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Roster Projections: Rochester Red Wings

29 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 that 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.

Now that the Twins have set their own roster, what does it mean for the Triple-A team? After the Red Wings lost nearly 100 games last year, the Twins went out and acquired a lot of minor league veterans. They did this for a few reasons, but the primary one had to be to win more games and keep the Rochester fan base happy. Secondly, it does allow the Twins to be more patient with actual prospects so that they can play and develop at the proper pace. So, let’s take a look at a projected Red Wings roster. These are the guys who could be called up at any time to play for the Twins if needed. I will include whether or not they are on the Twins 40 man roster because if they are not, they will need to be added before being called up.)

(the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Rene Rivera (40 man – No) – Steve Holm (40 man – No) 

With Wilson Ramos with the Nationals and Jose Morales with the Rockies, the Twins went out and acquired two minor league veterans, each with Major League service time and many years of AAA experience. Danny Lehmann impressed in spring training and although I believe he will start at AA New Britain, he is also an option for a call up should Drew Butera be hurt.

Infielders: 1B – Jeff Bailey (40 man – No), 2B – Luke Hughes (40 man – Yes), 3B – Chase Lambin (40 man – No), SS – Trevor Plouffe (40 man – Yes), Utility – Michael Hollimon (40 man – No), 1B/DH – Erik Lis – (40 man – No)

Bailey and Lambin were the first two minor league free agents that they signed. Bailey got some playing time and displayed power with the Red Sox in parts of three season. He and Lambin both have a lot of experience. Lambin was an International League All-Star last year. Luke Hughes showed his power in spring training. He will just need to stay healthy in 2011 (something he hasn’t been able to do in recent years) and he will be with the Twins at some point. So will Trevor Plouffe, despite a tough spring. Bailey can play some right field. The other four infielders listed should move around the infield, including 1B, because their role with the Twins would likely be off the bench. Yes, it is possible that Toby Gardenhire is on the roster, although my guess is that he will be on the “Disabled List.” Steve Singleton and his organization-leading 43 doubles will likely begin the season back in New Britain due to the veterans brought in. Matt Brown and Ray Chang, who each got a Non-Roster Invite to spring training, are also possibilities for the Red Wings roster. Justin Huber, who was another Non-Roster invite, was recently released which likely means that Erik Lis could get a lot of at bats as the Designated Hitter. It is possible Chris Parmelee will end the season with the Red Wings.

Outfielders: LF – Dustin Martin (40 man – No), CF – Ben Revere (40 man – Yes), RF – Brian Dinkelman (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Brandon Roberts (40 man – No).

Martin will return for his third season with the Red Wings. Dinkelman will be there for his second full season. Both should have better seasons in 2011. Brandon Roberts has missed so much time the last few years with leg injuries. When he was healthy last year, he played really well, and in 153 at bats with the Red Wings at the end of 2010, he hit .333. He has primarily played CF in his career. As mentioned above, Bailey can play right field. Ben Revere will be making his Triple-A debut in 2011, even though he made his major league debut in 2010. Some believe he is ready for the big leagues. I believe he is close, but getting a year at AAA can only help him. He will likely be the one promoted to the Twins if there is a need. Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni impressed in spring training, and Tosoni could be the first promoted to AAA, if needed.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Eric Hacker (40 man – Yes), LHP Scott Diamond (40 man – No), RHP Kyle Gibson (40 man – No), Chuck James (40 man – No), Anthony Swarzak (40 man – Yes)

Obviously Gibson is the guy that everyone is going to be anxiously waiting for, but it will be good for him to get at least another 12-15 starts in Rochester. Triple-A hitters frequently have some big league time, and it is a good transition for pitchers to get to see hitters who are usually much more patient. Swarzak lost a lot of weight and he has regained some of the velocity he showed two years ago. Hopefully he can regain some of the effectiveness. The Twins gave up a lot (Billy Bullock) to retain the services of Scott Diamond. Hopefully it will be a good move. Diamond has put up terrific numbers throughout his minor league career, never posting an ERA above 3.52 at any level and striking out 7.3 per nine innings. Chuck James has 24 big league wins, and went 10-1 between AA and AAA last year with the Nationals organization in his return from surgery. Hacker went 16-8 with a league-average 4.51 ERA last year in the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t have a strong showing in big league camp, but he can provide Rochester with a solid season. The surprise omission here is David Bromberg. He made nine starts with the Red Wings last year and pitched well. He was added to the 40 man roster after the season, and he is a very good prospect, but it could be a positive in the long run for him to get a few more starts in AA and use what he learned in AAA late last year and in spring training this year.

Bullpen: RHP Alex Burnett (40 man – Yes), RHP Kyle Waldrop (40 man – No), RHP Jim Hoey (40 man – Yes), LHP Phil Dumatrait (40 man – No), RHP Chris Province (40 man – No), Yorman Bazardo (40 man – No), Andy Baldwin (40 man – No) RHP Anthony Slama (40 man – Yes)

I assume based on his arm issues during spring training that Anthony Slama could start the season on the Disabled List. Jim Hoey was the last guy with a chance to make the team to be sent down. He and his fastball could be promoted soon if he shows any semblance of control. Kyle Waldrop made another very strong impression this spring, and with the open 40 man roster spots, he could be added if needed. Alex Burnett was on the Twins opening day roster one year ago without any time in Rochester. He was sent back down in July before a September call-up. He will get more opportunities with the Twins. Phil Dumatrait is a former first-round pick who has quite a bit of big league time. He was the #4 lefty on a roster that kept three lefties in the bullpen. Chris Province came to the Twins last year from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He pitched mainly in New Britain last year. He did make a couple of starts for the Red Wings late in 2010, but he is a bullpen arm. Bazardo pitched well for the Tigres de Aragua this winter in Venezuela and got a minor league deal with the Twins. Low strikeout numbers, but he could be a long reliever. Baldwin is a Minnesota native who has spent the last three seasons pitching in AAA for the Mariners organization. You likely noticed that I did not include Carlos Gutierrez on this roster which may be a surprise to you. It was also somewhat of a surprise to me as well because he ended 2010 with two games for the Red Wings. I just think that with the minor league veterans, it would be good for him to begin the season pitching as the closer in New Britain. Remember, he has been doing a lot of starting in his pro career. It will be good for him to get some development time in the late innings for the Rockcats.He will get to AAA quickly. Additionally, Ryan Mullins and Minnesota-native Cole Devries remain options for the Red Wings bullpen.

