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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!

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Live from Beloit: Game 2 (and, another Twins minor league no-hitter)

17 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Seriously, it may just be me. Maybe I am bad luck for the Snappers? Is it possible? I have now been to four Snappers games in the past two years and the team has gone 0-4 when I am there after last night’s 5-2 loss at the hands of the West Michigan White Caps.

This game was really about one bad inning, and a play that is rarely seen. Manuel Soliman started for the Snappers and really pitched well through four innings. He gave up a game-starting single but had no problems in the first inning. He pitched a perfect second inning. He got a double-play to end the third inning with just three batters faced. In the fourth inning, he gave up only a two-out single. He looked great. He was throwing hard. He was throwing strikes. He got a couple of great plays behind him. And then came the fifth inning. It started with a double and was followed by a run-scoring single. Then Danny Santana mis-played a ball at shortstop to set up a situation with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. The Snappers set up the bunt defense. The batter bunted it back at Soliman, who fielded it, turned and fired a strike to 3B. Unfortunately, 3B Adam Bryant had charged in on the bunt and no one was covering 3B. The ball rolled all the way down the 3B line to the wall where Reggie Williams fielded it and got it in. However, the two base runners had scored and the batter got to 3B. Clearly flustered, Soliman stopped his delivery on the next pitch for a balk to score that runner. Catcher Jhonatan Arias did all he could to help calm Soliman. Afte a flyout, he gave up two weak singles before getting the final two outs on a weak grounder to 1B and a strikeout. Amazingly, Soliman went back out for the 6th inning. He gave up a home run on the first pitch of the sixth frame, but he followed with a strikeout and two easy outs.

Sam Spangler came in for his second appearance with the Snappers and he got all six batters that he faced out including striking out the side in the 8th inning. Michael Tonkin came in for the 9th and looks like a different pitcher than he did a year ago when he was starting. He struck out three in the inning with a single in between. The Snappers managed just four hits and a walk in the game. Danny Ortiz had two of them.

Most of the hitters that started on Friday night started on Saturday night as well. The changes were that Jhonatan Arias replaced Tobias Streich behind the plate and Reggie Williams started in left field in place of Derek McCallum. But there were several changes. On Friday night, Jairo Perez played 3B, Adam Bryant played SS and Danny Santana played 2B. On Saturday night, Perez played 2B, Bryant played 3B and Santana played shortstop. Also, on Friday night, Danny Ortiz played right field, Lance Ray played at 1B and Michael Gonzales was the DH. On Saturday night, Ray moved out to right field, Gonzales played 1B and Ortiz was the DH.

So, although I wrote notes on many of these players yesterday, here are my thoughts following the second game of those that played:

