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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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Roster Projection: Ft. Myers Miracle

31 Mar

also avaialble 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.

It may have been easier to project these rosters if I would have done them a week ago. By waiting until now, I am getting reports of which players are going where, so my projections continue to be updated. I can’t verify, but I have been told that Brian Dozier will start the season at New Britain. I hadn’t included him yesterday, and now I won’t include him today, which is why I needed to write about it. Not only does that confuse my Ft. Myers projection, but now consider the infield options in New Britain. Between the three positions, Deibinson Romero, Estarlin de Los Santos, Brian Dozier, Steve Singleton, Ray Chang and Chris Cates, not to mention Toby Gardenhire. I continue to hear about some minor injuries that either mean a season will be started on the Disabled List or at a lower level to work back.

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: Danny Rams (40 man – No) – Dan Rohlfing (40 man – No) 

Danny Rams made a strong impression on the Twins this spring. After two years in Beloit, he will move up to the Miracle. He continues to be a work in progress behind the plate, but he does continue to improve. He will also get time at DH and at 1B. Rohlfing skipped Beloit last year and held his own until a couple of freak injuries cost him much of the second half to his season. There was some talk that he would go to Beloit to start the season so he could get even more playing time. Also, don’t forget that Chris Herrmann was a non-roster invitee to big league spring training as a catcher and he will get plenty of time behind the plate.  

Infielders: 1B – Nate Hanson (40 man – No), 2B – Nick Romero (40 man – No), 3B – Anderson Hidalgo (40 man – No), SS – James Beresford (40 man – No), Utility – Paul Kelly (40 man – No),

Nate Hanson had a very good 2010 season with the Miracle. However, assuming Chris Parmelee returns to New Britain (as he will), he won’t be platooned, so Hanson will likely return to Ft. Myers. Anderson Hidalgo missed time last year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he drops back to Beloit, but I will put him here. Nick Romero, James Beresford and Paul Kelly will be the three players to man the middle infield spots, and Romero and Kelly can also play 3B while Beresford is a solid 2B.  

Outfielders: LF – Chris Herrmann (40 man – No), CF – Aaron Hicks (40 man – No), RF – Lance Ray (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Jonathan Goncalves (40 man – No), 1B/OF/DH – Steven Liddle (40 man – No), DL – Angel Morales (40 man – No)

Angel Morales is fighting some elbow soreness and will likely start the season on the Disabled List. He told me last night that it is feeling better, so it should not cost him too much time. Aaron Hicks tweeted the other day that he will play for the Miracle this season which likely surprises no one. Chris Herrmann was called the best defensive left fielder in the Florida State League, but he will also get time behind the plate. Steve Liddle will get time in left field, first base and DH. Jonathan Goncalves will likely return to the Miracle outfield where he did a nice job last year, especially defensively. Finally, at least while Morales is out, Ray will get a lot of playing time with the Miracle. One person told me that Ray is the team’s best pure hitter right now.  

Starting Pitchers: RHP Kane Holbrooks (40 man – No), RHP Tom Stuifbergen (40 man – No), RHP Alex Wimmers (40 man – No), Miguel Munoz (40 man – No), Brad Stillings (40 man – No)

Holbrooks is scheduled to make the Opening Day start for the Miracle. He was terrific at Beloit, in the bullpen the first half of last year, and did a very good job for the Miracle as a starter. He ended the season with one start in New Britain. Alex Wimmers signed late and impressed in 15 innings with the Miracle in August. It will be interesting to see if he stays with the Miracle through the season’s first half. Stuifbergen and his changeup have people in Ft. Myers talking. He is a smart, young pitcher with very good stuff who just needs to stay healthy. Brad Stillings has a terrific changeup and has pitched in the bullpen and rotation in his two seasons with the organization. Miguel Munoz throws hard, but sometimes he thinks too much on the mound. He does have really good stuff though.  

