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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

6 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.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve pointed out the organizational depth charts for the Twins hitters. We’ve looked at catchers, 3B, 1B, Middle Infielders and Outfielders. Today, I’ll take a look at the starting pitchers. Now, especially as I move to the lower levels, I won’t pretend to know which players will move to the bullpen. Often, due to innings limits, some ‘starters’ will begin the season in the bullpen. Others will begin the season as starters and get moved to the bullpen later due to innings. Frankly, most of the pitchers in the lowest levels have been starters their whole lives and some will be given at least some opportunity. As we saw with Carlos Gutierrez, even guys destined for the bullpen can be given an opportunity to start to work on pitches and gain arm strength.  

That’s OK, though, because the biggest purpose of this was to provide the organization’s depth. I need to reiterate that these are just my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Carl Pavano (RHP), Francisco Liriano (LHP), Scott Baker (RHP), Jason Marquis (RHP), Nick Blackburn (RHP)

Gardy has announced Pavano as his Opening Day starter, an obvious choice based on last season. He’s been solid in his 2 ½ seasons with the Twins, most important he has provided a ton of innings despite an alarmingly low strikeout rate. There’s no question that Francisco Liriano has the best stuff of anyone on the staff, but if he can’t find control of his fastball, it will be another frustrating season. It is a contract season for Liriano, so the goal has to be for him to have a strong season. In 2011, Scott Baker was easily the Twins top starting pitcher. He was pitching the best he had in his career, until elbow problems curtailed his season. Nick Blackburn averaged 200 innings pitched his first two seasons while posting solid ERAs. He’s been pretty bad ever since getting the long-term contract. Unfortunately, the contract has given him many opportunities and likely will continue to do so. He misses very few bats, so we can just hope that a lot of baseballs get hit right at a defender. Many Twins fans are down on the Jason Marquis signing, and although I’m not a bit fan of the contract, he has actually had a pretty solid big league career.

Rochester Red Wings

Liam Hendriks (RHP), Scott Diamond (LHP), Aaron Thompson (LHP), Jeff Manship (RHP), Deinys Suarez (RHP)

We saw Hendriks and Diamond late in the 2011 season. Hendriks was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year and likely needs another half-season. Diamond had his moments, but overall 2011 was the first year in his career that he really struggled. He says he has made some adjustments, so we’ll see how it goes. Manship came up with the Twins and his first major league victory came on the final weekend of the 2009 season, when the Twins needed to sweep the Royals. He was supposed to be in the Twins bullpen last season, but he was hurt the entire season. He likely will pitch in the Twins bullpen, but they may have him start in Rochester first. Aaron Thompson is intriguing, at least. He will turn 25 years old later this month. He debuted with the Pirates last season, but in 7.2 innings, he gave up 13 hits, walked six and struck out just one. He has just six AAA games under his belt, and his AA career numbers are 15-37 with a 5.03 ERA in 96 games (80 starts). Deinys Suarez signed with the Twins last spring. The Cuban defector split time between New Britain and Rochester, not pitching particularly well either place.

New Britain Rock Cats

David Bromberg (RHP), Logan Darnell (LHP), Tom Stuifbergen (RHP), Marty Popham (RHP), Dan Osterbrock (LHP), Bobby Lanigan (RHP)

Bromberg’s 2011 season was unfortunately a lost season. He began the season in Twins spring training, but he went back to New Britain, had a line drive break his arm, spent a lot of time rehabbing, came back too quickly, shut it down, worked hard and then found out the Twins had removed him from the 40 man roster. However, he will be just 24 years old throughout the 2012 season, so don’t forget about him. Logan Darnell was a 2010 draft pick who started last year in Beloit and got all the way to New Britain. Stuifbergen had a solid season in Ft. Myers, had a terrific one-start showing in Rochester, and then was the pitcher of the year in the World Cup tournament that his Netherlands team won. He was then knighted in his homeland. Sir Tom Stuifbergen should spent this season with the Rock Cats. Dan Osterbrock missed most of last season with shoulder problems which was unfortunate because he was coming off of a very good season in 2010. Bobby Lanigan was in the Rock Cats rotation all throughout the 2011 season. Some think his stuff (specifically his slider) will play very well out of the bullpen, and we may see some of that this year too. Marty Popham was selected by the Twins in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. He has pitched in Hi-A, AA and AAA each of the past two seasons. He should spend this season in AA.

Ft. Myers Miracle

BJ Hermsen (RHP), Pat Dean (LHP), Adrian Salcedo (RHP), Alex Wimmers (RHP), Manuel Soliman (RHP), Ryan O’Rourke (LHP), AJ Achter (RHP)

This is certainly an intriguing group of pitching prospects. If not for Liam Hendriks’ terrific 2011 season, my starting pitcher of the year choice would have been BJ Hermsen who pitched very well in Beloit and followed it up with a solid performance in Ft. Myers (minus a rough final start). Alex Wimmers had a rough 2011 season too in Ft. Myers, but it ended with the seven inning no hitter. Assuming he has his control issues under control, he could move quickly. Adrian Salcedo has long been a top ten Twins prospect, and he’ll move up to the Miracle. Manuel Soliman was the innings-eater for the Snappers last year despite only having pitched now for three years. He is an intriguing prospect, but for him to remain a starter, he will need to improve his secondary pitches. Pat Dean is definitely a solid prospect  but like so many others, he missed a lot of time with injury in 2011. His season started about six weeks late, but he still pitched for three teams (including a late-season spot start in New Britain). Ryan O’Rourke is a tough, competitive left-hander with a nasty slider. When I saw him pitch in Beloit last summer, my comment was that I didn’t think big league left-handed hitters could hit that slider. He was successful as a starter, but he could also become a very good relief pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses. The game I saw AJ Achter start last year, he was tremendous. He touches 90-91 with the fastball, but he has a terrific changeup and a curveball that had good bite.

