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Organizational Depth Chart – Catchers

22 Jan

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

For the most part, the Twins spring training rosters are pretty well set. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is another reliever brought in, and there could be some more minor league signings. I thought it would be late enough in the offseason to start taking a look at the Twins organizational depth. So, over the next two weeks, I’ll go position by position and name the players throughout the farm system with a few thoughts. In doing so, I’ll be trying to figure out what the Twins minor league rosters will look like.

I’m going to start with the catcher position and work through all of the positions. First and foremost, I need to point out that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be. 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  

Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera

Maybe it’s hopeful optimism, but I’m not worried about Joe Mauer in 2012. 2011 started out with injury, a bad diagnosis made public, and a not-so-subtle hint of confusion surrounding his health, his toughness and how even his teammates and managers didn’t always understand what the situation was either. If Mauer is healthy, he’s one of the best catchers in baseball, offensively and defensively. Ideally, he could again catch 110-120 games and if he does so, we know that he will likely hit .320/.390/.490 or so with 35 or more doubles and potentially a dozen home runs.

Doumit was a tremendous signing early in the offseason. His career numbers in the NL show that he has posted an OPS very similar to Jason Kubel’s. Offensively, I expect the same type of hitter as Kubel. That’s probably a little optimistic. I think Doumit (along with Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes) will be the primary DHs, unless Justin Morneau can’t play 1B and they have him DH. Doumit can also catch 30-40 games a season to give Mauer a day off from behind the plate. He’s not too good back there.

Butera is the opposite. He has no chance offensively, particularly when overexposed as he was last year. Butera is the actual backup catcher, in my mind, since Doumit should be starting every day. As a true backup catcher, he’s fine, plays good defense, does a good job against the running game, and works well with pitchers. When he has to play most days and gets 400 plate appearances, that isn’t the design. In reality, the Twins have a bunch of versatility on their major league roster, so I might prefer to have Butera in Rochester. If Mauer or Doumit is hurt one game, the other could catch the rest of that game, and Butera could be up the next day. Of course, that would assume the Twins utilized the DL well, something they did very poorly the last couple of years.

Rochester Red Wings

Rene Rivera, JR Towles

We saw in 2011 what Rivera could do, and it was pretty much just as bad offensively as Butera. He just swung more crazy and more often. Defensively, he is obviously quite solid.

JR Towles comes over from the Astros where he was once a top prospect in baseball. He never really hit with the Astros, although he never really got much consistent playing time. There may be some hope here for some optimism.

New Britain Rock Cats

Danny Lehmann, Chris Herrmann

Butera, Rivera and Towles are pretty much the same. I may be wrong, but everything I’ve seen, read and heard from players throughout the system, Lehmann is the best of that group. He won’t hit a lot, but no worse than Rivera and Butera did, and his defense is just as good, if not better. I’ve talked to a lot of pitchers in the Twins system the last couple of years and all agree that they love throwing to Lehmann.

Chris Herrmann is the Twins top catching prospect, and it isn’t terribly close. He made a very strong impression in 2011 at Ft. Myers and in New Britain. He didn’t hit for average, but he gets on base a lot. He also hits a lot of doubles with a smooth left-handed swing. He runs very well for a catcher. Part of his value is his versatility. In college, he played mostly in the infield. Early in his Twins career, he played mainly in the outfield and played well there. Pitchers say that his defense behind the plate has improved, and he now throws out a solid percentage of would-be base stealers. He could be a versatile backup player with the Twins by September, and he is also good enough to be the primary backstop for the team as well should they move the $184-million-dollar man to another position at some point.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing, Josmil Pinto

Rams made a good impression last year at big league spring training and was very good in April. At that point, he got hurt and played through it, but his numbers were not what he and organization would have wanted. Defensively, he has a strong arm, but isn’t touted as a great defender. It’s just a gut feeling, but Rams is very talented, and I think once he gets to New Britain, we’ll start seeing some of his power potential turn into some power numbers.

Rohlfing played infield in high school and the Twins moved him to catcher. After awhile, he was moved to the outfield. Last year, he was pushed to New Britain where he held his own as a backup catcher. When he was sent back to Ft. Myers, he was in the lineup most every day, either behind the plate or in the outfield and he played well. He was invited to spring training this year because he has made an impression on the right people.

