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Live from Beloit: Game 1

16 Jul

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You may have heard that Travis Aune, my co-host on Twins Minor League Weekly and the blogger at Travis Twins Talk, and I were heading to Beloit, Wisconsin, this weekend to see three games of the Beloit Snappers, the Twins Low Class A affiliate. A year ago, I was able to make the trek with Josh Johnson of Josh’s Thoughts and really enjoyed it, so I am totally looking forward to this trip as well. Sure, BJ Hermsen threw great again on Wednesday, and Adrian Salcedo pitched well on Thursday, so we won’t see them, but that doesn’t mean that there is no one here to watch. There is still plenty of talent, and you never know which of these guys will be competing for a spot with the Twins in coming years. Since I write the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, co-host two episodes each week of Twins Minor League Weekly and generally focus on the Twins minor leagues, it’s great for me to get to Beloit and see these guys play.

If you’re a Twins fan and understand their philosophy of building from within, or even if you just have seen how many transactions that Twins have made between Minnesota and Rochester, you can fully understand the fun I find and the value in knowing the Twins farm system. As I can attest, box scores, stats and scouting reports are wonderful, but there is nothing like actually watching the players in person.

The Twins Triple-A affiliate is in Rochester, New York. The Double-A affiliate is in New Britain, Connecticut. The High Class A affiliate is in Ft. Myers, Florida, where they also have their GCL Twins team. Their advanced rookie league team is in Elizabethton, Tennessee. So, if you want to make a trip and spend a weekend watching Twins minor leaguers develop, make the short drive to Beloit, Wisconsin. A year ago when Josh and I went, we got to see Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales, Brian Dozier, Daniel Santana and several other prospects. Not only that, but Angels’ 19-year-old outfielder Mike Trout played for Cedar Rapids, the team the Snappers were playing. Watching him, he was head and shoulders the best player on the field. The 2011 Snappers team may not have the big name, like Hicks, this year, but they do have some talent, and later in this blog, and in subsequent blogs, I will be writing more and more about them.

I left work at noon on Thursday, and left Warroad at about 2:30. I picked up Travis in Perham at about 6:45, and we headed down to Chanhassen. We arrived there at about 10:00 and met the Twins Geek, John Bonnes, at Buffalo Wild Wings for a little bit. On Friday morning, we left Chanhassen and beat rush hour traffic. We took 94 east and basically took that to 39 south to Beloit. We arrived in Beloit by about 1:15. That was a 6 hour drive that included a stop at Perkins in Menomonie, and a Rest Area stop. So again, if you’re from the Twin Cities, it is only about a 5 ½ hour drive.

We checked into the hotel we had reservations for, the same hotel that the West Michigan team will be staying in during the upcoming series. Around 3:30, we made the short trek over to Pohlman Field, the Snappers home ballpark. There, we were introduced to the GM of the Snappers, Jeff Vohs, on the field. He was kind enough to spend a good 20 minutes talking to us, answering all out questions. As the GM of the Snappers, he wears many hats. Obviously there is the business side of things, the concession stands, the payroll, making sure everything is up and running, etc. However, he also has to do things like play meteorologist before games to help determine rainouts, or determine if a dry field should have the tarp put in it in case of rain before the next day. He helps the grounds crew during the game to drag the infield, and before the game, he’s on the tractor making sure the infield dirt is smooth as can be. He arranges for the special promotions including last night’s and tonight’s fireworks displays, and then has to be out by the fireworks when they are shot off. We joked that during his offseason, when he’s doing sales and promotions and speaking engagements and such, he’s only working 50 hours as opposed to the 80 hours he works each week during the season. At that point, we were corrected, he likely works much more than 80 hours each work during the season.

But as you know, I enjoy watching batting practice. While we are in town this weekend, minor league pitching coordinator Erik Rasmussen is also in Beloit. So is minor league hitting coordinator Bill Springman. Paul Molitor was on the field hitting ground balls, watching BP and talking to players and then he was in uniform and in the Snappers dugout during the game. Terry Ryan was also there, sitting in the stands observing all that was going on. During the game, he sat behind home plate with several other scouts, including White Sox scout Jerry Krause (who you may remember for his role in putting together those Bulls championship teams).

Last night, the Twins lost the third and final game of their three game set against South Bend by a score of 10-2. Hermsen and Salcedo had won the two previous games. Saturday through Monday, the Snappers will play three games against West Michigan. Here is the quick highlight/summary of the game we watched:

Ryan O’Rourke started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits in four innings. He walked five and struckout four. Nelvin Fuentes came in and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out two. Ben Tootle gave up one run on one hit and one walk in one inning. Bart Carter came in and the lefty gave up three runs on four hits in his innings. Finally Jose Gonzalez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame. Lance Ray led the offense. He was 2-4 with his 22nd double and ninth home run. Danny Ortiz and Daniel Santana each went 2-4.

That’s the high level, now what you really want to read, my thoughts and notes:

Ryan O’Rourke – he was a little bit more wild in this game than he has been all year. He entered the game with a miniscule 1.98 ERA, and watching him on the mound, I can understand why. First, watching him come out onto the field before the game to prepare, you can see how intense and competitive he is. When he is on the mound, he works very fast. He catches the ball from the pitcher, takes the sign and delivers. Of his five walks, one was intentional and three of them were to South Bend’s leadoff hitter, a lefty that stood right on top of home plate. He has a good fastball, and worked both sides of the plate. However, left-handed batters had absolutely no chance against O’Rourke’s slider. As I watched him, I could only think that he could almost already be a bullpen lefty up at higher levels just because of that pitch. He has a good to better-than-good fastball, and a great slider. He also threw a few changeups, but that was a pitch that needs work. If he can gain control of that change up, he can continue forward as a starter. If not, he could still have a great career as a lefty bullpen arm with two very good pitches!

Nelvin Fuentes – Completely the opposite of O’Rourke in terms of pace of the game. He walked around, took his time delivering, and looking at the fielders around him, he kind of lost them a little. He has good stuff, decent fastball, OK breaking ball, and what appeared to almost be a screw ball. He struggled though. He almost worked out of O’Rourke’s 5th inning mess, but a pitch around (or just below) the knees was called a ball. The next pitch was lined to center for a base hit and an inherited runner scored. The next batter drilled a double to the gap to score another. In his next inning, he gave up monstrous home run before getting the next two batters out. A single and another hard-hit double later, but he stranded them with a strikeout of the nine hitter. He’s had a lot of success, so I’m chalking this up to ‘one of those games’ but the pace did make it more difficult to watch.

