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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

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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

At this point, we have reviewed the infielders and catchers throughout the Twins organization. Today, we will jump to the outfield. This information, of course, could be completely altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where all of these players will wind up. In reality, there will be changes. Several players will be released. Some will be placed a level higher (or lower) than I would guess. This is just giving readers a reminder of who remains in the Twins system from last year, and who are the new players brought in this year. That said, I try to think about where these guys will

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Ben Revere (LF), Denard Span (CF), Josh Willingham (RF), Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit

A lot of people seem to wonder why Willingham would be the right fielder. To me, that’s an easy choice. At Target Field, left field, centerfield and the gaps are pretty huge. I want Span and Revere covering the ground. Willingham isn’t a good left fielder. As far as playing the strange bounces off of the right field wall, anyone can have difficulties and will have to adjust to hit. Willingham will walk a lot and hit a bunch of home runs. I was chatting with Jamie Ogden at Twins Fest, and the comment that we agreed upon was the he will have the ability to take advantage of a pitcher’s mistakes and hit them a long way. It’s nice to have a guy like that in the middle of the lineup. As for Revere, I think it’s much better for him to play 3B. Simply, the throw from LF to 3B is much shorter than it is from CF. Also, the throw to home from CF is longer. Span doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but he can throw. Span, when healthy, is a good on-base guy with speed and some extra base pop. Revere should be much improved, at least in terms of OBP, in 2012. He said that his goal is to steal 100 bases on 2012. He dropped that number to 80, but he plans on going whenever he gets a chance. Even though he didn’t play great in 2011, he made the Twins fun to watch and he made things happen. Imagine what he can make happen when he actually gets on base at a good clip! Trevor Plouffe should get plenty of time in left field, but he could also DH. He can hit lefties, and it will be interesting to see how he does in left field now that he doesn’t have the infielder’s glove. Ryan Doumit could get some time in right field as well.

Rochester Red Wings

Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Matt Carson (RF), Rene Tosoni, Mark Dolenc, Dustin Martin

Ramirez and Carson were minor league free agents brought in by the Twins. Carson is a power hitter. Ramirez is an all-around player who was a top prospect with the Tigers just a couple of years ago. Joe Benson has spent the past two years at New Britain, so he is ready for the challenges of AAA. He could move up to the Twins as necessary throughout the year, at least after the June Super 2 timeline. The same can be said of Rene Tosoni who will likely play nearly every day between the three outfield spots as well as DHing.  Benson could be a star if everything comes together. He could be a 30/30 guy with plus-defense in time. Tosoni is a guy who I think could fill a role as a platoon player and bench bat and occasional DH. He showed at times the power the he possesses. Dolenc has spent the past two years in New Britain and will likely need to advance to Rochester in 2012. He has averaged 439 plate appearances over the past four years and had a career-high 467 plate appearances in 2011. He has terrific tools, can play all three positions, gets on base, has very good speed, and plays really good defense with a strong arm. Dustin Martin put together his best year at Rochester (in his third season there).

New Britain Rock Cats

Angel Morales (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Evan Bigley (RF), Steve Liddle, Michael Hollimon

Aaron Hicks had a frustrating and inconsistent season in 2011 in Ft. Myers. He was tremendous in June and then struggled for a couple of months. He definitely represented himself well in the Arizona Fall League. His defense and arm are certainly ready for advancement. It is a big year for Hicks. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season, but he will have to continue to show improvement on the field, in his approach at the plate and show consistency. What he does in 2012 may determine whether he remains a switch-hitter as well. Evan Bigley spent all of 2011 in New Britain and showed that he could be a candidate for a midseason promotion. Angel Morales is younger than Hicks (something many seem to forget). 2011 was a lost year for him. He missed three months with his elbow injury. He had arthroscopic surgery and came back at the end of the season. He has good speed and a vastly improved approach at the plate. Although he hasn’t hit as many home runs the last couple of seasons, no one seems to be worried about his power. Liddle really struggled last season in Ft. Myers, and he had shoulder surgery following the year. The Vanderbilt product is the nephew of Twins 3B coach Steve Liddle. Hollimon can play all around the infield and can also play around the outfield. He could be the guy to go back and forth between New Britain and Rochester regardless of where the need is.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Lance Ray (LF), Nate Roberts (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Wang-Wei Lin, Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing

I was surprised when the Twins sent Arcia to Ft. Myers following rehab of his elbow. I would be surprised if he jumps up to New Britain to start the season, but not completely. If he has one thing to work on, it is cutting down on the strikeouts. I think he can end the year with the Rock Cats. Lance Ray can hit, even if his 2011 Beloit numbers didn’t strongly indicate that. He has a very fluid swing and good power. Nate Roberts was the 5th round pick a couple of years ago. He missed a lot of time on the DL with a knee injury. He is an on-base machine, taking walks and always willing to get hit. Wang-Wei Lin has steadily improved over his time, and after two years in Beloit, he will need to play in Ft. Myers. He has a good, line drive swing but the Taiwan native still has plenty to improve. Dan Rohlfing impressed behind the plate and will go to big league spring training in that role, but he can also play the outfield. At Instructs, Rams was moved to the outfield, although he will continue to catch some. The goal is to let him really focus on his swing and his bat.  

Beloit Snappers

Danny Ortiz (LF), JD Williams (CF), Tyler Koelling (RF), Drew Leachman, Matej Hejma, Jhonatan Goncalves

Ortiz was my choice for player of the month last April in Beloit, but it was a struggle through most of his season. He could start with the Snappers and spend a couple of months there (he already played in the Midwest League All-Star game last year). Tyler Koelling and Drew Leachman are two college outfielders who should advance to Beloit. JD Williams had an incredible season in Elizabethton in 2011, yet it went almost unnoticed thanks to Rosario and Sano. Baseball America just called him the fastest player in the Twins farm system, and he has the ability to bunt for hits from both sides of the plate. He played RF usually for the E-Twins because Eddie Rosario was in center. Matej Hejma is from the Czech Republic. Although he didn’t play a lot, or that well, in Elizabethton, he has to move up to Beloit because he has already played three seasons in the short season leagues. Goncalves is an interesting case. He has played most of the past two seasons in Ft. Myers, but he ended last year in Beloit which is probably where he should have been all along.  

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Max Kepler (CF), Candido Pimentel, Romy Jimenez, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez

Like Niko Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will begin the season at Extended Spring Training. Like Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will not return to Elizabethton but will instead advance to Beloit before the short season begins. He has so much talent but is still very raw. Pimentel is similar to Otis Nixon, very thin and very fast. Romy Jimenez (formerly known as Romy Trinidad) missed most of last year with an injury in his first year in the States. Kelvin Mention did miss all of 2011 with injury. Kelvin Ortiz came to the States and really struggled. He should go back to the GCL. And Dereck Rodriguez (the son of Ivan Rodriguez) will certainly spend another season in the GCL.  


