Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Links-N-Thinks

After a rough series with the White Sox, the Twins had an off day on Thursday to enjoy the Harmon Killebrew Foundation Golf Tournament and other activities in the Twin Cities. The team will pick up play this weekend with four games against the Kansas City Royals and that includes a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. At this point last season, the Twins made a run to pull themselves a little closer before the All-Star Break and this series could do the same thing for this year's club.

Earlier in the week, a tragic piece of news came out of the organization. Paul Bargas, a 23-year old minor league pitcher in the Twins organization, passed away at far too young of an age. He came to the Twins from the Rockies as part of the Jose Morales deal a couple of seasons ago but he never pitched in the Twins system after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The Star Tribune did a wonderful piece on him in the winter and if there is one thing you read off of this list, it should be this article.
My Weekly Rundown:

Video of the Week: Mike Trout made a tremendous catch earlier this week and you should check it out if you haven't seen it. It looked very similar to a famous catch made by Torii Hunter in the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee. Granted Trout's was in a game that actually meant something but Hunter's catch was in front of a major audience.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diamond and Plouffe talk to Season Ticket Holders

As part of the Twins off day on Thursday, the Twins held their sixth Fan Forum with current third baseman Trevor Plouffe and left-handed pitcher Scott Diamond. This conference call allows season ticket holders, "On-Deck" members, and group organizers to ask a variety of questions in the hour long event. There were also multiple prizes given away including on-field passes, VIP parking, the opportunity to raise the Twins Territory Flag, and some autographed items.

There were some interesting quotes from both players over the course of the night but one quote from Diamond stuck out to me. The fan that asked the question wanted to know what players on the Twins had made the biggest impact on their careers. Since Diamond is a pitcher, he mentioned Carl Pavano and a surprising name, Kevin Slowey. He made note of the fact that Slowey taught him different ways to think about his approach to pitching. After Slowey's rough exit from the organization, it is interesting to hear his impact on what is now the team's best starting pitcher.

Diamond also talked highly about the welcoming environment in the Twins clubhouse when he joined the team last year. He said this was an improvement over what he had seen in the Braves organization. Later in the call, Diamond talked about using the other veteran players on ways to approach hitters in the American League. Other hurlers like Brian Duensing and Carl Pavano have helped to familiarize him with their opponents.

On more than one occasion, Diamond praised the work of Rick Anderson to help him make his turnaround. He said that "Andy" gets him mentally prepared for each start in a variety of ways. There are times that Diamond can try and pitch to the scouting reports too much and this takes away from his game. Anderson helps Diamond by keeping him focused on his style of pitching and it seems to have worked so far.

Here are some other random tidbits from Diamond's answers on Thursday night. Fellow left-hander Andy Pettitte is someone that Diamond admires because of their similar throwing style. His favorite park to pitch in is the Rogers Centre because it is close to his family in Canada. On his off days, Diamond likes to spend time outside and on the water. He came from a National League organization but he likes the DH. He said it takes away from his pitching when he has to think about all that goes into batting.

There have obviously been some changes to Plouffe's approach at the plate during the 2012 season. While Diamond talked highly of Anderson, Plouffe had nothing but praise for Joe Valvra and the hard work that he has done. He credited Valvra with making his swing better and for having a vast knowledge about every pitcher the Twins face. Part of the changes for Plouffe have come in the last week. He referred to the last seven days as "slider mania" because of the way pitchers have changed their approach with him at the plate. This is just one more thing for him and Valvra to work on.

One of the poll questions for the night was about who the fans thought would lead the team in home runs by the end of the year. A laughable choice in the live poll was Joe Mauer and needless to say, he didn't finish first in the balloting. When Plouffe was asked about his battle with Josh Willingham for leading the team in home runs, he said that he doesn't care who ends up on top. If Diamond and Plouffe had their way, both Plouffe and Willingham would finish tied with atleast 70 home runs.

There are some other things that Plouffe has been focusing on as he finds himself in the line-up on a daily basis. Since he hasn't played much third base in the past, he is putting in a lot of work at the hot corner. There are new angles to the ball that he has to get use to at third. He has been working on his defense a lot and he stressed the fact that his defense is an important part of his game. Plouffe wants to be a good defensive player at third and not just an average defender.

Here are some other tidbits from Plouffe's answers during the conversation. He has been taking more first pitches this season so he can work on tracking pitches. This has especially been the case with pitchers he has never seen before. He loves to play golf on his off day. Today he went with Anthony Swarzak, Brian Dozier, and Drew Butera. Apparently Drew Butera is a stud on the golf course. His favorite stadium to play in is Angels Stadium because his family is from the area. There were plenty of jokes about Plouffe being engaged and how daughters across Twins Territory are up in arms about him being off of the market.

Filling out the 2012 All-Star Ballot

Frequent visitors to this site might have noticed the logo on the right side of the page for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. There are a few different obligations that come along being part of this organization. Through out the year, the members vote on who should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, all of the end of the season awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc), and various other things.

It is almost time for the All-Star rosters to be announced and that means it is time to post the players that I think should be starting in the Mid-Summer Classic. There are some tight races in the balloting but lucky enough for me I don't have to stick to what the ballots are saying.

Here is the look at my starters for the American League and the National League in the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.

2012 American League All-Star Ballot

C: Joe Mauer, Twins- He ranks in the top five for batting average and he is near the top of the list for highest on-base percentage in the entire American League. It looks like Mike Napoli is going to easily win the fan voting and his postseason last year was very good. According to fWAR, Napoli is only the fifth best catcher in the AL and Mauer ranks number one.

1B: Paul Konerko, White Sox- He is off to a tremendous start in the 2012 for the White Sox and he ranks in the top two in the AL in batting average and OBP. There are some other candidates in the AL like Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols but Konerko deserves the start. At 36-years old, it would be cool for him to get a start in an All-Star game in the Midwest since he has played his entire career in that region.

2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees- There are some very good candidates in the American League at second base but Cano is clearly the best among the group. He plays outstanding defense and combines this with a powerful swing. In recent weeks, he has looked like the best hitter in the American League. The 2011 Home Run Derby Champion will be defending his title as the AL Team Captain in the event for 2012.

3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers- Mike Moustakas and Brett Lawrie might be fighting over this All-Star spot in the coming years. But for right now, there are a couple of veteran players that deserve the honor. Miguel Cabrera has moved back to third base and he is considered one of the best hitters in the game. My vote goes to Beltre for his overall performance at the plate and in the field.

