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Organizational Depth Chart: Middle Infielders

31 Jan

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.

 Last week, I started looking at the depth throughout the Twins system. I reviewed the catchers, first basemen and third basemen. After a weekend at Twins Fest (which I’ll write about very soon), I thought it would be good to get back into the Organizational Depth Chart series. Today, I am going to write about the Middle Infielders. I decided to put the shortstops and second basemen together because so many of these players can and will play both positions. As I’ve said before, the purpose of this series is two-fold (if not more). First, it’s a look at the depth at or near the big leagues. Second, it’s a glance at the depth at the position throughout the system. You can find out who might be coming up to the Twins if there is a need, and you can find out who the prospects to watch might be.

I need to reiterate that these are 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

Minnesota Twins  

Jamey Carroll (SS), Alexi Casilla (2B), Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes

About the time spring training starts, Carroll will turn 38 years old. Most consider him a utility player, and he probably is because he plays multiple positions. He has accumulated more than 350 plate appearances five of the last six years. The last two years, he has combined for 924 plate appearances. He played 129 games at second base, and another 135 and shortstop. The Twins are bringing him in for the next two seasons to be their starting shortstop. He’s an on-base machine, perfect for the #2 spot in the lineup. Alexi Casilla has proven himself to be a solid utility infielder but has often shown that he can’t handle an every day job. I thought last year was his last chance to prove that, but he’s getting another opportunity in 2012. I’m not going to say Luke Hughes is the answer, but Casilla has received so many opportunities, I’d rather Hughes get a shot at the regular, daily second base job with Casilla as a role player. We don’t know if Hughes will hit, but he does have some pop in his bat. We know that Casilla won’t do much. I’m understanding that Nishioka needs and deserves to start 2012 with an empty slate. 2011 was an awful year for him. He was adjusting to so many things on and off the field, and then he was hurt within the first week and never fully recovered. The best thing would have been for him to get a lot of time in the minors last year. Maybe that can happen in 2012.  

Rochester Red Wings

Brian Dozier (SS), Pedro Florimon (2B), Ray Chang, Brian Dinkelman

Brian Dozier was the minor league player of the year in 2011 and hopes to build upon that starting in spring training in 2012. There is little chance he’ll open with the Twins. In fact, there’s a better chance he returns to New Britain and based on the past, I would not be shocked if he did start the season with the Rock Cats. But he’s ready for AAA, and nearly ready for the big leagues. Part of why I would like to see Hughes get the starting gig with the Twins, is because by June, he could move to the bench with Carroll shifting to second base and Dozier jumping to the Twins. But, let’s see how he starts the 2012 season before counting any eggs, or something like that. The Twins claimed Florimon from the Orioles in December, but nearly immediately placed him on waivers. He cleared and was outrighted to Rochester. He jumped from AA to the big leagues with a September call-up. He will certainly get plenty of time at shortstop with Dozier moving to second. Chang will play all around the infield. He was the Red Wings starting shortstop while he was with the team last year, before his broken leg. Dinkelman finally got his chance with the Twins last year and hit .301. He struggled in Rochester. He can play second base but can also play the corner outfield positions.

New Britain Rock Cats

James Beresford (SS), Estarlin de Los Santos (2B), Chris Cates

James Beresford is tremendous with the glove. He is a smooth fielder with soft hands and a strong arm. He can play both middle infield positions well and is a leader on the infield. His play in international competition has really been impressive. He has hit for average in his minor league career. He takes really good, quality at bats. But because he is almost exclusively a singles hitter, he will not be walked often. He also doesn’t strike out much. He works very hard to gain weight, and hopefully that will happen soon to give the opponents a little concern for extra base hits. De Los Santos was once considered a quality prospect in the Twins system. He was added to the 40 man roster, but that lasted just a year. 2011 was a lost year for him. He spent most of the season on the Disabled List, rehabbed quite a bit in the GCL. He got a little time at Ft. Myers, played second base before he finally ended his season with elbow surgery. Although he could have become a free agent at the end of the season, he signed quickly to remain with the Twins. Cates is a strong defender at both middle infield positions. He also has a very strong arm.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Tyler Grimes (SS), Danny Santana (2B), Reggie Williams, Adam Bryant

