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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

6 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –  

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

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve pointed out the organizational depth charts for the Twins hitters. We’ve looked at catchers, 3B, 1B, Middle Infielders and Outfielders. Today, I’ll take a look at the starting pitchers. Now, especially as I move to the lower levels, I won’t pretend to know which players will move to the bullpen. Often, due to innings limits, some ‘starters’ will begin the season in the bullpen. Others will begin the season as starters and get moved to the bullpen later due to innings. Frankly, most of the pitchers in the lowest levels have been starters their whole lives and some will be given at least some opportunity. As we saw with Carlos Gutierrez, even guys destined for the bullpen can be given an opportunity to start to work on pitches and gain arm strength.  

That’s OK, though, because the biggest purpose of this was to provide the organization’s depth. I need to reiterate that these are just my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Carl Pavano (RHP), Francisco Liriano (LHP), Scott Baker (RHP), Jason Marquis (RHP), Nick Blackburn (RHP)

Gardy has announced Pavano as his Opening Day starter, an obvious choice based on last season. He’s been solid in his 2 ½ seasons with the Twins, most important he has provided a ton of innings despite an alarmingly low strikeout rate. There’s no question that Francisco Liriano has the best stuff of anyone on the staff, but if he can’t find control of his fastball, it will be another frustrating season. It is a contract season for Liriano, so the goal has to be for him to have a strong season. In 2011, Scott Baker was easily the Twins top starting pitcher. He was pitching the best he had in his career, until elbow problems curtailed his season. Nick Blackburn averaged 200 innings pitched his first two seasons while posting solid ERAs. He’s been pretty bad ever since getting the long-term contract. Unfortunately, the contract has given him many opportunities and likely will continue to do so. He misses very few bats, so we can just hope that a lot of baseballs get hit right at a defender. Many Twins fans are down on the Jason Marquis signing, and although I’m not a bit fan of the contract, he has actually had a pretty solid big league career.

Rochester Red Wings

Liam Hendriks (RHP), Scott Diamond (LHP), Aaron Thompson (LHP), Jeff Manship (RHP), Deinys Suarez (RHP)

We saw Hendriks and Diamond late in the 2011 season. Hendriks was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year and likely needs another half-season. Diamond had his moments, but overall 2011 was the first year in his career that he really struggled. He says he has made some adjustments, so we’ll see how it goes. Manship came up with the Twins and his first major league victory came on the final weekend of the 2009 season, when the Twins needed to sweep the Royals. He was supposed to be in the Twins bullpen last season, but he was hurt the entire season. He likely will pitch in the Twins bullpen, but they may have him start in Rochester first. Aaron Thompson is intriguing, at least. He will turn 25 years old later this month. He debuted with the Pirates last season, but in 7.2 innings, he gave up 13 hits, walked six and struck out just one. He has just six AAA games under his belt, and his AA career numbers are 15-37 with a 5.03 ERA in 96 games (80 starts). Deinys Suarez signed with the Twins last spring. The Cuban defector split time between New Britain and Rochester, not pitching particularly well either place.

New Britain Rock Cats

David Bromberg (RHP), Logan Darnell (LHP), Tom Stuifbergen (RHP), Marty Popham (RHP), Dan Osterbrock (LHP), Bobby Lanigan (RHP)

Bromberg’s 2011 season was unfortunately a lost season. He began the season in Twins spring training, but he went back to New Britain, had a line drive break his arm, spent a lot of time rehabbing, came back too quickly, shut it down, worked hard and then found out the Twins had removed him from the 40 man roster. However, he will be just 24 years old throughout the 2012 season, so don’t forget about him. Logan Darnell was a 2010 draft pick who started last year in Beloit and got all the way to New Britain. Stuifbergen had a solid season in Ft. Myers, had a terrific one-start showing in Rochester, and then was the pitcher of the year in the World Cup tournament that his Netherlands team won. He was then knighted in his homeland. Sir Tom Stuifbergen should spent this season with the Rock Cats. Dan Osterbrock missed most of last season with shoulder problems which was unfortunate because he was coming off of a very good season in 2010. Bobby Lanigan was in the Rock Cats rotation all throughout the 2011 season. Some think his stuff (specifically his slider) will play very well out of the bullpen, and we may see some of that this year too. Marty Popham was selected by the Twins in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. He has pitched in Hi-A, AA and AAA each of the past two seasons. He should spend this season in AA.