SS: Elvis Andrus, Rangers- It seems like the AL shortstop position will belong to Derek Jeter until he decides to retire. That's fine for one of the most consistent players of the current generation. His defense pulls down his value at shortstop and he didn't even want to show up at the game last year so I am looking at other candidates. Andrus and Beltre combine for quite the left side of the infield for the Rangers and they should both be starting in Kansas City.

OF: Mike Trout, Angels- Trout is having an MVP caliber season for the Los Angeles Angels and he is only 20-years old. The rookie outfield has shown tremendous speed, defense, and power after starting the year in the minor leagues. The biggest downfall to his All-Star resume is the fact that he isn't on the ballot. Fans will have to write his name in but he could get voted in as a reserve player.

OF: Josh Hamilton, Rangers- For the first portion of the season, the Rangers looked like they were going to run away with the American League title for the third year in a row. Since that time, they have come back down to earth but they are still having a very good campaign. In a team full of very good players, Hamilton is near the top of the list which is good for him since he will be a free agent at the end of the year.

OF: Adam Jones, Orioles- The Orioles have been sneaking around near the top of the division in the AL East for most of the season. Mr. Jones has been one of the biggest reasons for some of the team's success with some very good offensive numbers. He plays center field during the season; but in this outfield, he could move to a corner spot and let Trout take over the center field duties.

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox- Even with all of the craziness in Boston, Ortiz is on pace to have his best season hitting for power since 2007. Michael Young is piling up some votes since it seems that fans from the Rangers are stuffing the ballot boxes. This spot should still belong to Oritz but it is interesting to see Adam Dunn in third after his terrible season last year.

SP: Justin Verlander, Tigers- The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner doesn't have as many wins in 2012 but he is still having a very good year. Chris Sale and CC Sabathia could also be considered for the starting job but Verlander would be the front runner on my ballot. Over the last full season, he has been the best pitcher in the league.

2012 National League All-Star Ballot

C: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies- The fans look to be in favor of starting one of the last two World Series winning catcher behind the plate, Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, which are still good choices. On the other hand, Ruiz has been outstanding in a Phillies line-up that has been full of injuries this season. It would be a shame to see Ruiz left off of the NL roster but there are some very good catchers in the Senior Circuit.

1B: Joey Votto, Reds- He might be the best hitter in the entire game of baseball and there should be no doubt about him starting at first base. Many of the other big names from the NL at first base have shifted to the AL. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez have all left for bigger markets and this leave Votto as the hands down candidate for the next few years.

2B: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks- How can Dan Uggla and his .240 batting average be leading the vote for second base? That just seems wrong and his power numbers aren't much better than the rest of the field. At a weak position in the NL, I will give the nod to Hill. He isn't even in the top five in the fan balloting but he has the highest BA, OBP, and OPS of all second baseman in the NL.

3B: David Wright, Mets- The Mets have surprised a lot of people by still being in contention at this point in the season. It helps to have some outstanding pitching from RA Dickey but Wright looks to be an MVP candidate at third base. His home run total has been lower since the Mets moved to Citi Field but he seems to have adjusted to his new home and he is in the hunt for the batting title.

SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs- Much like at second base in the NL, there are no standout candidates at shortstop. Jed Lawrie is leading in fWAR and he is helped by his 14 home runs but doing this on a team in Houston isn't helping his cause. Troy Tulowitzki has missed a chunk of the year with an injury. Castro sits near the top at this position in a variety of categories so he gets my vote.

OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers- After his MVP performance last year, Braun is not showing any ill effects from his steroid situation and the loss of Prince Fielder. His production has been among the best in the NL even with some nagging injuries throughout the season. While Matt Kemp has missed time with his injuries, Braun has fought through his pain and been in the line-up for most of the year.

OF: Michael Bourn, Braves- Three of the Braves starting outfielders could be up for the starting job in the All-Star Game with Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, and Bourn playing at a very high level. Bourn has used his speed to be a threat on the base paths and he ranks second to Braun in the fWAR for outfielders in the NL. If Matt Kemp wasn't hurt, this spot would likely go to him but an injury to Kemp means that someone else has to take his place.

OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates- For the second year in a row, the Pirates are surprising some people with their first half play in the NL Central. The man powering the Pirates on the offensive side of the ball is Mr. McCutchen. After signing a big contract extension in the offseason, he is showing his team that he was worth the money by putting together his best season as a professional.

SP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals- There are quite a few National League hurlers having outstanding seasons so it is going to be tough for Tony La Russa to pick out the man on the mound for the first couple of innings. RA Dickey has been on an incredible run, Matt Cain threw a perfect game, and Zack Greinke is in the middle of another fantastic season. If MLB wants to add a little more excitement to the game, Strasburg should be the man and it helps that he is having a Cy Young caliber season for one of the best teams in the NL.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday's Trip through the Minors

With all of the talk before the game about Twins hitters destroying Gavin Floyd, it was bound to happen that he was going to put up a good performance. Over the course of seven shut out innings, he struck out nine Twins batters and only gave up five hits. Liam Hendriks had his best start of the season throwing over six innings to the tune of three runs with an Alex Rios home run being the big dagger.

In the ninth inning, the Twins made things interesting by loading the bases with two outs in the frame. Jamey Carroll knocked in a couple runs with a single to cut the lead to 3-2 but that would be the final score. There was just too much Gavin Floyd on this night.

Tyler Robertson became the third player to make his debut for the Twins this season (Brian Dozier and Cole DeVries). He had a nasty slider that he used to strikeout all three batters that he faced. In his last ten games with the Red Wings, he never struck out more than two batters in one appearance so this was quite the night for Mr. Robertson.

ROCHESTER 3, LEHIGH VALLEY 10

After finishing a good stretch of play outside of the their division, the Red Wings began a stretch of 14 straight games against division foes before the All-Star Break. It didn't get off to the best start with the IronPigs compiling 18 hits in the game against Red Wings pitchers. Former Twins farmhand Jason Pridie had four hits including three extra-base hits and Chase Utley had two hits in his last rehab start before joining the Phillies. 

The original starter for the Red Wings on Tuesday night was suppose to be Matt Maloney but he was placed on the 7-Day DL with a strained left elbow. This meant Brendan Wise was inserted into the rotation for his third spot start of the year. Wise lasted two innings but he only allowed one earned run out of the six runs that crossed the plate during his time on the mound. Caleb Thielbar tossed a good fifth inning by striking out the side while lowering his ERA to 1.59.