  • Wang-Wei Lin – He was 1-4, and the hit was a two-out bloop single to give the Twins their first run. He does take solid at bats and has a good, line drive swing. However, I really think that he is a solid defensive centerfielder. He gets really good jumps on the ball and covers a lot of ground. In BP, he actually showed some power.
  • Adam Bryant – Bryant has really impressed me. Without knowing the background, I do have to wonder why he was still around in the 9th round of this year’s draft. In this game, he grounded out to short and struck out looking twice. He also worked the only walk on the game, although that was a four-pitch walk. He did a nice job at 3B. He definitely fits that Twins mold. In the 7th or 8th inning, he dove for a soft liner in the 3B coach’s box that he had no chance to catch. He must have done something to a finger because he kept the glove off of his hand except literally when the pitch was being delivered. But, he stayed in the game. He has good speed and range at both of those infield spots. In batting practice, it is line drive after line drive from gap to gap.
  • Jairo Perez – 0-4 with two groundouts to short and two strikeouts, but man, he is fun to watch. He takes a big swing at all times. He can catch up to fastballs, but clearly struggles on breaking pitches. That said, just visually it appears that he can adjust. He did alright at 2B, although I don’t think he’d be a gold-glover. One bouncer, he should have either sat bat for a big hop or charged it for a short hop. He got a middle hop and played it like a 3B, just knocked-it-down, picked it up and threw out the runner by a ½ step. But he made most of the plays. Definitely looks like a 3B though.
  • Michael Gonzales – He was also 0-4. He had a deep fly to center field in his first at bat. In his second bat, he hit a high, towering shot that the right fielder caught at the fence. He grounded into a 3-6-3 double play, but although he isn’t fast by any means, he is no longer plodding along. Defensively, he did a nice job at 1B. He had to pick a couple of short-hops, and his 6-6 height allowed him to make a very nice jumping catch down the line. Could he move up to Ft. Myers? Probably. But I also think it’s good that he just stay in Beloit and (hopefully) continue to succeed rather than get pushed too much.
  • Lance Ray – Ray was 1-3 with a double. The double was absolutely crushed off the base of the wall in right field. The guy just has a great swing. He’s not big but he has big power. He can impress in batting practice, but he doesn’t consider himself any type of hitter. Travis and I talked to him before the game, and he said he knows he has some power but doesn’t consider himself a power hitter. He does hit line drives from gap to gap and sometimes he’ll get one. (Note – again, he may be just humble too because he did crush that opposite field bomb the night before.) He played right field in this game and did a solid job out there. But again, not a lot of opportunities.
  • Daniel Ortiz – Ortiz DHd in this game, so I nothing more to report on his defense. But he can hit. He went 2-3. In the fourth inning, he hit a double one pitch after Ray’s double. Like Ray, he crushed it and it hit the base of the wall in right field nearly exactly to the same spot as Ray’s. He added another solid single through the right side of the infield. He has had some base running issues. On Friday night, he was doubled up at 1B on a fly out to center field. On Saturday after reaching second base late in the game, he was picked off (easily). He’s not slow, but he also isn’t real fast.
  • Reggie Williams – In Williams first game back with the Snappers, he was 0-3. He made the plays he could in left field, although he didn’t have any difficult ones. His first at bat ended with a fly-out to right, but it was after an eight-pitch at bat. He popped up to first base and struck out in his other at bat. He works hard. He’s taken extra swings each day. Everyone loves the guy, so you hope that he can adjust and turn that work into some line drives in the box score. He’s willing to play anywhere in the field.
  • Jhonatan Arias – Arias was 0-3 with two strikeouts, but he can hit a very impressive long foul ball too! He has a nice swing. Defensively, he does a nice job catching. He has a good, but not great arm, and he clearly is still working on the throwing portion of the game.
  • Danny Santana – Speed. Speed and more speed. It is easy to see that Santana has some serious upside. In the second inning, he went far to his left on a ground ball up the middle. He fielded it in short center field, spun and threw a rocket to 1B for an out. Two innings, later, he couldn’t decide whether to stay back or charge a ground ball (with a runner on 1B, he probably should have charged) and ended up booting it. So defensively, we’ve seen the great and the not at all great. But he does have a very strong arm and good range. In his first at bat, he hit a line drive past a diving 2B and turned it into an easy double. He struck out in his next two at bats. One wasn’t so bad, and the other one was ugly.
  • Manuel Soliman – Take away the bad bunt play mentioned above, and I was very impressed with Soliman. He does throw hard. He didn’t walk anyone. He was mainly a fastball pitcher. He occasionally threw a changeup, and a couple were good, but that pitch will need to improve. He threw very few sliders, and a couple of them were really, really good. But again, it is a work-in-progress. Basically, it appears that he is succeeding at this level with one really good pitch, solid control and two pitches that have a long way to go. That’s the reality of now, but it’s exciting because if he can add those two pitches, he could be really, really good.
  • Sam Spangler – Left-hander, threw hard, and had a good breaking ball. In his first inning of work, he got a soft liner to 1B, a line out to right field, and a weak ground ball. Then he struck out the side in the 8th inning. One of them came on a very impressive slider that Arias knocked down and threw to first base for the out. The others came on a very good strikeout.
  • Michael Tonkin – Last year, he threw an OK fastball and a good curveball as a starter when I saw him. This year, he is in the bullpen, and it looks like he is throwing harder. He also gets more movement in it. He struck out the three batters he got out and made a couple look silly. The single that he gave up was on a fastball that was tailing away from a left handed hitter who just put it into play and hit it softly into left field.

