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Organizational Depth Chart – Catchers

22 Jan

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

For the most part, the Twins spring training rosters are pretty well set. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is another reliever brought in, and there could be some more minor league signings. I thought it would be late enough in the offseason to start taking a look at the Twins organizational depth. So, over the next two weeks, I’ll go position by position and name the players throughout the farm system with a few thoughts. In doing so, I’ll be trying to figure out what the Twins minor league rosters will look like.

I’m going to start with the catcher position and work through all of the positions. First and foremost, I need to point out that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera

Maybe it’s hopeful optimism, but I’m not worried about Joe Mauer in 2012. 2011 started out with injury, a bad diagnosis made public, and a not-so-subtle hint of confusion surrounding his health, his toughness and how even his teammates and managers didn’t always understand what the situation was either. If Mauer is healthy, he’s one of the best catchers in baseball, offensively and defensively. Ideally, he could again catch 110-120 games and if he does so, we know that he will likely hit .320/.390/.490 or so with 35 or more doubles and potentially a dozen home runs.

Doumit was a tremendous signing early in the offseason. His career numbers in the NL show that he has posted an OPS very similar to Jason Kubel’s. Offensively, I expect the same type of hitter as Kubel. That’s probably a little optimistic. I think Doumit (along with Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes) will be the primary DHs, unless Justin Morneau can’t play 1B and they have him DH. Doumit can also catch 30-40 games a season to give Mauer a day off from behind the plate. He’s not too good back there.

Butera is the opposite. He has no chance offensively, particularly when overexposed as he was last year. Butera is the actual backup catcher, in my mind, since Doumit should be starting every day. As a true backup catcher, he’s fine, plays good defense, does a good job against the running game, and works well with pitchers. When he has to play most days and gets 400 plate appearances, that isn’t the design. In reality, the Twins have a bunch of versatility on their major league roster, so I might prefer to have Butera in Rochester. If Mauer or Doumit is hurt one game, the other could catch the rest of that game, and Butera could be up the next day. Of course, that would assume the Twins utilized the DL well, something they did very poorly the last couple of years.

Rochester Red Wings

Rene Rivera, JR Towles

We saw in 2011 what Rivera could do, and it was pretty much just as bad offensively as Butera. He just swung more crazy and more often. Defensively, he is obviously quite solid.

JR Towles comes over from the Astros where he was once a top prospect in baseball. He never really hit with the Astros, although he never really got much consistent playing time. There may be some hope here for some optimism.

New Britain Rock Cats

Danny Lehmann, Chris Herrmann

Butera, Rivera and Towles are pretty much the same. I may be wrong, but everything I’ve seen, read and heard from players throughout the system, Lehmann is the best of that group. He won’t hit a lot, but no worse than Rivera and Butera did, and his defense is just as good, if not better. I’ve talked to a lot of pitchers in the Twins system the last couple of years and all agree that they love throwing to Lehmann.

Chris Herrmann is the Twins top catching prospect, and it isn’t terribly close. He made a very strong impression in 2011 at Ft. Myers and in New Britain. He didn’t hit for average, but he gets on base a lot. He also hits a lot of doubles with a smooth left-handed swing. He runs very well for a catcher. Part of his value is his versatility. In college, he played mostly in the infield. Early in his Twins career, he played mainly in the outfield and played well there. Pitchers say that his defense behind the plate has improved, and he now throws out a solid percentage of would-be base stealers. He could be a versatile backup player with the Twins by September, and he is also good enough to be the primary backstop for the team as well should they move the $184-million-dollar man to another position at some point.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing, Josmil Pinto

Rams made a good impression last year at big league spring training and was very good in April. At that point, he got hurt and played through it, but his numbers were not what he and organization would have wanted. Defensively, he has a strong arm, but isn’t touted as a great defender. It’s just a gut feeling, but Rams is very talented, and I think once he gets to New Britain, we’ll start seeing some of his power potential turn into some power numbers.

Rohlfing played infield in high school and the Twins moved him to catcher. After awhile, he was moved to the outfield. Last year, he was pushed to New Britain where he held his own as a backup catcher. When he was sent back to Ft. Myers, he was in the lineup most every day, either behind the plate or in the outfield and he played well. He was invited to spring training this year because he has made an impression on the right people.

Josmil Pinto put up huge numbers in E-town a couple of seasons ago, but he really struggled in 2010 in Beloit. He returned to Beloit and did alright before being moved up to Ft. Myers. He has a strong arm, but it’s likely he’s a DH because he does struggle behind the plate.

Beloit Snappers

Andy Leer, Philip Chapman, Matt Koch, Matt Parker, Jairo Rodriguez, Kyle Knudson

This is where you start realizing that not all of these players will remain in the organization beyond spring training. There will likely be some injuries and others also added to the Disabled List for depth.

Andy Leer is from North Dakota and went to college at the University of Mary. He was an infielder with the Snappers in 2011, and at Instructional League, he was moved behind the plate. Philip Chapman and Matt Koch were both drafted in 2011. Chapman hit well, but he was a college guy playing in the GCL. Koch signed late and played in a dozen or so games in Elizabethton. Both are old enough that they should move up to Beloit, but based on numbers, one could stay in Extended Spring Training. Matt Parker was a non-drafted free agent singing a couple of years ago. He’s a defensive guy. Knudson played with Beloit in 2011, but he missed most of the second half of the season with a groin injury. He’s one that they will need to keep because he is solid defensively and has some offensive potential. Jairo Rodriguez is a strong-armed backstop without much offensive upside. 

Elizabethton Twins

Kelly Cross, Michael Quesada

Cross was drafted out of high school in 2010 and signed late. He got into just a couple of games. He really struggled last year with the GCL Twins, but he’s a guy that they’re going to have to push quickly because he’s only got one more season that he can play in the short seasons. 

Quesada was one of the better hitters with the GCL Twins last year and showed good power. Some scouts really like his potential. 

The Twins typically draft a couple of college catchers in the first ten rounds or so, and they go to Elizabethton as well. So, it’s really impossible to predict who will play any position in Elizabethton or the GCL.


1.)    Chris Herrmann, 2.) Danny Rams, 3.) Dan Rohlfing


Joe Mauer is an All Star, an MVP, a Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger winner, and he’s paid like it. A couple more big seasons and he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But, he has to stay healthy. Chris Herrmann is likely a year away from being ready for the big leagues. He is likely the one player in the minor leagues that has the chance to be a starting catcher. There are several terrific defensive catchers whose ceiling is backup catcher, not that that is a bad thing! 

