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Guest-Filled Twins Podcast Was a Success

10 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Last night’s 90-minute SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast was a lot of fun! We talked to Kyle Waldrop about what it was like to finally getting his first big league opportunity after spending eight seasons in the Twins system. He discussed what he did in the offseason to improve and what he’s looking to show in spring training. Then Alex Margulies joined us to talk about how big league spring training affects the Ft. Myers Miracle front office. We also discussed how the Miracle has been ahead of the game in terms of technology. We also discussed Aaron Hicks, Alex Wimmers, Oswaldo Arcia and several other Twins prospects that spent time with the Miracle last year. It was treat to be joined by the new Voice of the Twins Cory Provus who has jumped headfirst into his new job. He’s spent time on the Twins Caravan, and he’s dug into the history of the Minnesota Twins. He’s learned a lot from Bob Uecker and Ron Santo, and although he’s just 31-32 years old, he’s worked in many jobs and many sports. You’ll enjoy this interview. Jeff Manship called in next to talk about his frustrating 2011 season and how he is working and preparing for the 2012 season. He’ll begin his trek to Ft. Myers today. It will be interesting to see how his spring training goes. Will he start or work out of the bullpen? Finally, Dan Rohlfing called into the podcast. He is a non-roster invite to big league camp as a catcher. For the first time in his career, he got a chance to play nearly every day. Like Chris Herrmann, Rohlfing is a great athlete and when he didn’t catch, he was playing in the outfield. He was entertaining as well. It was a fun show for me. I definitely enjoy chatting with players and other Twins personnel, especially as spring training is coming quickly. However, I do want your thoughts, your opinions or suggestions. Any feedback on the podcasts is very welcome, so please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com or leave your questions, comments and ideas in the Comments Section!

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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

Elizabethton Twins

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

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

GCL Twins

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

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

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

Twins Top Moments of 2011

27 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

99 losses. Confusing injuries and rehabilitation stories. Players traded, and players lost via free agency. 2011 was a really tough season for the Twins organization. However, there were a few positive moments during the season as well.

Blyleven to the Hall of Fame

  • Early in January, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Bert Blyleven was finally to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The Twins had some special nights for him, and in August he was inducted.

20 Year Anniversary of the 1991 World Series

  • Also in August, the Twins celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the greatest World Series of all-time, that 1991 thriller against the Atlanta Braves. Many of the Twins players from that roster were in attendance for the reunion. It’s always great to see so many of those players coming back.

No-Hitters

  • On May 4 in Chicago, Francisco Liriano was wild, and yet he completed a no-hitter against the White Sox. The final out came on a line drive to Matt Tolbert off the bat of Adam Dunn. Liriano was pitching to stay in the rotation at the time, and despite all the walks, the no-hitter continued to show how good his stuff can be.
  • On July 6, Jeff Manship made his first start for the Rochester Red Wings. Due to injury, it was his first appearance in seven weeks. Manship threw four no-hit innings. He was followed by Jake Stevens who threw three no-hit innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up no hits in the 8th innings, and Jim Hoey finished the job with no hits in the 9th inning.
  • On July 16, Tim Shibuya, the Twins 23rd round pick a month earlier, started for the Elizabethton Twins. The right-hander threw seven no-hit innings. He was followed by 31st round pick, RHP Garrett Jewell, who threw a no-hit 8th inning. 7th round pick, lefty Steven Gruver, struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the no-hitter.
  • September 3, Alex Wimmers tossed a seven-inning no hitter for the Ft. Myers Miracle. His season started with a six batter faced, six walk outing. He was shut down for a couple of months and brought back slowly. But to end the season in such fashion was a nice way to end a rough season.

Major League Debuts

  • April 1 – Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 1-4 on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.
  • April 28 – Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with an RBI in his debut against the Rays.
  • June 4 – Brian Dinkelman went 1-3 with a walk. In his first plate appearance, he was hit by a pitch. His walk was intentional. The Twins beat the Royals 7-2.
  • July 18 – Scott Diamond was called up for a spot start in the second game of a double header against Cleveland. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks in 6.1 innings.
  • September 5 – Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings against the White Sox. The first inning he pitched was scoreless.
  • September 6 – Joe Benson led off for the Twins and went 0-3 after walking in his first plate appearance in a 3-0 loss to the White Sox.
  • September 6 – Chris Parmelee batted fifth and went 2-4 in the same game.
  • September 6 – Liam Hendriks made the start for the Twins in this game. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings.