Ft. Myers Miracle

BJ Hermsen (RHP), Pat Dean (LHP), Adrian Salcedo (RHP), Alex Wimmers (RHP), Manuel Soliman (RHP), Ryan O’Rourke (LHP), AJ Achter (RHP)

This is certainly an intriguing group of pitching prospects. If not for Liam Hendriks’ terrific 2011 season, my starting pitcher of the year choice would have been BJ Hermsen who pitched very well in Beloit and followed it up with a solid performance in Ft. Myers (minus a rough final start). Alex Wimmers had a rough 2011 season too in Ft. Myers, but it ended with the seven inning no hitter. Assuming he has his control issues under control, he could move quickly. Adrian Salcedo has long been a top ten Twins prospect, and he’ll move up to the Miracle. Manuel Soliman was the innings-eater for the Snappers last year despite only having pitched now for three years. He is an intriguing prospect, but for him to remain a starter, he will need to improve his secondary pitches. Pat Dean is definitely a solid prospect  but like so many others, he missed a lot of time with injury in 2011. His season started about six weeks late, but he still pitched for three teams (including a late-season spot start in New Britain). Ryan O’Rourke is a tough, competitive left-hander with a nasty slider. When I saw him pitch in Beloit last summer, my comment was that I didn’t think big league left-handed hitters could hit that slider. He was successful as a starter, but he could also become a very good relief pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses. The game I saw AJ Achter start last year, he was tremendous. He touches 90-91 with the fastball, but he has a terrific changeup and a curveball that had good bite.

Beloit Snappers

Tim Shibuya (RHP), Madison Boer (RHP), Matt Summers (LHP), Matt Bashore (LHP), Tim Atherton (RHP), Matt Tomshaw (LHP), Derek Christensen (RHP) 

Tim Shibuya was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year and threw seven innings of a no-hitter for the E-Twins. A smart pitcher with a full mix of pitches, he should adapt well to the Midwest League. Madison Boer and Matt Summers both began their pro careers in the E-Town bullpen. Each unsurprisingly dominated. Boer struggled upon his promotion to Beloit. It is likely the Twins will have each start. I believe Boer will move to the bullpen, but I think Summers can stick as a starter. Matt Bashore was a first-round pick in 2009 and has pitched very little since. However, reports indicate that in Instructs last fall, he was looking really good and throwing as high as 93 mph again. He could be one to watch in 2012. Matt Tomshaw was the Twins 43rd round pick just last year. Like many, he was given a shot with the Ft. Myers Miracle after a couple appearances with the GCL Twins. Like few, he was very successful for the Miracle. My guess, however, is that he will step back to Beloit and start. Derek Christensen had a terrific season as a starter with the E-Twins. The side-winder may eventually move to the bullpen but his combination of deception, fastball and slider make him a very intriguing prospect. Tim Atherton was with the Twins organization a few years ago as an infielder. The team let him go, but he came back in 2011 as a pitcher, and he pitched very well. He has all the pitches, but all will need to further develop.

Elizabethton Twins

Tyler Jones (RHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Brett Lee (LHP), Chris Mazza (RHP), Angel Mata (RHP), Hung-yi Chen (RHP)

There are plenty of pitchers from the 2011 draft and from last year’s GCL team that will not be heading to Beloit to start the season. Tyler Jones was the 11th round pick a year ago out of LSU. He’s got great upside, throws hard, good breaking pitches. Kimes is a four year college guy who should probably be up in Beloit due to age, but he got hurt last year shortly after signing. Brett Lee and Chris Mazza both signed very near the deadline and didn’t pitch in 2011. Angel Mata and Hung-yi Chen were the two most intriguing pitching prospects from last year’s GCL team. Both have good stuff and are young.

GCL Twins

Hudson Boyd (RHP), Trent Higginbotham (RHP), Kuo-hua Lo (RHP), Austin Malinowski (LHP)

Boyd and Higginbotham are two very high ceiling high school picks from last year. The Twins had to go over-slot to sign their second supplemental first round pick from Ft. Myers. He touched 96-97 at times last year. Higginbotham was a late-round pick but the Twins went way over slot to sign him as well. He touches 94-95, and some believe he can be a top of the rotation starter or a dominant closer. Time will tell for both of them. Lo signed last year from Taiwan, and he’s fairly advanced for his very young age. He also has hit 94 mph on a radar gun. He debuted in Instructional League last year, and will likely be with the GCL Twins in 2012. Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick out of Centennial High School (MN). He gave up a scholarship to Arizona to sign at the last minute with the Twins.   

