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Josh's Thoughts



A baseball fan giving his thoughts on the Minnesota Twins, their minor league affiliates and everything baseball.



Last Build Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2015 20:06:21 +0000

 



Joe Mauer Sings in New Explore Minnesota TV Spot

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 19:24:00 +0000

I received an e-mail about a new television ad for "Explore Minnesota" that features Twins catcher Joe Mauer singing. It's a fun advertisement, so make sure to check it out!

title="YouTube video player" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_hkp_KNT_e0" allowfullscreen="" width="640" frameborder="0" height="390">

Dear Mr. Mauer,

On behalf of all Twins fans, please stick to baseball.

Josh



Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2011

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 08:05:00 +0000

(image) Twins fans,

I'm pleased to announce that the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2011 is now available to order. The book costs $14.95, but trust me, it's worth every penny and then some. Seth Stohs (Seth Speaks) asked me for a little help with the book and I jumped at the chance to help him. As many of you know, Seth has been a big help to me since I started writing and I'm happy to help him with anything I possibly can. As Seth has said, the meat and potatoes of the book is the prospect profiles of 150+ Twins minor league players, but the book also has a lot of other cool things that make the book whole:

  • An article on the Rochester Red Wings by Josh Whetzel, their radio and TV play-by-play guy since 2003.
  • An article on New Britain Stadium by Jeff Dooley, the team's Director of Broadcasting and their play-by-play guy on the radio.
  • An article on the Ft. Myers Miracle by their play-by-play broadcaster Alex Margulies.
  • An article on the Beloit Snappers by Jeff Vohs, the team's General Manager.
  • Q&A with Danny Valencia: Major Leaguer - an interview with Valencia after his rookie season came to an end.
  • Interviews with Minor League Player of the Year, Joe Benson, and Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Kyle Gibson.
  • Stories from the 2010 Draft - an article on the Twins draft and stories on five of the players that the Twins selected.
  • Nate Hanson: Minnesota's Own - Seth wrote an article on Chaska native (and former Gopher) Nate Hanson, who had a breakout 2010 season in Ft. Myers.
  • In the Right Direction - I wrote an article on the progress made by Twins 1B/OF prospect Chris Parmelee.
  • Lists and Rankings - includes Top 10 lists from many of your favorite Twins minor league bloggers and other "experts." My top 30 prospects are included.
As you can see, this book is a must have for every Twins fan and minor league enthusiast. Seth has delivered non-stop Twins coverage - free of charge - since 2003 and buying this book would really go a long way in showing your support for not only Seth, but the rest of the Twins blogging community.

So what are you waiting for? Order a copy today!

(image)



An explanation

Fri, 21 Jan 2011 00:53:00 +0000

I know it's been long overdue, but I think it's time for me to explain my absence from this site.

As many of you know, I'm in college. I started in 2006 and I'm still going at it. I went into college having no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Over the first three years, I switched my intended major four different times before finally deciding on journalism. Unfortunately, my indecisiveness (and my decision to transfer) ended up costing me a lot of time (and money). So in the Spring of 2010, I got to the point where I had enough of college and I just wanted to get out as quickly as possible (a decision many have told me they don't agree with). So in doing so, I started taking more and more credits. I took 18 last Spring and 19 this fall. Sadly, this made it too hard for me to write outside of class.

I still continued to watch a lot of baseball and I continued to pay close attention to the Minor Leagues, but after writing all day long at school, the last thing I wanted to do was to come home and write more. (If you're wondering, yes, I will probably delete this in the future so that my future employer never finds it. Haha!) I do apologize to anyone that actually does read this site, it was never my intention to be gone this long.

My initial "leave" came with the intent of starting up a new site. But I quickly found out that I knew very little about website design and it's created a lot of headaches over the past few months. I wish I could come here today to say that I'm close to a solution, but I can't. I thought I was "techie" enough to do it, but I quickly fell flat on my face and I'm still trying to pick myself off the pavement.

Over the past few months, I've been given the opportunity to write in Seth Stohs' "Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2011" and the Minnesota Twins Annual 2011. Despite being M.I.A. in the blogging community, Seth and the rest of the Twins Centric crew both gave me the opportunity to write for them, which truly meant a lot to me. Both were great writing chances and I can't express how thankful I am enough.

Moving forward: I wish I knew what was going to happen with the website situation. I'm going to continue trying to find help, but at some point, I might just decide that I've had enough and resort to coming "back" here. Either way, I know I will be happy with my decision.

I know many people might not care, but I felt that it's better late than never to write an explanation. I hope to be writing more in the near future, but in the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter : @JoshsThoughts.

And as always, please feel free to e-mail me at jajohnson021@yahoo.com.



Guest Post: PokerJunkie.com

Thu, 20 Jan 2011 13:51:00 +0000

The following is a guest post. The views expressed in the article are those of the author.

As most of you already know, earlier this month Bert Blyleven was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Roberto "I spit in your general direction" Alomar. For those of you younger Twins fans that are unaware of his accomplishments, Blyleven was an all-time great picture who spent 11 of his 22 years in the big leagues with the Twins. He finished with 287 wins, 3701 career strikeouts, and a career 3.31 ERA. He also had 242 completed games for his career. Clearly, Blyleven will go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Twins cap since it is obvious that he made his biggest contribution with the Twins. However, this brings me to the matter of whether the Hall of Fame should decide which cap a player should wear into Cooperstown.

The current policy of the Hall of Fame is to put the team cap on the player statue from the team that they are identified to have made their "most indelible mark" on the game. In the past, the hall has deferred to the player in choosing the cap, but that changed in 2001 after there were reports that some players were taking bribes to wear a particular cap.

Some of you may think that this policy would not have that big of an impact on players going into the hall. However, let's take a look at a few key examples. For those of you that remember Andre Dawson, what team do you identify him with? The Cubs right? Well, Andre must go into the hall wearing an Expos hat due to having spent most of his career there. When you think of Wade Boggs, you usually think of him as either a Red Sox player, or a Yankee. Boggs had requested to be enshrined as a Yankee since that is where he had his success. However, the hall decided to put him as a Red Sox. Gary Carter fans would expect no less than for him to be enshrined as a N.Y. Met. However, he went in as an Montreal Expo. (That would be the Washington Nationals for you younger fans.)

Luckily, we won't have that problem with Blyleven due to the two stints he had with the Twins, but imagine if he had been with another team for a reasonable amount of time and the Hall of Fame denied his request to be a Twin. I personally think that it is shameful that the hall does not defer to the players in this matter. If there is proof that the player is being bribed, that is one thing. However, in most cases the players are requesting to be enshrined with the team that they either had their best years with or the team that they consider "their team."

I have a lot of respect for the job that the Hall of Fame does. Unlike some sports, our Hall of Fame truly enshrines the great players throughout history, and not players that online poker sites rated as great. Deferring to the players to make a decision on their hat is a small concession that I feel that they should make, especially if you consider the fans. Andre Dawson will always be a Cub, Gary Carter a Met, and Bert Blyleven a Twin. In the end, the impact that a player makes with the fans is just as important as the impact made on the field, and that should in some part can be recognized by letting the players choose what hat they wear into Cooperstown.

