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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

Elizabethton Twins

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

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

GCL Twins

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

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

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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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 Game Notes

9 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Happy Saturday morning! The Twins opened up Target Field with their home opener for 2011 on Friday afternoon. The weather could not have been better. Joe Mauer took his rightful spot in the #2 spot in the lineup. Luke Hughes got to the stadium on time and was in the starting lineup, batting 8th and playing 2B. He went 0-3 but listening on the radio, he hit a ball that got John Gordon excited late in the game (it was, of course, caught on or near the warning track.) Carl Pavano probably couldn’t have been better. The Twins recorded a late win thanks to two runs in the bottom of the 8th and held on for a 2-1 win. Emotions were heavy when following the 8th inning rally, the drum beat from Stand Up and Shout started and Joe Nathan ran in from the bullpen to take the mound for the first time at Target Field. He came through though, notching his third save in as many attempts.

The Twins bats didn’t show up, again, but I’m one to credit the opponents’ pitchers too. Brett Anderson may not be a household name to some, but take a moment and check out his numbers sometime. He’s good.

I made half of the trek down to the Twin Cities on Friday night, and I will make my way down to Target Field on Saturday for my first Twins game of the season. I’m really looking forward to seeing the changes in person. Hopefully I will see many of you at the game. We’ll also get to see Nick Blackburn for the Twins and another one of my favorite young pitchers, Gio Gonzalez, for the A’s.

Below are game notes and highlights from the Twins affiliates’ Friday night games. Again, my plan is to post highlights, extra base hits and pitching performances throughout the season. I’ll also discuss some notes when applicable. Please feel free to share topic ideas or notes with me. If you have any articles on Twins prospects in their local papers, notes or more, please feel free to e-mail me.

By the way, it is also Saturday morning, so you will want to go to Twinkie Town for Roger’s Minor League Report.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayBrian Dozier, Ft. Myers Miracle

Seth Speaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayEric Hacker, Rochester Red Wings

Red Wings Ramblings

Friday – Red Wings 7, Pawtucket 2 – Starting pitching was the problem for the Red Wings in 2010. Through (admittedly just) two games in 2011, it has been a strength. Eric Hacker was perfect one time through the batting order. The right-hander through five shutout innings, allowing just two hits, no walks and striking out five. Carlos Gutierrez came in and struggled. In his one inning, he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. Jim Hoey worked two scoreless innings and struck out four while walking just one. He gave up two hits. Despite a hit, a walk and a hit batter, Kyle Waldrop got a ground ball double play to end the game without the Paw Sox scoring on him.

The bats showed up for the Red Wings as well, led by Trevor Plouffe. The Twins shortstop went 3-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI. Steve Holm not only did a great job of helping the pitchers, but he was 2-3 with a walk. Dustin Martin was 2-4 with a walk, a triple and a stolen base. Brian Dinkelman had two doubles in five at bats. Rene Tosoni added a double. Ben Revere got the scoring started with a bases loaded single in the second inning that scored two.   

On Saturday afternoon, the Red Wings will play their home opener with Kyle Gibson on the mound.

Rock Cats Report

Friday – Rock Cats 7, Richmond 1 – Have I mentioned that I heart “IHeartRadio?” Cuz I do. I was able to listen to the Richmond broadcast of this game.

It is obviously a big year for Deolis Guerra. The 21-year-old will be out of options at the end of this season. As he did a year ago, he made a great start in his season debut. The right-hander gave up just three hits and a walk in five scoreless innings. He struck out two. Cole DeVries came in and was perfect for three innings, including five strikeouts. Tyler Robertson gave up a run on two hits in the 9th, and even the outs were hit hard. Chris Parmelee led the way for the Rockcats with a 3-5 day. Joe Benson was 2-5 as well. Yangervis Solarte and Evan Bigley were each 2-5 with a double. Michael Hollimon got things started with a long, two-run homer for the Rock Cats in the 5th inning that made it 2-0.

Bobby Lanigan will make his season debut for New Britain tonight.