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail Seth Stohs at or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

Wednesday Game Notes: Twins Sweep White Sox

5 May

Before we start, I will be on KFAN, The Fan Radio Network and at about 10:20 on the Paul Allen show.

The Twins may be struggling during the early part of this season, and it’s not hard to come up with several reasons why. There are the injuries to several key players. There is a lack of defense. There is a lack of offense. There is a lack of basics. There is the fact that as of now, nine players who started the year in Rochester have had to play for the Twins, ready or not. There are logical reasons to understanding the Twins early struggles. Speaking to the offense, when we see a lineup that includes Casilla, Repko, Butera, Holm, Tolbert, etc., we shouldn’t expect these guys to be hitting higher than they are.

The White Sox struggles likewise are surprising. Their bullpen, assumed to be one of their biggest strengths coming into the season, has been a mess. Their offense is horrible, almost as bad as the Twins. The difference is that the White Sox haven’t had the injuries. The offensive struggles have been from the guys that are their core. In other words, they don’t have guys on the Disabled List that they can look forward to coming back. Their lineup is their lineup.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins topped the White Sox 3-2 to complete a two-game sweep. Nick Blackburn gave up just one run on four hits in 6.2 innings. He walked four batters for the second straight game and struck out just one. Jose Mijares got the final out of the seventh inning. Glen Perkins came in for the 8th inning and gave up an unearned run on a walk and a hit. He got just one out before Ron Gardenhire went to his closer, Matt Capps. Capps got out of the 8th, and although he put a couple of guys on in the 9th, he got the save.

The Twins offense did not exactly return to juggernaut-mode in the series. They scored just four runs in the two-game sweep. Jason Kubel drove in three of the four runs. He hit the home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he drove in the first run of the game with a single in the first inning. He added a sacrifice fly later in the game. Rene Tosoni drove in the third run of the game that proved to be needed in the 3-2 win.

With another day off today, the Twins (11-18) will head to Boston for a four-game series against the Red Sox who are now 14-16. Amazingly, they are just four games out in the AL East.

As you know, Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere were on the bench for the Twins on Wednesday. They were added to the roster when Jim Thome and Jason Repko were put on the Disabled List. I would expect that when the Twins play on Friday night, Plouffe will be starting at shortstop and Revere will be manning the Green Monster.

Following the game on Wednesday afternoon, the Twins announced that backup catcher Steve Holm was being sent down to Rochester. No subsequent move was announced which, of course, made the Twitter world start thinking. The easy answer is that the Twins will promote either Danny Lehmann or Rene Rivera to the big league club. Either would need to be added to the 40 man roster. Because the Red Wings did not play on Wednesday and the Twins don’t play on Thursday. Holm could be playing for the Red Wings on Thursday night, and if he can, there is no reason that the player called up to wait until Friday to go to Boston. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me wonder if there isn’t something else going on. Could the Twins be looking to sign a free agent catcher? Could the Twins be working on finalizing a trade? If so, they would wait until the trade is officially finalized to announce the Holm move. So, again, I assume that it will be either Rene Rivera is 27 years old and hitting .200/250/.333 for the Red Wings. Danny Lehmann impressed in big league camp this spring. He has been the organization’s top minor league catcher the last two years. After going 6-13 (.462) in New Britain, he moved up to Rochester where he has gone 7-25 (.280) with a double and a home run. Of course, I prefer the Twins go with Lehmann, in part, because I prefer when the Twins promote from within. He was the Twins 8th round pick in 2007 out of Rice. He is the defensive equivalent to Drew Butera with a slightly better bat. I believe that Butera is a guy who can hit .180-210 in the big leagues (despite his current .111 batting average). I think that the 25-year-old Lehmann could hit .200-.240 in the big leagues.

As I mentioned on my podcast the other night, this is the time of year when transactions start happening in the minor leagues, and we saw some of that yesterday. Early in the day, the Twins:

  •  promoted C/OF Chris Herrmann from Ft. Myers to New Britain.
  • Josmil Pinto moves from Beloit to Ft. Myers to take his place.
  • Ray Chang was promoted to Rochester on Tuesday night (after the Plouffe promotion), and
  • last night, Steve Singleton got the call that he was also headed to the Red Wings.

Just as a reminder, I post all of this information, and much more, on Twitter immediately after I learn of it. So, if you want this kind of information sooner, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach last night 6-2. Kane Holbrooks picked up his first win. The right-hander gave up two unearned runs on six hits. In six innings, he walked one and struck out three. Blake Martin recorded the three-inning save. He didn’t give up any runs, hits or walks and struck out just one. Danny Rams went 3-4. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with his fourth double. Aaron Hicks was 1-2 with two walks and a double.

Beloit beat Wisconsin 4-1. Adrian Salcedo went seven innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. Clint Dempster struck out five in two one-hit innings to record the save. Daniel Ortiz went 2-4 with his ninth and tenth doubles.

Since the Twins don’t play today, you can follow the Twins minor league teams throughout most of the day. Here are the times (all central) and starters:

  • Rochester hosts Gwinnett at 6:05. Anthony Swarzak will pitch against Braves prospect Mike Minor.
  • New Britain hosts a double-header against Richmond starting at 9:35 this morning. Steve Hirschfeld, my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month, will start the first game. Liam Hendriks will start Game 2.
  • Ft. Myers will host Palm Beach in their “Cinco de Miracle” game. Andrew Albers threw 4.2 scoreless innings in relief in his last appearance, and now he will get a start.
  • Beloit will host Wisconsin again today, starting at 11:00. Andrei Lobanov will start for the Snappers.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects

4 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2 in Beloit

24 May

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On Saturday night, I blogged some thoughts live from Beloit on seeing the Beloit Snappers and the Cedar Rapids Kernels play on Friday night. Today I’ll discuss my thoughts on seeing the teams play on Saturday. (If you don’t want to read my thoughts, you can scroll down for the Minor League updates from the games). Josh Johnson and I got to Beloit on Friday afternoon and watched the team’s play that night. We found a hotel room, but we had to check out by 11:00 a.m. One thing we didn’t consider is what to do from the time we had to get out of the hotel until going to the ballpark around 5:00. Well, I got an oil change in my car and we ate at a sports bar called Jerseys in Beloit. We decided to go to the theatre and watched Iron Man 2. I actually really liked it, which surprised me, considering I hadn’t seen the first and don’t really get into the Marvel Comics movies. But it was very good and we (as in me) really like Scarlett Johansson. She just seems very, well, friendly. Then we went to Applebee’s to watch the Twins/Brewers game until we headed over to the park.  