Josmil Pinto put up huge numbers in E-town a couple of seasons ago, but he really struggled in 2010 in Beloit. He returned to Beloit and did alright before being moved up to Ft. Myers. He has a strong arm, but it’s likely he’s a DH because he does struggle behind the plate.

Beloit Snappers

Andy Leer, Philip Chapman, Matt Koch, Matt Parker, Jairo Rodriguez, Kyle Knudson

This is where you start realizing that not all of these players will remain in the organization beyond spring training. There will likely be some injuries and others also added to the Disabled List for depth.

Andy Leer is from North Dakota and went to college at the University of Mary. He was an infielder with the Snappers in 2011, and at Instructional League, he was moved behind the plate. Philip Chapman and Matt Koch were both drafted in 2011. Chapman hit well, but he was a college guy playing in the GCL. Koch signed late and played in a dozen or so games in Elizabethton. Both are old enough that they should move up to Beloit, but based on numbers, one could stay in Extended Spring Training. Matt Parker was a non-drafted free agent singing a couple of years ago. He’s a defensive guy. Knudson played with Beloit in 2011, but he missed most of the second half of the season with a groin injury. He’s one that they will need to keep because he is solid defensively and has some offensive potential. Jairo Rodriguez is a strong-armed backstop without much offensive upside. 

Elizabethton Twins

Kelly Cross, Michael Quesada

Cross was drafted out of high school in 2010 and signed late. He got into just a couple of games. He really struggled last year with the GCL Twins, but he’s a guy that they’re going to have to push quickly because he’s only got one more season that he can play in the short seasons. 

Quesada was one of the better hitters with the GCL Twins last year and showed good power. Some scouts really like his potential. 

The Twins typically draft a couple of college catchers in the first ten rounds or so, and they go to Elizabethton as well. So, it’s really impossible to predict who will play any position in Elizabethton or the GCL.

TOP THREE PROSPECTS

1.)    Chris Herrmann, 2.) Danny Rams, 3.) Dan Rohlfing

SUMMARY

Joe Mauer is an All Star, an MVP, a Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger winner, and he’s paid like it. A couple more big seasons and he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But, he has to stay healthy. Chris Herrmann is likely a year away from being ready for the big leagues. He is likely the one player in the minor leagues that has the chance to be a starting catcher. There are several terrific defensive catchers whose ceiling is backup catcher, not that that is a bad thing! 

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

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Analyzing the Twins Top 20 Prospects

20 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 is now available through LuLu.com. If you order quickly, you could have it in time for Twins Fest! 22 players that are scheduled to be at Twins Fest are profiled in this book. If you are interested in order, you can Order Here.

In my very-recently released Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, I unveiled my 2012 Twins Top 30 Prospects. I thought it would be fun to analyze the Top 20 prospects to see if any interesting notes, or even trends, emerge. I found a few, but maybe you’ll find even more. A reminder, these are my Top 20 Twins prospects. If you make a prospect list of your own, yours will likely look a little different, but most of the players will be the same with some variance.

Here is my Top Top Twins Prospect List:

Ranking Name How Acquired From (Country/State)
1 Miguel Sano Free Agent Dominican Republic
2 Eddie Rosario Drafted – 3rd Round 2010 Puerto Rico
3 Oswaldo Arcia Free Agent Venezuela
4 Aaron Hicks Drafted – 1st Round 2008 US – California
5 Joe Benson Drafted – 2nd Round 2006 US – Illinois
6 Liam Hendriks Free Agent Australia
7 Kyle Gibson Drafted – 1st Round 2009 US – Missouri
8 Adrian Salcedo Free Agent Dominican Republic
9 Alex Wimmers Drafted – 1st Round 2010 US – Ohio
10 Chris Parmelee Drafted – 1st Round 2006 US – California
11 Brian Dozier Drafted – 8th Round 2009 US – Mississippi
12 Travis Harrison Drafted – supp 1st Round 2011 US – California
13 Tom Stuifbergen Free Agent Netherlands
14 Angel Morales Drafted – 3rd Round 2007 Puerto Rico
15 Chris Herrmann Drafted – 6th Round 2009 US – Texas
16 Manuel Soliman Free Agent Dominican Republic
17 Levi Michael Drafted – 1st Round 2011 US – North Carolina
18 Max Kepler Free Agent Germany
19 Niko Goodrum Drafted – 2nd Round 2010 US – Georgia
20 Hudson Boyd Drafted – supp 1st Round 2011 US – Florida