Overall: This is a very veteran team which should mean a lot more wins in Rochester in 2011. I do believe that it is best for most of the prospects in the system in the long run, but there are not many prospects to watch in Rochester this year. Ben Revere and Kyle Gibson are the two that would be deemed top prospects. Plouffe is still just 24 and a prospect, but he is now in his fourth season with the Red Wings. Hughes and Waldrop made great impressions in spring training again, and we could see both of them this year.. Hoey and Burnett are exciting, but no longer “prospects” due to their time in the big leagues.

Due to the minor league free agents, AA New Britain should be filled with several exciting prospects such as Joe Benson, David Bromberg, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez, Dakota Watts, Steve Singleton and more.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. It will be very interesting to see where some of the team’s top prospects end up. There were more releases in the last couple of days, a couple that surprised me, and there will likely need to be more in the coming days to bring the rosters down to the appropriate level.

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

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Thursday Notes

5 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Thursday at 9:20 a.m., I’ll again be joining Paul Allen on KFAN, its affiliates and www.KFAN.com. Talking Twins is always fun! Also, check out my newest TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com. It takes a look ahead at the Twins 40 man roster decisions.

The Twins won an ugly 2-1 game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 13 innings last night, and if you listen to some Twins fans, you would think it means nothing. There were some missed opportunities. Delmon Young and Denard Span took turns looking really bad defensively. Span and Michael Cuddyer each went 0-6 in the game. There were several situations with a runner on third base and less than two outs where all you need is a medium deep fly ball and the team didn’t come through. Matt Capps blew a save. 

If you want to think all negative after a game like that, that’s your prerogative… you can do what you want to do. 

But here is how I choose to look at it. The Twins played an imperfect game, on the road, against (arguably, but in my opinion) the best team in baseball, without Justin Morneau and Orlando Hudson, with Joe Mauer only able to DH, against one of the best, young left-handed pitchers in baseball (meaning no Jason Kubel or Jim Thome too) and they still were able to win.

Most important to note is the impressive pitching performance by Scott Baker. Following two, two-run losses to the Rays, the Twins needed a big game from Baker, and he came through. He has not looked that good all year. The fastball was popping a little, and moving a lot. The curveball was as sharp as I’ve seen it. He had good control, and was very impressive. Eight innings. He gave up just three hits and one walk against a good Rays lineup. Despite a couple of bad plays (or non-plays) behind him, he was able to pick up his defense and make big pitches and get big outs. He deserved a “Win” even if I don’t care about that statistic for a starting pitcher in today’s game.

Matt Capps blew the save, so a lot of people thought the sky was falling down. But in reality, if Delmon Young catches that first lazy fly ball, Capps likely saves a 1-0 win for the Twins. But, that didn’t happen. Again, I am not a big fan of Capps, but he did not look bad last night. He does make the 2010 Twins bullpen better, regardless of a blown save. So, we really should not make too much out of that. Also, yes, Young should have caught that ball. No question about that. But in reviewing the tape, he did start out playing very deep. Teams always do that to (ironically) take away doubles. Young hesitated briefly, but not much, and he went a long way to get to that ball. It hit off the tip of his glove, and really, it just looked rather awkward. Should have been caught, but not as easy a play as many are thinking.

But the beauty of baseball is that there is a new game every day, and each at bat and appearance are new. Players and tames have the opportunity to redeem themselves quickly. Young had the play in the 9th inning, and he was 0-5 when he came to the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd in the 13th. He came through with what proved to be the game-winning hit.

On Tuesday night, Matt Guerrier played the role of goat after an awful performance in which he walked two before throwing BJ Upton a 2-0 fastball right down the middle that I think I could have hit out of the park! On Wednesday night, he pitched the 12th and 13th innings and was tremendous.

When asked before this series what I thought the Twins needed to do in this four game series against Tampa, I thought they needed to win one game, and that two wins would have been terrific. Anything more than that would have been pie in the sky. This morning (11 a.m. start time), the Twins can earn a split of the four game series.

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

Red Wings Report   

No game scheduled for the Red Wings on Wednesday.

New Britain Notes

The Rockcats beat Erie 13-6. Bobby Lanigan improved to 2-0. The righty gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He walked one and struck out five. Mike McCardell came out of the bullpen and gave up two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings. He did not issue a walk and struck out four. Cole DeVries gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Juan Portes went 4-5 with his third triple and fifth home run. Erik Lis went 4-5 with his 12th double. Jeff Howell went 3-4 with a walk and his first Rockcats double and home run. Joe Benson was 2-5 with his 17th double. Estarlin de Los Santos went 2-5 with his first triple. It was announced as well that Ben Revere will miss the rest of the season after being hit in the eye, and breaking his eye socket, on Tuesday night.

Miracle Matters

The Ft. Myers Miracle lost 5-2 to Clearwater. Nick Romero went 2-3. Santos Arias gave up one run on five hits and three walks in five innings. Jhon Garcia gave up one run on two hits in three innings.

Snappers Snippets

Tom Stuifbergen improved to 5-0 in the Snappers 7-2 win over Burlington. The Dutch right-hander gave up two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. He walked none, hit two batters and struck out five. Andrei Lobanov struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings. Michael Gonzales has been on fire of late. In this game, he was 2-3 with a walk, his 20th double and his 12th home run. Danny Rams was 3-4 with his fourth triple. Reggie Williams went 2-4.

