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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 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

Today, we will conclude our Organizational Depth Chart by looking at the Relief Pitchers. Frankly, it is kind of a mess thanks to about 89 minor league veterans brought in, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. As I said on Monday, many starters will get time as a reliever, and vice versa. This is especially true in the lower levels of the minor leagues where innings limits are still so important. The Twins bullpen in 2011 was pretty much horrible. They had lost Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, both guys who had long been in the Twins bullpen. They also let Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, and Ron Mahay departed via free agency. Each made huge money for relievers in free agency. As I’ve said, I would have wanted to bring back Crain, but I definitely understood letting the others go. The Twins brought in some minor league free agents, but as they had done so many times before, they made the decision to build a bullpen from within. Needing two or three pitchers to step up, only Glen Perkins really stepped up throughout the season. Anthony Swarzak was a surprise success as well in long relief and as a spot starter. Joe Nathan struggled in his return. Matt Capps just struggled. Two pitchers that likely would have been counted on to perform, Jeff Manship and Anthony Slama were out most of the season with injuries. Had those two been healthy all season, it could have been a better situation. To the surprise of many, the Twins seem to have gone with much the same philosophy in 2012. Instead of going after retread relievers, they are choosing to believe in their in-house options. They brought back Capps, are taking a flyer on Joel Zumaya, and have invited a small village of minor league veteran pitchers with some big league experience. All in the attempt to hope that three or four of them step up. It’s a philosophy I completely agree with despite the fact that it went very wrong in 2011. Then again, pretty much everything went wrong for the Twins in 2011. Fortunately 2012 is a new year. You can clamor for guys like Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey all you want. Or you can realize that they all struggled early in their careers and didn’t become big league regulars until late in their careers. They didn’t succeed in their first opportunities in the big leagues, and they have all had their struggles in the big leagues even after being given regular bullpen duties. So, although I am incredibly nervous about the Twins bullpen, and don’t have any idea how they will perform in 2012, I do think they have some talent, some young talent that should continue to get opportunities. That’s just smart.  Relievers who are good year in and year out are a rarity. Are there a dozen  in the entire big leagues that you could say have been lights out, have been difference-makers each of the past five seasons? (I’ll give you Mariano Rivera… you name another 10.) Because of that, bringing in 26-30 year olds with good arms and some measure of success makes a lot of sense to me.  

Below you will get a look at the names of many Twins minor league pitchers who will likely spend a lot of time in bullpens this upcoming season. 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  

Matt Capps (RHP), Glen Perkins (LHP), Joel Zumaya (RHP), Brian Duensing (LHP), Alex Burnett (RHP), Anthony Swarzak (RHP), Jeff Gray (RHP), Terry Doyle (RHP-R5)

Some Twins fans choose to say that Matt Capps has been pretty bad in two of the last three years. Since it’s less than two weeks before spring training, so I’ll say that he’s been really good in four of his last six seasons! If healthy, he’ll be solid at the end of games. I think Glen Perkins proved himself throughout the 2011 season to believe he can be a dominant lefty reliever again in 2012. Brian Duensing likely moves to the bullpen. He is one of baseball’s best at getting left-handed hitters out, but one of the worst at getting right-handers out. Joel Zumaya hasn’t pitched since 2010, and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2006, but I guess there is a chance he could be really good for half of the season! Anthony Swarzak is out of options and he really proved himself in long-relief and spot-starting last year. He could find himself being thrown into more high leverage situations in 2012. Alex Burnett has the arguably the best stuff in the bullpen and hopefully he will be able to put it all together. He won’t turn 25 until late July. If Terry Doyle pitches fairly well in spring training, I believe that he will make the team. If a starter is hurt, he could be the guy to make some starts early in the season, or he could be a long reliever. I also believe that Jeff Gray will make this roster as well. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options.  

Rochester Red Wings

Anthony Slama (RHP), Carlos Gutierrez (RHP), Lester Oliveros (RHP), Cole DeVries (RHP), Deolis Guerra (RHP), Kyle Waldrop (RHP), Esmerling Vazquez (RHP), Tyler Robertson (LHP), Jared Burton (RHP), Jason Bulger (RHP), Samuel Deduno (RHP), Phil Dumatrait (LHP), Casey Fien (RHP), Luis Perdomo (RHP), Daryl Thompson (RHP), PJ Walters (RHP), Brendan Wise (RHP), Luke French (LHP), Brad Thompson (RHP), Matt Maloney (LHP)

What a mess spring training will be? The Twins will have to play a few split-squad games to get all of these guys innings. Inexplicably, Anthony Slama has never been given a shot by the Twins despite 10.3 K/9 and a 2.59 ERA in 92 AAA appearances. I think Lester Oliveros has a chance to be pretty good but he needs more time. The Twins don’t need to rush him (like they did with Alex Burnett). The Twins claimed Vazquez from the Diamondbacks on the last day of the 2011 season. He’s a hard-thrower with control issues. The same can be said for Deduno and Perdomo. Kyle Waldrop finally got a shot with the Twins in September and he should be given a very legitimate opportunity to make the Twins opening day roster and get time throughout the season with the Twins. The two non-roster invites that have a legitimate chance of making the big league roster early in the season are Jared Burton and Jason Bulger. Each has had quite a bit of big league success. Burton has been hurt much of the past two seasons. Bulger spent a long time with the Angels. Phil Dumatrait got way too much time with the Twins last year. Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson were added to the 40 man roster this offseason. Gutierrez made the move to the bullpen last year and pitched pretty well until shoulder issues. Still walks too many though. Robertson was terrific in the second half of last season as the New Britain closer. The lefty may not throw hard, but he was quite successful in his first season in the bullpen. Cole DeVries had a tremendous 2011 including a very good performance in the hitting Arizona Fall League. Matt Maloney is on the 40 man roster. The left-hander was brought in before Terry Ryan was named GM, but as a former Reds pitcher, it is likely that he was recommended by Wayne Krivsky, which makes him intriguing. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options, but there is a chance he could go unclaimed. Non-roster invites Burton, Bulger, Deduno, Dumatrait, Fien, Perdomo, Walters, French and the two Thompsons all have spent some time in the big leagues. Liam Hendriks said in a recent podcast that Brendan Wise is similar to Kyle Waldrop in terms of ability to get a lot of ground balls. The Aussie has been very good in AAA the last two years. Finally, it is a huge year for Deolis Guerra. After being really bad as a starting pitcher, he moved to the New Britain bullpen last year and was incredible. Suddenly he had better control, gave up less hits and struck out more than a batter an inning. How will he perform in AAA in 2012? It will be interesting to watch. I suspect we will see him by season’s end. He has one option left.  