 Here are a few quick notes from watching the Saturday night Snappers game in person (so take it for what it is worth, a very small sample size):

  • Aaron Hicks is where he should be. Going 2-4 with two walks is very good. It shows his ability to take pitches and work a walk. He stands right on the plate and has very quick hands. He has a very strong swing. His second hit was a line drive to the opposite field. He played CF in this game and completely misplayed a ball to dead center. He froze and even took a step forward on a fly ball that ended up landing on the warning track. He showed a good arm, or course. He is close to ready to advance, but there is zero rush, so it would be good to see him stay for a little longer.
  • Angel Morales struck out just once in the two games. That is good because he had really been struggling. He struggles some with curveball and sliders, as a lot of hitters at this level do. But he has such a strong, quick swing. I was expecting to see more bad swings on breaking balls, but he was on all of them and fouled a couple straight back. His speed is very impressive. He played RF in this game (after DHing on Friday night), and did alright out there. Nothing stood out either way. Good arm, certainly not comparable to Hicks, but pretty accurate. It would be nice to see Morales go on a strong run for the next month and then move up.
  • James Beresford was the most impressive players to me. He looks very young and is very skinny, but I was impressed by how he looked at the plate. In this game, he was 1-6, but I was still impressed by the type of at bat. He took pitches, he had very good bat control. But I was especially impressed by his defense. He is a very good shortstop, but he played 2B both games. He made all the plays and made them look easy. In this game, he made a play going far up the middle, back-handing the ball and leaping toward left field to throw out the runner at first base (similar to the play that Derek Jeter has made famous). He’s got a good arm and good range on grounders or pop ups. And then there are the intangibles. He was the clear leader of that infield. He took charge out there. In fact, there was one time during a tough situation that he called catcher Tobias Streich out to the mound for a quick discussion. We keep hearing that when he grows into his body and gains weight, he will be very good. I now completely agree with it.
  • Danny Rams can crush the ball. He can hit fastballs pretty well. But he also has struck out a lot in his career, and watching, it is pretty clear why. He swings and misses a lot at breaking balls. After crushing a fastball to the right center field gap and then drilling a fastball for a single in his second at bat, he struck out the final three at bats, on curveballs. One of them landed in the left-handed batters box.
  • Michael Tonkin looked alright. Decent fastball. Doesn’t throw real hard. Early in the game, his curveball just rolled, but as the game went on, it got more and more sharp and was very good. Very thin, he has a chance to be good if he can get bigger and stronger, add some velocity and maintain his terrific control.
  • Dakota Watts is a reliever to watch. He throws pretty hard and has a solid slider. But he came into a tough position and got out of it with strikeouts. One thing I noticed about all of the Snappers relievers is that they have the ability to work out of really tough situations. Of course, they also showed a great ability to put the team in some really tough situations to get out of.
  • Tobias Streich had a rough game too on Saturday night. He threw out two would-be base stealers… out of 11. That’s right, nine stolen bases against the Snappers. On two of them, the ball went in to centerfield and he was changed with an error. Now, some of that is on the pitchers and I believe that a middle infielder should try to knock the ball down if it could go in the outfield, but it was a tough game for the defensive-minded catcher.
  • Reggie Williams was drafted as a great athlete. He played 3B both games and had a couple of plays that made me, a former 3B, cringe, and then he had a couple of plays there that made me say “Wow!” He looks more like a 2B to me.
  • Daniel Santana came up and had a rough Midwest League debut. He went 1-5 with three strikeouts. In his first at bat, he had three fastballs blown right by of them. A couple of them were at head level. As the game went on, you could see that he has an ability to be a line drive hitter if he swings at good pitches. Defensively, I saw a guy who could be a very good defensive shortstop. He has good hands and a very strong arm. However, a couple of his throws were wild. He had three errors in the game as well. Josh said the first part of the following and I added the second part: “Daniel Santana makes James Beresford look old and chubby.” Santana is tiny. He may be 5-7, and he may be 150 pounds, but he has a chance if he keeps working. Ideally he would head back to Elizabethton for the 2010 season.  
  • Finally, in a couple of games that had Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales, the best prospect that I saw was Mike Trout of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He was the Angels 1st round pick (25th overall) last year. The 19 year old centerfielder is hitting about .360 so far this year, gets on base via walk, and has nearly 20 extra base hits already this year, including five home runs. Offensively, he is incredible. In centerfield, I thought he was pretty advanced. His arm may not be as good as Aaron Hicks, but he got tremendous reads on fly balls. In general, I just think he looks like a guy that prospect fans will want to get to know.

In all, I think that going to Beloit was a great experience. Saturday’s game went 11 innings and didn’t finish until about 10:20 p.m. It was a great game. The only negative is that we had to drive back to the Twin Cities after the game to get Josh back for a previous commitment. I drove until about 12:30 and then couldn’t keep my eyes open, so I asked Josh if he could. He did, and I got into the passenger’s seat. After talking for a couple of minutes, the next thing I knew, I looked at the clock and it had been 40 minutes. I apparently fell asleep mid-sentence. I was awake for another couple of minutes, and the next thing I knew, it was an hour after that. I asked how he was doing driving and he said just fine. Next thing I knew, it was 3:00 and we were to St. Paul, just about to 35E! Dropped Josh off at 3:30 and then I got home about 3:50. I am WAY too old for that. I am thinking of getting back to Beloit again in June if it works out.

If you have any questions or comments about Beloit, the trip or any of the players, please feel free to e-mail me.  

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

SethSpeaks Saturday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Chris Parmelee – Ft. Myers Miracle

SethSpeaks Saturday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Joe Testa – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ben Revere – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Carlos Gutierrez – New Britain Rockcats

  • A bunch of people have asked me about what is happening with Matt Bashore. I finally received confirmation that he had, or will have, Tommy John surgery and miss this entire season.
  • Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco will begin their Twins playing career in the Dominican Summer League. They will play there for a few weeks, until the GCL Twins season starts. At that time, they will evaluate whether to push them to the GCL or let them continue to play in the DSL.
  • Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson are both currently out of the Ft. Myers Miracle lineup with injuries. Thompson has a hamstring injury, while Kelly is having wrist issues.
  • Tom Stuifbergen told me that he threw a bullpen on Friday and felt good. He expects to be out another week and probably pitch out of the bullpen a couple of times.
  • As LaVelle posted last week, Ben Tootle has been sent back to the Twin Cities to check out why he is experiencing elbow soreness and pain.  