Ben Tootle got an inning and he was all over the place. He has a high leg kick, to go with the high socks, and a motion that looks like it would be hard to know where the elbow is, where the shoulder goes and where the release point is. He didn’t have much control, but he does throw hard. He’s not a big guy. I didn’t see a breaking ball for a strike, although not many fastballs were either. He gave up a single, a walk, then got a line out before a sacrifice fly. Clearly if he can gain any control, he has a future in the bullpen.

Bart Carter – The lefty was pitching his second game for the Snappers after being promoted from E-Town where he walked two and struckout 24 in 12.2 innings. Decent fastball, rolling curveball that a couple of times broke quite sharply. If you look at his box score line (1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER), you would assume he got drilled. Not at all the case. The leadoff hitter blooped a single just over a leaping Danny Santana. The second batter reached on a rolling single that Santana went far to his left to just miss. The third batter hit a hard hopper down the 3B line that Jairo Perez made a very good play on, but had no chance at an out at any of the bases. The cleanup hitter came up and hit a bouncer hard off of the dirt in front of home plate and it bounced over the 1B head and into right field for a two run single. He then got a 1-6-3 double play and ended with a strikeout. Not a good line, but he didn’t pitch poorly at all.

Finally, Jose Gonzalez came in. Reports I got last year and wrote in the Prospect Handbook were that he was a shorter version of Jose Mijares. He is not tall. He has a little gut about him. But he is left-handed and throws hard. He throws across his body just enough to probably keep hitters uncomfortable, and he does throw pretty hard.

Wang-Wei Lin led off and I thought he looked comfortable at the plate. He took some good at bats and worked in a walk. He twice stayed back nicely and grounded out to the shortstop who also made a very nice play up the middle on one of them. One the first grounder to short, instead of running through the bag, he watched the play occur. Defensively, he is very solid in CF. He showed good range. Has a strong and accurate arm, and he’s not afraid to get his uniform dirty.

Adam Bryant batted second. He was the Twins 9th round pick just this June and did a nice job. He isn’t flashy at all, but he made the plays at shortstop and has an arm to play that position. In his second at bat, he lined a shot over the right fielder and showed very good speed racing into third for a triple. With runners on second and third in the 5th, he hit a fairly deep fly ball to right-center. Tobias Streich was on 3B and Danny Santana was on 2B. Both tagged. The CF made the catch and a perfect throw to 3B to get Santana out before Streich could touch home plate. Not really Santana’s fault for going. Took a perfect throw. Not Streich’s fault, he went hard to try to score. It didn’t turn out well, turned into a strange double play, but it was a good piece of situational hitting.

Jairo Perez played 3B and batted third. He is not a big guy, yet he has 8 home runs in his first full month with the Snappers after missing all of 2010 and the first two months of 2011 after Tommy John surgery. He walked his first plate appearance before grounding out to short the second time. He then hit a hard ground ball/line drive down the 3B line for a double. In his final at bat, he got a pitch at the letters and tomahawked the ball high into the night sky. It was caught on the warning track in very deep left field. When it left the bat, I was sure it was gone.

Michael Gonzales is still a big man. However, it is very clear that reports that he lost 30+ pounds in the offseason were accurate. He looked a little more mobile at 1B, and his swing does look vastly improved, much, much quicker than it did one year ago. In batting practice, he hit some balls a long way, and he hit a lot of line drives. He also struggled on some pitches up and popped them up which made me think that he still has some room for improvement in the bat-speed category. But it’s great to see that he’s putting up good numbers across the board. In the game, he had just one hit, a first inning line drive single to right in which he pulled a good fastball. In his third at bat, he straight down on a ball on the outer part of the plate and hit what we all assumed was a gapper to left center, but the left fielder covered a ton of ground and made a spectacular catch to rob him of an RBI double. He then walked in his final plate appearance.

Lance Ray was very impressive. He is not real big, but he has a very strong, smooth, left-handed swing. In his second at bat, he drilled a double over the right fielder’s head. In his third at bat, he took a pitch away and hit a long home run to the opposite field that hit off of the new scoreboard. That was truly impressive! In his final at bat, he hit a ball to right field that we thought was long gone, but it was caught on the warning track. He had a very impressive night at the plate. He played 1B in this game, with Gonzales DHing and looked pretty smooth over there. He also plays a lot of outfield.

Danny Ortiz, as I have mentioned many times, packs a big punch in a small body. He is not big, but he is very strong and can hit the ball a long way. In the game, he had two ground ball singles between first and second. He played right field and showed a strong arm. He looked natural out in right field, very comfortable, which is to say that he is a solid outfielder but we didn’t exactly see him have to do anything too difficult.

Derek McCallum was recently demoted from Ft. Myers. He was drafted as a 2B, but has been playing primarily outfield this year. He looked OK out in left field. Offensviely, he has a good approach at the plate. In his first at bat, he lined a shot that the left fielder caught. In his final at bat, he hit a semi-deep fly ball to center. In between, a strikeout and a pop up to 3B.

Tobias Streich is known for his defense abilities behind the plate, but most reports I’ve read said he had an average arm. He does a great job behind the plate. Nothing got by him and that included some sharp sliders in the dirt. Very impressed by his glove. However, South Bend was 5-5 on stolen base attempts in this game. That said, obviously the pitchers have something to do with that. However, the South Bend second run came when a runner stole third and Streich’s throw sailed into left field. But again, he did a great job behind the plate and seemed to really work well with the pitchers. His trips to the mound seemed very well timed.  

Danny Santana is really, really fast. He also looks very solid at second base. He has a lot of range and he has a cannon for an arm and he seems to like showing it off. With a 2-4 night last night, he got his OBP over .300 again. In his first at bat, he laid down a perfect drag bunt down the first base line. He was caught stealing soon after, but the catcher’s throw was right on the bag and it was still close. He was another who was robbed by the South Bend left fielder (Chris Jarrett) on a liner. His last at bat, he grounded out to 2B and it was a close play. Santana has a ton of tools. He definitely is taking better at bats than when I saw him play his first game with the Snappers last year and he swung at everything.

So there you have it. Some pretty detailed game notes and things that I noticed. Again, I don’t claim to be a scout by any means, but it is pretty neat to be able to make your own evaluation of these players that we see in box scores.

