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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!

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Friday Notes

6 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Good morning! I just wanted to post a few quick notes on an early Friday morning. I fell asleep early last night (not a bad thing!) and got up early this morning, so here are a few notes.

  • First of all, congratulations to Brian Duensing and his wife on the birth of their first child yesterday, a daughter.
  • I was quite surprised last night to read that the Twins decided to release minor leaguers RHP Cesar Ciurcina, RHP Todd Van Steensel, and RHP Pedro Guerra.
    • Ciurcina was a guy who was terrific in the DSL and GCL and pretty bad last year in Elizabethton.
    • I’m a little surprised by the Van Steensel decision. He didn’t have a great 2011 at Elizabethton, but at times, he pitched well. The strange thing, according to Jeremy Nygaard, is that Baseball America posted the releases at 6 p.m. last night central time. At 8 p.m. central time, Van Steensel, who is in Australia, tweeted that he just learned that the Twins released him. Strange timing. (Be sure to continue following Van Steensel’s Clubhouse Chronicles blog)
    • I am very surprised by the decision to release Pedro Guerra. He began each of the past two seasons at Elizabethton and advanced to Beloit where he pitched well.
  • Read also that the Orioles signed former Twins minor league catcher, Australian Allan de San Miguel.  
  • Happy Birthday to Anthony Slama today! Also, congratulations to Slama and his girlfriend on their recent engagement. Slama’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Collin Balester was traded earlier this offseason to the Detroit Tigers. (This is Page 6 kind of stuff, huh?)
  • MLB is conducting its Rookie Career Development Program this week. According to Jonathan Mayo, the Twins sent Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Rene Tosoni to the conference.
  • Phil Mackey wrote an article on the Twins payroll that I find myself completely agreeing with. Most Twins fans probably don’t.
  • Former Twins Kevin Slowey and R.A. Dickey began their trek to reach the peak of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The two are doing it for a charity that rescues girls from enslavement in the sex trade and fights human trafficking.
  • Those in the Beloit area will want to consider attending the 8th Annual Snappers Hot Stove Banquet on January 19th. Guests will include Twins GM Terry Ryan, Senior Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz, and Twins outfielder Ben Revere. MLB Umpire Marty Foster will also be speaking at the event. For more details on the event and to see how to secure your tickets, click here.
  • The Twinkie Town 2012 Top 50 vote is up to Round 24. Be sure to get your votes in. The voting is somewhat different than mine, and that’s a good thing because no prospect lists that go as deep as 50 should be exactly the same! Great discussion in the comments too!
  • I always have to encourage people to follow me on Twitter, or at least bookmark my Twitter Feed page. Why? Because I tweet quite a bit, and often I don’t wind up blogging all of the information that gets tweeted. I retweet a lot of other people’s blog entries and articles for people to read. One such article was Roger’s Minor League Report from last Saturday. He had a sit-down with Minnesotan, former Gophers and Twins 2011 draft pick AJ Pettersen. AJ is one of the really good people, and Roger wrote about their discussion.
  •  By the way, my plan is to be at Twins Fest on January 27 and 28. I’ve enjoyed attending the event for several year and now enjoy meeting up with other bloggers and fans. It’s also fun to chat with the players and the minor leaguers. If you’re heading down to the Metrodome (and it is great that the Twins are back there for Twins Fest this year after the roof collapse a year ago), let me know!
  • One thing that I would love to eventually attend, and won’t be able to this year, is the 2012 Diamond Awards. This year, it is on Thursday, January 26th, at Target Field. It’s a great even that provides dollars for the University of Minnesota’s innovative research and patient care in ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.
  • Check out Parker’s blog on A team building exercise.
  • Quick Update on the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – I also wanted to let people know that I hope to have the book available in the next three weeks. My goal is always to have it available so that people can bring it to Twins Fest and get it signed by players. It is definitely coming together, and I’m nearly to the point of doing the final editing and production. I hope to have more information for you next week, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
  • There are a ton of great Twins blogs, and instead of me doing a Link blog today, I’ll encourage you to check out the NoDak Twins Fan’s Friday Links-N-Thinks and Aaron Gleeman’s Link-O-Rama.

That’s it for today! Feel free to leave comments or more links/topics in the Comments section.