Grimes was the Twins 5th round pick just last year out of college baseball power house Wichita State. He missed a little bit of time after signing with the Twins and reporting to Beloit. He can hit. He’s another on-base percentage guy with some pop in his bat. He has good speed and plays solid defense. Santana primarily played shortstop in Beloit, but he will likely get time at second base and in centerfield as well in 2011. He has great range, soft hands and a very strong arm. He does have pop in his bat although his 2011 numbers don’t necessarily show it. He has a immense talent and all the tools, but he will need to start putting it together. Reggie Williams was a fourth round pick in 2007 out of high school. He is a terrific athlete, and he will play all around the diamond in 2012. He can play four infield positions and probably all three outfield positions. He primarily plays 2B, 3B and LF, but who knows, we may even see him behind the plate this year.

Beloit Snappers

Levi Michael (SS), Eddie Rosario (2B), AJ Pettersen, Stephen Wickens, Nick Lockwood

One question we’ve been hearing all offseason is Where will Levi Michael start his 2012 season? The Twins have had top college pitchers jump straight to Ft. Myers. All indications are the Michael will begin the season with the Beloit Snappers. Making me want to get to Beloit early in the season is an infield that should include Michael, Rosario and Miguel Sano. I would also expect that Michael would get no more than a half-season in Beloit before being promoted. Rosario was the Appy League co-MVP last year when he hit .337 with 38 extra base hits, including 21 home runs in 67 games. He also is a tremendous center fielder. During Instructional League, he was moved to second base. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I would assume he will continue to get some time in the outfield as well. Sano will likely see some time at shortstop. Minnetonka native and former Gopher and last year’s 25th round pick AJ Pettersen said he is willing to play anywhere, but he is a natural shortstop who started there for the Gophers four years. Wickens is a Canadian who is a four year college shortstop as well with very good on-base skills. I would expect that Michael will be promoted in mid-June with Niko Goodrum moving up to take his spot. Nick Lockwood is a tremendous defensive second baseman. Although he didn’t hit much at E-town last year, he has a strong, line drive swing and uses the whole field.

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Niko Goodrum (SS), Jorge Polanco (SS), Wander Guillen (2B)

Goodrum had a very strong season with the Elizabethton Twins, even if it was lost behind the big seasons of Sano and Rosario. He is a tremendous athlete who will take a while to develop. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the season at Extended Spring Training. I would, however, be surprised if he spends any more time with Elizabethton. I would expect him to be promoted to Beloit whenever there is a need, or whenever Michael is promoted. Polanco signed with the Twins for over $750,000 two years ago. He and Miguel Sano split 2010 between the DSL and GCL. Polanco returned to the GCL in 2011 and didn’t do much with the bat. Touted for his terrific defense at shortstop, he played 19 games there in 2011, 14 at third base and 11 at second base. He also played all three outfield positions. He will spend 2012 in Elizabethton. Wander Guillen is a third baseman, but with Travis Harrison around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Guillen play more at second base, where he has played a little the past two seasons. He also should advance to E-Town in 2012 after splitting 2011 between the DSL and GCL.

TOP THREE PROSPECTS

1.)    Eddie Rosario, 2.) Brian Dozier, 3.) Levi Michael, 4.) Niko Goodrum, 5.) Danny Santana, 6.) James Beresford, 7.) Tyler Grimes, 8.) Jorge Polanco

SUMMARY

After what Twins fans saw at the shortstop position in 2011, it was pretty clear that the Twins needed a change in 2012! Alexi Casilla started the season as the shortstop and through five weeks was hitting about .150. Trevor Plouffe got a couple of games. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was given an opportunity. It wasn’t pretty all season. Jamey Carroll should bring consistency to the position. He may not have a ton of range, but he will make most of the routine plays and it winds up that trait is pretty important. Cailla and Hughes may be a solid platoon and the Twins should see again what they have in Nishioka, if anything. Brian Dozier is on the cusp and we should (or at least could) see him by July. The lower levels of the system actually provide a bunch of solid prospects to at least be excited about. Rosario is intriguing as a second baseman. Scouts love Levi Michael and he could move fairly quickly. He was one of five college shortstops the Twins drafted in 2011 (Michael-1, Grimes-5, Bryant-9, Pettersen-25, Wickens-33), each of which should get a lot of playing time in 2012. Accumulating a lot of talent in the lower levels is great, and hopefully a couple of them will continue to progress through the system.  