New Britain Rock Cats

Matt Hauser (RHP), Andrew Albers (LHP), Brett Jacobson (RHP), Daniel Turpen (RHP), Tony Davis (LHP), Blake Martin (LHP), Cole Nelson (LHP), Spencer Steedley (LHP), Ricky Bowen (RHP), Jhon Garcia (RHP), Bruce Pugh (RHP), Dakota Watts (RHP), Steve Hirschfeld (RHP)

Will any of the leftovers from the Twins minor league signings move down to AA? We shall see. Matt Hauser ended the 2011 season with one appearance with the Rock Cats. He is a hard-throwing right hander who I think will be a big breakout candidate in 2012. Andrew Albers was the story of the year in the Twins system last year and my choice for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Brett Jacobson, Blake Martin and Spencer Steedley spent 2011 in New Britain, each splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Turpen came over from Colorado in the Kevin Slowey deal. He throws hard and side-arm but gets no strikeouts. Bruce Pugh and Dakota Watts both had disappointing 2011 seasons between Ft. Myers and New Britain. Each struggled in the Arizona Fall League. But each throws really hard and if they can find any measure of control, they are legit prospects. Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in both April and May. He struggled in June and moved to the bullpen, which is likely where he’ll wind up. Tony Davis is not a big guy, but he throws left-handed and touches 94-95 mph. He missed about half of last season with a shoulder surgery. He will be ready for spring training. Cole Nelson is a Minnesota native who came over from Detroit in the Delmon Young trade. Ricky Bowen signed with the Twins in May and did a nice job pitching out of the Ft. Myers bullpen. Jhon Garcia throws hard and can pitch in any role in the bullpen and spot start.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Jose Gonzalez (LHP), Michael Tonkin (RHP), Clinton Dempster (RHP), Bart Carter (LHP), Nelvin Fuentes (LHP), Edgar Ibarra (LHP), Kane Holbrooks (RHP), Matt Schuld (RHP), Brad Stillings (RHP), Caleb Thielbar (LHP), Blayne Weller (RHP), Miguel Munoz (RHP)

Jose Gonzalez was the closer in Beloit last year. He’ll likely continue in that role with the Miracle. He’s not tall and resembles Jose Mijares, but he throws hard and has a terrific slider. Michael Tonkin moved to the bullpen in 2011 and pitched very well. Dempster was terrific in the bullpen for Beloit but struggled upon his promotion to Ft. Myers. Carter dominated in Elizabethton and then pitched very well for the Snappers. A four year college guy, he should be pushed. Nelvin Fuentes has been pitching well for Puerto Rico in international competition. He has also steadily moved up the Twins system. The lefty works slow but he gets hitters out. Edgar Ibarra struggled in the Miracle rotation last year but finished strong in the bullpen. Kane Holbrooks had a tremendous 2010 season that saw him pitch well in Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain. 2011 was disappointing. He pitched well with no run support in April, but then he really struggled. He then missed the last couple of months. St. Thomas alum Matt Schuld pitched very well in Ft. Myers and then threw pretty well in New Britain. I only have him in Ft. Myers because of the numbers crunch at the higher levels. Caleb Thielbar became the first player the Twins signed from the St. Paul Saints and pitched in a few games for the Miracle. Blayne Weller pitched in the bullpen in Beloit although he ended the season pitching well as a starter. Miguel Munoz made his first start last year with the Miracle, hurt his elbow and then didn’t pitch again until late in the season. In his return to the Miracle, he re-aggravated the elbow injury and was shut down. Reports indicate that he did not have elbow surgery and rehabbed throughout the offseason.

Beloit Snappers

Corey Williams (LHP), Steve Evans (LHP), Steven Gruver (LHP), Jason Wheeler (LHP), David Hurlbut (LHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Garrett Jewell (RHP), Cole Johnson (RHP), Tobias Streich (RHP), Jhonatan Arias (RHP).

Corey Williams was the Twins 3rd round pick just a year ago. The lefty signed for nearly double the slot recommendation. But the Twins are quite excited about him. He’s another hard thrower, said to have nasty stuff and a strong mentality. Evans, Gruver, Hurlbut and Johnson were all 2011 draft picks out of college that pitched well at Elizabethton during the summer. Kimes pitched in just a couple of games before suffering from mono. Jason Wheeler was the team’s 8th round pick and signed at the deadline. He will debut in 2012. Tobias Streich and Jhonatan Arias were both strong-armed catchers without much bat. Last year at Instructs, the two were moved from behind the plate to the mound. The Twins have done this in the past with mixed results. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, but a year later he moved to the mound, and although he didn’t get to the big leagues, he spent 3 years in AAA as a reliever. Danny Santiesteban was an outfielder with a bunch of tools in the lower levels of the Twins system for a few years. He was moved to the mound but was released soon after. (By the way, Santiesteban has been a hitting star for the Newark Bears of the independent leagues the last couple of years.)