Brad Stillings, Anderson Hidalgo and Peter Kennelly were put on the Disabled List. Who will replace them?  Check out the E-Twins Talkers for my thoughts.

E-Twins Talkers

Elizabethton did not play on Wednesday. So, who will be heading up to Beloit? I would say that it would make a lot of sense for the Twins to promote Adrian Salcedo, Martire Garcia and Oswaldo Arcia. All three have performed great for the E-Twins and are likely very ready for a promotion. But I don’t think that is what will actually happen. The E-Twins are going to win their division and advance to the league’s playoffs where they have a strong opportunity to win another Appalachian League title. Those three players will be a big part of that. So, I expect that the Twins will not send their primary players to the Snappers. I could be wrong, but I think they will let the Elizabethton team and fans win again. It is likely that all three will end the season at Beloit, following their playoff run for a few games. According to LaVelle, Pat Dean has been promoted to Elizabethton. It will be interesting to see if he starts, or just continues to throw an inning at a time in the bullpen.

GCL Twins Topics

It was a long day for the Twins Gulf Coast League team. They were able to drive north to Tampa (St. Petersburg) to watch the Twins and the Rays. They got to see 13 innings of that game.  They played early in the day and worked a little overtime to beat the Orioles team 6-4 in 11 innings. Max Kepler went 3-4. Matej Hejman was 2-5 with his third double, first home run and three RBI. Eddie Rosario went 2-5 with his ninth double. Justin Parker gave up four runs (just 1 earned) on four hits and a walk in five innings. Derek Christensen threw two scoreless innings. Matt Schuld struck out four in three scoreless innings. Nick Alloway got his second save with a scoreless inning.

On his way to Tampa, LaVelle E. Neal made a quick stop in Ft. Myers and observed the GCL Twins. Here are his notes on several of the players.

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

Five Minute Notes

24 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

If you are able, I will be on the radio with Paul Allen this morning at 9:20 on KFAN (am 1130 in the Twin Cities, affiliates around the state/region) or listen live in on KFAN.com. Or, be sure to listen to the podcast (Fan on Demand) an hour later.

Time is of the essence today, so here are some quick thoughts on the Twins game last night and highlights from the affiliates:

  • The Twins lost to the Brewers. The decision to go with a lefty-laden lineup worked well for Ron Gardenhire. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each had two hits while Jason Kubel had two hits off of a lefty. Of course, pinch hitting Jim Thome against a lefty in the top of the 6th really hurt.
  • Also, Danny Valencia needs to be playing 3B on this team… not Michael Cuddyer. I’m as big of a Michael Cuddyer fan as there is, but he is not a 3B. I get that it is nice to have that ability and get his bat in there along with Young and Kubel, but he’s not a 3B. There were two plays last night that most 3B make that he didn’t come close to, and those plays led to three Brewers runs. Oh yeah, the Brewers won, by three. This isn’t at all a knock on Cuddyer. He’ll do anything he’s asked to for the time, and I admire that. I can’t even really blame Gardy for playing him there since in his two games at 3B in Philadelphia, he only had one play to make. You can’t hide a guy at 3B for very long. I think this is a great cautionary tale for all of the Twins fans who seem to think that Joe Mauer can easily move to 3B. Seriously, it’s not that easy.
  • Glen Perkins got crushed again last night in Rochester. He gave up six runs on eight hits and four walks in just 3.2 innings. Fortunately Tim Lahey threw 3.1 hitless innings in relief. Then Pat Neshek came in and gave up five runs on six hits and got just one out. Of the 23 pitches he threw, 18 were strikes. Kyle Waldrop came in and gave up a hit but got the final two outs. Rob Delaney struck out the side in the 9th. The Red Wings lost 11-2 and had just six hits including four doubles (Trevor Plouffe, D’Angelo Jimenez, Jose Morales, Jacque Jones).
  • New Britain beat Binghamton 10-2. Chris Parmelee was 3-4 with a walk. Mark Dolenc went 3-5 with his seventh double and four RBI. Erik Lis was 3-5. Jair Fernandez went 2-3. Joe Benson was 2-5 with a walk and his seventh double. Carlos Gutierrez started and gave up one run on six hits and a walk in six innings. Chris Province gave up a run on three hits in two innings, and Cole DeVries threw a perfect inning.
  • Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach 9-6. Brian Dozier went 4-6. Estarlin de Los Santos went 3-5 with a walk. Evan Bigley went 3-5 and drove in three runs. Nate Hanson went 2-4 with a walk. Angel Morales went 2-4 with his first FSL double. Santos Arias gave up three runs on six hits in four innings. Andrey Lobanov gave up one run on three hits in 2.2 innings. Billy Bullock notched his 13th save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning.
  • Beloit did not play. They are still on their all-star break and start playing games again tonight. Tom Stuifbergen told me that he expects to be back on the mound around the 4th of July.
  • Elizabethton lost to Bristol 8-4. Blayne Weller got knocked around a bit. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on nine hits in four innings. Sam Spangler gave up one run on two hits in two innings. David Gutierrez debuted and struck out two in a perfect innings. Kyle Necke gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in an inning. Oswaldo Arcia hit his first triple and his second home run (in 2 games). Brandon Henderson went 2-2 with a walk and his second stolen base.
  • The GCL Rays topped the GCL Twins 7-4. Eddie Rosario went 3-4 with his first homer and his first stolen base. Candid Pimental went 3-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Nick Lockwood hit two doubles in five at bats. Kennys Vargas went 2-3 with a walk and his second double. Clay Condrey started for the team and pitched the first inning. He gave up two hits and a walk in an inning but no runs. Ricardo Arevalo went the next 4.1 innings and gave up four runs (3 earned) on four hits. He didn’t walk any hitters and struck out four. Bart Carter struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings. Brett Carroll gave up three runs on five hits in an inning. Matt Trau struck out two in a scoreless inning.