Beloit Snappers

Tim Shibuya (RHP), Madison Boer (RHP), Matt Summers (LHP), Matt Bashore (LHP), Tim Atherton (RHP), Matt Tomshaw (LHP), Derek Christensen (RHP) 

Tim Shibuya was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year and threw seven innings of a no-hitter for the E-Twins. A smart pitcher with a full mix of pitches, he should adapt well to the Midwest League. Madison Boer and Matt Summers both began their pro careers in the E-Town bullpen. Each unsurprisingly dominated. Boer struggled upon his promotion to Beloit. It is likely the Twins will have each start. I believe Boer will move to the bullpen, but I think Summers can stick as a starter. Matt Bashore was a first-round pick in 2009 and has pitched very little since. However, reports indicate that in Instructs last fall, he was looking really good and throwing as high as 93 mph again. He could be one to watch in 2012. Matt Tomshaw was the Twins 43rd round pick just last year. Like many, he was given a shot with the Ft. Myers Miracle after a couple appearances with the GCL Twins. Like few, he was very successful for the Miracle. My guess, however, is that he will step back to Beloit and start. Derek Christensen had a terrific season as a starter with the E-Twins. The side-winder may eventually move to the bullpen but his combination of deception, fastball and slider make him a very intriguing prospect. Tim Atherton was with the Twins organization a few years ago as an infielder. The team let him go, but he came back in 2011 as a pitcher, and he pitched very well. He has all the pitches, but all will need to further develop.

Elizabethton Twins

Tyler Jones (RHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Brett Lee (LHP), Chris Mazza (RHP), Angel Mata (RHP), Hung-yi Chen (RHP)

There are plenty of pitchers from the 2011 draft and from last year’s GCL team that will not be heading to Beloit to start the season. Tyler Jones was the 11th round pick a year ago out of LSU. He’s got great upside, throws hard, good breaking pitches. Kimes is a four year college guy who should probably be up in Beloit due to age, but he got hurt last year shortly after signing. Brett Lee and Chris Mazza both signed very near the deadline and didn’t pitch in 2011. Angel Mata and Hung-yi Chen were the two most intriguing pitching prospects from last year’s GCL team. Both have good stuff and are young.

GCL Twins

Hudson Boyd (RHP), Trent Higginbotham (RHP), Kuo-hua Lo (RHP), Austin Malinowski (LHP)

Boyd and Higginbotham are two very high ceiling high school picks from last year. The Twins had to go over-slot to sign their second supplemental first round pick from Ft. Myers. He touched 96-97 at times last year. Higginbotham was a late-round pick but the Twins went way over slot to sign him as well. He touches 94-95, and some believe he can be a top of the rotation starter or a dominant closer. Time will tell for both of them. Lo signed last year from Taiwan, and he’s fairly advanced for his very young age. He also has hit 94 mph on a radar gun. He debuted in Instructional League last year, and will likely be with the GCL Twins in 2012. Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick out of Centennial High School (MN). He gave up a scholarship to Arizona to sign at the last minute with the Twins.   

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS 

1.)    Liam Hendriks, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) Alex Wimmers, 4.) Adrian Salcedo, 5.) Tom Stuifbergen, 6.) Manuel Soliman, 7.) Hudson Boyd, 8.) BJ Hermsen, 9.) Pat Dean, 10.) Matt Summers 

SUMMARY  

The Twins starting pitching was really bad last year. That was a combination of struggles, injury and poor defense. For the Twins to be successful, Carl Pavano needs to throw 220 innings with a league-average ERA and WHIP. Francisco Liriano will have to pull his regain control of his fastball and show a little bit of self-confidence. Scott Baker needs to pitch like he did the six weeks before he got hurt. All three need to stay healthy. I personally think Jason Marquis will be just fine. He’s not going to post a sub-3 or sub-4 ERA, but I think he can do what Pavano did in 2011. Blackburn needs to pitch like he did his first two seasons… or so badly that Liam Hendriks gets called up. Frankly, there’s not much else waiting in the wings, ready to contribute right away as a starter. Manship can be solid, but I think the team has moved him to the bullpen in their minds. Diamond will have had to improved quite a bit to say he’s ready (which is possible).

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare though. There are some solid pitching prospects throughout the minors. Kyle Gibson should be back in 2013 (if not late in 2012). Alex Wimmers could move very quickly as well. There are several pitchers that have the potential to be a decent #3 pitcher, if all goes well on the way up. The Twins have been successful with “Twins-like” pitchers. Guys like Hermsen, Salcedo, Stuifbergen and Shibuya fit that mold. The Twins have added some power arms in the last draft or two, especially in 2011’s draft with Boyd, Higginbotham, Jones, Boer, Summers, Corey Williams and others. It will be interesting to see how they develop. 