Elizabethton Twins

Luis Nunez (LHP), Ricardo Arevalo (RHP), Nathan Fawbush (RHP), Tyler Herr (RHP), Gonzalo Sanudo (RHP), Markus Solbach (RHP), Dallas Gallant (RHP)

Luis Nunez went 5-0 with 5 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 16 relief appearances in the GCL. The 20-year-old lefty throws gas with decent (but improving) secondary stuff. He is certainly one to watch. Tyler Herr is a tall right-hander who showed improvement in his second year in the GCL. Arevalo has gone 0-11 with a 4.37 ERA in 25 games over the past two years in the GCL. Nathan Fawbush is another tall kid with a lot of talent, but he has missed time each of the past two seasons since the Twins drafted him. Sanudo signed with the Twins in 2011 and in 20.2 innings in the GCL, he walked seven and struck out 22. He just turned 20. Markus Solbach signed about this time last year from Germany, and he went 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings in the GCL. He also pitched well in the World Cup.  Gallant had Tommy John surgery last spring and will be brought back slowly.

GCL Twins

Josh Burris (RHP), Josue Montanez (LHP), Gerardo Ramirez (RHP)

The Twins signed Ramirez last year out of Mexico and threw 17.1 innings in the GCL. He just turned 18. Montanez just turned 20 years old. He signed with the Twins last year as their 15th round pick a year after being taken in the 25th round in 2010 by the Padres. His first outing didn’t go well, and then he was really good his next seven outings. Josh Burris signed very late with the Twins last year out of LSU-Eunice. Last year, he played some 2B and some in the outfield. He hit .273 with a triple and a homer and stole 13 bases. He also was a reliever who walked too many. However, he hits 94 mph on the radar gun and is best known for his great 12-6 curveball.

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Corey Williams, 2.) Matt Hauser, 3.) Lester Oliveros, 4.) Deolis Guerra, 5.) Carlos Gutierrez, 6.) Luis Nunez, 7.) Tyler Robertson, 8.) Dakota Watts, 9.) Bruce Pugh 10.) Steven Evans

SUMMARY

The Twins bullpen was really bad last year. I don’t think there is any way around that. Glen Perkins stepped up, and once he was called up, Anthony Swarzak pitched well. If the Twins have any hope at being successful in 2012, they are going to need a few more guys to really step up. Capps is going to have to be healthy and pitch well. Zumaya may have to be healthy and successful. Duensing will have to fill the role of lefty-reliever. They brought in a bunch of minor league veterans, and it would be great if one or two of them would step up and contribute when called upon. There are several Twins minor leaguers who deserve an opportunity to step up, guys like Waldrop, Gutierrez, DeVries and even Anthony Slama. The Twins have made an effort to bring in some strong arms, and in doing so have found guys who also walk a bunch. In recent drafts, the Twins have also added some power arms to mixed results. Guys like Matt Hauser and Tony Davis could move up. 2011 draft picks Corey Williams, Matt Summers, Madison Boer, Trent Higginbotham and Josh Burris throw hard. Oh, and remember a couple of years ago when the Twins had something like three or four left-handed relievers in their entire farm system? Now, it appears that each team may have three or four lefties! There is definitely some talent in the bullpen, some very strong arms. Of course, we also have to remember that many starting pitchers who have decent stuff and aren’t working out as starters could be moved to the bullpen as well.  

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

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Twins 2011 Impact Prospects

15 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

As you have seen, Danny Valencia graces the cover of my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011. Under his picture reads, “Danny Valencia arrived in 2010 and held the Twins to the A. L. Central Title.” Under four pictures of Twins minor leaguers, the question is asked, “Which Prospect(s) will help the Twins in 2011?”

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011

Now, as you know, there are over 160 profiles of Twins minor leaguers in the book. How many of them could we see in Minnesota, and under what circumstance would we see them? Here are some names (alphabetically) to keep in the back of your mind heading into spring training.

Let’s start with the prospects that we have already seen play for the Twins.

Luke Hughes – We didn’t get to see a lot of Hughes in 2010, but what we saw was positive. I mean, he became the first Twins player since 1984 to hit a home run in his first at bat. Hughes struggles defensively, but at least he can play multiple positions, and most important, he is right-handed and has a lot of power in his bat. His role with the Twins could be a right-handed bench bat and designated hitter who can fill in from time to time around the field.

Trevor Plouffe – Plouffe was back and forth between Rochester and the Twins throughout last summer. He struggled late in the Triple-A season, but he displayed power and improved his defense. I think he’ll compete with Alexi Casilla for the starting shortstop job. As this is his final option season, I would anticipate that he will play at 3B and 2B in 2011 than he did in 2010 as he could potentially be a utility infielder as well.

Ben Revere – We got a glimpse of Revere in September and I think that is the role we will see him fill in 2011 as well. If Denard Span is hurt, Revere could replace him for a couple of weeks in centerfield and in the leadoff spot. Some think he should be a fourth outfielder already, but he is just 22, hasn’t spent a day in AAA, and despite hitting .300 yet again and having game-changing speed, he still has parts of his game that need to improve, specifically defense.

Next, there are two guys that we haven’t seen yet, but we know we will hear a lot about this spring:

Scott Diamond – The Twins Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves organization has to spend the season with the Twins or go through waivers and be offered back to the Braves. It is likely he would be claimed or the Braves would take him back, so the Twins will likely give the left-hander every opportunity to make the team.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka – The Twins made big news last Thanksgiving when they won the bid to negotiate exclusively with Nishioka. The two sides agreed to a three year contract with an option for a fourth year. It’s almost a given that Nishioka will be with the Twins and playing at 2B, although he will also see time at shortstop in spring.