The post-game fireworks display was very impressive! It may be worth the 5 ½ hour from the Twin Cities for just that. Tonight’s game is at 7:00 and we will get to see Manuel Soliman, which I am very excited about! On Sunday at 2, the Snappers will start AJ Achter against West Michigan. Come on over! There’s also a noon game on Monday!!

If you have any questions or comments on the Beloit trip, the team, etc., please feel free to e-mail me or leave Comments.

Here is the rest of the Friday night Minor League Scoreboard:

The Rochester Red Wings lost 8-4 to Buffalo. Kevin Slowey started and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. Dusty Hughes came in and got the final out of the fifth, but not before giving up two more earned runs on two hits and a walk. Cole DeVries gave up three runs on five hits in two innings. Jake Stevens pitched a scoreless ninth. Jeff Bailey went 3-5 with his 14th double and fifth stolen base. Rene Tosoni went 3-5 and threw out a runner at third base from right field. Chase Lambin was 2-5 with his 14th double. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 with his 11th double.

The New Britain Rock Cats lost 10-6 to Portland. Brett Jacobson gave up two runs on two hits in 3.1 innings. He walked one and struck out two. Blake Martin threw 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and four walks. Deolis Guerra got just two outs, and he gave up four runs on one hit, two walks and a hit batter. Tyler Robertson got the final two outs but not before giving up four more runs on three hits and a walk. Deibinson Romero was 2-4 with his sixth homer. Chris Cates was 2-4 with his sixth double. Evan Bigley notched his 22nd double, and Chris Parmelee hit his 18th double. Chris Herrmann went 1-3 with two walks and his fourth home run.

Ft. Myers needed a Miracle, and they got it in their 5-4 win over Daytona. Logan Darnell started and gave up three runs on seven hits. In 6.2 innings, he walked none and struck out seven. Brad Stillings came in and gave up one run on two hits and two walks before getting the final out of the 7th. Ricky Bowen came into the 8th inning with the bases loaded and no out, and he got a double play and a strikeout to get out of the jam. He pitched a quick ninth inning for the save. James Beresford went 2-4 with a walk, his seventh double and first stolen base. Steve Liddle went 2-4. Aaron Hicks hit his fourth homer.

Elizabethton topped Greeneville 7-0. David Hurlbut started and threw seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out five. Nick Alloway threw two scoreless innings in relief and gave up one hit and walked two. Miguel Sano went 2-5 with his fourth triple and third stolen base. Nick Lockwood went 2-4 with his eighth double. Max Kepler went 2-4 with a walk. Eddie Rosario hit his third triple.

The GCL Twins lost 7-4 to the GCL Rays. Jorge Polanco went 3-5 with his third double and first triple. Drew Leachman went 3-4. Dereck Rodriguez was 2-4 with his third double. Hein Robb started and went 3.2 innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on four hits and a walk while striking out five. Nick Cicio gave up two earned runs on four hits in 1.1 innings. Mark Trau struckout three in two scoreless innings. Gonzalo gave up one run on two hits in two innings. He struckout two.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.


Roster Projection: Beloit Snappers

31 Mar

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  • Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.
  • Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.
  • Step 3: Configure the 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 4: Configure the 2011 Double-A New Britain Rock Cats 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 5: Configure the 2011 Hi-A Ft. Myers Miracle 25-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 6: Configure the 2011 Low-A Beloit Snappers 25-man roster – In progress.

As I am hearing it, more roster moves and decisions are happening this morning. I know that there have been two more players released, and people are continuing to find out where they will be going. There are a few injuries that are mounting up, and likely will affect opening day rosters too.   

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins High-A affiliate, the Ft. Myers Miracle. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Tobias Strech (40 man – No) – Kyle Knudson (40 man – No) – C/DH Josmil Pinto (40 man – No) 

Streich may not be able to hit at all, but his defense is there with Butera and Lehmann in the eyes of many in the organization. Pinto isn’t much of a catcher, but he’ll get some time there and also DH in his return to Beloit. Former Gopher and 2010 draft pick Knudson could get some playing time here as well.

Infielders: 1B – Michael Gonzales (40 man – No), 2B – Derek McCallum (40 man – No), 3B – Reggie Williams (40 man – No), SS – Daniel Santana (40 man – No), Utility – Andy Leer (40 man – No),

Gonzales has a ton of power, but he needs to quicken his swing to have a chance to advance. When he makes contact, it goes a long way. McCallum missed most of the 2010 season, so this is a second opportunity for a first full season. Reggie Williams split time with Anderson Hidalgo last year and should get more time this year. Santana split time between Elizabethton and Beloit. He struggled with the Snappers, but he should show improvement this year. Very solid bat with surprising pop. Good defense. Andy Leer was drafted a year ago out of the University of Mary in Bismarck and he played well at Elizabethton. He will get some playing time.

Outfielders: LF – Lance Ray (40 man – No), CF – Oswaldo Arcia (40 man – No), RF – Danny Ortiz (40 man – No), 4th outfielder – Wang-Wei Lin (40 man – No), DL – Nate Roberts (40 man – No)

After saying that I was surprised to hear that Lance Ray would start the season in Ft. Myers, I found out that he was indeed going to go back to Beloit. Oswaldo Arcia has had a sore elbow throughout the spring and has continued to crush baseballs all over the field. Danny Ortiz was my choice for breakout minor leaguer of the year for 2011, and he’ll be doing so with the Snappers. Wang-Wei Lin likely returns to the Snappers and will play around the outfield. Nate Roberts can flat-out hit. The 2010 draft pick will start with the Snappers although he has had some knee issues this spring.

Starting Pitchers: RHP BJ Hermsen (40 man – No), RHP Adrian Salcedo (40 man – No), RHP Manuel Soliman (40 man – No), LHP Logan Darnell (40 man – No), LHP Andrei Lobanov (40 man – No), DL – LHP Pat Dean (40 man – No)

Hermsen is set to be the Snappers’ opening night starter, and he is looking to build on a solid 2010 season in which he pitched for the Snappers for four or five weeks before the Elizabethton season started. Adrian Salcedo’s pre-E-town stint was with the Ft. Myers Miracle, so going to Beloit will be a good thing for him this year. Manuel Soliman will start the season in the Snappers rotation after a terrific 2010 season in Elizabethton where the converted 3B threw one no-hitter and took another into the 7th inning. 2010 pick Logan Darnell will start for the Snappers. Andrei Lobanov, who has put up amazing numbers in the bullpen the last two years, will get an opportunity to start, at least for awhile, as Pat Dean, who is still experiencing some shoulder soreness.

