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Twins Set Opening Day Roster

28 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Sunday morning, the Twins decided to option Anthony Slama, Jim Hoey and Luke Hughes to Rochester. In doing so, the 25 man roster is set. Jeff Manship and Matt Tolbert make the Opening Day roster. The only thing to determine yet is whether or not Scott Diamond will be sent back to the Braves or if the teams can work out a trade. Of course, it is also possible that he could be claimed by another team.

Minnesota Twins Opening Day Roster

Starting Pitchers: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Brian Duensing

Relief Pitchers: Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jose Mijares, Dusty Hughes, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Jeff Manship.

Catchers: Joe Mauer, Drew Butera

Infielders: Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Alexi Casilla, Danny Valencia, Matt Tolbert

Outfielders: Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jason Repko

Designated Hitters: Jason Kubel, Jim Thome

That’s it! That is the Twins Opening Day roster barring any injury. It looks like a pretty solid roster to me.  

Anthony Slama has been hurt most of spring training, so it is no surprise that he is being sent to Rochester to start the season. I believe, if healthy, he would likely be on the Opening Day roster. However, it will be good for him to ease back into pitching before he is ready to contribute for the Twins. Manship showed ups and downs this spring, but there is no doubt that he has enough stuff to be a quality major league reliever. He has been a starter throughout his minor league career, but between a 92 mph fastball, a terrific changeup and an excellent curveball, the comparisons to Matt Guerrier certainly make sense. It will, however, be a different role for him. Instead of getting ready to start every fifth day, he will likely be used in the 7th inning. The Twins likely won’t throw him into the more high-leverage, late-inning situations. That’s what Matt Capps and Jose Mijares are for. But Manship will need to get outs in the 7th, sometimes in big situations. Hoey throws hard, no question. He walked a bunch early in spring, but he had just one walk in his final five outings.

Bullpen Analysis: The Twins really like Manship and see a high deal of potential with him in the role. There are a lot of question marks in the back end of the bullpen due to lack of big league time or bullpen experience. However, they have a lot of arms, a lot of arms with great stuff. Glen Perkins is out of options. There are currently three left-handers. Kevin Slowey provides a guy who can give innings. What is exciting is that if anyone really struggles, there are options in Rochester. Slama could be ready soon, and Hoey may be the first guy to be promoted. Kyle Waldrop is not on the roster, but clearly the Twins really like him. Likewise, Carlos Gutierrez isn’t on the 40 man roster, but he has incredible upside in the bullpen and will likely have a big impact in the season’s second half. And too many people are forgetting about Alex Burnett who is still young and has very good stuff.

The big talker among Twins fans has been who will be the Twins utility infielder. Would it be Matt Tolbert or Luke Hughes? Matt Tolbert is a line drive hitter with little power who generally takes good at bats and plays some good defense at all four infield positions. Luke Hughes led the Twins in home runs and RBI this spring, but also in at bats. In the end, Hughes made the decision very easy for Ron Gardenhire. Had the decision been made two weeks ago, there was a shot that Hughes could have made the roster, but he has really struggled with the bat the last week to ten days. He had just three hits in his last 30 at bats (although two of them were home runs). Hitting is his thing, and specifically, he provides power from the right side of the plate. Note that he struck out 17 times this spring with just two walks and an OPS well below the .300 mark. He could play four infield positions, and Gardy even gave him opportunities at shortstop.

I am not a big Matt Tolbert backer at all. He is not great defensively at any of those four positions, although he is solid. He is so rigid and uptight, and he probably would be better if he just relaxed. But I do think that this the right decision for the team. I would love to see Luke Hughes on this roster because his right-handed power is terrific.

Infield Analysis: Had Justin Morneau not been able to start the season on the active list, Hughes probably makes the roster. However, there are question marks and guys getting opportunities around the rest of the infield. Danny Valencia had a huge impact in the second half of the Twins and it will be interesting to see how the league adjusts to him, and more importantly, how he adjusts back to the rest of the league. Alexi Casilla is very talented, and he is being given another opportunity as a starter. Maybe his last opportunity. Tsuyoshi Nishioka showed in spring training that he can be very solid, but the regular season will create new challenges. However, to be fair, each of them should get at least six to eight weeks of playing nearly every day to see where they are at. That means less playing time for the utility guy, and that suits Tolbert better in that he is a little better with the glove than Hughes. Hughes can go back to Rochester and play nearly every day. Hopefully he stays healthy.