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

2010 Rochester Red Wings Preview

7 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The 2010 Twins minor league roster previews are brought to you by the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Get your copy here!

Second, I will be on KFAN at 10:30 central time with Paul Allen. If you can get it on the radio, great. If not, head over to KFAN.com and listen live.

And, by the way, if you’re able to, be sure to join me and the rest of TwinsCentric at Majors Sports Café in Blaine on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until the end of the Twins/White Sox game. Drink and appetizer specials. Lots of prizes to give away. Lots of talk with Twins fans. It’d be fun to meet you!

On Thursday night, Anthony Swarzak will take the mound for the Rochester Red Wings against Boof Bonser and Pawtucket. Tom Nieto will be the Red Wings manager in 2010 after leading the New Britain Rockcats a year ago. Floyd Rayford will be the hitting coach while Bobby Cuellar is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Red Wings roster to start the 2010 season (note – prospect ranking for my choices for Top 30 Twins prospects as updated in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook):

The Starting Pitchers

Anthony Swarzak, Jeff Manship (16), Glen Perkins, Mike Maroth, Yoslan Herrera.

As far as upside, I think most would agree that Glen Perkins could be the most talented pitcher in this group. Does that mean he’s the best pitcher? Probably not. Manship and Swarzak both profile as back of the rotation starters. Both showed in 2009, in short stints with the Twins, that they are capable big league pitchers, but they also both showed that they have more to learn. Having talked with Manship several times, I know that he’ll take a lot from what he learned at the big league level and incorporate it into his game. I like to assume the same for Swarzak. Mike Maroth is a veteran. He was the last 20 game loser in the big leagues. I had so much respect for him during his Tigers days for being strong enough mentally to keep pitching, and he wasn’t as bad as that win-loss record indicated. Of course, a couple of years later, he was that bad and out of baseball. This spring, he was given a chance by the Twins and had a solid camp, so he can be a veteran in the AAA rotation. Herrera signed a four year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates after defecting from Cuba. Those four years are up. He became a free agent and signed with the Twins. At 28, he’s not a prospect, but he has been solid enough in the minor leagues that this is a worthy risk to take. I also believe that Matt Fox and Ryan Mullins will each get an opportunity to start at some point during the season.

The Bullpen Arms

Anthony Slama (23), Rob Delaney, Jose Lugo, Kyle Waldrop, Tim Lahey, Matt Fox, Ryan Mullins, Ron Mahay.

The back-end of the Twins bullpen is incredibly talented and should be a strength of this roster. Anthony Slama has done nothing but dominate since signing in early 2007. Rob Delaney has been just about as good, although he struggled more in his time in AAA than did Slama. Jose Lugo is pretty similar to Jose Mijares. Occasional lapses and loss of control, but has tremendous stuff, especially against lefties. Kyle Waldrop was a pleasant surprise in camp this spring. The non-roster invitee was one of the Twins first-round picks in 2004 out of his Tennessee high school. He missed all of 2008 with surgery in his shoulder. He stayed healthy in 2009 and should be strong in 2010. Fellow 2004 first round pick Matt Fox and 2005 3rd round pick will be the righty and lefty (respectively) to pitch out of the bullpen, and as I said earlier, both could get opportunities to start. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, and soon the Twins made him a reliever. He quickly worked through the system and last year he really struggled. But he lost nearly 30 pounds in the offseason and looked strong in camp, so it will be a very big year for the right-hander. And remember, in all likelihood, Alex Burnett will be optioned to Rochester, a place he has not yet played. But he could be the best relief pitching prospect in the Twins system too. Ron Mahay will start the season in Rochester, but he is expected to be up with the Twins relatively soon. Big league veteran, Brad Hennessey, who had a couple of very good years with the San Francisco Giants, missed last year and will spend the first couple of months this year. But this was a nice

The Catchers

Wilson Ramos (2), Allan de San Miguel.

When it came to on-field, baseball decisions, Wilson Ramos was probably the story of spring training. Ramos did not lose the battle to Drew Butera, but Butera was – rightfully – given the Twins backup catcher duties until the return of Jose Morales. Ramos is an incredible prospect. I ranked him the team’s #2 prospect this winter. He has displayed an ability to hit for both average and power, and play a very solid catcher defensively. The incredible thing is that he isn’t even the top prospect in the International League this year. Both Jesus Montero of the Yankees and Carlos Santana of the Indians will also be playing in the league.

De San Miguel has been in the Twins farm system for a long time and yet he is still just 23 years old. He knows and understands that his future with the Twins is as a backup catcher, and he has embraced the role. Offensively, he hasn’t hit for average or power, but he has really improved his ability to get on base. But again, that’s all secondary to what he provides for the pitching staff. Jose Morales would likely rehab in Rochester at some point, and when he returns to the Twins, Drew Butera would likely come back to Rochester to back up Ramos.

The Infielders

Brock Peterson, Luke Hughes (27), Trevor Plouffe (21), Danny Valencia (7), Erik Lis, Matt Tolbert, (Matt Macri)

Peterson became a free agent this past offseason, but the Twins were happily able to bring him back. He was the Red Wings top hitter in the second half of 2009. Plus, it’s fun to cheer for a former 49th round draft pick! Erik Lis likely will not play much first base and will get plenty of at bats as the team’s designated hitter. This is a big year for Trevor Plouffe. He’s still just 23, but now in his third year at Rochester. With the acquisition of JJ Hardy, Plouffe may need to play other positions as well. Danny Valencia is immensely talented, and there are questions at 3B with the Twins. There could be a scenario in which he is up with the Twins by June, but most of that depends as much on the performances of Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, along with his own performance. Matt Tolbert, simply, is not very good, but he can play all around the infield and on opening night, he will actually be the Red Wings leadoff hitter and center fielder. Ron Gardenhire loves him, so he likely remains in the plans. Matt Macri begins the season on the Disabled List.