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

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Twins Add Three Players to 40 Man Roster

18 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins announced this afternoon that they have added Three players to their 40 man roster. But before I get to that, the Twins decided to remove RHP David Bromberg from their 4r0 man roster, which I have to admit disappoints me to no end. I just don’t understand it. A year ago, he was clearly someone who had to be added to the 40 man roster. Now, he is removed after a season in which he broke a bone in his forearm. It’s not an elbow or shoulder injury. It was a fluke injury. He worked like crazy to get back and is in terrific shape, ready for a second go-‘round. And he was removed from the 40 man roster. This is crazy. Then again, he cleared waivers, so he was outrighted to Rochester. I would hope (and assume) that he would get an invite to big league spring training again.  

But on to those that we can be happy for today, those added to the 40 man roster. They are:

  • RHP Carlos Gutierrez
  • OF Oswaldo Arcia
  • LHP Tyler Robertson

Going by my list yesterday, I ranked Arcia the easiest choice, followed by Gutierrez. I think ranked Tom Stuifbergen #3, Angel Morales #4 and Manuel Soliman #5 before Tyler Robertson at #6. I’ve got to admit, I am definitely surprised by the moves today, although as I pointed out, there were really only two easy choices, and they were both added.

I’m still shocked about the Bromberg news. I can’t say shocked because I had heard rumblings about it being possible awhile back. But I thought the idea was so crazy that it wouldn’t really happen.

I’m curious your thoughts and reaction. Feel free to comment.

Help Coming?

23 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

We hear so often that the Twins minor league system is bad, that there are not players ready to come up to the big leagues and contribute to the team. I think most Twins fans understand that the Twins have done a lot in the last two or three years to really improve the overall value and talent level of the minor league system. However, most of that high-end talent is in High-A Ft. Myers or lower levels. Names like Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano will pop up in Top Prospect lists very soon. But the Twins also have some very good talent in the upper levels as well.

I am often asked if there are any players in the Twins minor league system that can come up and contribute in 2012. The answer is absolutely Yes, but there are several angles to answering that question.

ALREADY THERE

In 2010, the Twins came into the season with a very veteran lineup. Not one rookie was in the everyday lineup to start the season. Alex Burnett was a surprise in the Opening Day bullpen despite zero innings pitched above Double-A. Danny Valencia came up in June and became a regular in July. Because he was the only rookie playing, there was little pressure on him and he went out and contributed mightily for the Twins down the stretch. In 2011, because of all of the injuries, Valencia has frequently been joined in the starting lineup for three or four players with less than a year of big league service time. That puts a lot of pressure on everyone in the lineup to do more than what they may be ready for. That isn’t good for the team and we have seen those struggles. Consider the current Twins roster. Here are the players with less than two years of big league service time: Valencia, Burnett, Drew Butera, Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Rene Tosoni, Anthony Swarzak and now Lester Oliveros. We have seen already that Valencia can put up some numbers, including some power. We have seen the value of Ben Revere’s speed on the base paths and in the field. Trevor Plouffe has struggled with the glove, but he leads the organization in home runs this season. Luke Hughes was the story of spring training and has contributed a couple of home runs while playing 1B and 2B. Tosoni has shown patience at the plate and good power potential. Swarzak has been very important as the Twins long reliever and spot starter. Butera’s defense has proven to be as good as advertised. Burnett has shown signs of how good he can be out of the Twins bullpen. And, at this point, we don’t know anything about Lester Oliveros, other than that he throws hard, walks and strikes out a lot and is still just 23 years old. Again, that is a lot of players expected to contribute despite such little time. They have certainly struggled at times this year. However, most of these players have also shown that they can contribute to the Twins over the coming years. Valencia, Plouffe, Swarzak and Tosoni are guys who have been Top 10 Twins prospects and have the talent to contribute for years to come.

RETREADS AT ROCHESTER

The Twins went out of their way to appease the Rochester masses and brought in a ton of minor league veterans. After losing 95 games in 2010, the Twins wanted to give Rochester a more competitive team. It didn’t work. The Red Wings are currently 48-82 this season. Sure, guys like Phil Dumatrait and Chuck James have pitched for the Twins, but those veterans were not really brought in to help the Twins. They were brought in to help the Red Wings. Guys like Jeff Bailey and Chase Lambin really struggled early in the season. However, the real purpose in bringing in the veterans was so that the real prospects who were not ready for AAA were able to stay in New Britain and develop appropriately. The best players of the Red Wings were the prospects. Unfortunately for the Red Wings, all those injuries meant that the Red Wings carousel was continuous again throughout the season. The Twins again called to Rochester frequently, taking the pitchers and top hitters from the Red Wings. Plouffe was one of the International League’s best hitters. Revere, Hughes, and Tosoni were also all in the opening day lineup for the Red Wings.

There are prospects in Rochester, but at this point, there are question marks with them.