The Killebrew Tribute

  • Obviously one of the saddest moments during the 2011 season was the death of legendary Twins great Harmon Killebrew. However, listening and reading the stories of what a great man he was made us almost forget what a great baseball player he was. The Twins had a tribute for Killebrew on May 26. It was great to see so many former players there. Mudcat Grant was again amazing with his rendition of What a Wonderful World. However, the highlight had to be the speech of Nita Killebrew. Her poise and strength in that moment were amazing. Her words were inspirational. It was a great tribute to a great man.

Nathan Sets Twins Saves Mark

  • On August 10, Joe Nathan set the Twins all-time saves record by recording his 255th save. He surpassed Rick Aguilera’s mark of 254.

Thome Hits 600th Home Run

  • On August 15, the Twins traded Delmon Young to the Tigers in the afternoon. That was fairly big news that day, but fortunately, there was much bigger news coming later that night. Through his first two at bats, Jim Thome was 1-2 with a single. In the 6th inning, he hit home run #599 against the Tigers in Detroit. For many, it takes awhile to hit that 600th home run. Thome’s came just one inning later with two runners on against lefty Daniel Schlereth.

Draft Picks Sign

  • Within the final hour before the deadline for teams to sign their draft picks, the Twins signed all three of their first round picks. Levi Michael was the 30th overall pick and signed for $1.175 million (about $86,000 over slot). Supplemental first-rounder, Hudson Boyd, the 55th overall pick, signed for a $1 million bonus (about $350,000 over slot). Travis Harrison, the 50th overall pick in the draft, signed for $1.05 million (about $350,000 over slot). The Twins signed several other players with big potential on that final day, including Minnesota’s top high school player in 2011, LHP Austin Malinowski (the team’s 16th round pick).

Award Winners

  • Brian Dozier and Liam Hendriks were named the Twins minor league hitter and pitcher of the year, respectively.
  • Eddie Rosario was named the player of the year in the Appalachian League after putting up monstrous numbers including 21 home runs, one better than teammate Miguel Sano. Teammate Tim Shibuya was the pitcher of the year in the Appalachian League.

Terry Ryan Reclaims the GM Role

  • On November 7, the Twins announced the Bill Smith was being relieved of his duties as GM of the Twins and that former GM Terry Ryan would resume the duties in an interim role. The question is how long “interim” might be.

It was a tough year, and when trying to come up with positives from 2011, it was quite difficult to make it even this lengthy. I’m certain I missed some things. Were there any other positives from the 2011 Twins season that you can think of? Help me out here!!

TwinsCentric Notes

Hendriks, Parmelee, Benson Debut

7 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Tuesday night, the Twins lost to the White Sox 3-0. For me, it was as excited as I have been to watch a Twins game in a long time! It was great to watch the debuts of Liam Hendriks, Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee. It came one day after reliever Kyle Waldrop made his debut.

Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. Hendriks was impressive in his start on Tuesday night. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings. He showed a good fastball, good control, good changeup, and a very good slow curveball. Joe Benson walked in his first plate appearance before going 0-3 in his other at bats. Chris Parmelee had two hits off of Jake Peavy in the game.

Last spring, I released my third Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It think it’s fair to say that due to all of the players who have made their way to the Twins this season, the prospect handbook is a must-have for Twins fans. You can order a book here. As a little incentive, here is what I wrote about those four players who have made their debuts with the Twins in the last couple of games. These are their player profiles (plus Brian Dinkelman’s), but since Benson was the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year last year, I also have an interview with him in the book. Also, Josh Johnson wrote a great article on Chris Parmelee called “In the Right Direction.” Josh wrote the profiles for Parmelee and Waldrop that you will see below.

And, while you’re reading this, be sure to check out last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I was joined by New Britain Rock Cats outfielder and Minnesota native Mark Dolenc. We talked about his career, the Rock Cats season, minor league life, and some of the prospects that we are starting to see with the Twins.