Bullpen: RHP Bruce Pugh (40 man – No), RHP Shooter Hunt (40 man – No), RHP Jhon Garcia (40 man – No), LHP Blake Martin (40 man – No), RHP Brad Tippett (40 man – No), RHP Edgar Ibarra (40 man – No), LHP Tony Davis (40 man – No), LHP Nelvin Fuentes (40 man – No)

Bruce Pugh ended last season with a couple of starts in New Britain. He has been experiencing some back problems this spring, so the hard thrower will return to the Miracle and work out of the bullpen to start the season. It was surprising to hear that, after spending the 2nd half of 2010 in New Britain, Tony Davis returns to the Miracle. Hopefully he will find his control. Speaking of, Shooter Hunt returns to the Miracle in hopes of improving up his 2010 season. Brad Tippett has been a terrific pitcher for the Twins, whatever role he finds himself in, but last year was a wasted year thanks to some arm injuries. He is throwing well this spring though. Jhon Garcia actually got better and better as the season went along, and e pitched quite well in the Miracle bullpen at the end of 2010. Edgar Ibarra impressed me in a start I watched last year in Beloit. He has four pitches and is left-handed and throws hard. He and lefty Nelvin Fuentes will really make it difficult for left-handed hitters.  

Overall: Hicks is obviously the biggest name on this roster, but he is not alone. Alex Wimmers and Tom Stuifbergen are exciting pitchers. Angel Morales has tremendous upside. Danny Rams, Anderson Hidalgo, James Beresford and Miguel Munoz are all solid prospects who will try to improve in their jump to the Miracle. And, if Twins fans are looking for someone to cheer loudly for this year in the Twins farm system, look no further than Paul Kelly. Pat Dean will start the season in Extended Spring with some shoulder discomfort, but he could move up quickly to the Miracle. Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle will also be starting at EST, but could be moved up to the Miracle, if not first in Beloit.

Later today, I will post my roster projection for the Low-A Beloit Snappers.

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

——————————————————–

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

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

13 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#49 – Rory Rhodes – 3B – GCL Twins

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

#48 – Cesar Ciurcina – RHP – GCL Twins

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

#47 – Daniel Santana – SS – Beloit

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

#46 – Evan Bigley – OF – New Britain

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

#45 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit

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

#44 – Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit

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

#43 – Brian Dozier – SS – Ft. Myers

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

#42 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit

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

#41 – Dakota Watts – RHP – New Britain

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

#40 – Logan Darnell – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#39 – Kane Holbrooks – RHP – New Britain

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

#38 – Nate Roberts – OF – Elizabethton

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

#37 – Chris Herrmann – OF – Ft. Myers

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

#36 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit

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

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

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

#34 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit

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

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

#33 – James Beresford – SS – Beloit

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

#32 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain

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

#31 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit

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

#30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit

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

#29 – Martire Garcia – LHP – Elizabethton

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

#28 – Scott Diamond – LHP – Gwinnett

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

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain

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

#26 – Niko Goodrum – IF/OF – GCL

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

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

40 Man Roster Decisions

19 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins, and every other organization, have to announce their 40 man rosters by November 20th. I would guess that the Twins will make their announcement today, probably in the early afternoon.

Please note that much of today’s blog comes from the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook (which is still available and still a great resource as the Hot Stove League is just getting started). I have updated it and added to it since the Twins have made a couple of moves since this was written. For instance, Eric Hacker was added to the 40 man roster. The Twins have no signed any other free agents to 40 man roster spots. In other words, the Twins could choose to add quite a few players to their 40 man roster. Anyway, here is the updated 40 man roster decisions article:  

——————————————————————————————-

By tomorrow, the Twins will need to set their 40-man roster in preparation for the Rule 5 draft. This is one of the bigger events of the offseason, at least for me. This season will be particularly interesting. Free agents, such as Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch, and  Carl Pavano, have all been taken off the 40 man roster. Three players ended the season on the 60 Day Disabled List, so they needed to be included in the 40. It is possible that a player or two will be removed from the 40 man roster so that minor leaguers that will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft can be protected. You will need to factor in a couple of things when making these decisions:

1. If a player is not added to the 40 man roster, would he be lost to another team?  Along with being drafted, will the player be able to remain on his selecting team’s roster throughout the season?
2. How much depth at any particular position is there? If a player were lost, are there other options at that position?
3. Do you want to protect 40 players, or maybe 39 or even 38 players? If they are below 40, they can add free agents (without removing anyone) and/or make a Rule 5 pick.
The Twins have not had a player selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft since Jose Lugo in 2008. In 2007, Tim Lahey was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft. In each case, they went to the drafting team only to eventually be returned to the Twins because they could not stick with a big league club. The Twins have had some success drafting in the Rule 5. Everyone knows that the Twins acquired Johan Santana through the Rule 5 draft (and a pre-planned trade with the Marlins). The Twins acquired Shane Mack in the Rule 5 draft as well. (That Dan Uggla guy was a pretty nice Rule 5 pick for the Marlins.)

Who Must be Added? Players who signed when they were less than 19 in 2006 must be protected or potentially lost. Players that were signed when they were 19 or older in 2007 also have to be added. Typically, this means that high school players drafted in 2006 are eligible, and college players drafted in 2007. The Twins added Anthony Slama and Ben Revere to their 40 man roster during the 2010 season. They would have had to add them after the season had they not already added them. Revere was drafted out of high school in 2007, but he turned 19 before he signed.  Ben Revere and Anthony Slama would have had to be added to the 40 man roster following the season, so there are two less names to consider. 

Here are Nine to Note, players that will have to be considered for the 40 man roster, starting with the easy choices. I think it is likely that the Twins will add five or six of these players. (UPDATED NOTE – I have broken these into the Givens, and the Question Marks, and tried to explain why I think that the player may be a Question Mark.)