  • Scott Diamond – His best start of the season may have been his Major League debut when he went 6.1 innings and gave up three runs. It has been a real struggle for the lefty with the Red Wings. The 25-year-old has gone 4-14 with a 5.88 ERA. It will be very interesting to see how he responds with the team in 2012 because coming into the season, he had never posted an ERA above 3.52 at any stop along his trek up the Braves minor league system. That includes a 3.30 ERA in ten 2010 starts with Gwinnett, Atlanta’s AAA affiliate in the International League.
  • Kyle Gibson – He came into the season as the Twins top prospect and rightfully so. The Twins top pick in 2009 made his minor league debut in 2010 and advanced from Ft. Myers to Rochester. He began the 2011 season with the Red Wings and went 3-3 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in the season’s first two months. He walked very few, got a ton of ground balls and even struck out a batter an inning. He was definitely on pace to debut with the Twins in 2011. Unfortunately, in his final eight starts, he went 0-5 with a 6.47 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP. Clearly something wasn’t right, and he is currently in Florida rehabbing an elbow injury, hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery that would cost him his 2012 season. However, this does not make him a lesser prospect. It will just be 2013 before he is able to contribute to the Twins.
  • Carlos Gutierrez – The Twins second first-round pick in 2008 has been a starting pitcher to start each of his previous seasons in the minors. This season he finally went full-time into the bullpen. He has had his ups and downs with the Red Wings. His overall numbers are not impressive. He is 2-3 with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He almost made the Twins roster out of spring training. Control continues to be his problem at times. However, he also missed most of July with an arm injury and has struggled since his return. But again, in terms of ‘stuff,’ Gutierrez definitely has it. He throws hard and gets a lot of ground balls due to his sinker. He will play a role with the Twins at some point in 2012.
  • Liam Hendriks – The Twins pushed Hendriks to AA New Britain to start the 2011 season and he pitched great. The Australian went 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA. Because of the need for pitching in Rochester, he was promoted after pitching in the Futures Game and in the Eastern League All-Star Game. He began his AAA tenure with three very good starts before two clunkers. His last two starts have again been solid. The 22-year-old has walked 21 and struck out 100 batters in 125.1 innings this year overall. Hendriks needs to be added to the 40 man roster following the season, so it is possible that he could get a September call-up.
  • Kyle Waldrop – Another reliever who impressed in Spring Training (For the second straight year), Waldrop struggled in the first half this season. However, since the All-Star break, he has been wonderful. His big sinker ball has been in full effect for the last month and he should be given a September opportunity. If so, he will be another important possibility in the Twins bullpen in 2012.

PLAYOFFS FOR PROSPECTS

The New Britain Rock Cats are 64-64 this season, but they remain in contention for a spot in the Eastern League playoffs. Since the Twins and Red Wings (and Ft. Myers Miracle) are out of contention for the playoffs, there are some terrific prospects who are staying with the Rock Cats in an attempt to make the playoffs. Many believe that being on a winning team, and playing for the team, is an important part of the development process. I would say that it can’t hurt. But the Rock Cats also have several players who could contribute to the Twins in 2012. A couple could be in contention for an opening day spot while each of them could be seen at some point in the 2012 season. Here is a look at the top prospects:

  • Joe Benson – The Twins Minor League Hitter of 2010, Benson has been a much better all-around player in 2011. He is hitting .284/.379.499 with 26 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs. He also has 13 stolen bases. All that, despite missing five weeks after knee surgery. Benson is an incredible athlete with tremendous power who is also probably the second fastest player in the organization after Ben Revere. Benson is also a terrific outfielder with great range and a rocket for an arm. His biggest area for needed improvement was his strikeout rate. In 2010, he struck out every 3.5 plate appearances. This year, that number is about four. Depending upon which outfielders the Twins bring back next year, Benson could play a very big role for the Twins starting in 2012.
  • Chris Parmelee – Benson was the team’s second round pick in 2006. Parmelee was the team’s first round pick, and he backed up a very good 2010 with an even stronger 2011. The left-handed hitting first baseman is hitting .291.371/.451 with 27 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. He does struggle against left-handed pitching. He has more power potential. It isn’t fair to expect him to be Justin Morneau offensively or defensively, but he can be a very solid big leaguer at 1B, maybe in the Lyle Overbay mold. He has a terrific approach at the plate, and if the Twins have a need at 1B in 2012, Parmelee will be ready to step in. He could also DH against right-handed pitching. He also can play a little bit of right field if needed.
  • Brian Dozier – I would argue that no Twins minor leaguer has made a stronger impression in 2011 than Brian Dozier. The Twins surprised a lot of people when they invited Dozier to big league camp this spring. But he has come through with a tremendous season. It began in Ft. Myers and hit .322/.423/.472 in 49 games. In 64 games with the Rock Cats, he has hit .317/.384/.500. Overall, he has 30 doubles, 11 triples and seven home runs. He also has 24 stolen bases. As a top of the order hitter, he has 50 walks and 60 strikeouts. He profiles as a good #2 hitter. Twins minor league pitchers love when Dozier is playing shortstop behind them. With the struggles of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the 24 year old Dozier should go to spring training with a legitimate opportunity to be the Twins starting shortstop.
  • Yangervis Solarte – Solarte broke out in 2010 when he hit at Ft. Myers and got an opportunity with New Britain, but he got hurt and missed a couple of months. He began this season with the Rock Cats and he has hit the entire time. He hit .300 or higher in April, May, June and July. Overall, he has hit .320/.361/.441 with 30 doubles, three triples and four home runs. He doesn’t walk a lot, but he also strikes out only about once every 13 plate appearances. The only question with Solarte is if there is a position that he can play adequately. That will be the thing that will determine how big his future role with the Twins will be. The 24 year old has played primarily at second base and can also play both corner outfield positions, but not really well.
  • Deolis Guerra – This may be a surprise name to many, especially if you look at his overall numbers in 2011, but Guerra has been terrific. Overall, he is 7-7 with a 5.83 ERA on the season. He began the year with ten starts. He went 3-5 with a 9.00 ERA. In 43 innings, he gave up 66 hits, walked 15 and struck out 30. Opponents hit .357. Then he was moved to the bullpen, and he has been great since. In 24 relief appearances,e he is 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA. In 45 innings, he has given up 33 hits, walked 11 and struck out 55. Opponents have hit just .198 against him. The still-just-22 year old right-hander has a good fastball and a great changeup. It’s remarkable how the role change has improved his control, but his strikeout rate is very improved. He still has an option year in 2012, so hopefully he continues to make improvements and plays a role with the Twins as early as mid-2012.
  • David Bromberg – Twins fans should not forget Bromberg. He was an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after last season. He has consistently moved up the Twins farm system, three times leading his league in strikeouts. He began this season in New Britain, but in late April, he was hit in the forearm by a line drive and he missed three months of the season. He returned recently, but probably too quickly. It’s important to note that his injury was not to his elbow or shoulder, it was a fluke injury. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t regain his form which means he will compete for a job with the Twins in 2012.