Red Wings Report   

Saturday – Rochester 9, Norfolk 2 Matt Fox pitched well and was helped by plenty of offensive support to gain his fourth win of the year. In six innings, he gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He struck out two and walked none. Jose Lugo gave up three hits and a walk, but no runs, in 1.2 innings. Anthony Slama struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Matt Tolbert went 3-5 with his eighth double and fifth stolen base. Toby Gardenhire went 3-5 with his first double (actually his first three hits with the Red Wings). Danny Valencia went 3-4 and was hit by a pitch. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his ninth double. Wilson Ramos went 2-5 with his third double.

Sunday – Rochester 8, Norfolk 4 Jeff Manship started and gave up three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. He struck out four. Tim Lahey walked two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up a solo home run in two innings. Rob Delaney walked one in a scoreless inning. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with a walk. Matt Macri went 2-3 with a walk and his seventh double. Jason Repko went 2-5 with two RBI and his fifth stolen base. Jacque Jones went 2-5. Brian Dinkelman hit his second home run.   

New Britain Notes

Saturday – New Britain 1, Binghamton 3Santos Arias made his first start of the 2010 season. He gave up two runs on three hits (two solo home runs). He walked two and struck out one in 4.2 innings. He falls to 0-6 with a 4.50 ERA. Joe Testa has come on of late. He was perfect for 2.1 innings. Loek Van Mil gave up one run on two hits and a walk in one inning. Matt Williams walked one and struck out one in an inning. Ben Revere went 3-5 with his 14th stolen base. Allan de San Miguel went 1-2 with two walks. Erik Lis hit his second home run.

Sunday – New Britain 5, Binghamton 2Ben Revere again led the offense. He went 3-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Carlos Gutierrez recorded his first win of the year. He gave up just two runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings. He walked one and struck out four. Matt Williams recorded his first save with 1.1 scoreless innings.

  • Ben Revere is on a tear. In his last nine games, he has gone 18-38 (.474) with six walks, two doubles, a triple and a home run. In his last six games, he is 14-26 (.538).
  • Carlos Gutierrez improved to 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA. In his first start of the season, he gave up four runs in four innings. In his April 24th start, he gave up eight runs in four innings. In his seven other starts, he has given up two or less runs.

Miracle Matters

Saturday – Ft. Myers 1, Daytona 6 – Chris Parmelee got off to a slow start in Ft. Myers, but had a great weekend. In this game, he was 3-4. Brian Dozier made his Miracle debut and was 2-4. Jair Fernandez also was 2-4 and drove in the lone run. Liam Hendriks had his first rough start of the year. He gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out six. Andrei Lobanov gave up just two hits in three shutout innings. Steve Blevins gave up two runs on four hits in two innings.

Sunday – Ft. Myers 7, Daytona 9 – Chris Parmelee again went 3-4 in this game, adding a walk, a triple and three RBI to raise his average to .360. Brian Dozier went 2-5 with two RBI. Dan Osterbrock fell to 0-4. In 5.1 innings, he gave up seven runs (5 earned) on 10 hits. He walked one and struck out three. Shooter Hunt came in and gave up a run on two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Billy Bullock struck out four in two scoreless innings.  

Snappers Snippets

Saturday – Beloit 5, Cedar Rapids 7 (11 innings)Michael Tonkin started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. He walked none and struck out just two in 5.1 innings. Dakota Watts came in and walked two and struck out three in 1.2 innings. Kane Holbrooks gave up one run on two hits and two walks in his two innings. He struck out four. Jhon Garcia gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in two innings to take the loss. Aaron Hicks went 2-4 with two walks. Danny Rams went 2-5 with his tenth double and two RBI. Josmil Pinto was 2-5. Angel Morales went 0-2 with two walks and a hit by pitch. In the bottom of the ninth, he was hit in the helmet by a fastball. Josh Johnson has video of it that he will soon post on YouTube that you will want to watch. Daniel Santana made his Midwest League debut and it was a rough one. He went 1-5 with three strikeouts. He also committed three errors.   

Sunday – Beloit 2, Cedar Rapids 14 Miguel Munoz gave up four runs on six hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out three. Peter Kennelly gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits and two walks in three innings. Matt Tone gave up a solo home run and struck out two in his inning. Catcher Tobias Streich gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in his inning of work. James Beresford went 2-3 with his fifth double. Aaron Hicks hit his eighth double.  

If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment here.

Roster Projections: Beloit Snappers

26 Mar

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Before we jump into my Beloit Snappers (Twins Low-A affiliate) roster projection, here are a couple of quick updates:

  • Last night was one of my favorite episodes of The Show.
  1. The first guest was Twins prospect Trayvone Johnson. This was one of my favorite interviews that I’ve done. The 2009 draft pick was selected as a catcher, but he has been moved to the mound. He was drafted out of high school, and explained why he had not played organized baseball for three years before the Twins drafted him last June. He is just a really good guy and I was very happy with the interview.
  2. Next, JJ Stankevitz from the White Sox Examiner came on and we talked about the White Sox. We spent time talking about their starting rotation. I also asked for his thoughts on Gordon Beckham and how his name keeps popping up in rumors about Adrian Gonzalez. I asked for his thoughts on Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzynski, Bobby Jenks and more.  
  3. Finally, Twins 17-year-old outfield prospect Max Kepler spent about 15 minutes answering questions. He is currently sidelined by some tendonitis in his shoulder, but talked about how his first spring training is going. We talked about his early baseball days in Germany and the reasons he signed with the Twins. He corrected me on some German pronunciations. It was a lot of fun.  So be sure to listen to The Show.
  4. We also noted that the planned time for The Show throughout the season will be 9 p.m. central time on Sunday nights. I think it’s a good time. Generally, the Twins will play Sunday afternoon games (with a couple of exceptions). They will have ended a weekend series and will be about to start a new series. Hopefully that will mean more major league and minor league interviews can be done. Although I am working on adding other guests, Pat Neshek has already confirmed that he will be on The Show


