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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

At this point, we have reviewed the infielders and catchers throughout the Twins organization. Today, we will jump to the outfield. This information, of course, could be completely altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where all of these players will wind up. In reality, there will be changes. Several players will be released. Some will be placed a level higher (or lower) than I would guess. This is just giving readers a reminder of who remains in the Twins system from last year, and who are the new players brought in this year. That said, I try to think about where these guys will

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Ben Revere (LF), Denard Span (CF), Josh Willingham (RF), Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit

A lot of people seem to wonder why Willingham would be the right fielder. To me, that’s an easy choice. At Target Field, left field, centerfield and the gaps are pretty huge. I want Span and Revere covering the ground. Willingham isn’t a good left fielder. As far as playing the strange bounces off of the right field wall, anyone can have difficulties and will have to adjust to hit. Willingham will walk a lot and hit a bunch of home runs. I was chatting with Jamie Ogden at Twins Fest, and the comment that we agreed upon was the he will have the ability to take advantage of a pitcher’s mistakes and hit them a long way. It’s nice to have a guy like that in the middle of the lineup. As for Revere, I think it’s much better for him to play 3B. Simply, the throw from LF to 3B is much shorter than it is from CF. Also, the throw to home from CF is longer. Span doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but he can throw. Span, when healthy, is a good on-base guy with speed and some extra base pop. Revere should be much improved, at least in terms of OBP, in 2012. He said that his goal is to steal 100 bases on 2012. He dropped that number to 80, but he plans on going whenever he gets a chance. Even though he didn’t play great in 2011, he made the Twins fun to watch and he made things happen. Imagine what he can make happen when he actually gets on base at a good clip! Trevor Plouffe should get plenty of time in left field, but he could also DH. He can hit lefties, and it will be interesting to see how he does in left field now that he doesn’t have the infielder’s glove. Ryan Doumit could get some time in right field as well.

Rochester Red Wings

Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Matt Carson (RF), Rene Tosoni, Mark Dolenc, Dustin Martin

Ramirez and Carson were minor league free agents brought in by the Twins. Carson is a power hitter. Ramirez is an all-around player who was a top prospect with the Tigers just a couple of years ago. Joe Benson has spent the past two years at New Britain, so he is ready for the challenges of AAA. He could move up to the Twins as necessary throughout the year, at least after the June Super 2 timeline. The same can be said of Rene Tosoni who will likely play nearly every day between the three outfield spots as well as DHing.  Benson could be a star if everything comes together. He could be a 30/30 guy with plus-defense in time. Tosoni is a guy who I think could fill a role as a platoon player and bench bat and occasional DH. He showed at times the power the he possesses. Dolenc has spent the past two years in New Britain and will likely need to advance to Rochester in 2012. He has averaged 439 plate appearances over the past four years and had a career-high 467 plate appearances in 2011. He has terrific tools, can play all three positions, gets on base, has very good speed, and plays really good defense with a strong arm. Dustin Martin put together his best year at Rochester (in his third season there).

New Britain Rock Cats

Angel Morales (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Evan Bigley (RF), Steve Liddle, Michael Hollimon

Aaron Hicks had a frustrating and inconsistent season in 2011 in Ft. Myers. He was tremendous in June and then struggled for a couple of months. He definitely represented himself well in the Arizona Fall League. His defense and arm are certainly ready for advancement. It is a big year for Hicks. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season, but he will have to continue to show improvement on the field, in his approach at the plate and show consistency. What he does in 2012 may determine whether he remains a switch-hitter as well. Evan Bigley spent all of 2011 in New Britain and showed that he could be a candidate for a midseason promotion. Angel Morales is younger than Hicks (something many seem to forget). 2011 was a lost year for him. He missed three months with his elbow injury. He had arthroscopic surgery and came back at the end of the season. He has good speed and a vastly improved approach at the plate. Although he hasn’t hit as many home runs the last couple of seasons, no one seems to be worried about his power. Liddle really struggled last season in Ft. Myers, and he had shoulder surgery following the year. The Vanderbilt product is the nephew of Twins 3B coach Steve Liddle. Hollimon can play all around the infield and can also play around the outfield. He could be the guy to go back and forth between New Britain and Rochester regardless of where the need is.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Lance Ray (LF), Nate Roberts (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Wang-Wei Lin, Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing

