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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

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

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

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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SethSpeaks.net May Twins Minor League Hitters of the Month

1 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It doesn’t seem like long ago that I was handing out the SethSpeaks.net Hitter and Pitchers of the Month for April, and here we are on June 1 and it is time to hand out the awards for May. As always, there have been some good performances and some bad performances, but you know what I am going to choose to look at.

In April, our top two players of the month came from the Beloit Snappers. Number Two, Oswaldo Arcia, went on the Disabled List on May 1 and had elbow surgery and is likely out for a couple of months. Danny Ortiz was the choice for Hitter of the Month in April when he hit .377/.429/.768 with seven doubles, a triple and six home runs in 69 at bats. In May, he hit .236/.267/.364 with eleven doubles and one home run in 110 at bats.

Today, I will post my top 5 choices for Twins minor league hitter of the month. Tomorrow, I will point out the top 5 Twins starting pitchers for May as well as well as the top 3 relievers that deserve recognition.

Before getting to the Top 5, here are some guys who just missed the subjective list:

  • Rochester – Brian Dinkelman (35-103) .340/.400/.476 with nine doubles, a triple, one home run and ten RBI.
  • Rochester – Ray Chang (28-87) .322/.375/.448 with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBI.
  • Rochester – Aaron Bates (20-63) .317/.434/.476 with four doubles, two home runs and five RBI.
  • New Britain – Yangervis Solarte (32-99) .323/.374/.455 with six doubles, two triples, one home run and 10 RBI.
  • Ft. Myers – Aaron Hicks (24-84) .286/.390/.440 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBI.
  • Beloit – Wang-Wei Lin (32-101) .317/.439/.512 with eight doubles, and nine RBI.

Number 5 – Beloit – Michael Gonzales – 1B (31-104) .298/.412/.433 with five doubles, three home runs and 24 RBI.

Gonzales stands out on the Beloit Snappers roster. Part of that is because he stands at 6-6 and 270 pounds. He was the Twins 9th round pick in the 2008 draft out of Diablo Valley College. Last year at Beloit, he hit .236/.322/.439 with 27 doubles and 13 home runs. He walked 36 times and struck out 107 times, about one in three at bats. He had 52 RBI, so the fact that he drove in 24 runs in 32 May games certainly stands out. On the season, Gonzales is hitting .288/.400/.466 with five doubles and seven home runs. When I saw him play in Beloit last year about this time, he had a very slow bat, a very long swing, so the strikeouts are understandable. He also has a ton of power. He had little range at 1B a year ago, but I am told that he has greatly improved his defense over the past year. Gonzales will turn 23 on June 16 and is a candidate for a call up to Ft. Myers later in the season. To this point, he has 38 strikeouts in 175 plate appearances.  

Number 4 – New Britain – Joe Benson – OF (30-101) .297/.398/.485 with eight doubles, a triple, three home runs and 14 RBI.

Benson was honorable mention in April, and only because he really struggled the final week of April. Those struggles continued the first couple of weeks of May, but he has been terrific of late. In his last 10 games, he has hit .484/.579/.774 (15-31) with four doubles, a triple and a home run. In other words, he went 15 for his first 70 in May (.214) and ended the season strong. During his struggles, Benson’s strikeout rate was very poor. On the season, he has 49 strikeouts in 198 plate appearances. Again, this is the key number for Benson as we look at him each month. He isn’t hitting for quite the same power as he did a year ago when he hit a combined 31 doubles, eight triples and 27 home runs in 459 at bats. This year, in 179 at bats, he has 16 doubles, two triples and five home runs. The team’s 2006 second round pick is playing well overall. The reason I think he should remain in Double-A is to try to help him become more consistent.

Number 3 – Beloit – Nate Roberts – OF (29-96) .302/.456/.396 with seven doubles, a triple, and 12 RBI.

The day that Oswaldo Arcia was put on the Disabled List (May 1), Roberts was summoned from Beloit where he had been rehabbing. The 22 year old was the Twins fifth round pick a year ago out of High Point University. After hitting .336/.444/.547 in 128 at bats at Elizabethton last year after signing, he has shown that it was not a fluke. The reason he is this high on the list is because he got on base 45.6% of the time for the month. That is hard to do! He struck out 13 times while walking 16 times. The highlight of his month likely came on May 27 when he went 3-3 with a walk and three doubles. He

Number 2 – Ft. Myers – Evan Bigley – OF (31-103) .301/.363/.544 with ten doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 RBI.