This article is provided by PokerJunkie.com



Might as well have been for bottle Capps

Fri, 30 Jul 2010 07:05:00 +0000

The Minnesota Twins made a surprising move last night when they traded away blue chip catching prospect Wilson Ramos and left-handed reliever Joe Testa to the Washington Nationals for closer Matt Capps and $500,000 in cash.Ramos, who ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Twins system before the season, has been less than impressive in his first season of Triple-A. Testa was ranked as the No. 49 prospect heading into the season and is back in Single-A Fort Myers after struggling in Double-A New Britain. His inclusion into the trade doesn't bother me. He is a 24-year-old with control problems who is still three stops away from the Major Leagues. Capps, on the other hand, turned a bad situation into a good one when he was released by the Pirates last winter. He signed with the Nationals and was selected to this month's All-Star game (thanks in large part to the every team must have a representative rule).Heading into the season, Ramos was considered a can't-miss prospect who was coming off of a Venezuelan Winter League where he hit .332/.397/.582 with 12 home runs in 54 games. He was one of the last cuts Ron Gardenhire made in Spring Training, and after hitting .400/.400/.733 with two home runs over 30 at-bats, it seemed Ramos' time in Triple-A may be short-lived.He was summoned from the minor leagues in early May and spent a week with the club, while Joe Mauer nursed a bruised heel. Ramos came out swinging and went 6-9 with three doubles in his first two games before finishing up his time in Minnesota going 1-18. From that point on, nagging injuries, attitude problems and a .241/.280/.345 slash line proved to be enough for the Twins to rid themselves of one of their best prospects.This is what I wrote about Ramos at the beginning of the season:Wilson Ramos was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 7, 2004. He didn't make it to the states until 2006, but he certainly has made his presence felt since. Admittedly, I flirted with ranking Ramos as the top overall prospect.In 2006, Ramos began the season in Extended Spring Training before joining the Gulf Coast League. With the Twins, Ramos hit .286/.339/.435 with 16 extra-base hits in 154 at-bats. In 2007, Ramos again found himself in Extended Spring Training but he eventually joined the Beloit Snappers in June with the struggles of Greg Yersich. He went on to hit .291/.345/.438 with 26 extra-base hits in 292 at-bats. After the season, Ramos ranked in as my 13th best prospect in the Twins system. In 2008, Ramos moved up to the Florida State League where he hit .288/.346/.434 with 38 extra-base hits with the Ft. Myers Miracle. In 2009, Ramos continued to move through the system, this time playing for the New Britain Rock Cats in the Eastern League. He broke his finger in May and after returning in June, he missed two months with a pulled hamstring. All together, Ramos hit .317/.339/.496 with 25 extra-base hits including seven home runs in 224 at-bats. After finding himself healthy, Ramos hit .332/.397/.582 and drove in 49 runs in the Venezuelan Winter League.Ramos' offensive prowess is mostly what he is known for, but Ramos is also a stout defender behind the plate. Pitchers like the way he calls the game and his strong arm makes it hard for base runners to steal on him. But two things stand in the way for Ramos are his history of injuries and a guy by the name of Joe Mauer. Ramos has the potential to be one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, but THE best is already on the roster, so it doesn't seem likely that he'll play an extensive role with the Twins (at least not as a catcher). The Twins could consider using using him at DH, but that seems like it'd really be diminishing his value. Ramos needs to prove in 2010 that he can stay on the field, which may be all that is separating him from being the top prospect.Despite being blocked by Mauer at catcher, Ramos' value was not diminished. Many believed that with Jason Kubel and Mic[...]



Help wanted, help needed

Tue, 29 Jun 2010 05:33:00 +0000

Put so elegantly by Aaron Gleeman, the Minnesota Twins have slumped away their lead in the A.L. Central and now, for the first time since April 5th, are not in first place. Poor offense and horrendous pitching is a baseball team's worst nightmare, and the Twins have had both. Other than a couple players, the Twins have been horrendous in a month they usually "get going."The rumor mills have been churning and the Twins have found themselves caught up in the middle of a lot of them. Thanks to a new revenue and high expectations, the Twins have put themselves in position to be "buyers" at this July's trade deadline. But unlike in other years, the Twins have the opportunity to add a legitimate difference maker (which isn't to say the players we've added in past years didn't make a difference).There have been three names that don't seem to be going away: Cliff Lee, Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt.All three of these guys have something in common; they are all pitchers. And not only are they pitchers, they're great pitchers. Why not look for offense? Because good hitters are hard to come by this year, especially if you're comparing them to the quality of pitchers that are believed to be available. Or least that's the way I see it, feel free to disagree.So looking at those pitchers, who should the Twins go after? If it were up to me, my choice is probably the most unlikely. Being a big fan of player development, I don't like the thought of acquiring a "rental" player. If the Twins don't believe they can re-sign the player they require, I don't want to see them give up a lot to acquire them. That philosophy has been the Twins M.O. for years, and it's one I completely agree with.So do I believe Lee is the best fit? Well pitching-wise, yes. He's had success in the American League Central and fits the Twins model of pitchers who have great control. But unlike Oswalt and Haren, Lee is a free agent at the end of the season, which means he'd likely be acquired as a "rental." Could the Twins re-sign him? Maybe, but I think that's highly doubtful with the New York Yankees already salivating about the thought of acquiring him.How about Oswalt? He has two years remaining on his contract and he also has a history of success. But while his contract would ensure that he's here for more than three months, the salary he's receiving is probably a bit much for the Twins to absorb, especially if they're trading multiple highly-touted prospects to acquire him.So that leaves Haren. While he's struggled this season, there's no doubt that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Since joining the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008, Haren is 37-24 with a 3.51 ERA and 8.7 K/9, which includes his 4.65 ERA.So what makes Haren so desirable? That he's under team control through 2012, with an option for 2013. And the salary? He's making $8.25 million in 2010, he'll make $12.75 in 2011 and 2012 with a $15.5 million club option in 2013. A very manageable price for a very good pitcher.But all of this really means nothing unless you compare the packages that it'd take to acquire each player. The Twins most valuable trading chip is Wilson Ramos, a highly-touted catcher who is blocked by Joe Mauer. But while Ramos is expendable, trading him for Lee should be out of the question. Ramos' potential is too good to trade him for three months of Lee, unless you can guarantee two things: a clause which states, "If the Twins do not win the World Series, we will return Wilson Ramos to them," or a window of opportunity to work out a contract extension. Unfortunately, neither will happen. The most I trade for Lee is Nick Blackburn, Ben Revere and Anthony Slama. I'd assume another team could top that, but I do think the Mariners would accept that if they're that serious about moving him.The Astros already have a young catcher named Jason Castro, who they selected in the first round of the 2008 draft, so Ramos probably wouldn't entice them as a centerp[...]



Is a major lineup change needed?

Wed, 16 Jun 2010 06:33:00 +0000

[Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images]Delmon Young is on fire. And that's probably an understatement. For those who haven't noticed, Young is now hitting .295/.333/.500 with 15 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBI. He also has a 14-to-22 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Last year, Young had 12 walks and 92 strikeouts. It wasn't even a month ago that Young was hitting .250/.304/.438 with nine doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI. But in the last 22 games, Young has hit .368/.386/.605 with six doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI.As someone who has never ridiculed Bill Smith for acquiring Young, and someone who has always been a big fan of his (Young), I'm excited to see him hitting with such authority. Since joining the Twins prior to the 2008 season, Young has been awful until the second-half of the season. But the fact that he's on pace to hit 44 doubles, 22 home runs and drive in 111 runners at this point of the season is very encouraging.A lot of people have been clamoring for Young to be moved up in the lineup, but people need to be more aware of the situation than what's on the surface. It's easy to see that Michael Cuddyer, the player who would likely swap places with Young in the lineup, is struggling, but he too is having a nice past couple of weeks. In the same amount of games as Young's stretch, Cuddyer has hit .321/.394/.536 with eight doubles, two triples and two home runs. He also hasn't hit into a double play since the Twins played the Boston Red Sox on May 19th.At least swap Young and Jason Kubel, right? Again, no. Since May 25th, Kubel is hitting .323/.389/.692 with six doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI. As someone who has had a history of struggle against left-handed pitchers, Kubel's last two home runs have come against southpaws.The middle of the Twins lineup is running on all cylinders right now, and nothing drastic needs to be changed there. If the Twins moved Young to fifth, would it make a big difference? Him hitting seventh is not the reason the Twins are 6-7 in June. Instead, that blame can be placed on players hitting .094/.164/.151 in the two-hole since his the injury to Orlando Hudson. Well, that and Justin Morneau hitting .255/.308/.468 over the same span, but that's besides the point.I've singled out the offense (the two-hole in particular), because as a unit, it has only scored an average of 3.8 runs per game (not including Tuesday's game) since Hudson's injury. And to just show how much the Twins rely on Hudson, the offense averaged 4.9 runs per game (in the games Hudson played) before his injury.I know people have grown tired of others saying, "the offense will turn around eventually" but I truly believe that the Twins lineup would benefit most by being healthy. When Hudson and J.J. Hardy return from injuries, it should be enough time for the Twins to decide what they want to do before the trade deadline. With guys like Mike Lowell and Mark Reynolds thought to be available, the Twins should have enough time to get a feel for their lineup before making their playoff run.Give it time, there's no need to make any major changes just yet.[Image courtesy of Yahoo.com][...]