The Beloit Snappers’ season also begins on April 8th with a road series at Cedar Rapids. Starting on April 11th, the Snappers begin their home schedule with games against Peoria. The Snappers will be again managed this year by Nelson Prada. Tommy Watkins begins his full-time coaching career as the Snappers hitting coach.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the Beloit Snappers:

The Hitters

C Tobias Streich
1B Michael Gonzales
2B Derek McCallum
3B Anderson Hidalgo
SS Brian Dozier
LF Chris Herrmann ( C)
CF Aaron Hicks
RF Steve Liddle
DH Josmil Pinto
Bu C Buddy Munroe
Bu IF Matt Gaski
Bu OF Reggie Williams
Bench Jonathan Goncalves
DL (Dan Rohlfing)
  (Adan Severino)

Analysis: The Twins have some quality catching depth in these low levels. In fact, yesterday I pushed Danny Rams up to Ft. Myers, in part, due to the number of catchers that could (or should) be in Beloit. Tobias Streich was the best defensive catcher in the 2009 draft, so he should be here. Buddy Munroe was drafted last year as well and is another defensive catcher. Josmil Pinto has a very strong arm, but he is not known for his defense. However, he has a tremendous bat. Chris Herrmann was drafted as a catcher last year, but he played only outfield in 2009. He moved to catcher in Instructional league, but with his bat, he needs to be in Beloit and needs to be in the lineup. I think that Aaron Hicks will go back to Beloit for at least six weeks. Steve Liddle signed quite late last year, but he’s an advanced hitter, from Vanderbilt, and should play here. The infield has some quality prospects as well. Michael Gonzales is a large man, but he can hit. He had a strong run last year for a few weeks at Elizabethton. Former Gopher standout Derek McCallum will be the primary second baseman. Fellow 2009 draftee Brian Dozier will play a lot at shortstop. Anderson Hidalgo will be at 3B. Reggie Williams is likely to play a lot, but he is a tremendous athlete and should be able to play the infield and outfield positions and be in the lineup most days. Matt Gaski is about the glove. Jonathan Goncalves is another solid athlete who will get plenty of playing time in the outfield. Its’ hard to find a place for Dan Rohlfing even after he was moved to the outfield from behind the plate last year. Also, Adan Severino was hurt most of 2009, so this will be a big year for him.    

The Pitchers


SP Liam Hendriks
SP Tom Stuifbergen
SP Edgar Ibarra
SP Miguel Munoz
SP Brad Stillings
CL Zach See
8L Nelvin Fuentes
8R Dakota Watts
BP Matt Tone
BP Kane Holbrooks
BP Ben Tootle
BP Tony Davis
  (Matt Bashore)
  (Shooter Hunt)
  (Brian Kirwan)



Analysis: This gets a little bit tricky here. There are still a lot of good pitching prospects, but here are my thoughts. Liam Hendriks missed all of 2008 and last year started with Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit. I think he starts here again, but he could move up quickly. Tom Stuifbergen just knows how to pitch. He’s still very young, but he will do well. He was E-town’s top pitcher last season. However, toward the end of the year, Edgar Ibarra certainly put himself into consideration as well. Miguel Munoz is up and down, but he is probably the hardest thrower and working on other pitches. Brad Stillings was selected in 2009 and started with E-Town. He came up to Beloit but pitched out of the bullpen, so I would suspect that he will be a starter here to start the season at least.

Zach See signed as an undrafted free agent last year and pitched very well, good strikeout numbers. The three lefties that I have on this roster are all capable of dominating. Nelvin Fuentes also missed all of 2008. He pitched well in 2009, especially for Puerto Rico in the World Cup. Matt Tone and Tony Davis were both drafted in 2009. Tone dominated Appy League hitters. At one point, he went over 15 innings without giving up a hit, and over 18 innings without allowing a run. Tony Davis played for a couple of teams, but he ended the season on the New Britain playoff roster. Ben Tootle, when healthy, can approach 100 mph with his fastball. That’s how you get drafted in the third round. Hopefully he is fully healthy and strong in 2010. Dakota Watts was drafted in 2009 as well and played for three affiliates. Kane Holbrooks was a college All-American last year and the Twins got him after the 20th round. He had always started but feels that he is probably better suited for relief work.

If Matt Bashore is healthy, he will definitely be starting somewhere, maybe even in Ft. Myers. It’s hard to tell what the Twins will do with Shooter Hunt. And Brian Kirwan will be back after missing all of 2009 with shoulder surgery.

So, who isn’t here? Who did I not put on a full-season roster?

Those top three pitchers at the GCL last year will probably all have a chance to pitch for Beloit at some point this season. On Tuesday night’s podcast, Adam Foster said that Adrian Salcedo was turning eyes. The 18 year old was hitting 93 mph with a sharp curveball and a very good changeup. BJ Hermsen also put up silly numbers last year in the GCL. Blayne Weller often gets overlooked because of those first two, but his numbers are right on par. All three could be with the Snappers by June, and if any of them go to Elizabethton, I would consider them favorites for Appy League Pitcher of the Year. Michael Tonkin is likely going to E-town, and I think that Martire Garcia may repeat at E-Town. Relief Pitcher Andrei Lobanov had an incredible 2009 in the GCL as well (1 BB, 35 K in 22 IP!), but I think he will go to E-Town too.

The young’ns (Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler) will all likely play for the GCL Twins. Sano and Polanco may go to the Dominican Summer League and play during Extended Spring Training.


It’s impossible to project the Elizabethton or GCL Twins rosters because they will also contain players drafted in the 2010 draft. The college draftees will mainly play in E-Town. But just to try to send a reminder of some of the other players in the Twins system, here are some Elizabethton “projections.”

C Jhonatan Arias
1B Kennys Vargas
2B Daniel Santana
3B Rory Rhodes
SS Jairo Perez
LF Matej Hejma
CF Oswaldo Arcia
RF Daniel Ortiz
DH Wang-Wei Lin
Bu C Nick Freitas
Bu IF Hyeon-rok Choi
Bu OF Brian Bistagne
Bench Fred Hanvi
SP Martire Garcia
SP BJ Hermsen
SP Adrian Salcedo
SP Blayne Weller
SP Michael Tonkin
CL Andrei Lobanov
8L Jose Gonzalez
8R Jan Rehacek
BP Peter Kennelly
BP Jhon Garcia
BP Jean Mijares
BP Eliecer Cardenas
BP Trayvone Johnson

I hope everyone has enjoyed this series of Roster Projections. Of course, I don’t have any inside information into these rosters, so they are just what they are, projections. I like to think that they may be fairly close, but we shall see in less than two weeks.            