I was surprised when the Twins sent Arcia to Ft. Myers following rehab of his elbow. I would be surprised if he jumps up to New Britain to start the season, but not completely. If he has one thing to work on, it is cutting down on the strikeouts. I think he can end the year with the Rock Cats. Lance Ray can hit, even if his 2011 Beloit numbers didn’t strongly indicate that. He has a very fluid swing and good power. Nate Roberts was the 5th round pick a couple of years ago. He missed a lot of time on the DL with a knee injury. He is an on-base machine, taking walks and always willing to get hit. Wang-Wei Lin has steadily improved over his time, and after two years in Beloit, he will need to play in Ft. Myers. He has a good, line drive swing but the Taiwan native still has plenty to improve. Dan Rohlfing impressed behind the plate and will go to big league spring training in that role, but he can also play the outfield. At Instructs, Rams was moved to the outfield, although he will continue to catch some. The goal is to let him really focus on his swing and his bat.  

Beloit Snappers

Danny Ortiz (LF), JD Williams (CF), Tyler Koelling (RF), Drew Leachman, Matej Hejma, Jhonatan Goncalves

Ortiz was my choice for player of the month last April in Beloit, but it was a struggle through most of his season. He could start with the Snappers and spend a couple of months there (he already played in the Midwest League All-Star game last year). Tyler Koelling and Drew Leachman are two college outfielders who should advance to Beloit. JD Williams had an incredible season in Elizabethton in 2011, yet it went almost unnoticed thanks to Rosario and Sano. Baseball America just called him the fastest player in the Twins farm system, and he has the ability to bunt for hits from both sides of the plate. He played RF usually for the E-Twins because Eddie Rosario was in center. Matej Hejma is from the Czech Republic. Although he didn’t play a lot, or that well, in Elizabethton, he has to move up to Beloit because he has already played three seasons in the short season leagues. Goncalves is an interesting case. He has played most of the past two seasons in Ft. Myers, but he ended last year in Beloit which is probably where he should have been all along.  

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Max Kepler (CF), Candido Pimentel, Romy Jimenez, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez

Like Niko Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will begin the season at Extended Spring Training. Like Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will not return to Elizabethton but will instead advance to Beloit before the short season begins. He has so much talent but is still very raw. Pimentel is similar to Otis Nixon, very thin and very fast. Romy Jimenez (formerly known as Romy Trinidad) missed most of last year with an injury in his first year in the States. Kelvin Mention did miss all of 2011 with injury. Kelvin Ortiz came to the States and really struggled. He should go back to the GCL. And Dereck Rodriguez (the son of Ivan Rodriguez) will certainly spend another season in the GCL.  

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Oswaldo Arcia, 2.) Aaron Hicks, 3.) Joe Benson, 4.) Angel Morales, 5.) Max Kepler, 6.) JD Williams, 7.) Lance Ray, 8.) Danny Ortiz

SUMMARY

Barring injury, the Twins starting outfield should be solid despite the losses of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel (And to a lesser extent, Jason Repko). Benson and Tosoni are fairly close to being ready to contribute on a regular basis. Beyond that, there is a lot of talent but a lot of question marks. Can Aaron Hicks take that next step? Will Angel Morales return in 2012 with some added power? How quickly will the Twins advance Oswaldo Arcia? The ceilings of JD Williams and Max Kepler are very high, and there are so college draft picks (Roberts, Ray, etc.) who could advance fairly quickly. Of course, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano also remain in the future outfield situation as well which provide even more depth over time. Outfield is a position of strength for the Twins system. 2012 will be a big year for many of them! 