Miracle Matters

Friday – Miracle 5, Jupiter 1 – Brian Dozier is doing a great job of showing fans of the Twins minor league fans that he was worthy of that non-roster invite to big league camp. In this game, Dozier went 4-5 with his first homer of the year, three runs scored and a stolen base. Chris Herrmann was 2-4 with a walk. James Beresford was 2-4. Nick Romero was 0-2 with three walks. Miguel Munoz got the start and he gave up just one run on two hits in 5.2 innings. He did allow four walks with just one strikeout. Edgar Ibarra got the next four outs, three of them on strikeouts. Shooter Hunt made his 2011 debut and in two innings, he gave up no runs on one hit, one walk and on strikeout.  

Tom Stuifbergen will be on the mound tonight for the Miracle. The team will again play Jupiter although it will be in Ft. Myers.

Snappers Bites

Friday – Snappers 4, Quad Cities 7 – The Snappers’ season started a day late, and one could argue that much of the team might have missed the memo. BJ Hermsen made the start and in 5.1 innings, he gave up four runs but none of them were earned. He did give up seven hits, but the night was full of errors for the Snappers. They committed five errors in this game. Clinton Dempster got the final two outs of the 6th inning. Manuel Soliman pitched a scoreless seventh inning with a walk and two strikeouts. Jose Gonzalez came in and gave up three runs (2 earned) on two hits and a walk and got just two outs in the 8th inning. Ryan O’Rourke got a strikeout to end the inning. Danny Ortiz inexplicably batted ninth, but he had two of the team’s five hits including his first home run of the year and two RBI. Oswaldo Arcia went 1-3 with a walk and an RBI double. Here are some of the not-so-pretty season debuts: Danny Santana went 0-5 with four strikeouts and committed two errors. Josmile Pinto went 0-4 with four strikeouts. Lance Ray was 0-4 with three strikeouts. Andy Leer had one hit in four at bats, and then struckout three times.  

The Snappers will play a double header this afternoon. Adrian Salcedo will make one of the starts. The second starter is not yet determined.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

Roster Projections: New Britain Rock Cats

30 Mar

also available 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.

The fun of projecting minor league rosters after major league rosters is that we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t always understand the big picture. For instance, I projected that Chris Province would be in the Triple-A bullpen. Yesterday, I found out that he, in his words on Twitter this morning, “voluntarily retired.” The Twins made 12 cuts over the past couple of days, and as I review the names of all of the players still in Twins minor league camp, it is difficult to place all of them. We don’t know injury situations. I was unaware the Bruce Pugh was set back a few days by back soreness. That will likely keep him back in Ft. Myers and in the bullpen for at least a little while. Some of the decisions on these minor league veterans brought in has kept several minor leaguers down a level. In some cases, that’s good. In other cases, it is a little surprising. For instance, I understand that Tony Davis will be heading back to Ft. Myers to start the season.

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins Double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Danny Lehmann (40 man – No) – Jair Fernandez (40 man – No) 

Lehmann was impressive this spring. He has been named the Twins minor league catcher of the year the past two years. Defensively, he is ready to be a backup catcher for the Twins. Offensively, he’s probably a notch above Drew Butera. Fernandez, like Waldrop and Portes, could have been a six-year minor league free agent after last season. He chose to stay with the Twins. He is a big guy with a little pop in his bat. Not a great catcher at all though despite a strong arm.

Infielders: 1B – Chris Parmelee (40 man – Yes), 2B – Steve Singleton (40 man – No), 3B – Nick Romero/Deibinson Romero (40 man – No/No), SS – Estarlin de Los Santos (40 man – No), Utility – Chris Cates (40 man – No), IF/OF/DH – Yangervis Solarte – (40 man – No)

Chris Parmelee is going to be my choice for preseason Twins minor league hitter of the year. Hopefully he will be able to stick with the Rock Cats all season, as I believe that would be best for his development. Steve Singleton should be in Rochester. I know, I’m shy about expressing that, aren’t I? He should get some time at both 3B and SS as well. Estarlin de Los Santos should get a couple of months here to regain his prospect status or else Brian Dozier will be here and get the playing time. 3B is where I’m not certain. So, I can see a scenario in which Nick Romero and one-time prospect Deibinson Romero split time, or even platoon. Solarte can play anywhere on the field, kind of like Luke Hughes. He has hit when healthy and was up with the Rock Cats last year before getting hurt. The utility infield spot will be interesting. Chris Cates is the incumbent, but could Ray Chang or Matt Brown be sent to AA? Neither can play SS well, so I’m leaning toward Cates.

Outfielders: LF – Evan Bigley (40 man – No), CF – Joe Benson (40 man – Yes), RF – Rene Tosoni (40 man – Yes), 4th outfielder – Mark Dolenc (40 man – No).