Spring Training Analysis: I say frequently that spring training play means very little to who makes the opening day roster. We saw it last year in the Wilson Ramos/Drew Butera decision. This year, it is clear that Tolbert and Manship were the guys that had the first opportunity to make the roster. It would have taken a lot to beat either of them out of a spot. Hughes was terrific through the first two weeks, but his late struggles meant that Tolbert would get the utility job to start the season. Manship wasn’t great in the spring, but none of the other options stood out enough to move ahead of him. That doesn’t mean that spring training means nothing. Heading into spring, the assumption was that Trevor Plouffe might have an outside shot at the utility infield job. He struggled and Hughes showed off him power. If the Twins have a need early in the season, Hughes’ spring impression likely means he is the first player to be promoted. Likewise, there are still several questions at the back of the Twins bullpen. Hoey showed a lot, but so did Kyle Waldrop. An open 40 man roster spot, so it would not be surprising if he Waldrop debuts with the Twins early in the season. What Carlos Gutierrez did this spring has to have the Twins brass excited for what he can do. Now he needs to work out the final kinks in Rochester.

The Twins play at noon today against the Pirates. After the game, the team will fly to Atlanta and play the Braves in two exhibition games. On Thursday, the team will travel to Toronto, and on Friday, Opening Night will be here!

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Last night, I hosted the SethSpeaks.net Sunday Night Twins podcast with guest Dan Wade (of TwinsMVB.com). It was a fun discussion of the Twins entire roster and many of the decisions that have been made.

If you like, please feel free to comment.

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Early Impressions

22 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

There are a lot of clichés surrounding spring training. Some say statistics don’t matter at all. I would fully agree with that as it relates to the players with sure roster spots. The Twins have 21 or 22 spots on their roster that are already determined. The statistics of those players are essentially meaningless. There is little, if any, correlation between spring statistics (good or bad) and regular season success.

Spring stats matter to those who are fighting for a roster spot. As I wrote yesterday, this probably indicates that spring performance matters to Dusty Hughes, Jim Hoey, Kyle Waldrop, Jeff Manship, Matt Tolbert, Luke Hughes and Jeff Bailey.

Another adage that many baseball people say frequently is that spring numbers and performance do not matter until the final two weeks of spring leading up to Opening Day. At that point, many players have been sent to minor league camp. Hitters are getting three or four at bats most games and they are against pitchers who are likely to be on a big league roster at some point in 2011.

If that is true, and we have one more week of spring training, then the stats from the past week matter a little bit, right? The Twins had an off day last Tuesday, so below are the stats for many of the Twins players over the last week, starting with the hitters:

  • Denard Span has a hit in all five games he has played in this past week.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka has also played in five games and gone 6-15 (.400).
  • Delmon Young has played in six games and gone 6-18 (.333).
  • Danny Valencia is 1-13 in his last four games.
  • Luke Hughes, the guy everyone seems to think should be given the Twins utility infield spot, has played in six games and is 2-21 (.095), including going 0-13 in his past four games.
  • Matt Tolbert has started twice in the last week and gone 5-8 in those two games, including a home run.
  • Jeff Bailey is 4-11 in his past three games. He is the one player who has played in all seven games.

Here are the numbers over the past week for a few of the Twins pitchers:

  • Jim Hoey, who was hit hard early in camp and walked quite a few, pitched three times in the last week. In three innings, he has not given up a run. He has given up just one hit, walked none and struck out four.
  • Glen Perkins has pitched twice. In his two innings, he has not allowed a run.
  • Carlos Gutierrez has got three innings and not allowed a run despite four hits and three walks.
  • Dusty Hughes, who many (including me) are calling a given at this point, pitched in three games in the past week. He has thrown four scoreless innings, but he has given up four hits and walked five batters. Those are the types of numbers that Scott Diamond put up in his first two outings that got him called “disappointing” by Twins brass.

What does all this mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe it will matter as the final roster spots are chosen. I think looking at stats from the entire spring, Luke Hughes and Dusty Hughes would be favorites for roster spots with the Twins. However, if stats from the past week are to mean more, then maybe we need to take a second look at guys like Jim Hoey, Matt Tolbert and Jeff Bailey.

You all know how I feel about small sample sizes, good or bad. We all acknowledge that we don’t see what happens outside of box scores. We all understand that there are intangibles that go beyond those box scores as well.