1.)    Oswaldo Arcia, 2.) Aaron Hicks, 3.) Joe Benson, 4.) Angel Morales, 5.) Max Kepler, 6.) JD Williams, 7.) Lance Ray, 8.) Danny Ortiz


Barring injury, the Twins starting outfield should be solid despite the losses of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel (And to a lesser extent, Jason Repko). Benson and Tosoni are fairly close to being ready to contribute on a regular basis. Beyond that, there is a lot of talent but a lot of question marks. Can Aaron Hicks take that next step? Will Angel Morales return in 2012 with some added power? How quickly will the Twins advance Oswaldo Arcia? The ceilings of JD Williams and Max Kepler are very high, and there are so college draft picks (Roberts, Ray, etc.) who could advance fairly quickly. Of course, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano also remain in the future outfield situation as well which provide even more depth over time. Outfield is a position of strength for the Twins system. 2012 will be a big year for many of them! 

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

Twins Notes

28 Sep

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Tonight will mark Game #162 for the Minnesota Twins. I have to admit, it is a bit bittersweet thing for me. As much as this 2011 season needs to end, and we all need a break from the negativity for a while. At the same time, it’s a realization that we won’t see any live Twins baseball games until next February in Florida. That means we’ll go through October, November, December, January and half of February with nothing. As much as the losing has been frustrating, it is always enjoyable to watch your favorite team play, and for me, seeing all of the young players get an opportunity is very fun.

Of course, there is no real offseason in baseball, at least not for the teams or for bloggers. The fun begins as soon as the World Series is complete and players become free agents. Things like the 40 man roster decisions, trade discussions, free agents and rumors for all of the above will be prevalent, and we’ll continue to discuss those here. However, TwinsCentric is already working on the 2011/2012 Twins Offseason GM Handbook. That should be available by the end of the World Series, just before all of the Hot Stove League action begins. So, be sure to watch out for that.

Last night, I was joined late in the Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast by Brandon Warne of, Upper Deck Report and

It was always funny to me that many fans seemed to be rather negative on Rene Tosoni. Yes, a couple of weeks ago, he was hitting about .160 in his big league time. However, so many seemed to forget that when he was first called up to the Twins, he had played in just 19 games in AAA after missing the final 2/3 of the 2010 season with shoulder surgery. A year ago, I called him Jason Kubel-light. The only weakness in his game has been his inability to hit left-handed pitching. He is a good outfielder. In the minor leagues, he played a vast majority of his games in right field. He occasionally would get a game in center field, but he really is a corner outfielder. He has played a lot of left field with the Twins after hardly ever playing there in the minor leagues. I mentioned last week that I thought he was being almost too patient. I would say that has changed since then. He is currently on an eight-game hitting streak during which time he is 10-22 (.455) with five doubles and two home runs. He now has five home runs on the season after hitting a huge grand slam in last night’s win.

Trevor Plouffe has certainly had his ups and downs with the Twins this season. We have seen the power and power potential. We have seen good defense, and occasionally we see some really bad defense at shortstop. We have seen him get time at 2B, left field, right field, and we know that he got some time at 1B in Rochester. He has also played 3B in the past. After a slump early in September, he now has seven multi-hit games in his last 11 games played. In that time, he also has four doubles and two home runs.

I have been tough on Ben Revere since he has come up. I often get accused of ‘hating’ Ben Revere. I ranked him as the Twins #7 or 8 Twins prospects after last season. I’ve had him as high as #3. I am a big fan of Ben Revere. I would also say that when he was hitting .260/.290/.290, he wasn’t hitting very well. I will stand by that. However, at no point did I say that he has no value looking forward. Everything in his minor league track record says that he will hit for a better average, and if he can get on base at a 35% clip, he can be very valuable. Although not a great outfielder yet, his range is terrific. The arm is what it is. We’ll just have to deal with it. If he gets on base 35% of the time, he could steal 70-80 bases. Those intangibles that Dick and Bert seem to mention all the time, like the energy and excitement he brings and his nice smile. Those things mean a lot more when he’s hitting and getting on base. And hey, in September, he is hitting .320/.353/.361. That’s still just a .714 OPS, but that one month sample is the type of numbers that we can really hope to see from Revere in coming years.

I mentioned Dick and Bert, and I really wish I took my own advice and muted the Twins telecast on FSN. Their negative comments and shots at Kevin Slowey have been far over the line. During Slowey’s start on Monday night, it was unbelievable. He has been terrific for five innings in his past two starts. He has then struggled in the sixth innings. Not surprising completely, and it is something that Slowey will need to work on. But Blyleven went out of his way to be just mean. When discussing why Slowey was having issues in the middle innings, Bert responded by saying that ‘his problems started in April.’ I get it, Bert was frustrated that Slowey didn’t want to move to the bullpen and struggled to transition to that. Fine. But, Bert and Dick don’t make negative comments about current Twins players. So, the fact that they did speak in such tones means that it is coming from the Twins (be it the manager, one of the coaches, someone). Slowey deserves better than that. Here’s hoping that the Twins kept Bert Blyleven around on TV for 2011, his Hall of Fame season, and it will be his last season with the Twins broadcast team.

Since being called up August 28th, Rene Rivera is 2-29.

Twins fans should turn their attention to the Minnesota Lynx, don’t you think? I mean, Minnesota is so used to losing, why not follow the team that is heading to the WNBA championship series to face Atlanta. Game 1 will be on Sunday.

Mike Maroth lost 20 games with the Tigers in their epically bad season almost a decade ago. After losing a couple of years to injury, the Twins signed him to a minor league deal a couple of years ago, sent him to AAA, he made a couple of appearances, but he didn’t make it to the Twins. He was hurt most of that year too. Anyway, he was named the pitching coach of Lakeland yesterday. That is the High Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers in the Florida State League.

On Tuesday, the Twins claimed RHP Esmerling Vasquez from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will turn 28 years old in November. He throws pretty hard, averaging 93.4 mph on his fastball in 2011 .He also throws a changeup about 15% of the time at about 83.5%, and he throws a 75.1 mph curveball about 15% of the time. In parts of three seasons with the Diamondbacks’ big league club, he has walked 80 and struckout 120 in 137.1 innings. In his minor league career, he has 276 walks and 478 strikeouts in 512.1 innings. Based on that, he appears to be another Jim Hoey or Juan Morillo. He throws hard, but can’t throw strikes. Lester Oliveros’s minor league numbers say the same thing about him. However, he is still just 23, so there is hope for a little improvement with him. Then again, it doesn’t hurt to add another hard thrower to the 40 man roster. A lot of players on the current 40 man roster will be coming off of the 40 man roster after the season. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Matt Capps will be free agents. Joe Nathan may become a free agent. Several players could be non-tendered. Several others with less than 3 years of experience could also be removed from the 40 man roster. Frankly, the two players in the Twins farm system that are obvious adds to the 40 man roster are Carlos Gutierrez and Oswaldo Arcia. There are a few others (Solarte, Morales, Stuifbergen, Perez, Pugh) that have to be strongly considered. But this is a free opportunity to get a hard thrower on the 40 man roster before he becomes a free agent.