Twins Minor League Month in Review: Rochester Red Wings - May

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 03:25:00 +0000

Rochester Red Wings (19-32, 5th in the International League - North) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Danny Valencia - 54 Wins: Rob Delaney - 5 Avg: Jason Repko - .310 ERA: Kyle Waldrop - 1.47 OPS: Dustin Martin - .828 IP: Ryan Mullins - 46.33 HR: Brock Peterson - 6 K: Jeff Manship - 19 RBI: Dustin Martin - 33 Saves: Anthony Slama - 10 SB: Jason Repko - 8 WHIP: Anthony Slama - 0.79After a 10-19 May, the Red Wings continue to slide down the standings. Despite having a very talented group of hitters and pitchers, the team hasn't been able to find its rhythm yet. The offense didn't score a lot of runs and the starting pitchers have struggled keeping the team in the game.The Red Wings starters had a 6.26 ERA in May. There were six quality starts in May, but only one before May 21st. The unit got better as the month went on, which could be a sign of things to come. Anthony Swarzak returned to the rotation after missing a-month-and-a-half with a broken foot. In just his second start, he went seven innings and gave up only one run. His return and Glen Perkins suddenly piecing together a couple respectable starts could help fuel the Red Wings in June.Deolis Guerra (#16) was called up following the release of Yoslan Herrera, and at just 21-years-old, he's shown his inexperience. Through four starts, Guerra is 0-3 with a 6.26 ERA. He has walked just six and has struck out 16 while inducing 30 ground-ball outs. He probably belongs in Double-A, but there isn't anyone from New Britain that has earned a promotion to Rochester.Short Hops: Matt Fox has done a good job filling in as a starter, going 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA in five May starts. He hasn't walked a runner in 15 2/3 innings but has struck out seven in that same span.The bullpen has a group of very talented relievers, headlined by Anthony Slama (#17), Kyle Waldrop and Rob Delaney (#26). The three combined to go 3-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 36 May appearances. Waldrop was unbelievable, allowing just two earned runs in 21 1/3 innings while walking five and striking out 16. Slama remains solid, but he continues to walk to many batters. He converted five saves in May and had a 1.98 ERA. Delaney, however didn't have such a great month. While it's easy to look past the fact that he had a 4.80 ERA on the month, you can't ignore that he allowed four of his seven inherited runners to score.Although everyone is clamoring for Slama to be the first reliever to be called up, Waldrop might be the most likely. He's pitching the best and is already on the 40-man roster.The offense wasn't great, in fact the only players that didn't see their numbers regress are Jose Morales, Matt Tolbert and Danny Valencia (#7). Tolbert hit .269/.318/.410 with seven extra-base hits in 78 at-bats. Valencia had a 20-game hit streak in which he hit .388/.409/.518 with 11 doubles. He finished May hitting .330/.384/.408 including .353/.463/.382 over his last 10 games. He still hasn't hit a home run, but that shouldn't be a big cause for concern to anyone. He's still hit 15 doubles on the season, which is tied for seventh most in the International League. Morales didn't play in April, but he hit .309/.397/.382 with four doubles and eight walks in 55 at-bats.Trevor Plouffe (#24), Dustin Martin and Jason Repko all lead the offense in April, but each took a step back in May. Still, they all put up respectable numbers. Each hit between .278 and .291 with an OPS between .719 and .756. Together, they had 14 doubles, five home runs and 40 RBI in May.But perhaps the most disappointing player on the Red Wings has been Wilson Ramos (#2), who continues to play with no motivation. While his .175/.321/.407 tri-slash line probably[...]



Twins Minor League Month in Review: New Britain Rock Cats - May

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 00:29:00 +0000

New Britain Rock Cats (14-36, 6th (last) in Eastern League Eastern Division) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Ben Revere - 57 Wins: Kyle Gibson - 3 Avg: Ben Revere - .315 ERA: Kyle Gibson - 1.37 OPS: Erik Lis - .812 IP: Mike McCardell - 57.67 HR: Steve Singleton - 4 K: Carlos Gutierrez - 40 RBI: Rene Tosoni - 21 Saves: Chris Province - 4 SB: Ben Revere - 18 WHIP: M. Williams/K. Gibson - 0.95New Britain continued to struggle in May, with little improved from April. After winning only 25% of their games in April, they finished May with a 30% win percentage. The starting pitching continued to do well while the bullpen continues to struggle. The offense, however did make a big improvement, scoring 1.5 more runs per game.The offensive leader of the month was without doubt Ben Revere. Revere hit .274/.361/.306 through 62 at-bats in April, but hit .336/.412/.429 in 119 May at-bats. He hit eight extra-base hits, including his first Double-A home run and walked almost twice as many times as he struck out. He also stole 12 bases, giving him 18 on the season, which is good for second most in the Eastern League.Steve Singleton also had a great month, hitting .313/.355/.509 with 14 extra-base hits in 112 at-bats. He continues to struggle against left-handed pitching and with runners on-base, but Singleton is a solid all-around player who will get everything to click eventually. He probably won't be able to follow the "trend" of being promoted mid-season, like he's done since 2008, but it won't be because of poor play.Yangervis Solarte was promoted to New Britain on May 12th. Since his promotion, Solarte has hit .312/316/.494 with eight extra-base hits. Solarte was the only consistent hitter in Ft. Myers, so with New Britain's offensive struggles, the Miracle lost their offensive leader. The Rock Cats have won eight of 19 games since Solarte's promotion. He doesn't have a set defensive position, but his bat is too good right now to keep out of the lineup. The Rock Cats will continue to find a place for Solarte as long as he continues to hit.After getting off to a great start, Rene Tosoni struggled a bit in May. A shoulder injury has summoned Tosoni to full time DH duties, which may be effecting him a little. Tosoni's numbers in May weren't horrible, but they were down from April. He hit eight extra-base hits and walked 17 times in May, but his OPS dropped .134 points. His shoulder injury has prevented him from being called-up to Triple-A Rochester, and until he's able to play the field, he'll remain in New Britain.The starters, as a collective unit, wasn't as good as their numbers suggest. Yes, they had a collective 3.97 ERA. But it weren't for Kyle Gibson and Carlos Gutierrez, that 3.97 ERA becomes a 5.21 ERA.Gibson made four starts for the Rock Cats and despite moving up a level, his numbers were even better than they were in Advanced-A. Gibson was 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and a 42/13 GB/FB ratio. He struggled in his last start, but he still went five innings and gave up only two runs. He's one of the hottest pitchers in the Minor Leagues right now, but he probably won't be moving through the system as quickly as people would think. The Twins have made it known that they will be careful with Gibson this year, as he's just a year removed from a stress fracture in his right forearm. Gibson may be in New Britain for a while, but I still wouldn't be surprised to see him in Triple-A Rochester before the year is done.Carlos Gutierrez had a great month, posting a 2-2 record and a 2.15 ERA. He struck out 24 batters, walked 13 and had a 2.95 GB/FB ratio. I still think Gutierrez's [...]