At this time last year, Rene Tosoni thought he was packing to go to Rochester, but then the Twins signed Jason Repko right before Opening Day and Tosoni went back to New Britain. His shoulder was bad, and he was DHing until a midseason shoulder surgery ended his season. But he was still added to the 40 man roster, and he could move up quickly if he swing returns. Joe Benson was last year’s Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year. The sky is the limit for Benson. The only thing is his contact rate will need to improve for him to advance where we all hope he will. Again, I think the best thing for his development would be to stay in New Britain for the entire season, get comfortable, make adjustments and see what kind of numbers he can put up in a full season. Evan Bigley is an underappreciated prospect. He’s got some power, and he can hit for average. He can play solid defense. When he moved up to New Britain last year, he played better than he had with the Miracle early in the season. I mention Dolenc as the 4th outfielder, and that’s where he is always put. However, every year, he gets a lot of at bats, and he performs better than expected. He is fast and plays very good defense at all three positions.

Starting Pitchers: RHP David Bromberg (40 man – Yes), RHP Deolis Guerra (40 man – Yes), RHP Bobby Lanigan (40 man – No), Liam Hendriks (40 man – No), Dan Osterbrock (40 man – No)

I was very much surprised to learn that David Bromberg would start this season in Double-A after he made nine starts in Rochester last year. That said, I think that it can be a good thing for him to spend a couple of months. He’s seen Triple-A. He’s now been to big league spring training and likely learned a lot. It will be great for him to implement some of the things he’s learned at Double-A, perfect them and get back to Rochester. Deolis Guerra pitched well in New Britain last year before being promoted to Rochester, and from that point on he was never able to find it again. Guerra is the best example of why bringing in some minor league veterans at the upper levels can be good. Guerra should not have been rushed, but the team was forced to. Bobby Lanigan’s fastball/slider combination is tough. I think long-term he can be a terrific reliever, but might as well keep him starting as long as he keeps putting up the numbers and stays healthy. I would be surprised if both Hendriks and Osterbrock start the season with the Rock Cats, but both pitched so well at Ft. Myers last year that they could be ready for this next challenge. Pitchers often say that they experience their first struggles at AA. Osterbrock experienced some struggles with Beloit in 2009, but figured things out last year. Hendriks is a tremendous prospect, very driven and competitive, and worth watching closely.

Bullpen: RHP Carlos Gutierrez (40 man – No), RHP Brett Jacobson (40 man – No), RHP Steve Hirschfeld (40 man – No), LHP Tyler Robertson (40 man – No), RHP Dakota Watts (40 man – No), RHP Santos Arias (40 man – No), LHP Spencer Steedley (40 man – No), LHP Jake Stevens (40 man – No), LHP Paul Bargas (40 man – Yes)

I think that Gutierrez is ready for Triple-A. Some could argue he’s ready for the big leagues. But this is the first time he has gone into a season as a reliever, and I think it would be good to start him back with New Britain for a month or two, let him close and pitch in more tough situations and get comfortable. It also gives some of those AAA guys a couple of months to prove what they have. There is no rush with Gutierrez. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the season, and they aren’t going to want to use an option, so patience is a good thing. Jacobson was the second piece that came over from the Orioles in the Hardy trade. He has an interesting delivery, but he does throw hard and has a good curveball. Hirschfeld is definitely an option to start. He was terrific in 2009 but missed more of 2010 with injury. Robertson struggled as a starter with the Rock Cats last year, and when he went to the Arizona Fall League, it was announced that he would be moved to the bullpen. I think he has the makeup and the stuff to be successful in the role. Dakota Watts started the 2010 season (his first full season) with Beloit and ended in New Britain, and in the middle, he was touching 98 and 99 on the radar gun in Ft. Myers. Arias really struggled with the Rock Cats last year, but he should be given another shot. Steedley had a terrific April for the Rock Cats last year, but by the end of May, he had his elbow worked on. He could start this season on the Disabled List, but if he can come back, he is a good LOOGY possibility down the road. Jake Stevens is also left-handed. He was out of baseball last year, but the Twins gave the Naples, FL, native a chance to make the team. Paul Bargas was acquired by the Twins in the trade of Jose Morales. He’s got decent numbers in his minor league career, especially against left-handers. Bargas also has meningitis, and on one of the first days of minor league camp, he collapsed on the field and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He has not yet returned to the team, but he should at some point.