To make room for Vasquez on the 40 man roster, the Twins put Alexi Casilla and his hamstring on the 60 Day DL.

Things are definitely starting to get more and more interesting for the Cedar Falls Hoose-Cows!!! Check out the latest installment here.

The Twins will be playing tonight, trying to avoid losing 100 games. Although finishing 63-99 is really not much better than going 62-100, it will be nice to keep the losses to double digits.

A couple of quick Twitter Questions:

RT @brandonwarne52 SethTweets T/F Parmelee can replicate his AA numbers in the bigs in near future (2-3 years)?

 True – I would agree with that. Parmelee has been very impressive in September, even hitting his fourth home run last night. But as I mentioned last week, I’ve been as impressed with his approach at the plate as the actual results. Although I do believe he needs another half-season in the minor leagues (and his first half-season in AAA), I do think that he has shown enough that the team can feel fine if they need to call him up early in the season as a replacement.

RT @sasgendo @SethTweets Is there any prospect in the Twins system you have your eye on that may be a little under the radar?

There are a lot of guys that I think are under the radar. I think there is a perception that the Twins minor league system is weak. And, maybe some of the teams have been, but that does not mean that there are not some very good individual prospects. Brian Dozier seemingly came out of nowhere. I ranked him in the 30s last year, and this year, he’s definitely in the Top 15. To name a maybe underrated player from each affiliate:

  • Rochester – Aaron Bates – although he signed with the Twins in early May as a minor league free agent, he had a terrific AAA season, and he’s still just 26 years old.
  • New Britain – Chris Herrmann – There were a lot of very good prospects in New Britain this year (Dozier, Benson, Parmelee, Solarte, etc.) I think that Chris Herrmann has a chance to contribute to the Twins in several ways starting in 2013. His ability to get on base is incredible.
  • Ft. Myers – Dan Rohlfing – he spent a bit of time in New Britain as a backup catcher, but he moved back down to Ft. Myers and played nearly every day, including some time in the outfield. He took a big step forward in 2011.
  • Beloit – Lance Ray – The lefty hitting 1B/RF has a great swing and a gap power. He hit 16 homers this year too. After a slow start, he put up some good numbers.
  • Elizabethton – JD Williams – Everyone talked about Sano and Rosario, but Williams was incredible. He hit over .320 and got on base 44% of the time.
  • GCL Twins – Josh Hendricks – The Australian 1B is probably the name to watch. He’s a big kid from Australia who has good power.

  Feel free to comment.

Early Observations

22 Sep

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Don’t Forget – The TwinsCentric Viewing Party will be on Saturday at Manitou Station in White Bear Lake during Game 1 of the Twins/Cleveland double header. Get there between 11:30 and 12:00, and stay through the game. 

Another quick posting today. I fell asleep writing early again last night. I’ve got about 20 minutes to write  before I run in to work, so I thought I would jot down some quick, early observations of some of the younger players on the Twins roster. To be fair, small sample means very little, whether the sample is positive or negative. Obviously a positive sample is much more memorable and fun than a negative small sample, but what happens over 50-60 plate appearances this September means little when it comes to long-term success.

It’s been hard to write of late. In fact, I was telling someone last night that I’ve enjoyed just sitting back and watching the young guys play, seeing what they do, seeing what they still need to work on. It doesn’t need to be analytical or statistical at this point, and that’s good. But here are some of the things that I have seen so far.

Chris Parmelee – He has made a terrific first impression on everyone. In my Twins Prospect Handbook, release last January, I ranked Parmelee as my #12 Twins prospect, and many predicted that he would have his breakout season in the Twins minor leagues this year. My reason for optimism was that I believe something clicked with him when he was demoted last May to Ft. Myers from New Britain. He figured out something. He cut down on the strikeouts and became a better all-around hitter. Some of the power he had shown early dropped, but if he could use the whole field more and not strikeout as much, that was a great start. The power is still there. I saw him play in the Arizona Fall League two years ago, and he was a big guy. He has lost more than the 15 pounds that people talk about. What I have seen so far with the Twins is a guy who knows the strike zone. He is willing to be patient at the plate, but when he takes a swing, it is not a singles swing at all. He swings hard. We’ve seen the two home runs, but he has hit a lot of line drives. He uses the whole field. He makes contact. (in other words, even if he was hitting .150, I would be impressed by the approach.) He ended this minor league season as my #10 Twins prospect, but he has made a strong impression. Again, it’s not the high batting average that has been impressive, although that is nice. It’s his impressive approach at the plate that is equal parts patience, contact, and willingness to swing out of his shoes. The defense at 1B has been shaky at times, as expected, but that’s an area he can improve. I think that he will begin the 2011 season in Rochester, and that he definitely should. But when he has done this September is show that if needed next season, he could come up and not just fill in, but be a good contributor.

Joe Benson – Benson was my #4 Twins prospect, and to this point, all of the reports about him appear to be true. He is a tremendous athlete, very strong, great arm, good power, tremendous speed. He also is one to strike out a lot, and his aggressiveness on the base paths and in the field have been on display, both positive and negative. He has shown some patience at the plate, but he has also seemingly fallen behind 0-2 many times because of it. The 4-4 night with two doubles and a triple shows the kind of potential that Benson has. 15 strikeouts and two walks in 50 plate appearances tells us that he still has some work to do, although that strikeout rate is only minimally higher than it was in New Britain. Benson will also start the 2012 season in Rochester, and it will be a good challenge for him. He will need to continue to work on contact, something he has worked hard on in the past as well. However, I think that the biggest observation in my mind is that reports of his talent and his potential have not at all been overblown. He has the ability to be an all-star. And, he has the ability to be a fan favorite because of his hustle and aggressiveness.

Brian Dinkelman – Singles Machine! Dinkelman was not in my Top 30 Twins prospects this year, and probably would not have been in the Top 50. That’s why I frequently remind people that just because I don’t rank a guy highly on a prospect list does not mean that he can not be a major league contributor. I love following prospects like this, guys who are not going to be super stars, but they just work their way up the system and get an opportunity. In all reality, Dinkelman came up after Labor Day because the Twins needed a body. He was going to be DFAd following the season, and no one would have claimed him, and he would have spent the 2012 season in Rochester (where he hit about .230 this year, by the way). However, at this point, would anyone really have a problem with Dinkelman maintaining his 40 man roster spot through the offseason (in place of Tolbert and if it doesn’t make a prospect get exposed to the Rule 5 draft)? If the Twins take him off the 40 man roster, I still don’t think anyone would claim him. However, he has the 20 singles, pretty much all through the 3.5 hole. He has been solid at 2B, and played most of the last two years in LF or RF. Not a bad utility type.

