Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Handbook Preview: Tom Brunansky Rises!

As followers of this site on Twitter or Facebook have noticed in the last couple of days, it is one of the most exciting times of the year. During the last two years, I have helped to write one of the best Twins publications on the market, "The Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook." My role has increased in each of the last two years to the point where I was asked by Seth Stohs to be a co-author on this year's edition.

This book includes 191 pages of content on the Twins minor league system. There are profiles on 153 minor league players from those that made their debuts in 2012 all the way down to those that were just traded to the club during the offseason. It includes some great articles from many of the best Twins writers on the web. The Handbook is a must own for any Twins fan and it would make a great gift as well. 

It has been a bleak couple of seasons in Minnesota and the team will be relying heavily on farm system that should rank as one of the top 10 in baseball. We kept the price as low as we could to allow the content to get into the hands of as many people as possible

As a bonus to fans of this site, I have included a portion of an article that I wrote for the book. The articles are only a small portion of the content in the Handbook as the profiles take up most of the pages. 

Tom Brunansky Rises!

The work of a team’s farm system is centered on the ability to prepare younger players for big league careers. Much of the current book you are reading is focused on this very topic. These aren’t the only people to move through the system for an organization. The rise of coaches from the lower levels to the brink of the big leagues can also be an important part of the future for the franchise. 

The winds of change hit the Twin Cities at the end of the Twins’ regular season. On the heels of the team’s second disastrous season in a row, the front office cleaned out some of the coaching staff by parting ways with Jerry White, Rick Stelmaszek, and Steve Liddle. This left openings at the major league level and the Twins turned to multiple coaches in the minor leagues. Tom Brunansky, Bobby Cuellar, and Terry Steinbach were added to the coaching staff. Brunansky and Cuellar had served in similar roles at Rochester and Steinbach has been a Twins’ spring training instructor.

One of these coaches has been on quite the wild ride over the course of the last couple of seasons. Brunansky has risen quickly through the system for the Twins since he joined the club as an instructor in July of 2010. This came after he was pressured by a California high school coach to come out of retirement. From there, his passion and skills have translated to a big league job after 15 years away from the game of baseball.

The journey for Brunansky to get from retirement back to the big leagues as a coach was full of some bumps along the way. When he retired from the games of baseball, he was ready to be home and spend time raising his children. As a professional baseball player, you can miss out on a lot of time with your kids and his retirement gave him the opportunity to spend time with them before they left for college. When the nest was starting to empty, Brunansky went searching for something more and that search brought him back to the one career he had always known…baseball.

Brunansky started coaching at a high school in Poway, California and this time helped him to rediscover his love of the game. He decided that he wanted to work with some older hitters so he put in a call to the team’s former minor league director, Jim Rantz, to enquire about any open positions in the Twins organization. There just happened to be an opening and they offered him a position as hitting coach in the Gulf Coast League. Brunansky set the goal of making it back to the big leagues as a coach. But just like the players he was coaching, Brunansky had to work his way from the lower levels of the minor leagues to show the organization that he deserved a promotion.

His first year as a coach in the system for the Twins would come with some big responsibilities. Some of the most important prospects for the Twins would be under his tutelage during their first seasons in professional baseball. Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Kennys Vargas were just a few of the names from the 2010 GCL Twins roster. Sano and Kepler were only 17-years old at the time and Rosario was only a little older. These players would get their careers off to a glowing start and Brunansky had impressed the Twins enough to earn his promotion.

There is much more in the article including Brunansky's time in the minor league system, some quotes from players and Terry Ryan, and the rest of his journey back to the big leagues. At the end of the article, I include a ranking of some of the top coaching "prospects" in the minor league system for the Twins. 

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