Overall: This is where some really exciting Twins prospects will be. A couple of these guys would be ready to play at Rochester, but in terms of development, I think that Parmelee, Benson, Bromberg, Tosoni and Gutierrez may be best served by spending more time in AA. The first four were only added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and Gutierrez isn’t even on the 40 man yet, so time is on their side. This should be a solid team. Don’t be surprised if the likes of Ray Chang and Matt Brown end up here as well, which would make them a more veteran team. This should be a fun team to watch and several of them could be called up to the Twins at some point this season, if needed.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. In fact, most of the roster spots have been determined and players are finding out. I have been quite surprised by some of the reports I have heard, but without knowing background, injuries, etc., it’s hard to determine from afar what some of the reasoning might be. Either way, it will be fun to find out and more importantly, to get this season started!

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

——————————————————–

  • Cody Christie, the North Dakota Twins Fan, joined me on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast last night. Lots more Twins topics covered such as the Jim Thome/Jason Kubel playing time question, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps, food options at Target Field, and many, many more topics.
  • If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin on Thursday night at 10:00. Travis Aune and Seth will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. We will talk about what’s going on with each Twins affiliate, how the teams are doing, who is hot, who is not, transactions, and much more.

Minnesota Twins Top Prospects (Part 2: 11-25)

13 Jan

available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

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

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

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

#25 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – New Britain

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

#24 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester

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

#23 – Billy Bullock – RHP – New Britain

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

#22 – Pat Dean – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Minnesota

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

#20 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain

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

#19 – Daniel Ortiz – OF – Elizabethton

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

#18 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit

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

#17 – Max Kepler – OF – GCL Twins

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

#16 – Eddie Rosario – OF – GCL Twins

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

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

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

#14 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester

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

#13 – Manuel Soliman – RHP – Elizabethton

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

#12 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – New Britain

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

#11 – David Bromberg – RHP – Rochester

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

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

COMING NEXT WEEK: Trade Deadline Primer(s)

2 Jul

It has certainly been an interesting year for the TwinsCentric crew. One year ago, we came out with our first publication, the TwinsCentric July Trade Deadline Primer. Since then, there has been the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, our work with Maple Street Press on the Twins 2010 Annual, the TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com and several TwinsCentric Viewing parties around the Twin Cities. It’s been an interesting, busy, fun year of learning about this new media and such.

Next week, TwinsCentric will unveil its next project. It will again be a Trade Deadline Primer. However, it will be much improved. This year, the TwinsCentric guys joined forces with a blogger or independent writer to cover each other team around Major League Baseball. We will be providing Trade Deadline Primers for over 20 other Major League teams as well. Think about it. I know a lot about baseball, but when it comes to the Detroit Tigers, I guarantee that John Parent of Motor City Bengals knows more. Or, for White Sox information, you’ll get the thoughts of JJ Stankevitz from the White Sox Examiner site. I am certain that Chad Dotson of Redleg Nation knows a lot more about the 2010 Reds than me. These guys know what their teams might be looking for. They will know their tradeable players or impact prospects are.

Baseball’s trade deadline season is easily the most active online season for baseball fans, especially obsessive passionate baseball fans. You read Twins blogs daily, so you’re likely a huge Twins fan and will be following all of the rumors surrounding the Twins. Why? Well, after what the Twins did this past offseason, and the added payroll, Twins fans are excited that more elite players could be acquired by the team. Even last year, the Twins acquired Orlando Cabrera on July 31 for Tyler Ladendorf. But they weren’t done there. A week later, the Twins brought in Carl Pavano in a deal with Cleveland. And later in August, the team acquired Jon Rauch. In fact, the Twins have generally made at least one trade deadline deal most years in the past decade.