On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Carson had a three hit night to raise his batting average eight points. Pedro Florimon continued his recent hot streak by going 2-for-4 including his second triple of the year. In his last 10 games, Florimon has five multi-hit games and he is hitting .333 during that stretch.

Before the game, right-handed pitcher Luis Perdomo was promoted to Rochester from New Britain. He had a very good 2.75 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 16 walks in 39.1 innings for the Rock Cats.
 
NEW BRITAIN 5, TRENTON 4

The Rock Cats found themselves in a nail biter on Tuesday evening against the Trenton Thunder. Two of the biggest names in the Twins farm system were in the middle of the action for New Britain. Aaron Hicks went 3-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored, and his third triple of the year. It was his second three hit game in the last six games for Mr. Hicks. Oswaldo Arcia only had one hit in the game but it was a 2-run home run, his first long ball at the Double-A level.

Aaron Thompson started the game for New Britain and won his second game of the season. He threw 6.2 innings by allowing eight hits and four earned runs. It was his second victory in as many outings. Dakota Watts and Bruce Pugh were outstanding in relief by throwing a combined 2.1 innings and striking out five while allowing a single hit. It was the first hold of the year for Watts since he was just called up to New Britain and the second save of the year for Pugh.

FORT MYERS 7, TAMPA 6 (GAME 1, 8 innings)

In what was suppose to be a seven inning contest for the first half of a double header, the allotted number of innings was not enough for this game. The Yankees jumped out to a big first inning lead by scoring four runs off of Madison Boer. He has struggled since being promoted to Fort Myers from Beloit to the tune of an 8.41 ERA in 40.2 innings pitched.


The Miracle bested the big inning from the Yankees with a five run bottom of the second that was helped by three Yankee errors. Danny Rams went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to raise his batting average to .186 for the season. Daniel Santana, Levi Michael, and Jairo Perez each had two hits to help the Miracle offense. One of the surprises from the game was the fact that the Miracle had 11 hits and none of them were for extra bases.

Danny Rams singled to get the bottom of the eighth inning off on the right track. Andy Leer stepped in next and was hit by a pitch to set up runners at first and second. After a sacrifice bunt from Angel Morales to advance the runners, Daniel Santana was intentionally walked to fill the bags. Levi Michael stepped into the box with one out and the chance to be a hero. His single to left field started the celebration for the Miracle.

FORT MYERS 5, TAMPA 6 (GAME 2, 7 innings)

After the Miracle fell behind 4-0 in the first two innings, it was time for Fort Myers to mount their comeback. Michael Gonzales started the rally with a double and the bases were loaded after singles from Anderson Hidalgo and Daniel Santana. Levi Michael came up with another big hit to make the game one run closer. A throwing error with Danny Ortiz batting allowed two more runs to score and Kyle Knudson tied the game on a fielders choice.

Unfortunately for the Miracle, Michael Tonkin gave up a solo home run in the top of the seventh and Fort Myers wasn't able to mount another comeback. It was the first loss of the year for Tonkin in his third appearance since making the trip from Beloit. Jose Gonzalez was asked to make the spot start for the Miracle, his first start of the year. He threw three innings and gave up four runs on four hits while striking out two batters. In his first appearance since being promoted, AJ Achter pitched three innings and allowed one run to cross the plate.

BELOIT 8, KANE COUNTY 0


On this night the man in charge on the mound was Matthew Summers. Over the course of nine innings, he scattered three hits and struck out five. It was his seventh win of the year and the fourth round pick in the 2011 draft as he tries to catch Jason Wheeler for the team lead. He is tied for fourth in the Midwest League in wins and he has thrown six or more innings in each of his last four starts.


Behind the strong outing from Summers, the Snappers were in control of this game from the start by scoring in each of the first two innings and never looking back. Nate Roberts was leading the charge for the Snappers offense with a 3-for-5 night including a home run and a double with three RBI. Matthew Koch did his best to match the night put together by Roberts with a 3-for-4 evening with a home run and two RBI.

Even with the big offensive output, Miguel Sano struggled by going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. His batting average is down to .236 for the season and he hasn't hit for many extra-base hits as the Midwest League has adjusted to his powerful swing. 

ELIZABETHTON 9, BRISTOL 0

A big offensive night for the E-Twins was lead by Michael Quesada and Stephen Wickens each accumulating three hits in the contest. Wickens had his first triple of the year while driving in two and Quesada had his fourth double in as many games played this season. Adam Walker hit his first home run of the year in the fifth inning.


Corey Kimes pitched five shutout innings with five strikeouts to pick up his first victory of the year. Steven Evans tossed two innings and only let two runners reach base with three strikeouts. It has been an up and down year for Evans with him pitching well in two outings and getting roughed up in the other two appearances. Brett Lee finished the last couple innings for the E-Twins by surrendering a couple hits with four strikeouts.

GCL TWINS , GCL ORIOLES (GAME 1)
GCL TWINS , GCL ORIOLES (GAME 2)


The wonders of Tropical Storm Debbie have made it difficult for the GCL Twins to get any games played this week. At this early junction in the season, the team doesn't really need a ton of rest either. Hopefully, the GCL Twins will be able to get back on the field tomorrow... fingers crossed.

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Players of the Day for Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pitcher of the Day- Matthew Summers (9 shutout innings)
Photo courtesy of The Beloit Daily News
Hitter of the Day- Levi Michael (4-for-8, 3 RBI, Walk-Off Hit)

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A Look Ahead- Wednesday, June 27th Schedule

Rochester at Lehigh Valley- RHP Samuel Deduno
New Britain vs Trenton- RHP BJ Hermsen
Fort Myers vs Tampa- LHP Pat Dean
Beloit at Kane County- LHP David Hurlbut
Elizabethton vs Bristol- RHP Angel Mata
GCL Twins at GCL Rays- TBA

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If you have any questions or comments on the Twins minor league system, leave them in the comments section and Seth or I will try to answer them.

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

The Twins got their homestand off to a good start against the AL Central leading White Sox. An outstanding performance from Francisco Liriano was more than enough to lead the Twins to the victory. It was a milestone win for the Twins franchise in their new home as it was the team's 100th victory at Target Field. In that time span, the team is only a couple games over .500 so it would be nice to get that winning percentage a little higher.