Twins Minor League Month in Review: Ft. Myers Miracle - May

Tue, 01 Jun 2010 21:30:00 +0000

Ft. Myers Miracle (21-29, 5th in the Florida State League - South) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Evan Bigley - 40 Wins: Michael Tarsi - 3 Avg: Chris Parmelee - .340 ERA: Bobby Lanigan - 2.67 OPS: Joe Benson - .925 IP: Michael Tarsi - 52 HR: Joe Benson - 4 K: Bruce Pugh - 47 RBI: Deibinson Romero - 40 Saves: Billy Bullock - 8 SB: Estarlin De Los Santos - 4 WHIP: Bobby Lanigan - 0.99After winning just 38% of their games in April, the Ft. Myers Miracle improved in May to win 45% of their games. 7% isn't a lot, but it is improvement. What changed the most? The offense. After scoring just 2.9 runs per-game in April, the Miracle lineup scored 4.07 runs per-game in May. But while the lineup finally started to hit its stride, the starting pitching started to struggle.Consensus top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson (#5) made just one May start for the Miracle before being promoted to Double-A New Britain. The Miracle replaced Gibson with Dan Osterbrock, which was thought to be a suitable replacement. Unfortunately, Osterbrock's success in the Midwest League hasn't been duplicated in the Florida State League, as he has had problems with consistency. Through five starts, three have been successful while two have not. He's struggled when runners have been on base, but hopefully he will turn it around in June.But while Gibson's departure has hurt the Miracle, it wasn't the biggest blow the team suffered. Bobby Lanigan, who was arguably the best pitcher in the FSL in April, suffered an injury and hasn't pitched since May 6th. He's hoping to return in early June. But his injury allowed the Miracle to call up Beloit's ace, Liam Hendriks (#42). The right-handed Aussie has continued his 2010 campaign in Ft. Myers and is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts for the Miracle. With the exception of one start, Hendriks has been impeccable on the mound. If taking his one poor start out, Hendriks is 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA, a 19/2 K/BB ratio, a 21/14 GB/FB ratio and a .169 BAA. Hendriks has sky-rocketed up prospect charts and is someone Twins fans should become familiar with.Bruce Pugh also went down with an elbow injury after making three May starts. He had a 1.89 ERA and 24/5 K/BB ratio in 19 innings. He will hopefully be back in early June.Michael Tarsi, Adrian Salcedo (#10) and Blake Martin combine made 11 starts and the three accounted for six loses and a combined 6.11 ERA. Tarsi's stats are a little deceiving, considering that he's really only had two horrible starts out of his last seven. In those two starts, Tarsi has given up 12 earned runs in 10 innings, raising his season ERA to 4.85. Salcedo was promoted from Extended Spring Training to make a few spot starts before eventually heading to the Appalachian Rookie League or Midwest League. Martin has been placed back in the bullpen after giving up 12 runs in 12 1/3 innings of work.While the starting rotation struggled, the bullpen has officially turned things around after a rough start to the season. The unit finished May with a 2.94 ERA in 104 innings. They converted 10 of 12 saves and allowed only 29% of their inherited runners to score.Tony Davis, Andrei Lobanov (#31) and Billy Bullock (#20) were the stars of the bullpen in May. Davis gave up only four earned runs in 16 1/3 innings. After struggling with his control in April, he had a 16/7 K/BB ratio in May, giving him 19 strikeouts and 16 walks on the season. Lobanov continues to show impressive control and has walked only three batters in 11 1/3 innings. The Russian native was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 10 strikeouts in May. At this pace, I wouldn't be surprised to see Lobanov extend his [...]



Twins Minor League Month in Review: Beloit Snappers - May

Tue, 01 Jun 2010 11:30:00 +0000

Beloit Snappers (26-25, 5th in Midwest League Western Division) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Aaron Hicks - 44 Wins: Tom Stuifbergen - 4 Avg: Anderson Hidalgo - .316 ERA: Tom Stuifbergen - 1.09 OPS: Aaron Hicks - .793 IP: Miguel Munoz - 49.67 HR: Michael Gonzalez/Steven Liddle - 5 K: Miguel Munoz - 43 RBI: Angel Morales - 23 Saves: S. Blevins/K. Holbrooks - 6 SB: Angel Morales - 14 WHIP: Liam Hendriks - 1.06(These stats are based on players being on the active roster only)After getting off to a great start to the season, the Snappers found themselves at the top of the standings in the Midwest League Western Division. They were off to a 13-8 record and they were really playing well until a few promotions left the Snappers with a makeshift rotation. The thriving 2010 Beloit Snappers quickly turned back into the embarrassing 2009 Beloit Snappers, a team which finished with the second worst record in the Midwest League.Upon first glance, it's easy to point fingers at the offense. After all, the Snappers offense ranks last in the Midwest League West in runs scored with 96 (an average of 3.84 runs per game). That number didn't change much as Beloit averaged 3.45 runs through the 31 games the team played in May. But what did change was that the pitching staff was giving up a lot more runs.After giving up only 2.38 runs per game in April, the starters gave up 4.33 runs per game in May. Allowing two runs more per game will cripple any team, especially with this offense. Dan Osterbrock and Liam Hendriks (#42), the Snappers two best pitchers, were both promoted to Advanced-A Fort Myers in early May. Neither of their spots in the rotation have been adequately replaced, despite the promotions of top prospects Michael Tonkin (#30) and B.J. Hermsen (#12)The 13-foot, 1-inch Tower of Tonkin and Hermsen has struggled to find consistency. Each has made four starts, one of which was good. Both Tonkin and Hermsen had 7 innings gems in which they didn't allow a run or a walk. But taking in account that both of these pitchers are a year younger than the league average, their combined 4.09 ERA in 40 innings looks pretty darn good. Their height gives them an advantage on the mound, and that advantage is that they're able to induce a good amount of ground-ball outs. The two have a combined 1.45 GB/FB ratio.One player the Snappers expected were counting on was Michael Munoz. The 6'2'' right-hander from Venezuela was 0-0 with a 2.75 in four April starts. But in May, Munoz was 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA in six starts. Another player the Snappers were counting on was Tom Stuifbergen (#29). Stuifbergen was 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in six appearances (five starts) until he strained his elbow after making just one start in May. He missed the remainder of the month, but thankfully he is now set to return after making an appearance as a reliever on May 27th. Stuifbergen is the Snappers best bet at replacing Hendriks.While the rotation tries to find itself again, the bullpen continues to remain consistent. The bullpen had a 3.55 ERA through 109 May innings, lowering the units' season ERA to 3.67.Eliecer Cardenas was recalled from Extended Spring Training on May 7th, and the 22-year-old right-hander has done a great job in his first month in the MWL. He is 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 15 2/3 innings. He has a "live arm" with a lot of movement on all of his pitches, so it's not surprise that he's walked eight batters. But on the plus side of that, he's struck out 18.After not allowing a run in April, Kane Holbrooks started turning the heads of many Minor League fans. And he c[...]



Angel Morales video

Mon, 24 May 2010 15:29:00 +0000

As both Seth Stohs and I mentioned, we went to Beloit over the weekend to watch the Snappers. I don't have a lot of time to post my thoughts right now, but here is a video I took of Angel Morales getting hit in the head by a fastball.

Looks pretty bad, but hopefully he'll be back soon (he was out of the lineup on Sunday).

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Minor League News and Notes

Thu, 20 May 2010 06:08:00 +0000

While I was about to write a Twins news/notes piece, I saw that Aaron Gleeman was working on his. I haven't been writing a lot recently, so I didn't want my "return" to be more meaningless than it already would be, so I figured I would go with a Minor League News and Notes. Hopefully you enjoy!• When the Twins drafted Chris Herrmann (No. 41) they knew he was versatile enough to play in both the outfield and behind the plate. And so far this season, he's played in 30 games: 10 at catcher, 10 games in center field, nine games in left field, and one at DH. He has two errors, one in left field and one behind the plate, as well as a passed ball. All-around, he's been solid defensively.Here are how his offensive numbers look (based on the position he is playing):DH: 1-for-4 (.250/.250/.250) with a strikeout (no walks).C: 7-for-39 (.179/.220/.256) with a home run and 10 strikeouts (no walks).CF: 11-for-39 (.282/.317/.385) with four doubles, nine strikeouts and two walks.LF: 11-for-31 (.355/.400/.516) with five doubles, six strikeouts and three walks (with a sac-fly)I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this, but I figured it was interesting to note. Another thing that is hard to ignore are his home/road splits.Home: 20-for-56 (.357/.413/.518) with six doubles, a home run, 12/5 K/BB ratio and two stolen bases.Away: 10-for-57 (.175/.230/.228) with three doubles, 13/3 K/BB ratio and a caught stealing.When talking with Herrmann, he makes it clear that he doesn't care where he plays, despite acknowledging that there is a big offensive difference.• Third baseman Danny Valencia (No. 7) recently ended a 20-game hit streak for the Rochester Red Wings. Over the streak he hit (33/85) .388/.409/.518 with 11 doubles. Why was his on-base percentage only .409? Because he walked just two times over that stretch. To put it in perspective, over 500 at-bats, that would be about 12 walks.• Right-handed starter Adrian Salcedo (No. 10) was called up from Extended Spring Training to take Bruce Pugh's place in the Ft. Myers Miracle rotation. He made his first start on Wednesday and gave up five runs on six hits over four innings. However, taking into perspective that he's 19-years-old (the average age for pitchers in the Florida State League is 23) and that he threw 43 of his 57 pitches for strikes (75%), it's very impressive. Salcedo has a mid-90's fastball that he threw a lot. He also has a very good change-up that he has good command of. His curveball and slider still need work, but both have good break.• Speaking of Pugh, he was placed on the seven day disabled list with an elbow injury (sorry, that's as much as I've heard). It's not considered serious and according to Alex Margulies (the Miracle radio announcer), he will likely miss two or three starts before returning. All of this is coming after Pugh was named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week from May 10-16. In his lone start over that time, Pugh threw seven innings of one-hit ball against the Bradenton Marauders. He walked one and struck out 10 in the no-decision.• Since returning to the FSL, outfielder Joe Benson (No. 11) has three hits in three game, two of which went for extra-bases. He also has walked twice and stolen two bases. Like so many others, I'm very confused as to why he was demoted.• The Rochester Red Wings have had the unlucky task of facing the two most hyped minor league pitchers of year. Last Friday, Aroldis Chapman and the Louisville Bats came to Rochester to face the Red Wings, who had just lost six of their last seven contests. The Red Wings were ready and a three-run home run by Trevor Plouffe (No. 24) knocked Chapman out of the game in the fourth inning. His final line was 3 1/3 innings, 9 hits, 8 runs, 3 walks and 5 st[...]



