the 2010 Twins bullpen and roster stronger. Specifically, he will be replacing Jon Rauch as the team’s closer and has been a little bit better than Rauch in 2010. So, the 2010 roster is better. Many Twins fans, and even players such as Torii Hunter and Johan Santana frequently complained and wondered aloud when this “future” would come, when would the future be now/ From that perspective, the Twins did make themselves a better team in 2010 by this move. This is that kind of move where they are giving up part of the future to help win now.

Secondly, he is just 26 years old. Most of these prospect-for-veteran deals involve someone in his 30s, or even on his last wind. Capps is Young and theoretically has room for improvement.

Following the 2010 season, Rauch, Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain will become free agents. Capps still has one more year of arbitration remaining, so he will be around in 2011 as well. This provides some additional insurance for the Twins bullpen next year, specifically if Joe Nathan is unable to pitch right away.

Finally, there are a lot of similarities between Jon Rauch and Matt Capps. Rauch is a solid bullpen arm, so adding another solid bullpen arm is a good thing. Capps is slightly better than Rauch, but that’s not a ringing endorsement. 

So, why is this trade questionable for the Twins?

For this, I will start with the same answer I gave for my final reason this is a good trade; there are a lot of similarities between Capps and Rauch. 

  IP Hits BB K3 HR Sv/Opp WHIP ERA BAA
Capps 46.0 51 9 38 5 26/30 1.30 2.84 .279
Rauch 38.1 43 9 27 3 21/25 1.36 3.05 .283

Most of these numbers and rates are very similar with a slight edge going to Capps. So Capps is an improvement over Rauch, but how much?

Yes, he will be under Twins control for 2011, but after making $3.5 million in 2010, he could make upwards of $6-7 million in 2011. That is one thing if Capps is the Twins closer, but if Joe Nathan does come back, do we really want a Rauch-esque 8th inning guy making that kind of money? This likely means that the Twins will not keep at least two (and possibly three) of the current bullpen of Guerrier/Rauch/Crain.

As decent as Capps has been in 2010, he was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates after a 2009 season in which he had an ERA of 5.80 and a WHIP of 1.66. With 45 innings pitched this year, he is less than ten innings from exceeding his number of innings pitched each of the last two years. That is probably not a concern, but it is worth noting.

Capps is quite hittable, but he has struck out more than Rauch does. It allows Rauch to move back to the 8th inning and Crain and Guerrier and Mijares and the rest of the bullpen to fill in starting earlier in the game. But Capps will keep ninth innings as nerve-racking as Rauch did. Rauch will make us equally nervous in the 8th inning. Guerrier has been having us nervous for awhile. So, the bullpen has more decent options, but I don’t know that I will have a lot more confidence in it.

But trading Ramos?

Listen, I fully understand that Ramos was expendable. With Joe Mauer signed for most of the next decade, Ramos was not necessary, even if I have illustrated a way that they could co-exist on the same time. Despite his struggles in Rochester (hitting about .240), he remains a Top 5 prospect. He is a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. We believe that he can hit for average and that he has tremendous power potential. In spring training, Gardy and nearly all of the Twins players wanted Ramos to be on the team’s Opening Day roster. Ramos was hitting some of the longest, most impressive home runs. And yet, Ramos has never posted an OPS of .800 in the minor leagues. Of course, I believe that is due to development of that power and that the still-just-22 year old will develop a lot of power. He doesn’t walk and have particularly good plate discipline, something that could make reaching that potential less likely.

But he is a very good prospect, to be sure. We know that the Twins and Mariners did have a deal in the works for Cliff Lee that centered around Ramos. Some teams seem to think highly of Ramos. So, it makes it hard to believe that a future good defense/good offense catcher is only worth one of the worst closers in baseball. We are not talking about Joakim Soria here. Again, this is not a knock on Capps as much as just being incredibly surprised or disappointed that the Twins used their top trade chip and didn’t get more.

As I’ve alluded to a couple of times, the difference between Matt Capps and Jon Rauch is not very large. Last August, the Twins acquired Rauch for Kevin Mulvey, a pitcher who began the season last year as a bottom-of-the-Top-10 Twins prospect. By the time that he was dealt in August, he was probably not even a Top 20 prospect of the team. Two months ago, a Twins fan could have made an argument that Ramos was the Twins #1 prospect (I wouldn’t have, but it could have been made). Even with his struggles, he was still easily a Twins Top 5 prospect. It is just my opinion that the Twins could have received much more for such a prospect.   