It's another Tuesday so that means I will be covering all of the minor league action for the Twins later tonight. Check back as I cover all the games from the International League to the Gulf Coast League. But for now, enjoy these tidbits on a Tuesday morning.


Thome mulling return for 2013
After a dramatic pinch hit walk-off home run over the weekend, it seems like Jim Thome might be ageless. Following the game, he discussed the possibility that the 2012 season would not be his last and that he has been thinking about coming back for 2013. He will turn 42-years old in August and that means that during next season he would turn 43. This isn't exactly the optimal age for a big league player but there could be a role for the aging star.

Thome has spent the majority of his career in the American League where he has the ability to be the designated hitter if that is what his team asks from him. He spent most of the last two seasons by hitting blasts for the Twins but he wants a title before he retires and gets ready for his Hall of Fame induction. This brought him to the Phillies and the National League for 2012. So far the experiment has not gone perfectly but he has looked very good in interleague play when he could be the DH.

For Thome to come back in 2013, there will need to be a team that has at-bats for him in the American League at the designated hitter spot. He will also want to be on a team that has a chance to contend so he has the opportunity for a championship. This means there will only be a few teams that will reasonably have a shot at Thome but it would be nice to see him end his career with a title.

Robertson travels the worn road from Rochester
With Matt Capps shoulder injury flaring up, the Twins need to find a replacement for him on the 25-man roster. With Brian Duensing inserted into the rotation and Glen Perkins sharing time in the closer role, a left-handed relief pitcher was going to be key. Tyler Robertson made the trip from Rochester join the Minnesota Twins and his first appearance will mark his major league debut.

Robertson is the tenth player to be called up from Rochester so far this season and the third to make his debut. Shortstop Brian Dozier and pitcher Cole DeVries already made their debuts in 2012. The other players to be promoted this year include catcher Drew Butera, pitcher Scott Diamond, pitcher Liam Hendriks, outfielder Darin Mastroianni, first baseman Chris Parmelee, outfielder Ben Revere, and pitcher P.J. Walters. 

Unfortunately for some, the road has gone both ways. Third baseman Danny Valencia and infielder Sean Burroughs started the season with the Twins but have been sent to Rochester. Clete Thomas and Lester Oliveros got into a few games for the Twins before being sent to Triple-A. It is nice to see that most of the positional players have been moved because of performance and not because of injury like in 2011.


Buxton debuts in the Gulf Coast League 
The Twins gave their top draft pick a couple of days to acclimate to life as a professional before he made his debut for the GCL Twins on Friday. It has not been a perfect start for the 18-year old as he has failed to get a hit in any of his appearances thus far. He has been penciled in as the lead-off hitter for all of his games so it looks like the Twins want him to get as many plate appearances as possible. It also helps that he has blazing fast speed at the top of the order and he has been clocked at 4.15 seconds from home to first on a groundout.

In his first two games in the GCL, Buxton faced pitchers with at least some professional experience. At minimum, the pitchers he stepped in against had thrown in the Dominican Summer League and some of the hurlers had already made one trip through the GCL. So it's safe to say that Buxton isn't facing rural Georgia pitching any more and it might take a little bit for him to adjust this new level of competition. 

Tropical storm Debbie has caused the GCL Twins to miss at least yesterday's game so hopefully Buxton will be able to get back on the field. This way he can get the first of many hits out of the way and be on the way to a great career. There were some fans declaring him a bust after his first game where he went hitless but it is way to early to know how good Buxton can or cannot be. He is still one of the top prospects in the entire organization.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Searching for a Revere home run

It's not like searching for El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth because people have seen it before. Unlike the sightings of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, there is more than tangible evidence that this is not just a fluke of nature. It happened as recent as last season for Triple-A Rochester but there still might need to be an expedition to find a never before seen sight at the big league level, a Ben Revere home run.

To find a Revere home run, it is important to know when these sightings have occurred in the past. He joined the Twins as a first round pick out of high school in 2007 and played 50 games for the GCL Twins without putting a ball over the fence. His first home run came in the next season for the Beloit Snappers and it would be his only home run for the year. It was the first sighting of a Revere home run but there would be more to come.

The 2009 season would see Revere's highest number of home runs for one season in his professional career. He managed two round trippers in 121 games for the Fort Myers Miracle. This power surge along with a solid overall season helped him to be named the 2009 Twins Minor League Player of the Year. There were glimmers of hope that a Revere home run might be easier to spot in the future.

In 2010, Revere would spend most of the season with the New Britain Rock Cats before being called up in September for his major league debut. With the Rock Cats, he managed one home run in 94 games but his 13 games at the big league level never produced a dinger. The young outfielder had made it to the big leagues by age 22 but when would his first big fly be seen? No one knew.

For the 2011 season, it was time to get serious in the hunt for a Revere home run. He got close on multiple occasions to notching an inside-the-park home run for the Twins. Other obstacles got in the way of this becoming his first major league home run. Revere hit one home run during the 2011 calender year but it came while he was wearing a Rochester Red Wings jersey. Plenty of opportunities but still homerless at the big league level.

After being sent back and forth between Rochester and Minnesota to start the 2012 season, it looks like Revere is here to stay. When another player hit a home run this weekend, Revere became the only current regular MLB player with over 100 games played to not have hit a home run. Following Sunday's game, he has played 168 contests at the big league level with 633 plate appearances as the search is still on for that elusive home run.

There was a similar home run drought that Twins fans got to follow in 2007 with Jason Tyner. He came to the Twins organization with 245 games and 778 at-bats already accumulated at the major league level without a home run. The streak would be stretch to 1,220 at-bats without a long ball until the third inning of a game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. Jake Westbrook was the pitcher that gave up the home run to Tyner so it is unfortunate for Revere that the Twins don't play the Cardinals at some point this year.

During every season in his professional career in which Revere has played over 50 games, he has managed to get a minimum of one home run. When the search is over and he hits his first home run, a streak will end and there will be a big smile across the face of Mr. Revere. Let's just hope that the search doesn't take another 600 or so at-bats because Tyner would tell Revere that there's a lot less pressure after the first tater. But then again, Tyner wouldn't get another one at the major league level.

So the search will continue, until a Revere home run can be found...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Links-N-Thinks

Last night's Twins game got ugly in later portions of the game with Jeff Manship giving up some bombs. One of the home runs even took one bounce and was out of the stadium. Overall, it wasn't the best series but the Twins did manage to pull out one victory. Francisco Liriano and Liam Hendriks put together one of their best starts of the year in the series and Josh Willingham had a late inning home run to lead the team to victory.