Delmon Young Day - - Staying away from numbers

Wed, 12 May 2010 06:07:00 +0000

Three months ago, Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target proposed that Twins bloggers take part in "Nick Punto Day." It was a day that turned into a big success, with a countless number of bloggers writing their thoughts on Nick Punto. So now, three months later, we have another day designated to another controversial player.So without further adieu, here are my thoughts on Delmon Young:(Warning: Most (ok, all) of what you're about to read is is scatterbrained.) When the Twins acquired Young, I was ecstatic. On top of having enormous potential, he was one of my favorite players in baseball. Before going ahead, I'll explain why I liked him so much. You see, I have a personal vendetta against all umpires and when he did this, I couldn't help but fall in love with him:I'm kidding of course. In all honesty, the (then) Devil Rays were my second favorite team in baseball. Was it due to their propensity for being one of the worst teams in baseball? A little. Who doesn't like the underdog? But it mostly stemmed from my love of Minor Leagues Baseball. The Rays were then (and now) known for an excellent farm system, so naturally, I followed them very closely.Young was drafted with the first pick in the 2003 draft out of Camarillo High School (CA). He was immediately compared to the likes of Albert Belle and Gary Sheffield, so when he flew the Rays farm system, those comparisons looked began looking legitimate.But besides enormous talent, what do both Belle and Sheffield have in common? They both have attitudes and are often seen as angry men. And unfortunately, neither of those were lost in Young. He was upset when he wasn't called-up to the Majors as a 19-year-old in 2005. And as it turns out, he was even more upset that he spent most of the 2006 season in the Minor Leagues (thanks in most part to his bat-throwing incident).He was an undisciplined, immature kid both on and off the field, which the Rays had no answer for. They allowed him to walk all over the organization, letting him spout off to teammates and management whenever he felt like it. But what were they to do? He was the future of their team. But I can't fault the organization for giving up on him, instead I fault Young.We all live and learn and I'm sure Young (if he could) would change a lot of things about his past. He knows he messed up, but all he can do now is try and move forward. But unfortunately, he hasn't been able to get over the hump.While breezing through the Minor Leagues, Young didn't learn a lot of the fundamentals that makes a good baseball player. He was fed a heavy-dose of fastballs, and never learned how to hit a breaking ball. He's since had to learn how to hit sliders and curveballs at the highest level. This has been an ongoing struggle for Young, but he has made steady improvements in both areas. He also had to learn how to be a professional off the field, which has been perhaps his biggest challenge throughout his career.He has always had problems fitting in with members of the clubhouse, but that looks to be changing. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said in Spring Training that some of Young's past struggles have helped make him into a great teammate. He put in a lot of work in the off-season and lost almost 30 pounds. I'm sure that has done a great deal of good to his self-esteem.I still like Young. In fact, I probably like him more than most people. I admire the fact that he's been through a lot and that he's putting in the effort to try and ensure that his future is brighter than his past. But he still has a lot of work to do and unfortunately, he may never reach the potential he once had. But that's alright. Although we sometimes act like it's more, baseball is only a game and if Young continues to [...]



Twitter

Tue, 11 May 2010 16:55:00 +0000

I've been trying to post more on Twitter, so if you just can't get enough of me, you can find me there. I should be back tomorrow for Delmon Young Day, so check back soon.




Minor League Month in Review: Rochester Red Wings - April

Sat, 01 May 2010 23:49:00 +0000

Rochester Red Wings (9-13, tied for last in the Florida State League - North) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Brian Dinkelman - 24 Wins: Rob Delaney - 3 Avg: Jason Repko - .345 ERA: Jeff Manship - 3.48 OPS: Dustin Martin - 1.004 IP: Ryan Mullins - 26.33 HR: Dustin Martin - 4 K: Ryan Mullins/Anthony Slama - 19 RBI: Dustin Martin - 17 Saves: Anthony Slama - 5 SB: 3 - tied with 2 WHIP: Ryan Mullins - 1.18A lot of excitement surrounded the Rochester Red Wings, but like in past years, the potential and the production haven't matched. The Red Wings have seven players that appeared in my top 50 prospect list including two players in the top seven. Unfortunately, a mixture of poor pitching and a lack of offensive production have the Red Wings at the bottom of the division.The rotation was supposed to be anchored by a fleet of pitchers with Major League experience including Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Mike Maroth and Jeff Manship (#21). Swarzak made only two starts before breaking his foot and Perkins has managed to lose the little value he had left by struggling in each of his four starts. Together, Swarzak and Perkins have an ERA of 8.25. Maroth looked okay in his three starts, but he too was hit by the injury bug with an inflamed left elbow. Manship has been left to lead the rotation and has a 3.48 ERA in four starts.Thankfully, other players have stepped up in the absence of these guys and have managed to keep the Red Wings in games. Ryan Mullins hasn't seen the International League since he was destroyed in four starts there in 2007. He's back and has been great since joining the rotation. He is 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts. He gave up six runs in three innings as a reliever, which is why he isn't leading the Red Wings in ERA. The Red Wings signed Charlie Zink who took Maroth's place on the roster. Zink, a knuckleball pitcher, made one start for Rochester. He only gave up two runs over five innings, but his six walks are very alarming and it's something to keep an eye on. Cuban-native Yoslan Herrerra has been fairly consistent over his first four starts for the Red Wings, but he hasn't pitched into the sixth inning yet.The bullpen consists of four highly thought-after pitchers in Matt Fox, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Slama (#17) and Rob Delaney (#26). Together, these four have combined for a very good, reliable bullpen. This quad has combined for a 2.28 ERA in 44 appearances. They also have a 58/22 K/BB ratio. Slama continues to show that he's ready for the Major Leagues, but he's not on the 40-man roster and the Twins aren't prepared to clear room for him yet, which has caused a lot of Twins fans to become frustrated.Granted these guys are young, but the offense was relying on the success of Wilson Ramos (#2) and Danny Valencia (#7), who have both struggled. Many criticized the front office for not bringing Ramos to Minnesota, but he is hitting below the "Mendoza Line" through 67 at-bats. Valencia might be "clicking" after getting off to a poor start. He is hitting .406 with five doubles and five RBI in his last seven contests.But the Red Wings have a good mix of veteran players as well, lead by Jason Repko, Jacque Jones and Dustin Martin have all played well in April. Perhaps the best option the Twins have at center field (besides Denard Span, of course) is Repko. The Red Wings signed him two days before the season started, and he's rewarded them by hitting .345/.448/.527 at the top of the Red Wings[...]