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

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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!

Wimmers Tosses Miracle No-Hitter

3 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It has been a rough year for the Twins, but it has also been a rough year for the Twins minor league system. However, once in a while, there is a story that just feels right. Alex Wimmers throwing a seven-inning no-hitter to give the Ft. Myers Miracle a 1-0 win in Game 2 of a double-header is one of those stories.

The Twins used their first-round pick in 2010 to take the two-time reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, Alex Wimmers, out of Ohio State. The right-hander waited until early August to sign, but he got a little bit of pro experience pitching in the Florida State League for the Ft. Myers Miracle. In four starts, he went 15.2 innings. He gave up just one run on six hits, he walked five and struck out 23. He was 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA. Most scouts said that Wimmers was the pitcher from the 2010 draft closest to the big leagues due to his control, his change up and his mental game.

This spring, he reported to camp and had a hamstring injury early. It affected his camp, but it wasn’t long before he developed an inability to throw strikes. Late in spring training, I heard that he had developed the yips. Then he was named the 5th starter for the Miracle, which surprised a lot of people. Until he made his first start, and it didn’t go so well. He faced six batters, and walked all six of them. Most of the pitches were nowhere near the plate. It was a complete surprise. The Twins wisely immediately shut him down, got him healthy, and then had him work with a sports psychologist. That first start came April 11. He did not return to the Miracle until the middle of July.

Since then, he has had hit moments. Good and bad. He has still walked some, almost one every other inning, but he also has 33 strikeouts in 36.2 innings and opponents are hitting just .194 against him. In other words, he is getting there.

The Ft. Myers Miracle won the first game of today’s double header today against Jupiter. Edgar Ibarra went seven shutout innings and gave up just five hits and one walk. Angel Morales hit his third home run and drove in two runs. Danny Rams hit his 7th home run and drove in four runs in the 7-0 win.

Wimmers got one run of support in Game 2. Aaron Hicks’ fifth triple drove in Nick Romero for the game’s only run. Wimmers did the rest. The right-hander gave up no runs on no hits. He walked two and struck out five.

I thought that Wimmers might head to the Arizona Fall League to make up some innings. This might be the perfect way for Wimmers to go into an offseason. This should help his confidence going into the offseason, looking to a 2012 season in which he could make a push for a big league spot as soon as late in the season.

Congratulations to Alex Wimmers, and his catcher tonight, Danny Rams, on a great game!

Any thoughts?

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.

Struggles for Aaron Hicks

8 Apr

When Ft. Myers Miracle outfielder Aaron Hicks and catcher Danny Rams went to breakfast this morning at IHOP in Jupiter, Florida, it was not with the intention of making news. Simply, they wanted a nice, hearty breakfast, maybe some pancakes, the morning after the Miracles’ season-opening game against the Jupiter Hammerheads. Both had earned the IHOP meal. Hicks led off for the Miracle and went 1-3 with two walks and a triple off the wall. He scored one of the team’s three runs in a 3-2 win. Rams scored the first and second runs for the Miracle. The catcher went 2-3 with a walk and caught a tremendous ball game.  They were joined for breakfast by Bruce Pugh, who struck out three in the ninth for his first save since 2008 when he had two for the GCL Twins in his pro debut, and 2010 first-round pick Alex Wimmers.

Things started out well this morning. Rams ordered the Smokehouse Combo which is two smoked sausages with two eggs, hashbrowns and two buttermilk pancakes. Hicks got some pancakes with whip cream and strawberries.

Now, having myself experienced the IHOP breakfast, I know that it often involves usage of many napkins. Things can get messy quickly.

According to Rams (who was holding back a big  chuckle), “I had a clean and great (breakfast). Hicks, on the other hand, struggled and had a big fumble that pretty much ruined his breakfast.”

