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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!

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Guess Who’s Back? Twins Notes

19 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It started out with all good intentions. I had been extremely busy with work for a couple of weeks. We had been putting together nightly Twins podcasts during the Winter Meetings. I took a day off of work and had a fun weekend in the Cities with my daughter and my sister. On Friday night, I enjoyed being a guest on the Gleeman and the Geek podcast. That was a ton of fun! Then on Saturday we went to the Como Zoo which was a blast as always. After some time at the mall, it was a lot of fun to hang out with Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, Aaron Gleeman, Cody Christie, Howard Sinker, Darren “Doogie” Wolfson, Rhett Bollinger, Judd Zulgad, and Phil Mackey on Saturday night. I got to enjoy the role of DD yet again! It was a great weekend. The only concern was how tired I would be making the drive back up to Warroad, a good seven hour drive.

However, that’s where all the positivity ended for the past week. Around 3:30 Sunday morning, I woke up not quite feeling right. But about 6:30, I had figured out what my problem was. It was a problem I had twice previously, five and six years ago. I had a kidney stone. You don’t want all the details. This is probably more than enough, but a trip to the doctor on Monday was followed by a ‘passed stone’ on Wednesday morning. I thought that was it. Nope! Increased pain Wednesday night meant a trip to the hospital which turned into a trip to Fargo and a Saturday surgery that frankly didn’t rid the remaining stone. However, enough was done to alleviate the pain until I can have another surgery next week sometime to finish.

I apologize for being away from my computer completely for over a week. I read some of the comments on my phone that talked about how I ‘used to’ blog all the time about the Twins. OK, not going to apologize. I literally could not look at my computer screen for more than a minute at a time without getting nauseous.

But, I do need to thank my parents who were great, helpful all week and were there the whole time. My siblings were constantly asking questions. And there are a ton of you who sent messages and notes and well wishes. I just needed to say thank you to everyone and there’s no easy way to do that. So, here I’ll just blog it. Thank you!

Unfortunately, in the one week where I literally had to stay away from the computer, the Twins were quite busy. So, without going into too much detail, I thought I’d post my thoughts on several of the topics in an attempt to catch up.

CUDDYER FOR WILLINGHAM

OK, it wasn’t a trade, of course, but in essence, the Twins ‘traded’ Michael Cuddyer for Josh Willingham. As you know by now, Cuddyer inked a three year, $31.5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies. I hate to see Cuddyer leave. He had been with the Twins and in the organization since he was drafted in the first round of the 1997 draft. Although he certainly had his ups and downs, he was a very popular, major contributor to the Twins success for nearly a decade. And yes, part of that is his good-guy attitude, his willingness to talk to the media all the time, his work in the community, and to some demographics, there were the dimples.

Willingham is the same age as Cuddyer and has been equal, if not a little better, offensive player. The Twins got a very similar player for the same three year tenure but for $10.5 million less. The Twins also will get two draft picks for losing Cuddyer. I’ve liked Willingham for a long time. I named him as a Top 20 Rookie Hitters for 2006 because of his power and Isolated Discipline. That is what makes him. He won’t hit for a high average, and like Cuddyer, he won’t play great defense, but he can be a force in the Twins lineup.  

So, although I will miss Cuddyer and his presence on the roster and in the city, at the end of the day, the Twins got the same player for less money and added two draft picks.  As I’ve written previously, Michael Cuddyer will always be a Minnesota Twin. I am curious where he would rank among the all-time best Twins players. Off the top of my head, he has to easily be in the Top 20.    

INTERESTED IN KUBEL?

I keep hearing and reading that the Twins are now targeting Jason Kubel, even after bringing in Willingham. Like Cuddyer, Kubel has been in the Twins organization since being drafted in the previous millennium. I think Kubel is an impact free agent who will really help whatever team that he signs with. Its’ pretty clear that he doesn’t want to return to Target Field. And with Ben Revere, Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit on the roster and the likes of Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson on the horizon, I just don’t think that the Twins really need to spend $5-7 million for a year or two on Kubel. That is especially the case if the Twins have a lower payroll. They need to add another pitcher. I would love to see Edwin Jackson in a Twins uniform, but if I had to put money on which free agent pitcher the Twins will sign, I’d have to say Paul Maholm. I know that the Twins have been linked more to Jeff Francis and Joel Pineiro, but I can’t get past Maholm as the right option.