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

Roger’s 2009 Twins Minor League All Stars

25 Nov

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Over at Twinkie Town, our friend Roger Dehring does a tremendous job keeping Twins fans updated on the Twins minor league system. Every Saturday, he produces his Weekly Twins Minor League Update. Recently, he provided a top ten list of Twins minor leaguers by position. He has developed a formula that looks at all Twins minor leaguers, and how they perform. The formula is complex but it involves a point system using several statistics and comparing them to an average number. He also factors in several other things including age and level of competition.  He has been using and tweaking his formula for a couple of years. It is not a prospect list, it shows actual performance. Anyway, about this time each of the last several years, Roger has posted his annual Twins minor league all-star team here. So, I am happy to welcome today’s guest writer, Roger Dehring.

Here are Roger’s 2009 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Stars:

            This year’s edition of the Twins organization all-star team follows.  This year’s team is comprised of those players who had the best seasons at their respective positions, regardless of level of play.  This team also includes at least one player from all of the Twins minor league clubs. 

The starting nine for 2009:

            Ben Revere-CF           Ft. Myers Miracle                             

            Brian Dinkelman-2B   New Britain Rock Cats

            Wilson Ramos-C         New Britain Rock Cats

            Chris Parmelee-1B      Ft. Myers Miracle

            Danny Valencia-3B    Rochester Red Wings

            Rene Tosoni-RF          New Britain Rock Cats

            Erik Lis-DH                New Britain Rock Cats

            Angel Morales-LF       Beloit Snappers

Trevor Plouffe-SS       Rochester Red Wings

The lead-off hitter is also the Organization’s Player of the Year, Ben Revere.  After flirting with a .400 Average for much of the 2008 season at Beloit, Revere had an excellent follow up season for the Miracle, missing the FSL Batting Crown by only .002 as he finished his season hitting .311/.372/.369 in 466 at bats with the league’s most hits (145), third most runs scored (75), third most steals (45 in 62 attempts) and fourth best OBP (.372).  Revere took more walks (40) than he had strikeouts (34) and reports indicate that he has improved defensively.  Look for Ben to move up to New Britain next spring with a trip to Minnesota in his future sometime late in 2011.

Our second baseman, Brian Dinkelman, had a special year for the New Britain Rock Cats.  Dinkelman was an Eastern League All-Star who had the league’s eighth best average (.296) with the fifth best on base percentage (.383).  Dinkelman led the Rock Cats with 38 doubles, which was also the second most doubles in the league.  Dinkelman surprised local fans with his productivity with 8 home runs and 65 RBI.  Some have questioned his range, however, seven errors in 129 games is a clear indication that he has a solid glove defensively. 

Perhaps the top prospect in the organization is our number three hitter, catcher Wilson Ramos.  After being named last winter’s Caribbean League Championship Series MVP, Ramos got off to a tremendous start before going on the disabled list with a broken finger which was followed by a leg injury that would cost him much of his season.  Ramos is again tearing up his winter league where he is hitting near a .400 Average with 6 home runs early in the VWL season.  Ramos led the Rock Cats in hitting at .317/.341/.454 in 205 at bats with 4 home runs and 29 RBI.  Perhaps the best defensive catcher in the organization, other than Joe Mauer, Ramos has everything one would expect to become a future major league star.  All that remains is the question of when his major league career will begin?

The cleanup hitter was considered the best high school power hitter in the draft when the Twins made Chris Parmelee their first round pick in 2006.  Although Parmelee has played a lot of right field the past few years, he split his time between right field and first base this season at Ft. Myers.  He also has played exclusively at first base this fall in the AFL, thus, I have him in the lineup as our first baseman.  Parmelee was one of the most productive hitters in this season’s pitcher friendly Florida State League.  He finished his season with 16 home runs, which were the third most in the league with a league second best 73 RBI.  He is a young man who draws a lot of walks, 63, which enabled him to just miss being in the league’s top ten on base percentages (.359) while his .441 Slugging percentage was seventh best in the league.   

The third baseman is a player we have all heard a lot about the past year or so, Danny Valencia.  After beginning his season back at New Britain this past spring, Valencia was on fire immediately following his promotion to AAA when he hit .360/.372/.573 in his first 19 games.  Valencia went on to finish his AAA season by hitting .286/.305/.466 in 269 at bats for the Red Wings.  Much has been written the past six months about whether or not Valencia is ready for the big show and whether or not he is the heir apparent for the Twins third base job perhaps as early as next spring.  There have been questions about his defense, his hitting at Rochester the last half of the season and why a young man who normally took a reasonable number of walks only walked 7 times in 71 games in AAA.  We won’t know what type of major league player Valencia will be until he arrives in Minnesota; however, we do know that he had an excellent season last year at New Britain and Rochester.  If he isn’t ready for the Twins third base job this spring, he must be very, very close.

The right fielder is a young man who made the jump to AA last year after playing only 44 games beyond rookie ball.  Rene Tosoni first came to our attention in 2007 when he hit .301/.407/.428 for Elizabethton in his first year of professional ball.  This past season, Tosoni, was the lone Twins representative in the Future’s All-Star game, was one of the top hitters for Team Canada in the World Cup and is now representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League.  As could be expected for someone with such little experience, Tosoni struggled at New Britain for his first couple of months, however, had an excellent second half to finish with .271/.360/.454 in 425 at bats with 15 home runs (tied for eleventh most in league) and the league’s eighth best 71 RBI.  Seth recently reported from personal observations that Tosoni is an excellent defensive outfielder who can play all three positions.  He also reported that he needs to work on his at bats against lefties.  It is likely however, that someone with such limited experience should be able to continue to improve his game as he works his way up to the Twins.

The designated hitter is a young man the Twins drafted in the ninth round of the 2005 draft out of the University of Evansville.  Erik Lis has been one of the organization’s best hitters every year since his rookie season at Elizabethton.  This season was no exception as Lis was one of the Eastern League’s better hitters, finishing with a league seventh best 17 home runs, tenth most RBI (69), and twelfth most doubles (29).  Lis, who struggled with an injury the last few weeks of the season, had the league’s sixth best slugging percentage (.462) to go with a .283 Average and .353 OBP.  With Justin Huber moving on to Japan, the door should be open for Erik to move up to Rochester next spring where he will again be one of the better hitters in the league.