Now the team turns their sights to a very good Cincinnati Reds club, their last interleague opponent of the year. The Twins are going to be forced to deal with arguably the best overall hitter in the game, Joey Votto. There could also be opportunities to face one of the hardest throwers in baseball, Arolidis Chapman. For Twins fans, it is fun to see some of the best talent in the National League.

Before the Twins begin their series with the Reds, make sure to check out some of the best baseball writing from across Twins Territory and the baseball world.
My Weekly Rundown:
Video of the Week: Joel Peralta was ejected earlier this week for having a foreign substance on his glove. It was quite the sight to watch how the entire incident played out and it might have conjured up memories of a different moment for Twins fans. In 1987, Joe Niekro was on the mound for the Twins before the following scene took place.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday's Wild Night in the Minors

It is officially the first day of summer and that means action will be heating up across the baseball world. The Twins found themselves in a pitchers duel in Pittsburgh with Francisco Liriano throwing one of his best games of the year. A rough seventh inning meant that Liriano wasn't able to pick up the win but a late inning home run from Josh Willingham pushed the Twins to a 2-1 victory.

Some injuries to the Rochester bullpen forced the Twins to make some transactions in the farm system. Carlos Gutierrez (shoulder) and Lester Oliveros (elbow) are both going to miss time for the Red Wings and this means Bobby Lanigan and Caleb Thielbar will be joining Rochester from New Britain. Edgar Ibarra is moving from Fort Myers to New Britain and taking his place on the Miracle roster is Michael Tonkin. Cole Johnson was the other transaction on Wednesday as he moves from the E-Twins to the Snappers.

The Twins officially signed RHP Luke Bard, taken 42nd overall in the 2012 draft. With his signing, the Twins have inked their first 10 picks in the draft. This is a good sign and it seems to show that players are more willing to sign early with the new rules in the CBA.

Don't forget to check out the Twins Minor League Weekly Podcast tomorrow night at 9:00 pm. Seth Stohs should have plenty of topics to discuss with the transactions mentioned above and the start of the short-season leagues.

ROCHESTER 7, DURHAM 6

It was quite the back and forth contest against the Durham Bulls in Rochester with the Red Wings managing to come out victorious. With Rochester leading by one in the top of the ninth, the Bulls managed to score two runs and take the lead back. In the bottom of the ninth, Tsuyoshi Nishioka started the inning by cracking a double. After a sacrifice bunt from Pedro Florimon, Wilkin Ramirez stepped into the box and fell into a 0-2 count. The next pitch was hit over the fence for a two-run walk-off home run and the fans got to go home happy.

Cole DeVries had started the game and he lasted 6.1 innings by giving up four runs on 11 hits. Tyler Robertson picked up his second victory of the year after he got the last two outs of the ninth inning. Brian Dinkelman had three hits with an RBI to help the offense. In the second inning, Matt Carson hit his fifth home run on the year and he has three home runs in the last four games.
 
NEW BRITAIN 4, ALTOONA 9

Gerrit Cole, the number one pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, made his debut at Double-A on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Rock Cats, he didn't have any issues with the transition to a higher league and threw five innings while giving up two runs and striking out six. He was also backed up by plenty of run support so this made his first victory at this level a little easier.

Brett Jacobson was charged with seven earned runs in three innings on the mound. He walked five batters and gave up multiple home runs. Aaron Hicks had his first multiple hit game in his last ten contests and this included his ninth double and second triple of the year. Chris Colabello got half of the team's RBI with his two singles in the game. In his second game since being promoted, Oswaldo Arcia had his first hit, a double in the eighth inning.  

FORT MYERS 7, JUPITER 3

A solid offensive night was put together by the Miracle on Wednesday evening in Jupiter. They put up seven runs on 12 hits to back a good start from Madison Boer. In five innings of work, Boer surrendered two runs on five hits and struck out four. Ricky Bowen did a good job in relief by almost pitching 2 innings and only giving up a hit. For Boer, it was his third win of the year with all three of those wins coming in June.

Five batters for the Miracle had multiple hit nights with Kyle Knudson leading the way with a 3-for-5 night. Andy Leer knocked in a couple runs with his two hits and he hit his six double of the year. The only other extra-base hit came off of the bat of Danny Rams, who also scored two runs in the game.

BELOIT (All-Star Break)


The Snappers are enjoying their All-Star Break and will resume play on Friday night with a series in Cedar Rapids. After qualifying for the playoffs in the first half of the season, it will be interesting to see how the Snappers come out in the second half.

ELIZABETHTON 10, DANVILLE 0

The story on this night should be the pitcher that started the game for the E-Twins. Ricardo Arevalo, a 21-year old pitcher from Venezuela, has pitched in the Twins organization for the last three years for the DSL Twins and the GCL Twins. In those three years, he had never been able to pick up a victory on the mound but that all changed on Wednesday. He threw five shutout innings and the bullpen was able to cover the rest of the game for his first professional win. 

In this contest, the E-Twins found plenty of offense with multiple extra base hits on the way to double digits being scored by the club. There were four triples in the game for the E-Twins and Niko Goodrum hit two of those three baggers with three runs batted in. Rory Rhodes had three hits and Michael Quesada managed his first two doubles in the young season. 
GCL TWINS 6, GCL RAYS 2

A strong start from Josue Montanez helped the GCL Twins to get out to an early lead on the GCL Rays. Montanez tossed four scoreless innings while striking out six and allowing a single hit. Both runs for the Rays were scored off of Markus Solbach in his one inning of work.

The Rays sloppy defense helped the Twins to a big bottom of the third inning. Three consecutive errors by the Rays fielders allowed the Twins to score four runs in the frame. Aderlin Mejia was 3-for-4 in the game with his second double of the year. Bryan Haar added a double of his own while going 2-for-3 with two RBI.

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Players of the Day for Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hitter of the Day- Niko Goodrum

Pitcher of the Day- Ricardo Arevalo (1st Professional Win)

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A Look Ahead- Thursday, June 21st Schedule

Rochester vs Durham- LHP Matt Maloney
New Britain at Altoona- LHP Aaron Thompson
Fort Myers vs St. Lucie-LHP Pat Dean
Beloit (All-Star Break)
Elizabethon at Danville- LHP Corey Kimes
GCL Twins at GCL Rays- TBA

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If you have any questions or comments on the Twins minor league system, leave them in the comments section and Seth or I will try to answer them.