HOEY AND FLORIMON DESIGNATED

The Twins designated two players off of their 40 man roster. RHP Jim Hoey was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. The hard-thrower just could not get his straight fastball by big league (or often AAA) hitters because he never did find a secondary pitch. The Twins have added several players who throw hard and struggle with their control.

SS Pedro Floriman, who the Twins claimed a week earlier, as also DFAd, but he was able to clear waivers and will remain in the Twins organization. He still has an option remaining, so this is great news for the Twins.

TWINS NON-TENDER MIJARES

In a somewhat surprising move, the Twins did not tender a contract for 2012 to LHP Jose Mijares. It isn’t that he has pitched well the last couple of years (He Hasn’t), but he is still young and does have really good stuff when he’s on. Because of how he has pitched the last couple of years, he would likely have made around $750,000, just over $250,000 over the league minimum. That said, it also is a clear indication that the Twins will be moving Brian Duensing to the bullpen where he’ll join Glen Perkins. Not a huge loss, although I will not be at all surprised when Mijares resurfaces elsewhere and becomes a dominant reliever again.

INTERNATIONAL DRAFT

Imagine if there was an international draft in place today? The Twins would have the second overall pick. Even though that probably means that Yu Darvish would not have made himself available, the Twins could have been left with either Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler, both incredibly talented outfielders from Cuba.

TWINS SIGN MORE MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENTS

I thought the Twins had already signed a bunch of minor league free agents, but they signed a few more pretty impressive names.

  • Sean Burroughs – the former Little League World Series hero hasn’t done much in the big leagues, but is a very solid AAA player who did some pinch hitting in 2011 with the Diamondbacks. With a big league invitation, is it at all possible the team could be signing him as competition for Danny Valencia?
  • Rene Rivera – We saw what the catcher could do in 2011. Decent behind the plate. Horrifying offensively.
  • PJ Walters – The RHP is 26 years old and pitched in five big league games in 2011 between the Cardinals and the Blue Jays. In 24 AAA starts, he went 8-7 with a 5.17 ERA between Memphis and Las Vegas (AAA). He went 7-4 with a 4.27 ERA in 17 starts in the International League before heading to the PCL where he posted a 8+ ERA. Looks like a solid AAA starter.
  • JR Towles – The former Astros backstop used to be a pretty good prospect, the guy in line to take over for Brad Ausmus years ago. In parts of four years in the big leagues, he has hit .187.
  • Steve Pearce – In 2007, Pearce hit a combined .333/.394/.622 with 40 doubles and 31 home runs between High-A, AA and AAA. He became a Top 100 prospect, and although he has continued to hit well in the minor leagues since, it hasn’t transferred to the big leagues. In parts of five big league seasons, he has hit .232/.302/.366 with 29 doubles and nine homers in 521 plate appearances. No surprise that the Twins drafted Pearce out of high school in the 45th round.
  • Daryl Thompson – He made one appearance with the Reds in 2011 and in three innings, he gave up five runs on six hits and five walks. Not so good. Last year, between AA and AAA, the 25-year-old went 4-8 with a 4.26 ERA. In 137.1 innings, he walked 40 and struck out 123.

 BILL SMITH RETURNS TO TWINS FRONT OFFICE

It is no surprise to hear that Bill Smith will be back with the Twins as a special assistant to the president and GM. Hey, the guy did a ton of great things for the organization for the 25 years prior to him becoming the Twins GM, back when no one knew his name. So, I think it’s great news that Smith will return to the organization in his new role.

So, did I miss anything? Am I all caught up? Feel free to comment.