There are others on that Rock Cats roster who could find themselves with the Twins in time. Evan Bigley is an outfielder in the Chad Allen mode. Danny Lehmann is the most respected catcher by pitchers in the Twins minor leagues. His defense is on par with Drew Butera’s, with probably a little better offense. Andrew Albers has had a tremendous season with the Miracle and the Rock Cats. The lefty could continue to work his way up. Dakota Watts and Bruce Pugh are two pitchers who can throw into the upper-90s and are potential bullpen arms. Brett Jacobson has had an up and down season, but he has a chance. Bobby Lanigan has struggled some as a starter, but he profiles well as a future reliever because of a good fastball and a very good slider. Steve Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in April and May. Finally, lefty Logan Darnell began the season in Beloit and is now with the Rock Cats.

ONE MORE

Although it is a rarity for a player to jump from Ft. Myers to the big leagues in one season, I would encourage people to keep an eye on Oswaldo Arcia. The 20-year-old outfielder was the Appalachian League Player of the Year last year for Elizabethton. He spent a month at Beloit this year, posting an OPS over 1.000. He then missed six weeks due to arthroscopic elbow surgery. Instead of going back to Beloit, Arcia went to Ft. Myers where he has continued to hit well. I believe his bat is legit. I posted on Twitter a couple of days ago that I think Arcia may be the best hitting prospect that the Twins have had since Jason Kubel in 2005. He seems to be a natural hitter. It might be a little aggressive to consider Arcia as a possibility for the Twins in 2012, but if there is a hitting prospect for Twins fans to really get excited about, it is Arcia.

Friday Twins Minor League Scoreboard

29 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Here are the scores and highlights from the Twins minor league system from Friday. But when you’re done checking out how the teams and players did tonight, but sure to check out John Sickels’ Minor League Ball site for his review of his preseason Top 20 Twins prospects.

Rochester Red Wings

Rochester 3, Louisville 8 – Yes, Denard Span did play, and he went 1-4. It was one of eight hits by the Red Wings, and no player had more than one. Jeff Bailey, Aaron Bates and Rene Rivera each hit a double. Scott Diamond started and gave up eight runs on 12 hits and two walks in just 2.2 innings. Cole DeVries gave up a hit and two walks in 2.2 scoreless innings. Chuck James gave up two hits in 1.2 scoreless innings. Jake Stevens pitched one scoreless inning.

New Britain Rock Cats

Game 1 – New Britain 4, Bowie 3 – For the first time since April 26, David Bromberg was on the mound for the Rock Cats. He went four innings and gave up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out three. Deolis Guerra then gave up one run on two hits in two innings. He walked none and struck out three. Tyler Robertson recorded his 11th save with a scoreless seventh inning, despite two walks. Deibinson Romero went 2-3 with his 20th double. Joe Benson doubled for the 22nd time, and Nate Hanson knocked his tenth double. Benson and Chris Parmelee each recorded an outfield assist in the game as well.

Game 2 – New Britain 3, Bowie 1 – Steve Hirschfeld gave up one run on three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out six. Brett Jacobson recorded the save with a 1-2-3 seventh frame. The Rock Cats won despite just five hits. Chris Herrmann knocked his sixth home run. Brian Dozier hit his sixth triple.  

Ft. Myers Miracle

Ft. Myers 0, Lakeland 11 – The Miracle lost for the 9th straight game. Tom Stuifbergen started and gave up seven runs on ten hits and a walk. Two of the hits were home runs. Brad Stillings then gave up one run on five hits and a walk in two innings. Matt Tone gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in his two innings. The Miracle had just four hits. Angel Morales was 2-4. James Beresford went 1-3 with a walk.

Beloit Snappers

Beloit 0, Burlington 2 – AJ Achter gave up two runs on four hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out three. Bart Carter came in and struck out three in two scoreless innings. Nelvin Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 eighth frame. The Snappers had just five hits. Lance Ray was 2-4. Michael Gonzales was 1-2 with two walks and his fourth stolen base.

Elizabethton Twins

Elizabethton 4, Danville 5 (10) – Pedro Guerra started and pitched well again. The righty gave up two runs on six hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out six. Steven Gruver then gave up an unearned run on three hits in two innings. Matt Summers gave up a run on two hits and two walks in two innings. He struck out four. Cole Johnson took the loss. He pitched the tenth and gave up a solo home run. JD Williams continues to impress with his bat. He went 2-2 with three walks, his fifth double and fifth stolen base. The team had just five hits. Rory Rhodes hit his fifth double, and Miguel Sano hit his seventh home run.  

