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Twins Minor League Notebook

13 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

This has arguably been the busiest week of my career, certainly the busiest two or three week stretch, so I do apologize yet again for lack of updates. Bear with me. Things will get better!

Today, I thought I’d write a few minor league notes. There’s a lot going on, and much more coming.

  • Ft. Myers Miracle 1B/OF Steve Liddle, the nephew of the Twins 3B coach of the same name, recently had surgery to fix a right posterior labrum tear. Although it is not his throwing shoulder, it is the lead shoulder of his left-handed swing. He said he played with the injury “since late July, it was awful.” He is in a sling and plans to be ready for spring training in March.
  • David Dorsey of the News Press (in Ft. Myers) wrote a very nice article on Twins 2011 6th round draft pick Dereck Rodriguez and his future Hall of Fame father Ivan Rodriguez. The elder Rodriguez spent time in recent weeks watching his son participate in the Twins Florida Instructional League. Dereck was born during “Pudge’s” second year in the big leagues. Yet Pudge says that he is not quite ready to hang up his spikes and catcher’s gear. That, of course, fuels speculation that the Twins might be a reasonable location for him to spend the next couple of seasons, backing up Joe Mauer.
  • The Beloit Snappers announced yesterday that after 11 years with the team, GM Jeff Vohs has stepped down from the role. Matt Bosen will take over as the team’s General Manager after being the Assistant GM in 2011. Before that, he was the team’s Director of Ticket Operations and Merchandising for three seasons. Vohs moves on to a job at a Beloit bank. I had the chance to meet Vohs last July when I made my trip to Beloit to watch Snappers games. Jeff was very much supportive and helpful throughout the weekend. So was his entire staff. The Snappers are a well-run organization and the front office staff does a ton.
  • The Twins have signed Estarlin de Los Santos, Deibinson Romero and Michael Hollimon. Each would have been six year minor league free agents.
  • Steve Holm elected to become a minor league free agent, as did former Twins pitcher Pat Neshek.  
  • Tuesday in the Arizona Fall League, Brian Dozier went 0-3. I find it interesting, and a great thing, that he played 2B in this game. I think it is important for him to get time at both positions. Aaron Hicks was 1-2 with a walk and a triple. I tweeted earlier on Wednesday that Hicks was 0-13 with a walk and four strikeouts. In his next two games, he was 2-4 with a triple, three walks and no strikeouts.
  • On Wednesday, Hicks was 0-3. Bruce Pugh gave up three run (2 earned) on four hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Dakota Watts went the next 1.2 innings without allowing a base runner.
  • Tom Stuifbergen has been incredible in World Cup play in Panama. He started with two scoreless innings in relief to get some work. He then threw seven shutout innings against Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, he got the start for The Netherlands against South Korea. He went eight shutout innings, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out two. He threw just 91 pitches in the team’s 5-1 win. James Beresford went 2-5 with a double and three RBI in Australia’s game.
  • The Netherlands and Australia played on Wednesday, but their game was suspended  with three innings to go because of rain. Allan de San Miguel was hit in the helmet by a pitch early in the game, but he stayed in the game. He said after the game that he felt a little sore. He is hoping to play a lot in the World Cup and then in the Australian Baseball League because he is now a minor league free agent, hoping a team will pick him up.
  • Many Twins players are going to be playing in Winter Leagues. The Mexican League started on Monday. The Venezuelan Winter League began on Wednesday. Games will start on Friday in the Dominican Republic. The Puerto Rico League will start on November 4. The Australian Baseball League will start on November 3.
  • Joe Benson was in the opening night starting lineup for los Tigres de Aragua, the team in the Venezuelan League that the Twins have an agreement with. Benson went 0-3, batting 7th and playing CF.
  • Looking at Tigres roster, there are many current Twins minor and major leaguers: Benson, Cesar Ciurcina, Jhon Garcia, Jose Gonzalez, Edgar Ibarra, Jose Mijares, Miguel Munoz, Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia, Jonathan Goncalves, and Yangervis Solarte. There are also many former Twins minor leaguers and major leaguers on the Tigres roster: Yorman Bazardo, Horacio Estrada, Frank Mata, Jean Mijares, Yohan Pino, Wilson Ramos, Luis Maza, and Alex Romero. Other recognizable names on the Tigres roster include: Lastings Milledge, Scott Podsednik, Ronny Cedeno, and Martin Prado.
  • Rene Tosoni mentioned on Wednesday that he was heading to Venezuela for Winter ball as well. He is on the Cardenales de Lara roster. Andy Baldwin and Lester Oliveros are on the Caribes de Anzoategui roster. Deolis Guerra and Pedro Guerra pitch for Navegales del Magallenes.  