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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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Third Basemen

25 Jan

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

We have looked at the catchers and the first basemen in the Twins organization the past two days. Today, I’ll be looking at the third basemen. Again, the purpose of this series is two-fold (if not more). First, it’s a look at the depth at or near the big leagues. Second, it’s a glance at the depth at the position throughout the system. You can find out who might be coming up to the Twins if there is a need, and you can find out who the prospects to watch might be.

I need to reiterate that these are 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  

Danny Valencia (Luke Hughes, Jamey Carroll)

2011 was a difficult year for Valencia. In the first half, his numbers struggled thanks to a lot of at-‘em balls. His high BABIP in his rookie season was evened up by his low BABIP in his sophomore season. He can hit, and hitting in the bottom third of the lineup, he will succeed. His defense wasn’t as good in 2011 as 2010 either. More disturbing, he was the player blamed most by the manager, which makes no sense. I expect a solid season out of Valencia in 2012, maybe somewhere along the lines of .280/.340/.450 with 30+ doubles and 12-15 home runs. As I’ve pointed out before, I won’t be even a little surprised if Ron Gardenhire says that Sean Burroughs is competition for a starting job. Burroughs will get plenty of at bats in spring training though. And Luke Hughes, who is out of options, should again receive plenty of at bats and time in the field at three infield positions including 3B. Jamey Carroll is really a middle infielder, but some seem to think he might be a 3B option as well. I can’t see that.  

Rochester Red Wings

Sean Burroughs. Ray Chang

Burroughs was once one of baseball’s top prospects, then struggled, then got into drugs and alcohol. But he had a nice comeback season last year that saw him reach the big leagues for the first time since 2006. He did a nice job as a pinch hitter for Arizona. He is known as a very good defensive third baseman, which bodes well for him. He has also shown the ability to hit for average. I really believe that although he likely isn’t in direct competition with Valencia for a starting job, he is likely going to be battling Luke Hughes and maybe Tsuyoshi Nishioka for the final bench spots. With Trevor Plouffe also likely on the bench many nights, Gardy may find it important to have a left-handed bench bat.

Ray Chang made a very good impression last year in spring training. He went to New Britain and played well. He was promoted to Rochester where he played even better, hitting 3rd many games for them. Unfortunately, he broke his fibula and missed almost two months. He will likely get time at 3B and at SS for the Red Wings.

New Britain Rock Cats

Deibinson Romero, Michael Hollimon

Romero was once considered a very good, high ceiling prospect. Following a injury-riddled season in Beloit, the Twins added him to the 40-man-roster. He struggled and was removed from the 40-man-roster a year later. Many questioned his work ethic, but he responded in 2011 with a solid year in AA. He could have become a free agent after the 2011 season, but he quickly resigned with the Twins.

Likewise, the Twins and Hollimon quickly agreed that he would return to the Twins rather than enter free agency. Between New Britain (97 games) and Rochester (29 games), he hit 19 doubles and 18 home runs. He primarily played 2B and LF but also go some time at the hot corner. The Twins drafted him in the 49th round in 2003 but he didn’t sign. In 2008, he got 25 plate appearances with the Tigers. He had six hits, including two doubles, a triple and a home run.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Anderson Hidalgo, Jairo Perez

Hidalgo has been in the organization since 2006. He has moved up one level each year and was with the Miracle last year. His .274 batting average was the lowest of his career. In 2010, he was the only Beloit Snappers player to hit over .300 (.316). He has an unorthodox swing at the plate that many wonder if it will adapt as he moves up the ladder. Defensively, he’s a little below average.