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS 

1.)    Liam Hendriks, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) Alex Wimmers, 4.) Adrian Salcedo, 5.) Tom Stuifbergen, 6.) Manuel Soliman, 7.) Hudson Boyd, 8.) BJ Hermsen, 9.) Pat Dean, 10.) Matt Summers 

SUMMARY  

The Twins starting pitching was really bad last year. That was a combination of struggles, injury and poor defense. For the Twins to be successful, Carl Pavano needs to throw 220 innings with a league-average ERA and WHIP. Francisco Liriano will have to pull his regain control of his fastball and show a little bit of self-confidence. Scott Baker needs to pitch like he did the six weeks before he got hurt. All three need to stay healthy. I personally think Jason Marquis will be just fine. He’s not going to post a sub-3 or sub-4 ERA, but I think he can do what Pavano did in 2011. Blackburn needs to pitch like he did his first two seasons… or so badly that Liam Hendriks gets called up. Frankly, there’s not much else waiting in the wings, ready to contribute right away as a starter. Manship can be solid, but I think the team has moved him to the bullpen in their minds. Diamond will have had to improved quite a bit to say he’s ready (which is possible).

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare though. There are some solid pitching prospects throughout the minors. Kyle Gibson should be back in 2013 (if not late in 2012). Alex Wimmers could move very quickly as well. There are several pitchers that have the potential to be a decent #3 pitcher, if all goes well on the way up. The Twins have been successful with “Twins-like” pitchers. Guys like Hermsen, Salcedo, Stuifbergen and Shibuya fit that mold. The Twins have added some power arms in the last draft or two, especially in 2011’s draft with Boyd, Higginbotham, Jones, Boer, Summers, Corey Williams and others. It will be interesting to see how they develop. 

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

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Analyzing the Twins Top 20 Prospects

20 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 is now available through LuLu.com. If you order quickly, you could have it in time for Twins Fest! 22 players that are scheduled to be at Twins Fest are profiled in this book. If you are interested in order, you can Order Here.

In my very-recently released Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, I unveiled my 2012 Twins Top 30 Prospects. I thought it would be fun to analyze the Top 20 prospects to see if any interesting notes, or even trends, emerge. I found a few, but maybe you’ll find even more. A reminder, these are my Top 20 Twins prospects. If you make a prospect list of your own, yours will likely look a little different, but most of the players will be the same with some variance.

Here is my Top Top Twins Prospect List:

Ranking Name How Acquired From (Country/State)
1 Miguel Sano Free Agent Dominican Republic
2 Eddie Rosario Drafted – 3rd Round 2010 Puerto Rico
3 Oswaldo Arcia Free Agent Venezuela
4 Aaron Hicks Drafted – 1st Round 2008 US – California
5 Joe Benson Drafted – 2nd Round 2006 US – Illinois
6 Liam Hendriks Free Agent Australia
7 Kyle Gibson Drafted – 1st Round 2009 US – Missouri
8 Adrian Salcedo Free Agent Dominican Republic
9 Alex Wimmers Drafted – 1st Round 2010 US – Ohio
10 Chris Parmelee Drafted – 1st Round 2006 US – California
11 Brian Dozier Drafted – 8th Round 2009 US – Mississippi
12 Travis Harrison Drafted – supp 1st Round 2011 US – California
13 Tom Stuifbergen Free Agent Netherlands
14 Angel Morales Drafted – 3rd Round 2007 Puerto Rico
15 Chris Herrmann Drafted – 6th Round 2009 US – Texas
16 Manuel Soliman Free Agent Dominican Republic
17 Levi Michael Drafted – 1st Round 2011 US – North Carolina
18 Max Kepler Free Agent Germany
19 Niko Goodrum Drafted – 2nd Round 2010 US – Georgia
20 Hudson Boyd Drafted – supp 1st Round 2011 US – Florida

 Some Notes:

  • Nine of my Top 20 Twins prospects were 1st or 2nd round draft picks. There are two 1st round picks and two supplemental 1st round picks since 2006 that are not on this list. 2007 top pick Ben Revere is no longer a “prospect” since he has spent so much time in the big leagues. Matt Bashore was the Twins supplemental first round pick in 2009 from Indiana. He’s had a couple of arm surgeries and returned to limited action in 2011. Reports indicate that by the end of last season, he had regained most of his velocity and he may have the opportunity to move up prospect lists quickly next season.
  • Following the 2007 season, Torii Hunter chose to sign with the Angels instead of the Twins. Because of that, the Twins received the Angels first round pick in 2008 and the first supplemental first round pick of that draft. With the 27th overall pick, the Twins chose Carlos Gutierrez who does not appear on my Top 20 prospect list, but he is a good relief pitching option who throws really hard with a good sinker but needs to throw more strikes. With the 31st overall pick, the Twins chose a hard-throwing right-hander out of Tulane University names Shooter Hunt who fought Steve Blass Disease since the 2008 season. This past December, he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
  • The Twins have a strong scouting presence all around the world, and that is shown in their top prospect list. Three players are from the Dominican Republic, and there is one player from Venezuela, Australia, the Netherlands and Germany. The Twins also have prospects from Cuba, South Africa, Mexico, Panama, Taiwan and the Czech Republic.
  • Of these top 20 prospects, 13 were drafted by the Twins. Of those, seven are high school hitters. The Twins have had great success drafting hitters out of high school (see Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere).Aside from Revere and Mauer, most of these players took five or six years to make their big league debuts and more importantly make a big impression in the big leagues. Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee are also examples of this. Drafted in 2006, they made their big league debuts in September of 2011. Each will likely start making a bigger impression on the Twins in 2012. That’s why I always find it funny when people are so disappointed that we haven’t seen Aaron Hicks dominate at the upper levels of the minor leagues yet. Or, although he was drafted a year earlier, Angel Morales is younger than Hicks. Niko Goodrum is one of the best athletes in the organization as well and played very well in Elizabethton last year. Travis Harrison was one of the top power hitting prospects from the high school ranks in the 2011 draft.
  • Although not drafted, Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Max Kepler were all signed as 16 year olds and certainly fit into the high-upside young hitter mold!!
  • The other thing that the Twins have done is draft college pitchers in the first rounds of the draft. Just two college-drafted pitchers appear on this list, and each of them has some question marks. Kyle Gibson was the team’s top prospect one year ago, and pitched very well the first two months of 2011. Unfortunately, as we all know, he had to have Tommy John surgery in September and will miss most, if not all, of the 2012 season. Alex Wimmers was the two-time Big 10 Pitcher of the Year at Ohio State. He was a control pitcher that draft experts said was closest to the big leagues. Unfortunately, he had a hamstring injury in spring training last year and it led to some very disturbing control issues. However, he seemed to be a rare example of someone overcoming Steve Blass Disease as he came back late in the season and pitched much better. He ended his season by throwing a 7-inning no-hitter for Ft. Myers. I would expect to see both make starts for the Twins in 2013.
  • The Twins did have three pitchers pitch at three levels in 2011. Reliever Matt Hauser (San Diego State) is my top ranked Twins reliever prospect (#28). Pat Dean (#30) was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2010 from Boston College. Lefty Logan Darnell (#25), the 6th round pick in 2010, was the third. All three pitched briefly with Beloit before spending most of their season in Ft. Myers. Darnell spent the most time in Double-A New Britain. The Twins have a history of being willing to promote college pitchers quickly through the minors. The following players have pitched at three levels in one season with the Twins: Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and Jesse Crain. Matt Garza actually pitched at four levels, including the Twins, in 2006.
  • The Twins hadn’t drafted a high school pitcher in the first round since 2004 when they drafted Kyle Waldrop with the 25th overall pick (Anthony Swarzak was taken in the 2nd round). The Twins used their second supplemental first round pick in 2011 on Hudson Boyd, who not only has shown good control, but he has touched 97 mph on the radar gun. He could move up quickly.
  • Here is a quick look at where these twenty players ended the season playing: Three Did Not Play (2011 draft picks), Four ended the season in Elizabethton, Two in Beloit, Four in Ft. Myers, Two in New Britain, two in Rochester and three with the Twins. You often hear that the Twins prospects are all at the lower levels of the farm system. However, Benson, Parmelee and Hendriks are all top ten prospects who made their big league debuts on September 6. Each figures into the Twins long-term future. Brian Dozier and Chris Herrmann were the high-risers among prospects and both will likely debut with the Twins in 2012 after strong seasons in New Britain and strong showings in the Arizona Fall League.
  • When Baseball America releases its Top 100 Prospects list, Miguel Sano will likely rank in the Top 25-30. It is possible that Rosario, Arcia, Benson and maybe even Gibson will appear in the Top 100 lists.
  • If you listen to Baseball America’s most recent podcast, they discussed their Top 10 rankings for AL Central teams. They clearly had the Royals as the best farm system in the division. They ranked the Twins with the second-best prospects in the division (and middle of the pack overall). They ranked the White Sox and Indians as having the two worst farm systems in all of baseball, with the Tigers very close to the bottom.  

Any other comments on these twenty prospects of the Twins farm system in general? I’ll be happy to answer them in the Comments.  

Here are some other thoughts and links:

 

  • On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins Caravan came to The Shed in Warroad. Ron Gardenhire, Joe Vavra, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins were in attendance, along with TC Bear. TwinsBaseball.com’s Rhett Bollinger was there as well. It was a nice event, and very informal. The Twins contingency seemed to really appreciate and enjoy it. It was great to be up close with the players, talk to them and, as a couple of people told me, see them as regular people. I think we (many fans) forget that at times. I have been to several Twins Caravan events over the past five years. I definitely recommend going if you’ve got one in your area. It’s just a great opportunity to meet players, get autographs if you want, and start getting excited for a new Twins season.
  • Speaking of great events, Twins Fest is next weekend. I just got my tickets in the mail yesterday. I plan to be there on Friday night and Satuurday throughout the day. I don’t get the autographs, but I enjoy talking to people, players and fans alike. SO, if you’ll be there, be sure to say hi!
  • Baseball America will be posting its Top 20 Twins Prospect list on its website today, so be sure to check there this afternoon.

