Friday, September 16, 2011

2012 Minnesota Twins offseason blueprint

Here is my 2012 Twins Offseason Blueprint with those I feel will be added to the 40 man roster, those that will be signed as free agents, those that will be resigned or let go by the team and finally the Twins payroll for 2012. Let me know what you think and if you agree or disagree with some of my logic in this assessment.

1.) Remove Free Agents Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Repko, Phil Dumatrait, Matt Capps, Kyle Waldrop, Rene Rivera, and Brian Dinkelman off the 40 man roster to leave the 40 man at 32 players on the 40 man.

2.) Non-Tender Kevin Slowey, Phil Dumatrait and Matt Tolbert to leave your roster at 30.

3.) Reinstate Nick Blackburn off the 60 day disabled list.

4.) Decline Joe Nathan’s 12.5 million option and instead pay him 2 million dollar buyout.

5.) Add minor leaguers Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson,and Yangervis Solarte to 40 man to bring total up to 33

6.) Sign Michael Cuddyer to a 3 year 33million dollar contract

7.) Sign Jason Kubel to 2 year 14 million dollar deal with a team option for 10 million for 2014.

8.) Sign Joe Nathan to a 2 year 16 million dollar deal

9.) Sign Jason Repko to a minor league deal

10.) Sign Matt Capps for 3years 9million

11.) Sign Jose Molina for 1 year 1 million

12.) Trade Denard Span, Angel Morales,and Jose Mijares for James Shields

13.) Sign Mike Cameron to a 1year 3million dollar deal

14.) Sign Frank Francisco to a 1 year 1million dollar deal

16. Sign Mike Redmond to manage in Rochester

17. promote Tom Brunansky to batting coach in Rochester

18. Part ways with Scott Ullger

19. Hire Paul Molitor as Bench Coach

Here is my 2012 team with Salaries

C Joe Mauer 23.0

1b Justin Morneau 15.0

2b Alexi Casilla 1.5

SS Tsyoshi Nishioka 3.0

3b Danny Valencia 800,000

LF Mike Cameron 3.0

CF Ben Revere 500,000

RF Michael Cuddyer 11.0

DH Jason Kubel 8.0


Luke Hughes 500,000

Trevor Plouffe 500,000

Jose Molina 1.0

Jason Repko 1.0

68.8million on offense


James Shields 7.0

Carl Pavano 8.5

Francisco Liriano 5.5

Scott Baker 6.5

Nick Blackburn 4.75


Joe Nathan 8.0

Matt Capps 3.0

Glen Perkins 1.5

Frank Francisco 1.0

Brian Duensing 800,000

Alex Burnett 500,000

Anthony Swarzak 500,000

Total 116.35

Let me know what you think all

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Future of Travis Twins Talk

Anybody that knows me knows that I will be starting school in just over a week and am at the University level now so it is going to be way more intense.  However, I still plan to blog it just will not be as often as it is in the summer.  I will still be doing my minor league player profiles and you can look for them every Monday morning with my next one this coming Monday.  However, that is probably all the blogging I will have time to do during the school year as school is hectic.  I will blog as much as I find time for but I will atleast do the player profiles that everyone has come to expect.  I will continue to cohost Twins Minor League Weekly for the rest of the Minor League Season with Seth Stohs.  So thanks for reading me this summer and keep following me here on here or on twitter @travistwinstalk. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Truth about the Twins minor league system

I get asked this question quite a bit and I feel like it is about time I hit people with some truth on the subject. The question that I am asked repeatedly is has the Twins minor league slipped and if so why. I know everyone likes to blame Bill Smith for all the problems with talent as the Twins had a good farm system when Terry Ryan was the General Manager of the Twins. I have even heard Deron Johnson being blamed as he is head of the draft after Mike Radcliff was promoted when Bill Smith took over as General Manager. Some of the criticism is founded, but a great part of it is unfounded.

There is merit for criticism of the lack of top level prospects in the upper levels of the organization. You had misses like not signing Travis Lee, and busts such as Matt Moses, Ryan Mills, Jay Rainville, and Henry Sanchez. That left a vacuum that led to a watering down of the system. Some of these picks were earlier than would be in system right now. Also the Twins have been downright unlucky with some of these guys as former first round picks Matt Fox, Kyle Waldrop, and Matt Bashore were injured. You have had control issues with former first round picks Shooter Hunt and Alex Wimmers that you could not have see coming.

The bottom line is the Twins had a 2-3 year stretch were they did not do well in the draft as guys like Moses, Rainville, and Sanchez were taken early and did not turn out. That left a void as some of those guys would be in the higher levels right now. When you miss on three or four first round picks that will set your organization back a few years. The percentage of early round picks that make it to the pro’s is so small that I feel that Twins fans were spoiled when they went through a stretch when guys like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins and Matt Garza became contributers. Twins fans after seeing all those guys come up and contribute forget about guys like Henry Sanchez, Matt Moses, Adam Johnson, B.J. Garbe, Ryan Mills who never even made the big leagues. Then you have guys that even the most adamant Twins fan has never heard of in Kelcey Mucker, Marc Borcelo, Dan Serifini, Scott Stahoviak, Midre Cummings, and Todd Ritchie. What I am trying to say is the draft is such an inaccurate science on who is going to make it and who is not that it is not an easy job for evaluaters. You hear all the time that in every draft you may have 1-2 players make it to the big leagues. So I don’t think it is fair for the evaluaters to get blamed for the lack of talent in the upper levels.