Twins Infield Situation

5 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The locker room in Ft. Myers will be full when spring training begins in February, and there will be a lot of infielders. Of course, that doesn’t meant that there aren’t still a lot of question marks. Here’s a look at the Twins infield positions as they stand now:

  • First Base – Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit, Luke Hughes, Joe Mauer, Aaron Bates, Chris Parmelee, Steve Pearce
  • Second Base – Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jamey Carroll, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, Michael Hollimon
  • Third Base – Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Sean Burroughs, Michael Hollimon, Ray Chang
  • Shortstop – Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Ray Chang

First Base

If Justin Morneau is right and healthy and able to play 150 games, he is an MVP candidate. Therein lies the issue. What can be expected from Justin Morneau in 2012? And, unfortunately, the answer at this time is that we don’t know. It’s not a question of effort, as I often hear. His long-term well-being is far more important than its effects on the Twins. But if he can be back, the Twins have a chance. Joe Mauer showed last year that he can handle the position, if needed, and to keep him in the lineup more. Ryan Doumit can also play the position. Did you know that Aaron Bates hit .316 last year in Rochester with an On-Base Percentage over .400? He can play multiple positions too. He played in the big leagues for the Red Sox in 2009 after being their 3rd round pick in 2006. We saw Chris Parmelee in September and what we saw tells us that if needed, he can contribute. Steve Pearce is nice depth as well and has long been a big hitter in AAA.

Second Base

Alexi Casilla goes into the season as the starter at 2B, but which Casilla will show up, and will he be able to stay healthy for a full season? Luke Hughes was solid at second base and provides some power as a starter or off the bench. Tsuyoshi Nishioka will likely be in a utility role and spend time at both middle infield positions. Jamey Carroll may end up at second base at some point. I think we can assume that Brian Dozier will be plenty of time at second base in the minor leagues and could be ready at some point in 2012. Pedro FLorimon, Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang also provide depth.

Third Base

Danny Valencia remains the starting third baseman. The numbers from 2011 didn’t match his rookie season of 2010, but if he continues to hit line drives like he did in 2011, the hits will fall in. Luke Hughes can spend some time there as well. Knowing how Ron Gardenhire works, I would not be at all surprised if we hear him talking about Sean Burroughs as competition for Valencia. That would, of course, be crazy, but Burroughs has definitely hit at the AAA level and can be a decent bench option for the Twins at some point this season. Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang provide depth. And Deibinson Romero had a solid season in AA and remains in the system.

Shortstop

Jamey Carroll isn’t young, and may not have a ton of range, but he will make all the plays that he gets to and he is an on-base machine who will fit nicely into the #2 spot in the lineup as well. Nishioka and Alexi Casilla can give him a day off occasionally. As we know, Brian Dozier is waiting in the wings. Will he start the season in New Britain or with Rochester? We shall see. Pedro Florimon is a flashy defender who debuted last September with the Orioles. I believe that we would have seen Ray Chang with the Twins at some point last year if not for his broken fibula.

Free Agents

The one free agent that is intriguing is Derrek Lee. He’d be a nice right-handed bat who could play 1B and also DH. Of course, he would likely cost more than the Twins are willing to spend.

Other infield free agents include: Wilson Betemit, Brooks Conrad, Craig Counsell, Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, Ronny Cedeno, Alex Cora, Adam Everett, Aaron Miles, Will Rhymes, Omar Vizquel, Jack Wilson, Russell Branyan, Jorge Cantu, Carlos Guillen, Brad Hawpe, Dan Johnson, Casey Kotchman and Xavier Nady.

Frankly, none of those names are all that intriguing. Some were good several years ago. Some are solid utility guys. The Twins have a lot of question marks, but none of these options would do anything toward helping the Twins compete in 2012. The Twins chose to invest in Nishioka, enough to give him a second chance after a season that quickly came to a halt just six games into the season. He had a lot to overcome, and maybe in a less stressful role, we can see what he is really capable (good or bad!). The Twins have solid, unspectacular starters, and Morneau is a difference-maker if only he can be healthy. There is depth at Rochester and on the bench. And, Brian Dozier is probably pretty close to big-league ready.

What would you do? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.

Twins Top Moments of 2011

27 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

Blyleven to the Hall of Fame

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

20 Year Anniversary of the 1991 World Series

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

No-Hitters

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

Major League Debuts

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

The Killebrew Tribute

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

Nathan Sets Twins Saves Mark

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

Thome Hits 600th Home Run

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

Draft Picks Sign

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

Award Winners

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

Terry Ryan Reclaims the GM Role

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

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

TwinsCentric Notes

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!!

Early Observations

22 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hendriks, Parmelee, Benson Debut

7 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Tuesday night, the Twins lost to the White Sox 3-0. For me, it was as excited as I have been to watch a Twins game in a long time! It was great to watch the debuts of Liam Hendriks, Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee. It came one day after reliever Kyle Waldrop made his debut.

Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. Hendriks was impressive in his start on Tuesday night. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings. He showed a good fastball, good control, good changeup, and a very good slow curveball. Joe Benson walked in his first plate appearance before going 0-3 in his other at bats. Chris Parmelee had two hits off of Jake Peavy in the game.