The following are Twins minor leaguers that I think have at least some chance of debuting with the Twins in 2011:

Joe Benson – The Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year hit 31 doubles and 27 home runs in 2010. He is an excellent defender with Revere-like speed, and a Cuddyer-like arm. He has work to do before he’s ready for a full-time big league job. It woudl be great if he could spend the year at Double-A.  He has to work on putting the ball in play more consistently, but if he does, he could get a September call-up.

David Bromberg – After leading three minor league levels in strikeouts from 2007 to 2009, his strikeout rate was down at Double-A last year. However, he ended the season with nine starts and AAA where he struck out just over eight per nine innings. He will start the season in the Rochester rotation, and if the Twins have a need for a starter and Bromberg is pitching well, he very easily could be the one promoted for a spot start, or even possibly a long-relief role.

Billy Bullock – Bullock throws gas. The 2nd round pick from 2009 consistently throws around 95 mph with a very good slider. He began the 2010 season by striking out 45 in 37.1 innings at Ft. Myers. After being promoted to Double-A, he struck out and incredible 60 batters in 36.2 innings. Of course, he also walked 24. If he can display any semblance of control in 2010 in the upper levels of the minor leagues, he becomes very intriguing for the Twins in the second half of the season.

Tony Davis – Bullock’s college teammate is a left-hander who also pitched well in his first full season. He began the season by posting a 2.87 ERA in Ft. Myers and followed it up with a 2.64 ERA in New Britain. Again, control is his issue. He walked 46 batters and struck out 45 batters in 2010. The Twins added some left-handed veterans this offseason, so it would take a lot of control and some breaks for Davis to debut in 2011.

Kyle Gibson – The 2009 top pick is clearly the Twins top pitching prospect. He moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain and ended the season with three starts at Rochester. Gibson is clearly going to be a starter for the Twins at some point. The question is whether it is in June, August, or if they can wait for him to debut until 2012. If he pitches well early in the 2011 season, he should be starting for the Twins by June. If he’s pitching well later in the season, but the Twins starters are doing their part, there is some opportunity for him to debut later in the summer in the bullpen.

Carlos Gutierrez – The Twins second first round pick in 2008 throws hard and induces a lot of ground balls because he gets a lot of sink on his pitches. He has struggled as a starter, and he thrives in the bullpen. He has a chance to contribute to the Twins in the second half of the 2011 season if he is pitching well.

Chris Parmelee – The Twins 2006 first-round pick had always shown an ability to take a walk and hit for some power. In 2010, he made major strides in putting the ball in play and hitting for average. Hopefully in 2011, he can put it all together and become a big-time, all-around hitting prospect. It would be great if he could spend the full season in AA, but if he’s hitting well and (the worst-case scenario occurs and) Justin Morneau needs to miss extended time, Parmelee becomes an option for the big league club.

Chris Province – Province came to the Twins last year in spring training from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He is a reliever, although he made several starts a year ago between Double-A and Triple-A. A lot would need to happen for him to debut with the Twins, but he has a fastball that darts in on a right-hander’s hands. If he’s pitching well at a given time when there is a need, he has an outside shot.

Brandon Roberts – Roberts has generally played well throughout the four years he has been in the Twins organization. The problem is that he has been hurt so much. Last year, he finally remained healthy enough to work up to AAA where the CF hit over .300. He has had some knee problems, but speed is his game. Again, there is a smaller chance, but if he stays healthy and produces like he did last year, you never know.

Steve Singleton – After a slow start in 2010, he came on well late in the season. He led the organization with 43 doubles, and had 54 extra base hits on the year. He puts the ball in play and plays solid defense at 2B and has also played 3B and shortstop. He has a lot of pop for a second baseman, and if he can continue to play well, if there is an injury, he deserves an opportunity.

Rene Tosoni – Tosoni is just a solid all-around player. The only weak part of his game has been an inability to hit left-handed pitching. He tried to play in 2010, but his shoulder was experiencing just too much pain, so his season ended with surgery. He profiles similarly to Jason Kubel in terms of hitter. He is a little better defensively, has a little bit more speed, and has a strong arm. It will be interesting to see how he returns from missing so much time last year.

Kyle Waldrop – He had an absolutely incredible first-half of the season a year ago. It started with a great spring training before being sent to Rochester. Prior to the AAA All-Star game, he had posted both an ERA and a WHIP of under 1.00. He struggled some in the second half. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but he gets a lot of movement and sink on the fastball and could be a groundball reliever option sometime this season.

Dakota Watts – Maybe the biggest long-shot on the list, the Twins 16th round pick in 2009 pitched at Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2010. He was clocked at 99 mph while in Ft. Myers. That along makes him worth watching. He can get a strikeout, probably walks too many, but is at least worth watching, and maybe he would be a long-shot September call-up.

Finally, there are some more veteran minor leaguers that the Twins brought in for the 2010 season that are worth noting:

Justin Huber is back after a year in Japan. Consider the day that Michael Cuddyer took over at 1B for an injured Justin Morneau in September of 2009, Huber was initially supposed to play 1B, but an oblique injury took him out of the lineup the rest of the season. Jeff Bailey spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox from 2007 to 2009 and showed some power.  He can play 1B and the corner outfield positions. Chase Lambin was an International League All Star a year ago. He can play 3B, 2B and 1B. Matt Brown has spent a little bit of time in the big leagues and can play the four infield positions and spent time in the OF last year. Ray Chang is an option at 3B and 2B. Rene Rivera and Steve Holm are backup catcher options with big league service time.

Yorman Bazardo has always pitched well in the minor leagues, but still just 26, it hasn’t transferred to success in the big leagues. He pitched well in Venezuela this winter. Chuck James pitched well for the Braves for a couple of years before he was injured. The lefty went 10-1 between AA and AAA with the Nationals organization. Phil Dumatrait is a lefty-reliever option with big league time. Eric Hacker had a decent 2010 with the Giants AAA team and got a 40 man roster spot for it.