The left fielder is a young man who may have as much upside potential as any player in the organization, Angel Morales.  Although Morales can also play center field, he played mostly corner outfield positions with the Snappers after Aaron Hicks joined the team.  A very young man who won’t turn 20 until later this month, Morales is another young player who struggled during his first six weeks of the season.  He also adjusted and was one of the leagues better players during the second half.  Although limited to only 376 at bats by an injury that he battled during much of June, Morales was amongst the top fifteen home run hitters (13) with a team high 62 RBI.  Morales finished his season hitting .266/.329/.455 with 19 stolen bases in 25 attempts.  What may be most important for a young man who struck out nearly 40% of his at bats in 2008, he lowered his strikeout rate to 27.7%.  People who have seen him play have said that the ball explodes off his bat.  There is no question that he is a very raw talent, but his future is as bright as any in the organization.   

Shortstop Trevor Plouffe has always been very young for his league since the Twins drafted him in the first round of the 2004 draft.  This past season was no exception as Plouffe didn’t turn 23 until mid-season even though it was his second season at AAA.  None of his numbers stand out, yet, he had a very solid season hitting .260/.313/.407 in 430 at bats with 23 doubles, 5 triples, 10 home runs and 60 RBI.  Plouffe finished his year playing for Team USA in the World Cup where he had an excellent tournament playing with many of the best players from throughout America.  Although he continues to make what may be considered too many errors, people who watch him defensively say he is above average.    

The Reserves:

            Josmil Pinto-C Elizabethton Twins

            Brock Peterson-1B      Rochester Red Wings

            Steven Singleton-2B   New Britain Rock Cats

            Brian Dozier-SS          Elizabethton Twins

            Wander Guillen-3B     DSL Twins

            Oswaldo Arcia-LF      GCL Twins

            Aaron Hicks-CF          Beloit Snappers

            David Winfree-RF      Rochester Red Wings

Justin Huber-DH         Rochester Red Wings 

            The reserves are led by two members of the Division Champion Elizabethton Twins, designated hitter,  Josmil Pinto and shortstop Brian Dozier.  Pinto was the fifth best hitter in the Appy League with a .332 Average and the league’s best slugging percentage, .610.  Pinto also led the league with 13 home runs and had the league’s second most RBI, 55.  Brian Dozier stepped into the lineup when Tyler Ladendorf was promoted to Beloit.  Dozier, a 2009 draft pick, finished with the league’s second best average and on base percentage, .353/.417.

The Rochester Red Wings placed three reserves on this year’s team, right fielder David Winfree, first baseman Brock Peterson and designated hitter Justin Huber.  Although Peterson’s 316 at bats were a few short of the number needed to qualify for the league titles, his .304 Average and .376 OBP would both have been ninth best.  He also was the Rock Cats top hitter if one doesn’t include Jose Morales who spent about half his year in Minnesota.  David Winfree also had a special rookie season, hitting .273/.317/.460 with 14 home runs, 61 RBI and a team best 31 doubles.  Huber, who recently left the Twins organization for Japan, led the Red Wings with 22 home runs and 76 RBI while hitting .273/.356/.482 in 440 at bats. 

The Beloit Snappers are represented by center fielder Aaron Hicks.  Hicks began his season in EST before joining the Snappers where he hit a respectable .251/.353/.382 in his first season of A ball.  Hicks is considered a “5” tool player also stole 10 bases in 18 attempts with nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (55).  Hicks was honored recently when Baseball America named him the Midwest League’s Top Prospect.

The second baseman is Steven Singleton, who began his year in Ft. Myers before a mid-season promotion to New Britain.  Singleton hit .269/.329/.424 in 297 at bats at Ft. Myers.  As is not often the case, Singleton’s numbers soared when he arrived in New Britain where he hit .291/.319/.418 in 158 at bats.

One of this year’s best new players in the six team system was GCL Twins left fielder Oswaldo Arcia.  Arcia hit .275/.337/.455 in 167 at bats with a team best 11 doubles.  He had a team high 5 home runs which also was ninth best in the league.  Arcia, who didn’t turn 18 until this past May, stole 8 bases in 8 attempts.

The last reserve is third baseman Wander Guillen.  Guillen joined the DSL Twins in July when he was sixteen years old, then proceeded to lead the team in hitting at .336/.443/.409 in 110 at bats.  Although he didn’t have enough at bats to qualify, his .336 Average was the fourth best in the league while his .443 OBP tied teammate Romy Trinidad for fifth best in the league.       

The Starting Rotation:                      

            David Bromberg         Ft. Myers Miracle

Steven Hirschfield      Ft. Myers Miracle

Anthony Swarzak       Rochester Red Wings

B.J. Hermsen               GCL Twins

Adrian Salcedo           GCL Twins

            While at Beloit, David Bromberg led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts in 2008 with 177 in 150.0 innings.  This season Bromberg moved up to Ft. Myers where he led the Florida State League with 148 strikeouts in 153.1 innings.  Bromberg was named the FSL Pitcher of the Year and the Twins organization Pitcher of the Year while winning the second most games in the league, 13-4.  Bromberg finished his award winning season with a league fourth best 2.70 ERA and ninth best WHIP of 1.23.      

            Stephen Hirschfield began his season in the Ft. Myers bullpen before moving to the starting rotation when several starters moved up to New Britain.  Hirschfield joined Bromberg as one of the best starters in the FSL, where he had a 7-7 record with the league’s second best ERA (2.23) and best WHIP (1.03).  Hirschfield, who struck out 86 while walking only 31 in 117.0 innings, pitched so well that he earned an assignment to the Arizona Fall League.

            Twins fans are familiar with the third starter, Rochester’s Anthony Swarzak.  Swarzak had a 4-5 record for the Red Wings with a 3.28 ERA and 45 strikeouts with only 21 walks in 79.2 innings.  Considering that he allowed 10 earned runs in 8.1 innings in the two starts following his return to Rochester from the Twins and it is easy to see how dominant he was this season for the Wings.  Swarzak made 12 starts for the Twins, finishing with a 3-7 record, 6.25 ERA and 34K/20BB in 59.0 innings.   

