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Organizational Depth Chart – Catchers

22 Jan

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

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

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

Minnesota Twins  

Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera

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

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

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

Rochester Red Wings

Rene Rivera, JR Towles

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

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

New Britain Rock Cats

Danny Lehmann, Chris Herrmann

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

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

Ft. Myers Miracle

Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing, Josmil Pinto

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

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

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

Beloit Snappers

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

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

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

Elizabethton Twins

Kelly Cross, Michael Quesada

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

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

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

TOP THREE PROSPECTS

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

SUMMARY

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

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

Twins Select Two More in First Round

7 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins drafted Levi Michael, a shortstop from the University of North Carolina believed to be the college position player closest to being ready for the big leagues, with the 30th pick in the first round. But they didn’t stop there. The Twins had two more picks in the supplemental first round, compensation for losing Orlando Hudson and Jesse Crain via free agency.

With the 50th overall selection, the Twins drafted Travis Harrison, a high school third baseman from California. He is committed to USC, but I’m sure a little money could convince him to forgo that opportunity. At 6-2 and 215 pounds, he is a power hitter. He was a preseason high school All-American and during the season, he hit 13 home runs. He was up and down during the season which may have dropped him down the draft to some degree. But when a guy has that kind of power potential, it’s never a bad pick.

Soon after, the Twins used the 55th overall pick to take Hudson Boyd, a stocky, right-handed pitcher from Ft. Myers. He is committed to the University of Florida, but he could see the Twins training facility location as a good reason (along with the near-million dollar signing bonus he would get) to sign with the Twins. He is about 6-3 and 235 pounds, not exactly what you would call projectable at this point. In his analysis, mlb.com’s Jonathan Mayo said that he may end up as a reliever. He already throws into the mid-90s, so that is a positive. The Twins, as any smart team would, will have him work as a starter first.

No, I’m not going to bash any of their picks. The reality, as we have said here for years, is that we won’t be able to judge this draft for six to eight years, maybe longer. What looks like a questionable pick now may prove to be great, and what people think might be a great pick may prove not to be.

The Twins will make their 2nd through 30th picks today, and then tomorrow they will make their final 20 picks. You can find a little information on each pick they make by going to SethSpeaks.net, so be sure to check there throughout the day for more. Here will be the Twins draft tracker with minimal thoughts:

  • 1 – Levi Michael (30) – SS – U. of North Carolina
  • 1s – Travis Harrison (50) – 3B from Tustin, CA (HS)
  • 1s – Hudson Boyd (55) – RHP from Ft. Myers (HS)
  • 2 – Madison Boer (87) – RHP from U. of Oregon – Eden Prairie native, good athlete.
  • 3 – Corey Williams (117) – LHP from Vanderbilt U.-
    •  From John Manuel of Baseball America (via Twitter) – “Ooh, #Twins take a tough sign in LHP Corey Williams, power reliever this year, redshirt soph., highest ERA on Vandy staff but touched 94-95”
    • From Jordan Schelling: Corey Williams had his knee cap shattered by a line drive last April. Got up, made throw to first.
  • 4 – Matthew Summers (148) – RHP from UC-Irvine (drafted in 43rd round by Yankees… was an OF, so arm may be fresh (via Jonathan Mayo).)
  • 5 – Tyler Grimes (178) – SS – Wichita State –
  • 6 – Ivan Rodriguez (208) – CF – High school in Florida – Yes, the Hall of Fame catcher’s son.  
  • 7 – Steven Gruver (238) – LHP University of Tennessee – It’s one of those names that just isn’t good for a pitcher. Like Balfour. Or Homer.
  • 8 – Jason Wheeler (268) – LHP – Loyola Marymount
  • 9 – Nick Bryant (298) – SS – Troy University
  • 10 – Brett Lee (328) – LHP – St. Petersburg JC    
  • 11 – Tyler Jones (358) – RHP – LSU    
  • 12 – Matthew Koch (388) – C – Loyola Marymount    
  • 13 – Steven Evans (418) – LHP – Liberty University    
  • 14 – Adam McCreery (448) – LHP from California    
  • 15 – Josue Montanez (478) – LHP from Miami-Dade CC   
  • 16 – Austin Malinowski (508) – LHP – from Centennial High School in Lino Lakes, MN.
  • 17 – Josh Burris (538) – RHP – from LSU-Eunice
  • 18 – Corey Kimes (568) – LHP – from U of Illinois    
  • 19 – Tyler Koelling (598) – CF – from U. of Southern Mississippi
  • 20 – Brian Anderson (628) – SS – from Deer Creek (OK) HS
  • 21 – Michael Howard (658) – LHP – from Prescott (AZ) HS
  • 22 – James Ramsey (688) – RF – from Florida State U.
  • 23 – Timothy Shibuya (718) – RHP – from UC-San Diego
  • 24 – Nick Burdi (748) – RHP – from Downers Grove South (HS) in Illinois
  • 25 – AJ Petterson (778) – SS – from the University of Minnesota
  • 26 – Trent Higginbothom (808) – RHP – from Clay Chalkville (AL) HS
  • 27 – Chris Mazza (838) – RHP – from Menlo College   
  • 28 – David Hurlbut (868) – LHP – from Cal State – Fullerton
  • 29 – Derek Thompson (898) – LHP – from Teutopolis (IL) HS
  • 30 – William Clinard (928) – RHP – from Vanderbilt
    • 31 – Garrett Jewell (958) – RHP – from Southern New Hampshire U
    • 32 – Dylan Chavez (988) – LHP – from American River College
    • 33 – Stephen Wickens (1018) – SS – from Florida Gulf Coast U
    • 34 – Ryan Tella (1048) – CF – from Ohlone College
    • 35 – Philip Chapman (1078) – C – from the University of Memphis
    • 36 – Austin Barrois (1108) – OF – from Belle Chasse HS in LA
    • 37 – Andrew Leachman (1138) – LF – from Birmingham Southern
    • 38 – Alexander Keudell (1168) – RHP – from U of Oregon
    • 39 – Edwin McCord (1198) – RHP – from Spanish Fort HS in AL
    • 40 – Kyle Barraclough (1228) – RHP – from St. Marys College (CA)
    • 41 – TJ Oakes (1258) – RHP – from U of Minnesota
    • 42 – Matthew Tomshaw (1288) – LHP – from Jacksonville U.
    • 43 – Robert O’Neill (1318) – RHP – from Biola University
    • 44 – Cole Johnson (1348) – RHP – from Notre Dame
    • 45 – Julio Torres (1378) – 2B – from Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
    • 46 – Jared Dettmann (1408) – LHP – from Somerset HS in Wisconsin
    • 47 – John Hochstatter (1438) – LHP – from San Ramon Valley HS (CA)
    • 48 – Garret Peterson (1468) – RHP – from Du Bois Area HS (PA)
    • 49 – Drake Roberts (1498) – 2B – from Brenham HS (TX)
    • 50 – Bryan Burgher (1527) – RHP – from Emerald Ridge HS (WA)     

Any thoughts on the picks, please feel free to comment