Jairo Perez seemingly came out of nowhere last year. He spent the first two months of the year in Extended Spring Training, but after joining the Snappers in mid June, he hit .337/.413/.580 with 20 doubles and 15 home runs. He had missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery. He primarily played 3B but also played a few games at 2B. He is a little guy who takes a monstrous swing. He is not fast and his range is limited, so 3B is a better option.

Beloit Snappers

Miguel Sano, Roy Larson, Adam Bryant

I think most Twins fans have heard pretty much everything about Miguel Sano. He is the consensus top prospect in the Twins farm system. He got the big signing bonus. He draws comparisons to Miguel Cabrera and other great power bats in the game. He had a lot of errors last year in Elizabethton at both shortstop and third base, but he can flat-out hit. He hit .292/.352/.627 with 18 doubles, seven triples and 20 home runs in 66 games for the E-Twins. His power potential is off charts. The Twins are typically patient with their young prospects’ development. The same should be true of Sano. As much as his offensive game is advanced, there are more aspects of the game that he needs to work on. He needs to make more contact. He needs to run the bases better. And he needs to play better defense and just mature, in general. I would expect him to spend the whole season at Beloit.

Adam Bryant was the team’s 9th round pick just last year, and as a four-year college senior, he signed quickly and was sent to Beloit where he held his own. He played all three infield positions and was solid with the bat. He’s a solid, all-around player who will likely advance as a utility player. The Twins signed Larson out of the University of St. Thomas. He’s 6-6 and struggled in E-Town, but he has very quick hands and bat speed. He can play both corner infield spots. Due to his age (he’s 24), he’ll likely have to advance through the lower levels quickly.

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Travis Harrison, Javier Pimentel

It will be interesting to see where Harrison and Pimentel will play in 2012. The assumption is that both will go to Extended Spring Training. Harrison was the team’s supplemental first-round pick in 2011 out of high school in California. He has a bunch of power potential and some believe that he could also become an all-around hitter. Pimentel was signed in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic for about a $700,000 signing bonus. He split the 2011 season between the Dominican Summer League and the GCL. I think he would likely head to the GCL again, but he has very good potential as well. Signed as a shortstop, he already spent most of his time at third base in 2011.

TOP THREE PROSPECTS

1.)    Miguel Sano, 2.) Travis Harrison, 3.) Jairo Perez

SUMMARY

Third base is Danny Valencia’s for the near-term. Sean Burroughs provides some quality depth. This would be a position where the Twins are quite strong at the lower levels (with Sano, Harrison and Pimentel), but there is not much help above Beloit for 2012, at least not anyone that would have any long-term potential. We’ll need to wait until at least 2014 to see Sano (and that’s only if he advances on the Joe Mauer path), and Harrison and Pimentel are likely 2016 arrivals. Will Sano be able to stick at 3B? How will Valencia fare through his pre-arbitration and arbitration years? 

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

Twins Infield Situation

5 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The locker room in Ft. Myers will be full when spring training begins in February, and there will be a lot of infielders. Of course, that doesn’t meant that there aren’t still a lot of question marks. Here’s a look at the Twins infield positions as they stand now:

  • First Base – Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit, Luke Hughes, Joe Mauer, Aaron Bates, Chris Parmelee, Steve Pearce
  • Second Base – Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jamey Carroll, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, Michael Hollimon
  • Third Base – Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Sean Burroughs, Michael Hollimon, Ray Chang
  • Shortstop – Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Ray Chang

First Base

If Justin Morneau is right and healthy and able to play 150 games, he is an MVP candidate. Therein lies the issue. What can be expected from Justin Morneau in 2012? And, unfortunately, the answer at this time is that we don’t know. It’s not a question of effort, as I often hear. His long-term well-being is far more important than its effects on the Twins. But if he can be back, the Twins have a chance. Joe Mauer showed last year that he can handle the position, if needed, and to keep him in the lineup more. Ryan Doumit can also play the position. Did you know that Aaron Bates hit .316 last year in Rochester with an On-Base Percentage over .400? He can play multiple positions too. He played in the big leagues for the Red Sox in 2009 after being their 3rd round pick in 2006. We saw Chris Parmelee in September and what we saw tells us that if needed, he can contribute. Steve Pearce is nice depth as well and has long been a big hitter in AAA.