In a typical year, the Twins will promote between 12 and 18 players from Rochester throughout a season . Sometimes it is a straight promotion. Sometimes it is an injury-fill. There are various reasons. I mentioned 18 names above before discussing the minor league veterans that the organization added.

How many of these guys will come up and contribute in some way? Who will be surprise candidates? Can any of them have an impact in 2011 the way that Danny Valencia did in 2010? That is the fun part about following prospects. We can guess, but once the season gets started, you never know how it will play out.

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John and the TwinsCentric guys helped put together the Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011, and it has been quite the project. However, the results are tremendous. The magazine is 128 pages of Twins content, with no advertisements. Just pure Twins talk. The TwinsCentric crew wrote player profiles on the Twins roster, and we each wrote an additional article or two.

I wrote one article on the success that the Twins Advanced-Rookie League team in Elizabethton, Tennessee, has had over the last 25 years and the role that consistency has played in that. Their manager, Ray Smith, signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 1978 and debuted with the Twins in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He spent parts of three years with the Twins. When his playing career ended, he became the Elizabethton Twins manager, in 1987. 25 years later, he has won a lot of games and a lot of championships, but more important, he has helped a lot of young men and young ball players begin their path up the Twins system. His pitching coach, Jim Shellenbeck, and his hitting coach, Jeff Reed, have ton of playing and coaching experience. It was a really fun article to research and write, and I think it turned out very well.

The other article I wrote was essentially an organizational depth chart. In the article, as I did last year, I broke out the Twins prospects into Infielders, Outfielders, Catchers, Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers, and gave my top five prospects in each category along with a Sleeper and One to Watch. There are also charts with 2011 roster projections.

Minnesota Twins Organizational Depth Chart Article

There is a lot of Twins information in the magazine. There is information on the current roster, Target Field, the minor leagues, several historical articles and much, much more.

The magazine is now available for pre-order at the Maple Street Press website. The magazine will be available on news stands around Minnesota starting March 1. However, if you pre-order, the magazines are set to ship out on February 17, so you can get it before it hits the news stands. For those of you outside the Minnesota areas, it will not be available in your market, so ordering online is the way to go if you are interested.

Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011

Roger’s 2010 Twins Minor League All Stars

24 Nov

also available (with pictures) at www.SethSpeaks.net

Before we dive into Roger’s All-Stars, a couple of quick notes:

  • Last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast was one of my favorites. Baseball America posted its Twins Top Ten Prospects yesterday, and John Manuel came on to talk about his choices and other Twins prospects. Then Danny Valencia came on and talked about his 2011 Twins season for a good 15 minutes. He hadn’t been on a podcast since spring training, so it was great to catch up with him after such a memorable season.  
  • Yesterday on the TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com, I wrote about the Twins arbitration decisions. They had to decide whether to offer arbitration to their six Type A and Type B free agents. During the podcast, the Twins announced their decisions. They offered arbitration to Carl Pavano, Jesse Crain and Orlando Hudson. They decline offering arbitration to Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch. The three that were offered arbitration have until next Tuesday to decide whether or not they will accept. If none of three accept, the Twins will gain four draft picks next June. If the three accept, then it could cost the Twins an extra $19-21 million in 2011.
  • Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Blogging and podcasting and all this writing can be a lot of fun, but a huge part of what makes it fun is the interaction with the readers. I definitely appreciate all of you for coming to SethSpeaks.net daily, and hope that you will continue to find it worth your time.

With that, those that are interesting in the Twins minor leagues know about Roger Dehring. He has written here before, but he writes a weekly Twins Minor League Report for Twinkie Town. He is very detailed and does a great job. He has even developed a very interesting prospect ranking in which he considers performance, age, level of competition and many other factors. We are trying to make it a tradition to include his Twins Minor League All Stars every year around Thanksgiving. By the way, thank you to Twins Cards for the pictures of the autographed cards you see below. Here are his 2010 Twins All Stars:

2010 Twins Organization All-Stars

Thanksgiving is the time each year when Seth provides me the opportunity to post my annual Twins Organization All-Star Team on his site.   

This year’s Team will include the best players at each position, including a designated hitter.  There will be six pitchers; the top right and left handed starters, a long reliever, right and left handed set-up men and a closer.  As with all all-star teams, some very good players are left out.  One of those is Liam Hendriks who was my second ranked pitcher.  Unfortunately, my top ranked pitcher, Kyle Gibson, is also a right handed starter leaving Hendriks out in the cold.  Same holds for Brandon Roberts, who was my fifth ranked player.  Unfortunately, all five of the top ranked players on my list were outfielders so he also has been left off this team.

Looking back at the previous teams, it was somewhat surprising that this will be the sixth year we have done this.  It was also interesting seeing which players made it and many others who had great seasons and are no longer in the organization.  What the future holds for this group remains to be seen. They all had special years this past season, including four of the six pitchers who were selected by the Twins in the 2009 draft. 