Rams decided to tweet the situation, “Hicks dropped a fork filled with whip cream on his shirt and jeans.”

Hicks told me, “I’m going to miss the strawberries more (than the whip cream).”

When I asked him, “So… what is the process for recovery? I mean, how long will it take you to be able to move past this traumatic moment?”

Hicks took a deep breath and said, “It’s going to take awhile, Seth.”

At least as long as it takes to get back to the hotel and change clothes… Unless of course, this news would get out… like, in a blog or something…

To Aaron Hicks, “I wish you well, my friend. I wish you well.”

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.

Should Twins Fans Worry about Aaron Hicks?

18 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It is always strange to me when I hear Twins fans and some minor league baseball fans talking about how disappointing Aaron Hicks has been in Beloit. I think part of it is because many, myself included, thought he would end the 2010 season in Ft. Myers. I realize everyone from fans to players to front office personnel are eagerly awaiting his breakout year when his incredible tools become skills and he puts up some terrific numbers. But I wanted to take a look at how his numbers at Beloit compare to other Twins players and their numbers in the Midwest League.

Let’s start by reviewing the numbers that Aaron Hicks has put up the last two years in Beloit:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Aaron Hicks 19 2009 Beloit .251/.353/.382 (735) 15/3/4/29 40/55
Aaron Hicks 20 2010 Beloit .279/.401/.428 (829) 27/6/8/49 88/112

Here are some current and former Twins players and how they did in the Midwest League (Note – Delmon Young’s A-ball numbers from the Sally League):

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Torii Hunter 18 1994 Ft. Wayne .293/.358/.439 (797) 17/1/10/50 25/80
Michael Cuddyer 19 1998 Ft. Wayne .276/.364/.451 (815) 37/7/12/81 61/107
Justin Morneau 20 2001 Quad Cities .356/.420/.597 (1017) 17/2/12/53 26/38
Joe Mauer 19 2002 Quad Cities .302/.393/.392 (785) 23/1/4/62 61/42
Jason Kubel 20 2002 Quad Cities .321/.380/.521 (901) 26/4/17/69 41/48
Denard Span 20 2004 Quad Cities .267/.363/.308 (671) 4/3/0/14 34/49
Delmon Young 18 2004 Charleston .320/.386/.536 (922) 26/5/25/115 53/120
Alexi Casilla 20 2005 Cedar Rapids .325/.392/.409 (801) 11/3/3/17 29/31

Here are a few notes:

  • Everyone talks about how Torii Hunter didn’t put up great numbers in the Midwest League. Well, he did, and he did it at the age of 18. He was already showing some of that power.
  • Michael Cuddyer put up some incredible minor league numbers all the way up the ladder, and it started as a 19 year old in 1998. Look at all those extra base hits.
  • Justin Morneau didn’t get to the Midwest League until he was 20, and he only spent a half season there because he completely dominated the level.
  • Joe Mauer’s OPS isn’t exciting, but we did get a glimpse of the player he has become too. Many more walks than strikeouts, a few doubles, and a good batting average.
  • How fun would it have been to see Quad Cities play in 2002 with Mauer and Jason Kubel? You can see why so many people back then saw Kubel as a mix between Morneau and Mauer.
  • Denard Span didn’t exactly put up monster numbers, and he did miss quite a bit of time with injury. The take-away from those numbers is that he had a very nice Isolated Discipline already even though he was, like Hicks, very raw at the time.
  • Delmon Young was a beast after being taken with the 1st overall pick in the 2003 draft. Ever wonder why people still think he’ll develop a lot of power, check out those numbers!
  • Alexi Casilla was with the Angels organization, but what he did for Cedar Rapids made him the guy they wanted in a trade of JC Romero the next offseason.
  • I included international players and high school drafted players in this group. Danny Valencia hit .302/.374/.500 (874) with 15 doubles and 11 homers in a half-season with the Snappers, but he was 22 years old after spending three years playing Division I baseball. Matt Tolbert played four years at the University of Mississippi, so the Twins had him skip the Midwest League and go right to Ft. Myers.