Rene Tosoni – In the last two years, I have consistently ranked Tosoni between my #9 and #12 prospect in the Twins system. After he missed more than half of the 2010 season with shoulder surgery while playing at AA, I mistakenly dropped him in my rankings. To my surprise, he began the 2011 season in Rochester, and he played very well. That is why, when the Twins first needed an outfielder this season, it was Tosoni that they turned to, not Ben Revere. He had just 19 games of AA under his belt, but he was in the big leagues. Now, I think it is fair to say that Tosoni has struggled to this point in the big leagues. He is a very patient hitter at the plate, and I think that he has found himself if a lot of bad counts. He has 40 strikeouts in just over 160 plate appearances. That’s actually not a terrible rate. He has shown power with three doubles and three home runs, long home runs. That’s the kind of thing that makes me very excited about Tosoni. I think far too many people have written off Tosoni at this point. I still believe that he can be a very good big leaguer. I always called him Kubel-lite, meaning I think his potential can be about a .280 hitter with 15-18 home runs in a full season. He is a very solid outfielder with a good arm. Like Kubel, Tosoni’s one weakness in the minor leagues was hitting left-handers. I think Tosoni would be a great platoon option in the outfield. I think he needs a little more time. The time he has received with the Twins has been valuable for him, but we have not yet seen what he can do.

Ben Revere – He has played a lot more, and the Twins love him. The Twins media (written and spoken) love him. Most Twins fans love him. And why not? He is exciting. He plays hard. He hustles down the line, and he makes some pretty incredible catches out in center field. I believe that he is going to be a solid big league player, but I think expecting anything more than a Juan Pierre-like career would be way too optimistic. In fact, if Revere posts Pierre-like numbers in his career, I will be impressed and a little surprised. He has been better of late, but his offensive game has been pretty horrible this year. His recent hot streak has elevated his on-base percentage to .310. His slugging percentage is just .297. We kept hearing that at some point, he would show power.  No, that’ won’t happen. Outfielders play in so far against him that he could get some gappers or occasionally hit one over their heads. Then we get to watch him run. He almost had an inside the park home run this year. Defensively, he has made some incredible catches, and his range is remarkable. His terrific speed has helped make up for taking some bad angles on baseballs. People always accuse me of not liking Revere. I ranked him as my #8 Twins prospect before the season, and that’s probably fair. He is what he is as a player. Batting average will be his money-maker. If he can hit .300 (as he did throughout the minors), he could post a .350 on base percentage. If he does that, he could steal 75 bases a year. He has stolen 33 bases (in 42 attempts) in 109 games this year with a .310 OBP. Again, I think that the reports on Revere have proven very accurate. He is very exciting, and he is going to get better. In fact, what he has done over the last 3 weeks shows why getting this playing time and experience in the big leagues is so important for all of these guys.

Liam Hendriks – Hendriks came to the Twins, already well over his innings pitched count from last year. He impressed in his debut, and he had a rough game against the Royals in his second start. His most recent start is probably a good indication of where Hendriks is right now. He gave up two runs in the first inning before recording an out, but he worked out of that and got through five innings having allowed just those two runs. He was one pitch away from completing six innings with two runs, but he threw a bad pitch and Alex Liddi tied up the game at four with a long home run. Again, he began this season at AA and pitched great, and then did well at AAA at times. He is up with the Twins because of all the numbers. If he wasn’t, he would most likely be getting ready to join Allan de San Miguel, James Beresford and Todd Van Steensel on the Australian Team at the World Cup in Panama. Hendriks was my #6 Twins prospect after he was selected (by me) as the Twins minor league pitcher of the year last year. He was the repeat choice for me this year. So, what have I seen? Reports of a fastball with movement that is 89-91 is accurate. He has even touched 93, which is good. His changeup can be very good. I like the break on his curveball. In reality, I have seen him pitch well, but consistency with all of those pitches needs to be a little better. We have seen batters where he throws three straight pitches right on the outside corner. We have seen sharp sliders off the outside corner. We have seen him get called strike threes on pitches on the inside corner. But we have also seen him hurt when he (like any pitcher) misses his spots. Hendriks needs another half-season at Rochester, I think. But I have seen more than enough to tell me that he can fit into the back of the Twins rotation as early as next year, and of all the pitchers that have been compared to Brad Radke in recent years, he might be the one that I think most closely resembles him as a pitcher.

Luke Hughes – He’s out of options, and I have no problem with him being a utility infielder and a right-handed bat off the bench. He can adequately play 3B, 2B and 1B, and he has shown good pop in his bat. I think we’ve seen that he probably isn’t a regular at any position, but he can contribute to the team and should play fairly frequently.

Trevor Plouffe – Like Hughes, Plouffe will be out of options next season, so he will have to make the team. He has certainly had his struggles at SS at times, but he’s also gone through semi-long stretches of adequacy there. I think he can be a well below defensive SS and an average to slightly above average offensive SS. I don’t think he’ll get that opportunity with the Twins. Like Hughes, I think he can adequately play the infield positions, and even some in the corner outfield positions. Like JJ Hardy, he is really non-fast. I think he can hit in the big leagues, despite his struggles in September. Again, probably not a big league regular, at least not with the Twins, but he should have his bat in the lineup quite a bit!     

If you have any questions or comments or observations, please feel free to discuss in the Comments section.

Plouffe is on Fire!

6 Jul

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When the Twins went out of their way to denigrate Trevor Plouffe at the end of May and demoted him to Rochester, Plouffe could have sulked. He could have folded. Coupled with the media and the Twins manager’s efforts to call him out, Plouffe had an injured finger and missed about a week or game action before playing for the Red Wings. And since then, there has not be a better player anywhere in the Twins system, if not in all of minor league baseball. And frankly, I do not fully understand how he, and specifically his bat, is still in Rochester and not with the Twins.

In early May, Alexi Casilla was really struggling at shortstop. Defensively, he was adequate, but he wasn’t hitting close to .200 and time for change was imminent. Plouffe was hitting well for the Red Wings after a slow start. Plouffe was finally promoted to the big leagues. In his first plate appearance, he hit a home run over the Green Monster at Fenway Park against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Plouffe would play in 18 games and hit .200 (12-60). However, of those 12 hits, two were doubles and three were home runs. Defensively, he looked more comfortable, until that one bad game. The first bad throw came on a play that Plouffe went deep into the shortstop hole, dove and made a great play, got up and threw too tall for the first baseman. It was a great play unfortunately capped by a bad throw. Soon after, there was a slow roller, and instead of setting and throwing, Plouffe threw on the run. He didn’t get a good grip on the ball and the ball fluttered to 1B too late. I thought that he needed to throw on the run, he just didn’t get anything on it. Some thought he was showboating, which I guarantee was not the case. Soon after, a hard hit, one hopper bounded a way from him. Just one error, but the manager felt the need to call Plouffe out loudly. And then again. And again.