Joe Benson – OF– (3/5/88)

Acquired: 2nd round draft pick in 2006 from HS in Illinois

2010 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats

2010 Stats: .259/.343/.538, 31-2B, 8-3B, 27 HR, 62 RBI, 19 SB

There has never been any question about the tools of Joe Benson. In 2010, Benson broke out with a season in which the skills started to catch up to the tools. It didn’t start out well for him though. He started the season in Double-A New Britain and hit just .169 in April. Despite hitting .283/.411/.609 in 56 May plate appearances, he was striking out 32% of the time, and on May 17, he was demoted to Ft. Myers. He spent a month with the Miracle, working with Jim Dwyer. In 21 games, he hit .294/.375/.588 with 11 double and four home runs and was promoted to New Britain on June 15. In 70 June plate appearances, he hit .292/.343/.646 with five home runs. He followed that up with seven home runs in July and six more in his final 100 plate appearances. His strikeout rate dropped from 30% in July to 24% in August to 18% in September. In total, he led the organization with 27 home runs and drove in 81 runs. Along with the power, Benson improved his speed in 2010. He stole 19 bases, but base stealing remains an area for improvement as he was thrown out nine times too. Offensively, his contract rate will be the area where he will need to find some improvement. He has power. He has speed. He has an ability to draw walks. Defensively, he has the speed to play in centerfield. He has plenty of arm strength to play right field. Just as important, he is a natural in the outfield and gets great reads.

Following the season, Benson was invited to play for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He was also named the recipient of the Sherry Robertson Award as the Twins top minor league hitter. Finally, in November, the Twins added him to the 40 man roster. Benson is a very hard worker and one of the more competitive ball players that you will find.

Brian Dinkelman – OF – (11/10/83)

Acquired: 8th round pick in 2006 from McKendree College

2010 Team(s): Rochester Red Wings

2010 Stats: .265/.336/.379, 32-2B, 2-3B, 8 HR, 54 RBI

Dinkelman is one of the best hitters to ever play in the NAIA level of collegiate baseball. Drafted as a second baseman, he moved to the outfield for the second half of the 2009 season, when Steve Singleton moved up to New Britain. Dinkelman spent the entire 2010 season in Rochester, his first year with the Red Wings. He played 64 games in left field, 46 games in right field, and 25 games at second base. Defensively, he makes the plays that he gets to, but he has very little range. With the bat, Dinkelman takes good, quality at bats. He has a good eye and generally makes contact, although his 99 strikeouts in 2010 were a career high by a long ways. Although he is not as athletic as many players, he is respected for his style of play. He is the definition of a “gamer”, diving all over the outfield, and playing with maximum effort. Expect to see Dinkelman back in Rochester in 2011, and to put up much better numbers if he is given regular playing time. If he can play well, he could get a cup of coffee with the Twins.

Liam Hendriks – RHP – (2/10/89)

Acquired: Signed as F/A in Feb. 2007 from Australia

2010 Team(s): Beloit Snappers, Ft. Myers

2010 Stats: 8-4, 1.74 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 108.2 IP, 12 BB, 105 K

Hendriks was well on his way to being the Twins minor league pitcher of the year until an emergency appendectomy abruptly cost him six weeks out of his season. He had just been named as a participant in the Futures Game in Anaheim, representing the Twins and Australia for the World team. He has been representing Australia in international competition for several years including in the World Baseball Classic and the World Cup.

Hendriks began the 2010 season where he ended the 2009 season, in Beloit with the Snappers. After making 11 starts in 2009, he needed just six more starts in 2010 to earn his promotion to Ft. Myers. In those six starts, he got little run support and went 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP. In 34 innings, he gave up just 16 hits, walked four and struck out 39. When he got to Ft. Myers, he barely missed a step. In 13 starts, he went 6-3 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. In 74.2 innings, he gave up 63 hits, walked eight and struck out 66. When he came back from the appendectomy, he had a 2.2 innings outing, then he ended the season by throwing four shutout innings against St. Lucie and five shutout innings against Palm Beach. In those two outings, he gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out 12.

Hendriks clearly is a control pitcher, but he does so without being hittable, and he does a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (2 home runs in 108.2 innings). There are few pitchers that are smarter than Hendriks on the mound. He just knows how to pitch. He has pinpoint control and does a great job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone. He has control of four quality pitches and throws each of them at different speeds. He has a four-seam fastball the can touch 93 mph. He also has a two-seam fastball that has very good movement. He has started using his changeup more. At times, he throws too many strikes. He is a great athlete and fields his position well. He is also incredibly competitive. If he is able to stay healthy, he has a chance to be a very good Major League pitcher.

