Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

Another Tuesday morning means that later tonight I will be posting about all of the minor league action for the Twins farm system. There are plenty of exciting things happening at each level of the Twins organization so make sure you are checking out the nightly updates over at Twins Daily. It's only two weeks until the short season leagues start in the minor leagues so there will be a ton of action to follow across the Twins system.

For now, here are a few headlines that are being discussed across Twins Territory. When a team is starting to play better baseball, the news is much more encouraging. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this weeks edition of "Tuesday Morning Tidbits."

Hendriks staying hot in Rochester
One minor league player had such a good week last week that he was honored by the International League as the Player of the Week. This is a good sign as the Twins could need to call on the services of Mr. Liam Hendriks in the next week. After the demotion of Cole DeVries, the Twins are left with only four pitchers in the starting rotation. The team had a couple of off days to save them from needing another starter but Hendriks could be back in Minnesota by the end of next weekend.

The time Hendriks has spent in the majors hasn't been outstanding but something might have clicked in his recent demotion to Rochester. Since being demoted at the beginning of May, Hendriks has gone 5-0 for the Red Wings with a 1.94 ERA and a 0.906 WHIP. His strikeout to walk rate of 42 to 13 is also excellent and it looks like there is little left for him to prove at the Triple-A level.

In his last outing on Saturday, Hendriks threw 8.2 innings of scoreless baseball before exiting the game. This would put him in line to start on Thursday for Rochester but the Twins have an opening in their rotation that will need to be filled on Saturday against the Brewers. If the Twins don't want to use Anthony Swarzak as a spot starter, it seems that Hendriks could be facing off against the Brew Crew at Target Field.

Plouffe finding a home at third
Since the Twins have been winning in the last couple weeks, one of the top contributors to the club has been Trevor Plouffe. The team entered the season thinking that he would be spending most of his time in the outfield but poor play from Danny Valencia forced the club to go in a different direction. In the middle of May, the Twins started to use Plouffe more at third base and it sounds like he is spending a lot of time learning the new position. He defensive continues to improve but his offense has always been the key.

During the last ten games, the Twins are 8-2 and Plouffe seems to have found his stroke at the dish. He is hitting .359/.390/.821 with five home runs and three doubles during that stretch. By averaging an RBI per game, the Twins have been able to use him more frequently in higher spots in the batting order. If he were to keep this pace up for an entire year, he would hit 82 home runs and knock in 162 runners. 

Obviously, this pace won't continue for Plouffe but it is nice to see him finally put something together at the big league level. His batting average has finally gotten over the .200 mark and he hopes to never see the .100s again in his professional career. The plan was for Valencia to stick at third base but it is nice to see Plouffe step up and take on the role. Plouffe has the talent to be the Twins third baseman for the next couple of years so let's hope his offense stays consistent and that he shows he can handle the defensive side of the ball.

Buxton deal gets done
Byron Buxton, the Twins first round draft pick and the second player selected during last weeks draft, is in the Twin Cities this week to finalize his deal with the club. Part of this process includes taking a physical on Tuesday and the contract could be announce on Wednesday if everything checks out. Late last night word came out that the two sides had agreed to a deal and all that was left was the physical.

In previous years, the first round picks for the Twins took awhile to get their deal finalized. Kyle Gibson was in negotiations with the team right until the deadline before agreeing to a deal. The new CBA changed the slotting system for first round picks and the deadline for signing picks has been moved up by almost a month. At this point, the Twins and Buxton could have been in negotiations until July 13 but the earlier he signs the faster he can start his professional career.

With the new slotting system, the recommended bonus for the second pick in the draft is $6.2 million. There is a chance that he will come in under the slotted amount because the first pick in the draft signed for less than the amount he was slotted to receive. Carlos Correa was a surprise pick by the Houston Astros but he signed for $4.8 million when the recommended slot amount was $7.2 million for the first pick. If the Twins can save money on Buxton, that money can be spent on other players taken in the higher rounds of the draft.

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