No wonder Plouffe was struggling. Few could play under those circumstances. Plouffe was benched for three games, played another and then back on the bench. There were words between the manager and the media about Plouffe. Plouffe was upset that Gardenhire made it so public. It wasn’t pretty and soon Plouffe was headed back to Rochester. Sure, Luis Rivas and Alexi Casilla got 4-5 years worth of opportunities. Plouffe got 12 starts. Does anyone think that the manager will ever play Plouffe on a regular basis at SS? Of course not.

Again, Plouffe could have sulked and been frustrated when he went back to Triple-A. He missed some games with the finger injury. However, since he started playing, he has been incredible. In 18 June games, he hit .310/.388/.648 with five doubles, two triples and five home runs. In six games so far in July, he has hit .400/520/.1.000 with four home runs. Plouffe has hit 15 home runs in Rochester now to go with the three he hit with the Twins. In 2010, Plouffe had 15 home runs with the Red Wings and two homers for the Twins, all season. He already has a combined 18 homers this year and it is through July 5!

Since Plouffe’s return, he has played all over the field. Yes, he has played some at shortstop. He has played 2B. He has played right field and left field. We know he can play 3B, and in Game 2 on Tuesday night, he played 1B. Clearly the Twins now plan for him to be a super utility player, which is not a bad thing.

Regardless, there is no question that Trevor Plouffe’s bat needs to be on the Twins roster and most days in the Twins lineup. So, how do we get him there? Well, do the Twins really need a third catcher? That is kind of redundant and ridiculous. Matt Tolbert can play four infield positions, but can’t hit. He could go down. Luke Hughes hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire at 1B, so Plouffe could take his spot. For me, that is the order in which I would send guys down to get Plouffe up here. Maybe they’re waiting for him to get a little more comfortable at a few more positions.

Trevor Plouffe could then play all four infield positions. He can also play both corner outfield positions. Worried about his outfield defense? As Josh Johnson tweeted on Tuesday night, Delmon Young has played a lot of LF, how much worse can Plouffe be out there? Who knows? Plouffe could probably even pitch if necessary! Remember when the Twins used their first pick in the 2004 draft to take Plouffe as a shortstop. Many teams considered drafting him as a pitcher.

Hey, even if none of us expects Plouffe to maintain an OPS north of 1.000 in the big leagues, he has earned another opportunity for a big league job!

Any thoughts?

Rochester Red Wings

As you may have noticed, Trevor Plouffe was the star of this double header. In the two games, he went 3-4 with four walks and three home runs. So what happened besides Plouffe?

In the first game, the Red Wings beat the Paw Sox 13-3. Former Twins pitcher Matt Fox started for the Paw Sox. He gave up 11 runs on ten hits and two walks in just 2.2 innings. Kevin Slowey started for the Red Wings. He gave up two runs on four hits and four hit batters in 2.2 innings. Chuck James gave up one run on two hits and two walks in 2.1 innings. Dusty Hughes recorded two strikeouts in 1.1 scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop struck out two in one perfect inning. The Red Wings hit six home runs in the game. Plouffe hit two. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his eighth homer. Brandon Roberts went 2-4 with his first homer. Delmon Young was 2-4 and hit the first pitch that he saw on the day out for a home run. Danny Lehmann hit his second homer and drove in three. Toby Gardenhire went 1-2 with two walks and his tenth double.

In the second game, the Red Wings lost 4-2. Brandon Roberts and Trevor Plouffe each homers. Jeff Bailey had two hits. Delmon Young went 0-3. Cole DeVries made his first start of the year. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 2.2 innings. Thomas Diamond threw 2.2 scoreless innings, despite allowing four hits and three walks. Jim Hoey went 1.2 scoreless innings.

New Britain Rock Cats

The Rock Cats lost 7-2 to New Hampshire. Brett Jacobson gave up seven runs on ten hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out six. Deolis Guerra struck out two in two scoreless innings. Tyler Robertson gave up one hit in a scoreless inning. Joe Benson returned to the Rock Cats lineup. He went 1-2 with a double. He hit a sacrifice fly and was hit by a pitch. He even threw out a runner at home. Chris Parmelee went 1-2 with two walks and his seventh home run.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Ft. Myers lost 9-2 to St. Lucie. The Miracle managed just four hits. Steve Liddle hit his tenth double. Oswaldo Arcia went 1-2  and is hitting .313 (he went 4-5 the day before). Kane Holbrooks started and gave up two runs on nine hits in five innings. Ricky Bowen gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in his inning. Matt Tone gave up five runs on five hits and a walk in just 0.2 innings. Bruce Pugh got the final four outs, two via the strikeout.

Beloit Snappers

Beloit lost to Wisconsin 8-3. Manuel Soliman gave up six runs (5 earned) on seven hits and a walk. He struck out three in his 4.1 innings. Blayne Weller then gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in two innings. Andrei Lobanov was perfect for 1.2 innings. Ben Tootle struck out two in a scoreless inning. Tyler Grimes went 2-3 with his first pro home run. Adam Bryant went 2-4 with his fourth double. Michael Gonzales hit his 14th double.  

Elizabethton Twins

A sacrifice fly by Jairo Rodriguez and a Niko Goodrum RBI single gave the E-Twins a 6-4 lead in the top of the 9th, a lead they would hold for the win. Tim Shibuya started and gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in four innings. Derek Christensen threw two scoreless innings. Pedro Guerra threw a shutout frame. Madison Boer struckout two in a scoreless eighth inning for the win. Matt Summers struck out two in a scoreless inning for the save. (Summers now has two innings pitched with the E-Twins and five strikeouts. Goodrum went 2-4. Nick Lockwood hit a triple. Miguel Sano hit his third home run.

GCL Twins

The GCL Twins beat the GCL Rays 8-3. Hein Robb threw three hitless innings to start. Matthew Tomshaw gave up two runs (1 earned) on one hit in two innings. He struck out two. Mark Trau came in and gave up one run on one hit and three walks without recording an out. Marcus Limon came in and struckout three in three scoreless innings. Markus Solbach threw a scoreless inning. Phillip Chapman was 2-4 with two doubles. Michael Quesada was 2-3 with two three-run home runs. Josh Hendricks went 3-5 with a double. Hendricks began the season by going 0-16. Since then, he is 10-15 and is now hitting .323.  