Last spring, I released my third Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It think it’s fair to say that due to all of the players who have made their way to the Twins this season, the prospect handbook is a must-have for Twins fans. You can order a book here. As a little incentive, here is what I wrote about those four players who have made their debuts with the Twins in the last couple of games. These are their player profiles (plus Brian Dinkelman’s), but since Benson was the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year last year, I also have an interview with him in the book. Also, Josh Johnson wrote a great article on Chris Parmelee called “In the Right Direction.” Josh wrote the profiles for Parmelee and Waldrop that you will see below.

And, while you’re reading this, be sure to check out last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I was joined by New Britain Rock Cats outfielder and Minnesota native Mark Dolenc. We talked about his career, the Rock Cats season, minor league life, and some of the prospects that we are starting to see with the Twins.

Joe Benson – OF– (3/5/88)

Acquired: 2nd round draft pick in 2006 from HS in Illinois

2010 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats

2010 Stats: .259/.343/.538, 31-2B, 8-3B, 27 HR, 62 RBI, 19 SB

There has never been any question about the tools of Joe Benson. In 2010, Benson broke out with a season in which the skills started to catch up to the tools. It didn’t start out well for him though. He started the season in Double-A New Britain and hit just .169 in April. Despite hitting .283/.411/.609 in 56 May plate appearances, he was striking out 32% of the time, and on May 17, he was demoted to Ft. Myers. He spent a month with the Miracle, working with Jim Dwyer. In 21 games, he hit .294/.375/.588 with 11 double and four home runs and was promoted to New Britain on June 15. In 70 June plate appearances, he hit .292/.343/.646 with five home runs. He followed that up with seven home runs in July and six more in his final 100 plate appearances. His strikeout rate dropped from 30% in July to 24% in August to 18% in September. In total, he led the organization with 27 home runs and drove in 81 runs. Along with the power, Benson improved his speed in 2010. He stole 19 bases, but base stealing remains an area for improvement as he was thrown out nine times too. Offensively, his contract rate will be the area where he will need to find some improvement. He has power. He has speed. He has an ability to draw walks. Defensively, he has the speed to play in centerfield. He has plenty of arm strength to play right field. Just as important, he is a natural in the outfield and gets great reads.

Following the season, Benson was invited to play for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He was also named the recipient of the Sherry Robertson Award as the Twins top minor league hitter. Finally, in November, the Twins added him to the 40 man roster. Benson is a very hard worker and one of the more competitive ball players that you will find.

Brian Dinkelman – OF – (11/10/83)

Acquired: 8th round pick in 2006 from McKendree College

2010 Team(s): Rochester Red Wings

2010 Stats: .265/.336/.379, 32-2B, 2-3B, 8 HR, 54 RBI

Dinkelman is one of the best hitters to ever play in the NAIA level of collegiate baseball. Drafted as a second baseman, he moved to the outfield for the second half of the 2009 season, when Steve Singleton moved up to New Britain. Dinkelman spent the entire 2010 season in Rochester, his first year with the Red Wings. He played 64 games in left field, 46 games in right field, and 25 games at second base. Defensively, he makes the plays that he gets to, but he has very little range. With the bat, Dinkelman takes good, quality at bats. He has a good eye and generally makes contact, although his 99 strikeouts in 2010 were a career high by a long ways. Although he is not as athletic as many players, he is respected for his style of play. He is the definition of a “gamer”, diving all over the outfield, and playing with maximum effort. Expect to see Dinkelman back in Rochester in 2011, and to put up much better numbers if he is given regular playing time. If he can play well, he could get a cup of coffee with the Twins.

Liam Hendriks – RHP – (2/10/89)

Acquired: Signed as F/A in Feb. 2007 from Australia

2010 Team(s): Beloit Snappers, Ft. Myers

2010 Stats: 8-4, 1.74 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 108.2 IP, 12 BB, 105 K

Hendriks was well on his way to being the Twins minor league pitcher of the year until an emergency appendectomy abruptly cost him six weeks out of his season. He had just been named as a participant in the Futures Game in Anaheim, representing the Twins and Australia for the World team. He has been representing Australia in international competition for several years including in the World Baseball Classic and the World Cup.

Hendriks began the 2010 season where he ended the 2009 season, in Beloit with the Snappers. After making 11 starts in 2009, he needed just six more starts in 2010 to earn his promotion to Ft. Myers. In those six starts, he got little run support and went 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP. In 34 innings, he gave up just 16 hits, walked four and struck out 39. When he got to Ft. Myers, he barely missed a step. In 13 starts, he went 6-3 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. In 74.2 innings, he gave up 63 hits, walked eight and struck out 66. When he came back from the appendectomy, he had a 2.2 innings outing, then he ended the season by throwing four shutout innings against St. Lucie and five shutout innings against Palm Beach. In those two outings, he gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out 12.