The Nationals also receive left-handed reliever Joe Testa in the deal. It has been a tough year for Testa. After dominating at Beloit and Ft. Myers in 2009, he began 2010 in AA New Britain. He struggled with control and eventually was sent back to Ft. Myers. This is a great opportunity for him, and he is excited about the opportunity.

SUMMARY

Matt Capps makes the 2010 Minnesota Twins a little bit better. How much better? I don’t think he is a difference-maker, by any means. I think Wilson Ramos is a very good prospect and that he was expendable for the Twins. I just think they could have received something more for him. But maybe they really couldn’t and this was the best they could actually get for him. If that is true, I personally think they should have kept him. The Nationals signed Capps to a one year deal after he was non-tendered by the Pirates in the offseason and were able to turn him into a great young catching prospect who could be a key contributor to their club for the next decade.

If you have any thoughts on the trade and its affect on the Twins, feel free to leave them here. If there are other deals around baseball over the weekend, please feel free to discuss them here as well. I will likely not have internet access until Monday up north.

Here is a quick glance at what happened on Thursday in the Twins minor league system:

Red Wings Report   

Jacque Jones had two hits including his 20th double and drove in four runs, but it wasn’t enough in the Red Wings 13-6 loss to Gwinnett. David Bromberg started and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. Brad Hennessey then gave up three runs and got just one out. Tim Lahey got the final two outs of the 6th inning but not before he gave up two more runs. Jose Lugo got one out, but he gave up five more runs. Pat Neshek got the last two outs of the seventh inning. Then Rob Delaney pitched a scoreless inning during which he struck out two (which means that he has struck out eight of the last nine batters that he has faced).

New Britain Notes

A three run lead going into the ninth inning was not enough and New Britain lost 8-7 to Bowie. Bobby Lanigan started and gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings. Cole DeVries then got four outs without allowing a run. Carlos Gutierrez went the next 1.2 innings without giving up a run. But he started the ninth inning and gave up four runs in the ninth. He left the game with the based loaded, and Chris Province came in and gave up two hits and a walk to blow the save and give Gutierrez the loss. Chris Parmelee remains white hot. He was 3-4 with his 17th double. Joe Benson had two hits including his 16th AA home run (and his 20th overall). Steve Singleton was 2-4 with his third triple and three RBI. Ben Revere was 2-5. Erik Lis was 2-4 with his seventh AA homer and three RBI.

Miracle Matters

 Bruce Pugh is back! The righty recorded his fifth win of the year (in the Miracle’s 3-2 win) with nine innings of two-run ball. He gave up just two hits, walked none and struck out eight. He left after nine innings in a 2-2 game. But Chris Hermann drove in a run on a single in the 10th, and Dakota Watts pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for the save. Brian Dozier and Nick Romero each went 3-5. Romero added his 13th double. Angel Morales hit his second triple.

Snappers Snippets

Beloit had a nice, easy 13-1 win over Burlington. Danny Rams was 3-5 with his 19th double and his 11th home run. Derek McCallum was 2-5 with his 11th double. Lance Ray was 2-4. Edgar Ibarra picks up the win. He gave up just one run on four hits in seven innings. The lefty walked one and struck out six. Nelvin Fuentes struck out five in two scoreless innings.

E-Twins Talkers

Elizabethton beat Johnson City 12-2. Oswaldo Arcia went 2-5 with his 11th home run, one of three home runs for the E-Twins. Daniel Santana hit his 6th double and second home run in five at bats. Brian Burke was 3-5 with his seventh double, first triple and fourth home run. Nate Roberts was 4-5 with his third double and first triple. Jamaal Hawkins and Andy Leer were each 2-4. Martire Garcia improved to 5-0 with 5.1 strong innings. He gave up a run on five hits and two walks. He struck out ten. Michael Tonkin came in and gave up a run on two hits in 2.2 innings. He did not allow a walk and struck out six. Logan Darnell pitched a scoreless ninth.

GCL Twins Topics

The GCL Twins won 7-2 over the Rays. Justin Parker gave up one run on six hits and a walk in five innings. Steve Hirschfeld struck out two in a perfect inning in his second rehab game. Matt Schuld gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Nick Alloway struck out two in a one-hit inning. Matt Parker was 2-3 with a walk and a double. JaDamion Williams went 2-4 with his second double. Rory Rhodes went 2-5.

Any thoughts on the trade, the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.