So, if anyone thought that there was nothing to follow during the offseason, guess again! Any thoughts or questions?

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Friday Night Game Notes, Two Walkoffs

7 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins were on the good side of a blowout on Friday night. Meanwhile, down on the farm, all four affiliates played some close, very exciting games, so be sure to read all of those game stories below.

Let’s start first with the Twins. The Twins had a game last night like they really needed. It was fun to watch a game in which the Twins were the team to jump out to an early lead. With Tim Wakefield taking Daisuke Matsuzaka’s scheduled start, the Twins jumped to an early lead. Trevor Plouffe, batting second in the Twins lineup, hit a long shot over the Green Monster for his first home run, in his first at bat of the season. The Twins scored three more in the second inning. Denard Span drove in two runs with a hit. Later Ben Revere scored on a balk by Wakefield that Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, didn’t necessarily agree with. He was ejected. JD Drew hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second, and Adrian Gonzalez hit one over the Monster to cut the lead to 4-2 after four innings. But in the Top of the 5th, the Twins broke it open. Danny Valencia came up with the bases loaded, and drilled a double off the Monster that scored two runs. Drew Butera hit a hard grounder that the shortstop, Jed Lowrie, booted after being screened on the play by Valencia. All told, the game was now 8-2. Alfredo Aceves then balked in one more run on one of the most obvious balk calls ever. It was as is he started his delivery and forgot where he was and what he was doing.  

Plouffe was 2-4 with a walk, that home run and a stolen base that directly let to a run. Valencia, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer each had two hits.

Scott Baker was tremendous again. He gave up two runs on seven hits in eight innings. Both runs came on solo home runs. He walked just one and struck out eight. He gave up eight runs in 11 innings in his first two starts. He walked six and struck out nine. In his four starts since, he has given up five runs in 28.1 innings. He has walked four and struck out 25 strikeouts. Joe Nathan walked one in a scoreless ninth.

On Saturday, the Twins have a noon start. Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .264 BAA) will face off against Clay Buchholz (2-3, 4.81 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, .311 BAA).

The Twins blew out Boston for their first win at Fenway Park since 2007. Down in the minor leagues, the games were much, much closer!

Minor League Notes

Best wishes to Allan de San Miguel. The Australian catcher found the he has a torn UCL. He is expecting to find out today whether he will have Tommy John surgery or the standard Twins determination to just ‘rest and rehab.’ If it’s a torn UCL, get the surgery done right away and start the rehab right away.

David Bromberg called me last night and we discussed his injury, surgery and rehab. Again, it was about ten days ago that he was pitching his best game of the year when a line drive came back at him. He put up his arm to protect himself and broke his ulna. He could have done the ‘rest and rehab’ thing too, but was told he could be back and pitching sooner if he had surgery. So, earlier this week, he had the surgery and had five screws put into his arm. The surgery went well, and Bromberg is now in Ft. Myers where he will be in a cast the next two weeks. He’ll be on a throwing program and probably make a couple of rehab starts in EST and/or Ft. Myers.

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, Rochester Red Wings  

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayBruce Pugh, Ft. Myers Miracle

Red Wings Ramblings

Friday – Red Wings 7, Gwinnett 5 – Before Thursday’s games, the Red Wings added Ray Chang and Steve Singleton. On Thursday, Chang played hero with a game-winning single. On Friday, it was Singleton’s turn to play hero. Eric Hacker made his first start since returning to the Red Wings. In 4.1 innings, he gave up one run (his first earned run allowed of the season) on four hits. He walked two and struck out three. Jeff Manship gave up two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings. Phil Dumatrait walked one in 1.1 scoreless innings. Anthony Slama gave up two unearned runs in the top of the 9th, to set the table. Steve Holm went 1-1 with three walks and drove in two runs with his single. Ray Chang went 2-4 with a walk and second double. Steve Singleton went 1-3 with a walk on Thursday. He started the Friday game 1-3 as well before he came to bat in the 8th inning. The Red Wings were down by a run and Singleton hit his first AAA home run to tie the game. Unfortunately Gwinnett scored those two unearned runs in the top of the 9th frame, but that just set the table. With two outs and two on, Singleton came to the plate again. This time, he hit a three-run game-winning, walk-off home run.

