Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

Prince Fielder put on quite the show in the Home Run Derby last night after a slow start in the first round. His violent swing helped him to win his second career Derby title by beating out Jose Bautista in the final round. Over the years, the Derby has turned into quite the spectacle as it last for three hours or more. ESPN provides a ton of camera angles so fans can see some of the best power hitters in the game take their hacks at the fences. 

The All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday evening and Joe Mauer, the lone Twins representative, will get to play a few innings behind the plate. Last season, Twins fans only got a brief glimpse of Michael Cuddyer when he played in Arizona. During his only at-bat, he swung at the first pitch and popped out. Depending on how Ron Washington, the AL Manager, uses Mauer, he could get more than one plate appearance.

Even with the All-Star Break for the major league version of the Twins, there is still action across the minor leagues. Make sure to check back later tonight for a recap of all of the games in the Twins minor league system. For now, check out a few headlines in this week's edition of "Tuesday Morning Tidbits."

Gibson unlikely to debut in September
In a recent video interview with questions from season ticket holders, Terry Ryan talked about the plan for Kyle Gibson as he returns from Tommy John surgery. He is scheduled to pitch one inning today for the GCL Twins but don't expect him to be knocking on the door to the big leagues by the end of the season. Ryan said that it might be "a little aggressive" to think that Gibson could earn a September call-up. So it sounds like the Twins will take a slow and steady approach with one of the most valuable arms in their farm system. 

It seems that the Twins are hoping that he has a healthy August and September so he can end the season on a positive note. Ryan went on to say that there is the possibility that Gibson could end up pitching in the Arizona Fall League. This would allow Gibson to rack up some innings against some of the best prospects in the game. The AFL is usually considered a hitter's league so it will be interesting to see if Gibson is actually selected to be one of the Twins pitchers sent to Arizona. 

There are plenty of things that Gibson will have to be accustomed to during his appearances in the minor leagues. When a pitcher is coming off of Tommy John surgery, it can be a little intimidating to start throwing breaking pitches. It will be important for Gibson to work on all of his pitches to prove to the Twins that he is a viable candidate to fit into the rotation for 2013. He might not make it to Target Field in 2012 but the Twins need plenty of support in the rotation for the future.

Morneau enters break with ten game hit streak
In a first half of the season that had to be frustrating for Justin Morneau, he enters the break in the midst of a ten game hitting streak. Over the course of those ten contests, Morneau is hitting .333/.364/.452 with a home runs and a couple of doubles. This is a very welcome sign for a player that has missed large chunks of the last two seasons. The Twins line-up looks a lot more potent with a hot hitting Morneau in the middle of the order.

For most of the 2012 season, there have been two vastly different versions of Morneau for the Twins. It can be expected for a hitter to have splits versus right-handed and left-handed pitchers but Morneau has been very good versus righties and awful against lefties. So far this season versus right handed pitchers, Morneau is hitting .313/.389/.571 with nine home runs, 13 doubles, and 29 RBI. Southpaws have been the opposite story for Morneau as he is hitting .124/.160/.202 with two home runs, a double, and nine RBI. It was getting to the point where many were questioning whether Morneau should be moved down in the line-up versus left-handed starters.

One good signs was the fact that Morneau was able to get a couple hits off of lefties from the Rangers before the end of the first half. There is still a long way to go in order for Morneau's numbers to look respectable versus lefties so hopefully he has turned the corner. This could make for an exciting second half for Mr. Morneau with the Twins hoping that he returns back to his MVP form.

Buxton pulls hamstring after steal
Byron Buxton, the number two overall pick, was pulled from a GCL game on Monday afternoon with an apparent hamstring pull. After walking and stealing second base in the third inning, Buxton did something to his leg. Since the Twins have a lot of money invested in this young man, it made sense to get him out of the game to check him out. At this point, it is not known how much time Buxton will need to miss but he will most likely be considered day-to-day so he can rest his leg. 

It's sad to see an injury to Buxton since he seemed to finally have found his swing with the GCL Twins. After only managing a single hit in his first eight games, Buxton had been on a little bit of a hot streak in recent games. He hit his first professional home run on Saturday and he had a batting average of .333 over the course of the last six games. There is still a long time until fans will worry about seeing Buxton at Target Field but it would be nice for him to get as many at-bats as possible during this season.

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