So, what will these electronic books (in the form of a pdf) consist of? It will be a 100+ page e-book that provides a preview and framework for all of the upcoming trade deadline speculation. It is graphically-sparse, consisting of headshots and simple graphics. But it is content-rich, evaluating the action from a fan’s perspective while providing national coverage. This includes:

  • report cards covering each of the team’s players
  • summaries of all 30 teams including trade deadline needs and a “fantasy focus” for fantasy baseball players
  • profiles of more than 150 of the most likely trade targets and another 100+ potential impact prospects
  • essays focusing on the trade deadline for the Twins and their AL Central rivals
  • national essays providing insight on the forces behind the trade deadline
  • cheat sheets for easy reference
  • a foreword by Rob Neyer of ESPN.com

The goal is to make these available next Tuesday, July 6th electronically. On Thursday, July 7th, TwinsCentric will host another TwinsCentric Viewing Party at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park (Facebook page, follow on Twitter) starting before 5:00. The Twins are on the road in Toronto and Tim Laudner will be there from 5-6 talking to Twins fans and signing autographs.  ESPN1500 will be hosting their pre-game show from there as well. We will also make the TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer available. Of course, Park Tavern will kick in some prizes for us to give away, and there will be other prizes available as well. So, if you can be there, that would be great!

The TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer will be available for $9.95. We understand that this is money out of your pocket, and we certainly appreciate your support over all of the years that we’ve been blogging. Thank you!

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me.

A few more notes:

  • I’ll be boarding the Twins Train and heading to Detroit to see the Twins and Tigers play two games. I’m really looking forward to the trip. I hear that Sooze and Parker Hageman will also be on the Detroit trip, so it should be a great time. Apparently the Twins Train trips have been successful enough that they have added a couple more trips in August. There is a trip to Cleveland and to Chicago. And the Twins train is also making a trip to Green Bay and Lambeau Field in October. Check out the Twins Train website for details and trip availability.
  • Yesterday I posted a TwinsCentric blog called Picking your moments (and minor league notes).
  •  If you missed my PA appearance yesterday, click here to and check out the 7/1 – Seth Stohs and Love Line! Link.
  • Tonight, I will be at Canterbury Park. I haven’t been there for two years, so I’m looking forward to it. Should be a lot of fun!

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

SethSpeaks Thursday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Brock Peterson – Rochester Red Wings

SethSpeaks Thursday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Deolis Guerra – New Britain Rockcats

Red Wings Report   

Thursday – Rochester 0, Buffalo 2 Ryan Mullins put together another solid start. In 6.2 innings, he gave up two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out seven. Rob Delaney threw 1.1 scoreless innings. Brock Peterson went 3-4 with his 17th double, but the Red Wings managed just six hits. Brendan Harris went 0-4 and is now hitting .111 (2-18, after going 2-3 in his first game).   

New Britain Notes

Thursday – New Britain 1, New Hampshire 0 – Deolis Guerra was named to the Eastern League All-Star team earlier this week, and he showed he earned it in this game. Guerra threw seven innings of shutout baseball. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out seven. Tony Davis got one out, and walked two. Chris Province came in and got out of the eighth and three outs in the ninth for his fifth save. Joe Benson went 2-4 with a walk and a triple. Steve Singleton went 2-3 with a walk.

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Ft. Myers, St. Lucie – Postponed by Rain.  

Snappers Snippets

Thursday – Beloit 1, Quad Cities 5 BJ Hermsen gave up five runs on nine hits in 7.2 innings. He walked none and struck out five. Eliecer Cardenas got the final four outs without allowing a run. Former Gopher Derek McCallum went 3-3 with a walk. JJ Hardy went 1-4 with a walk.   

E-Twins Talkers

Thursday – Elizabethton 3, Johnson City 2 – Martire Garcia had another great start for the E-Twins. The lefty gave up two runs on four hits (2 home runs) and two walks in six innings. He struck out eight. Nelvin Fuentes picked up his first save. He threw three perfect innings and struck out five batters. The E-Twins had four hits. Oswaldo Arcia went 2-4. Jhonatan Arias hit his first home run.  

GCL Twins Topics

Wednsday – GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 3 (10 innings) – Kelvin Silvania doubled in a Yorby Martinez to score the winning run in the 10th. Candido Pimental went 3-5 with his second double. In Kyun Kahn went 2-4. Matej Hejma went 2-4. David Deminsky gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out three. Bart Carter pitched a perfect seventh. Hein Robb gave up one run on one hit and a walk. Matt Schuld got the win with two scoreless innings.  

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

SethSpeaks.net Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects

4 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

In the past, I have tried to do my Top 50 Twins prospect reports right before the June draft and then shortly following the completion of the minor league seasons which is generally in mid-September. This past year has been so much more busy than ever before on so many fronts, so this year, I am still going to update my Top 50 list and do some of my other pre-draft blogs, they will just have to be a bit condensed. With that, today I will be posting my updated Top 50 Twins prospect list. I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on any of the rankings. You don’t have to agree with me. So ask questions and present your Top 10, 20, 50 list for discussion too.