Chris Parmelee – OF/1B – (2/24/88)

Acquired: 1st round pick in 2006 from HS in California

2010 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats

2010 Stats: .285/.356/.401, 27-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 56 RBI

Classified as an all or nothing hitter, Parmelee has put up big power numbers throughout his five years in the organization. Coming into 2010, Parmelee hit 53 home runs in 376 Minor League games. Unfortunately, big power numbers meant a lot of strikeouts. In that same period, Parmelee amassed 385 strikeouts. Because of these numbers, Parmelee began drawing comparisons to White Sox slugger Adam Dunn.

Following back-to-back seasons in Beloit, Parmelee made the jump to Ft. Myers in 2009. He hit .258/.359/.441 with 44 extra-base hits (including 16 home runs) in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Florida State League. Parmelee also had a career high 65 walks in the 422 at-bats he had that season. Parmelee arrived in New Britain in 2010 and hit just .186/.241/.333 in his first 102 at-bats. His poor numbers resulted in him getting demoted back to Ft. Myers. What could have been a bad situation for a very talented player may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He played in just 22 games with the Miracle, but his .338/.440/.463 hitting line was good enough for him to be promoted back to New Britain. From that point forward, Parmelee went on a tear. From June 10 to the end of the season, the left-hander hit .304/.373/.408 with 24 extra-base hits and a 37/41 BB/K ratio. Parmelee carried his momentum into the off-season and hit .339/.405/.477 in 29 in the Arizona Fall League. The Twins needed to make a decision on whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster, but his improvements and production made it an easy on.

Although he’s been known for his power, Parmelee’s on-base skills are also very impressive. He has a .352 on-base percentage throughout his career, thanks in part to his 247 career walks. After hitting so many home runs in his first four seasons, his eight 2010 home runs made people alarmed that he was experiencing a “power outage.” But expect his power numbers to climb back up in 2011. Since being drafted, the 6-foot-1, 220 pound Parmelee has split time between first base and the corner outfield positions. Although he is not a great defender, Parmelee has remained steady at each position he plays. His arm is both strong and accurate, which is why he does spend a good amount of time in the outfield. He continues to work hard on his defense and hopes to improve in that area in 2011. (JJ)

For more on Parmelee, see the “In the Right Direction” article by Josh Johnson later in this book.

Kyle Waldrop – RHP – (10/27/85)

Acquired: 1st round pick in 2004 from HS in Tennessee

2010 Team(s): Rochester Red Wings

2010 Stats: 5-3, 2 Saves, 2.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 87.2 IP, 20 BB, 60 K

Waldrop was the Twins’ third first-round draft choice in 2004 out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He wrapped up his high school career with a 14-0 record and 0.15 ERA in 14 starts for Farragut High School. He began his career as a starting pitcher, amassing 25 wins over his first three seasons, but after shoulder surgery whipped out his entire 2008 season, Waldrop has returned to the mound in a reliever role.

In 2009, he had a 2.08 ERA in 51 appearances between Ft. Myers and New Britain. The Twins felt comfortable enough in his progress to move him up to Rochester for the start of the 2010 season. He got off to a great start, hoisting a 1.01 ERA over the first three months. He then struggled in July and August, but still finished the year with a 2.57 ERA. He was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League, but he struggled in eight of his 10 appearances for the Peoria Saguaros. Waldrop has a nice 6-foot-4, 205 pound frame, but he doesn’t throw particularly hard. He has a sinking fastball that sits in the high-80’s, low-90’s and accompanies that with a slider and change-up. He is a hard worker and a good fielder who should get his first crack at the Major Leagues in 2011 if all goes well. (JJ)

Again, you can pick up the 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook here. I will soon begin work on the 2012 Handbook. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the Comments section.

Hendriks, Waldrop, Dinkelman Coming Up to Twins

3 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Liam Hendriks will be the Twins Minor League pitcher of the year. He has been terrific in AA New Britain and pitched well his last few starts in Rochester. On Monday, he will make his Major League debut for the Twins. The 22 year old Australian went 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 appearanced with the Rock Cats. He has made nine starts in AAA and gone 4-4 with a 4.56 ERA. In his last four starts, he has gone 22.2 innings and given up just four runs on 15 hits, 0 walks and 17 strikeouts.