 Following are this year’s All-Stars, including my year-end ranking which ranks position players and pitchers separately:

Danny Rams  (18)                   Catcher                                                                                                     

Chris Parmelee  (9)                  First Base                                                                                     

Steve Singleton  (15)              Second Base                                                                                  

Trevor Plouffe  (6)                  Shortstop                                                                              

Anderson Hidalgo  (25)          Third Base                                                                                           

Ben Revere  (2)                       Left Field                                                                                          

Aaron Hicks  (3)                     Center Field                                                                                          

Joe Benson  (1)                       Right Field                                                                                                  

Oswaldo Arcia  (4)                 Designated Hitter                                                                          

Kyle Gibson  (1)                   Right Handed Starter                                                                      

Dan Osterbrock  (8)               Left Handed Starter                                                                   

Kyle Waldrop  (3)                 Long Relief                                                                                        

Kane Holbrooks  (4)              Right Handed set-up                                                                                                                                                       Tony Davis  (16)                   Left Handed set-up                                                                          

Billy Bullock  (11)                Closer

Danny Rams was a player who was recognized as having a powerful bat when drafted in the second round in 2007.  Rams didn’t hit as expected his first two years, then gained notice when he hit .355 average in 62 at bats in Elizabethton in 2009.  Rams had another slow start this year, hitting for only a .217 average before the all-star break.  Rams would hit for a .266 average following the break to finish at .238/.302/.439 in 421 at bats.  More important, Rams hit 4 triples and a team best 28 doubles and 16 home runs so that nearly half (48 of 100) of his hits would be for extra bases.  Rams has developed the power expected of him when drafted.  The one area of his game he must improve is that like many young power hitters, he strikes out to often (154 times or 36.5%).  If he can cut down on his strikeouts as he moves through the organization, he will have an exciting future with the Twins. 

Chris Parmelee is a former first round pick who saw his star become a bit tarnished with a slow start at AA New Britain.  Parmelee would be sent back to Ft. Myers in May where he would hit .338/.430/.463 in 80 at bats.  He would return to New Britain as a different hitter, going on to hit .275/.341/.389 in 411 at bats.  When drafted, Parmelee was considered the best high school power hitter in the 2006 draft.  Although he hit 25 doubles; he wouldn’t hit many home runs (6) at New Britain.  After striking out more than 25% each year since joining the Twins, he would reduce his strikeout ratio to 16.5%.  Parmelee joined the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL where he hit .339/.405/.477, in 109 at bats while tying for the most doubles (11) in the league.  He walked twelve times while striking out seventeen times for a strikeout ratio of 15.6%.  Parmelee, who began his career alternating between first base and right field, played about two-thirds of his games at first base and appears poised to move up to Rochester in the spring. 

Steve Singleton returned to New Britain this spring for a second season.  He would go on to hit .267/.325/.410 in 502 at bats with a team best 68 runs scored and 134 hits.  His 43 doubles were the most in the organization and tied for the most in the Eastern League.  A solid defensive second baseman, Singleton is often overlooked when discussing the top prospects in the organization.  The Twins are high on his abilities as evidenced by their inviting him to spring training.  A solid number two hitter who struck out only 57 times in 502 at bats, Singleton could move up to Rochester next spring.

This past spring Trevor Plouffe returned to Rochester for the third straight season, yet, on opening day he was only 23 years old.  Should he return to Rochester next spring for a fourth year, he will still be about two years younger than the average player in the International League.  Plouffe hit .244/.300/.430 in 402 at bats which at first glance isn’t impressive.  He did, however, improve his power numbers with 22 doubles, 4 triples and 15 home runs.  What may be most promising, he reduced his errors from 26 in 2009 to 12 this season.  Plouffe also made a couple trips to Minnesota where he had his first exposure to the major leagues.  While with the Twins he hit only .146/.143/.317 in 41 at bats, however, did hit two home runs.  Plouffe has a role in the Twins future plans.  It just isn’t known whether he will go north with the Twins out of spring training or join them later in the year.  

After being one of the top hitters in 2008/2009 with the GCL Twins and Elizabethton, Anderson Hidalgo was the Beloit Snappers leading hitter in 2010.  When he suffered a season ending injury in late July, Hidalgo was one of the league’s leading hitters and had he had enough at bats he would have finished second in the league.  In 81 games (282 at bats), Hidalgo hit a team best .316 average with a .375 on base percentage and .443 slugging percentage.  He would finish his shortened season with 25 doubles which trailed Rams by three with 125 less at bats.  Hidalgo isn’t your typical power hitting third baseman, however, with Danny Valencia moving up to the Twins he is the organization’s best third baseman.

Ben Revere likely is the organization’s best leadoff man.  He spent this year at AA New Britain where he seemed to be out of the lineup every few weeks with five different injuries.  When he suffered a broken orbital bone when hit in the face with a pitch in early August, it was thought that his season was over.  We would learn that this young man is a quick healer and his season was far from over.  Revere returned from his injury to play in the last few games of the Rock Cat season, finishing with the Eastern League’s third most stolen bases (36) and tied for the second highest batting average (.305).  Revere’s play at New Britain earned a spot for him in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.  But before heading to Arizona, the Twins had a big surprise for Revere as they added him to their 40-man roster and called him up in September.  Revere’s play with the Twins was limited as he hit only .179 average (5-28).  After the Twins season ended, Revere reported to the Peoria Saguaros where he was one of the hottest hitters in the league before cooling the last two weeks.  He finished his AFL season hitting .295/.358/.330 in 112 at bats with a league best thirteen stolen bases without being thrown out.  He also demonstrated great patience at the plate as he struck out only twelve times while taking eleven walks.           

Aaron Hicks has been thought by many to have the highest ceiling of anyone in the organization.  He is a player who would blossom into that special player who a future championship Twins team could be built around.  Thus, when Hicks returned to Beloit for a second season it was a surprise to most fans.  Most assumed that Hicks stay in Beloit would be a short one and he would move on to Ft. Myers where his star would continue to brighten.  That progress was not to be as Hicks spent his entire season in Beloit, hitting .279/.401/.428 in 423 at bats with 27 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs and a team best 21 stolen bases.  Hicks would improve throughout the year, hitting for a .308 average following the all-star break.  Hicks continued to strike out to much (112 times), however, he also took an amazing 88 walks.  Following the season, Baseball America ranked Hicks the fifth best prospect in the Midwestern League.