Kyle Gibson will start for Rochester on Saturday night (6:05 CT) against Gwinnett. Not certain who will start for the Braves. Julio Teheran (one of the top prospects in baseball) was supposed to start, but he was promoted to the Braves to make a spot start for Tim Hudson.   

Rock Cats Report

Friday – Rock Cats 10, Portland 7 – Down 7-3 going into the 8th inning, the Rock Cats scored two in the 8th and five in the 9th to win this game. Dan Osterbrock made his first Rock Cats start, and it didn’t go as well as he would have hoped. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks and two hit bats in 3.1 innings. Brett Jacobson threw 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up a hit, walked two and struck out two. Spencer Steedley got four outs, two of them on strikeouts. Mike Tarsi walked two in a scoreless inning. Cole DeVries came on and pitched another scoreless inning for his seventh save. Michael Holliman went 2-4 with a walk. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with his first two AA doubles. Chris Parmelee came up big. He was 3-5 with his third home run and four RBI. He had a two-run homer in the 8th, and he drove in another run with a single in the ninth. Evan Bigley went 2-5 with his seventh double. Bigley, Dan Rohlfing and Yangervis Solarte each had doubles in that five-run ninth inning.

Deolis Guerra and his 8.31 ERA will take the mound for the Rock Cats at noon on Saturday.

Miracle Matters

Friday – Miracle 4, Jupiter 3 (10) – Down 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Ramon Santana singled in Anderson Hidalgo with the tying run. Fast-forward to the bottom of the 10th. Hidalgo singled and advanced to 2B on wild pitch. Ramon Santana came to the plate again and singled in Hidalgo with the game-winning run. Hidalgo is now hitting .338 after he was 3-4 with a walk in this game. James Beresford is hitting .347 after going 2-5. Jhonathan Goncalves went 1-2 with two walks. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with two walks. Ramon Santana went 2-5, but I think it’s fair to say that his two hits were both fairly important. Andrew Albers started and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in four innings. Matt Tone then threw three shutout innings. Bruce Pugh gets the win after throwing three shutout innings, including four strikeouts.

On Saturday at 5:05 CT, Tom Stuifbergen will take the mound for the Miracle against Jupiter.

Snappers Bites

Friday – Snappers 3, Wisconsin 4 – Manuel Soliman started this game and gave up two runs on five hits. In five innings, he walked two and struck out seven. Michael Tonkin was charged with an unearned run in his two innings. Clint Dempster came in and gave up an unearned run on a walk and recorded just one out. Matt Hauser got the final five outs, three of them on strikeouts. The Snappers were without Danny Ortiz for this game (although he did pinch hit late in the game), so it should come as no surprise that they managed just six hits. Michael Gonzales drove in two runs, both on sacrifice flies. Lance Ray was 1-2 with a walk. Jamaal Hawkins hit his third double.

The Snappers travel to Cedar Rapids for a three game series. BJ Hermsen will take the mound to start for the team in the 5:35 game. You will recall that Hermsen is from a city about an hour from Cedar Rapids. Last year, he made a start in Cedar Rapids and took a no-hitter into the 9th inning.   

Rough Night for the Twins

15 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

A lot of Twins fans a feeling a little big down these days. The team came into Thursday’s game against the Rays with a 4-7 record and having just lost a 10-5 decision with their ‘best’ pitcher. Twins fans are starting to realize just how important defense is when you don’t have any, and specifically you don’t have any range. That’s not the fault of the players. Their speed is what it is.

Twins fans are frustrated. Likely, the Twins are very frustrated.

And then came the lineup for Thursday’s game in Tampa against righty James Shields. A day after getting the day game after a night game off, Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for a second straight game. Was it just because Carl Pavano was on the mound and Drew Butera is his catcher? Was he hurt? Was he just being wimpy. Soon after, Gardy told reporters that he was “sore” and that was “all they needed to know.” For me, that made me think that he was fed up with Mauer. We have heard too many reports of Gardenhire’s frustration with Mauer’s subtle hints that he shouldn’t play. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was just sitting him again, benching him to some degree, because of that.