If you like, please feel free to comment.

The Final Spots

18 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

For the most part, spring training is a formality. Of the 25 man roster, likely 21 or 22 of those positions were set. Joe Mauer doesn’t need to win a job in spring training. Neither does Justin Morneau or Michael Cuddyer. Joe Nathan had to prove that he was healthy, but if he did, he isn’t fighting for a roster spot. Who were the givens coming into spring training?

Hitters: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Alexi Casilla, Danny Valencia, Delmon Young, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jason Repko, Jim Thome, Drew Butera (12)

Pitchers: Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jose Mijares (9)

Coming into spring training, the Twins’ brass talked about a bullpen spot or two being up for grabs and the utility infield spot, and based on the above, that is clearly true. The Twins need a utility infielder and three pitchers. There was no shortage of options coming into spring training for those spots either.

For the utility infielder spot: Matt Tolbert, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Chase Lambin

For the three bullpen spots: Jeff Manship, Pat Neshek, Jim Hoey, Glen Perkins, Scott Diamond, Dusty Hughes, Chuck James, Phil Dumatrait, Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Waldrop, Alex Burnett, Yorman Bazardo, Eric Hacker, Anthony Slama

Backup Infielder:

Going into spring training, most of us believed that the “competition” was more in name than in reality. Matt Tolbert is a “Gardy Guy.” He can play all three infield positions defensively. He has some speed. Not much of a hitter, but he has shown an ability to hit at times over the last few seasons. Trevor Plouffe has played shortstop and second base, and even logged some innings at first base, but he has struggled this spring with the bat and with the glove.

Meanwhile, Luke Hughes has again shown up to spring training and shown that he can flat-out hit. He is 14-40 (.350) with three doubles and five home runs. We will ignore the 12 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. He has played adequate defense at 3B, 2B, 1B and even a couple of innings at SS. In his minor league past, he has played all three outfield positions as well. Gardy has been making quotes about defense not being the only thing that matters in the utility infield spot which certainly bodes well for Hughes.

Remember that the utility infielder will hopefully play about once a week, although Hughes would also be a good right-handed bat off the bench to compliment lefty Jim Thome. He may have to play ten to twelve innings of defense a week. How will he adapt to a role position? Can he stay healthy?

Tolbert and Plouffe each are in their final option year. Hughes has two options left. So, options do not need to factor into this decision, which is good.

Gardy’s Decision: Will come down to defense versus offense. Will he want Hughes’ right-handed bat off the bench, or will he want Tolbert’s defense at the three positions?

If the season started today: Hughes would be the man, no question. I think that when spring training started, it was Matt Tolbert’s job to lose. Instead, Luke Hughes has come to spring training likely made such a strong impression that he may have pushed his way onto the Opening Day roster.

Bullpen:

Anthony Swarzak, Yorman Bazardo and Eric Hacker have already been demoted to minor league camp. Chuck James and Phil Dumatrait haven’t done enough to put themselves into Opening Day consideration. Anthony Slama was my choice before camp started, but he has been unable to pitch due to an elbow injury. Alex Burnett will be a big part of the Twins bullpen for years to come, but I don’t think he’s in the competition for an opening day spot right now. Kyle Waldrop probably would be a strong candidate if he was on the 40 man roster. I believe he will be a Twins pitcher, but not by Opening Day. Same with Carlos Gutierrez. So that leaves six pitchers for three spots, and at least one of them (And maybe two) should be left-handed).

Jeff Manship: He has given up five runs on nine hits and three walks in nine innings. He has just two strikeouts. The organization compares his stuff to Matt Guerrier, and it’s hard to argue with that comparison. They both have good fastballs, though not overpowering. They have good control. They both have very good curveballs and changeups. The comparison is fair, but Manship has done little pitching out of the bullpen in his career. He has the stuff to do it well.

Pat Neshek: People talk about Neshek and his velocity. It is seemingly the biggest story. On Thursday, he hit 89. He also has a good changeup and slider. To me, it’s more about pitch movement and mixing up speeds. He has given up three runs on six hits and a walk in 6.1 innings. Of the six hits, three have been home runs. If Neshek makes the team and is given the opportunity to continue to gain strength by pitching in low-leverage situations, he can play a big role in the Twins bullpen as he has in the past.