Joe Benson was the Twins second round pick in 2006 who has often been compared to Torii Hunter who also was a highly recruited football player out of high school.  Although Benson began his season in a slump and returned to Ft. Myers with Parmelee in May, he certainly had his break-out season this year.  Benson finished his Rock Cat season hitting .251/.336/.527 in 374 at bats.  He had 20 doubles, 7 triples, 14 stolen bases and 23 home runs, which were the fourth most in the league although he had 135 less at bats than the leader who had 33.  Benson’s 27 home runs at New Britain and Ft. Myers led the organization with his eight triples second most.  Benson finished his year playing in the AFL where he got off to a slow start and would go on to hit .236/.300/.400 in only 55 at bats with six doubles and one home run.

            We all remember players who put up eye popping numbers in the Appalachian League, but none had years like nineteen year old Oswaldo Arcia had this year.  Arcia led the Appalachian League (his closest competitor and their age is listed in parenthesis) with a .375 batting average (Ramon Morla/20, .323), .424 on base percentage (Marcus Nidiffer/23, .393), .672 slugging percentage (Morla, .610), 259 at bats (Drew Lee/22, 255), 97 hits (Morla, 81), and 51 runs batted in (Morla, 49).  Arcia also tied for the league’s second most triples (7) and home runs (14) while hitting the third most doubles (21).  Arcia didn’t make a single error this year, playing centerfield in more than half his games although his bat is ideally suited for a corner outfield spot in a future Twins lineup.  Following the season, Baseball America named Arcia the third best prospect in the Appy League this season. 

Kyle Gibson began his professional career a year ago in the Twins Fall Instructional League.  The few people to comment about him glowed as to what we could expect in the future.  In a move unusual for the Twins, Gibson began his career in the Florida State League.  After posting a 4-1 record with a 1.87 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in seven starts (43.1 innings), Gibson moved on to New Britain where he would be voted an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star.  While with the Rock Cats, Gibson pitched so well that he earned recognition from Baseball America as their seventh ranked Eastern League prospect.  On a team that was one of the worst in franchise history, Gibson posted a 7-5 record with a 3.68 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 16 starts (93.0 innings).  The Twins kept Gibson on a fast track as he finished his first professional season in Rochester where he had an excellent 1.72 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in three starts (15.2 innings).  Gibson is not the hard thrower that many fans would like to see at the front of the Twins rotation.  He is however, an excellent pitcher who just may have the ability to be the front of the rotation Ace the Twins are looking for.

            Daniel Osterbrock had an awesome rookie season in 2008 following his being drafted out of the University of Cincinnati in the seventh round.  After posting a 7-2 record and 3.00 ERA at Elizabethton in 2008, Osterbrock would struggle some at Beloit last year where he had a 7-9 record and 5.19 ERA.  Osterbrock would return to Beloit this spring, but not for very long.  After making only five starts, He got the call to move up to the Florida State League after pitching a 7.0 inning complete game no hitter and being selected the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks.  He left Beloit after posting a 2-1 record with a 2.30 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.  Osterbrock moved up to Ft. Myers where he would lead the Miracle in innings pitched (112.0) while posting a 7-8 record with a league best 2.73 ERA and league fourth best 1.13 WHIP.  With his break-out season behind him, Osterbrock should move up to New Britain next spring where if successful he will be one step away from joining the Twins.

            Kyle Waldrop was a 2004 first round pick who missed all of the 2008 season following shoulder surgery.  A former starter who had been on the fast track, Waldrop returned in 2009 when the Twins put him in the bullpen at Ft. Myers.  He earned a mid-season promotion to New Britain where he would have a 1.46 ERA in 55.2 innings.  He spent all of this season at Rochester where he had a first half as good as anyone in the International League, a first half that included one month in which he didn’t allow a single earned run.  Waldrop would tire the last few months, yet, he finished with an excellent 2.57 ERA with a 5-3 record on a team that was within a few losses of being the worst season in their 100+ year history.  Waldrop continued his reputation as one of the better control pitchers in the organization as he walked only 20 batters in 87.2 innings while ringing up 60 strikeouts.  Waldrop was assigned to this fall’s Arizona Fall League where his numbers weren’t good.  In a hitter’s league, Kyle had a 1-0 record with a 16.05 ERA in only 12.1 innings.

            Kane Holbrooks wasn’t high on any team’s prospect lists when selected by the Twins in the twenty-first round of the 2009 draft.  After an ordinary first exposure to professional ball at Elizabethton in 2009, no one expected the year Holbrooks would have this season.  He began as Beloit’s closer where he posted a 5-3 record with 9 saves, a 1.67 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 54.0 innings (11.8/9 innings).  After earning a spot on the Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star Team, Holbrooks moved up to Ft. Myers where after one relief appearance he was converted to a starter.  Holbrooks would post a 3-3 record with an excellent 2.27 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 43.1 innings.  He didn’t strike out as many (36) which may have been the result of his moving to the starting rotation or perhaps because he was pitching to hitters at a higher level.  The Twins were so impressed with his work at Ft. Myers however, that they gave him a late season promotion to AA where he made one start, allowing three earned runs in 5.0 innings.  With a logjam of starters ahead of him, look for Holbrooks to begin next spring back at Ft. Myers with an early season promotion likely.

            Tony Davis was selected in the twelfth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Florida.  Like Holbrooks, his 5.35 ERA in 35.1 innings in his professional debut was not an indication of what he would accomplish this season.  The Twins would assign him to Ft. Myers this spring, skipping Beloit.  He would become one of their best set-up men, pitching 31.1 innings with a 2.87 ERA.  That performance would earn him a mid-season promotion to New Britain where he was even better, pitching 37.0 innings with a 2.68 ERA.  The one concern that may limit his progress is a low strikeout ratio (45 strikeouts in 68.1 innings) and a relatively high number of walks (46).  Davis overcame this concern by holding hitters to a .203 average.  What was surprising was that right handed hitters hit for a lower average (.194) than did left handed hitters (.214).  In an organization with few lefty relievers in the upper levels, look for Davis to return to New Britain next spring where he will attempt to prove that he still has the magic to get nearly 80% of the hitters facing him out when the ball is put in play.