Bullpen: LHP Jose Gonzalez (40 man – No), LHP Martire Garcia (40 man – No), RHP Michael Tonkin (40 man – No), RHP Blayne Weller (40 man – No), LHP Justin Parker (40 man – No), RHP Pedro Guerra (40 man – No), LHP Clinton Dempster (40 man – No), RHP Matt Hauser (40 man – No)

Gonzalez and Garcia are complete opposites physically, but both are very good left-handed pitchers. Pedro Guerra, Michael Tonkin and Blayne Weller may be starters again down the line but should do well out of the bullpen as well. 2010 picks Dempster and Hauser are bullpen guys that should get the job done as well. Sam Spangler and Justin Parker could each pitch with the Snappers, and possibly return to Elizabethton to start at that time.   

Overall: This should be a very solid team. They have a some really impressive young bats to complement a few guys who should be better in their second year in the Midwest League. There are some really good starting pitchers in the opening day rotation, with the likes of Garcia, Tonkin, Weller and Guerra also capable of starting. Those in the Twin Cities should definitely consider making a trip or three down to Beloit to see the Snappers!

As you can see, there are a lot of names that I have not included on the Beloit roster. Those players will most likely stay in Extended Spring Training and be ready if needed in the Midwest League. Names like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler. Guys like Niko Goodrum and Rory Rhodes. Dean will be rehabbing there with the likes of Dallas Gallant, Brad Tippett, Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle. Opening Day rosters are fun to project, but there will, as always, be a ton of transactions, and we’ll be following them here.

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


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

Day 2 in Beloit

24 May

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Click here to listen to last night’s Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast.

On Saturday night, I blogged some thoughts live from Beloit on seeing the Beloit Snappers and the Cedar Rapids Kernels play on Friday night. Today I’ll discuss my thoughts on seeing the teams play on Saturday. (If you don’t want to read my thoughts, you can scroll down for the Minor League updates from the games). Josh Johnson and I got to Beloit on Friday afternoon and watched the team’s play that night. We found a hotel room, but we had to check out by 11:00 a.m. One thing we didn’t consider is what to do from the time we had to get out of the hotel until going to the ballpark around 5:00. Well, I got an oil change in my car and we ate at a sports bar called Jerseys in Beloit. We decided to go to the theatre and watched Iron Man 2. I actually really liked it, which surprised me, considering I hadn’t seen the first and don’t really get into the Marvel Comics movies. But it was very good and we (as in me) really like Scarlett Johansson. She just seems very, well, friendly. Then we went to Applebee’s to watch the Twins/Brewers game until we headed over to the park.  

 Here are a few quick notes from watching the Saturday night Snappers game in person (so take it for what it is worth, a very small sample size):

  • Aaron Hicks is where he should be. Going 2-4 with two walks is very good. It shows his ability to take pitches and work a walk. He stands right on the plate and has very quick hands. He has a very strong swing. His second hit was a line drive to the opposite field. He played CF in this game and completely misplayed a ball to dead center. He froze and even took a step forward on a fly ball that ended up landing on the warning track. He showed a good arm, or course. He is close to ready to advance, but there is zero rush, so it would be good to see him stay for a little longer.
  • Angel Morales struck out just once in the two games. That is good because he had really been struggling. He struggles some with curveball and sliders, as a lot of hitters at this level do. But he has such a strong, quick swing. I was expecting to see more bad swings on breaking balls, but he was on all of them and fouled a couple straight back. His speed is very impressive. He played RF in this game (after DHing on Friday night), and did alright out there. Nothing stood out either way. Good arm, certainly not comparable to Hicks, but pretty accurate. It would be nice to see Morales go on a strong run for the next month and then move up.
  • James Beresford was the most impressive players to me. He looks very young and is very skinny, but I was impressed by how he looked at the plate. In this game, he was 1-6, but I was still impressed by the type of at bat. He took pitches, he had very good bat control. But I was especially impressed by his defense. He is a very good shortstop, but he played 2B both games. He made all the plays and made them look easy. In this game, he made a play going far up the middle, back-handing the ball and leaping toward left field to throw out the runner at first base (similar to the play that Derek Jeter has made famous). He’s got a good arm and good range on grounders or pop ups. And then there are the intangibles. He was the clear leader of that infield. He took charge out there. In fact, there was one time during a tough situation that he called catcher Tobias Streich out to the mound for a quick discussion. We keep hearing that when he grows into his body and gains weight, he will be very good. I now completely agree with it.
  • Danny Rams can crush the ball. He can hit fastballs pretty well. But he also has struck out a lot in his career, and watching, it is pretty clear why. He swings and misses a lot at breaking balls. After crushing a fastball to the right center field gap and then drilling a fastball for a single in his second at bat, he struck out the final three at bats, on curveballs. One of them landed in the left-handed batters box.
  • Michael Tonkin looked alright. Decent fastball. Doesn’t throw real hard. Early in the game, his curveball just rolled, but as the game went on, it got more and more sharp and was very good. Very thin, he has a chance to be good if he can get bigger and stronger, add some velocity and maintain his terrific control.
  • Dakota Watts is a reliever to watch. He throws pretty hard and has a solid slider. But he came into a tough position and got out of it with strikeouts. One thing I noticed about all of the Snappers relievers is that they have the ability to work out of really tough situations. Of course, they also showed a great ability to put the team in some really tough situations to get out of.
  • Tobias Streich had a rough game too on Saturday night. He threw out two would-be base stealers… out of 11. That’s right, nine stolen bases against the Snappers. On two of them, the ball went in to centerfield and he was changed with an error. Now, some of that is on the pitchers and I believe that a middle infielder should try to knock the ball down if it could go in the outfield, but it was a tough game for the defensive-minded catcher.
  • Reggie Williams was drafted as a great athlete. He played 3B both games and had a couple of plays that made me, a former 3B, cringe, and then he had a couple of plays there that made me say “Wow!” He looks more like a 2B to me.
  • Daniel Santana came up and had a rough Midwest League debut. He went 1-5 with three strikeouts. In his first at bat, he had three fastballs blown right by of them. A couple of them were at head level. As the game went on, you could see that he has an ability to be a line drive hitter if he swings at good pitches. Defensively, I saw a guy who could be a very good defensive shortstop. He has good hands and a very strong arm. However, a couple of his throws were wild. He had three errors in the game as well. Josh said the first part of the following and I added the second part: “Daniel Santana makes James Beresford look old and chubby.” Santana is tiny. He may be 5-7, and he may be 150 pounds, but he has a chance if he keeps working. Ideally he would head back to Elizabethton for the 2010 season.  
  • Finally, in a couple of games that had Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales, the best prospect that I saw was Mike Trout of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He was the Angels 1st round pick (25th overall) last year. The 19 year old centerfielder is hitting about .360 so far this year, gets on base via walk, and has nearly 20 extra base hits already this year, including five home runs. Offensively, he is incredible. In centerfield, I thought he was pretty advanced. His arm may not be as good as Aaron Hicks, but he got tremendous reads on fly balls. In general, I just think he looks like a guy that prospect fans will want to get to know.