Bullpen overuse could hurt by season's end

After Tuesday night's contest in Pittsburgh, the Twins have played roughly 40% of their regular season schedule and the team is currently under .500 by 14 games. Being at the bottom of the American League is a rough spot for any team and there can be plenty of fingers pointed as to why the Twins have gotten to this point. The offense has failed to score runs and the pitching staff has left plenty to be desired so far in 2012. But in all of this mess, there has to be some positives to dig out of the pit of despair.

While the pitching staff has combined to have the worst ERA in the entire American League, the bullpen has shown some brief glimmers of hope at different points this year. The relief pitchers for the Twins have combined for the 15th best ERA in baseball while holding batters to the 14th best batting average. Only ten relief cores across baseball have allowed few walks than the Twins so the bullpen is doing their best in some tough situations. While these numbers don't jump off the screen, they are much better when compared to what the starting staff has been able to do.

Even with the bullpen producing at about the league average, it is tough to look at their workload and not worry about what this will mean for the pitchers at the end of the year. The Twins relief pitchers have thrown the second most innings of any bullpen in the major leagues. Kansas City is the only team to throw more innings with their bullpen and they have recently had to switch to a 14-man pitching staff, a situation that no team wants to happen. Anthony Swarzak has thrown 50.0 innings as a reliever and a starter, Brian Duensing has been on the mound for almost 35 innings, and Alex Burnett has reached over 33 innings. All of these numbers are starting to add up and it is not even the mid-point of the season.

Glen Perkins made the transition to the bullpen last year and he was untouchable in the first half of the season. He threw 33.2 innings with an outstanding 1.87 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19 with 36 strikeouts. It looked like the Twins had found a gem of a player to possibly be the closer of the future for the franchise. After the All-Star break last year, Perkins saw his ERA rise to 3.21 and his velocity decreased slightly as the season wore on. It seemed like his workload from the first half of the year was impacting his ability to perform in the second half. This is just one example of what the Twins could be looking at in the second half of this year.

If the Twins are going to take some of the pressure off of their relief pitchers, the starting rotation is going to need to pitch deeper into games. Through the 66 games played so far, Twins starters have pitched 345.2 innings and that averages to 5.24 innings per start. PJ Walters is the only Twins pitcher with a complete game under his belt this year and he isn't exactly a player the team can rely on to repeat this feat. The closest thing to an ace pitcher for the Twins has been Scott Diamond and he has averaged 6.1 innings pitched in his nine starts. For the rest of the pitching staff, it has been a struggle to average over five innings an outing.

As the season rolls on, the Twins might have to dig deep into Rochester to find some other arms to help eat some innings out of the bullpen. Anthony Slama looked like he was primed to take a position with the Twins before a broken leg forced him to the sidelines. Kyle Waldrop looked like he had a chance to make the roster coming out of spring training but an injury put him on the DL. Now Waldrop is in the bullpen for the Red Wings and he has looked very good since returning from injury. Lester Oliveros has already made one trip to Minnesota and the Twins would certainly give him another shot in the big leagues.

The Twins are far from contending for a playoff spot but taking care of the bullpen is something the front office should watch carefully. By the end of the season, the Twins don't want to be struggling to find outs from their relief options. It would be best if the starters could throw deeper into the game and allow the bullpen the opportunity to close out some victories. But in a season that already seems lost, this might be a foolish hope.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

After pulling out a victory in a 15-inning affair on Sunday afternoon and into Sunday evening, the Twins got a much needed day of rest yesterday before traveling to Pittsburgh. The Twins will play the Pirates and the Reds to complete their interleague schedule before returning home and getting back into American League action. Both of these teams have been playing well in the last couple weeks so it will be interesting to see how the Twins fare on their current road trip.

Even with the off day for the Twins, there were plenty of interesting notes from across the organization. So let's get caught up with this week's edition of "Tuesday Morning Tidbits."

Arcia moving up to New Britain
With many prospects for the the Twins running into some kind of speed bump in the middle part of the season, it is good to see one of their top prospects succeeding enough to be moved to the next level. Oswaldo Arcia entered the season as one of the top prospects in the Twins organization but his play so far this year is separating him from the pack. After the Florida State League All-Star Game this weekend, Arcia was informed to report to New Britain.

The left-handed slugging outfielder was batting .309/.376/.517 with 16 doubles and seven home runs in 55 games for Fort Myers. It was his second taste of the FSL after he missed a chunk of last season following left elbow surgery. One of the biggest changes has been his plate recognition that is being shown in his ability to draw more walks. Last year in about the same amount of at-bats he had nine total walks and that number has increased to 23 so far this season.

He is only 21-years old and this is a fairly young age for someone to be entering Eastern League play. The Twins need to see how Arcia can handle the fire since he had to be added to the 40-man roster this past offseason. So far in his career, Arica has faced every challenge that has come his way and the Twins hope that trend continues in New Britain.
Mauer getting beat up behind the plate
The Twins have completed 65 games on their schedule and Joe Mauer has played in 60 of those contests. A couple of those appearances have been late inning pinch hitting situations but Mauer has been there for the most part. He has appeared in 92% of the team's games which is great to see after a 2011 season where Mauer only played in 50.6% of the team's schedule. Not all of Mauer's playing time has come with him at catcher but being able to place his name in the line-up on a daily basis is a big step over last year.

After sitting out Saturday's game with a sore hamstring, Mauer was back behind the plate on Sunday in what might have seemed like a surprise move. If a player has a sore hamstring, the last thing a team would want to do is have him squat behind the plate for nine innings (or 15 innings). Mauer's hamstring seemed to be holding up fine until a collision at home plate with Rickie Weeks caused him to bruise his right quad.

From the sounds of the postgame report, Mauer was not please with the way that Weeks slid into home. I don't think there were too many people who would think this was a dirty play by Weeks so there doesn't seem to be much basis for Mauer's argument. It also sounds like Mauer should be back in the line-up soon and the team is only listing him as day-to-day with his newest injury. This is a good sign if he wants to continue to play in over 90% of the Twins games this year. 

Slama out at least a month
One of the best pitchers in the minor leagues so far this season had been relief pitcher Anthony Slama. He had almost been untouchable in his 22.2 innings of work for the Red Wings as he posted a 0.40 ERA with 37 strikeouts. It is the fourth season that he has spent at least part of the year at Triple-A so it was put up or shut up time for Slama. He had completed nine saves on the year and it seemed like he would be given a shot at the big league level at some point this season.