I want to welcome any questions or comments that you might have. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

2nd Preliminary Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects

20 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Hopefully in the very near future, the Twins Prospect Handbook will be available. My goal will be to have it available so that people can bring it to Twins Fest and get it signed by Twins prospects. We shall see. The recent struggles have certainly hurt the timeline, but I’m getting some great help and will try my best. Two months ago, I put together a preliminary Top 50 Prospect list. Since then, I’ve been getting more and more scouting reports, looking a little deeper at numbers and trying to learn as much as I can about each of the Twins prospects. With that, I’ll give you a second preliminary prospect list. There is some serious talent at the top of the list, but there are some players throughout this top 50 and a little beyond that, if things go right for them, you could see in a role with the Twins at some point in the future. Who knows, but definitely feel free to comment and discuss these rankings. Definitely let me know who I missed, who should be higher or lower, etc.

With that, here is my 2nd preliminary Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospect ranking:

  1. Miguel Sano – 3B – Elizabethton Twins
  2. Eddie Rosario – OF – Elizabethton Twins
  3. Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle
  4. Joe Benson – OF – Minnesota Twins
  5. Aaron Hicks – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle
  6. Liam Hendriks – RHP – Minnesota Twins
  7. Kyle Gibson – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
  8. Alex Wimmers – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle
  9. Chris Parmelee – 1B – Minnesota Twins
  10. Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Beloit Snappers
  11. Brian Dozier – SS – New Britain Rock Cats  
  12. Travis Harrison – 3B – Did Not Play
  13. Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
  14. Angel Morales – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle
  15. Chris Herrmann – C – New Britain Rock Cats
  16. Manuel Soliman – RHP – Beloit Snappers  
  17. Levi Michael – SS – Did Not Play
  18. Max Kepler – OF – Elizabethton Twins
  19. Niko Goodrum – SS – Elizabethton Twins
  20. Hudson Boyd – RHP – Did Not Play
  21. BJ Hermsen – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle
  22. Danny Santana – SS – Beloit Snappers
  23. Madison Boer – RHP – Beloit Snappers
  24. Logan Darnell – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  25. David Bromberg – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  26. JD Williams – OF – Elizabethton Twins
  27. Terry Doyle – RHP – White Sox organization, Twins Rule 5 pick
  28. Jairo Perez – 3B – Beloit Snappers
  29. Matt Hauser – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  30. Pat Dean – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  31. Matt Summers – RHP – Elizabethton Twins
  32. Danny Rams – C – Ft. Myers Miracle
  33. Scott Diamond – LHP – Minnesota Twins  
  34. Angel Mata – RHP – GCL Twins
  35. Corey Williams – LHP – Elizabethton Twins  
  36. Danny Ortiz – OF – Beloit Snappers
  37. Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
  38. Nate Roberts – OF – Beloit Snappers
  39. Lance Ray – OF/1B – Beloit Snappers
  40. Deolis Guerra – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  41. Michael Gonzales – 1B – Beloit Snappers
  42. Lester Oliveros – RHP – Minnesota Twins
  43. Ryan O’Rourke – LHP – Beloit Snappers
  44. Hung-Yi Chen – RHP – GCL Twins
  45. James Beresford – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle
  46. Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain Rock Cats
  47. Tyler Grimes – IF – Beloit Snappers
  48. Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Ft. Myers Miracle
  49. Tim Shibuya – RHP – Elizabethton Twins
  50. Pedro Guerra – RHP – Beloit Snappers

JUST MISSED – Adam Bryant, Nick Lockwood, Rory Rhodes, Matt Bashore, Evan Bigley, Derek Christensen, Steven Gruver, Kuo-hua Lo.

I’m sure I missed others. Let’s discuss. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments. Final stages of the book development, so help me out!!

Twins Prospect Loses Teammate, Friend

22 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Those of us in the United States woke up on Monday morning and saw the news that Mariners outfield prospect Greg Halman had been stabbed and killed, and that his brother, Jason, had been arrested on the scene. To those that knew him, the news was devastating.

Two weeks ago, Halman participated in the European big league tour. He joined several Major League players, including Prince Fielder, Dexter Fowler, Adam Jones and fellow Dutch big leaguer Rick Van den Hurk (who founded the program), to meet kids and provide clinics for them to learn baseball. During the 2011 season, the 24 year old outfielder played in 35 games for the Mariners and hit two home runs and stole five bases. In 2010, he made his big league debut in September after hitting 33 home runs in AAA.