In all, I think that going to Beloit was a great experience. Saturday’s game went 11 innings and didn’t finish until about 10:20 p.m. It was a great game. The only negative is that we had to drive back to the Twin Cities after the game to get Josh back for a previous commitment. I drove until about 12:30 and then couldn’t keep my eyes open, so I asked Josh if he could. He did, and I got into the passenger’s seat. After talking for a couple of minutes, the next thing I knew, I looked at the clock and it had been 40 minutes. I apparently fell asleep mid-sentence. I was awake for another couple of minutes, and the next thing I knew, it was an hour after that. I asked how he was doing driving and he said just fine. Next thing I knew, it was 3:00 and we were to St. Paul, just about to 35E! Dropped Josh off at 3:30 and then I got home about 3:50. I am WAY too old for that. I am thinking of getting back to Beloit again in June if it works out.

If you have any questions or comments about Beloit, the trip or any of the players, please feel free to e-mail me.  

Here is a quick glance at what happened on Saturday and Sunday in the Twins minor league system:

SethSpeaks Saturday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Chris Parmelee – Ft. Myers Miracle

SethSpeaks Saturday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Joe Testa – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ben Revere – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Carlos Gutierrez – New Britain Rockcats

  • A bunch of people have asked me about what is happening with Matt Bashore. I finally received confirmation that he had, or will have, Tommy John surgery and miss this entire season.
  • Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco will begin their Twins playing career in the Dominican Summer League. They will play there for a few weeks, until the GCL Twins season starts. At that time, they will evaluate whether to push them to the GCL or let them continue to play in the DSL.
  • Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson are both currently out of the Ft. Myers Miracle lineup with injuries. Thompson has a hamstring injury, while Kelly is having wrist issues.
  • Tom Stuifbergen told me that he threw a bullpen on Friday and felt good. He expects to be out another week and probably pitch out of the bullpen a couple of times.
  • As LaVelle posted last week, Ben Tootle has been sent back to the Twin Cities to check out why he is experiencing elbow soreness and pain.  

Red Wings Report   

Saturday – Rochester 9, Norfolk 2 Matt Fox pitched well and was helped by plenty of offensive support to gain his fourth win of the year. In six innings, he gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He struck out two and walked none. Jose Lugo gave up three hits and a walk, but no runs, in 1.2 innings. Anthony Slama struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Matt Tolbert went 3-5 with his eighth double and fifth stolen base. Toby Gardenhire went 3-5 with his first double (actually his first three hits with the Red Wings). Danny Valencia went 3-4 and was hit by a pitch. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his ninth double. Wilson Ramos went 2-5 with his third double.

Sunday – Rochester 8, Norfolk 4 Jeff Manship started and gave up three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. He struck out four. Tim Lahey walked two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up a solo home run in two innings. Rob Delaney walked one in a scoreless inning. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with a walk. Matt Macri went 2-3 with a walk and his seventh double. Jason Repko went 2-5 with two RBI and his fifth stolen base. Jacque Jones went 2-5. Brian Dinkelman hit his second home run.   

New Britain Notes

Saturday – New Britain 1, Binghamton 3Santos Arias made his first start of the 2010 season. He gave up two runs on three hits (two solo home runs). He walked two and struck out one in 4.2 innings. He falls to 0-6 with a 4.50 ERA. Joe Testa has come on of late. He was perfect for 2.1 innings. Loek Van Mil gave up one run on two hits and a walk in one inning. Matt Williams walked one and struck out one in an inning. Ben Revere went 3-5 with his 14th stolen base. Allan de San Miguel went 1-2 with two walks. Erik Lis hit his second home run.

Sunday – New Britain 5, Binghamton 2Ben Revere again led the offense. He went 3-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Carlos Gutierrez recorded his first win of the year. He gave up just two runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings. He walked one and struck out four. Matt Williams recorded his first save with 1.1 scoreless innings.

  • Ben Revere is on a tear. In his last nine games, he has gone 18-38 (.474) with six walks, two doubles, a triple and a home run. In his last six games, he is 14-26 (.538).
  • Carlos Gutierrez improved to 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA. In his first start of the season, he gave up four runs in four innings. In his April 24th start, he gave up eight runs in four innings. In his seven other starts, he has given up two or less runs.

Miracle Matters

Saturday – Ft. Myers 1, Daytona 6 – Chris Parmelee got off to a slow start in Ft. Myers, but had a great weekend. In this game, he was 3-4. Brian Dozier made his Miracle debut and was 2-4. Jair Fernandez also was 2-4 and drove in the lone run. Liam Hendriks had his first rough start of the year. He gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out six. Andrei Lobanov gave up just two hits in three shutout innings. Steve Blevins gave up two runs on four hits in two innings.

Sunday – Ft. Myers 7, Daytona 9 – Chris Parmelee again went 3-4 in this game, adding a walk, a triple and three RBI to raise his average to .360. Brian Dozier went 2-5 with two RBI. Dan Osterbrock fell to 0-4. In 5.1 innings, he gave up seven runs (5 earned) on 10 hits. He walked one and struck out three. Shooter Hunt came in and gave up a run on two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Billy Bullock struck out four in two scoreless innings.  

Snappers Snippets

Saturday – Beloit 5, Cedar Rapids 7 (11 innings)Michael Tonkin started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. He walked none and struck out just two in 5.1 innings. Dakota Watts came in and walked two and struck out three in 1.2 innings. Kane Holbrooks gave up one run on two hits and two walks in his two innings. He struck out four. Jhon Garcia gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in two innings to take the loss. Aaron Hicks went 2-4 with two walks. Danny Rams went 2-5 with his tenth double and two RBI. Josmil Pinto was 2-5. Angel Morales went 0-2 with two walks and a hit by pitch. In the bottom of the ninth, he was hit in the helmet by a fastball. Josh Johnson has video of it that he will soon post on YouTube that you will want to watch. Daniel Santana made his Midwest League debut and it was a rough one. He went 1-5 with three strikeouts. He also committed three errors.   