            The Twins selected Billy Bullock, a hard throwing closer out of the University of Florida, in the second round of the 2009 draft.  After opening his professional career with the Elizabethton Twins, Bullock moved up to Beloit where he had a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 innings with eight saves.  This past spring, Bullock reported to Ft. Myers where he would become a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star before moving on to New Britain.  Bullock had a 0-4 record with the Miracle with 14 saves, a 3.63 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 19 walks in 37.1 innings.  Bullock would move up to AA where he had a 0-2 record with 13 saves, a 3.44 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 24 walks in 36.2 innings.  There is no question that 43 walks in 74.0 innings are more than the Twins like to see, however, nearly fifteen strikeouts per nine innings in AA is an indication that Bullock may have what it takes to become a closer on the big stage a few years from now.  There were higher ranked closers, such as fifth ranked Anthony Slama, however, Bullock is my all-star closer based on his leading the organization with 27 saves. 

Of course, I’m certain Roger would love to hear your feedback. I want to thank him for putting this together. It’s another great look at the 2010 Minor league season and some of the guys who deserve to be recognized. As always, please feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

2010 Ft. Myers Preview

12 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The 2010 Twins minor league roster previews are brought to you by the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Get your copy here!

Jake Mauer will be the Miracle’s manager in 2010 after managing the GCL Twins the last couple of years. Former long-time big leaguer Jim Dwyer will be the hitting coach while Steve Mintz is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Miracle roster to start the 2010 season (note – prospect ranking for my choices for Top 30 Twins prospects as updated in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook):

The Starting Pitchers

Kyle Gibson (5), Michael Tarsi, Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh, Brad Tippett.

Obviously Gibson is the name here, but he isn’t the only pitcher with upside. That said, he clearly has tremendous upside, multiple average or better pitches, and great makeup. Lanigan has a good fastball and is probably best known for having a very strong slider. Pugh throws hard and is still working on secondary pitches. He moved into the Beloit starting rotation late last year and was impressive. The goal would be for him to continue that progression. Brad Tippett doesn’t throw hard, but he absolutely knows how to pitch. Long and lanky, he still has room to grown and add strength. Tarsi is a tall lefty who doesn’t throw hard. He is the one returning to the Miracle rotation for the second year.

The Bullpen Arms

Billy Bullock (20), Henry Arias, Michael Allen, Tony Davis, Shooter Hunt, Blake Martin, Matt Williams.

This group is an interesting mix of hard-throwing talents and guys who have a lot to show. Billy Bullock is arguably the best relief pitching prospect in the system. The hard throwing righty became a reliever one year ago and added velocity to go with a very good slider. Tony Davis was drafted a year ago as well, and he spent time with several of the Twins affiliates, including a AA New Britain. The lefty knows how to pitch. Shooter Hunt had a rough 2009, and his first outing this year was ugly, but Mauer got him back out there the very next day and he was better. His upside is tremendous. Hopefully he can work through his control issues. Matt Williams has been around for a long time yet is still young. The Australian always does a good job and is sometimes overlooked. It is a big year for Arias, Allen and Martin.

The Catchers

Jair Fernandez, Chris Herrmann, Daniel Rohlfing.

This is a solid group of catchers, but the shock (for me) of spring was that Herrmann is skipping Beloit. He has played everywhere. He told me he played a lot of 2B his first year in college. He caught, played OF and played 3B over the next two years. The Twins drafted him as a catcher, but he played LF most days in Elizabethton. He was moved to catcher at Instructs, and in the first couple of games, he has played CF and catcher. Could he be another Craig Biggio type? The big thing is, that he can hit with a smooth lefty-handed swing. Fernandez came to camp this spring and played a little. Rohlfing actually played some in the outfield last year as well.

The Infielders

Nate Hanson, Yangervis Solarte, Drew Thompson, Paul Kelly, Chris Cates, Deibinson Romero, Nick Romero.

In 2005, the Twins drafted high school middle infielders Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson. They both had great starts to their career, but both missed significant time over the next two years. Last year, Thompson made a successful comeback in Beloit. This year, hopefully the same will be said for Kelly. Both are good guys, very talented, and if they can stay healthy through this season, both should jump back into the prospect rankings. Deibinson Romero was taken off of the 40 man roster this winter and returns to Ft. Myers where Twins officials would love to see anything positive. Nate Hanson played all over the Beloit infield a year ago, and will likely spend more time at 1B this year. Likewise, Solarte has the ability to play as many as seven positions. Chris Cates is great defensively and pitchers love when he is playing SS behind them. Nick Romero is another guy fully capable of playing around the infield. He has some real pop in his bat as well.

The Outfielders

Evan Bigley, Michael Harrington, Ramon Santana.

Three games into the season and there are already rumblings that Aaron Hicks or Angel Morales could move up to Ft. Myers in an attempt to give them an actual center fielder. Evan Bigley is a very good player, a very good hitter. Harrington can play all three positions and last year had a lot of extra base hits. Ramon Santana is an infielder that has now moved to the outfield, probably because of how good of an infielder he was. Chris Cates and Chris Herrmann have already played centerfield this year.

SUMMARY

To be completely honest, this is a team that has the ability to lose a lot of games early in the season. However, there are a few guys that are clearly have a chance to advance, but this could be a team built for a second half playoff run when some guys from Beloit are added to the roster.  

If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to ask… Leave your questions or comments.

Roster Projections: Beloit Snappers

26 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

  Beloit
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

 

  Beloit
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.

ELIZABETHTON

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.”

  Elizabethton
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
   
  Elizabethton
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.