In 2009, Halman was the centerfielder for Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. You remember, the team that beat The Dominican Republic twice in the first round. Bert Blyleven was the pitching coach for that team, and the starting pitcher in that elimination game was Twins prospect Tom Stuifbergen.

Halman and Stuifbergen were both born in the city of Haarlem, the capital of North Holland, in the Netherlands. The city has a population of just over 150,000. The two did not go to the same school but, as Stuifbergen recalls, “we played club ball together. We don’t have school ball like in the US, but we played ball and hung out basically four out of seven days a week. We played for ‘Kinheim.’”

Stuifbergen continues, “I started playing with Greg when I was nine because he always played with the bigger guys because of his talent. When I was six, I played with Jason, his brother.”

“I knew Jason very, very well too. These two guys were so close to each other. You have no clue! They loved each other more than they loved anyone else.” This, of course, makes Monday’s news all the more perplexing and incomprehensible.

“Greg and I grew up together as young kids. I played with him until he turned 16 years old and signed (with the Mariners). We promised each other to face off in the big leagues, for a dinner! But, yeah… it’s just awful. It’s tough.”

Halman had represented The Netherlands in many international competitions throughout his minor league career with Stuifbergen. Because he was in the big leagues, he could not be part of the Netherlands’ World Cup championship. He was so excited about the championship though, and that his friend (Stuifbergen) was named the Best Pitcher in the tournament.

Stuifbergen added, “There were so many good things in the news about baseball in the Netherlands.”

And then this.

Life always finds a way to put things back into proper perspective. This is yet another unfortunate example of that. On Friday, Stuifbergen was likely disappointed that he was not added to the Twins 40 man roster. It doesn’t seem as important now that he has lost his good friend in this way.

“It’s tragic. It hurts. He will be missed.”

Feel free to comment.

Monday Morning Links

21 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Good morning and welcome to a new week. Fortunately, from a work perspective, it will be a shortened week, so that’s always a good thing.

I spent too much time this weekend working on my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. I really want to get it out earlier this year. I definitely want to see copies of it at Twins Fest! The meat and potatoes of the book, as always, will be the Prospect Profiles. There will again be over 150 profiles of Twins minor leaguers, and over the weekend, I wrote profiles for all Twins prospect between Logan Darnell and Matt Hauser, alphabetically. If you’re counting, that’s 28 profiles, a busy weekend.

Friday was the big day for Twins news, and of course, you were able to see my thoughts here that day. First, we heard that the Twins were the team that signed Ryan Doumit. Of course, that is not yet true, unless you add the words “pending a physical” to the description. I would assume he will be in Minneapolis in the next couple of days for the physical and to actually sign a contract. As I said on Friday, I love the signing of Doumit. Although he’s not a great catcher, he can catch a little, but he is a right-handed bat who fairly consistently posts an OPS around .800. He can play some 1B, some OF and DH and pinch hit. There is a lot of value in that.

Also on Friday, the Twins and the other big league teams had to add players to their 40 man rosters. The Twins added Oswaldo Arcia, Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson. They also removed David Bromberg from the 40 man roster in a move that disappointed me. However, the fact that Bromberg cleared waivers says that the Twins most likely made the right decision especially since he has not been around long enough to become a free agent. Most likely, he will return to pitch in the upper levels of the Twins minor league system in 2012.

Over the weekend, more and more details of the about-to-be-signed Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players’ union and the owners. The most important thing is that baseball will not have any work stoppage. If only the NBA would learn from that. But anyway, it appears that there will not be Type B draft pick compensation starting this year. Personally, I think that they should wait until next offseason for those changes to go into effect. For instance, Jason Kubel is a Type B free agent. Under the current system, the Twins would receive a supplemental 1st round pick for Kubel if they offered him arbitration and he declined it. I can completely understand why the Twins chose not to trade players off at the July trade deadline, but by the time the August deadline came, the Twins were definitely a Seller. They traded Jim Thome for $20K. Jason Kubel was also claimed, reported by Cleveland, but the two teams were unable to work out a trade. Why? Well, in part likely because the Twins had to decide whether their compensation for Kubel would be close to what they could draft with the supplemental pick they would get for him. With the changes, the Twins will now get nothing if they lose Kubel. Had they known they would get no compensation for Kubel, they may have traded him in an attempt to get something for him rather than nothing.