In an unfortunate turn of events for Slama, he will miss four to six weeks after being hit by a comebacker on the mound. He has a broken bone in his right leg and it will take time to heal and recover. One of the brightest spots for the Twins in 2012 has been the bullpen so it remains to be seen if Slama would have even been called up. He isn't currently on the 40-man roster so the Twins would be forced to make another change if they wanted him on the big league roster.

The Twins seem reluctant to give Slama an extended look at the major league level as a 28-year old relief pitcher. He has put up decent numbers at Triple-A for the last three years but this has only translated to a couple of games with the Twins. He has 7.0 total innings at the MLB level so it is hard to know what kind of player he could be. His numbers this year seem to indicate that he has mastered AAA and now it looks like a call-up will have to wait until the end of the year because of his injury.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Twins are behind in "Era of Pitching"

Twins fans are well aware of how great pitching has been across baseball this season. So far this year, there have been five no-hitters with two of those being perfect games. Two former Twins pitchers, Johan Santana and Phil Humber, accounted for two of the no-hitters. Unfortunately for the Twins, they were also on the wrong end of a no-hitter against Jered Weaver earlier this season. Combine all of these and it was a rough couple of weeks for Twins fans to watch.

There seems to be something special in the air across baseball in recent years and pitching is at the center of this change. Following an era of baseball that was full of steroid filled sluggers, pitching seems to have regained the upper hand. Entering play on Sunday, the top 16 pitchers in the National League and the top 7 pitchers in the American League all had sub-3.00 ERAs. In contrast to the 2011 season, there were a combined 16 sub-3.00 ERAs between both leagues.

For the Twins in 2012, there is only one starting pitcher that has a sub-3.00 ERA, Scott Diamond. He doesn't have enough innings under his belt to qualify for a position on the AL leaders board and the rest of the starters are in the same position. Most of the other Twins starting pitchers have an ERA that is well over 5.00 and the team's combined ERA of 5.12 is the second worst in all of baseball.

But a change in ERA isn't the only sign of a shift in baseball, there seems to be a rise in the amount of hard throwing pitchers. There are plenty examples in both leagues with Justin Verlander winning the AL MVP last year and Aroldis Chapman emerging for the Reds. According to FanGraphs, the hardest thrower in both leagues out of the players that qualify is Stephen Strasburg at 96.1 mph. The top 15 fastballs for starting pitchers are all above 93.0 mph; but if you expand it to include relief pitching, there are 35 pitchers with a fastball that averages over 95.0 mph.

Over the recent years of Twins baseball, the team has been known as a "pitch-to-contact" team and organization. This can be seen in the pitchers that make up the current roster for the Twins. Out of the starting pitchers, Francisco Liriano has the hardest fastball at over 93 mph but the rest of the starters sit around 90 mph or lower. The relief pitchers are lead by a former starter, Glen Perkins, and his fastball that averages over 95 mph. While there are plenty of relief pitchers across baseball with big fastballs, the rest of the Twins relief core sits around 93 mph with their heaters.

There are teams across baseball that have been able to create outstanding pitching staffs based on their team's drafting and scouting departments. The San Francisco Giants have a rotation composed of three very good pitchers that were brought through the farm system of their organization. There are ups and downs with Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Madison Bumgarner but for the most part these three pitchers have been very good on the mound. Another team with outstanding homegrown pitching staff is the Tampa Bay Rays. Their combination of James Shields, David Price, Matt Moore, and Jeremy Hellickson completes one of the deepest staffs in the game. Both of these organizations have used the draft to find pitchers from multiple rounds of the draft to build their pitching staff.

With the Twins knowing that something had to change for the future, they changed some of their draft philosophy for the 2012 season. Instead of looking for pitch-to-contact players like the team had been doing, the Twins front office made a conscious switch to finding players with more upside.  The main qualities the Twins were looking for were "power and raw speed" and the team took four pitchers in the first two rounds. For the entire draft, the organization took 24 pitchers out of the 43 picks the team was given. In the end, not all of these players will sign but it seems like the team is finally moving in the right direction.

This change in draft philosophy could be a good start for the Twins but it will be quite some time before the team will know if they selected the right players in the 2012 draft. For now, the future of Twins pitching does not look like it is in the perfect place. There are plenty of question marks surrounding the 2012 Twins and how the rest of the season will go with the starting staff. Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, and Scott Baker can all leave via free agency and for most fans that would be a welcome sight. But the Twins would have to replace these pitcher and pitching doesn't come cheap. Scott Diamond, Nick Blackburn, and Liam Hendriks look to be the front runners for the 2013 rotation. But in the era of pitching, these three names leave the Twins and their fans wanting something more...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Night Minor League Lights

For the first half of the Twins game on Friday night, it looked like Francisco Liriano could be on the way to his second no-hitter in the last two years. With his pitch count rising in the sixth inning, he walked two batters and then he ran into the reigning National League MVP. Ryan Braun crushed a pitch to deep center field to switch a 2-0 Twins lead into a 3-2 Brewers lead.

Lucky enough for the Twins, Trevor Plouffe is in beast mode and he can keep the Twins in any game. His two home runs on Friday night gave him seven home runs in the last seven games during the current home stand. It has been fun to see what Plouffe has been able to do at the major league level but there are plenty of notable performances in the minors from Friday.

Here's a glimpse of what happened under the lights on Friday night in the Twins farm system.

ROCHESTER 4, LOUISVILLE 1
  
On this night the story of the game would be the outstanding pitching performance from Cole DeVries. In his second start since being sent back to Rochester, DeVries pitched seven shutout innings while striking out four and only walking a single batter. It will be nice to see if his brief taste of the big leagues will help him for the rest of the season.

There were minimal threats in the eighth and ninth inning from the Bats but Tyler Robertson and Brendan Wise were able to escape with minimal damage. Robertson allowed the only run to score for the Bats but he left two runners on base to keep the lead at four. Wise walked a batter with two outs in the ninth but he got a strikeout to finish the game for his first save.

Sean Burroughs and Wilkin Ramirez each knocked in a couple runs to help the Red Wings to come out victorious on Friday night. Both hitters cracked a double and Ramirez smashed his third home run of the year in the second inning. Matt Carson hit his team leading 17 double of the year in the win.