Any other thoughts or questions on the Twins minor leaguers? Feel free to comment here. June Twins Minor League Hitters of the Month

3 Jul

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It is hard to believe that the third month of the season is now complete and it is already July. It is again time to take a look at June and determine the June Minor League Hitter and Pitchers of the Month. As always, there are some really good options which is why I do a Top 5 for hitters and starting pitchers and the top three relievers.

Today, I’ll be posting my choice for the June Hitter of the Month. In April, the winner was Danny Ortiz of the Beloit Snappers. Last month, the selection was Ft. Myers shortstop Brian Dozier. Soon after the calendar changed from May to June, Dozier was promoted to Double-A New Britain where he got off to a fast start before being hit in the face with a pitch. He returned to action after missing less than two weeks and has been playing even better. He missed too much time to qualify for the June player of the month, but check out these number. He went 16-48, and hit .333/.418/.500 with four doubles and two triples.

Also, the Twins short-season affiliates started late in June. There were some quick starts, but with less than 45 at bats, none of the players had enough playing time to get considered for more than mention.

Before getting to the Top 5, here are some guys who just missed the subjective list:

  • New Britain – Chris Parmelee (32-99) .278/.388/.412 with three doubles, two triples, two home runs and 14 RBI.
  • Ft. Myers – Anderson Hidalgo (24-81) .296/.345/.457 with nine doubles, two homers and 9 RBI.
  • Beloit – Lance Ray (25-81) .309/.398/.407 with eight doubles, and eight RBI
  • Elizabethton – Eddie Rosario (.357/.421/.720) with two doubles, a triple, five home runs and 13 RBI.

Number 5 – Beloit – Michael Gonzales – 1B (33-101) .327/.361/.525 with 6 doubles, a triple, four home runs and 19 RBI.

Gonzales gets the #5 spot for the second straight month. He had a nearly identical OPS as he did in May, however, he went about it a different way. In May, he was a walk-machine. In June, he didn’t walk as much, but he had a terrific slugging percentage. Gonzales started in the Midwest League All Star Game. At 6-6, Gonzales had a ton of power potential, but a long, slow swing in 2010. He lost 30 pounds in the offseason and has a much quicker swing and the numbers are showing. I can’t help but wonder if he should be promoted to Ft. Myers, but we forget that the 23-year-old spent just one year in junior college before the Twins drafted him in the 9th round of the 2008 draft. It will be good to see if he can continue to put up numbers throughout the second half.   

Number 4 – Rochester – Dustin Martin – OF (34-105) .324/.408/.533 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers and 14 RBI.

In 2009, Martin posted a .670 OPS in his first season in Rochester. Last year, he improved that number to .733. Through half of 2011, the 27-year-old is posting a .780 OPS for the Red Wings. Martin was the 26th round pick of the New York Mets in 2006. A year later, he and Drew Butera came to the Twins in exchange for Luis Castillo. After hitting .195 in May, Martin was a force in the middle of the Red Wings lineup in June.   

Number 3 – Beloit – Jairo Perez – IF (27-68) .397/.475/.618 with three doubles, four homers and 16 RBI.

Perez signed with the Twins way back in 2006, but it would not be surprising if most Twins fans had never heard of him until this month. He spent two years in the Dominican Summer League, and then hit .217 in 2009 in the GCL. Then, he missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery. His rehab contributed to him missing the first two months of the 2011 season. He was promoted to Beloit and debuted with a 2-4 effort on June 8th. He has continued to rake ever since. He had multi-hit games in eight of his 20 games played. He walked a lot, hit for power and drove in a ton of runs. He has a .414 BABIP to this point, so it may not be maintainable, but he certain started out well for his new team.

Number 2 – Rochester – Trevor Plouffe – IF/OF (22-71) .310/.388/.648 with five doubles, two triples, five home runs and 13 RBI.

Of course, when Trevor Plouffe was Jairo Perez’s age, he was in his second season in Triple-A Rochester. Unfortunately, the 25 year old is still in Rochester. When Plouffe was sent down (And bashed by the organization) early in June, he could have sulked. Especially when he had to miss a week of games with a bad finger. Instead, he just continued to do what he had done all year, and that is destroy the baseball. He leads the organization with 15 total home runs this season. Plouffe is now playing all around the field for the Red Wings in an attempt to make him more of a utility player, a role many in the organization envisioned for him the last few years.

The SethSpeaks Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month of June is…

Ft. Myers OF Aaron Hicks (23-83) .337/.466/.530 with eleven doubles, one triple, one home run and eight RBI.

The team’s #1 prospect is also the choice for the team’s #1 minor league hitter of the month in June. Hicks has been playing very well now for the last two months, showing that he is taking his incredible tools, and they are now becoming skills. One of the reasons that he has been so highly touted, by me and others, is his ability at such a young age to take walks. He walked 20 times in June alone. In June, he knocked a lot of doubles. A perfect illustration of the type of player he is and hopefully will become was the extra innings game this month in which he went 3-3 with three walks and three doubles. Will the home run power come? I think so. He is very strong. His defense is already there. He has recorded many outfield assists this month because of his great arm. Now the key for Hicks, and for many top prospects, will be to become more and more consistent. In his first month in Hi-A Ft. Myers, he posted a .593 OPS. In May, he increased that number to .830. In June, his OPS was 996. Like his OPS, Hicks’ prospect stock continues to rise.

June was another difficult month for most hitters in the Twins system, but there were many that do deserve recognition for great play, many beyond the above list. Wait until tomorrow I post my choices for the June Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month. There are a lot of very strong options and many were considered!

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.

Friday Notes

3 Jun

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I meant to blog last night after I got to my parent’s place, but I kind of fell asleep. So, here is a quick ten-minute blog posting for the morning.