THE GIVENS
There is no question in my mind that these guys will be added to the 40 man roster.
David Bromberg, P, 23, Throws: Right
The Twins drafted  Bromberg in the 32nd round of the 2005 draft out of high school, but instead of signing, he went to Junior College for a year and signed as a draft-and-follow in 2006. He led the Appalachian League in strikeouts in 2007. In 2008, he led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts. In 2009, he led the Florida State League in strikeouts. He began the 2010 season in New Britain, and he pitched well enough there to earn a promotion to Triple-A Rochester where he more than held his own. Bromberg has a very strong mix of pitches and throws hard enough to be a strong prospect. Adding Bromberg to the 40-man roster is an easy choice. 
Joe Benson, OF, 22, Bats: Right, Throws: Right
The Twins used their second round pick in 2006 on a toolsy catcher with great speed and a strong arm. In 2010, those tools started coming together for Joe Benson and he was named the 2010 recipient of the Sherry Robertson Twins Minor League Player of the Year. He his .259/.343/.538 with 31 doubles, eight triples and an organization-leading 27 home runs between Ft. Myers and New Britain (he hit 23 in AA). He stole 19 bases. He is a good defender with plenty of speed for center field and an arm, strong enough for right field. Adding Joe Benson is another given.
Chris Parmelee, 1B/OF, 22, Bats: Left
Parmelee was the Twins first round draft pick in 2006 out of high school in California. In his first three full seasons, he struggled to hit for average, but he did a very good job of taking walks (getting on base) and hitting home runs (slugging percentage). He began the 2010 campaign in Double-A New Britain, but like Joe Benson, he was sent back to Ft. Myers where he regained his hitting skill and his confidence. He returned to the Rockcats and after the All-Star break he hit .316/.397/.428. The power was down but he has the size and potential to become a huge power threat making him an easy choice to add to the 40 man roster.
SUMMARY/UPDATE: There isn’t much to add to this. All three would be lost if they were left unprotected. They would be selected and the drafting team would find a way to keep them on the roster.
THE QUESTION MARKS
Kyle Waldrop, RHP, 24, Throws: Right
Waldrop was the Twins third first round pick in the 2004 draft out of high school. His first year of Rule 5 eligibility was 2008, but he had just missed the entire season after arm surgery. He was able to stay healthy throughout the 2006 season and got back to Double-A where he pitched out of the bullpen. He was invited to big league spring training and made a strong impression. He pitched in the Rochester bullpen. Through June, he had an ERA of just 1.02 in 53 innings. If he were left unprotected, I believe Waldrop would be selected and be able to stay with the drafting team. Therefore, I believe that the Twins will likely add Waldrop to the roster following the World Series (because he would be a six year minor league free agent five days after the World Series ends).
Rene Tosoni, OF, 24, Bats: Left
The Twins drafted Tosoni in the 34th round of the 2004 draft, then after a year in junior college, the Twins drafted him  in the 36th round of the 2005 draft. He went back to junior college and signed before the 2006 season. Visa problems kept him from playing until the 2007 season. The Twins had to wait, but Tosoni has been a solid, all-around contributor. He can hit for average, hit for power, is a very good defender and has a very strong arm. It was the arm, however, that caused trouble in 2010. Finally, in mid-June, his season came to an end due to shoulder surgery. If not for that, Tosoni would be an automatic add to the 40 man roster.
Steve Singleton, 2B, 25, Bats: Left
Singleton was eligible for the Rule 5 draft last year and was not selected. Although he hit just .267/.325/.410, how many second baseman have the extra base hitting potential of Singleton? The 25 year old hit an organization-leading 43 doubles, added four triples and seven home runs. He is also a solid defender, capable of playing three infield positions adequately. Like a year ago, expect that Singleton not be selected, but if he were, he could contribute at the big league level.
Tyler Robertson, LHP, 22, Throws: Left
The Twins third round pick in the 2006 draft out of his California high school, Robertson was one of the Twins top prospects following a 2007 season in which he went 9-5 with a 2.29 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 102.1 innings at Beloit. He was 5-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 15 starts at Ft. Myers before being shut down with an arm injury. He remained healthy in 2009 at Ft. Myers and was moved up to New Britain for the 2010 season. A 4-13 record with a 5.41 ERA certainly does not breathe confidence, but the 22 year old still has plenty of potential. The question that must be asked is would he be able to remain on a big league roster if he was drafted?
SUMMARY/UPDATE: Despite his struggles in the Arizona Fall League, I think that Waldrop would be lost to some team. The 24 year old has been terrific the last two years, has a great sinker, is a good fielder and he is still young. He is either big league ready or close enough to big league ready, so I think there is a high likelihood that he would be lost, possibly even one of the first picks. He signed a minor league deal with the Twins a couple weeks ago, but the Twins would still have to protect him to keep him from being eligible for the draft. A year ago, Tosoni would have been a given, but his injury makes it a question mark. He can do pretty much everything, and he is clearly close to being able to play in the big leagues, at least in a platoon role where he would hit only against right-handers. Robertson is a tough one. He is left-handed. His numbers had been at least solid until this year in Double-A, but at 22, his struggles should not be unexpected. I just don’t think that a team would be willing to keep him on their big league roster the full season. I know I am higher on Singleton than most, but 43 doubles, 54 extra base hits, as many walks as strikeouts and solid defense, he could play in the big leagues now, at least in a role. That said, I thought he should have been protected last year and he wasn’t. The Twins may try to sneak him through one more time. If I had to rank them in terms of likelihood of being protected, see the above. I wouldn’t be surprised if any or all of these guys are added. I also wouldn’t be shocked if any of them is not added.  
UNLIKELY
James Beresford, SS/2B, 21, Bats: Left
The Twins signed the Australian as a 16 year old to a Kepler-esque signing bonus. He has slowly worked his way up the Twins ladder. In 2010, he hit .297/.349/.363 with 19 doubles, five triples and a home run. For the second straight year, he was named the MVP of the Beloit Snappers team. In the offseasons, he has played for Australia in international competition. Defensively, Beresford is very good, and he takes charge of the infield. He has the ability to reach the big leagues, however, he will need to gain some weight and strength. He likely would not be drafted in the Rule 5 as he would need to get bigger to last on a big league roster.
Miguel Munoz, RHP, 22, Throw: Right
There are not a lot of real hard throwers in the Twins farm system. Munoz throws a little harder than most Twins pitching prospects, up to 94 with the fastball. In 2010, he made 21 starts for Beloit before moving into the bullpen. By season’s end, he was the closer. Overall, he went 12-7 with a 4.37 ERA.
SUMMARY/UPDATE: I like these two and think each has big league potential depending upon their development (of course). I just don’t think that either would be able to remain on a 40 man roster for an entire season. I would be surprised if either is added. As for the “Others to Consider”, that is where Estarlin de Los Santos was for me last year, and he was added. So, I don’t claim to know anything, just my speculation. But it will be fun to find out who gets added.
Others To Consider – Eliecer Cardenas, Jair Fernandez, Anderson Hidalgo, Steve Hirschfeld, Edgar Ibarra, Danny Lehmann, Josmil Pinto, Chris Province, Yangervis Solarte, .