GCL Twins

GCL Twins 9, GCL Red Sox 15 – The Twins offense broke out nicely in this game. Unfortunately, the pitching really struggled. Bobby O’Neill started and threw three shutout innings. Then Josue Montanez made his pro debut and gave up five runs on four hits and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning (that’s a 135.00 ERA). Gonzalo Sanudo got the final two out of the fourth inning, but not before giving up two runs (1 earned) on one hit and two walks. Kyle Wahle came in and gave up four runs on three walks and a hit and got just one out. Nick Cicio then gave up three hits but got the final out of the fifth inning. Gerardo Ramirez gave up two runs on three hits in two innings. Markus Solbach then gave up two runs (1 earned) on two hits in one inning. Stephen Wickens went 2-3 with two walks and two doubles, his third and fourth. Jacob Younis went 2-5 with his first double. Josh Hendricks and Michael Quesada each went 2-5. Jorge Polanco hit his fifth double, and Philip Chapman hit his ninth.  

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

Minor League Update

4 May

also available on www.SethSpeaks.net

There has been a lot going on with the Twins minor league system of late. David Bromberg had successful surgery yesterday. Dan Osterbrock was promoted to New Britain. Brad Tippett returns to Ft. Myers after missing so much time in the last year with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Tom Stuifbergen came off the Disabled List yesterday and Ryan Mullins was put on the DL. This is the time of year when promotions start happening. The Twins have called on guys from Rochester all spring already. But over the next few weeks, we may see some movement in the lower levels too.

Last winter, the Twins traded catcher Jose Morales to the Colorado Rockies, and in return they got a left-handed reliever named Paul Bargas. As you recall, he collapsed on the ground during spring training in Ft. Myers and was taken to the hospital. In some sad news yesterday that gives us yet another reminder that we need to put baseball into perspective. It was announced that Paul Bargas has been diagnosed with brain cancer at UCLA Medical Center.

As I mention on Twins Minor League Weekly on Monday night, Oswaldo Arcia did have an appointment on his elbow in Minneapolis yesterday. He still insists he will be ready to play on Sunday for the Snappers. We shall see.

Tuesday Game Notes:

Rochester and Syracuse were postponed by weather.

New Britain beat Richmond 4-2. Bobby Lanigan gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked none and struck out six. Cole DeVries picked up another save with two more scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two.  Evan Bigley went 3-4 with his fourth double. Ray Chang went 2-4 with his ninth double. Yangervis Solarte went 2-4 with his fourth steal. Chris Cates went 2-3. Joe Benson went 0-4 and now has three hits in his last 35 at bats.

Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach 8-6. All nine Miracle starters had at least one hit. Danny Rams went 2-4 with his fifth double. Brian Dozier went 2-3 with a walk, his fifth double and his third triple. Nick Romero was 2-5 with his fifth double. Nate Hanson went 2-5. Jhonathan Goncalves hit a two-run triple. Aaron Hicks hit his first home run of the year. Matt Schuld recorded the win. He gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in five innings. Tom Stuifbergen returned from the DL with two scoreless, one-hit innings. Shooter Hunt gave up two runs on two this and two walks in 11 innings. Bruce Pugh got the final two outs for his fifth save.

Beloit beat Clinton 6-3. Logan Darnell got the win. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out five. Ryan O’Rourke threw two scoreless frames. Matt Hauser recorded his fourth save and struck out two in a scoreless ninth. Danny Ortiz went 2-3 with his eighth double. Kyle Knudson was 3-4 with two RBI and is now hitting .367.

Any thoughts, questions or comments on the Twins minor league system? Feel free to Comment.

A Look Back: The Capps/Ramos Trade

27 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Be sure to check out last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast here.

At the end of July last year, it was clear to Twins fans that Jon Rauch was really struggling in the closer’s role. One two game stretch pushed his season ERA from 2.38 to 3.31. He was throwing a ton of pitches and walking more than he was striking out. The outs he was getting were hit really hard. The Twins felt the need to improve their overall bullpen by going out and acquiring a “proven closer.”

I was in the process of packing up and moving myself when I heard a rumor that Wilson Ramos had been removed from the Rochester Red Wings lineup. Soon after, there was a rumor that said the Twins had dealt Ramos to Washington for Matt Capps. I thought that was just crazy. Trade a top prospect, and a top catching prospect at that, for one of the league’s least intimidating closers, a guy whose numbers were not much different than Rauch’s? Unfortunately, it was not long before the rumors were confirmed. The Twins had traded Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa (left-handed reliever) for Matt Capps. I sunk. How disappointing! I wrote, “I was in awe, shocked that the Twins would give up their most expendable trade prospect for a reliever that, frankly, isn’t any better than current closer Jon Rauch.”

I did acknowledge that adding Capps made the Twins better in 2010. Torii Hunter and Johan Santana always whined about how the Twins always were looking to the future, but when would they go for it and stop worrying about prospects. This move did that, for sure. The Twins gave up Ramos, a top 4 Twins prospect, for a solid relief pitcher.