 Some Notes:

  • Nine of my Top 20 Twins prospects were 1st or 2nd round draft picks. There are two 1st round picks and two supplemental 1st round picks since 2006 that are not on this list. 2007 top pick Ben Revere is no longer a “prospect” since he has spent so much time in the big leagues. Matt Bashore was the Twins supplemental first round pick in 2009 from Indiana. He’s had a couple of arm surgeries and returned to limited action in 2011. Reports indicate that by the end of last season, he had regained most of his velocity and he may have the opportunity to move up prospect lists quickly next season.
  • Following the 2007 season, Torii Hunter chose to sign with the Angels instead of the Twins. Because of that, the Twins received the Angels first round pick in 2008 and the first supplemental first round pick of that draft. With the 27th overall pick, the Twins chose Carlos Gutierrez who does not appear on my Top 20 prospect list, but he is a good relief pitching option who throws really hard with a good sinker but needs to throw more strikes. With the 31st overall pick, the Twins chose a hard-throwing right-hander out of Tulane University names Shooter Hunt who fought Steve Blass Disease since the 2008 season. This past December, he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
  • The Twins have a strong scouting presence all around the world, and that is shown in their top prospect list. Three players are from the Dominican Republic, and there is one player from Venezuela, Australia, the Netherlands and Germany. The Twins also have prospects from Cuba, South Africa, Mexico, Panama, Taiwan and the Czech Republic.
  • Of these top 20 prospects, 13 were drafted by the Twins. Of those, seven are high school hitters. The Twins have had great success drafting hitters out of high school (see Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere).Aside from Revere and Mauer, most of these players took five or six years to make their big league debuts and more importantly make a big impression in the big leagues. Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee are also examples of this. Drafted in 2006, they made their big league debuts in September of 2011. Each will likely start making a bigger impression on the Twins in 2012. That’s why I always find it funny when people are so disappointed that we haven’t seen Aaron Hicks dominate at the upper levels of the minor leagues yet. Or, although he was drafted a year earlier, Angel Morales is younger than Hicks. Niko Goodrum is one of the best athletes in the organization as well and played very well in Elizabethton last year. Travis Harrison was one of the top power hitting prospects from the high school ranks in the 2011 draft.
  • Although not drafted, Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Max Kepler were all signed as 16 year olds and certainly fit into the high-upside young hitter mold!!
  • The other thing that the Twins have done is draft college pitchers in the first rounds of the draft. Just two college-drafted pitchers appear on this list, and each of them has some question marks. Kyle Gibson was the team’s top prospect one year ago, and pitched very well the first two months of 2011. Unfortunately, as we all know, he had to have Tommy John surgery in September and will miss most, if not all, of the 2012 season. Alex Wimmers was the two-time Big 10 Pitcher of the Year at Ohio State. He was a control pitcher that draft experts said was closest to the big leagues. Unfortunately, he had a hamstring injury in spring training last year and it led to some very disturbing control issues. However, he seemed to be a rare example of someone overcoming Steve Blass Disease as he came back late in the season and pitched much better. He ended his season by throwing a 7-inning no-hitter for Ft. Myers. I would expect to see both make starts for the Twins in 2013.
  • The Twins did have three pitchers pitch at three levels in 2011. Reliever Matt Hauser (San Diego State) is my top ranked Twins reliever prospect (#28). Pat Dean (#30) was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2010 from Boston College. Lefty Logan Darnell (#25), the 6th round pick in 2010, was the third. All three pitched briefly with Beloit before spending most of their season in Ft. Myers. Darnell spent the most time in Double-A New Britain. The Twins have a history of being willing to promote college pitchers quickly through the minors. The following players have pitched at three levels in one season with the Twins: Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and Jesse Crain. Matt Garza actually pitched at four levels, including the Twins, in 2006.
  • The Twins hadn’t drafted a high school pitcher in the first round since 2004 when they drafted Kyle Waldrop with the 25th overall pick (Anthony Swarzak was taken in the 2nd round). The Twins used their second supplemental first round pick in 2011 on Hudson Boyd, who not only has shown good control, but he has touched 97 mph on the radar gun. He could move up quickly.
  • Here is a quick look at where these twenty players ended the season playing: Three Did Not Play (2011 draft picks), Four ended the season in Elizabethton, Two in Beloit, Four in Ft. Myers, Two in New Britain, two in Rochester and three with the Twins. You often hear that the Twins prospects are all at the lower levels of the farm system. However, Benson, Parmelee and Hendriks are all top ten prospects who made their big league debuts on September 6. Each figures into the Twins long-term future. Brian Dozier and Chris Herrmann were the high-risers among prospects and both will likely debut with the Twins in 2012 after strong seasons in New Britain and strong showings in the Arizona Fall League.
  • When Baseball America releases its Top 100 Prospects list, Miguel Sano will likely rank in the Top 25-30. It is possible that Rosario, Arcia, Benson and maybe even Gibson will appear in the Top 100 lists.
  • If you listen to Baseball America’s most recent podcast, they discussed their Top 10 rankings for AL Central teams. They clearly had the Royals as the best farm system in the division. They ranked the Twins with the second-best prospects in the division (and middle of the pack overall). They ranked the White Sox and Indians as having the two worst farm systems in all of baseball, with the Tigers very close to the bottom.  