Minor League Month in Review: Ft. Myers Miracle - April

Sat, 01 May 2010 21:40:00 +0000

Ft. Myers Miracle (8-13, tied-5th (last) in the Florida State League - South) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Yangervis Solarte - 20 Wins: Kyle Gibson - 2 Avg: Yangervis Solarte - .317 ERA: Bobby Lanigan - 0.81 OPS: Yangervis Solarte - .783 IP: Kyle Gibson - 30.67 HR: 5 - tied with 1 K: Kyle Gibson - 28 RBI: Drew Thompson - 7 Saves: Billy Bullock - 3 SB: Chris Cates - 2 WHIP: Bobby Lanigan - 0.90The Ft. Myers Miracle won the South division in both the first and second half in 2009, but they were ousted by the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the semifinals. Manager Jeff Smith has been promoted to New Britain, which means that Jake Mauer will have to try and fill the shoes the man that has brought two different teams to the playoffs in each of the past three years. Unfortunately, a punch-less roster makes it unlikely that Mauer will be leading the Miracle to another division title.The Florida State League is a pitcher-friendly environment. That's no secret. But it's also no secret that the Miracle lineup is the weakest it's been in years. But despite scoring a lead-worst 60 runs, the Miracle still managed to win eight games in April.Not enough can be said about the success of both Kyle Gibson (#5) and Bobby Lanigan. The two-headed monster has a 3-3 record and a 1.33 ERA in nine starts. Gibson was roughed up in his first start, giving up three runs (five total) in 3 2/3 innings. But since that start, the Twins 2009 first round pick is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four starts. He has a ground-ball/fly-ball ratio of 7.3 (51/7) thanks to inducing 16 ground-ball outs on two separate occasions. In his last start, Gibson threw a one hit, complete game shutout against the Jupiter Hammerheads. As Seth Stohs notes, Gibson was very close to hurling a no-hitter.Without Lanigan and Gibson, the rotation would have a 4.05 ERA. While still respectable, it would rank 2nd to last in the FSL. But it's important to note that it is improving, which is the good thing. Both Mike Tarsi, Bruce Pugh and Brad Tippett (#43) have all had recent success. In three starts since joining the rotation, Tippett has a 2.51 ERA. Pugh struck out over seven scoreless innings in his last start. And Tarsi has a 3.27 ERA in his last two starts (but he's given up five unearned runs in that same span).The bullpen has struggled, but since the season opener (when it gave up 13 runs), the bullpen has had a 3.87 ERA. The biggest improvement comes from Shooter Hunt (#48). Hunt gave up five runs in the opener, but since has a 2.02 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. He also has a 5/1 K/BB ratio over that span, which is probably the most important thing to note. 2009 2nd round pick Billy Bullock (#20) has been roughed up in two different outings, but he still leads the team with three saves.The offense has averaged 2.9 runs/game, but when opponents are scoring an average of 4.9 runs/game, it's hard to believe that they've won any games so far.Yangervis Solarte is at the top (or near the top) of nearly every single offensive category for the Miracle. Solarte made a couple impressive defensive plays in Spring Training, but I'm willing to bet that he's probably an unknown amongst most Twins fans. He has played second base, shortstop, third base and left field already this season, which is probably the main reason why he has four errors on the season (three of which came in one game).Two oft-injured infielders, Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson have also made contributi[...]



Minor League Month in Review: Beloit Snappers - April

Sat, 01 May 2010 19:17:00 +0000

Beloit Snappers (12-8, 3rd in Midwest League Western Division) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Brian Dozier - 23 Wins: Tom Stuifbergen - 3 Avg: Brian Dozier - .319 ERA: Liam Hendriks - 0.41 OPS: Aaron Hicks - .890 IP: Tom Stuifbergen - 26 HR: 4 - tied with 3 K: Liam Hendriks - 26 RBI: Angel Morales/Steven Liddle - 11 Saves: Steven Blevins - 5 SB: Angel Morales - 8 WHIP: Liam Hendriks - 0.412009 is a season that the Beloit Snappers would like to forget. They finished the season with a 57-83 record, the 2nd worst record in the Midwest League. And on top of that, they finished second worst in attendance, accounting for only 2.3% of the 3,629,038 people that attended Midwest League games.Nine players have returned from last year's roster to help turn get the team off on the right foot. And so far, they're doing just that. Through 20 games, the Snappers have the fifth best record in the Midwest League and finished off the month of April with nine wins in their last 12 games. The team's success has hinged on the pitching staff. The starters have a collective 2.38 ERA in 102 innings of work. They also have a 93/30 K/BB ratio and a 113/82 ground-ball/fly-ball ratio.Liam Hendriks (#42) has been astonishing thus far. The 21-year-old Aussie started 11 games for the Snappers last season and is off to a hot start in 2010. Through four starts, Hendriks is 1-0 with a 0.41 ERA. He has a 13-1 K/BB ratio and has induced 24 ground-ball outs. The only run he surrendered came in his last start. He gave up a lead-off double to Sean Halton of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and he scored on a ground-ball later in the inning. He won the "Midwest Pitcher of the Week" on April 19.Another player off to a grat start is Tom Stuifbergen (#29). The 21-year-old Dutch has a 1.38 ERA through 26 innings. He has made four starts, and has thrown at least six innings in each of them (he also made a relief appearance in the season opener). He has a ground-ball/fly-ball ratio of 33/17 and a K/BB ratio of 23/7.Miguel Munoz struggled in has last two starts, but he still has a 2.75 ERA on the season. Dan Osterbrock, on the other hand, has been great over his last two starts. He has a 3.10 ERA on the season and was named the "Midwest Pitcher of the Week" for the week of April 19-25. He was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two starts.Having four of the five starting pitchers with an ERA of 3.10 (or under) are a main reason that the Snappers are second in the Midwest League with a 3.01 ERA. But the bullpen has been great as well. The group has an ERA of 3.84 in 77 1/3 innings pitched.Kane Holbroooks has not allowed a run in 12 1/3 innings out of the pen while Steven Blevins has converted five saves in as many opportunities. Edgar Ibarra gave up four runs in his first outing of the season, but has not allowed a run over his last 9 2/3 innings pitched. Over that same span, Ibarra has walked just one batter while striking out 12.The biggest struggle has come from 2009 3rd round pick Ben Tootle (#32). Tootle has given up 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings and has struggled with his control. He has given up three runs in an appearance on three different occasions. He can throw in the upper 90's, but with no sense of control, he will not make it very far. He has a team lead four wild pitches, despite pitching in the second fewest innings.The offense, unfortunately has been a cause for concern for the Sn[...]



Minor League Month in Review: New Britain Rock Cats - April

Sat, 01 May 2010 09:22:00 +0000

New Britain Rock Cats (4-16, 6th (last) in Eastern League Eastern Division) Team Leaders - Hitters Team Leaders - Pitchers Hits: Rene Tosoni - 24 Wins: 4 - tied with 1 Avg: Rene Tosoni - .338 ERA: David Bromberg - 1.13 OPS: Rene Tosoni - .878 IP: David Bromberg - 24 HR: Juan Portes/Chris Parmelee - 2 K: David Bromberg - 19 RBI: 3 - tied with 7 Saves: Chris Province - 2 SB: Ben Revere - 5 WHIP: Spencer Steedley - 0.75On paper, the New Britain Rock Cats might have the best team in the entire Eastern League. But so far, they've been the worst. By a lot. The team finished April with a dismal 4-16 record, which is the worst record throughout all of baseball (in both the Major and Minor Leagues). The team certainly has great potential, having 13 players that appeared on my Top 50 Prospect list, the most out of any Twins affiliate. But a mixture of poor offensive production and disappointing pitching has resulted in winning percentage of .200.The offense, lead by four top 13 prospects, has managed to score only 54 runs this season (or 2.7 runs/game). The only hitter that deserves praise thus far is Rene Tosoni (#9). Tosoni is hitting .338/.385/.493 with seven extra-base hits (all of which lead the team) in 19 games thus far. His OPS of .878 is 168 points higher than Mark Delonc's OPS, which is the second highest on the team. But even worse than that is the fact that Delonc doesn't have enough at-bats to qualify amongst the leagues leaders, which then puts Ben Revere's (#4).668 OPS the next highest on the team. Tosoni has cut his strikeouts down from last year, but he still has struck out nearly four times for every walk. Overall, Tosoni is a more mature player than he was last season.Fun fact: Tosoni has started 16 of his 19 games at DH, but he leads the team with three outfield assists.Revere, the highest-rated prospect on the Rock Cats has five of the team's 15 stolen bases this season. He has also displayed a good arm strength in center field, something he has struggled with in the past, by throwing out two runners at home plate. He has displayed good plate discipline and his average is heading north, but he will need to improve his hitting on the road as the season gets going.The bullpen, as hard as it may be to believe it, is probably worse off than the offense for the Rock Cats. The bullpen appeared in all but one game inApril, and out of those 19 appearances, the bullpen surrendered a run in 15 of them. The bullpen has a collective ERA of 6.04 with a 1.73 WHIP and 54/40 K/BB ratio.The only reliever to New Britain return in 2010 was Spencer Steedley (Cole DeVries was a starter in 2009), so it's no surprise that he's been the most reliable member of the Rock Cats bullpen. In 14 2/3 innings, Steedley has struck out 17 batters while allowing only two runs (both of which came in the same game). But sadly, the rest of the bullpen has struggled, a lot.Joe Testa (#49) has appeared in seven games, but he's only been untouched in one of those appearances. He has an 0-3 record and has allowed 12 earned runs (15 total) in 7 1/3 innings for a 14.73 ERA. Chris Province, who the Twins acquired from the Boston Red Sox over the Winter in exchange for Boof Bonser has appeared in a team-high nine games, but his 10.03 ERA and 11 walks allowed are team highs. As a matter of fact, his 11 walks are the most amongst any reliever in the Eastern[...]