  • First things first, I am on my way to the Twin Cities, in 11 minutes, for tonight’s TwinsCentric/KFAN’s Lindsay Viewing Party. The Twins play the Royals at 7:00 tonight, and we will all be at Smalley’s 87 Club down by Target Field. There will be drink specials throughout the night. There will be some prizes. Basically it is an opportunity for a bunch of Twins fans to get together and watch the Twins play. Sure, it’s been a frustrating year, but we can still have fun talking about the team. It is also an opportunity to contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations will be encouraged, but certainly not required. So, if you’re able, join us tonight!
  • I have to admit that I am thrilled that the Twins called up Brian Dinkelman. Drafted by the Twins in 2006 out of a small NAIA school in Illinois. He has gradually worked his way through the Twins entire system. He has been in big league training camp the last year. He has been very consistent, and he is again having a terrific year. It does tell us where the Twins season is going, sure, but you have to feel happy for a guy like that.
  • Of course, it comes, in part because Trevor Plouffe has struggled defensively, and he has made his way into Ron Gardenhire’s doghouse. Has Plouffe struggled? Sure. Is it as bad as Gardy and the team is making it sound? I don’t think so. But, as the Rochester Baseball Observer pointed out very well, the Twins need to trade Plouffe now because as long as Gardy is manager, he will never get a real opportunity. It’s all part of the double-standard that the manager has with some of his players. Plouffe gets called out for everything wrong he does and we rarely hear about the good stuff.. Danny Valencia gets called out every day for something. Matt Tolbert made a play the other day that he threw past Valencia at third that cost at least two runs. Gardenhire’s response? It was the right play, just a bad throw. And frankly, I agree. But Tolbert wasn’t thrown under the bus, was he? In fact, the only thing we heard was that Valencia wasn’t back in the right position. Well yeah, he tried to make the play in the hole. Plouffe is a doghouse guy, even though he is as good of a person as there is. It’s not the first occurrence of this. It happened to Pat Neshek a year ago. Matt Garza. Jason Bartlett. The only one that has escaped it is Glen Perkins, and I have no idea how that happened. Gardy learned from Tom Kelly who was notorious for being tough on your players, preferring sometimes the scrappy veterans. Gardenhire is the same way. And this isn’t a fire-able offense, but it is my one frustration with Ron Gardenhire.
  • Last night, I was on the Twins Minor League Weekly podcast with Travis Aune. We talked about last night’s box scores, some transactions and our players of the month of May, so please check it out. (Note, you’ll have to bear with a short technical difficulty early in the show, but it’s only about a minute)
  • The Twins acquired former top outfield prospect Jeremy Reed from the Brewers AAA team as depth at Rochester.
  • A few injury updates to report on.  It sounds like Aaron Hicks could be back within a few more days from his thumb bruise. I have heard that Brandon Roberts could be back from his oblique injury in the next week. Angel Morales is likely out 2-3 more weeks with his elbow injury. Estarlin de los Santos will be out at least another four weeks with his elbow injury. The Twins have gone the way of rest and rehab with elbow injuries again this year. It’s the way they went with Neshek and Loek Van Mil. This year, they have done so with Miguel Munoz, Angel Morales and Estarlin de Los Santos. Hopefully it is the right decision for them.
  • Brian Dozier, Danny Rams and Bruce Pugh were named to the Florida State League All-Star team yesterday. Congratulations to them.
  • SS/2B Steve Singleton and LHP Michael Tarsi were promoted from New Britain to Rochester yesterday after their game.
  • Final thought, I know people don’t like him and think it is all about the nepotism, but you have to have a ton of respect for Red Wings infielder Toby Gardenhire. Maybe it is just a small sample (ok, no maybe about it), but after a 2-4 day yesterday with two doubles, he is hitting .294 in AAA with six doubles. There’s no way he sustains that, but I do think it shows that he has worked really hard, and he can play at that level. Am I saying he’s great? No. But he should not get beaten up as bad as he does. And if he gets a brief promotion, oh well. I have no problem with that (well, depending on who comes off the 40 man roster to make it happen, of course.)

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Friday Night Game Notes, Two Walkoffs

7 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minor League Notes

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

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

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

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

Red Wings Ramblings

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

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

Rock Cats Report

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

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

Miracle Matters

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

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

Snappers Bites

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

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

Plouffe, Revere Promoted

4 May

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Following last night’s game, the Twins surprised no one by calling up Trevor Plouffe. They put Jim Thome on the Disabled List with the oblique injury.

They also mentioned that Jason Repko would be put on the Disabled List with his quad injury. They didn’t announce a corresponding move, but via Twitter, Red Wings catcher Rene Rivera commented, “Congrats to my roommate @BenRevere9 he going to the big leagues good luck my friend.”

I learned that Ray Chang was being promoted from New Britain up to Rochester as well.

Following a game on April 26th in which he went 0-3, Revere was hitting .194. He went 9-11 over next three games, and in the six games since that 0-3, he is 14-25 (.560), and he is now hitting .293 (I won’t mention the .330 OBP and .315 SLG, or the .645 OPS). It will be interesting to see what happens in the Twins outfield. I assume that if Revere is up, he will play. Could Rene Tosoni move to the bench? And if Delmon Young is back on Friday, who will be sent back to Rochester? I assume Tosoni which would make Revere the fourth outfielder until Jim Thome comes back. Or, does this tell us that Young may not be back as soon as we had hoped?

As for Plouffe, we have been clamoring for him to be called up for some time now. He had a bad spring training, with a bunch of errors. He was sent back to minor league camp early. He has played good defense for the Red Wings. He started the season on fire, particularly with extra base hits. On the season, he is hitting .282/.344/.590 (.934 OPS) with four doubles, a triple and six home runs. However, in his last nine games, he is 7-34 (.206). He went 4-5 with a double and a home run on Sunday. Take that one game out, and he has 3 hits in his last 29 at bats. However, getting Plouffe to the big leagues should help the Twins.

Alexi Casilla was already moved over to 2B last night. Plouffe has played 2B eight of the 21 games he has played at Rochester. Michael Cuddyer, Luke Hughes and Matt Tolbert can all play 2B. So, right now, the Twins have three options at SS, five options at 2B, and several options at 3B .With Revere and Tosoni still both in the big leagues, there is now enough outfield depth.

Ray Chang was promoted from New Britain to Rochester. The infielder was hitting .270/.320/.404 with nine doubles, a home run and 22 RBI so far this season. It is again inexplicable to me why it wasn’t Steve Singleton promoted, but it is possible that an infielder could be sent down when Young comes off the Disabled List. That’s all I can think of. I have to assume that an outfielder will be promoted from New Britain to Rochester, although that isn’t absolutely necessary as the Red Wings still have Jeff Bailey, Brandon Roberts, Dustin Martin and Brian Dinkelman who can play in the outfield.

What affect do you think that Plouffe will have on the Twins? I know he struggled in the big leagues last year when he was promoted to the Twins four times. He struckout quite a bit. He also hit two home runs. Hitting in the bottom of the order, he could be alright with the bat, but the bigger concern is what he can do with the glove. I will say this. It would be hard to believe that he could be worse than Casilla was. What affect will playing 2B have on Casilla, and what do you think the playing time will be at SS, 2B and in the OF? I assume that when he plays, Revere will bat second which should strengthen that spot in the lineup. He can bunt and run, which should be exciting. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Roster Projections: Rochester Red Wings

29 Mar

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Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Should Twins Fans Worry about Aaron Hicks?

18 Feb

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It is always strange to me when I hear Twins fans and some minor league baseball fans talking about how disappointing Aaron Hicks has been in Beloit. I think part of it is because many, myself included, thought he would end the 2010 season in Ft. Myers. I realize everyone from fans to players to front office personnel are eagerly awaiting his breakout year when his incredible tools become skills and he puts up some terrific numbers. But I wanted to take a look at how his numbers at Beloit compare to other Twins players and their numbers in the Midwest League.