Any other comments on these twenty prospects of the Twins farm system in general? I’ll be happy to answer them in the Comments.  

Here are some other thoughts and links:

 

  • On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins Caravan came to The Shed in Warroad. Ron Gardenhire, Joe Vavra, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins were in attendance, along with TC Bear. TwinsBaseball.com’s Rhett Bollinger was there as well. It was a nice event, and very informal. The Twins contingency seemed to really appreciate and enjoy it. It was great to be up close with the players, talk to them and, as a couple of people told me, see them as regular people. I think we (many fans) forget that at times. I have been to several Twins Caravan events over the past five years. I definitely recommend going if you’ve got one in your area. It’s just a great opportunity to meet players, get autographs if you want, and start getting excited for a new Twins season.
  • Speaking of great events, Twins Fest is next weekend. I just got my tickets in the mail yesterday. I plan to be there on Friday night and Satuurday throughout the day. I don’t get the autographs, but I enjoy talking to people, players and fans alike. SO, if you’ll be there, be sure to say hi!
  • Baseball America will be posting its Top 20 Twins Prospect list on its website today, so be sure to check there this afternoon.

I want to welcome any questions or comments that you might have. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

2nd Preliminary Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects

20 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Hopefully in the very near future, the Twins Prospect Handbook will be available. My goal will be to have it available so that people can bring it to Twins Fest and get it signed by Twins prospects. We shall see. The recent struggles have certainly hurt the timeline, but I’m getting some great help and will try my best. Two months ago, I put together a preliminary Top 50 Prospect list. Since then, I’ve been getting more and more scouting reports, looking a little deeper at numbers and trying to learn as much as I can about each of the Twins prospects. With that, I’ll give you a second preliminary prospect list. There is some serious talent at the top of the list, but there are some players throughout this top 50 and a little beyond that, if things go right for them, you could see in a role with the Twins at some point in the future. Who knows, but definitely feel free to comment and discuss these rankings. Definitely let me know who I missed, who should be higher or lower, etc.

With that, here is my 2nd preliminary Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospect ranking:

  1. Miguel Sano – 3B – Elizabethton Twins
  2. Eddie Rosario – OF – Elizabethton Twins
  3. Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle
  4. Joe Benson – OF – Minnesota Twins
  5. Aaron Hicks – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle
  6. Liam Hendriks – RHP – Minnesota Twins
  7. Kyle Gibson – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
  8. Alex Wimmers – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle
  9. Chris Parmelee – 1B – Minnesota Twins
  10. Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Beloit Snappers
  11. Brian Dozier – SS – New Britain Rock Cats  
  12. Travis Harrison – 3B – Did Not Play
  13. Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
  14. Angel Morales – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle
  15. Chris Herrmann – C – New Britain Rock Cats
  16. Manuel Soliman – RHP – Beloit Snappers  
  17. Levi Michael – SS – Did Not Play
  18. Max Kepler – OF – Elizabethton Twins
  19. Niko Goodrum – SS – Elizabethton Twins
  20. Hudson Boyd – RHP – Did Not Play
  21. BJ Hermsen – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle
  22. Danny Santana – SS – Beloit Snappers
  23. Madison Boer – RHP – Beloit Snappers
  24. Logan Darnell – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  25. David Bromberg – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  26. JD Williams – OF – Elizabethton Twins
  27. Terry Doyle – RHP – White Sox organization, Twins Rule 5 pick
  28. Jairo Perez – 3B – Beloit Snappers
  29. Matt Hauser – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  30. Pat Dean – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  31. Matt Summers – RHP – Elizabethton Twins
  32. Danny Rams – C – Ft. Myers Miracle
  33. Scott Diamond – LHP – Minnesota Twins  
  34. Angel Mata – RHP – GCL Twins
  35. Corey Williams – LHP – Elizabethton Twins  
  36. Danny Ortiz – OF – Beloit Snappers
  37. Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
  38. Nate Roberts – OF – Beloit Snappers
  39. Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit Snappers
  40. Deolis Guerra – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  41. Michael Gonzales – 1B – Beloit Snappers
  42. Lester Oliveros – RHP – Minnesota Twins
  43. Ryan O’Rourke – LHP – Beloit Snappers
  44. Hung-Yi Chen – RHP – GCL Twins
  45. James Beresford – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle
  46. Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  47. Tyler Grimes – IF – Beloit Snappers
  48. Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Ft. Myers Miracle
  49. Tim Shibuya – RHP – Elizabethton Twins
  50. Pedro Guerra – RHP – Beloit Snappers

JUST MISSED – Adam Bryant, Nick Lockwood, Rory Rhodes, Matt Bashore, Evan Bigley, Derek Christensen, Steven Gruver, Kuo-hua Lo.

I’m sure I missed others. Let’s discuss. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments. Final stages of the book development, so help me out!!

Wednesday Game Notes

11 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins lost again on Wednesday afternoon to the Tigers. At least in this game, they showed some life. After falling behind 5-2, they fought back. With a base open in the 7th, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and two outs, the Tigers decided to have lefty Dan Schlereth pitch to Jason Kubel with Morneau on deck. Kubel responded with a 460 foot home run to give the Twins a lead. Gardy went to Jose Mijares to start the 8th, and after recording the first out, he walked a batter. Wisely, Gardy went to Matt Capps who immediately gave up a two-run homer to Jhonny Peralta. The Twins tied the game in the bottom of the 8th but then Capps gave up two more runs in the 9th. Kubel was 2-3 with two walks. Justin Morneau, Danny Valencia and Matt Tolbert each had two hits. It was actually a good baseball game. However, the wrong team one (in my humble, not-at-all biased opinion).

When it rains, it poors. I keep thinking it can’t get any worse, and it keeps getting worse.

Maybe an off day at home is exactly what they need. Maybe Delmon Young will come back on Friday and hit like crazy! Maybe Joe Mauer will take some batting practice and jog around the bases on Thursday and be activated on Friday too. And maybe Cleveland will have to forfeit a few games, and the Royals too!

Maybe, just maybe!

Minor League Notes

Remember when the Twins traded Mark Hamburger, a local kid signed out of a tryout camp because of a big fastball, to the Texas Rangers late in the 2008 season? At the time, Hamburger was about to start a playoff series for the Elizabethton Twins. Guardado was brought on board to be a late-inning lefty. Guardado was terrible. Hamburger has improved and continued to progress through the Rangers farm system. He began this season in Double A, and on Monday night, he was promoted to Triple A Round Rock and one step closer to the big leagues.  

Wednesday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayChris Herrmann, New Britain Rock Cats 

Wednesday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayTyler Robertson, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Wednesday – Red Wings 3, Louisville 7 – Eric Hacker had his first rough start of the season. He gave up five runs on eight hits (2 HR) in 6.2 innings. He walked none and struck out three.  Dusty Hughes gave up a run on two hits in 0.2 innings. He struck one out. Kyle Waldrop gave up one run on three hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Chase Lambin went 2-4 with his fifth double. Brian Dinkelman and Aaron Bates each hit a double.  