Is Francisco Liriano the Boogy Man?

Wed, 28 Apr 2010 15:00:00 +0000

If there is one thing that the Twins organization lacks, it's a front-of-the-rotation starter. Even in the minor leagues, very few pitchers project to be number two starters, let alone having the potential to be an ace. But one thing that has remained is that Francisco Liriano has the most potential out of of any pitcher in the system.As a naturally optimistic person, I've dreamed of Liriano regaining his dominance. That's the reason I've gotten uncontrollably giddy whenever I've heard a report of him "turning a corner." And time, after time again, I've been disappointed by the reports not matching what Liriano does on the mound. I'm sure he's had positive bullpen sessions or positive Spring Training outings, but I couldn't help but wonder what was real and what wasn't.And now, it looks like it's finally becoming true.Last night, Liriano faced off against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. Verlander, if you don't recall, won the Rookie of the Year award in 2006; the same year Liriano broke onto the scene as a 22-year-old phenom. Had Liriano not missed the last two months with a torn ulnar collator ligament in his elbow, he not only would have ran-away with the award, but he also would have had a great shot at becoming just the second player in baseball history to win the Cy Young Award as a rookie. That's how good he was. And since that year, Verlander has gone on to have great success while Liriano has struggled to regain any sort of his 2006-self. But last night was a serious case of deja vu.(Duane Burleson/AP Photo)No Verlander didn't dominate, but that's not what I'm referring to. It was Liriano, who looked more like his 2006-self since, well, 2006. He didn't have a 98 mph fastball, but he threw 96 mph for the first time (at least, that I've seen) since undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He also struck out 10 batters, which was the first time that he's recorded double-digit strikeouts since July 28, 2006 against (ironically) the Detroit Tigers.As Aaron Gleeman wrote, what can't be overlooked in Liriano's success is his regained ability to induce a high percentage of ground-ball outs. Through four starts (note: very small sample size), Liriano has a ground-ball out to fly-ball out ratio of 1.35; which is .02 points higher than it was in 2006.In fact, many of his numbers are much better this season. Year BAA OBPA OPSA P/PA 2006 .205 .260 .564 3.80 2010 .180 .255 .485 3.65To be clear, in no way, by cherry-picking stats am I trying to imply that he's a better pitcher in 2010. Despite his success this season, he was still a more dominating presence in '06. But what I am hoping to show you is that despite striking out an average of 2.5 batters/per nine innings and having a decrease in velocity, he has learned the art of pitching, which (as Seth Stohs mentions) is a scary thought.Liriano's slider has been arguably the best in baseball this season, thanks (as Parker Hagemen wrote,) to great control of his fastball. In 2009, Liriano's fastball was one of the worst in baseball. In 2010, FanGraphs shows that he's throwing an above-average fastball, despite a BAA of .310 against it. His slider has been outstanding and he proved last night that he's able to throw it for strikes, which absolutely baffled the Tigers.Maybe he's not as electrifying as he was in 2006, but he still is dominant. Is he as dominant as he was in 2006? Maybe not. But dominance is dominance and I'll take it in any form. Liriano's succes[...]



This and that

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 04:41:00 +0000

• Francisco Liriano faces off against Justin Verlander tonight in what should be a very interesting battle. This is the first meeting between the Twins and Tigers since game 163 last October. Liriano is off to a great start while Verlander continues his April woes for the third consecutive year. Being as both players are playing out of their "norm," there's really no use in posting their career numbers against the opposition. But I'm excited to see how Liriano fairs against the hot-hitting Tigers. Detroit (as a team) has a .796 OPS over the past seven games, which is fourth highest in the Majors. Minneseota's OPS is 73 points lower over the same span, but they've scored four more runs in one less game.(Marc Serota/Getty Images)• Heading into Monday, the Twins were the league leader in walks drawn (96) and were tied with the Houston Astros for the fewest walks allowed (47). In 23 1/3 innings, Carl Pavano has only allowed one walk, which is the league leader amongst those who have made at least four starts. Justin Morneau, who is not only possesses a .368 batting average also leads the league in walks with 20. Denard Span is hitting a disappointing .230 from the lead-off spot (which ranks seventh out of the nine qualified lead-off hitters), but he leads all lead-off men with 14 walks drawn.• After hitting doubles in back-to-back games this weekend, Delmon Young already has six extra-base hits on the year. In 2009, Young didn't record his sixth extra-base hit until June 20th. That's a difference of 106 at-bats (159-53). He's hit the ball well this season, driving it several times in Target Field alone that may have been home runs at the Metrodome. The cold air certainly has played a role thus far, but when the air warms up, Young may hit 13 home runs (his 2009 total) by August. He also has only struck out seven times in 53 at-bats. In 2009, Young struck out seven times in his first 19 at-bats. It's obviously too soon to tell, but 2010 is already shaping up to be a big year for Young; despite his .245/.276/.434 tri-slash line.• Nick Nelson wrote a synopsis of the Twins Train. He and a group of other fans made the trek down 35W to Kansas City over the weekend. After hearing several reviews, it sounds like a great time and I hope to make it aboard the Twins Train at some point this season.• I love Ryan Howard as much as the next guy, but the five year, $125 million extension that he signed with the Phillies yesterday is absurd. As usual, Rob Neyer of ESPN.com's opinion is very comparable to mine. I only note this because Joe Mauer's contract extension looks like highway robbery compared to this.On the farm...• Since starting out 1-31, Aaron Hicks has an eight game hitting streak, hitting .552 (16/29) with two doubles and two home runs. He has also been a better base stealer, swiping four bases in his last five attempts. Obviously it was a horrible start, but Hicks is showing why there's no use in freaking out about stats after just two weeks. For more on Hicks, click here.• On April 7th, I wrote an article titled, "Needing A Miracle." In the article, I wrote about Shooter Hunt making the Ft. Myers Miracle roster (hence the pun). Hunt appeared as a reliever for the Miracle on Opening Day and self-destructed on the mound. The 23-year-old right-hander hit the first batter he faced, walked the next three batters and gave up a grand slam without recording an out. It was hard listening to Alex Margulies announce the game. Hunt literally couldn't find the strike zone and it[...]



Book Review: We're Gonna Win, Twins!