The Twins drafted Bigley with their 10th round pick in the 2008 draft out of Lew Ford’s alma mater, Dallas Baptist University. Bigley was tremendous for the Rock Cats, especially in the first half of the month. In five games from May 3 to May 7, Bigley had five multi-hit games. Of his 11 hits, he had four doubles, two triples and a home run. He had an 0-2, and then came back with a 2-4 game with another double. Since May 12, he has gone 3-31 (.097) with ten strikeouts. The overall numbers are still good enough for the #2 spot.

The SethSpeaks Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month of May is…

Ft. Myers SS Brian Dozier (33-98) .337/.426/.469 with seven doubles, three triple, and 11 RBI.

Brian Dozier celebrated his 24th birthday on May 15th and really hit great after that point. Although, it’s hard to notice because one of the great attributes of Dozier since the Twins used their 8th round pick on the Southern Mississippi shortstop has been his consistency. In April he hit .299 with and OPS of .863. In May, he hit .337 with an OPS of .895. Both months, he walked more than he struck out. On the season, he has 27 walks to go with 20 strikeouts. He is now hitting .320/.430/.464 with 11 doubles, five triples and one home run. He has 13 steals in 17 attempts. And, he plays very good defense. All that said, I expect that his tenure with the Miracle will last until the FSL Western Division first-half title is determined.

For the most part, May was a rough month for hitters throughout the Twins minor league system, but that is not to say there weren’t some really solid performances. Congratulations to Brian Dozier on being the top hitter of the month of May, but also to the others discussed and even those receiving honorable mention.  

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.

Minor League Update

4 May

also available on www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

Tuesday Game Notes:

Rochester and Syracuse were postponed by weather.

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

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

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

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

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.

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  • 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 1: 26-50)

13 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Interview – Did an interview for Bullpen Banter regarding the 2010 Twins and many Twins minor leaguers. Check it out here.

Before we jump into Part 1 of a two-part prospect ranking, I need to point out a terrific article in today’s Ft. Myers News-Press. Remember last week when Bert Blyleven got into the Hall of Fame? (You’re Twins fans… you remember!) He, and many others, gave a lot of credit to BaseballAnalysts.com’s Rich Lederer for pushing Blyleven’s case. It should have been an easy case for baseball’s writers, but obviously it took 14 attempts to get it right. Lederer and Blyleven had spoken several times on the phone in the past with Blyleven frequently crediting Lederer for his help and efforts. On Tuesday night, the two met and embraced. The Twins surprised Blyleven by inviting Lederer to their fantasy camp. Lederer’s answer to their request was easy. Blyleven’s response to Lederer being there was priceless. Just a great story by the News-Press’s David Dorsey; a must read.

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.

#50 (Tie) – Kyle Waldrop – RHP – Rochester

The Rochester relief pitcher has a terrific 2010 season and will head to spring training with the Twins again in 2011. Throws strikes and gets ground balls.

#50 (Tie) – Dan Osterbrock – LHP – Ft. Myers

Based on the season he had in 2010, he should be way up this list. A no-hitter in Beloit and sub-3 ERAs in Beloit and Ft. Myers. The soft-tossing strike thrower is intriguing. It will be interesting to see how he does when he gets to New Britain

#49 – Rory Rhodes – 3B – GCL Twins

                The 6-7 infielder from Australia had a solid season in the GCL. I have mentioned him as a 2011 breakout candidate.

#48 – Cesar Ciurcina – RHP – GCL Twins

                The righty came to the States and held his own in 2010 after putting up very good numbers in the Dominican in 2009. A long way to go, but plenty of potential.

#47 – Daniel Santana – SS – Beloit

                Split time between E-Town and Beloit. Little guy who struggled some in Beloit, but played well in E-Town, including showing some decent power numbers.

#46 – Evan Bigley – OF – New Britain

                The outfielder struggled to start the season back in Ft. Myers, but heated up in June. Played very well following a promotion to New Britain.

#45 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit

                Lone Snappers hitter to hit over .300 in 2010. Has good doubles power already. Missed some time with injury again.

#44 – Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit

                Twins 8th round pick in 2010 out of Kentucky, he quickly moved up from Elizabethton and played very well in Beloit. Good power.

#43 – Brian Dozier – SS – Ft. Myers

                Just one of those solid, solid players. Hit about .280 at both Beloit and Ft. Myers. Good defense. OK speed. No power. Surprise non-roster invitee to big league camp.

#42 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit

                Experienced ups and downs throughout the season, but the lefty has four good pitches, just needs to be more consistent with them.

#41 – Dakota Watts – RHP – New Britain

                2009 pick pitched at three levels in 2010. Some control issues, but the guy throws consistently in the upper 90s and hit 99 in Ft. Myers.