Rock Cats Report

Wednesday – Rock Cats 10, Binghamton 8 – It was a big offensive night for the Rock Cats and the pitching found a way to hold on. Chris Herrmann went 4-6 with his third double, first triple and three RBI. Deibinson Romero went 3-5 with his fifth double. Yangervis Solarte went 3-5. Dan Rohlfing and Chris Parmelee each had two hits. Joe Benson hit his fourth home run. Liam Hendriks improved to 3-1. He went five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. He uncharacteristically walked four and struck out two. Santos Arias gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits and two walks in just 1.1 innings. Michael Tarsi gave up two unearned runs on two hits in 0.2 innings. Tyler Robertson recorded his fifth save. He struck out four in two scoreless innings.

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Miracle 1, Dunedin 7 – Edgar Ibarra made the start and gave up five runs on six hits in 4.2 innings. He walked four and struck out four. Ryan Mullins threw 1.1 scoreless innings. Brad Tippett worked three innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out three. The Miracle had just three hits. Josmil Pinto went 2-4 with his third double.    

Snappers Bites

Wednesday – Snappers 2, Kane County 8 – A couple of second inning errors led to six unearned runs, and that was more than enough for Kane County. Manuel Soliman started and gave up eight runs (2 earned) on seven hits and a walk in 3.1 innings. He struck out five. Ryan O’Rourke came in and threw 1.2 shutout frames despite two hits and a walk. Blayne Weller threw two scoreless innings. Jose Gonzalez got the final three outs. Lance Ray went 2-2 with two walks. Tobias Streich went 2-4. Michael Gonzalez hit his sixth home run.   

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

Wednesday Game Notes: Twins Sweep White Sox

5 May

Before we start, I will be on KFAN, The Fan Radio Network and KFAN.com at about 10:20 on the Paul Allen show.

The Twins may be struggling during the early part of this season, and it’s not hard to come up with several reasons why. There are the injuries to several key players. There is a lack of defense. There is a lack of offense. There is a lack of basics. There is the fact that as of now, nine players who started the year in Rochester have had to play for the Twins, ready or not. There are logical reasons to understanding the Twins early struggles. Speaking to the offense, when we see a lineup that includes Casilla, Repko, Butera, Holm, Tolbert, etc., we shouldn’t expect these guys to be hitting higher than they are.

The White Sox struggles likewise are surprising. Their bullpen, assumed to be one of their biggest strengths coming into the season, has been a mess. Their offense is horrible, almost as bad as the Twins. The difference is that the White Sox haven’t had the injuries. The offensive struggles have been from the guys that are their core. In other words, they don’t have guys on the Disabled List that they can look forward to coming back. Their lineup is their lineup.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins topped the White Sox 3-2 to complete a two-game sweep. Nick Blackburn gave up just one run on four hits in 6.2 innings. He walked four batters for the second straight game and struck out just one. Jose Mijares got the final out of the seventh inning. Glen Perkins came in for the 8th inning and gave up an unearned run on a walk and a hit. He got just one out before Ron Gardenhire went to his closer, Matt Capps. Capps got out of the 8th, and although he put a couple of guys on in the 9th, he got the save.

The Twins offense did not exactly return to juggernaut-mode in the series. They scored just four runs in the two-game sweep. Jason Kubel drove in three of the four runs. He hit the home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he drove in the first run of the game with a single in the first inning. He added a sacrifice fly later in the game. Rene Tosoni drove in the third run of the game that proved to be needed in the 3-2 win.

With another day off today, the Twins (11-18) will head to Boston for a four-game series against the Red Sox who are now 14-16. Amazingly, they are just four games out in the AL East.

As you know, Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere were on the bench for the Twins on Wednesday. They were added to the roster when Jim Thome and Jason Repko were put on the Disabled List. I would expect that when the Twins play on Friday night, Plouffe will be starting at shortstop and Revere will be manning the Green Monster.