I don’t think anyone was or is any higher on Wilson Ramos than me. I ranked him as the Twins #2 prospect before the 2010 season. I saw him as a good defensive catcher who could hit for average and future power. There were several times that I outlined a scenario for Ramos and Joe Mauer to co-exist. Since Mauer will be around for most of the next decade, it is understandable that Ramos was expendable. However, I proposed a scenario where Joe Mauer caught 100 games a year and then DHed another 50-55 games. Wilson Ramos would catch 50-60 games and then DH 80-100 games a year. The Twins don’t have a ton of right-handed power in their lineup, and Ramos could have been that. In that scenario, you have your starting catcher and DH, and could still have a 3rd catcher to be there for emergency.

Instead, without Ramos, the Twins are left with a lot of great-defense, little-bat options at catcher in the minor leagues. Guys like Steve Holm, Rene Rivera and Danny Lehmann can be solid big league backup catchers. Chris Herrmann is a great athlete who can catch but primarily plays in the outfield. Danny Rams is a terrific prospect with power potential, but he is still playing in A ball. Jose Morales was traded because he was out of options and would not have made the team and would have been claimed and lost for nothing.

Losing Ramos is a huge loss, no matter how the Twins want to spin it. In his previous four games, he was just 2-16, but after his 3-4 game last night which included two home runs, he is now hitting .378/.440/.578 for the Nationals. His OPS is 1.018. Of course, by season’s end, his OPS will most likely be shy of .800, but he could be a very good player.

However, to say that it was a horrible trade is 100% wrong. And it is wrong on several levels. First, Matt Capps is still just 27 years old. He throws a good fastball. He throws a couple of pitches. He has good control, gets the occasional strikeout. He definitely can make things interesting at times, like most closers. However, the Twins wanted him to solidify their 2010 bullpen, and he definitely did that. He posted a 2.00 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 27 innings over 27 games in helping the Twins to the playoffs. He saved 16 games. Another reason that the Twins wanted Capps was because he would remain with the team for 2011 and serve as insurance for Joe Nathan in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Well, it is just a couple of weeks into the season, and Capps is clearly the Twins best reliever and has taken over the closer’s role from Nathan. He has a 3.75 ERA, but his WHIP is just 0.83. Yes, it’s hard to believe he has just five strikeouts.

So, since the Twins acquired Capps, he has pitched in 38 games. He has gone 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He has recorded 20 saves. He also has all of those intangibles that the Twins and the players really appreciate.  

This isn’t Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio. It’s not even Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell. Frankly, this isn’t Casey Blake for Carlos Santana.

Did I like the trade at the time? Not at all. Do I like the trade in retrospect? Not really, I still don’t like it. But Matt Capps has been tremendous and everything that the Twins and Twins fans could have hoped for and more. In fact, would anyone be surprised if the Twins locked him up for the next 3-4 years to be their closer through the rest of his 20s? I wouldn’t. And I don’t think it would be a terrible thing at all. Forget the dollars. $7 million is not outrageous for what he has done for the Twins and in his career. Take away that 2009 season, and he has had a terrific career, and there is no reason to believe that he can’t remain very good. In a bullpen with so many question marks and so much uncertainty, Capps has been valuable for the Twins.

Ramos’s fast start this season, and the Joe Mauer early-season Disabled List visit certainly bring the trade back to the forefront. Those things are hard to ignore, but don’t ignore the impact that Capps has had for the Twins.

Note – The Nationals kept the left-handed Testa in Extended Spring Training and are asking him to work on throwing side-arm to maximize movement on his pitches.

Any thoughts?

Minor League Report

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayOswaldo Arcia, Beloit Snappers 

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayKyle Gibson, Rochester Red Wings

Red Wings Ramblings

Tuesday – Red Wings 0, Buffalo 5 – Kyle Gibson put together his second straight quality start. In six innings, he gave up one run on four hits. He walked two and struck out eight. Jeff Manship came in and gave up three runs on four hits (including two home runs). Chuck James got the final four outs and gave up a run on two hits (including a homer). Brian Dinkelman and Rene Tosoni each went 2-4. Jeff Bailey went 0-3 and is now 0-26 in his past nine games.  

Rock Cats Report

Tuesday – Rock Cats 5, New Hampshire 6 (10) – David Bromberg put together his best start of the year, and unfortunately, he wasn’t able to see it through. In 5.1 innings, he gave up one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out seven. He got 6 groundball outs and no fly outs. He was on top of his game. Until, that is, a line drive came right back toward his face. He raised his hand up to protect his face, and broke his ulna bone. He is likely to be out at least the next four weeks. Obviously we wish him the best and a speedy recovery!

Spencer Steedley came in and gave up a run on two hits in 1.1 innings. He struck out two. Tyler Robertson came in and gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. Jake Stevens got the final out, but he gave up a run on a hit and a walk.

Sidenote – in the comments section yesterday, someone asked why Tyler Robertson would pitch a third inning, and not just one inning at a time. It is a fair question and a very good question. I would say this. In the minor leagues, players are prepared for the big leagues. Tyler Robertson is likely not going to be a one-inning, 8th or 9th inning guy in the big leagues. He may be a LOOGY. He may be a long reliever. So although he has recorded a couple of saves for the Rock Cats already, there is no negative in stretching him out a little bit too. Should they have gone to Jake Stevens sooner? Based on the results of the game, that case could be made. But again, the minor leagues are (and should be) first and foremost, about development.