Hendriks clearly is a control pitcher, but he does so without being hittable, and he does a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (2 home runs in 108.2 innings). There are few pitchers that are smarter than Hendriks on the mound. He just knows how to pitch. He has pinpoint control and does a great job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone. He has control of four quality pitches and throws each of them at different speeds. He has a four-seam fastball the can touch 93 mph. He also has a two-seam fastball that has very good movement. He has started using his changeup more. At times, he throws too many strikes. He is a great athlete and fields his position well. He is also incredibly competitive. If he is able to stay healthy, he has a chance to be a very good Major League pitcher.

Chris Parmelee – OF/1B – (2/24/88)

Acquired: 1st round pick in 2006 from HS in California

2010 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats

2010 Stats: .285/.356/.401, 27-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 56 RBI

Classified as an all or nothing hitter, Parmelee has put up big power numbers throughout his five years in the organization. Coming into 2010, Parmelee hit 53 home runs in 376 Minor League games. Unfortunately, big power numbers meant a lot of strikeouts. In that same period, Parmelee amassed 385 strikeouts. Because of these numbers, Parmelee began drawing comparisons to White Sox slugger Adam Dunn.

Following back-to-back seasons in Beloit, Parmelee made the jump to Ft. Myers in 2009. He hit .258/.359/.441 with 44 extra-base hits (including 16 home runs) in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Florida State League. Parmelee also had a career high 65 walks in the 422 at-bats he had that season. Parmelee arrived in New Britain in 2010 and hit just .186/.241/.333 in his first 102 at-bats. His poor numbers resulted in him getting demoted back to Ft. Myers. What could have been a bad situation for a very talented player may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He played in just 22 games with the Miracle, but his .338/.440/.463 hitting line was good enough for him to be promoted back to New Britain. From that point forward, Parmelee went on a tear. From June 10 to the end of the season, the left-hander hit .304/.373/.408 with 24 extra-base hits and a 37/41 BB/K ratio. Parmelee carried his momentum into the off-season and hit .339/.405/.477 in 29 in the Arizona Fall League. The Twins needed to make a decision on whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster, but his improvements and production made it an easy on.

Although he’s been known for his power, Parmelee’s on-base skills are also very impressive. He has a .352 on-base percentage throughout his career, thanks in part to his 247 career walks. After hitting so many home runs in his first four seasons, his eight 2010 home runs made people alarmed that he was experiencing a “power outage.” But expect his power numbers to climb back up in 2011. Since being drafted, the 6-foot-1, 220 pound Parmelee has split time between first base and the corner outfield positions. Although he is not a great defender, Parmelee has remained steady at each position he plays. His arm is both strong and accurate, which is why he does spend a good amount of time in the outfield. He continues to work hard on his defense and hopes to improve in that area in 2011. (JJ)

For more on Parmelee, see the “In the Right Direction” article by Josh Johnson later in this book.

Kyle Waldrop – RHP – (10/27/85)

Acquired: 1st round pick in 2004 from HS in Tennessee

2010 Team(s): Rochester Red Wings

2010 Stats: 5-3, 2 Saves, 2.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 87.2 IP, 20 BB, 60 K

Waldrop was the Twins’ third first-round draft choice in 2004 out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He wrapped up his high school career with a 14-0 record and 0.15 ERA in 14 starts for Farragut High School. He began his career as a starting pitcher, amassing 25 wins over his first three seasons, but after shoulder surgery whipped out his entire 2008 season, Waldrop has returned to the mound in a reliever role.

In 2009, he had a 2.08 ERA in 51 appearances between Ft. Myers and New Britain. The Twins felt comfortable enough in his progress to move him up to Rochester for the start of the 2010 season. He got off to a great start, hoisting a 1.01 ERA over the first three months. He then struggled in July and August, but still finished the year with a 2.57 ERA. He was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League, but he struggled in eight of his 10 appearances for the Peoria Saguaros. Waldrop has a nice 6-foot-4, 205 pound frame, but he doesn’t throw particularly hard. He has a sinking fastball that sits in the high-80’s, low-90’s and accompanies that with a slider and change-up. He is a hard worker and a good fielder who should get his first crack at the Major Leagues in 2011 if all goes well. (JJ)

Again, you can pick up the 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook here. I will soon begin work on the 2012 Handbook. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the Comments section.