Following the game on Wednesday afternoon, the Twins announced that backup catcher Steve Holm was being sent down to Rochester. No subsequent move was announced which, of course, made the Twitter world start thinking. The easy answer is that the Twins will promote either Danny Lehmann or Rene Rivera to the big league club. Either would need to be added to the 40 man roster. Because the Red Wings did not play on Wednesday and the Twins don’t play on Thursday. Holm could be playing for the Red Wings on Thursday night, and if he can, there is no reason that the player called up to wait until Friday to go to Boston. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me wonder if there isn’t something else going on. Could the Twins be looking to sign a free agent catcher? Could the Twins be working on finalizing a trade? If so, they would wait until the trade is officially finalized to announce the Holm move. So, again, I assume that it will be either Rene Rivera is 27 years old and hitting .200/250/.333 for the Red Wings. Danny Lehmann impressed in big league camp this spring. He has been the organization’s top minor league catcher the last two years. After going 6-13 (.462) in New Britain, he moved up to Rochester where he has gone 7-25 (.280) with a double and a home run. Of course, I prefer the Twins go with Lehmann, in part, because I prefer when the Twins promote from within. He was the Twins 8th round pick in 2007 out of Rice. He is the defensive equivalent to Drew Butera with a slightly better bat. I believe that Butera is a guy who can hit .180-210 in the big leagues (despite his current .111 batting average). I think that the 25-year-old Lehmann could hit .200-.240 in the big leagues.

As I mentioned on my podcast the other night, this is the time of year when transactions start happening in the minor leagues, and we saw some of that yesterday. Early in the day, the Twins:

  •  promoted C/OF Chris Herrmann from Ft. Myers to New Britain.
  • Josmil Pinto moves from Beloit to Ft. Myers to take his place.
  • Ray Chang was promoted to Rochester on Tuesday night (after the Plouffe promotion), and
  • last night, Steve Singleton got the call that he was also headed to the Red Wings.

Just as a reminder, I post all of this information, and much more, on Twitter immediately after I learn of it. So, if you want this kind of information sooner, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach last night 6-2. Kane Holbrooks picked up his first win. The right-hander gave up two unearned runs on six hits. In six innings, he walked one and struck out three. Blake Martin recorded the three-inning save. He didn’t give up any runs, hits or walks and struck out just one. Danny Rams went 3-4. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with his fourth double. Aaron Hicks was 1-2 with two walks and a double.

Beloit beat Wisconsin 4-1. Adrian Salcedo went seven innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. Clint Dempster struck out five in two one-hit innings to record the save. Daniel Ortiz went 2-4 with his ninth and tenth doubles.

Since the Twins don’t play today, you can follow the Twins minor league teams throughout most of the day. Here are the times (all central) and starters:

  • Rochester hosts Gwinnett at 6:05. Anthony Swarzak will pitch against Braves prospect Mike Minor.
  • New Britain hosts a double-header against Richmond starting at 9:35 this morning. Steve Hirschfeld, my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month, will start the first game. Liam Hendriks will start Game 2.
  • Ft. Myers will host Palm Beach in their “Cinco de Miracle” game. Andrew Albers threw 4.2 scoreless innings in relief in his last appearance, and now he will get a start.
  • Beloit will host Wisconsin again today, starting at 11:00. Andrei Lobanov will start for the Snappers.

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

Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month

1 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

There have already been a lot of stories in the Twins minor league system this spring. The Twins have called down to Rochester seven times already. There have been weather postponements frequently with the Red Wings, the New Britain Rock Cats and the Beloit Snappers. There were guys who got off to a fast start who have slowed. There are guys who got off to slow starts that are doing much better.

For instance, last year’s minor league hitter of the year, Joe Benson, was hitting .385 with 11 extra base hits one week ago. Since, he is 2-23 and has no hits in his last 16 at bats. He is still an honorable mention for player of the month, but his numbers are now down to .295/.365/.500 with eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 12 RBI. He is also 4-4 in steal attempts.

On the flip-side, early in the week, Ben Revere’s batting average had fallen to .203. Some were asking how long until he would be demoted to Double-A. He then had nine hits in his next 11 at bats and is now over .280.

So, we have to be careful with April numbers, but is fun to recognize some guys who are off to a very good start. Today, I will post my top 5 choices for Twins minor league hitter of the month. Tomorrow, I will point out the top 5 Twins starting pitchers for April as well as highlight a couple of relievers that deserve recognition.