Second Base

Alexi Casilla goes into the season as the starter at 2B, but which Casilla will show up, and will he be able to stay healthy for a full season? Luke Hughes was solid at second base and provides some power as a starter or off the bench. Tsuyoshi Nishioka will likely be in a utility role and spend time at both middle infield positions. Jamey Carroll may end up at second base at some point. I think we can assume that Brian Dozier will be plenty of time at second base in the minor leagues and could be ready at some point in 2012. Pedro FLorimon, Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang also provide depth.

Third Base

Danny Valencia remains the starting third baseman. The numbers from 2011 didn’t match his rookie season of 2010, but if he continues to hit line drives like he did in 2011, the hits will fall in. Luke Hughes can spend some time there as well. Knowing how Ron Gardenhire works, I would not be at all surprised if we hear him talking about Sean Burroughs as competition for Valencia. That would, of course, be crazy, but Burroughs has definitely hit at the AAA level and can be a decent bench option for the Twins at some point this season. Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang provide depth. And Deibinson Romero had a solid season in AA and remains in the system.

Shortstop

Jamey Carroll isn’t young, and may not have a ton of range, but he will make all the plays that he gets to and he is an on-base machine who will fit nicely into the #2 spot in the lineup as well. Nishioka and Alexi Casilla can give him a day off occasionally. As we know, Brian Dozier is waiting in the wings. Will he start the season in New Britain or with Rochester? We shall see. Pedro Florimon is a flashy defender who debuted last September with the Orioles. I believe that we would have seen Ray Chang with the Twins at some point last year if not for his broken fibula.

Free Agents

The one free agent that is intriguing is Derrek Lee. He’d be a nice right-handed bat who could play 1B and also DH. Of course, he would likely cost more than the Twins are willing to spend.

Other infield free agents include: Wilson Betemit, Brooks Conrad, Craig Counsell, Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, Ronny Cedeno, Alex Cora, Adam Everett, Aaron Miles, Will Rhymes, Omar Vizquel, Jack Wilson, Russell Branyan, Jorge Cantu, Carlos Guillen, Brad Hawpe, Dan Johnson, Casey Kotchman and Xavier Nady.

Frankly, none of those names are all that intriguing. Some were good several years ago. Some are solid utility guys. The Twins have a lot of question marks, but none of these options would do anything toward helping the Twins compete in 2012. The Twins chose to invest in Nishioka, enough to give him a second chance after a season that quickly came to a halt just six games into the season. He had a lot to overcome, and maybe in a less stressful role, we can see what he is really capable (good or bad!). The Twins have solid, unspectacular starters, and Morneau is a difference-maker if only he can be healthy. There is depth at Rochester and on the bench. And, Brian Dozier is probably pretty close to big-league ready.

What would you do? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.

SethSpeaks.net May Twins Minor League Hitters of the Month

1 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It doesn’t seem like long ago that I was handing out the SethSpeaks.net Hitter and Pitchers of the Month for April, and here we are on June 1 and it is time to hand out the awards for May. As always, there have been some good performances and some bad performances, but you know what I am going to choose to look at.

In April, our top two players of the month came from the Beloit Snappers. Number Two, Oswaldo Arcia, went on the Disabled List on May 1 and had elbow surgery and is likely out for a couple of months. Danny Ortiz was the choice for Hitter of the Month in April when he hit .377/.429/.768 with seven doubles, a triple and six home runs in 69 at bats. In May, he hit .236/.267/.364 with eleven doubles and one home run in 110 at bats.

Today, I will post my top 5 choices for Twins minor league hitter of the month. Tomorrow, I will point out the top 5 Twins starting pitchers for May as well as well as the top 3 relievers that deserve recognition.