The Outfielders

Brian Dinkelman, Jason Repko, Jacque Jones, Dustin Martin, (Brandon Roberts)

Jacque Jones was one of the great Twins stories of spring training. Brought back for camp, almost as a courtesy for all he did at the beginning of last decade for the team, Jones was not going to make the big league roster. But he almost did, and now he will head to Rochester. If a need arises in the outfield for the Twins, Jones might be the first promoted. On Monday, the Twins signed Jason Repko, a centerfielder who had spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers four of the past five seasons. Not a great hitter, he is right-handed and probably the best option to play center field. Dustin Martin had a very good 2008, a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, and a nice showing in spring training 2009. And then the season started, and Martin didn’t even get an invite to big league training camp this year. Brian Dinkelman was a second baseman throughout his career, until Steve Singleton was promoted to New Britain last year. Then Dinkelman started playing in the outfield, and he performed fairly well. A good contact hitter who finds ways to get on base, I think he will be hitting near the top of the Red Wings order throughout the year. Finally, Brandon Roberts spent most of the past two years in New Britain, on their Disabled List, and that’s where he will begin the 2010 season with the Red Wings.

SUMMARY

Overall, I think this is a very solid roster. For AAA, it is a good mix of veteran players, with decent AAAA types of players and a good number of prospects who will likely contribute to some degree, some significantly, in the next couple of seasons. On Opening Night, Danny Valencia will be batting 8th with Brian Dinkelman betting 9th. I’m not saying agree with that, but if that is the case, this should be a very strong lineup. As I mentioned before, the back end of the bullpen should be very strong, so the starters can hopefully provide at least six good innings each night. The fans in Rochester should get to see some quality baseball this season. Hopefully they can not only develop players for the Twins to use as necessary, but also compete for a playoff spot in the International League.  

If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to ask… Leave your questions or comments.

Roster Projections: Rochester Red Wings

23 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net – 

Before we jump into my Twins AAA projection, here are a couple of quick notes:

  • I was on part of Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast last night talking about Twins minor leaguers which obviously I always thoroughly enjoy doing that.
  • Tonight, I will be hosting an episode of the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I’ll be joined by Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi who was at the Joe Mauer press conference on Monday night. There may be another guest or two as well, and lots of Twins talk.
  • There will be an episode of The Show on Thursday night at a special time of 8:00 p.m. I already two Twins minor leaguers (one of which some have been clamoring for me to bring on for awhile now).  During that show, we will also announce the regularly scheduled night and time for The Show throughout the season. So be sure to take in that show.
  • And please be sure to go to the Star-Tribune’s TwinsCentric blog today. Parker had a chance to sit down with Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony down in Ft. Myers last week. He transcribed his interview and posted the first half of it here. The rest of it can be found at Over the Baggy.

The Twins open their season on April 5th. The Rochester Red Wings season begins on April 8th in Pawtucket. Their first home game is on April 17th.  They will be managed this year by Tom Nieto, who managed the New Britain Rockcats a year ago.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the Rochester Red Wings:

The Hitters

  Rochester
C Wilson Ramos
1B Brock Peterson
2B Luke Hughes
3B Danny Valencia
SS Trevor Plouffe
LF Brian Dinkelman
CF Charlton Jimerson
RF Dustin Martin
DH Erik Lis
Bu C Danny Lehmann
Bu IF Toby Gardenhire
Bu OF Jacque Jones
Bench Matt Tolbert
DL… (Brandon Roberts)

Analysis: I discussed my thoughts on the Twins backup catcher situation yesterday, and I will stand behind my feelings that Wilson Ramos needs to play, not sit on the bench. That is why I have him starting in Rochester. When Drew Butera is optioned to AAA (when Jose Morales comes back), he will take over as the Red Wings backup catcher, behind Ramos. Danny Lehmann would then go back to New Britain. Lehmann is very respected among pitchers and coaches. Bringing back Brock Peterson (a six year free agent) is a great thing for the Red Wings, and I am just hoping that the former 49th round draft choice gets a chance to get a cup of coffee with the Twins. He was the Red Wings best hitter during the second half of 2009. Although I expect to see Matt Tolbert play a lot, I really believe that we will see a lot of Luke Hughes at second base. He played there, and played pretty well there, in spring training, and he could be another option for 2010. Think Jeff Kent? Danny Valencia should play most days at 3B, and hopefully he can get off to a fast start and be in Minnesota by mid-June. Trevor Plouffe will likely see time at all three infield positions as well, and if anything happens to JJ Hardy (or he doesn’t come back well), Plouffe could get a big league call too. Brian Dinkelman played mainly 2B until last year when Steve Singleton was promoted to New Britain. Then he started playing in left field where he is still learning, but works hard and can get better. The other two outfield positions could be a rotating carousel. Charlton Jimerson’s defense and speed is terrific. Dustin Martin needs a rebound season. Jacque Jones needs to play well. Really, all three of them need to play well because Rene Tosoni may not be far away from AAA. Erik Lis has hit well in AA New Britain for two years, so he needs to move up. And the DL seemed like an appropriate place to place Brandon Roberts at this time. Yes, I am not including Matt Macri here, although it is possible he could be another utility infield type. That said, defensively, I think Toby Gardenhire is just as good and can play eight positions. And no, this is not at all a choice, by me, that has anything to do with nepotism. He’s got a very strong glove.  