Travis and I got to the ball park at about 3:15 for the 7:00 game. We went in and were able to watch the Snappers work, and wow, did they work! The bullpen pitchers were running and playing some catch. Adrian Salcedo and BJ Hermsen were playing a lot of long toss. Friday’s starter Ryan O’Rourke and today’starter AJ Achter just threw a little from close range. When that was done, they all went and did the stretchy bands and other agility drills. The catchers were working really hard on footwork and on quick releases. They then went on the infield and used that training on throws to 2B. The infielders and outfielders stretched, ran some, threw, used stretchy bands and agility work. Then, I watched one of the most extensive rounds of PFP with bunts, ground balls, pickoff plays and so much more. It was really quite an impressively run thing. At that point, the Snappers took their normal batting practice. Again, Paul Molitor, Joel Lepel, Bill Springman and Erik Rasmussen were all there and working hard with the various groups. Meanwhile Terry Ryan sat in the bleachers jotting notes and observing. There were quite a few scouts in attendance on this night and many of them took time to spend a minute with Ryan.

Following batting practice, we were able to get five minutes or so with some of the Twins players. First, we spent time with Ben Tootle, the hard-throwing reliever who had surgery on his rotator cuff last year. He was terrific and was happy to discuss his rehab and where he is and where he wants to get and more. Next, we talked to Lance Ray about his time at Kentucky, his slow start and how he turned it around and the goals for the rest of the season. Finally, BJ Hermsen answered our questions about his pitches, being back in the Midwest League after spending about six weeks there last year, and what he continues to look to improve. Hermsen’s work-ethic has been very evident these past two days, so I asked some questions about that as well. Following one of the innings, Manuel Soliman was walking toward the clubhouse, but he came over to me and shook my hand and said hi and thanks for coming. So, that was very neat.

Reggie Williams was sent back to Beloit from Ft. Myers. He went to a batting cage under the LF line bleachers and did some tee-work. I watched a bit and then we talked for awhile. Before getting too far into the discussion, he asked me if I was still doing my shows and the blog and all that. People rave about what a tremendous person that Williams is. He wasn’t getting at bats in Ft. Myers, so the move to Beloit makes sense. He’ll likely play all over the field, but maybe mostly splitting time in LF with Derek McCallum.

Before the game, we headed out to our section. We were located in the All-You-Can-Eat section. What an absolutely amazing deal for fans! For $30 ($25 if you order ahead), you can sit down the right field line in a picnic table area, and you can eat, as you would guess, all you want. There were hot dogs, brats and hamburgers. There were chips, peanuts and much, much more. You could drink pop, water or even more adult beverages. It is an incredible deal for anyone, but especially for groups of any number.

Following the game, the Snappers promotion was a second straight night with a fireworks display. The shows are really incredible compared to other fireworks shows I’ve been at. It’s a great promotion and I do believe that a lot of fans are there for that reason.

As we were leaving, there were still autograph hounds waiting for players from both teams to leave the clubhouse. I saw Ryan O’Rourke and introduced myself. Remember yesterday when I wrote about his incredible intensity when he is pitching? Well, in person on a day he didn’t pitch, he is just the opposite. Very cordial, very friendly and it was a nice five minute discussion about his outing and his pitches and such.

Travis and I will be at Pohlman Field for the Snappers/West Michigan game at 2:00. There are heat warnings so it should be interesting. Following the game, we will take off and head to the Twin Cities. It will be a late night, so I can’t promise a blog on Monday. However, on Sunday night at ten, there will be an episode of the SethSpeaks.net Sunday Night Twins podcast in some form. Then Travis and I will host another Twins Minor League Weekly on Monday night at 10 and likely discuss the trip and the Snappers much more. So be sure to listen to those shows.