            The fourth starting pitcher is one of two all-star starters from the GCL Twins, B. J. Hermsen.  Pitching in his first season of professional ball following his signing after the Iowa high school season last summer, Hermsen was as good as any pitcher in the Gulf Coast League.  Hermsen finished his season with a 6-2 record, the league’s third best ERA (1.35) and best WHIP (0.68).  Hermsen had 42 strikeouts in 52.1 innings while allowing only 4 walks. 

            The fifth starter is another young pitcher from the GCL Twins, Adrian Salcedo.  Salcedo also was one of the top pitchers in the league, finishing with a 3-2 record and the league’s seventh best ERA (1.46), fifth most innings (61.2), third most strikeouts (58) and eighth best WHIP (1.02).  What is most remarkable, however, is that Salcedo allowed only THREE walks or one walk every 20.4 innings or 0.44 walks per 9 innings pitched. 

The Bullpen:

Closer – Alex Burnett

Short Relief – Andrei Lobanov

            Short Relief – Anthony Slama

            Relief – Joe Testa

            Relief – Matt Tone

            Relief – Kyle Waldrop

            Relief – Zach See 

            The Closer is this year’s top rated pitcher, Alex Burnett.  Burnett had been a starter prior to this year including 2008 when he had an 8-6 record with a 3.76 ERA for the Ft. Myers Miracle.  In last fall’s Instructional League, the Twins began the process of converting Burnett to a short reliever.  He began this year back at Ft. Myers where he appeared in 18 games (22.2 innings) with a  2-1 record, 4 saves, 1.99 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 26K/7BB.  That performance earned Burnett a mid-season promotion to New Britain.  Whereas many pitchers hit a wall when promoted to AA, Burnett flourished.  His numbers were as good if not better than at Ft. Myers, appearing in 40 games (55.1 innings) with a 1-2 record, 9 saves, 1.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 52K/19BB.  I ranked Burnett as the top pitcher in the organization this year and indications are that he is now on the fast track to Minnesota.

            The left handed short reliever is a young man from Moscow, Russia who pitched for the GCL Twins this season.  Andrey Lobanov, 19, appeared in 15 games (22.0 innings) for the Twins with a 2-1 record, 7 saves, 0.82 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 35 strikeouts (1.59 strikeouts per inning) with a Dominance Ratio of 2.333.  Perhaps more astonishing however, is the fact that Lobanov walked only 1 batter this season…or 0.41 walks per nine innings pitched.  Can Lobanov continue to dominate hitters as he moves up through the organization, only time will tell.  If he can, this young lefty may be special!

            The right handed short reliever is a young man we should see in Minnesota sometime next year, Anthony Slama.  Following a 2008 season when he was the Twins Relief Pitcher of the Year, Slama repeated that performance this year.  He began his season in New Britain where he appeared in 51 games (65.1 innings) with a 4-2 record, 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 93K/32BB.  Slama moved up to Rochester late in the year where he appeared in 11 games (15.2 innings) with a 0-2 record, 3.45 ERA and 19K/8BB.  Slama again led the organization this year with 29 saves while his 25 saves at New Britain led the Eastern league. 

            Joe Testa is a long reliever who had about as good of a season as any pitcher in the organization.  Testa began this year at Beloit where he was the Snappers lone all-star, appearing in 25 games (45.2 innings) with a 0-2 record, 2.56 ERA and 63K/23BB.  Testa moved up to Ft. Myers following the all-star break, where he appeared in 21 games (37.0 innings) with a 5-0 record, 1 save, 1.22 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 53K/18BB.  Testa finished his season with an excellent 1.208 Dominance Ratio which was higher than any pitcher in the organization not playing rookie ball.

            Matt Tone was a fourteenth round pick in this year’s draft.  The left handed Tone was assigned to the Elizabethton Twins where he was as good as any reliever in the Appy League.  Tone compiled a 4-1 record in 16 appearances with 1 save, a 1.31 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 45K/23BB in 34.1 innings.

            Kyle Waldrop, who was one of the twins first round picks in 2004, had been one of the organization’s top starting prospects as he rapidly moved through the organization.  That all ended last year when he spent the entire season on the disabled list following shoulder surgery.  Waldrop returned this season working out of the bullpen at Ft. Myers and later in New Britain.  While in New Britain, Waldrop was one of the best relievers in the league.  He finished this season with the Rock Cats with a 2-3 record in 31 games (55.2 innings) with a  1.46 ERA and 30K/18BB.  Earlier, he appeared in 20 games for the Miracle with a 3-2 record, 3.09 ERA and 20K/7BB in 35.0 innings.  Perhaps his biggest achievement this season however, was staying healthy and pitching better throughout the year.

            The last reliever is Zach See who was signed as a non drafted free-agent this past winter.  See was another young reliever who had an incredible year with the GCL Twins this year.  He appeared in 13 games with a 2-0 record, 2 saves, a 0.69 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 34K/10BB in 26.0 innings.     


There you have it. Roger’s 2009 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Star team. What are your thoughts? If so, Send me an e-mail, or leave your Comments here. Top 50 Twins Prospects: Part 2 (21-35)

21 Oct

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On Monday, I posted my choices for Twins Prospects 36-50. Today, I’m back with my choices for Twins prospects 21-35. I welcome your comments. I hope you enjoy this and again, please feel free to comment.

 (For a reminder of #s 36-50, and for much more detail on 21-35, please go to  

#35 – David Winfree – OF – 24 (8/5/85)


#34 – Andrei Lobanov – LHP – 19 (1/25/90)


#33 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – 20 (11/19/89) 

#32 – Santos Arias – RHP – 22 (3/17/87)


#31 – Steve Tolleson – IF/OF – 26 (11/1/83)


#30 – Billy Bullock – RH RP – 21 (2/27/88)


#29 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – 21 (9/26/88)

#28 – Max Kepler-Rozycki – C/OF – 16 (2/10/93)


#27 – Brian Dinkelman – 2B – 26 (11/10/83)


#26 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – 18 (5/1/91)


#25 – Josmil Pinto – C/DH – 20 (3/31/89)


#24 – Michael McCardell – RHP – 24 (4/13/85)


#23 – Steve Singleton – 2B – 24 (9/12/85)

#22 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – 22 (9/22/86)

#21 – Anthony Slama – RH RP – 25 (1/6/84)

So there you have it, my selections for Twins prospects 21-35. Be sure to check back tomorrow for my choices for #11-20, and later in the week, you will also get my Top 10. If you have any feedback, comments, opinions or suggestions, please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Minor League Awards

15 Oct

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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.