#1 – Kyle Gibson – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Prospect lists are a combination of potential with likelihood to reach potential. Gibson can be a top of the order, #2 type of pitcher, and there is a very good chance that it will happen.

#2 – Aaron Hicks – OF – Beloit Snappers – Hicks has all of the tools, including the 6th tool (plate discipline). The Midwest League is not an easy place to play, but 2010 has been a very streaky season. His strong streak told us just how good he can be.

#3 – Miguel Sano – SS – DSL Twins – All of the potential in the world, but still a long way to go. He wants to be up in the big leagues by 19. The Twins will be wise to note let that happen.

#4 – Wilson Ramos – C – Rochester Red Wings – Strong spring training. Horrible start at Rochester. Seven hits in his first two big league games. Reality set in. Ramos is immensely talented, both offensively and potentially defensively when he puts in the effort. Will be interesting to see if he’s still with the organization in August.

#5 – Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – 19 years old. Throws hard. Working on the breaking pitches, but he has been impressive in his short stint at Ft. Myers so far, even though he should probably be waiting for the Elizabethton season. Very high ceiling.

#6 – Angel Morales – OF – Beloit Snappers – It’s been a disappointing 2010 so far for Morales. He hasn’t hit for as much power, but the tools are all there. It would be nice for him to have a strong second half. He is one of the better base stealers in the organization.

#7 – Joe Benson – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle – Speaking of all the tools, Benson’s ability to hit for power and get on base very well have him high on this list. The ability to put the ball in play seems to be the one thing that he needs to improve most, which is likely why he is back in Ft. Myers.

#8 – Davis Bromberg – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – It’s been an up and down season for Bromberg, but he has four or five pitches, and he’s quite young. He also has great confidence and will work through any struggles. I expect that he will have a strong second half.

#9 – Ben Revere – OF – New Britain Rockcats – Comparing Revere to Hicks, Morales and Benson isn’t really fair. The other three are all much better and have much higher potential in terms of power and defense and arm. But Revere is a great singles hitter with tremendous speed and his base stealing has continued to improve. His likelihood to be a solid big league player is higher than the other three OF prospects.

#10 – Danny Valencia – 3B – Minnesota Twins – Valencia is currently with the Twins with Michael Cuddyer out. Everywhere he has played, he has hit for average. He has never hit below .282. He doesn’t like to walk too much, but an IsoD of over .050 is at least adequate. He is yet to homer this year, but his minor league track record indicates that he can hit for some power. And his defense has continued to improve.

 

#11 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Is he ready for AAA? Probably not. But he’s holding his own and continues to learn. Best changeup in the organization, and his incredible improved control is very impressive.

#12 – Alex Burnett – RHP – Minnesota Twins – Burnett was a surprise when he made the team out of spring training, but he has proven that he is ready and has pitched very well for the Twins. He always had good control, even as a starter. He throws hard and has three very good pitches. He’s still young, but he is a guy who could be a future closer.

#13 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Rochester Red Wings – Plouffe has seemingly put things together in 2010, and it’s hard to believe that he is still just 23 years old. He has the ability to be an everyday Major League shortstop, which alone should probably move him even higher up this list.

#14 – Liam Hendriks – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – I don’t know if Hendriks’ terrific start this season is a surprise, but it certainly has been noticed. He was the organization’s pitcher of the month in April which earned him an early promotion to Ft. Myers where he has continued to be very good. His stuff is very good, and he understands how to get hitters out.

#15 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Hermsen started the year at EST, but when needed, he was promoted to Beloit. He has been good at times, and at other times shown that he might be best served by pitching at E-town. But he has good stuff, good size and very good control, and the Twins love that.

#16 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – I still believe that Gutierrez will be a big league relief pitcher, and a very good one. It’s important to remember that he is working on adding pitches while in AA. He gets a ton of ground balls. He throws 95 with sink. Just has to trust his stuff and he can dominate.

#17 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain Rockcats – How much has the shoulder injury hurt Tosoni in 2010? He is still hitting around .280, but to this point, the power hasn’t shown up the way it did last year. Tosoni is very good, so this ranking doesn’t feel right. I think he should be higher, but right now, today, I just can’t do it.