On Sunday, the Rockies traded Ty Wigginton to the Phillies. Wigginton can play 1B until Ryan Howard comes back. He can also play some 3B, maybe a little bit at 2B, and play some in the corner outfield spots. He also could be a pinch hitter and a bench option. Seemingly, the trade would take the Phillies out of the running for Michael Cuddyer, at least to some degree. Does it possibly open up some salary room for the Rockies to go after Cuddyer more strongly? They have been reportedly interested in Cuddyer all along. If I’m just guessing, the longer that it takes for Cuddyer to sign with a team, the more likely he returns to the Twins. It means that he isn’t getting the overwhelming offers that he may have hoped for, and if money is less of a factor, then the Twins can swoop in. I would think that the Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit signings would indicate to Cuddyer that they still hope to win in 2012.

 

Monday morning came with the horrible news that Mariners 24-year-old outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death in the Netherlands yesterday. His brother has been arrested. Halman played for the Dutch national team in the WBC in 2009 along with Twins prospect Tom Stuifbergen. Stuifbergen tweeted, “Gregory Halman… Our dream to face each other in the MLB… Gone… with such a sad day! #nlhonkbal @MLB” Thoughts go out to those who knew him!

 

 

Around the Twins Blogosphere:

Lots on Ryan Doumit. What will Terry Ryan’s next move be? Feel free to comment.

40 Man Roster Decisions Due Soon

16 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I expect that the Twins will announce their 40 man roster additions on Friday afternoon, but just in case they announce them a little early, I’m going to make my 40 man roster decisions. I wrote an article for the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook on this decision that the organization needs to make every year.  This will be some of the content from the handbook, but it will be updated, and since I expect the decision to be made in the next two days, I will give my final thoughts on who I think would be added. I will break it into The Givens, the Strongly Considered, the Have To Think Abouts, and the others who are eligible.

Who Must be Added? Players who signed when they were less than 19 in 2007 must be protected or potentially lost. Players that were signed when they were 19 or older in 2008 also have to be added. Typically, this means that high school players drafted in 2007 are eligible, and college players drafted in 2007.

So here are my predictions, for your consideration. I will also put a number after the name for where I would rank their likelihood of being added, relative to the other options.

The Givens

  • Oswaldo Arcia (1) – He has the kind of bat that someone is willing to put on a big league bench even if he isn’t ready.
  • Carlos Gutierrez (2) – The former first-rounder had a tough 2011 season, but if healthy, his sinking fastball and ground ball rate make him a given.

Strongly Considered

  • Tom Stuifbergen (3) – Improved velocity, has three pitches, knows how to pitch, comes up big in big situations, incredible in international play, made one start in Rochester after spending the season in Ft. Myers.
  • Angel Morales (4) – missed most of 2011 with an elbow injury. Came back six weeks after arthroscopic elbow surgery. Although the power hasn’t shown as much, no one doubts he has it. Good speed and defense. Works counts. Can he stick on a big league roster? He is younger than Aaron Hicks.
  • Manuel Soliman (5) – Pitched in Beloit in 2011, so the question is whether or not he would be able to remain on a big league roster. He’s only pitched for 3 years. He throws hard. He could be a bullpen arm if he can develop a second pitch. He could be an impact starter if he develops a third pitch.
  • Tyler Robertson (6) – Lefty came on strong as the New Britain closer in the 2nd half of the 2011 season. 15 saves, 10 wins, and pitched well. He was the 3rd round pick out of high school in 2006 (after Parmelee and Benson were taken in the first two rounds). He’s young and left-handed and smart, but the velocity is low.
  • Andrew Albers (7) – Because he was a free agent when the Twins signed him last spring, he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Like Robertson, he doesn’t throw hard, but he is very aggressive on the mound. Already 26 years old, he was my choice as the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year this year when he pitched well in Ft. Myers and New Britain, in the bullpen and making a few starts.

Have to be Considered

  • Cole DeVries (8) – Sometimes last impressions matter, and DeVries was tremendous in the Arizona Fall League.
  • Bruce Pugh (9) – Sometimes last impressions matter, and Pugh falls down to this level from the Strongly considered due to a rough AFL.

Others Who Are Eligible

The Twins took Anthony Slama off of the 40 man roster last month. He could not become a free agent, but he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. If I’m a GM, I absolutely would take Slama with a Rule 5 pick. He’s ready for the big leagues, and he can actually pitch out of a bullpen. I can’t imagine that the Twins would add him back to the 40 man roster after taking him off last month, but maybe the change at GM will give a different thought.

Phil Dumatrait and Brian Dinkelman were also taken off the 40 man roster. Dinkelman elected to become a free agent because he had been outrighted for the second time. He resigned with the Twins on a minor league deal last week. Dumatrait is a veteran and became a free agent, but yesterday, he returned to the Twins on a minor league deal. Both of these guys are eligible.