Jim Hoey: Hoey came over from the Orioles in the JJ Hardy trade. He throws hard, touching 99 mph. As we know, it’s all about throwing strikes for him. If he can harn the velocity, he can be dominant. That is yet to be seen. He has given up five runs on seven hits and four walks in 6.2 innings.

Glen Perkins: Perkins is out of options. He’s left-handed and can’t get left-handed batters out. He really struggled last year. The year before, he got off to a great start and then was hurt most of the season. The year before that, he was a double-digit winner for the Twins. Clearly the Minnesota native has some stuff. He’s left-handed, throws hard, has a good slider and he is breathing. Did I mention that he is out of options? That may be the biggest factor at the end of the day. However, for what it is worth, this spring he has given up two runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings.

Scott Diamond: He was the Twins Rule 5 pick in December which means that he has to stay on the Twins roster throughout the 2011 season or be offered back to the Braves. Although he has given up just one run on six hits in six innings, he has also walked six batters. Twins brass talks about how slowly he has worked, which is something they have not seen in their years of scouting him.

Dusty Hughes: Inexplicably, the Royals designated the southpaw for assignment and the Twins happily claimed him and added him to the 40 man roster. They speak of his four-pitch mix. He has certainly made a strong impression during spring. In eight shutout innings, he has allowed just three hits. He has walked three also, but all three came in his Thursday outing.

Gardy’s Decision: The coaching staff seems quite high on Manship, and everyone is saying great things about Glen Perkins. Hughes has pitched great this spring, but the team needs to determine what happens with Perkins and Diamond before they determine what they will do with Hughes.

If the season started today: Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Dusty Hughes

The Big Picture:

How good can the Twins be if the roster decisions at this point are for the 12th hitter and 11th and 12th pitchers? That isn’t to minimize their roles at all. Each of the 25 players can help the team win games at any time. How large does a small sample need to be (good or bad) to be large enough to mean something? I mean, Dusty Hughes has been amazing through eight innings, but what if he gives up five runs without getting a batter out in his next outing? Luke Hughes has shown great power from the right-side, but what if he strikes out in his next 14 at bats against big league pitchers and commits two errors a day all around the field? The Twins have been disappointed with Scott Diamond and the pace he has shown on the mound this spring. In an interview on 1500espn on Sunday, assistant GM said that it was something they hadn’t seen in their years of scouting him. That scouting led them to love Diamond, so are they really going to let six innings in spring training completely negate what he had done for three minor league seasons before?

What if the Twins keep Dusty Hughes and let Glen Perkins and Scott Diamond go? If Hughes then struggles, two options are gone.

In the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, I included Luke Hughes on my 2011 roster blueprint, as a right-handed bench bat because of his power. He had a great spring last year and was the first non-catching hitter called up. If not for injuries last year, we would likely have seen much more of him. What he has done this spring with the bat is likely taken a job that going into spring training, he was third on the depth chart. Again, he’s crushed it in spring for a role on the Twins bench that may get him six or seven at bats a week, but I do like the bat.

Sprint Training is always fun and interesting, and there are always great stories. To this point in spring, the Hughes Brothers (who of course are not brothers) have both put together strong springs that probably put them on the big league roster. With two weeks to go, what are the other stories of spring to follow? Are any other jobs up for grabs? What are your thoughts?

Here are some other notes and blogs to peruse:

That’s it for today! Have a great weekend! If you like, please feel free to comment, ask questions.

Minnesota Twins Top Prospects (Part 1: 26-50)

13 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#49 – Rory Rhodes – 3B – GCL Twins

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

#48 – Cesar Ciurcina – RHP – GCL Twins

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

#47 – Daniel Santana – SS – Beloit

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

#46 – Evan Bigley – OF – New Britain

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

#45 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit

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

#44 – Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit

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

#43 – Brian Dozier – SS – Ft. Myers

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

#42 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit

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

#41 – Dakota Watts – RHP – New Britain

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

#40 – Logan Darnell – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#39 – Kane Holbrooks – RHP – New Britain

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

#38 – Nate Roberts – OF – Elizabethton

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

#37 – Chris Herrmann – OF – Ft. Myers

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

#36 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit

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

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

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

#34 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit

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

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

#33 – James Beresford – SS – Beloit

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

#32 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain

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

#31 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit

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

#30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit

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

#29 – Martire Garcia – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#28 – Scott Diamond – LHP – Gwinnett

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

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain

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

#26 – Niko Goodrum – IF/OF – GCL

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

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

One Bench Bat?