The Pitchers

  Rochester
SP Anthony Swarzak
SP Jeff Manship
SP Matt Fox
SP Ryan Mullins
SP Brian Duensing
   
CL Rob  Delaney
8L Jose Lugo
8R Chris Province
BP Yoslan Herrera
BP Kyle Waldrop
BP Mark McLemore
BP Mike Maroth
   
  (Glen Perkins)
  (Brad Hennessey – DL)
  (Tim Lahey)

Analysis: As you can see there several question marks in this pitching rotation. That really starts with Glen Perkins. If he doesn’t make the Twins roster (which he won’t), will they be able to trade him? If not, he will be sent to Rochester. Will he start? Will he pitch out of the bullpen? Will he be put on the Fake DL? Since I included Anthony Slama on the Twins roster, it meant Brian Duensing goes to the Red Wings, and I believe he will start. Should there be an early-season injury, he would be the first promoted. Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship both were rushed to the big leagues a year ago, and both showed signs that they can be solid big league performers, but each showed that they could also use more seasoning. Matt Fox spent the entire season in the New Britain starting rotation last year. It was the first time that the 2004 supplemental first round pick had done that. I think he deserves the shot to do it again as he has improved remarkably his arm strength and seen success. Ryan Mullins had a solid season last year in New Britain. It was his third with the Rockcats. He needs to move up. He actually pitched a couple of games for the Red Wings in 2007. So there is my starting five. 

The bullpen is even more perplexing. Again, with Slama on my big league roster, I’ll move Rob Delaney to the closer role. Jose Lugo will certainly be back in the Red Wings bullpen. I have Tim Lahey on the outside looking in, but he would be another option. Chris Province came from the Red Sox in the Boof Bonser deal. Yoslan Herrera was signed as a free agent recently. The lefty was very solid last year in AA, but needs to show he can pitch well in the International League. I really like this signing. He can replace Reid Santos as a lefty who could pitch both out of the bullpen and start as well. Mark McLemore could be that as well. He started his comeback from Tommy John surgery last year, and this will be his second year back. Mike Maroth has done better in spring training than I would have guessed he would do. That’s not to say great, but enough that if he wants to, he could go to AAA. There is really no risk in signing a former big leaguers like Herrera, McLemore and Maroth, letting him get healthy and seeing where he is at. Maybe he comes back fully. Speaking of healthy, Brad Hennessey was a solid bullpen arm a couple for a couple of years in the big leagues. He is likely to miss at least a couple of months, but I like this signing as well as a no risk, potentially decent reward signing.  

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here. 

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 2

18 Feb

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net

Just a quick update on tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Podcast. I really am excited about the new format and hope that it goes well. I’ll be able to mention more later about the specifics, but I can now say that both Denard Span and Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi have confirmed that they will be guests on the show. Be sure to check back right here for a link to the podcast itself. It will be posted right around 9:00. I will also be setting up a chat room for you to talk Twins and ask questions. There will be time at the end to take your questions and comments. There is even a toll-free phone number which is new, so anyone can call! It should be a fun show. I’ll head to the studio a little early to make sure we’ve got everything set up.

Today, we continue to look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. The specifics of the draft can be found in yesterday’s blog posting in which I showed our first eight rounds of picks. Today, I will post our selections for rounds 9 through 16 before finishing the draft on Friday. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 9-16)

Round 9 – 33rd Overall – Roger – 3B – Wander Guillen

(I may have overreached with the selection of my third baseman, Wander Guillen, who was leading the DSL Twins in hitting and OBP at the age of 16!)

Round 9 – 34th Overall – Seth – OF – Oswaldo Arcia

(Had thought of taking him with my previous pick (or Wander Guillen, just to make Roger mad), but Arcia is another guy with five tools..)

Round 9 – 35th Overall – Josh – RHP – Shooter Hunt

(As I’ve said, I knew I needed to take a high-upside guy at some point and Hunt is just that. I originally wanted to take Oswaldo Arcia to fill out my outfield, but Seth took him with the pick before. Hunt may have the best ‘stuff’ out of any Twins farmhand and is thus a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, which is just what this staff needs. If he can regain any of sense of control, Hunt shouldn’t have a problem at becoming this staff’s ace.)

Round 9 – 36th Overall – Travis – RHP – Liam Hendriks

(I am very excited about the potential Liam has as he can be dominant.  He is very similar to Tom Stuifbergen except that I think Hendricks has the potential to be better.  I look for him to get better and better the farther we get away from his arm injury of a couple years ago.) (Seth Note – Hendriks missed the 2008 season, but it was not with an arm injury. He had some surgery on his spine.)

Round 10 – 37th Overall – Travis – 3BDeibinson Romero

(My interest in him is well documented as I used to always have him in my top 10’s and he has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.  I am curious how many chances the Twins are going to give to him because the potential is there to be very good.)

Round 10 – 38th Overall – Josh – SSJorge Polanco

(Something that is worth noting about this process is that I’m not necessarily sticking to my Top 50 Prospect list. With the 38th Overall pick, I chose someone who didn’t even make my original Top 50. But since I’m making my team and I have to look at different aspects, Jorge Polanco (and others) have been taken higher than where they’d rank on my Top 50 List, which is kind of interesting to note. I wanted to have a defensively-gifted shortstop and I thought Polanco would be gone by my next pick, so I wanted to strike early. I also considered to wait a round or two and take Estarlin De Los Santos, but I am taking the risk on Polanco. Besides being defensively-gifted at a premium position, I also like that he’s viewed as a #2 hitter and incase I can’t grab someone who can handle the bat later (such as Brian Dinkelman), I want someone to bat near the top that possess good on-base skills and reports suggest that he has that potential. With this pick, I also considered Matt Bashore, who would have filled out my rotation.)

Round 10 – 39th Overall – Seth – RHPRob Delaney

(He just has had such an amazing track record of success in his minor league career. He’s close to the big league club.)

Round 10 –40th Overall – Roger – RHPCesar Ciurcina

(I went back to the DSL with my tenth pick to close out my starting rotation with Cesar Ciurcina.  Although he is a bit older, Ciurcina had numbers similar last summer to those put up by Salcedo the previous year.  Is Ciurcina as good as Salcedo?  We will know more about him after this season when we see him in the GCL.)

Round 11 – 41st Overall – Roger – 2B/OF – Brian Dinkelman

(I went back to the infield and took a young man who has been one of the better hitters every step of his career, Brian Dinkelman.  Dinkelman’s best position appears to be second base.  Is he good enough defensively to earn a spot with the Twins in the next 16 months?)