#40 – Logan Darnell – LHP – Elizabethton

                Twins 6th round pick from Kentucky (yes, he teamed with Lance Ray and non-drafted free agent Gunner Glad there), the lefty had a nice debut with the E-Twins. Three good pitches.

#39 – Kane Holbrooks – RHP – New Britain

                Began the season by dominating in the Beloit bullpen, then made a couple of starts before being promoted to Ft. Myers where he pitched even better. Ended season with a start in AA.

#38 – Nate Roberts – OF – Elizabethton

                Twins 5th round pick in 2010 from High Point University put up some of the best numbers of an Elizabethton Twins player over the last quarter-century.

#37 – Chris Herrmann – OF – Ft. Myers

                The 2009 pick skipped Beloit and held his own (including an All Star appearance) with the bat. Tremendous defensive LF but will also catch, including in big league training camp.

#36 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit

                It was surprising when he was the first starting pitcher promoted from Extended Spring Training, but he pitched well in Beloit before going back to Elizabethton.

#35 – Luke Hughes – IF/OF/DH/PH – Minnesota

                Homered in first big league at bat. OK at Rochester, but again was injured and didn’t play after June 6. Two surgeries (knee and groin). Potential big league super utility bat and pinch hitter.

#34 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit

                Returned to the Snappers in 2010. Tremendous power. Improving catcher. If he can learn to hit a breaking ball, he could fly up this list. Time will tell.

(NOTE  – I just realized that I neglected to include Anthony Slama in my analysis/rankings. I will put the right-handed reliever with the tremendous K-Rate who should be in the Twins bullpen throughout 2011 right here at #33.5)

#33 – James Beresford – SS – Beloit

                Also returned to Beloit for second straight year, and was the team’s MVP for the second straight year. Amazing defensive middle infielder who just needs to get bigger to be a real big time prospect.

#32 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain

                He’s been a top 10 guy for me in previous years. He was OK last year in New Britain before his season-ending shoulder surgery. Just a solid all-around player. If healthy, he will move up quickly.

#31 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit

                Hard-throwing right-hander did a nice job as a starter early in the Snappers season. Tired late, and did alright in the Snappers bullpen. Has great stuff.

#30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit

                Another guy who will move up this list if he is healthy in 2010. He was top pitcher in Beloit after Hendriks and Osterbrock promoted, when healthy. Good stuff, and a very smart pitcher.

#29 – Martire Garcia – LHP – Elizabethton

                Garcia struggled in E-Town in 2009 after strong ’08 in GCL. Returned to E-Town in ’10 and started 6-0 before promotion to Beloit. Throws hard, good movement. Young.

#28 – Scott Diamond – LHP – Gwinnett

                Pitched well in Braves organization since signing as undrafted free agent after 2008 college season. He’ll give up some hits, but he gets a lot of ground balls. Twins Rule 5 pick has legitimate shot to make Twins roster.

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain

                After bad April, Singleton played well for Rock Cats the rest of the season. Led organization with 43 doubles (2 behind Doug Mientkiewicz’s New Britain record). 54 extra base hits. Just 57 strikeouts. Not sure why the Twins don’t seem to like him more.

#26 – Niko Goodrum – IF/OF – GCL

                Don’t worry about the numbers that he put up in the GCL. Goodrum is as good of an athlete as Hicks, Torii Hunter, Joe Benson, any other great athlete in the Twins system. He’s just very raw and has a long way to go, but the sky is the limit.

So there you have it, my choices for Twins Prospects 26-50. What do you think? Any surprises? Remember that the top 25 prospects are yet to come. If I’m able, I will separate them, maybe posting 11-15 later tonight and my top ten around noon on Friday. Check back when you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your 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.

Oh My Goodness!

28 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins beat the Tigers 2-0 on Tuesday night. That was a great baseball game. I know everyone likes to see a lot of runs scored, but I love a good pitching duel. Francisco Liriano was incredible again. Justin Verlander was dominant, as usual. But the patience that the Twins lineup has clearly made a focus this season paid off. Even though Verlander is allowed to throw 120 pitches most times out, those 120 pitches last night came in just 5.1 innings. That allowed the Twins to get to the Tigers bullpen. Now, they added just one more run off of their bullpen, but the bigger picture tells us that the earlier they can get a starter out of the game matters. Several relievers had to pitch last night, and they may tire earlier tomorrow night. In the long run, this patient approach is going to pay off. Denard Span led off one inning with a stand-up triple. Orlando Hudson popped up. Joe Mauer grounded weakly to shortstop. Justin Morneau struck out (again). Another situation of a runner left on base? Of course it was. That said, with Verlander throwing like he was, it’s not like the batter has terribly much control. Verlander was still in control.