Finally, a huge thank you again to Jeff Vohs, the GM of the Snappers and Justin Waters in media relations for being incredibly friendly and hospitable to us while we’ve been here. We will try but really can’t put into great words just how cool the fan experience is at Pohlman Field and also watching the Snappers. These guys work incredible hard and deserve a ton of credit. And again, I do encourage Twins fans to head to Beloit for a couple of games if you are able to. It’s well worth it.

Here is the Saturday Minor League Scoreboard, starting with the second combined no-hitter in the Twins system in the last few weeks:

Elizabethton beat Greeneville 6-0 last night, and the story completely is the pitching. Tim Shibuya started and went seven no-hit, no run, no walk innings. He struck out six. Garrett Jewell pitched a scoreless inning. Steven Gruver then pitched a hitless inning including two strikeouts to complete the no hitter. The three pitchers also did not walk a single batter. It was not a perfect game because the E-Twins had three errors (two catcher’s interference, and a Miguel Sano error), and also hit one batter. Sano went 2-4 with his fifth triple. Eddie Rosario hit his fourth triple. Niko Goodrum, Kennys Vargas and Matej Hejma each hit a double. Shibuya improves to 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA for the E-Twins.

The Rochester Red Wings beat Buffalo 4-2. Dustin Martin went 3-4 with his third triple and ninth home run. Andy Baldwin gave up one run on five hits in six innings. Dusty Hughes pitched a scoreless inning. Kyle Waldrop gave up a run on two hits in his inning. He struckout two. Jim Hoey picked up his fourth save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Carlos Gutierrez and Jeff Manship both have sore arms. Gutierrez was put on the Disabled List. Also, yes, I did here that Steve Singleton has been freed by the Twins. He was released by the team and I think it is completely unfortunate, of course. It actually tells me quite a bit, but hopefully Singleton will be able to find another team to give him a real chance. Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise in some way. Obviously you know I wish Steve nothing but the best!

New Britain beat Portland 5-4. Dennis Suarez gave up four runs on five hits in 6.2 innings. Spencer Steedley struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Then Matt Schuld came in to protect the one-run lead. He struckout three (and walked one) to earn his first save. Nate Hanson went 2-5 with his seventh double. Evan Bigley was 2-5 with his 23rd double and his fifth stolen base. Mark Dolenc was 2-4 with his 14th steal. The Rock Cats had six stolen bases in the game.

Ft. Myers lost 7-4 to Daytona. Jhon Garcia gave up five runs (4 earned) on ten hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. Clinton Dempster gave up two runs on five hits in 2.1 innings. Steve Liddle went 2-4 with a home run. Nick Romero went 2-4 with his 14th double and third stolen base.

The GCL Twins lost 5-3 to the GCL Red Sox. Bobby O’Neill gave up three runs (2 earned) on four hits in three innings. He struck out three times. Mark Trau got one out and walked one before Marcus Limon came in and gave up two runs over the next 2.2 innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four. Cole Johnson struckout three in two scoreless innings. The GCL Twins managed just four hits. Aderlin Mejia went 1-3 with a walk.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Roster Projection: Beloit Snappers

31 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

  • Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.
  • Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.
  • Step 3: Configure the 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 4: Configure the 2011 Double-A New Britain Rock Cats 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 5: Configure the 2011 Hi-A Ft. Myers Miracle 25-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 6: Configure the 2011 Low-A Beloit Snappers 25-man roster – In progress.

As I am hearing it, more roster moves and decisions are happening this morning. I know that there have been two more players released, and people are continuing to find out where they will be going. There are a few injuries that are mounting up, and likely will affect opening day rosters too.   