Steve Singleton remains hot. He had two more hits. Yangervis Solarte hit his 7th double. Joe Benson hit his 8th double.  

Miracle Matters

Tuesday – Miracle 12, Charlotte 10 – It was all about the big inning for the Miracle in this high-scoring affair. The team scored six runs in the fifth inning, and then scored five runs in the 7th inning. Chris Herrmann led the way. He was 2-3 with two walks. James Beresford also had two hits. Anderson Hidalgo drove in two with a double. Brian Dozier added a triple and a walk. Brad Stillings started and gave up six runs on 10 hits and a walk in five innings. Blake Martin gave up one run on a hit and three walks in his inning. Jhon Garcia gave up three runs on six hits in two innings. Dakota Watts pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the year.  

Snappers Bites

Tuesday – Snappers 6, Burlington 4 – Oswaldo Arcia can flat-out hit! In this game, he went 4-4 with his sixth double and his second and third home runs of the season. He drove in three runs. The Snappers managed just six hits in the game. Danny Ortiz drove his sixth double as well. Manuel Soliman started and gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. He struck out seven. Blayne Weller threw 2.1 scoreless innings. Matt Hauser gave up a run on a hit and three walks in 1.2 innings, but Jose Gonzalez came in and struck out the lone batter he faced for his third save.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

Twins Minor League Predictions: 2011 Pitcher of the Year

7 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

INJURY UPDATETsuyoshi Nishioka left this afternoon’s Twins/Yankees game with an apparent leg injury. Nick Swisher (legally) took him out, breaking up a double play. Nishioka stayed on the ground and then walked off with a trainer and his interpreter, putting little weight on his left foot. Luke Hughes is set to play 2B and bat fourth for the Rochester Red Wings tonight. We will have to monitor if that changes. Should Nishioka need to go on the Disabled List, Hughes would most likely be recalled.

PODCAST UPDATE Twins Minor League Weekly will go live at 10:00 central time tonight. Join the chat or call in and let’s talk Twins minor leaguers.

Alright, we’ve looked at our panels’ choices for Twins Minor League Breakout Hitter and Breakout Pitchers. Earlier today, I posted our predictions for Twins Minor league hitter of the year, and now, it’s time for our predictions on Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In the Comments at the bottom, please feel free to discuss your choices. But here is just one more reminder of who is on the panel (and thank you to them):

Roger Dehring – He has been tracking the Twins minor league system and players for a long time. He is an occasional guest writer here, but he does a tremendous job of keeping the fine folks of Twinkie Town updated on the Twins minor leagues with his Weekly Minor League Reports each Saturday.

Josh Johnson – Finishing up college may inexplicably understandably been his top priority of late, but when it comes to knowing the Twins minor league system, Josh is among the top! He has written at Josh’s Thoughts for several years.

Steve Lien  – Steve writes the Twins content for Gear Up for Sports. He has written a lot of information on Twins minor leaguers and spent nearly as much time watching minor league practices in Ft. Myers as I did.

Cody Christie – Cody is the North Dakota Twins fan even if he now makes his residence in the Twin Cities. He has been a he addition to the Twins blogosphere in the past year writing on all levels of Twins baseball from the minors to the history.

TWINS MINOR LEAGUE PITCHER OF THE YEAR

Here are our choices for Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year:

Seth – David Bromberg – Bromberg was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009 when he was also the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year (beating out Kyle Drabek). Bromberg has four or five pitches that he is comfortable using. He can get some strikeouts. I fully expect him to be back up with the Red Wings by about midseason, and I would not be surprised to see him in a Twins uniform in September. Runner-Up: Pat Dean.

Roger – Adrian Salcedo – Everything one reads about this young man, who Baseball America ranked as the eighth best prospect in the Appalachian League, says that he is special.  As he matures and gains experience, he just may be that next pitcher to come through the organization to pitch at the front end of future Twins rotations.  I expect Salcedo will begin this season in Beloit and 2011 will be our first good look of what is to come as he pitches so well that he earns the Twins Pitcher of the Year award.  Runner-up:  Manuel Soliman   

Josh – Alex Wimmers – I see Wimmers having a season a lot like Kyle Gibson had last season and I fully expect him to be in Triple-A at the end of the season. Wimmers is a lot more advanced than the hitters he’ll be facing in High-A and probably even Double-A.

Steve – Alex Wimmers – 2011 for Wimmers should unfold in a similar fashion to Kyle Gibson’s 2010.  Many scouts and observers don’t rate Wimmers ceiling as highly as they do Gibson’s, but I think that’s underrating him and his stuff, which includes a Plus-Changeup and impeccable control.  Made only 4 Starts at Fort Myers after being drafted, but they included 5 Innings of No-Hit ball in 1 start, and 9 K’s in 5 IP in another.  This selection is almost a lock to me. RUNNER-UP: Liam Hendriks.

Cody – Liam Hendriks – Depending on how the season is going at the major league level, the Twins could be digging deep into their pitching prospect pool at the major league level. This award is a tough call for me between Hendriks and Wimmers. If Wimmers can be successful at three different levels for the Twins, the award could be his for the taking. Hendriks will be pitching against tougher competition for the entire season and his success against those players will be what puts him over the top. Runner-Up: Alex Wimmers

So now you’ve seen our minor league predictions. What do you think? Games start tonight! Feel free to leave your pitcher choices in the comments today.