Round 11 – 42nd Overall – Seth – LHP – Matt Bashore

(I really want to grab a SS (probably Beresford), but Bashore, if healthy, was a top pick, and he’s left-handed.)

Round 11 – 43rd Overall – Josh – RHP – Michael Tonkin

(Out of all of the rounds, this one has stung the most. Both Roger and Seth consecutively stole my picks (Brian Dinkelman and then Matt Bashore), but thankfully there were still high-upside pitchers (like Michael Tonkin) available.  Tonkin has projectable size and should add velocity as he matures. I really feel comfortable with my rotation after adding Tonkin. Hopefully I can get to the same point with my lineup, because I’m concerned about what’s left and what I still need.)

Round 11 – 44th Overall – Travis – OF – Evan Bigley

(The sky is the limit for Bigley who hit the cover off the ball in E-town and then again in Beloit.  That led to a promotion to Fort Myers where he struggled a bit.  I look for a big year this year from Evan as I look for him to dominate the FSL and will be in New Britain before the end of the year.)

Round 12 – 45th Overall – Travis – LHP – Joe Testa

(This is a guy that just splashed across the scene in 2009 and turned many heads.  He changed the feeling of many that he was just another relief pitcher and convinced many that this is a guy that is worth keeping track of myself included.  I look for his career to continue to skyrocket after his monster 2009 season.)

Round 12 – 46th Overall – Josh – 1B/DH – Erik Lis

(I am lacking a strong bat from the left side and I am at the point where I want to start focusing on the bullpen, so I wanted to make sure I had Erik Lis wrapped up. He’ll fit well in the middle-of-my-order and will play first base (depending on who I could possibly grab later). I also considered Loek Van Mil with this pick).

Round 12 – 47th Overall – Seth – SS – James Beresford

(It is time to address the middle infield. There are three solid SS prospects, and I would like two of them. I guess that means I would rank Beresford the highest of the three.)

Round 12 – 48th Overall – Roger – LF – Juan Portes

(I needed to fill in the balance of my outfield and was elated that spring training invitee Juan Portes was still available. A very raw prospect when drafted in 2004, Portes had a break out year last summer when he led the Rock Cats in hitting.  Does he have enough power to make it to the Twins as a corner outfielder appears to be the biggest question?)

Round 13 – 49th Overall – Roger – 1B – Brock Peterson

(I filled out my infield with the best story in the organization the last several years, former 49th round pick Brock Peterson.)

Round 13 – 50th Overall – Seth – SS – Estarlin de Los Santos

(I guess that means I would rank De Lo second. The third guy to consider was Brian Dozier, but de Los Santos was added to the 40 man roster, and when healthy, he is probably the most pure Twins SS prospect (other than apparently 16 year old Jorge Polanco.))

Round 13 – 51st Overall – Josh – RHP – Loek Van Mil

(I’ve never been very high on Loek Van Mil. Besides his height, he doesn’t really appeal to me. He walks a lot of guys and at 25-years-old he will likely be starting the year in Double-A. But…but… I do believe that his high 90’s fastball would be perfect as a setup man and hopefully I’ll be able to nab Kyle Waldrop in the next round. Plus, I think a Van Mil growth chart would be a good promotion.)

Round 13 – 52nd Overall – Travis – RHP – Matt Fox

(I was hoping that Matt Fox would fall to me because I am very high on him.  He has battled through injuries and setbacks to become an option for the Twins.  I look for him to keep going on that road and, by season’s end, possibly get a call-up by the twins.)

Round 14 – 53rd Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Hirschfeld

(He is another guy I was hoping to get as he is another overachiever that just knows how to get hitters out.  He was very good for Fort Myers last year and can either start or relieve which I look to help him going forward.)

Round 14 – 54th Overall – Josh – RHP – Kyle Waldrop

 (As I mentioned above, I wanted to get Kyle Waldrop to help solidify my bullpen. So when I saw that he was available, it was an easy choice. I also considered both Spencer Steedley and Andrei Lobanov with this pick but I’ll probably end up waiting a few rounds with them…)

Round 14 – 55th Overall – Seth – RHP – Edgar Ibarra

(Ibarra was a very good pitcher for the E-Twins the second half of their season. Still some very good players left. Considered Reggie Williams.)

Round 14 – 56th Overall – Roger – OF – Brandon Roberts

(Seth again picked the player I was looking at for my next pick when he selected Edgar Ibarra, although he took him as a starter and I was looking at him in long relief.  With Ibarra gone, I went back to the outfield and selected Brandon Roberts who will be my center fielder and leadoff hitter.)

Round 15 – 57th Overall – Roger – RHP – Ben Tootle

(I followed with the selection of a high ceiling, hard throwing short reliever, Ben Tootle. Assuming his arm problems of last summer are behind him, Tootle could be on a fast track towards Minnesota.)

Round 15 – 58th Overall – Seth – C – Chris Herrmann

(Herrmann is moving to catcher. There are lots of catchers in the Beloit picture. I need a catcher, but Reggie Williams can’t last until my next pick, can he?)

Round 15 – 59th Overall – Josh – RHP – Pedro Guerra

(With short relief already under wraps, I felt the need for a long reliever. Guerra has dominated the Dominican Summer League two years in a row and should be making his appearance in the States this season. It was a coin flip between Guerra and Danny Ortiz, but hopefully I’ll be able to get Ortiz in the next round.)

Round 15 – 60th Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Blevins

(One of my favorite people in the organization, and that has nothing to do with his stuff, as he is a genuinely nice guy.  On the field, he is a pretty good pitcher also, as he put up good numbers at Beloit.  I look forward to seeing what he can do going forward as he has the talent to be a future Twin if he keeps improving.)

Round 16 – 61st Overall – Travis –  SS – Brian Dozier

(He is one of those guys that I was not sure how good he could be and dealt with some injuries down the road.  With the promotion of Tyler Ladendorf, Dozier got to show what he could do and man did he deliver.  I am interested to see how fast he can move through the system as a college guy if he wants to play for the Twins he is going to have to skyrocket, but the talent is there to do it.)