11 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net (and www.StarTribune.com) –

At least out loud, the Twins have stressed their offseason needs as adding speed and adding right-handed hitting. Hence you can fully understand why the team is still at least mildly interested in 40 year old left-handed bench bat Jim Thome. Right?

There is no question that Jim Thome played a very important role for the Twins in 2010. At $1.5 million, he was the best bargain free agent on the season. This offseason, people in the Thome camp have said that he would like to make up for making so little in 2010. He is apparently garnering interest from the Rangers and the Rays, among other teams. He posted one of his best seasons of the decade in 2010 when he hit .283/.412/.627 with 16 doubles and 25 home runs. He has 589 career home runs so the 600 milestone is certainly in his sites. Thome is certainly worth thinking about bringing back. If he is willing to play for $4 million or less, the Twins are likely happy to bring him back. That said, the other teams might be willing to pay more. If the Twins do not bring back Thome, what are their options? We shall discuss here today, and feel free to comment on who you think the best choices are.

In-House

If the Twins choose not to add a free agent bench bat, the top prospect to consider for the role would be Luke Hughes. He is a right-handed, and although he is not a great defender, he can play three outfield positions, 3B, 2B and 1B. He could get at bats as the right-handed DH and pinch-hitter as well. We had the opportunity to see a little bit of his power when, in his first major league at bat, he homered off of the Tigers’ Max Scherzer. Of course, hitting has not been his problem in recent years. Staying healthy is his problem. But if he is a role player, maybe that will help his durability.

Other options for a bench bat include Trevor Plouffe, Steve Singleton, Dustin Martin, Jeff Bailey and Chase Lambin.

Free Agents

There are several free agent bats that are still available as of right now. Here are nine options, each of which is a right-handed bat, for you to consider. Who makes the most sense?

Mike Sweeney – the long-time Royals 1B/DH has been a bit of a nomad the last few years. He split to the 2010 season between the Mariners and the Phillies. In 56 games, he hit .252/.321/.444 with five doubles and eight home runs. He could play some 1B if absolutely necessary. Likelihood – Likely would only need a minor league deal with big league invite, but odds are very low.

Manny Ramirez – Manny Being Manny was traded from the Dodgers to the White Sox near the deadline. In just 90 games in 2010, he hit .298/.409/.460 with 16 doubles and nine home runs. The 38 year old is very unlikely to sign with the Twins for many reasons, the most important being that he could very well be done.

Jermaine Dye – Dye missed the entire 2010 season. He had some offers but felt they were too low, so he sat out the whole year. In 2009, he hit 29 home runs but played really bad right field. After missing the season, will he come down on his salary expectations, or is a one year, $2 million enough to sign up the36 year old?

Vlad Guerrero – The 35 year old hit .300/.345/.496 with 27 doubles and 29 home runs in 152 games. His OPS was very similar to Delmon Young’s in 2010. In his career, he has hit .325/.406/.588 against left-handers. But Guerrero is likely looking for more than $6 million so don’t expect the Twins to sign him. 

Andruw Jones – The Yankeees allegedly want the 33 year old from Curacao as a backup outfielder. With the White Sox in 2010, he hit .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers. Against lefties in his career, he has hit .261/.361/.401 against lefties. He can play some outfield still, but he’s mainly a pinch-hitter and DH. 

Marcus Thames – The 33 year old played in 82 games in 2010 with the Yankees. He hit .288/.350/.491 with seven doubles and 12 homers. In his career against lefties, he has hit .264/.333/.505. He can play the corner outfield positions and even got a game at 3B in 2010. 

Troy Glaus – The 34 year old played in 128 games for the Braves a year ago, and it was a roller coaster. After a bad April, he was the NL’s player of the month in May. By mid August, the Braves traded for the struggling Derrick Lee, and Glaus became a pinch hitter and bench bat. He can play a little at 1B and even played some 3B for Atlanta in the playoffs. Overall, he hit .240/.344/.400 with 18 doubles and 16 home runs. 

Scott Hairston – The 30 year old played in 104 games for the Padres in 2010. He hit just .210/.295/.346. He played primarily left field, but he played CF and RF as well. in 2008 and 2009, he hit 17 home runs each year. Against lefties, he has hit .278/.331/.498.