Others: Jairo Perez, James Beresford, Anderson Hidalgo, Steve Hirschfeld, Edgar Ibarra, Danny Lehmann, Brett Jacobson, Nelvin Fuentes, Jhon Garcia, Evan Bigley, Bobby Lanigan (10), Danny Rams, Mark Dolenc, Chris Cates, Jonathan Goncalves, Josmil Pinto, Spencer Steedley, Michael Tarsi, Jairo Rodriguez, Miguel Munoz, Wang-Wei Lin, Reggie Williams, Pedro Guerra, Rory Rhodes, Shooter Hunt, Nate Hanson, Deibinson Romero, Michael Hollimon, Ray Chang.

What Will Happen?

With the signing of Jamey Carroll, the Twins now have 35 players on their 40 man roster. They could add as many as five players, assuming they don’t sign any other big league free agents before the announcement. I would think that the Twins would prefer to leave one spot open on their 40 man roster which means they would likely add four players from above. (The Twins added four players last year – David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Rene Tosoni) Those players are required to remain on the 40 man roster until after spring training next year. So what happens if the Twins want to sign another free agent, but they are already at 40 on the roster? I think many would agree that there are several of the 35 players currently on the 40 man roster that they could take off without missing too much.

Current 40 Man Roster

Here is the 40 man roster as it sits right now:

  • Pitchers: Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, David Bromberg, Alex Burnett, Scott Diamond, Brian Duensing, Jeff Gray (out of options), Deolis Guerra, Liam Hendriks, Jim Hoey, Francisco Liriano, Matt Maloney (out of options), Jeff Manship, Jose Mijares, Lester Oliveros, Carl Pavano, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, Anthony Swarzak (out of options), Esmerling Vasquez (out of options), Kyle Waldrop.
  • Catchers: Drew Butera, Joe Mauer
  • Infielders: Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Luke Hughes (out of options), Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe (out of options), Danny Valencia.
  • Outfielders: Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Denard Span, Rene Tosoni

Feel free to comment, ask questions and make your predictions.

Stuifbergen, Netherlands Win World Cup

16 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Late on Saturday night, the Netherlands finished a 2-1 victory over Cuba to win the World Cup tournament in Panama. Twins prospect Tom Stuifbergen was named the Best Pitcher of the tournament.

On October 1, 16 teams traveled to Panama for the tournament. The last two days have been the final round. In the 7th place game, Venezuela beat Panama 8-3. In the 5th place game, Australia beat South Korea 3-2. Due to rain, the USA and Canada are co-bronze medalists. And again, Holland topped Cuba 2-1 in the championship game.

Tom Stuifbergen (Ft. Myers/Rochester) was named the tournament’s top pitcher. The right-hander went 2-0 with a save in his three outings. In his first game, he pitched the final two innings for a save. He then threw seven shutout innings against Puerto Rico. In his final start, he threw eight shutout innings against South Korea. He threw 17 innings without allowing a run. He gave up 12 hits, walked two and struck out eight.

If there was such a thing, another Twins minor leaguer, Andrew Albers, would likely have been the runner-up for best pitcher. Albers pitched in four games and started two. He threw 15 scoreless innings for Team Canada. He went 2-0. He gave up seven hits, walked three and struck out nine.

After spending the 2011 season with the Ft. Myers Miracle, James Beresford was the leadoff hitter and shortstop for Australia. In the tournament, he went 17-46 (.370) with two walks, two doubles, nine runs scored and five RBI. Allan de San Miguel (New Britain/Tommy John surgery) went 1-9 as a catcher for the team. Todd Van Steensel (Elizabethton) pitched in one game against Cuba for Australia.

Max Kepler (Elizabethton) was the centerfielder for the team from Germany. He went 8-23 (.348) with five walks, two doubles, a home run, eight runs scored and three RBI. Markus Solbach (GCL Twins) gave up three runs (1 earned) on eight hits and a walk in 4.1 innings (over two games). He struck out seven.

Nelvin Fuentes (Beloit) pitched 1.2 innings over three games. He gave up no runs on four hits, no walks and a strikeout.

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On Saturday in the AFL, Mesa beat Sunrise 14-3. Brian Dozier went 3-5 with a walk, a double, four runs scored and two RBI. He’s hitting. 353. Aaron Hicks went 0-3 with two walks and an RBI. They both had a stolen base. Cole DeVries started and gave up just one hit over four innings. He walked none and struck out five. Bruce Pugh threw a scoreless sixth inning. On Friday afternoon, Chris Herrmann was tasked with catching the first outing of Gerrit Cole. He also went 2-4 with his third double.

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On Saturday night in Venezuela, Rene Tosoni went 2-4 and is now 3-9 (.333) with 3 walks (.500 OBP) in three games.

Joe Benson went 1-3 with a walk. In four games, he’s 2-12 (.167) with four walks (.375 OBP) with a double (.250 SLG).

Please feel free to comment in the Comments Section.