He will be joined on the Twins roster by Reliever Kyle Waldrop and IF/OF Brian Dinkelman. Dinkelman spent a few weeks with the Twins earlier in the season. He went 4-14. With the Red Wings, he is hitting .243/.316/.324 with 27 doubles, a triple and three home runs.

Kyle Waldrop is a terrific story. He has been terrific with the Twins the past two spring trainings. He could have been a 6-year minor league free agent after last season, but he made the decision to stay with the Twins. He had a rough first half, but he has been terrific in the second half. He has a great sinker ball and induces a ton of ground balls. He was the Twins third, first-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Tennessee where he was a great hitter as well as a dominant pitcher. He was a good prospect, but then he missed the entire 2008 season due to shoulder surgery. He was unable to achieve full range-of-motion. Since he came back, he has been in the bullpen and done a very nice job. He is still just 25 years old.

None of the three are currently on the 40-man roster, so additional moves will be made. Remember, the Twins are at 39 players on their 40 man roster since the Jim Thome trade. I’ve been speculating for two weeks that Hendriks would get Thome’s spot.  But the Twins will need to make two additional roster moves to make room for Waldrop and Dinkelman. I would guess that Denard Span would be moved to the 60 Day DL. Would anyone be surprised if Joe Mauer was put on the 60-Day DL with a cold?  I would doubt it, but who knows? (Update – As others have said, it’s possible the Twins could put Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn or even Scott Baker on the 60 Day DL to make roster room)

Will the Twins reach down to New Britain to grab a few more players when the Rock Cats season ends?  The Rock Cats tonight split a double header with Trenton while Reading won their game. That means that New Britain is one game back with two games to go. It is possible that the Twins could promote 40 man roster players Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Deolis Guerra. Yangervis Solarte is another option, as he would need to be protected following the season anyway. Brian Dozier does not need to be added to the 40 man yet this offseason, so it makes no sense to call him up.

Anyway, a HUGE Congratulations to Liam Hendriks, Kyle Waldrop and Brian Dinkelman!

Any thoughts?

Help Coming?

23 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

ALREADY THERE

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

RETREADS AT ROCHESTER

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

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

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

PLAYOFFS FOR PROSPECTS

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

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

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

ONE MORE

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

SethSpeaks.net Twins Minor League July Hitters/Pitchers of the Month

2 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It is hard to believe that we are now into August and four months of the baseball season is already complete. The minor league seasons will be complete right around Labor Day, so we are about three-quarters of the way through the season. Today, it is time for me to again consider the top performers in the Twins minor league system for July.

Real quickly, here are the top players from the season’s first three months:

Hitters: 

  • April: Daniel Ortiz – Beloit Snappers
  • May: Brian Dozier – Ft. Myers Miracle
  • June: Aaron Hicks – Ft. Myers Miracle

Relief Pitchers:

  • April: Cole DeVries – New Britain Rock Cats
  • May: Chuck James – Rochester Red Wings
  • June: Andrew Albers – Ft. Myers Miracle

Starting Pitchers:

  • April: Steve Hirschfeld – New Britain Rock Cats
  • May: Steve Hirschfeld – New Britain Rock Cats
  • June: Tom Stuifbergen – Ft. Myers Miracle

So, who are the choices for July? Below, I will post the stats for my choices for #5, #4, #3, and #2 before announcing the choice for the #1. I will write a little about the winner while giving stats for #2-5. For more on the runners-up, and more honorable mentions, go to SethSpeaks.net over the next couple of days.

HITTER of JULY

  • #5 – Jeff Bailey – Rochester Red Wings (.314/.402/.614 with 6 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 21 RBI)
  • #4 – Deibinson Romero – New Britain Rock Cats (.308/.360/615 with 7 doubles, 7 home runs and 16 RBI)
  • #3 – Chris Parmelee – New Britain Rock Cats (.305/.397/.559 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs and 26 RBI)
  • #2 – Lance Ray – Beloit Snappers (.312/389/.602 with 12 doubles, 5 home runs and 22 RBI)

And the July Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is… Jairo Perez, Beloit Snappers.