Others Who Are Eligible – Dustin Martin, Matt Williams, Brandon Roberts, Ryan Mullins, Mark Dolenc, Alexander Soto, Chris Cates, Jonathan Goncalves, Michael McCardell, Jairo Perez, Spencer Steedley, Michael Tarsi, Brad Tippett, Brian Dinkelman.

Alright, there is a lot of information there today. I’d love to hear your thoughts about who you think could or should be added to the 40 man roster today. Check back later today as I hope to be able to post who is actually added to the 40 man roster here. As always, please 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.

Franchise Thoughts

16 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Thursday was a good day for the Twins and their fans. They beat the Boston Red Sox 8-0. They won two out of three in the first Target Field series. They improved to 7-3 on the season. People (ok, at least me) thought that beginning the season at .500 would be a good thing. In yesterday’s game, the only Twins starter that did not have a hit was Joe Mauer (not too worried!). Five hitters had multi-hit games. Denard Span and Nick Punto (yes, that Nick Punto) each had two doubles. Michael Cuddyer found a jet stream. Justin Morneau had three hits. Ron Mahay made an impressive return to the Twins bullpen. Jose Mijares got out of another jam.

But all anyone wants to talk about is the performance of Francisco Liriano.

And rightfully so. The talented lefty threw seven shutout innings against the Red Sox. He gave up just four hits. He walked two. He struck out eight batters. 64 of his 96 pitches were strikes. Of the 13 outs that he got there were not via the strikeout, 11 of them were of the ground ball variety.

I always feel the need to say I was wrong, because I admit, it happens, quite a bit… and that is great in my mind when it means good things for the Twins. I spent all offseason saying that I thought Brian Duensing did enough down the stretch last year to warrant the first shot as the Twins #5 starter. I thought the best thing the Twins could do was start Liriano in the bullpen, much like they did when he first came up to the team, and much like they did with Johan Santana. That strategy made sense to be because I thought he could gain some confidence by throwing in shorter stints. Hopefully he could regain his confidence and eventually be inserted back into the rotation. And then came the video from his starts in the Dominican Republic this winter. He was throwing hard, the slider was nasty again, and he was hitting his spots. Then he got to spring training and continued to show control, confidence and racked up strikeouts.

Twins bloggers around the region started to get excited again, and for good reason. In a division that boasts ‘aces’ like Zach Grienke (who pitches against the Twins tonight), Justin Verlander and Jake Peavy, the Twins really have a lot of very good starters who could be solid #2s. Francisco Liriano is the ex-factor. As Nick Punto said after yesterday’s game, “That’s [Liriano] our wild card. I feel we’ll be as strong as he is.” Liriano is capable of being an ace. In 2006, for those amazing two months, he was better than Johan Santana, who would go on to win the AL Cy Young Award. He showed some glimpses of that in Rochester in 2008. 2009 was a disappointment as his confidence was completely gone. However, in 2010, that confidence, that swagger is back…

And this is the point where I need to remind Twins fans that it wasn’t all that long ago (a week, to be exact), when many Twins fans worried about the five walks he issued in his 2010 debut in Chicago against the White Sox. I believe that Liriano is back. Maybe not to 2006 levels, and he doesn’t need to be. But if he can be in control, and he can be confident, he has the ability to not only be an All-Star again, but also to be the ace that the Twins need to go further. With that said, we also need to be fair. We need to curb the enthusiasm just a little bit. He isn’t going to be Sandy Koufax every game. As many have said, “you’re only as good as your next outing.” For Liriano, that will be next week against Cleveland.