Sunday – Beloit 2, Cedar Rapids 14 Miguel Munoz gave up four runs on six hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out three. Peter Kennelly gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits and two walks in three innings. Matt Tone gave up a solo home run and struck out two in his inning. Catcher Tobias Streich gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in his inning of work. James Beresford went 2-3 with his fifth double. Aaron Hicks hit his eighth double.  

If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment here.

Roster Projections: Beloit Snappers

26 Mar

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

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


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

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

The Hitters

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

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

The Pitchers


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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

In-Weekend Updates

19 Jul

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I thought a mid-weekend update would make a lot of sense. As the next couple of weeks will be consumed with trade rumors, determining whether teams are buyers or sellers and then finally the deadline, I thought it appropriate not to get too far behind. So, here is a quick Notes and Game Recap edition, be sure to leave your comments below. Again, as the Trade Deadline is now less than two weeks away, please consider picking up a copy of the TwinsCentric 2009 Trade Deadline Primer for just $9.95.


The Twins won the first two games of their series in Arlington against the Rangers. They completed the Texas two step and on Friday will go for the sweep.

On Friday night, the Twins won 5-3. Glen Perkins went five innings for the win. Bobby Keppel again pitched well for two innings. Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier completed the eighth inning before Joe Nathan recorded his 24th save. Jason Kubel knocked his 15th home run of the season in the game. It was a three run homer that scored Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Carlos Gomez went 2-3 and drove in the two other runs with a triple. Joe Crede joined Gomez, Morneau and Kubel with two hits in the game.

On Saturday night, the Twins won 4-1. It was all about Scott Baker and Michael Cuddyer. Baker went eight strong innings. He gave up a just one run on six hits and two walks. He struck out eight for his 8th win of the year. Joe Nathan struck out two in the ninth for his 25th save. Cuddyer hit a run-scoring double in the 2nd inning, and later came around to score on a Carlos Gomez single. In the 5th inning, Cuddyer hit his 15th home run of the season. Cuddyer, Morneau and Gomez each had two hits.


  • Over the Baggy asks, Do the Twins Need Julio Lugo?
  • First of all, congratulations to Stick & Ball Guy whose terrific site (so terrific, in fact, that it is The World’s Greatest Online Magazine!) recently celebrated its 5th Birthday!
  • Another exciting note from Stick & Ball Guy. He will be hosting the 3rd Annual SBG Convention on August 1st. It will again be at Minnehaha Falls, in the park. I went last year and it was a great time. I currently plan to be there again this year, so if you’re able to make it, it’s always fun, so check here for details.
  • Jesse from Twinkie Town participated in an AL Central Roundtable with other SB Nation bloggers in the division.
  • It seems like the Twins have turned and hit into a lot of double plays this season. But Coffeyville Whirlwind reminds us of a game in 1990 when the Twins and Red Sox combined for the most double plays in a single game.
  • Apparently Miguel Angel Sano passed a pretty important test. MLB had been investigating if he was actually 16 years old, and their report indicates that he is 16 years old. With that announcement, Sano is free to sign. Now, the Twins were rumored to have offered him a deal pending this investigation, but in recent weeks, the rumor became that the Twins were kind of taking themselves out of the running. However, now it is suggested that Twins Director of Player Personnel, Mike Radcliff, traveled to the Dominican Republic himself to check on Sano. So, will they re-enter the negotiations, or will they stay out of it. Well, we shall see.   

Any other Twins thoughts or stories? If you see a Twins-related story that you think readers would be interested in, please e-mail me the link. Let us know what you think.


Friday – Hitter of the Day – Steve Singleton, New Britain Rockcats

Friday – Pitcher of the Day – Edgar Ibarra, Elizabethton Twins

Saturday – Hitter of the Day – Brandon Roberts, New Britain Rockcats

Saturday – Pitcher of the Day – Blayne Weller, GCL Twins  


  • LaVelle informed us yesterday that Yohan Pino had been promoted to AAA Rochester. Also some interesting stuff on Max Kepler coming to America from Germany with his mom to scout out high schools in Ft. Myers.
  • I learned later in the day that Michael McCardell has been promoted to AA New Britain to take Pino’s spot.
  • Heard a little later that Jeff Christy has been sent back to New Britain, but I have not heard if there have been any further catcher transactions. Currently in New Britain include Danny Lehmann and Allan de San Miguel.
  • On Friday, Josh Johnson posted another excellent interview. Be sure to check out his Q&A with David Bromberg.
  • Be sure to check out Roger’s Minor League Update from yesterday. Who was his player of the week?
  • Jesse also asked the question, Who is Joe Testa?


Friday – Rochester, Lehigh Valley – Game postponed by Rain.

Saturday – Game 1 – Rochester 5, Lehigh Valley 7 – Philip Humber started this game and gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks in 3.2 innings. All six runs scored against him in the fourth inning. Jesse Crain struck out two and got four outs. Juan Morillo gave up a run on two hits in his inning. He walked none and struck out two. Matt Macri went 2-3. Danny Valencia hit his fourth home run. David Winfree hit his 11th homer.

Saturday – Game 2 – Rochester 3, Lehigh Valley 6 – The second game was almost a copy cat of the first game. Jason Jones started and threw three shutout innings before he gave up six runs in the fourth inning. Tim Lahey and Sean Henn each pitched a scoreless inning. The offense came from the same two people as well. Danny Valencia hit a two run homer, his fifth of the season. David Winfree came to the plate next and hit his 12th homer.     


Friday – New Britain 6, Reading 4 – Steve Singleton was strong again in his second AA game. The 2B went 3-4 with his third double and first triple. Matt Moses went 2-4 with his 10th double and first triple. Erik Lis hit his 11th home run. Cole Devries picked up his sixth win. In five innings, he gave up three runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out five. Frank Mata gave up two hits and a walk in an inning, but no runs scored. Carlos Gutierrez gave up two hits and a walk in 1.1 innings, but no runs scored. Jose Lugo gave up a run in 2/3 of an inning. Alex Burnett came in for the ninth and recorded his second save.  

Saturday – New Britain 11, Reading 3 – Deolis Guerra improved to 2-0 with a win in this game. In 6.1 innings, he gave up three runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out three. Kyle Waldrop threw 2.2 scoreless innings. Brandon Roberts went 4-6 with his 14th double. Steve Singleton went 3-5 (so his batting average dropped!) with his fourth double and first stolen base. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 with a walk and his seventh double. Juan Portes went 1-3 with three walks and his fifth home run. Erik Lis was 1-2 with two walks and his 12th home run.     