Before getting to the Top 5, here are some guys who just missed the subjective list:

  • Rochester – Brian Dinkelman (35-103) .340/.400/.476 with nine doubles, a triple, one home run and ten RBI.
  • Rochester – Ray Chang (28-87) .322/.375/.448 with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBI.
  • Rochester – Aaron Bates (20-63) .317/.434/.476 with four doubles, two home runs and five RBI.
  • New Britain – Yangervis Solarte (32-99) .323/.374/.455 with six doubles, two triples, one home run and 10 RBI.
  • Ft. Myers – Aaron Hicks (24-84) .286/.390/.440 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBI.
  • Beloit – Wang-Wei Lin (32-101) .317/.439/.512 with eight doubles, and nine RBI.

Number 5 – Beloit – Michael Gonzales – 1B (31-104) .298/.412/.433 with five doubles, three home runs and 24 RBI.

Gonzales stands out on the Beloit Snappers roster. Part of that is because he stands at 6-6 and 270 pounds. He was the Twins 9th round pick in the 2008 draft out of Diablo Valley College. Last year at Beloit, he hit .236/.322/.439 with 27 doubles and 13 home runs. He walked 36 times and struck out 107 times, about one in three at bats. He had 52 RBI, so the fact that he drove in 24 runs in 32 May games certainly stands out. On the season, Gonzales is hitting .288/.400/.466 with five doubles and seven home runs. When I saw him play in Beloit last year about this time, he had a very slow bat, a very long swing, so the strikeouts are understandable. He also has a ton of power. He had little range at 1B a year ago, but I am told that he has greatly improved his defense over the past year. Gonzales will turn 23 on June 16 and is a candidate for a call up to Ft. Myers later in the season. To this point, he has 38 strikeouts in 175 plate appearances.  

Number 4 – New Britain – Joe Benson – OF (30-101) .297/.398/.485 with eight doubles, a triple, three home runs and 14 RBI.

Benson was honorable mention in April, and only because he really struggled the final week of April. Those struggles continued the first couple of weeks of May, but he has been terrific of late. In his last 10 games, he has hit .484/.579/.774 (15-31) with four doubles, a triple and a home run. In other words, he went 15 for his first 70 in May (.214) and ended the season strong. During his struggles, Benson’s strikeout rate was very poor. On the season, he has 49 strikeouts in 198 plate appearances. Again, this is the key number for Benson as we look at him each month. He isn’t hitting for quite the same power as he did a year ago when he hit a combined 31 doubles, eight triples and 27 home runs in 459 at bats. This year, in 179 at bats, he has 16 doubles, two triples and five home runs. The team’s 2006 second round pick is playing well overall. The reason I think he should remain in Double-A is to try to help him become more consistent.

Number 3 – Beloit – Nate Roberts – OF (29-96) .302/.456/.396 with seven doubles, a triple, and 12 RBI.

The day that Oswaldo Arcia was put on the Disabled List (May 1), Roberts was summoned from Beloit where he had been rehabbing. The 22 year old was the Twins fifth round pick a year ago out of High Point University. After hitting .336/.444/.547 in 128 at bats at Elizabethton last year after signing, he has shown that it was not a fluke. The reason he is this high on the list is because he got on base 45.6% of the time for the month. That is hard to do! He struck out 13 times while walking 16 times. The highlight of his month likely came on May 27 when he went 3-3 with a walk and three doubles. He

Number 2 – Ft. Myers – Evan Bigley – OF (31-103) .301/.363/.544 with ten doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 RBI.

The Twins drafted Bigley with their 10th round pick in the 2008 draft out of Lew Ford’s alma mater, Dallas Baptist University. Bigley was tremendous for the Rock Cats, especially in the first half of the month. In five games from May 3 to May 7, Bigley had five multi-hit games. Of his 11 hits, he had four doubles, two triples and a home run. He had an 0-2, and then came back with a 2-4 game with another double. Since May 12, he has gone 3-31 (.097) with ten strikeouts. The overall numbers are still good enough for the #2 spot.