If nothing else, Francisco Liriano has brought some excitement back. On a team with MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, that has hitters like Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span and Delmon Young, that has a very good defense, and that has four other solid starting pitchers and a solid bullpen, Liriano is potentially the most electrifying (and most important?) figure on the roster.

Maybe that is why there are still some Twins fans out there complaining about not being 10-0!!

SethSpeaks Thursday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Danny Lehmann – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Thursday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Miguel Munoz – Beloit Snappers

  • Last month, the Twins released minor leaguer Kyle Carr. The left-handed pitcher had been selected by the Twins in the 12th round of the 2007 draft. They have drafted him three years earlier from his hometown of Linton, North Dakota. Yesterday, Carr signed with the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the independent Northern League.
  • The New Britain Rockcats are 0-7 so far this season, and tonight, they get to face Stephen Strasburg. Good luck!! Actually, I think they’ll do fine against him because I guarantee every hitter will be 100% focused. Not that they aren’t in every at bat, but this will be something different.
  • In former Twins prospect news, Yohan Pino will get another AAA start tonight, and he will face the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman.

Red Wings Report                                                                  

Thursday – Rochester 1, Lehigh Valley 4 – If you take away the three home run balls, Jeff Manship had a decent start. The righty gave up four runs (all on the 3 HR), on seven hits (including 3 HR) in five innings. He walked none and struck out five. Matt Fox came in and threw three innings of one-hit shutout relief.  Brock Peterson and Dustin Martin each went 2-4.

New Britain Notes

Thursday – New Britain 5, Portland 6 – This one was a tough one to lose. The Rockcats went into the final frame with a two run lead. Then a walk, a single, a runner picked off second base, another walk, a pitching change, two singles, a strikeout to give hope, and then a wild pitch meant another loss for the Rockcats. Mike McCardell was the starter. He worked 5.2 innings and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. Chris Province came in and gave up one run on two hits over the next 1.2 innings. Joe Testa got the final two outs of the eighth inning, but got just the one out in the 9th inning. He gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. Santos Arias came in and gave up the last two hits, got the strikeout and then threw the wild pitch. Danny Lehmann did all he could for the team in this game. He picked the runner off of second base in the ninth. He also saved a wild pitch just before the game-ending wild pitch. He also went 2-2 with a triple and was hit by a pitch. Chris Parmelee continues to hit. He went 2-4 with his third double of the young season. Whit Robbins was 2-5. Steve Singleton and Joe Benson each hit a double.

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Ft. Myers 0, Charlotte 7 – The Miracle bats needed a miracle in this game. They managed just four hits in the game, although Drew Thompson, Evan Bigley and Dan Rohlfing each had a double. Bobby Lanigan gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. He struck out five. Michael Allen gave up a run on a hit and a walk while striking out two in the next 1.1 innings. Blake Martin then gave up three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings.  

Snappers Snippets

Thursday – Beloit 4, Kane Country 5 – For the second straight game, the Snappers led by two going into the 9th inning, and lost by one. However, Miguel Munoz was very strong again. He threw five shutout innings. He gave up three hits and three walks while striking out three. Peter Kennelly came in and gave up two runs on two hits and two walks and recorded just one out. Edgar Ibarra got the next five outs, allowing a hit and a walk, but no runs, and struck out three. In the eighth inning, Matt Tone struck out the four, five and six hitters. However, he started the 9th inning and walked the seven and eight hitters. The ninth hitter in the lineup bunted to Tone who got a force out for the inning’s first out. Unfortunately he then walked the leadoff hitter. Kane Holbrooks came in and gave up a bases-clearing double to end the game.  

Any thoughts on Francisco Liriano or the Twins minor league system? Leave your comments here.

Roster Projections: Beloit Snappers

26 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

 

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

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

The Hitters

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

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

The Pitchers

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELIZABETHTON

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

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

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

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