NEW BRITAIN 2, ERIE 5

The Rock Cats scored a couple runs in the second inning to take the lead back from the SeaWolves but it wasn't enough on this night. Erie pounded out double digits in hits and put together some late inning rallies to separate themselves from New Britain. Most of this rally came off of Blake Martin who gave up three earned runs in his inning on the mound.

Aaron Thompson had his best start since joining New Britain at the beginning of June. He started the game for the Rock Cats and pitched six strong innings by giving up five hits and one earned run. He dropped his ERA from above 9.00 at the start of the game to close to 6.00 by the end of the game.

Rene Tosoni and Chris Herrmann both had mulit-hit games with one of Herrmann's hits being a double. The man to drive in all the runs for the Rock Cats on this night was Estarlin De Los Santos with a 2-RBI double in the second inning. Mark Dolenc had his first double of the year but it was still not enough to help the Rock Cats on this evening.

FORT MYERS (All-Star Break)

The Miracle don't have a game on Friday night because tomorrow night is the Florida State League All-Star Game. Fort Myers had four players selected from their team to represent the club in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Fort Myers Miracle will be represented on the South team by catcher Josmil Pinto, infielder Daniel Santana, and pitchers Pat Dean and Rickey Bowen. Another Miracle player, Oswaldo Arcia, was added to the home run derby on Thursday.

BELOIT 6, BURLINGTON 3

After celebrating their first trip to the playoffs in five years, there could be a chance the team would come out a little slow. This was definitely not the case on Friday night as the Snappers pounded out six runs in the first two frames. From there the offense cooled down and they hoped the pitching staff would be able to hold on to the lead.

In only his second start since being shifted from the bullpen, David Hurlbut gave up three earned runs on two home runs with five strikeouts. AJ Achter threw three innings in relief and put up some impressive numbers. He pitched three scoreless innings by only allowing two hits while striking out six.

Nate Roberts led the offensive charge from the leadoff spot by going 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Drew Leachman drove in a couple of runs and had his third triple of the year. The Snappers batted close to .500, 5-for-12, with runners in scoring position to help the team to another W in the win column.

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Players of the Day for Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hitter of the Day- Wilkin Ramirez

Pitcher of the Day- Cole DeVries

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A Look Ahead- Wednesday, June 13th Schedule

Rochester at Louisville- RHP Cole DeVries
New Britain vs Erie- RHP BJ Hermsen
Fort Myers- FSL All-Star Game
Beloit vs Burlington- TBA

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If you have any questions or comments on the Twins minor league system, leave them in the comments section and Seth or I will try to answer them.

Friday Links-N-Thinks

The Twins welcomed Jim Thome back to Target Field for what could be his last series in Minnesota. Over the course of the three game set, Thome made his presence known by hitting a monster shot over the batter's eye in one game and a three run bomb on Thursday night. Fans of the Twins still cheered his powerful swing as Thome got to do his best Paul Bunyan impression for the last time in the land of 10,000 lakes.

By losing the series to the Phillies, the Twins ended their streak of winning series that stretched back to the end of last month. Even in the series loss, Trevor Plouffe has been amazing to watch over the course of the last few weeks. He is locked-in at the plate and it seems like he is now expected to hit a home run every night.

Over the weekend, the Twins will welcome the Brewers to town for their last home series as part of interleague play. Last month, the Twins took two out of three when these same two teams faced off in Milwaukee. Liam Hendriks should get called up to start Saturday's game so it will be fun to see if the Twins can get back to winning series.

Before you sneak out of work early for the weekend, check out this week's edition of "Friday Links-N-Thinks."
My Weekly Rundown:
Video of the Week: Unfortunately for the Twins, one of the team's top prospects Eddie Rosario has to undergo face surgery after being hit by a ball in batting practice. This is still a cool story on his emergence in the Twins system and how he has patiently moved through the different levels.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Twins looking toward international market

With the Twins playing better baseball over the last couple of weeks, there has been plenty of talk about whether the Twins will be buyers or sellers when it comes to the trade deadline. While that date at the end of July will be very important for the Twins, there is another important deadline coming at the beginning of next month. Teams like the Twins will turn their attention July 2, when international players that have turned 16-years old can be signed.

The biggest international signing in Twins history was Miguel Sano, who has turned into the best prospect in the entire organization. His $3.15 million signing bonus was the second largest in Twins history at the time but now ranks third behind Joe Mauer and this year's first round pick Byron Buxton. The rules for signing international players have changed with the new CBA and team's are not allowed to spend over $2.9 million on foreign talent. This means there can't be a deal worth as much as what Sano signed from a few seasons ago.

According to the Star Tribune, there are a couple of players on the radar for the Twins as the signing deadline approaches. To get one of these top international players, the Twins would need to spend most of their allotted signing funds and there will be plenty of other teams interested in the services of the players listed below.

Amaurys Minier, SS/2B
Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6'2"/200
Bats/Throws: S/R

The switching hitting middle infielder might need to switch to corner outfield or third base when he starts his professional career but his sweet swing projects to be a big bat. He has the power to drive the ball to all fields from both sides of the plate, a rare thing to find in a switch hitting 16-year old. When he starts to fill out, his smooth swing will develop even more power.

Even though he is currently playing positions he won't play at the next level, there are plenty of defensive skills for him to showcase. He has go movement from side-to-side to go along with soft hands and a very powerful arm. These are skills that will help him when he moves to a different position in the future.

The biggest problem for Minier right now is his ability to recognize pitches and make adjustments to offspeed offerings. He can look a little lost when a pitcher throws a good offspeed pitch at him when he's in the box. This is one skill that should develop over time and he still has one of the highest ceilings of any player on the international market.

Luis Torrens, C
Venezuela
Height/Weight: 6'0"/170
Bats/Throws: R/R

Torrens has spent time at shortstop and third base but he looks to have found his home behind the plate. There are still plenty of things to work on with his defense since he has only recently started to adjust to being a catcher. His natural athletic ability and other tools should make his it easier for his transition to catcher. The Twins could use a high profile catcher in their system to be ready to take the place of Mr. Mauer in the coming years.

His right-handed bat is what makes him standout versus some of his peers in the international market. Reports have him hitting doubles to all fields at this point but his frame offers room to add more muscle as he matures. This should allow some of those doubles to turn into home runs while he moves through a club's minor league system.

He is one of the top players available from Venezuela this year and he has topped some lists at different points this season. There is plenty of offensive potential and his ability to stick at catcher should help his value on the market. He has shown the ability to play third base in the past so a team could convert him back into a corner infielder if catching doesn't work out.