Before getting to the Top 5, here are some guys who just missed the admittedly subjective list:

  • Rochester – Trevor Plouffe (23-82) .261/.333/.551 with three doubles, one triple, five home runs and 12 RBI.
  • Rochester – Rene Tosoni (20-70) .286/.329/.500 with six doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI.
  • New Britain – Joe Benson (23-78) .295/.360/.500 with eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 12 RBI.
  • New Britain – Steve Singleton (25-82) .305/.321/.512 with 11 doubles, two homers and six RBI.

Number 5 – Ft. Myers – Danny Rams – Catcher (23-68) .338/.392/.500 with four doubles, two triples, a home run and ten RBI.

Rams came to big league campe for the second straight year as a non-roster invitee. He has spent the past two years at Beloit where he has always shown tremendous power, but making contact has been a huge issue. He made a very good impression in big league camp and advanced to Hi-A Ft. Myers to start this season. He does have 21 strikeouts in about 75 plate appearances, so that is something he will need to continue to work on, but it is an improvement. The Florida native is much improved behind the plate as well.

Number 4 – Ft. Myers – Chris Herrmann – C/OF (27-81) .333/.417/.457 with five doubles, a triple, a home run and 16 RBI.

Herrmann was also invited to Twins big league camp as a non-roster invite. The Twins drafted him as a catcher, but he has been primarily used in the outfield where he is tremendous with the glove and has a strong arm. He is still mainly playing in the outfield this year, but he catches when Rams plays 1B or DH. He has already had a 12 game hitting streak this season. He has a tremendous eye at the plate. Herrmann was a 6th round pick in 2009 out of The U, and he was one of few hitting prospects that the Twins have had skip the Midwest League. He struggled last year in Ft. Myers, but he has a fluid swing, a great eye, and I’m sure it’s great to see him get off to such a strong start.

Number 3 – New Britain – Yangervis Solarte – IF/OF (28-78) .359/.367/.577 with nine doubles, a triple, two home runs and 12 RBI.

The last couple of years, there is little question that Solarte can hit. He has hit for average and shown glimpses of some power. He was Ft. Myers’ best hitter while with them in 2010, and he did well when he moved up to New Britain. However, it wasn’t long before he was hurt and went back to Ft. Myers when he was healthy. Injuries have been one problem, and as you can see from his numbers above, walking is also a problem. Solarte definitely likes to swing the bat. The lack of walks makes his value dependent upon his batting average, but for April, he had a great month.

Number 2 – Beloit – Oswaldo Arcia – DH (25-71) .352/.420/.704 with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 18 RBI.

Lots of Twins prospects had good to really good months, but the choice for player of the month really came down to two Beloit Snappers. Last year, Arcia was the Appalachian League MVP when he hit .375 with 21 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs for Elizabethton. He will turn 20 next week, but he has had no problem adjusting to the Midwest League, even with its crazy weather. In fact, his strikeout rate and walk rates have improved, and he continues to show power. When I saw him in spring training, he would put on a display in the batting cage, and then come out and grab hold of his elbow. Clearly something wasn’t right, and he has only DHd this month. He is experiencing soreness in his throwing shoulder and elbow. He is a tremendous prospect because he is also a very good defensive outfielder with a good arm and enough speed to play CF if needed. Arcia is a big, strong kid with immense talent.

The April Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is…

Beloit Snappers OF Daniel Ortiz (26-69) .377/.429/.768 with seven doubles, a triple, six home runs and 15 RBI.

The Twins drafted Ortiz in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. He had a solid debut, but a knee injury cost him the entire 2009 season. So, last year, he returned to Extended Spring Training and played for Elizabethton. As expected, he started slowly, but his eight home runs in August are why I dubbed him the Twins Breakout Player of the Year for 2011. So far, so good. While Arcia is 6-0 and 210, Ortiz is maybe 5-11 and listed at just 166 pounds. Reports in previous years told me that the ball just jumped off his bats. Teammates were amazed at his power because of how small he is. I must admit that when I saw him in Ft. Myers this spring, I was in awe. I had big hopes but no one could have convinced me that the Puerto Rico native would put up these kinds of numbers in April in Beloit! He is also a very good outfielder who can play all three positions.

Again, there have been some real positives in the Twins minor league system in April, but what Daniel Ortiz and Oswaldo Arcia did was incredible. Again, I’ll discuss the pitchers of the month of April tomorrow, so be sure to check back.

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.

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.

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  • 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.