During the game, Drew Butera came through with an RBI single that gave the Twins a 2-0 lead. The Twins had 12 hits, and four of them were doubles, but again scored just two runs. Joe Nathan came in for the bottom of the 9th, to protect a two run lead. With one out, Felipe Lopez had a long at bat the ended with a double. Nathan then walked Ben Zobrist. On a 3-1 count, Joe Maddon sent the runners and Matt Joyce lined a ball to the gap which scored both runs and tied up the game. Nathan was able to get out of the 9th with the game tied. Nathan has been good. All closer’s blow saves, so that doesn’t worry me in the least. Plus, he held on so the Twins still had a chance in extra innings.

With two outs in the top of the 10th, Matt Tolbert singled and advanced to 2B on a passed ball. Danny Valencia came up big again with an RBI single to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.

Then Matt Capps came in to protect the one-run lead. He got the first out, but then Super Sam Fuld singled and Johnny Damon hit a walk-off home run to end the game. Again, Capps has been tremendous this season. So I’m not worried about him. But what are the odds that both of the Twins closers (who have both been good) would blow a save in the same game? The unfortunate thing, besides another loss and the record dropping to 4-8, was that Carl Pavano’s eight shutout innings were essentially wasted. Some may question the decision to take him out of the game. However, with 104 pitches, that’s just the way the game is played. And, had Nathan been able to close out the game, not one would even mention it.

But then following the game, the news came out that Joe Mauer was going to be put on the Disabled List with “bilateral leg weakness.” Whatever that is. From Livestrong.com:

Bilateral weakness in the leg muscles can be as mild as a generalized feeling of fatigue in your legs or as extreme as complete paralysis. Bilateral weakness indicates a problem in your central nervous system — in your brain, spinal cord or nerves. Many disease processes or trauma can cause bilateral weakness in your legs.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/352012-bilateral-weakness-in-the-leg-muscles/#ixzz1JaSO0PWw

Please go here to read a lot more about bilateral leg weakness, the symptoms, causes, treatments and more. Now I know that sometimes players get put on the DL and an injury is needed to be called out. Sometimes what it is called is not exactly what it is. Even if it is bilateral leg weakness, as you can see, there are many levels of severity. Hopefully some rest, rehab and restrengthening will be in line and it won’t be long before he is back.

So, the Twins called up 31-year-old, minor league veteran Steve Holm from Rochester. He will likely get plenty of playing time while Mauer is out. He has played in 53 games in 2008 and 2009 for the San Francisco Giants, the organization that drafted him in 2001. That summer, he got to catch a 17-year-old Francisco Liriano. He spent a couple of summers catching Matt Cain. He has caught Tim Lincecum in the minor leagues, and Sergio Romo and many other big league pitchers. He is a defense-first catcher, but he can put together a solid at bat at times too. Rene Rivera and Danny Lehmann were likely also considered. None of the three were on the Twins 40-man-roster, so Holm had to be added. The Twins are now at 39 on their 40 man roster.

So, two weeks into the season, things could not be going much worse for the Twins. The one thing they thought they could count on, the offense, is not hitting or scoring runs. Delmon Young has returned to swinging at everything. Several of the Twins key hitters got off to a very slow start. Tsuyoshi Nishioka fractured his fibula and is going to be about six to eight weeks which really highlighted the Twins lack of middle infield quality and depth. That is accentuated by Alexi Casilla being really bad both offensively and defensively. Luke Hughes has been called up and held his own, but now Michael Cuddyer is getting time at 2B against right-handed pitchers which allows the Twins to get Jason Kubel and Jim Thome into the lineup, but it also really weakens and already weak defense. The Twins best pitcher’s work ethic was (Again) called into question this spring and he has been awful in his first three starts. Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jose Mijares and (surprise surprise) Glen Perkins have been very good so far, but the back of the bullpen, where there were some concerns, have had some struggles.