Friday – Ft. Myers 2, Sarasota 3 David Bromberg took a loss for the first time this season. He is now 7-1 (with a 2.97 ERA) after giving up three runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out six. Santos Arias and Henry Arias each pitched a scoreless inning. Mark Dolenc went 2-3 with a walk, his 13th double and third home run. Rene Leveret went 2-4 with a triple.

Saturday – Ft. Myers 2, Dunedin 4 Chris Parmelee went 2-4 with his 13th home run, but it wasn’t enough. Tyler Robertson took the loss. He gave up four runs on four hits and four walks over seven innings. He struck out five. Joe Testa struck out three in two scoreless frames. Evan Bigley went 3-4 on the night. Ben Revere went 2-5.       


Friday – Beloit 9, Burlington 3 Dan Berlind improved to 3-9 with five innings in this game. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three. Michael Allen and Steve Blevins each two scoreless innings. Tyler Ladendorf went 3-5. Drew Thompson went 2-4 with a walk and his 11th double. Ramon Santana went 2-5 with his second triple.

Saturday – Beloit 4, Dayton 6 Aaron Hicks hit his first home run of the season. Drew Thompson went 2-4 with his third stolen base. Ramon Santana was 2-3 with a walk and his seventh home run. Dan Osterbrock gave up five runs (4 earned) on seven hits and two walks in 6.1 innings. He struck out six. Bruce Pugh gave up a run on two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings.  


Friday – Elizabethton 4, Danville 5 – As is tradition, Danville brings a team that matches up well with the E-Twins. In this game, Miguel Munoz made the start. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on eight hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out five. Edgar Ibarra came in and threw three shutout innings. Dan Rohlfing went 2-3 with a walk. Brian Dozier was 2-4 with his third double. Josmil Pinto went 1-2 with three walks. Derek McCallum went 1-3 with two walks.   

Saturday – Elizabethton 4, Burlington 3 Martire Garcia made his best start of the season. The young lefty gave up two runs on four hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out four. Matt Bashore came in and gave up three hits, but no runs, in two innings. He struck out two. Kyle Carr gave up an unearned run on one hit in two innings. He struck out two. Derek McCallum went 2-3 with a walk and his seventh double. Jonathan Goncalves hit his second home run and stole his fourth and fifth bases. Tobias Streich hit his fifth home run.     


Saturday –GCL Twins 6, GCL Rays 1 Blayne Weller had another very strong start. He threw seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out five. Jean Mijares gave up an unearned run on a hit and a walk in his inning. Kelvin Mota gave up two hits, but no runs, in his inning. Jhonatan Arias went 2-4 with his second and third doubles. Daniel Santana went 2-5 with his third double.

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Twins Draft Thoughts

22 Jun

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It was about ten days ago that the MLB Draft finished up. The Twins made 51 selections over the three days (And 50 rounds) of the draft. This blog posting is probably a week over due, but before I posted anything, I wanted to get some opinions from people much closer to it than myself. This article is a compilation of thoughts from several people in and around the Twins organization and others.

The Twins went in to the draft with several organizational needs to address. I think we all knew that they needed to get some middle infielders, but also needed to stock up on some pitchers. We talked about how the Twins have a bunch of #3 and #4 pitchers in the minor league system, but don’t have many that really ever project to be top of the rotation starters. The Twins bullpen the last two seasons has taught us that having guys who are able to bridge the gap between the starter and the closer is something we grew to overlook, we were spoiled for several years.

The first three rounds of the draft occurred on Tuesday, June 9th. The Twins had four picks due to a supplemental first round pick for losing Dennys Reyes to free agency. All four picks were college pitchers. (I will discuss all four in more detail below) Was that a surprise? Well, it was not something that was intentional. Simply stated, all four were at the top of the Twins draft board when their pick came up. The strength of this draft crop was pitching, and as we mentioned, it was something that the Twins needed and were looking to acquire. They were looking to add velocity, and got four guys who, when right, have very good velocity.

The Twins first pick was a right-hander from the University of Missouri named Kyle Gibson. He fell some in the draft due to injury. He had a fracture in his forearm. The Twins doctors have obviously reviewed all of his information and believe there will be no long term affects. The injury is not to his elbow or shoulder, so it is just a matter of healing and rest and he should be just fine. He is a very talented yet still projectable (6-6) college performer. Even through this injury, he continued to pitch and succeed. That also speaks to the type of competitor that he is, and again, could add to a thought that he could be a top of the rotation type of starter. He really knows how to pitch. He mixes his pitches well, he’s got very good control, and in general, just knows how to get hitters out. All reports indicate that he is a person with very strong character. The Twins were surprised that he was still available with the 22nd pick which made it a very easy selection. The team expects to sign him and think he will still pitch in 2009. How much is still to be determined. It depends upon when he would sign, but we also have to remember that he has already thrown 106 innings this year.

With their supplemental first round pick, the Twins went with left handed starter Matt Bashore from the University of Indiana. He pitched as well as any left-handed pitcher in college the last six weeks of the season. He has displayed very good stuff and the ability to pitch. He throws his fastball between 89-94 (and pitches generally at 90-91), with a good curveball. Due to his size, stuff, innings and control, there is a good chance that he could be a Major League starter.

Brian Bullock was someone who some teams believed was the Top Relief pitching prospect. Now, Drew Storen went to the Nationals with the 10th overall pick, but he’s been a reliever. Bullock’s transition to the bullpen is more recent. This was his first year as the closer at the University of Florida. He is a fastball/slider guy. His velocity spiked this year, up to 97-98 miles per hour. His slider improved over the course of the season and could be a potential strikeout pitch.

You have likely heard the story of Ben Tootle. He got sick this season and lost 15-20 pounds that he really didn’t have to lose, so his stock fell some in some eyes. But when he is healthy, he has two above average pitches. He has a darting fastball between 93 and 95 miles per hour. He also have a very hard breaking ball that could be a strikeout pitch. He has very strong makeup and throws a lot of strikes. That makes him versatile in the Twins eyes. They’re not certain if he will be best used as a starter or out of the bullpen. My guess is that he will pitch out of the bullpen much of the rest of this season just to keep his innings for the year down. I would guess he will be given a chance to start in 2010 but over time, if he can be best utilized out of the bullpen, they won’t, and shouldn’t, hesitate to develop that.