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins High-A affiliate, the Ft. Myers Miracle. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Tobias Strech (40 man – No) – Kyle Knudson (40 man – No) – C/DH Josmil Pinto (40 man – No) 

Streich may not be able to hit at all, but his defense is there with Butera and Lehmann in the eyes of many in the organization. Pinto isn’t much of a catcher, but he’ll get some time there and also DH in his return to Beloit. Former Gopher and 2010 draft pick Knudson could get some playing time here as well.

Infielders: 1B – Michael Gonzales (40 man – No), 2B – Derek McCallum (40 man – No), 3B – Reggie Williams (40 man – No), SS – Daniel Santana (40 man – No), Utility – Andy Leer (40 man – No),

Gonzales has a ton of power, but he needs to quicken his swing to have a chance to advance. When he makes contact, it goes a long way. McCallum missed most of the 2010 season, so this is a second opportunity for a first full season. Reggie Williams split time with Anderson Hidalgo last year and should get more time this year. Santana split time between Elizabethton and Beloit. He struggled with the Snappers, but he should show improvement this year. Very solid bat with surprising pop. Good defense. Andy Leer was drafted a year ago out of the University of Mary in Bismarck and he played well at Elizabethton. He will get some playing time.

Outfielders: LF – Lance Ray (40 man – No), CF – Oswaldo Arcia (40 man – No), RF – Danny Ortiz (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Wang-Wei Lin (40 man – No), DL – Nate Roberts (40 man – No)

After saying that I was surprised to hear that Lance Ray would start the season in Ft. Myers, I found out that he was indeed going to go back to Beloit. Oswaldo Arcia has had a sore elbow throughout the spring and has continued to crush baseballs all over the field. Danny Ortiz was my choice for breakout minor leaguer of the year for 2011, and he’ll be doing so with the Snappers. Wang-Wei Lin likely returns to the Snappers and will play around the outfield. Nate Roberts can flat-out hit. The 2010 draft pick will start with the Snappers although he has had some knee issues this spring.

Starting Pitchers: RHP BJ Hermsen (40 man – No), RHP Adrian Salcedo (40 man – No), RHP Manuel Soliman (40 man – No), LHP Logan Darnell (40 man – No), LHP Andrei Lobanov (40 man – No), DL – LHP Pat Dean (40 man – No)

Hermsen is set to be the Snappers’ opening night starter, and he is looking to build on a solid 2010 season in which he pitched for the Snappers for four or five weeks before the Elizabethton season started. Adrian Salcedo’s pre-E-town stint was with the Ft. Myers Miracle, so going to Beloit will be a good thing for him this year. Manuel Soliman will start the season in the Snappers rotation after a terrific 2010 season in Elizabethton where the converted 3B threw one no-hitter and took another into the 7th inning. 2010 pick Logan Darnell will start for the Snappers. Andrei Lobanov, who has put up amazing numbers in the bullpen the last two years, will get an opportunity to start, at least for awhile, as Pat Dean, who is still experiencing some shoulder soreness.

Bullpen: LHP Jose Gonzalez (40 man – No), LHP Martire Garcia (40 man – No), RHP Michael Tonkin (40 man – No), RHP Blayne Weller (40 man – No), LHP Justin Parker (40 man – No), RHP Pedro Guerra (40 man – No), LHP Clinton Dempster (40 man – No), RHP Matt Hauser (40 man – No)

Gonzalez and Garcia are complete opposites physically, but both are very good left-handed pitchers. Pedro Guerra, Michael Tonkin and Blayne Weller may be starters again down the line but should do well out of the bullpen as well. 2010 picks Dempster and Hauser are bullpen guys that should get the job done as well. Sam Spangler and Justin Parker could each pitch with the Snappers, and possibly return to Elizabethton to start at that time.   

Overall: This should be a very solid team. They have a some really impressive young bats to complement a few guys who should be better in their second year in the Midwest League. There are some really good starting pitchers in the opening day rotation, with the likes of Garcia, Tonkin, Weller and Guerra also capable of starting. Those in the Twin Cities should definitely consider making a trip or three down to Beloit to see the Snappers!