And another concern in the offseason was what the backup plan was if (or when) Joe Mauer would go on the Disabled List. The answer, for me, was that if Joe Mauer gets hurt, it doesn’t matter who becomes the starter, it will be a big step down. At least the Twins do have very good defensive catchers that will work well with the pitching staff. They can bat 8th or 9th and any offense from them should be considered a bonus. Everyone knows that I was probably higher on Wilson Ramos than anyone, frequently discussing my plan for how he and Joe Mauer could split time between catcher and DH for years to come. However, he’s gone, he’s been gone since July, and Twins fans need to move on. Secondly, Matt Capps has been tremendous since coming to the Twins. (Doesn’t mean I think it was a good move long-term, but means that at least the Twins have had a great return in Capps) Others are upset that Jose Morales was traded in the offseason too. Again, he was out of options. He was not going to beat out Drew Butera. Getting anything out of him was what needed to be done. Obviously right now it would be nice to have Jose Morales around, but that doesn’t make the trade the wrong thing to do.

What more could go wrong at the start of this season? I hate to ask the question because, as we all know, things can always get worse. There are 150 games to go. It annoys me when people think that it can’t get better. But as I wrote yesterday, it seems that the more that the Twins have going against them, the more they come through, and the better they play. The Twins have played without Mauer before and done alright. The Twins played last year without Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan and won 94 games. I’m not intimating that the Twins are better off losing its star players, but what I am saying is don’t jump off the bandwagon now. Now is when they need the support, not the complaining.

Thursday Night’s Twins Minor League Weekly Podcast– Travis had a previous commitment. I was a little worried about how I would fill 30 minutes, but somehow, someway, I found plenty to talk about and could have gone longer. I discussed how the teams are doing and who is off to a fast start, but I also mentioned the names of some guys who are really struggling through the season’s first week. I also went much more in-depth with the injury discussion and the catching carousel.

Catching Carousel: Joe Mauer to the Disabled List, Steve Holm promoted to the Twins, Danny Lehmann promoted to Rochester, Dan Rohlfing promoted to New Britain.

MINOR LEAGUE UPDATES

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayRene Tosoni, Rochester Red Wings.

Seth Speaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayLogan Darnell, Beloit Snappers

Red Wings Ramblings

Thursday – Game 1 – Red Wings 3, Lehigh Valley 1 – Eric Hacker started the first game and was excellent. The threw six shutout innings, giving up just two hits. He walked none and struck out five. Phil Dumatrait came in for the 7th, but a hit and two walks later, the bases were loaded with a 1-0 lead. Jim Hoey came in. He struck out the first batter he faced, but he hit the second to allow the game-tying run. He struckout the next batter. In the bottom of the 7th, Rene Tosoni hit a two-run, walk-off home run to end the game. The Red Wings managed just four hits. Ben Revere had a double. Dustin Martin hit his first home run of the year to give the Red Wings their 1-0 lead earlier in the game.

Thursday – Game 2 – Red Wings 3, Lehigh Valley 5 (8 innings) – Kyle Gibson got the nod in the second game. He gave up two runs on five hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out three. Carlos Gutierrez pitched a scoreless inning. Chuck James then threw a scoreless 7th inning. He started the 8th inning and gave up one run. He left with two runners on base. Kyle Waldrop came in and gave up a hit that scored both runners, but he got the final two outs. Matt Brown was 2-3. Dustin Martin hit his second home run of the day, and of the season. Rene Tosoni tied the game up at three with a two-run double.  

Injury Notes – Trevor Plouffe suffered some whiplash and a slight concussion on Wednesday. He did not play on Thursday. Ben Revere bruised his knee on a stolen base attempt in the second game. Anthony Slama  was activated from the Disabled List. Ryan Mullins was also activated from the DL, but he was optioned to Ft. Myers.

Rock Cats Report

Thursday – Rock Cats 6, Portland 2 – The Rock Cats finally got to play their home opener. Bobby Lanigan went the first six innings. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He walks two and struck out four. Cole DeVries did a great job out of the ‘pen again. He threw three innings of one-hit ball to record the three inning save. Joe Benson hit his third and fourth doubles in four at bats. Ray Chang launched his first home run. Chris Parmelee hit his fourth double.

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Miracle 7, Bradenton 8 – The Miracle found themselves down 7-0 after two innings, and 8-2 after three innings. They made a big comeback, but it came up just short. It was a rough start for Tom Stuifbergen, to say the least. He gave up eight runs (7 earned) on nine hits and a walk in three innings. Ryan Mullins came in and threw three shutout innings. Blake Martin then threw two scoreless innings.  Jhonathan Goncalves went 3-5. Nate Hanson was 2-4 with a double. Steve Liddle went 2-5 with a double. James Beresford was 2-4 with a walk.