Round 16 – 62nd Overall – Josh – OF – Danny Ortiz

(As I mentioned with Pedro Guerra, it was a coin flip between the two. Luckily, I got both. Danny Ortiz missed all of the 2009 season with injury but was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. At 5’11’’ and 166 lbs., he still has a lot of power and will fit in nicely with the rest of my lineup.)

Round 16 – 63rd Overall – Seth – CIF – Reggie Williams

(He lasted until my next pick!! Need a 1B and a CI, and Reggie Williams played a lot of 3B, but can also play MI and OF.)

Round 16 – 64th Overall – Roger – 1B – Whit Robbins

(I filled my reserve corner infield spot with the selection of Rochester/New Britain first baseman Whit Robbins.)

There is Part II. Check back tomorrow for the third and final part of the minor league draft, and more.. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Minor League Awards

15 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Thursday, the Twins announced their Minor League award winners. David Bromberg was the choice for the Jim Rantz Award for top minor league pitcher in the Twins system. For the second straight year, Ben Revere was named the recipient of the Sherry Robertson Award for the organization’s top hitter.

David Bromberg had another terrific season, and although there were several very good pitchers in the Twins system in 2009, this was really an easy choice. Bromberg went 13-4 with a 2.70 ERA. In 153.3 innings this year, he struck out 148 batters, which was the most in the organization. In 2008, Bromberg led all minor league pitchers with 177 strikeouts while pitching for the Beloit Snappers. He was named, by Baseball America, the top pitching prospect in the Florida State League. Bromberg spent the entire 2009 season at the age of 21 and is clearly a Top 10 Twins prospect.

Here are some others who were likely considered:

  • In 51 games at AA New Britain, Anthony Slama struck out 93 in 65.1 innings. He was 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.48 ERA. He pitched in 11 games at AAA Rochester. He was 0-2 with four saves and a 3.45 ERA. He struck out 19 in 15.2 innings. He gave up five of those six runs in one outing. Overall, he was 4-4 with 29 saves, a 2.67 ERA, and 112 strikeouts (with 40 walks) in 81 innings.
  • Alex Burnett was moved from being a starter and into the bullpen. In 18 games in Ft. Myers, he went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA. Then in 40 games after being promoted to New Britain he was 1-2 with a 1.79 ERA. Overall, he was 3-3 with a 1.85 ERA. In 78 innings, he had 78 strikeouts and just 26 walks.
  • Steve Hirschfeld went 7-7 with a 2.2 ERA. He pitched in 15 games out of the bullpen before making 17 starts.
  • Santos Arias was 6-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 100.2 innings. He made 29 relief appearances before ending the season with nine starts.
  • Joe Testa spent the first half of the season pitching in Beloit. In 25 games, he was 0-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 45. 2 innings. Then in Ft. Myers, he was 5-0 with a 1.22 ERA in 21 games, and 37 innings. Altogether, in 82.2 innings, he struck out 116, and walked 41.
  • Adrian Salcedo (3-2, 1.46 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 3 BB, 58 K in 61.2 IP), Blayne Weller (5-1, 1.58 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 8 BB, 49 K in 57 IP), BJ Hermsen (6-2, 1.35 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 4 BB, 42 K in 53.1 IP) and Andrei Lobanov (2-1, 0.82 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 1 BB, 35 K in 22 IP) all had strong showing for the short-season GCL Twins.

The choice for hitter of the year was much more difficult, so it is hard to argue the selection of Ben Revere for winning for the second straight season. Revere finished second in the Florida State League in batting average in 2009 with a .311 average. He was on base 37.2% of the time and had 19 extra base hits. He also stole 45 bases in 62 attempts. Something I like to see in a top of the order hitter, he walked 40 times with just 34 strikeouts. No question, Revere has proven a lot of critics wrong through his first two full minor league seasons.

There are several other hitters who warranted strong consideration:

  • After a strong showing during big league spring training, Danny Valencia started his season back where he ended the 2008 season, in New Britain. There, he hit .284/.373/.482 with 14 homers, four triples and seven homers. That earned him a promotion to AAA where he got off to a fast start before tailing off late. He hit .286/.305/.454 with 24 doubles and seven home runs. All together, he his .285/.337/.466 with 38 doubles, four triples and 14 home runs.
  • Brian Dinkelman spent the entire 2009 season at New Britain. He played primarily in 2B, but in the 2nd half of the season, he played several games in LF as well. With the bat, he had a very strong season. He hit .296/.383/.440 with 38 doubles, two triples and eight home runs.
  • Rene Tosoni hit .271/.360/.454 with 25 doubles, four triples and 15 home runs for the New Britain Rockcats.
  • Also at AA was Erik Lis for the second straight full season. He hit .283/.353/.462 with 29 doubles and 17 home runs.
  • Chris Parmelee hit .258/.359/.441 with 27 doubles and 16 home runs for the Ft. Myers Miracle.
  • Ramon Santana spent most of the season at Beloit for the third season. There he hit .296/.384/.453 with 25 doubles, three triples and nine home runs. He went 4-15 in four games at AA New Britain at the end of the season.
  • In short season Elizabethton, Josmil Pinto hit .332/.387/.610 with 14 doubles, two triples and 13 home runs in just 53 games. Brian Dozier hit .353/.417/.431 with 17 doubles.

There were several very good performances in the Twins minor league system, some that I didn’t mention here. It’s hard to argue with either of the Twins choices. So, congratulations to both David Bromberg and Ben Revere. If you would like to share your thoughts, please click here.

Arizona Fall League Update – Yesterday, the Mesa Solar Sox lost 12-5 to Surprise. Rene Tosoni was 0-4 with a walk. Chris Parmelee went 0-3 with a walk. Steve Singleton went 1-4 with his second double in two games.