The other thing to remember is that when there are runners in scoring position and two outs… there are still two outs. It means that a hit is likely required to extend the inning and score some runs. Remember that the league average is less than .270. So no, you’re not going to score very often, even with a runner on 3B with two outs.

But the story of the game was Francisco Liriano, again. The lefty extended his scoreless streak to 23 innings with eight more shutout frames. He gave up just four hits. He walked just one (and that runner was eliminated when the next batter grounded into a double play) and struck out ten. He got nine groundball outs to four fly outs. He was throwing 94-96 with the fastball. His slider and changeups were both anywhere from 84-88 mph. He had great control. Here is what I tweeted and put on my facebook page: “Francisco Liriano “may never get back to 2006 form.” At what point do we all start saying that he just might? 25 scoreless innings? 30? 50? Yikes!

It’s at this point that it starts becoming fair to ask that question. As some have said, it will take more than four starts, for sure. But as others have said, his stuff and velocity are back, but now he probably understands the art of pitching better, so maybe he can be even better. That is a scary thought!

Jon Rauch came in for the 9th inning, and another save opportunity. This would be his most difficult opportunity, facing the Tigers 2-3-4 hitters. Johnny Damon got a hit, but he was forced out at second by a nice play by JJ Hardy. He then got Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez for the final outs. He recorded his 7th save of the year. And as I told several people, it’s just another three outs. And Rauch is proving that. As long as he can maintain that attitude, he will be just fine.

 What were your thoughts of the game and the Liriano performance?

Last night, I was the host of this week’s edition of Twins Minor League Weekly. Co-host Travis Aune had some other priorities, college-related, which take priority. I was joined by Justin Murphy who writes at Seamheads.com and at Auburnpub.com. He goes to school at Syracuse, so he took in a couple of the Rochester Red Wings games in Syracuse over the weekend. Then Joe Testa of the New Britain Rockcats called in and talked about things with that team. Later, Chris Herrmann of the Ft. Myers Miracle called in to talk about several topics with that team. It was a fun show. I shared Travis’s choice for Who’s Hot and Who’s Not for each of the affiliates. Hopefully you have a chance to listen.  

SethSpeaks Monday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Evan Bigley – Ft. Myers Miracle

SethSpeaks Monday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mike McCardell – New Britain Rockcats

 

Red Wings Report   

Monday – Rochester 3, Lehigh Valley 6 Yoslan Herrera made another start for the Red Wings. The Cuban righty went the first five innings. He gave up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out three. Tim Lahey gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in an inning. Matt Fox walked two and struck out three in two scoreless innings. The offense managed just five hits. Erik Lis hit his second home run, and Trevor Plouffe hit his third triple.  

New Britain Notes

Monday – Game 1 – New Britain 1, Richmond 3 – The Rockcats managed just three hits in the first game. Steve Singleton and Rene Tosoni each hit a double. Tosoni drove in the lone run with his. Ben Revere singles and stole his fourth base. Joe Benson walked twice. Tyler Robertson gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. Chris Province gave up a run on three hits and recorded the final five outs.  

Monday – Game 2 – New Britain 0, Richmond 2 – The Rockcats managed just three hits in the second game. No, that is not just copying the first sentence from the first game. They really did have just three hits, again. Ben Revere hit a double. Mike McCardell went the distance for New Britain. The right-handed gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.

Miracle Matters

Monday – Ft. Myers 2, Jupiter 6 – Brad Tippett struck out nine batters and walked none in six innings. But he gets the loss because he gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. Michael Allen came in and, in two innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. Yangervis Solarte went 2-4 with a walk and double. He also committed three throwing errors at 2B. Evan Bigley was 2-4 with an RBI double. Deibinson Romero and Chris Cates were each 2-4 as well.  

Snappers Snippets

Monday – Beloit 3, Burlington 13 – This game just got out of control in a hurry. Starter Brad Stillings gave up eight runs (6 earned) on eight hits and a walk in just two innings. Ben Tootle then gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in three innings. Peter Kennelly gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in his two innings. Edgar Ibarra pitched a perfect inning. Brian Dozier went 2-5. Aaron Hicks went 1-3 with two walks. Angel Morales was 1-3 with a walk and his eighth stolen base. Danny Rams walked twice.  

Do you have any thoughts on Francisco Liriano, the Twins, or their minor league system? Leave your comments here.