The SethSpeaks Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month of May is…

Ft. Myers SS Brian Dozier (33-98) .337/.426/.469 with seven doubles, three triple, and 11 RBI.

Brian Dozier celebrated his 24th birthday on May 15th and really hit great after that point. Although, it’s hard to notice because one of the great attributes of Dozier since the Twins used their 8th round pick on the Southern Mississippi shortstop has been his consistency. In April he hit .299 with and OPS of .863. In May, he hit .337 with an OPS of .895. Both months, he walked more than he struck out. On the season, he has 27 walks to go with 20 strikeouts. He is now hitting .320/.430/.464 with 11 doubles, five triples and one home run. He has 13 steals in 17 attempts. And, he plays very good defense. All that said, I expect that his tenure with the Miracle will last until the FSL Western Division first-half title is determined.

For the most part, May was a rough month for hitters throughout the Twins minor league system, but that is not to say there weren’t some really solid performances. Congratulations to Brian Dozier on being the top hitter of the month of May, but also to the others discussed and even those receiving honorable mention.  

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.

Opening Night Notes

8 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

 

Thank you for stopping by SethSpeaks.net. Before we get into the minor league game notes, I wanted to briefly touch on my thoughts on the Nishioka injury and what will happen. First, I thought that Swisher was well within his rights and the slide was hard but legal. Second, Nishioka’s feet were planted, something you don’t want for obvious reasons now. But it was a fairly close play at 2B and clearly Nishioka’s intent was not just to stand there. I’ve heard a couple of people blame Gardy and his coaches for not preparing Nishioka better. Yes, I too find that comical. It is an unfortunate injury, to be sure. A fractured fibula will likely cost Nishioka anywhere from four weeks to two months. Maybe longer. The Twins immediately put him on the Disabled List and to the surprise of no one, they recalled Luke Hughes from Rochester. (In as subsequent move, Toby Gardenhire will move from New Britain to Rochester.) Does it hurt to lose your starting second baseman and Number Two hitter? Of course. Does it somehow mean that the Twins 2011 season is over? Of course not. The Twins have overcome much more in recent years. Losing an MVP for a month. Losing an MVP for a half-season. Hughes will come up and hopefully be the primary second baseman. He won’t be as good defensively, but he will be fine. Offensively, he won’t be as good overall, but he can provide power and should do well against left-handed pitching. Yes, I would move Joe Mauer up to the #2 spot in the lineup, Delmon Young to #3, Cuddyer to 5 and Valencia to 7 with Hughes batting eighth. I think the idea of Alexi Casilla batting second is ridiculous. But even if they do go in that direction, the team will be alright.

Below are game notes and highlights from the Twins affiliates’ Thursday night games. As the season goes along, I will post highlights, extra base hits and pitching performances. I’ll also discuss some notes when applicable. Please feel free to share topic ideas or notes with me. If you have any articles on Twins prospects, notes or more, please feel free to e-mail me.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayRay Chang, New Britain Rock Cats

Seth Speaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayAnthony Swarzak, Rochester Red Wings

Red Wings Ramblings

Thursday – Red Wings 1, Pawtucket 2 – A slew of veterans played well, but Rochester starts off 2011 right where they left off in 2010, with a loss. Anthony Swarzak pitched very well. In 4.2 innings, he did not allow a run. In fact, he allowed three hits, walked one and struck out seven. He left with a lead and just one out from being able to record a win because he was at his 75-pitch limit. Yorman Bazardo came in and gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in just 1.1 innings to take the loss. Chuck James made his Red Wings debut and gave up one runs on one hit and one walk while striking out three in 1.2 innings. Alex Burnett came on to record the final out. Luke Hughes had been scheduled to play 2B and bat fourth for the Red Wings when, during batting practice, he was told he was heading to Minnesota. The offense managed just six hits in the game. Ben Revere had a double. Nine-hitter Rene Rivera collected the lone RBI with a long double. The Paw Sox threw four guys with big league time in the game. Scott Atchinson found out at the last minute that he was starting because the Red Sox had just called up Alfredo Aceves, who was supposed to start. Atchinson was followed on the mound by Rich Hill, Hideki Okajima and Michael Bowden. Led by three from Trevor Plouffe, the Red Wings had 13 strikeouts and no walks.  