Jorge Cantu – Cantu is the youngest player on this list. He has been around for awhile yet won’t turn 27 until the end of January. Between the Marlins and Rangers in 2010, he hit a combined .256/.304/.392. Cantu can play 1B and 3B, and also spot-start 2B. Against lefties, he has hit .272/.323/.451 over his caeer;

Do any of those names interest you? So, who should the Twins choose? What factors should go into such a decision What do you think? Jim Thome? Luke Hughes? Or a free agent? What do you think? 

Check it out if you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

SethSpeaks.net Top 10 Twins Highlights of 2010

30 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

At 9:20 on Thursday morning, I will be on KFAN and KFAN.com to talk about the Twins. PA is away, so I’ll be talking with Judd Zulgad which should be a lot of fun!

Earlier in the week, we took a look at the Twins MVP candidates, Pitcher of the Year and their Rookie of the Year. With just four games remaining in the regular season, and the playoffs beginning in less than a week, it’s time to take a look back at the 2010 regular season and recap some of the highlights that stood out at the top of my mind. I’m certain I missed some moments, and I’m sure for each of you have some memories that stand out as highlights to you, maybe even some personal stories and highlights. So, after looking at my list, but sure to discuss your favorite moments from the 2010 Twins season in the comments section.

#10 – Butera Homers in Philadelphia

We held a monthly TwinsCentric Viewing Party. On this particular day, it was held at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park. It was a great opportunity to talk to a lot of the Twins fans and bloggers that were there because the Twins fell way behind early against the Philadelphia Phillies. But slowly the team came back. Late in the game, Joe Mauer hit a home run and somehow the Twins were tied. However, with a pitcher due up, there was only one pinch hitting option on the bench, Drew Butera. I recall Andrew Bryz-Gornia yelling, “Why is Butera batting?” One pitch later, Butera gave the Twins a lead by drilling a long, solo home run into the left field bleachers. Jon Rauch gave back the lead in the bottom of the inning, but the Twins went on to win one of the more exciting games of the season.

#9 – Ramos Makes Great First Impression

So he’s no longer with the organization… The debut of Wilson Ramos on May 2nd in Cleveland was quite impressive. In his first game with the Twins, he went 4-5, putting his name with Kirby Puckett as the only Twins with four hits in their big league debut. In an attempt to prove that he was more than just a one-game wonder, Ramos had three more hits in his second game. Sure, he really struggled following those two games and had a very disappointing 2010 AAA season before being dealt to the Nationals in the Matt Capps deal.

#8 – Welcome Back, Jacque

The Twins came to Target Field for two exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals in early April in preparation for the inaugural season at the new stadium. It was a great evening that saw Denard Span get a triple and a home run. But the highlight of those two games was the incredible, amazing and emotional standing ovation given both days to Jacque Jones. It was a tremendous gesture of gratitude by the fans to a member of the Twins family who was such a big part of the Twins return to prominence at the turn of the century. Jones was clearly embarrassed and moved by the moment. I know I had goose bumps.

#7 – Have a (Souvenir) Ball!

Maybe it’s the minor league follower that I am, but there are few things in baseball that I find greater than the first big league hit for players. When you think of the amount of work that the player put in during their amateur careers and then the journey through the minor league ranks, getting that first big league hit kind of makes it all real, official. This year, the Twins had first big league hits from six players. On April 22nd, Drew Butera singled to left field off of Cleveland’s Mitch Talbot. On May 2nd, Wilson Ramos singled to left against Cleveland’s David Huff. On May 21, Trevor Plouffe singled in his first at bat, driving in a run against Dave Bush of the Brewers. On June 3rd, Danny Valencia hit an infield single off of Felix Hernandez. On September 19th, Ben Revere singled up the middle off of Oakland’s Bobby Cramer.

#6 – Hughes Homers in First At Bat

You were probably wondering if I had forgotten that first Major League hit for infielder Luke Hughes. He was called up to the Twins in late April, primarily as a right-handed bat off the bench. On April 28th, he was given his first start in a game against the Detroit Tigers. His first plate appearance ended prematurely when Delmon Young was caught stealing. So, Hughes led off the 3rd inning and hit a long opposite field home run off of Max Scherzer. He became just the fifth Minnesota Twins player to hit a home run in his first at bat.