#18 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Although he was called a sleeper this offseason, Pugh was also a very pleasant surprise this year… until an elbow injury which has sidelined him for a few weeks already. Hopefully he will be alright because he throws hard and has a couple of improving secondary pitches that make him potentially dominant.

#19 – Jeff Manship – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Again, a guy who is the big league club’s sixth start, and gave up two runs in six innings for the Twins shouldn’t be ranked this low. Manship can pitch in the big leagues, although his time in AAA this year will be valuable as well. He can help the Twins already when needed, but he can still continue to get better.

#20 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – Ft. Myers Miracle – Parmelee has a ton of potential as well, but he was overmatched in AA. Getting sent back to Ft. Myers was the best thing that could happen. He can now work on his game without being overwhelmed. The contact rate is always the question with Parmelee, but hopefully with the Miracle, he can regain his ability to take walks and to hit for power.

 

#21 – Max Kepler – OF – Extended Spring Training – All the talent in the world, but it will be very interesting to see how Max Kepler is able to put it together. Very good speed. Solid already defensively. Needs work on the offensive part of the game. But he’s just 17, and the Twins will be very patient with him. I’d expect him to spend two years with the GCL Twins before advancing.

#22 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Hopefully his elbow issues and his upcoming MRI reveal nothing and that Stuifbergen can rest and come back strong soon. He is another guy who just knows how to get hitters out. He has very good stuff, but he knows how to pitch, and that’s important too.

#23 – Blayne Weller – RHP – Extended Spring Training – I’m surprised and curious as to why Weller has not been promoted from EST to a full-season team, and yet, it is in his best interest to pitch for the E-Twins this year. He’s got good stuff and great control. Just a notch behind Hermsen.

#24 – Luke Hughes – 2B – Rochester Red Wings – How cool was it to see Hughes hit a home run in his first at bat with the Twins? Again, this feels like a low ranking, and yet, as good as Hughes has shown he can be, he just keeps getting hurt and isn’t able to sustain the success very long. If he could stay healthy, he can help the Twins, maybe as a pinch hitter. I also think he could compete for the starting 2B job next year.

#25 – Chris Herrmann – C/OF – Ft. Myers Miracle – Herrmann has done a very good job adjusting to the catcher position. He’s quick and has a strong arm. But he is also an excellent defensive left fielder. He is also a solid hitter. The Twins typically do not have players skip levels, but Herrmann was pushed from Elizabethton last year to Ft. Myers this year and hasn’t been completely over his head. He’s got a chance to be a solid all-around player.

#26 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Gibson got all the notice, but Lanigan was even better in April. Unfortunately, he has only pitched once since then. He has a good fastball and a very good slider, so hopefully he can get back soon.

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain Rockcats – Another guy who should be much higher on this list probably.  

#28 – Billy Bullock – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – The 2009 second round pick from Florida can throw hard. He can dominate and gets a lot of strikeouts, but he should continue to get better and better. He is a future closer option.

#29 – Tyler Robertson – LHP – New Britain Rockcats – Robertson has really struggled in 2010 at AA, allowing hitters to bat about .330 against him so far this year. The lefty does have decent stuff and a high baseball IQ, but he’s still so young for the level, even after spending two years at Ft. Myers. Hopefully his arm strength will continue to increase and he can move up this list. Remember, he was my choice for the Twins #1 prospect after the 2007 season.

#30 – Anthony Slama – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Again, I know most won’t like this ranking, but it’s clear that there must be some reason that Slama has not been promoted, and I think a big part of that is the number of walks, which would likely increase more in the big leagues. But his ability to get strikeouts is pretty impressive, and he needs to get a shot soon. I mean, he’s already 26!

 

#31 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Tonkin was pitching best at EST when Beloit had a need, so he was the first promoted. He has actually done better than I would have thought. He’s got good control. He has a decent fastball and an improving curveball. He has a long way to go.

#32 – Yangervis Solarte – IF/OF – New Britain Rockcats – Like Hughes, Solarte can play a lot of places. His most natural position is 2B, but he can play basically all of the infield and outfield positions adequately. His biggest asset, however, has been his bat. Not sure how confident I am that he will sustain it, but he certainly could, and I’m comfortable with this ranking.