Can we take anything away from these numbers? With Hicks, you have to love his Isolated Discipline and On-Base skills from both years. The strikeouts increased some in 2010, but he has shown some extra base power. Delmon Young, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel put up really tremendous numbers in the Midwest League, and that has translated to the big leagues eventually. Cuddyer was an extra base machine as a 19 year old in Beloit, and yet his OPS was lower than Hicks’ was in 2010, as a 20 year old. Joe Mauer has always had a terrific eye, and yet Hicks has produced significantly better IsoD while producing more extra base hits.

Of course, we don’t know what will happen. We know that all players develop differently, but I think that this quick, cursory glance at Hicks’ numbers compared to current big leaguers gives us no reason to believe he won’t continue developing and become a very good big league player.

Let’s also take a look at the Midwest League numbers of some of the other Twins hitting prospects to see how they compare:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Trevor Plouffe 19 2005 Beloit .223/.300/.345 (645) 18/0/13/60 50/78
Chris Parmelee 19 2007 Beloit .239/.313/.414 (727) 23/5/15/70 46/137
Chris Parmelee 20 2008 Beloit .239/.385/.496 (881) 10/3/14/49 52/83
Joe Benson 19 2007 Beloit .255/.347/.368 (715) 18/8/5/38 49/124
Joe Benson 20 2008 Beloit .248/.326/.382 (708) 16/3/4/27 24/73
Ben Revere 20 2008 Beloit .379/.433/.497 (930) 17/10/1/43 27/31
Angel Morales 19 2009 Beloit .266/.329/.455 (784) 22/5/13/62 30/104
Angel Morales 20 2010 Beloit .289/.381/.474 (855) 13/7/4/36 24/65
James Beresford 20 2009 Beloit .289/.342/.313 (655) 11/0/0/38 34/70
James Beresford 21 2010 Beloit .297/.349/.363 (712) 19/5/1/59 34/56
Danny Rams 20 2009 Beloit .229/.308/.429 (737) 14/0/7/23 18/77
Danny Rams 21 2010 Beloit .243/.310/.450 (760) 28/4/16/68 31/145
Anderson Hidalgo 21 2010 Beloit .316/.375/.443 (818) 25/1/3/28 24/50
  • Trevor Plouffe put up those numbers only because he played much better in the 2nd half of the season. Good power numbers, but he could have used another year with the Snappers.
  • Both Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee struggled in their first seasons in the Midwest League. Then both got hurt halfway through their second season with the team. However, in the second year, you can see why people are excited about his patience and power potential.
  • Looking at Revere’s Beloit numbers, what a year he had. Very much batting average based, of course. But if we were to only look at OPS, his is right up there with anyone (except Morneau). And he stole 44 bases that year too.
  • Angel Morales… how/why is he so overlooked in many prospect rankings?
  • James Beresford showed good improvement from 2009 and 2010. Reports are that he has gained some weight this offseason. If he can add any semblance of power to his game, he could jump up prospect rankings quickly!
  • Danny Rams has so much power potential, but he just needs to put the ball in play more. His 77 strikeouts in 2009 came in just 175 at bats. He struck out 145 times in 407 at bats in 2010. Yet, his power numbers still make him intriguing.
  • Anderson Hidalgo may be the least known, or maybe underrated, prospect in the organization. He had another solid year in 2010.

What is the summary? There really isn’t one. There is no science to prospect rankings and we don’t know how things will turn out, but if nothing else, I believe this data shows that Twins fans should continue to be very excited about the future of Aaron Hicks.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments here. Also, for more links to Twins articles and thoughts throughout the weekend, be sure to follow me on Twitter where I like to retweet Twins-related articles and post thoughts frequently. Have a great weekend!