Injury Notes – Paul Kelly will again miss some significant time. He had a blood clot in his right shoulder. As I wrote the other day, He left the game earlier this week because his right arm was numb. He has already had surgery to remove the clots, but they still don’t know how long he’ll be out. Miguel Munoz appears to be headed toward Tommy John surgery. I was told that the ligament did not tear, but it actually came off of the bone (which just sounds painful, doesn’t it?). And Tom Stuifbergen had a rough start last night, but more worrisome, he left the game with shoulder pain. It will be evaluated, but hopefully it is nothing serious.

Snappers Bites

Thursday – Snappers 0, Clinton 2 (13 innings) – A day after getting just one hit in a 1-0 win over Clinton, it was another pitcher’s duel between the two teams. This one had no scoring until Clinton batted in the 13th inning. Logan Darnell started and went eight shutout innings. He allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out six. Blayne Weller gave up two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings, but did not allow a run. He struck out four. Clinton Dempster went 2.1 scoreless innings, but he gave up two runs in the top of the 13th before Matt Hauser got the final two outs.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

Roster Projections: Rochester Red Wings

29 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.

Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.

Step 3: Configure that 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.

Now that the Twins have set their own roster, what does it mean for the Triple-A team? After the Red Wings lost nearly 100 games last year, the Twins went out and acquired a lot of minor league veterans. They did this for a few reasons, but the primary one had to be to win more games and keep the Rochester fan base happy. Secondly, it does allow the Twins to be more patient with actual prospects so that they can play and develop at the proper pace. So, let’s take a look at a projected Red Wings roster. These are the guys who could be called up at any time to play for the Twins if needed. I will include whether or not they are on the Twins 40 man roster because if they are not, they will need to be added before being called up.)

(the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Rene Rivera (40 man – No) – Steve Holm (40 man – No) 

With Wilson Ramos with the Nationals and Jose Morales with the Rockies, the Twins went out and acquired two minor league veterans, each with Major League service time and many years of AAA experience. Danny Lehmann impressed in spring training and although I believe he will start at AA New Britain, he is also an option for a call up should Drew Butera be hurt.

Infielders: 1B – Jeff Bailey (40 man – No), 2B – Luke Hughes (40 man – Yes), 3B – Chase Lambin (40 man – No), SS – Trevor Plouffe (40 man – Yes), Utility – Michael Hollimon (40 man – No), 1B/DH – Erik Lis – (40 man – No)

Bailey and Lambin were the first two minor league free agents that they signed. Bailey got some playing time and displayed power with the Red Sox in parts of three season. He and Lambin both have a lot of experience. Lambin was an International League All-Star last year. Luke Hughes showed his power in spring training. He will just need to stay healthy in 2011 (something he hasn’t been able to do in recent years) and he will be with the Twins at some point. So will Trevor Plouffe, despite a tough spring. Bailey can play some right field. The other four infielders listed should move around the infield, including 1B, because their role with the Twins would likely be off the bench. Yes, it is possible that Toby Gardenhire is on the roster, although my guess is that he will be on the “Disabled List.” Steve Singleton and his organization-leading 43 doubles will likely begin the season back in New Britain due to the veterans brought in. Matt Brown and Ray Chang, who each got a Non-Roster Invite to spring training, are also possibilities for the Red Wings roster. Justin Huber, who was another Non-Roster invite, was recently released which likely means that Erik Lis could get a lot of at bats as the Designated Hitter. It is possible Chris Parmelee will end the season with the Red Wings.

Outfielders: LF – Dustin Martin (40 man – No), CF – Ben Revere (40 man – Yes), RF – Brian Dinkelman (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Brandon Roberts (40 man – No).