#33 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit Snappers – Rams hit two home runs last night. I really, really hope that he can find a way to put the ball in play more because when he makes contact, he hits the ball so hard and can hit the ball a long way!

#34 – Shooter Hunt – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – It is good to see the improvements that Hunt has made this year. But he has a long way to go before we can feel confident in his future. But the potential is so high, he has to be on the list. He’ll be making another start today.

#35 – Jorge Polanco – SS – DSL Twins – When Baseball America named Polanco the top defensive infielder in the Twins organization, I wasn’t sure how to take that. It means he is very good, but it could also be an indictment of the rest of the system’s infielders. Polanco will have to show some bat to move his way up the list. I don’t expect him to hit much for a couple of years.

#36 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit Snappers – I may be biased because I saw him pitch in Beloit, but I was very impressed with the high-side of his four pitches. Good fastball, worked both sides of the plate. Very good slider. Devastating changeup. Now, he wasn’t consistent with any of those pitches, and hasn’t been all year, but the pitches are there, and his potential is high.

#37 – Kyle Waldrop – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Waldrop has impressed this entire year. 2009 was about staying healthy. 2010 has been about ground balls, throwing hard, getting a ton of movement on his pitches, and great success. There is a good chance that Waldrop, even with his lack of strikeouts, gets promoted before Anthony Slama.

#38 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit Snappers – The numbers haven’t been there in Beloit, but the stuff is incredible. Munoz throws quite hard and has good stuff. He just needs to throw more strikes and be more consistent.

#39 – Santos Arias – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Arias fell a bit on this list, but even with his horrible performance in late innings for the Rockcats, his ERA isn’t bad. He still has good stuff. He has been healthy. He’s got a very good fastball, and a very good changeup. I’m not giving up on him at all.

#40 – James Beresford – SS/2B – Beloit Snappers – he was the player in Beloit that I was most impressed with. He will have to get bigger to make it to the next level. I assume that will happen, so he could move up this list very quickly. He got off to a very tough start in April, and is still hitting just .240, but he could very well be a big leaguer.

 

#41 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit Snappers – Hidalgo has been a doubles machine. He doesn’t play every day and splits some time with Reggie Williams at 3B, but he just hits. He’s the one hitter at Beloit that is actually putting up numbers, and not just singles. He doesn’t like to walk, and he doesn’t have much range, but he can continue to improve, and definitely is worth watching.

#42 – Michael McCardell – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – It’s been a tough season for McCardell in terms of wins and losses, but he hasn’t pitched terribly at all. He is a solid starter, probably a future bottom of the rotation guy, or even a long reliever. He has good stuff and is mentally strong, so he will be fine.

#43 – Brian Dinkelman – OF – Rochester Red Wings – This is probably a case of Age-ism. Dinkelman has done nothing but play well since the Twins drafted him in 2006. He is playing in AAA this year, and continues to walk more than strikeout, get extra base hits, hit for average and “do the little things.” He has also transitioned to the outfield pretty flawlessly.

#44 – Brad Tippett – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Tippett is back on the DL with forearm issues. He just has not been able to get going. He has never thrown hard, but he’s got good size, so if he can continue to gain strength, he can add a few mph. And again, the Australian knows how to pitch.

#45 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Extended Spring Training – Arcia is young and did a nice job last year in the GCL. Has all kinds of tools.

#46 – Andrei Lobanov – LHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – One walk and 35 strikeouts in 22 innings in the GCL last year. He likely will go to E-town, but he has done quite well with the Miracle.

#47 – Steve Liddle – OF – Beloit Snappers – I thought he would do more this year with the Snappers. He has shown good power at times, but you would hope for more from a college hitter.

#48 – Rob Delaney – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – This is way too low, but Delaney has been hittable in Rochester after dominating all the way up to that level. That said, he still is walking very few and striking out about a batter an inning. He is ready.

#49 – Josmil Pinto – C – Beloit Snappers – The guy can hit a bit. Seems adequate behind the plate. No speed whatsoever.

#50 – Reggie Williams – IF – Beloit Snappers – Lots of talent. Getting a chance to play this year. He doesn’t seem to be a 3B, but should be a 2B. He has also played in the OF. Takes decent at bats and has doubles power.

There you have it. There is my Top 50 Twins Prospects list as of June 4, 2010. Let me know what you think, agree or disagree, and feel free to post your comments and questions in the Comments section.