The Twins signed Perez out of Venezuela in July of 2006. He had a pretty non-descript career coming into this season. In fact, he missed the entire 2010 season after having Tommy John surgery. He did not play in 2011 until mid-June. But since his return, he has done nothing but hit, and hit for power. On the season, he has hit .351/.427/.613 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBI in just 45 games. In July, he hit .320/.393/.610 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBI. With the Snappers, he is primarily playing 3B but also getting some playing time at 2B. At just 5-10 and 160 pounds, the 23 year old takes a mammoth swing and does hit the ball very hard. It will be interesting to see if he advances to Ft. Myers by the end of the season.

RELIEF PITCHER of JULY

  • #4 – Madison Boer – Elizabethton Twins – 1-1, 5 Saves, 3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12 IP, 2 BB, 21 K, .239 BAA.
     
  • #3 – Matt Summers – Elizabethton Twins – 1-1, 3 Saves, 1.50 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12 IP, 3 BB, 21 K, .186 BAA
  • #2 – Matt Hauser – Ft. Myers Miracle – 0-2, 1.72 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 6 BB, 16 K, .167 BA

And the July Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is… Kyle Waldrop, Rochester Red Wings.

We keep reading that the Twins don’t have anyone in Rochester who could help out the Twins bullpen. If you look at Waldrop’s season stats (4.20 ERA, 1.32 WHIP), it is hard to believe that he is ready to contribute, but in July, he was terrific! He went 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. In 13 games, he threw 19.2 innings. He gave up just 12 hits, walked three and struck out 14. What is most impressive is his 11.67 ground balls per fly balls. He has always been a major ground ball pitcher, but those numbers are incredible. One of the Twins first-round picks in 2004, he could have become a 6-year minor league free agent last offseason. Instead, he signed back with the Twins quickly. He did a great job in spring training again, and looks to an opportunity to make his big league debut with the Twins.

STARTING PITCHER of JULY

  • #5 – Hung-yi Chen – GCL Twins – 0-2, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 18 IP, 4 BB, 19 K, .246 BAA
  • #4 – Angel Mata – GCL Twins – 0-0, 0.56 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 16 IP, 4 BB, 12 K, .135 BAA
  • #3 – Pedro Guerra – Elizabethton Twins – 2-1, 3.41 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29 IP, 4 BB, 30 K, .154 BAA
  • #2 – Liam Hendriks – New Britain Rock Cats & Rochester Red Wings, 3-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 26.2 IP, 2 BB, 17 K. 
    •  BONUS INFO (because Twins fans need to start getting to know Liam Hendriks!) – July was a busy month for Hendriks, the one person who has been in the Top 5 all three months previously this year. He began the month in New Britain where he made just one start. He went seven innings and gave up just two runs on four hits and a walk. He then pitched an inning in the Futures Game, representing the Twins and his home of Australia. He then went and played in the Double A Eastern League All Star game. He was then promoted to Triple-A Rochester, where he has gone 2-0 with a 3.66 ERA in three starts. He has given up eight runs on 22 hits and a walk in 19.2 innings. Hendriks began the 2010 season in Beloit before moving up to Ft. Myers for the remainder of the season. This year, he began in New Britain and now is toiling in Rochester. Don’t be surprised if Hendriks earns a September call-up to the Twins because he has to be added to the 40 man roster following the season anyway.

And the July Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is… BJ Hermsen, Beloit Snappers

After spending some time in Beloit in 2010, Hermsen is having a terrific first full season with the Snappers. He is 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA on the year. In 117 innings, he has given up 124 hits and walked just 30. He isn’t a strikeout pitcher (just 75). At 6-5 and 235 pounds, the 21 year old from Iowa was the team’s 6th round pick in 2008. In July, Hermsen went 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. In 38 innings, he walked nine and struck out 25. Opponents hit just .227 against him. Hermsen teams with Adrian Salcedo for a very strong 1-2 punch for the Snappers. 

So there you have it. Congratulations to the July players of the month – Hitter: Jairo Perez (Beloit), Reliever: Kyle Waldrop (Rochester) and Starting Pitcher: BJ Hermsen (Beloit). There were a lot of good hitting and pitching performances in July.

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Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.