As you can see, there are a lot of names that I have not included on the Beloit roster. Those players will most likely stay in Extended Spring Training and be ready if needed in the Midwest League. Names like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler. Guys like Niko Goodrum and Rory Rhodes. Dean will be rehabbing there with the likes of Dallas Gallant, Brad Tippett, Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle. Opening Day rosters are fun to project, but there will, as always, be a ton of transactions, and we’ll be following them here.

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

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  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST TONIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin tonight at 10:00. Travis Aune and I will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. We will talk about what’s going on with each Twins affiliate, how the teams are doing, who is hot, who is not, transactions, and much more.

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

13 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#49 – Rory Rhodes – 3B – GCL Twins

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

#48 – Cesar Ciurcina – RHP – GCL Twins

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

#47 – Daniel Santana – SS – Beloit

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

#46 – Evan Bigley – OF – New Britain

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

#45 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit

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

#44 – Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit

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

#43 – Brian Dozier – SS – Ft. Myers

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

#42 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit

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

#41 – Dakota Watts – RHP – New Britain

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

#40 – Logan Darnell – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#39 – Kane Holbrooks – RHP – New Britain

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

#38 – Nate Roberts – OF – Elizabethton

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

#37 – Chris Herrmann – OF – Ft. Myers

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

#36 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit

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

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

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

#34 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit

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

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

#33 – James Beresford – SS – Beloit

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

#32 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain

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

#31 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit

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

#30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit

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

#29 – Martire Garcia – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#28 – Scott Diamond – LHP – Gwinnett

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

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain

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

#26 – Niko Goodrum – IF/OF – GCL

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

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

Preliminary Twins Top 30 Prospects

8 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –

Happy Monday! Monday marks Day 3 of a three day weekend, so today’s blog will be shorter, and yet, hopefully it will create a ton of discussion. With the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook now available, my attention is turning quickly to my third annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. If you’re interested in the 2009 version or the 2010 version, they are still available! In fact, if you would like to buy a copy of the 2009 version, I have about ten of them at home, ready to send out. If you’re interested, e-mail me for details.

Anyway, one of the big parts of SethSpeaks.net has been a Top 50 Prospect List. Last year, I came out with my top 50, and then did a ton of research for the book, and in the book, my top 30 looks a little bit different. When I write the book, I do find it fun to make a projected Top 30 prospect list to see what I think based on following box scores daily, reading some reports on players and general knowledge. Then as you would hope, I learn a ton more about each player while researching and writing the book, so it shouldn’t look identical.

So today, I am going to share with you my current Top 30 Twins Prospect list. Please remember that it is a preliminary list, but what I would love would be for you to post your thoughts in the Comments section. Who is ranked too high? Too low? Why? And of course, I would love for you to post your top 10 list as well.

SethSpeaks.net Twins Preliminary Top 30 Prospects

  1. 1.      Kyle Gibson
  2. 2.      Aaron Hicks
  3. 3.      Miguel Sano
  4. 4.      Joe Benson
  5. 5.      Alex Wimmers
  6. 6.      Angel Morales
  7. 7.      Ben Revere
  8. 8.      David Bromberg
  9. 9.      Oswaldo Arcia

10.  Liam Hendriks

11.  Adrian Salcedo

12.  Chris Parmelee

13.  Eddie Rosario

14.  Max Kepler

15.  Manuel Soliman

16.  Danny Ortiz

17.  BJ Hermsen

18.  Trevor Plouffe

19.  Niko Goodrum

20.  Carlos Gutierrez

21.  Martire Garcia

22.  Pat Dean

23.  Rene Tosoni

24.  Billy Bullock

25.  Tom Stuifbergen

26.  Bruce Pugh

27.  Miguel Munoz

28.  Steve Singleton

29.  Danny Rams

30.  Michael Tonkin

General Thoughts:

  • The #1 spot is still up in the air for me. Do you take the guy who could be a very good #2 starter as early as the middle of next season, or do you want the guy in Low A ball with no fewer than six great tools, several of which have not developed into skills yet. Or, do you take the 17 year old Dominican infielder for whom the sky is the limit?
  • Ben Revere is a tough one for me too. The guy can flat out hit singles. He’s incredibly fast. He is improving defensively in CF, but he has no arm. He has shown know extra base power at all, but his short, compact, strong swing tells me that he should be able to hit a lot of doubles and triples, and how many of his singles can be turned into doubles thanks to a stolen base?
  • And while we’re talking about outfielders, we know that Joe Benson put up serious power numbers in 2010, but how do we evaluate the monster Appy League season of Oswaldo Arcia and try to determine what it means going forward? How about the impressive return to the field for Danny Ortiz after missing all of 2009 with a knee injury? What about the 2010 debut in the GCL for OF Eddie Rosario? And, the guy that gets forgotten way too often is Angel Morales, who despite a lack of home runs, showed steady improvement in areas he needed to.
  • I don’t rank relief pitchers terribly high traditionally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the importance of a bullpen to a team. I have two relievers here in the top 30 that I believe can be very good for the Twins. But that isn’t to take anything away from Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Dakota Watts or other relief pitchers.
  • Rene Tosoni is one that should probably be ranked higher. He was right around nine or ten last year at this time in my rankings. He returned to AA New Britain and was putting up similar offensive numbers despite playing with a bad shoulder that finally had to be operated on. He’ll be 24 through most of the 2010 season, and he has a chance to be very good.
  • It is also always interesting to see how I end up ranking upside versus likelihood of contributing to the Twins. For instance, if Max Kepler meets his potential, he could be a perennial All-Star. David Bromberg’s big-league upside is likely a #4 starter. But I believe that Bromberg will soon make the big leagues and get that opportunity  after holding his own for a couple of months in Rochester. Meanwhile, Kepler has to be promoted six times to reach the big leagues.

So, what do you think? Help me choose. Give me any stats or notes that you may have to help me make the right choices. Finally, feel free to post your Top 10 Twins Prospects as well. You can e-mail me if you would like,, or you can leave Comments 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.

Twins Podcast Live at 9!

16 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I took a four day weekend, and ended up having some allergies kick my butt, so it should be entertaining, but tonight at 9, I will be hosting the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. It’s been a while since I blogged, so I’ll be sure to get you caught up on lots of baseball/Twins topics. The Twins lost two in New York before winning in most unlikely of fashions on Sunday when Jason Kubel hit a grand slam off of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Jon Rauch then showed a lot when, after giving up singles to the 8 and 9 hitters, he struck out Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira to close out his 10th save of the year. We will definitely be sure to talk Twins/Yankees, and we will do so with Topper Anton from Curve for a Strike. Topper is a Bloomington native who now lives and works in the Big Apple. He braved Yankees Stadium in a Twins jersey for all three games, so it’ll be great to discuss the series with him.

But we’ll also be sure to talk Twins minor leagues as well. There were some impressive performances. Danny Valencia had a great weekend, and now has a 20 game hitting streak and is hitting .305 on the season. Trevor Plouffe is hitting .300, despite some struggles in the field. Kyle Gibson was very impressive in his New Britain Debut. His Miracle roommate, Bruce Pugh had a tremendous outing this weekend. BJ Hermsen made his first start for Beloit. It was a big day on Sunday for the Kubel family as Jason was not the only family member to impress. His brother-in-law, Michael Tonkin threw seven shutout innings in just his second Beloit start. And there will be much more to talk about.

So, again, I’ve got another day of vacation. Dentist visit… it’s going to be fun! So, I probably won’t be blogging again tonight, so be sure to check out tonight’s podcast for all updates. Be sure to participate in the chat room or by calling in at 347-202-0548.