#5 – Speaking of First Home Runs

Danny Valencia started the 2010 season in Rochester. He had no home runs when he was promoted to the Twins in the first days of June. He remained homerless on the season until July 26th when, in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals, he hit a grand slam off of reigning Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke. He became the first Twins player in team history to hit a grand slam for his first home run. Since that time, Valencia has added six more home runs and maintains a batting average well over .320 on the season.

#4 – Crain Closes Case in Chicago

Two weeks ago, the Twins went into Chicago for a three game series with a six game lead in the AL Central. Popular belief was that the White Sox needed to sweep the series if they were to have any shot at catching the Twins. In the first game of the series, the Twins were holding on to a slim one-run lead. In the 7th inning, Matt Guerrier let the first two batters on. Jesse Crain was summoned from the bullpen. He recorded the first out on a sacrifice bunt. After a walk to load the bases, Crain shut the door by striking out the Sox best hitter Paul Konerko, and their big-name acquisition Manny Ramirez. The Twins held on to win that game and swept the White Sox, leaving Chicago with a nine game lead. Maybe it is overstating it to say that that performance by Crain ended the Sox season. We don’t know what might have happened later in the game if Crain had given up a run or two. We don’t know what would have happened in subsequent days. We do know that after those strikeouts, the Sox quit and it was easy to see on the field. That’s why this is such a highlight for me.

#3 – Kubel Grand Slam Tops Yankees

The Yankees have had the Twins number in recent years. I don’t think anyone can deny that. When the Twins went to Yankees Stadium in mid-May, they lost the first two games to the Yankees. Nick Blackburn pitched well in the third game of the series, but found his team losing 3-1. But in the 8th inning, the Twins loaded the bases against Joba Chamberlain. Joe Girardi went to Mariano Rivera looking for a four-out save. Rivera walked Jim Thome to bring in a run and cut the lead to 3-2. Jason Kubel came to the plate and hit a line drive down the right field line that found itself landing just over the fence for a grand slam. The Twins held on for the win. Does it mean that the Twins had overcome whatever ailed them against the Yankees and in New York? I don’t know about that, but that was as exciting as it gets!!

#2 – Opening Day at Target Field

The Twins won their first game at Target Field 5-2 over the Boston Red Sox. The game seemed to be almost an afterthought. It was an incredible event. FSN started broadcasting before 6:00 in the morning. They told a bunch of stories. They showed batting practice. The pregame festivities were terrific. There was a fly over. Sure, Marco Scutaro tallied the first hit in Target Field history. Orlando Hudson had the first Twins hit. Michael Cuddyer drove in Denard Span for the first run in the stadium. Joe Mauer recorded the first extra base hit, a double. And Jason Kubel made a lot of people right when he was the first player to hit a home run at Target Field. It was just a tremendous day to be a Twins fan, the history coming together with the present, looking to an exciting future.

#1 – Thome Walks Off Against the White Sox

On August 17th, the Twins jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning. By the fourth inning, Scott Baker had given the lead back. In the fifth inning, Delmon Young hit a solo homer to give the Twins a 5-4 lead, a lead they would hold until the top of the 9th. Matt Capps came in and gave up a solo home run to Alexei Ramirez. In the top of the 10th, Ramirez singled in another run to give the Sox a 6-5 lead. It had the potential to be a very difficult loss for the team at the time. Matt Thornton came out to pitch the 10th for the White Sox. He had already recorded four outs for the team. Young led off with a single which brought up Thome. On the first pitch, Thornton threw a slider that Thome missed by a foot. One the next pitch, he tried to sneak a fastball past his former teammate, and Thome didn’t miss it. Thome drilled a long blast well beyond the right field wall. A major celebration ensued. I was there, and I got a high-five from Khalid El-Amin. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever been at.

Just Missed The List:

Being at the first exhibition game and making my FSN debut, eating some nachos as Bert Blyleven noted that I was “stuffing my face.” That was terrific. The Long-Awaited Debut of Anthony Slama finally happened and he struck out two in his first inning. The night the Twins clinched the division was pretty cool too. It would have been better if the Twins would have been able to celebrate after their own win as opposed to waiting for the White Sox to lose (again) to the A’s in Oakland just a few minutes before midnight. But champagne celebrations certainly seem fun! Even if it is just celebrating being the best out of five teams.

And I’m certain that there are many more memories from the 2010 regular season that you will remind me of in the comment section. And hopefully, there will be plenty more playoff memories coming as well.

Share your favorite memories here.

SethSpeaks.net Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects

4 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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