Martin will return for his third season with the Red Wings. Dinkelman will be there for his second full season. Both should have better seasons in 2011. Brandon Roberts has missed so much time the last few years with leg injuries. When he was healthy last year, he played really well, and in 153 at bats with the Red Wings at the end of 2010, he hit .333. He has primarily played CF in his career. As mentioned above, Bailey can play right field. Ben Revere will be making his Triple-A debut in 2011, even though he made his major league debut in 2010. Some believe he is ready for the big leagues. I believe he is close, but getting a year at AAA can only help him. He will likely be the one promoted to the Twins if there is a need. Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni impressed in spring training, and Tosoni could be the first promoted to AAA, if needed.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Eric Hacker (40 man – Yes), LHP Scott Diamond (40 man – No), RHP Kyle Gibson (40 man – No), Chuck James (40 man – No), Anthony Swarzak (40 man – Yes)

Obviously Gibson is the guy that everyone is going to be anxiously waiting for, but it will be good for him to get at least another 12-15 starts in Rochester. Triple-A hitters frequently have some big league time, and it is a good transition for pitchers to get to see hitters who are usually much more patient. Swarzak lost a lot of weight and he has regained some of the velocity he showed two years ago. Hopefully he can regain some of the effectiveness. The Twins gave up a lot (Billy Bullock) to retain the services of Scott Diamond. Hopefully it will be a good move. Diamond has put up terrific numbers throughout his minor league career, never posting an ERA above 3.52 at any level and striking out 7.3 per nine innings. Chuck James has 24 big league wins, and went 10-1 between AA and AAA last year with the Nationals organization in his return from surgery. Hacker went 16-8 with a league-average 4.51 ERA last year in the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t have a strong showing in big league camp, but he can provide Rochester with a solid season. The surprise omission here is David Bromberg. He made nine starts with the Red Wings last year and pitched well. He was added to the 40 man roster after the season, and he is a very good prospect, but it could be a positive in the long run for him to get a few more starts in AA and use what he learned in AAA late last year and in spring training this year.

Bullpen: RHP Alex Burnett (40 man – Yes), RHP Kyle Waldrop (40 man – No), RHP Jim Hoey (40 man – Yes), LHP Phil Dumatrait (40 man – No), RHP Chris Province (40 man – No), Yorman Bazardo (40 man – No), Andy Baldwin (40 man – No) RHP Anthony Slama (40 man – Yes)

I assume based on his arm issues during spring training that Anthony Slama could start the season on the Disabled List. Jim Hoey was the last guy with a chance to make the team to be sent down. He and his fastball could be promoted soon if he shows any semblance of control. Kyle Waldrop made another very strong impression this spring, and with the open 40 man roster spots, he could be added if needed. Alex Burnett was on the Twins opening day roster one year ago without any time in Rochester. He was sent back down in July before a September call-up. He will get more opportunities with the Twins. Phil Dumatrait is a former first-round pick who has quite a bit of big league time. He was the #4 lefty on a roster that kept three lefties in the bullpen. Chris Province came to the Twins last year from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He pitched mainly in New Britain last year. He did make a couple of starts for the Red Wings late in 2010, but he is a bullpen arm. Bazardo pitched well for the Tigres de Aragua this winter in Venezuela and got a minor league deal with the Twins. Low strikeout numbers, but he could be a long reliever. Baldwin is a Minnesota native who has spent the last three seasons pitching in AAA for the Mariners organization. You likely noticed that I did not include Carlos Gutierrez on this roster which may be a surprise to you. It was also somewhat of a surprise to me as well because he ended 2010 with two games for the Red Wings. I just think that with the minor league veterans, it would be good for him to begin the season pitching as the closer in New Britain. Remember, he has been doing a lot of starting in his pro career. It will be good for him to get some development time in the late innings for the Rockcats.He will get to AAA quickly. Additionally, Ryan Mullins and Minnesota-native Cole Devries remain options for the Red Wings bullpen.

Overall: This is a very veteran team which should mean a lot more wins in Rochester in 2011. I do believe that it is best for most of the prospects in the system in the long run, but there are not many prospects to watch in Rochester this year. Ben Revere and Kyle Gibson are the two that would be deemed top prospects. Plouffe is still just 24 and a prospect, but he is now in his fourth season with the Red Wings. Hughes and Waldrop made great impressions in spring training again, and we could see both of them this year.. Hoey and Burnett are exciting, but no longer “prospects” due to their time in the big leagues.

Due to the minor league free agents, AA New Britain should be filled with several exciting prospects such as Joe Benson, David Bromberg, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez, Dakota Watts, Steve Singleton and more.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. It will be very interesting to see where some of the team’s top prospects end up. There were more releases in the last couple of days, a couple that surprised me, and there will likely need to be more in the coming days to bring the rosters down to the appropriate level.

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

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Twins Non-Roster Invitees

11 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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.