Let’s start by reviewing the numbers that Aaron Hicks has put up the last two years in Beloit:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Aaron Hicks 19 2009 Beloit .251/.353/.382 (735) 15/3/4/29 40/55
Aaron Hicks 20 2010 Beloit .279/.401/.428 (829) 27/6/8/49 88/112

Here are some current and former Twins players and how they did in the Midwest League (Note – Delmon Young’s A-ball numbers from the Sally League):

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Torii Hunter 18 1994 Ft. Wayne .293/.358/.439 (797) 17/1/10/50 25/80
Michael Cuddyer 19 1998 Ft. Wayne .276/.364/.451 (815) 37/7/12/81 61/107
Justin Morneau 20 2001 Quad Cities .356/.420/.597 (1017) 17/2/12/53 26/38
Joe Mauer 19 2002 Quad Cities .302/.393/.392 (785) 23/1/4/62 61/42
Jason Kubel 20 2002 Quad Cities .321/.380/.521 (901) 26/4/17/69 41/48
Denard Span 20 2004 Quad Cities .267/.363/.308 (671) 4/3/0/14 34/49
Delmon Young 18 2004 Charleston .320/.386/.536 (922) 26/5/25/115 53/120
Alexi Casilla 20 2005 Cedar Rapids .325/.392/.409 (801) 11/3/3/17 29/31

Here are a few notes:

  • Everyone talks about how Torii Hunter didn’t put up great numbers in the Midwest League. Well, he did, and he did it at the age of 18. He was already showing some of that power.
  • Michael Cuddyer put up some incredible minor league numbers all the way up the ladder, and it started as a 19 year old in 1998. Look at all those extra base hits.
  • Justin Morneau didn’t get to the Midwest League until he was 20, and he only spent a half season there because he completely dominated the level.
  • Joe Mauer’s OPS isn’t exciting, but we did get a glimpse of the player he has become too. Many more walks than strikeouts, a few doubles, and a good batting average.
  • How fun would it have been to see Quad Cities play in 2002 with Mauer and Jason Kubel? You can see why so many people back then saw Kubel as a mix between Morneau and Mauer.
  • Denard Span didn’t exactly put up monster numbers, and he did miss quite a bit of time with injury. The take-away from those numbers is that he had a very nice Isolated Discipline already even though he was, like Hicks, very raw at the time.
  • Delmon Young was a beast after being taken with the 1st overall pick in the 2003 draft. Ever wonder why people still think he’ll develop a lot of power, check out those numbers!
  • Alexi Casilla was with the Angels organization, but what he did for Cedar Rapids made him the guy they wanted in a trade of JC Romero the next offseason.
  • I included international players and high school drafted players in this group. Danny Valencia hit .302/.374/.500 (874) with 15 doubles and 11 homers in a half-season with the Snappers, but he was 22 years old after spending three years playing Division I baseball. Matt Tolbert played four years at the University of Mississippi, so the Twins had him skip the Midwest League and go right to Ft. Myers.

Can we take anything away from these numbers? With Hicks, you have to love his Isolated Discipline and On-Base skills from both years. The strikeouts increased some in 2010, but he has shown some extra base power. Delmon Young, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel put up really tremendous numbers in the Midwest League, and that has translated to the big leagues eventually. Cuddyer was an extra base machine as a 19 year old in Beloit, and yet his OPS was lower than Hicks’ was in 2010, as a 20 year old. Joe Mauer has always had a terrific eye, and yet Hicks has produced significantly better IsoD while producing more extra base hits.

Of course, we don’t know what will happen. We know that all players develop differently, but I think that this quick, cursory glance at Hicks’ numbers compared to current big leaguers gives us no reason to believe he won’t continue developing and become a very good big league player.

Let’s also take a look at the Midwest League numbers of some of the other Twins hitting prospects to see how they compare:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Trevor Plouffe 19 2005 Beloit .223/.300/.345 (645) 18/0/13/60 50/78
Chris Parmelee 19 2007 Beloit .239/.313/.414 (727) 23/5/15/70 46/137
Chris Parmelee 20 2008 Beloit .239/.385/.496 (881) 10/3/14/49 52/83
Joe Benson 19 2007 Beloit .255/.347/.368 (715) 18/8/5/38 49/124
Joe Benson 20 2008 Beloit .248/.326/.382 (708) 16/3/4/27 24/73
Ben Revere 20 2008 Beloit .379/.433/.497 (930) 17/10/1/43 27/31
Angel Morales 19 2009 Beloit .266/.329/.455 (784) 22/5/13/62 30/104
Angel Morales 20 2010 Beloit .289/.381/.474 (855) 13/7/4/36 24/65
James Beresford 20 2009 Beloit .289/.342/.313 (655) 11/0/0/38 34/70
James Beresford 21 2010 Beloit .297/.349/.363 (712) 19/5/1/59 34/56
Danny Rams 20 2009 Beloit .229/.308/.429 (737) 14/0/7/23 18/77
Danny Rams 21 2010 Beloit .243/.310/.450 (760) 28/4/16/68 31/145
Anderson Hidalgo 21 2010 Beloit .316/.375/.443 (818) 25/1/3/28 24/50
  • Trevor Plouffe put up those numbers only because he played much better in the 2nd half of the season. Good power numbers, but he could have used another year with the Snappers.
  • Both Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee struggled in their first seasons in the Midwest League. Then both got hurt halfway through their second season with the team. However, in the second year, you can see why people are excited about his patience and power potential.
  • Looking at Revere’s Beloit numbers, what a year he had. Very much batting average based, of course. But if we were to only look at OPS, his is right up there with anyone (except Morneau). And he stole 44 bases that year too.
  • Angel Morales… how/why is he so overlooked in many prospect rankings?
  • James Beresford showed good improvement from 2009 and 2010. Reports are that he has gained some weight this offseason. If he can add any semblance of power to his game, he could jump up prospect rankings quickly!
  • Danny Rams has so much power potential, but he just needs to put the ball in play more. His 77 strikeouts in 2009 came in just 175 at bats. He struck out 145 times in 407 at bats in 2010. Yet, his power numbers still make him intriguing.
  • Anderson Hidalgo may be the least known, or maybe underrated, prospect in the organization. He had another solid year in 2010.

What is the summary? There really isn’t one. There is no science to prospect rankings and we don’t know how things will turn out, but if nothing else, I believe this data shows that Twins fans should continue to be very excited about the future of Aaron Hicks.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments here. Also, for more links to Twins articles and thoughts throughout the weekend, be sure to follow me on Twitter where I like to retweet Twins-related articles and post thoughts frequently. Have a great weekend!