On Friday, these two teams will play again, and Eric Hacker will be on the mound. He will be caught by the Red Wings second catcher Steve Holm who caught him last year in Fresno, the AAA-affiliate of the Giants.

Rock Cats Report

Thursday – Rock Cats 4, Richmond 6 – Ray Chang led the Rock Cats offense. He started at 3B and went 3-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Mark Dolenc went 2-4 and stole a base. The team got doubles from Yangervis Solarte, Joe Benson and Danny Lehmann. David Bromberg started on the mound. He gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in just four innings. Jake Stevens came in and threw two shutout frames, allowing a walk and a hit. Spencer Steedley returned after an arm surgery just last May. He struggled and gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. Tyler Robertson came on to record the final out.  

Deolis Guerra is scheduled to make the start for New Britain on Friday.

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Miracle 3, Jupiter 2 – The Miracle was the only affiliate of the Twins to record a win on Opening Night. Kane Holbrooks made the start. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in his five innings. Lefty Blake Martin came on and pitched two perfect innings. Jhon Garcia pitched a clean eighth inning. Hard-throwing Bruce Pugh came on for the ninth. He gave up one hit, but he struck out three batters to record his first save. Nick Romero led the offense by going 3-4. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with two walks. He knocked a triple off the wall for his hit. Danny Rams was 2-3 and scored two of the Miracle’s runs. Brian Dozier went 1-3 with a walk and drove in two runs. Paul Kelly started at 3B and batted third for the Miracle. He was 0-4 with a walk.

Miguel Munoz will tote the rubber for the Miracle on Friday night in Jupiter.

Snappers Bites

The Beloit Snappers’ season opener in Quad Cities was postponed by rain. A week earlier, officials were not certain that the games could be played due to flooding concerns. BJ Hermsen will take the mound for the Snappers when they debut on Friday now. The two teams will try to play a doubleheader on Saturday.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments today.

Twins Non-Roster Invitees

11 Jan

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Via Twitter, the Twins announced that they are inviting 19 non-roster players to big league spring training. According to the Tweet, the list will include “6 pitchers, 6 catchers, 5 infielders and 2 outfielders.”

According to the press release sent later, here are the players who will come to Major League spring training camp along with the players on the team’s 40 man roster.

Pitchers: Kyle Gibson, Carlos Gutierrez, Yorman Bazardo, Phil Dumatrait, Chuck James, Kyle Waldrop.

Catchers: Steve Holm, Rene Rivera, Jair Fernandez, Danny Rams, Chris Herrmann, Danny Lehmann.

Infielders: Chase Lambin, Brian Dozier, Justin Huber, Matt Brown, Ray Chang.

Outfielders: Jeff Bailey, Brian Dinkelman.

Shocked that wasn’t invited to spring training: Steve Singleton. It makes no sense at all. Twins need to release him and let him catch on with a team that will give a second baseman with a good glove and pop in his bat a chance. When guys like Chase Lambin and Matt Brown and Ray Chang are getting an opportunity ahead of him, it’s really disappointing. Not sure what’s going on there.

I have written about each of the players added throughout the offseason as the Twins added so many minor league free agents. Chris Herrmann is an interesting add. They really like him and keep calling him a catcher, but he’s actually a tremendous defensive outfielder. Obviously he’s 2-3 years away from big league ready, but it’s a nice honor for him. With all of the pitchers in camp, they need a lot of catchers as well.

The big picture is that Waldrop and maybe Dumatrait are the only players above that have a chance to make the team out of spring training. Gibson and Gutierrez, their 2009 and 2008 first round picks respectively, won’t make the team out of camp. They are actually prospects, so expect to see them promoted in June, when they pass that Super-2 date.

Any thoughts? Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.