It is likely that each of these four pitchers (assuming they sign) would start at Elizabethton. As I posted yesterday, Bullock has already signed and will start out with the E-Twins. But don’t be surprised if one of more of them would end up pitching for the Beloit Snappers at some point. Brad Stillings was the Twins 7th round pick out of Kent State, and he will start in the E-Twins bullpen. But several believe that he could be a big league starter.

As you also saw yesterday, the Twins will send Minnesota native and former Gopher Derek McCallum to Elizabethton where he will primarily play 2B. It is believed that he profiles as an offensive 2B, but he has the hands to play shortstop from time to time. Although he will maybe play some SS this summer, it is likely his future lies at 2B.

The Twins then took catchers with their fifth and sixth round picks. In the fifth round, they took Tobias Streich out of the West Virginia University. Then in the sixth round they took Chris Hermann out of the University of Miami. For a team that has Joe Mauer as its starter for (hopefully) the long term, has Wilson Ramos as a potential high ceiling catcher, and have several catchers that are defensive specialists (Butera, Christy, de San Miguel, Lehmann, etc.), it was surprising to see the Twins take two catchers this early. However, catchers traditionally go off the board quickly. If you want some quality catchers, you get them fairly early. The Twins believe in having catching depth throughout the minor leagues. Like pitching, you can never have enough catching. The position is so demanding that attrition tends to deplete many from the position before they get near the big league level. Streich is a defensive guy. He has a very strong arm and a durable body. Hermann provides some versatility. As I mentioned yesterday, he is already signed and will play in Elizabethton where he is currently listed as an outfielder. . He will likely get at bats this summer in the corner outfield positions as well as 2B and 3B. But the hope is that eventually he could be a left handed hitting catcher with top of the lineup hitting potential.

8th round pick, James Dozier from Southern Mississippi, is another guy that may have gone higher in the draft if he were healthy. A broken collarbone meant that he could not play for quite some time during his senior season, and even when he came back, he was used as a DH. If he signs, he could be a steal this late.

When the Twins drafted outfielder Steve Liddle in the 15th round, you had to do a double take. Was this one of those nepotism picks? Those usually don’t happen until the late rounds. Then you realize that Liddle, the son of the Twins bench coach with the same name, was one of the top hitters at Vanderbilt. He is a very good player. He is a good corner outfielder with a strong and accurate arm. He has a very good swing, and has a strong hitting presence. He has the type of swing that should develop more power over time. Although it is uncertain if he wants to sign, the Twins drafted him with every interest in signing him.

Erik Decker was obviously one of the more interesting names drafted by the Twins. The Gophers football (and baseball) player was drafted for the second straight year in the baseball draft despite teams knowing that his #1 sport at this time is football. As one of the top wide receivers in college football, Decker will enter his senior season for the Gophers this fall and will likely be drafted in the NFL somewhere between the third and fifth rounds, maybe even higher if he can stay healthy all season. So, what does this mean for baseball? He is a very good baseball player, particularly with the glove. He has good baseball speed and knows the game. He is intriguing because he has never played baseball full-time and his athleticism and strength make him a very intriguing prospect. Now, does he have any interest in playing baseball this summer? I don’t know. Could the Twins find a way to sign him creatively, allowing him to continue playing football and pursuing that career, but inking him so that he does not go back into the draft in another year. One thing to remember is that dual sport athletes can receive their signing bonus over five years, which could alleviate some of the concern. It will be interesting to see what happens.

In the 28th round, the Twins drafted another guy that, in my mind, is very intriguing. Pat Light was selected out of Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey. He is 6-5 and just 195 pounds, so very projectable. He was consistently in the high 80s and low 90s, topping out at 93. His out pitch may be his slider and he has a changeup. His curveball is still a work in progress. He has signed to play at Monmouth where he could be a top pitcher already next season since their #1 and #2 pitchers were selected in the 8th and 10th rounds this year. This is a guy that, as Twins fans, we should watch whether he signs with the Twins as the summer progresses.

The Twins selected Aaron Senne with their 12th round pick three years ago out of Rochester Mayo High School. Instead of signing, he went to the University of Missouri where he has spent three seasons. He was All-Big 12 in his sophomore season. He fell back during his junior season although he hit .305. He hit just six home runs. The Twins drafted him in the 32nd round this year. The Twins really like his offensive potential. He had a disappointing year, but the power is still there. Hopefully he will seriously consider signing with the Twins, but he may want to go back to school and have a better senior season and move back up the draft. It’s a tough decision, but I was told that he certainly is strongly considering signing, and the fact that it was the Twins that drafted him, could factor into his decision.

Another local draftee was Ryan Abrahamson. The Twins drafted the 6-3, 200 pound Tartan High School outfielder in the 37th round. The Twins will meet with him and his family to discuss options. The odds of him signing with the Twins is probably small. He definitely is looking forward to playing for the Gophers.

Just a couple other notes – The Twins took Marc Bourgeois in the 39th round out of Chipola Junior College. That is the same school that fellow Canadian Rene Tosoni was drafted out of. His skill is his bat, but we probably shouldn’t expect similar results. The Twins drafted David Gutierrez out of the University of Miami in the 34th round. He was a senior and brother of Twins #1 pick in 2008 Carlos Gutierrez. Both pitchers rely on their sinkers, but David does not throw as hard as Carlos. Still well worth the risk.

One player that the Twins would really like to sign is Ronnie Richardson. The Twins were able to draft him in the 11th round because he fell due to signability concerns. He has signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Central Florida. He is a tremendous athlete with good skills and a very quick bat. His best skill is his incredible speed. At just 5-7 and 171 pounds, speed is his game, but he does have some gap power as well. On my podcast last week, Richardson told us that although the signing bonus will play a huge role in if he signs, he said that he will listen and other things will factor in. He specifically said that if he could get his college paid for that would help.

Following a draft, every team believes in their draft and the players that they selected. In reality, we won’t know for five or more years how good the Twins draft of 2009 really was. Once signed, those in player development have to go to work to make these guys what they can become. The Twins went in hoping to replenish their pitching and specifically a few power arms. This year, the overall draft crop was very mediocre, but the strength was in pitching. The Twins were also happy to get a quality middle infielder (McCallum) in a draft where there wasn’t too many.     

So what do you think now? Did the Twins draft as they should have, or is there no way to know that, as we said, for five years or more? Who are some of the names and/or stories that you are most intrigued by. Let me know what you think.