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 06:33:00 +0000

Since starting this blog, a door has been opened for several great opportunities. One such opportunity has been to review several books. As a college student, I can't tell you how much I hate reading boring material. We've all been there. But thankfully, the books I've had the honor of thumbing through have all been very thought-provoking. Obviously that's coming from a biased opinion as anything baseball-related is thought-provoking in my opinion, but I also think that some of these books would be interesting to you, which is why I'm going to share my thoughts on a few them. I will try to refrain from using cliché phrases like as "must buy" or "readable," but I wanted to apologize in advance because I'm sure they'll find there way into a review at some point.We're Gonna Win, Twins! is a chronicle of the Minnesota Twins over the first half-century that the club has been in existence. Author Doug Grow provides a fantastic walk through time by discussing events which have unfolded during every season since the inaugural season in 1961.As each chapter begins, there are several sections leading up to "The Season." These sections labeled "The World," "The Nation," The State," and "Pop Culture" gives the reader a snapshot of the important events outside of baseball, which helps puts things into context while reading. After "The Season," which sums up the year in Twins baseball into a short paragraph, there are pages of great stories, recaps and details of events which unfolded throughout the year in Twins baseball. And what's perhaps the greatest thing about this book is that every season of Twins baseball (from 1961-present) is accounted for in one way or another.One chapter that I took particular interest to was "Press Box under Siege." Grow gives the reader insight into the Twins blogosphere and puts specific spotlight on John Bonnes (Twins Geek), Aaron Gleeman (AaronGleeman.com) and Anne Ursu (Batgirl). Obviously, as a Twins blogger, I take great pride in the Twins blogosphere and it's great to see other writers get the attention that they're so much deserving of. All three of the bloggers Grow mentions have been instrumental in forming one of the best blogging communities on the web and I'm elated that Grow included them.What I find very important to note is that I truly believe it suits both younger and older generations of Twins fans perfectly. As a so-called "young fan," there area lot of events in Twins history that I had no knowledge of before reading the book. For the older fan, the events that are written could be a very pleasant to reminisce again and perhaps you'll learn something new as well.There are some great player profiles that are quite inclusive. Players like Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, Zoilo Versalles and Harmon Killebrew (as well as many others) are given particular attention. Grow also profiles the great World Series matchup between Sandy Koufax and Jim Kaat in 1965 and the chapters which cover the World Series victories in 1987 and 1991 are filled with quotes from players and great stories.Pictures flood the book with great effect. Seeing pictures of the Met or of the parade that polluted the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul are ineffable. Especially for a fan that wasn't alive (or wasn't old enough to remember) either.At $25.95, the price of the book may seem steep, but 328+ pages of Grow's writing will not disappoint you and the endless amount of information that you engulf will make the book seem priceless. The nostal[...]



Top 50 Twins Prospects 2010: #1 Aaron Hicks

Tue, 20 Apr 2010 04:29:00 +0000

2010 Top 50 Twins Prospects | #1 | Aaron HicksPosition | OutfielderBats/Throws | Switch/RightBorn | October 2, 1989 (Long Beach, California)School | Wilson High SchoolHeight | 6'2''Weight | 170 lbs.2009 Ranking | 1BreakdownAaron Hicks was taken with the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft. He was widely considered one of the best all-around athletes in the draft. He reportedly hit 95 mph on the mound, which made several teams consider him as a pitcher, but Hicks is happy that he is playing outfield, "I liked pitching because I had to do what was best for my team at that point, but I'm truly a position player; that's my passion." He signed a week after the draft to a $1.78 million signing bonus.After signing, Hicks was designated to the Gulf Coast League where He showed that he could do a little bit of everything. Through 45 games, Hicks hit .318/.409/.491 with 10 doubles, four triples, four home runs and stole 12 bases despite playing in a pitcher-friendly league. He also displayed a great amount of discipline at the plate, drawing 28 walks. In 2009, most believed Hicks should follow Ben Revere's footsteps by taking over center field for the Beloit Snappers. Hicks' "advanced" hitting approach and overall demeanor suggested that he probably would have handled the promotion just fine, but the Twins decided to hold Hicks back in Extended Spring Training to begin the season. The team had every intention of sending him to the Appalachian League when short-season Rookie Ball began in June, but a horrid Snappers team needed a boost, so the Twins decided to call up Hicks. He didn't have the same type of success that he had in the Gulf Coast League a year earlier, but he still managed to separate himself as the best prospect in the Twins system. Through 67 games with the Snappers, Hicks hit .251/.353/.382. Probably the biggest cause of optimism came from the fact that he got better as the year went on and he maintained great discipline at the plate.Hicks is immensely talented, but he's also still very raw. He plays all three outfield positions very well, but his speed is best suited for center field. His history as a pitcher has helped him develop one of the best outfield arms in the minor leagues, but his bat is nowhere near as developed. He has a great awareness of the strike zone and he's shown the ability to drive the ball well, but it's still to be determined what kind of hitter he'll be. He has also had problems on the base paths. He runs the bases well, but he is not an effective base stealer as of yet. There are high expectations surrounding Hicks, especially since he has been named a top 30 prospect from major outlets such as Baseball America (19), ESPN (19) and MLB.com (29), but Twins fans shouldn't want to see him rushed through the system. Many have said he's easily comparable to Torii Hunter or Adam Jones, but it's important to remember that Hicks has a long way to go and there's little chance that he reaches the Major Leagues when he is either 20 or 21 (like Jones and Hunter).2009 Statistics Level G PA AVG OBP SLG XBH HR wRC+ A- 67 297 .251 .353 .382 22 4 1062010 OutlookMany believed that Hicks could begin the season in Advanced-A Ft. Myers, but Hicks has been sent back to the Midwest League where he'll begin the season. If everything pans out, he'll finish the season in the Florida State League.VideoEstimated Time of Arrival2013[...]



Top 50 Twins Prospects 2010: #2 Wilson Ramos

Fri, 16 Apr 2010 05:00:00 +0000

2010 Top 50 Twins Prospects | #2 | Wilson RamosPosition | CatcherBats/Throws | Right/RightBorn | August 10, 1987 (Valencia, Venezuela)School | U.E. Santa InesHeight | 6'0''Weight | 220 lbs.2009 Ranking | 4(Photo courtesy of Kevin Pataky of MiLB.com)BreakdownWilson Ramos was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 7, 2004. He didn't make it to the states until 2006, but he certainly has made his presence felt since. Admittedly, I flirted with ranking Ramos as the top overall prospect.In 2006, Ramos began the season in Extended Spring Training before joining the Gulf Coast League. With the Twins, Ramos hit .286/.339/.435 with 16 extra-base hits in 154 at-bats. In 2007, Ramos again found himself in Extended Spring Training but he eventually joined the Beloit Snappers in June with the struggles of Greg Yersich. He went on to hit .291/.345/.438 with 26 extra-base hits in 292 at-bats. After the season, Ramos ranked in as my 13th best prospect in the Twins system. In 2008, Ramos moved up to the Florida State League where he hit .288/.346/.434 with 38 extra-base hits with the Ft. Myers Miracle. In 2009, Ramos continued to move through the system, this time playing for the New Britain Rock Cats in the Eastern League. He broke his finger in May and after returning in June, he missed two months with a pulled hamstring. All together, Ramos hit .317/.339/.496 with 25 extra-base hits including seven home runs in 224 at-bats. After finding himself healthy, Ramos hit .332/.397/.582 and drove in 49 runs in the Venezuelan Winter League.Ramos' offensive prowess is mostly what he is known for, but Ramos is also a stout defender behind the plate. Pitchers like the way he calls the game and his strong arm makes it hard for base runners to steal on him. But two things stand in the way for Ramos are his history of injuries and a guy by the name of Joe Mauer. Ramos has the potential to be one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, but THE best is already on the roster, so it doesn't seem likely that he'll play an extensive role with the Twins (at least not as a catcher). The Twins could consider using using him at DH, but that seems like it'd really be diminishing his value. Ramos needs to prove in 2010 that he can stay on the field, which may be all that is separating him from being the top prospect.2009 Statistics Level G PA AVG OBP SLG XBH HR wRC+ R (GCL) 5 500 .316 .316 .947 5 3 263 AA 54 500 .317 .341 .454 20 4 1202010 OutlookRamos missed a lot of time in 2009 due to injury, but he showed enough during Winter Ball and in Spring Training to make the Twins feel comfortable enough with starting him in Triple-A.VideoEstimated Time of Arrival2010[...]



Target Field's impact on the Minnesota Twins

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 05:22:00 +0000

First of all, if you didn't see, I posted my #3 Twins prospect for the 2010 season. Now, onto the post...

The Twins (officially) open Target Field at 3:05 pm today against the Boston Red Sox. Carl Pavano will take the mound against southpaw Jon Lester. Both pitchers have struggled against the opposition in the past, but it will be interesting to see what kind of momentum Pavano has in his first (real) start at Target Field. Many people have discussed the ambiance of Target Field after the Twins hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in two exhibition games earlier this month, but it's safe to say that whatever the atmosphere was then will be multiplied by a considerable amount today. This is one of the most exciting days in the history of the organization, so take it all in Twins fans. With that said, I thought that now would be the best time to post this:

Ryan Maus, who has blogged at Twins Chatter since 2004 and is now a PR rep at the University of Minnesota, wanted me to pass this along. It's a very interesting video about the effects that Target Field will have on the Minnesota Twins (obviously, this was made before the Twins signed Joe Mauer, but it's still completely relevant). Hopefully you enjoy it.

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If you're on Twitter, you can find Ryan at @RPMaus.