Another reason that expectations for the Twins minor league system are a little bit too much is the Twins in the 90’s were a bad team. From 1994 to 2001 a eight year stretch the Twins picked in the top ten 7 times. Fair or not most draftst have 5-10 blue chip prospects that are considered a high probibilty of making it to the big leagues. So when they were losing 90-100 games per year the odds of getting one of those top prospects was pretty high. Believe it or not that stretch is when the Twins farm system was considered the best in baseball. It is much like how the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals are considered the best farm systems in baseball right now as they have had some bad teams so they got high draft picks. From 2002-2011 the highest the Twins have drafted is 14th in 2008 with Aaron Hicks. I don’t know if its coincidence or not but Aaron Hicks is the number one prospect on my June prospect list. A big thing is when you draft late you need to be smart about who you take and you have to be willing to spend the money to get the guys signed as there is such competition for signing bonuses so the Twins have had to up the ante and they have done just that.

I also take exception that the Twins don’t have a very good farm system because I think the last 2-3 years the Twins have taken the bull by the horns and improved it immensely. It started in 2009 when they went way over slot to sign pitcher Kyle Gibson a starting pitcher who dropped down to the Twins due to a stress fracture in his forearm. The Twins could have sat and said he was too expensive, but they did what was necessary. They spent way over slot to sign BJ Hermsen. Then in 09 they spent over 3 million to sign the top Dominican prospect in years in Miguel Sano for over 3.15 million. This year they doubled slot to sign Corey Williams a hard throwing lefty from Vanderbilit. I know there is not a lot of talent in Rochester, but look at New Britain and below and there are tons of top end talent such as David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, and Deolis Guerra who has flourished as a reliever this year. In Fort Myers you have big prospects in James Beresford, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales, Alex Wimmers, and BJ Hermsen. Then in Beloit you have huge upside guys like Adrian Salcedo, and Madison Boer. Then in Elizabethton you got guys like Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Niko Goodrum. If anything I would say the Twins minor league system is loaded not the contrary.

Bill Smith gets a lot of guff for not having a lot of top end talent in AAA and I think the Twins need to take responsibility for a few bad drafts that did not produce the type of prospects thatother teams did. However the last 3-4 years have been phenomenal for the Twins minor league system. I believe in the next 2-3 years the Twins will be known as having one of the finest minor league systems in baseball as the lower levels are just loaded with top end prospects. I feel like the Twins should be commended for seeing a problem and fixing it the last few years. For those that feel Bill Smith, Deron Johnson and the whole Twins front office have not done their job producing prospects well I feel you are wrong and the contrary is true as I feel the Twins have just as many top prospects than any other team it is just the Twins do a good job at letting these guys go at their own speed and develop in a way that not only will they make the Twins when they are ready, but will remain with the team for years to come.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Oswaldo Arcia: The Hitting Machine

Oswaldo Arcia was signed by the Twins on July, 4th 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela at the age of 16. As a foreign player it is always hard to know what to expect from young players, especially players so young. The Twins saw an outfielder that had a projectable body who people thought would be able to hit. I don’t think when the Twins signed him in 2007 that anybody thought that Arcia would hit the way that he has so far in his young Twins career. He can hit for average, hit for power, plays good outfield defense, and has a good arm. A very toolsy outfielder that the Twins love to put through the system. Guys like Joe Benson, Aaron Hicks, and Torii Hunter before them. After signing with the Twins Arcia spent the 2008 season back in the Caribbean with the DSL Twins. That is where Arcia really came on the scene as a 17 year old kid that turned heads in that season with his quick bat. Here is how Arcia did in 2008 in the DSL:

DSL: 61games .293avg 4hr 36rbi 12doub 4trip 99TB 16bb 27k 8sb .343//432/.775

Those numbers were not huge, but for a 17 year old kid those are very good numbers. The stat that impressed me the most was his 99 total bases and his .343 on base percentage. That is pretty good for anyone let alone a 17 year old. Arcia then moved to the United States for the 2009 season and played with the GCL Twins. He continued his steady progress for the team in 2009 if not eye opening at least it was solid. I will let you be the judge what you thought his numbers were like in 2009 with the GCL Twins.

GCL: 44games .275avg 5hr 24rbi 11doub 2trip 76TB 15bb 18k 8sb .337/.455/.792

Those numbers were very similar to his numbers in 2008 in DSL, but you should not take it as a step backward. Coming over to the states was a big deal as he had to learn so much that have nothing to do with baseball that it is a big learning curve. You have to learn a new culture along with facing good young pitching. He had a good obp again so there was hope that with another year under his belt that he could continue to develop. His .337 on base percentage may not seem like much but for his first year in the states that is quite impressive. In 2010 Oswaldo Arcia arrived, he went up to Elizabethton and had one of the finest seasons in Twins Minor League history. He went from an ok prospect to one of the best prospects in the organization. I have been following the Twins minor league system for a few years and there has not been a season where a player has had any better years than the 2010 season for Oswaldo Arcia.

Eliz: 64games .375avg 14hr 51rbi 21doub 7trip 174TB 19bb 67k 4sb .424/.672/1.096

Oswaldo Arcia’s 2010 is the be all end all of minor league seasons and all the numbers are impressive. However the stat that really impressed me was the 42 extra base hits which is awesome. The other stat that sticks out to me is his 1.096 OPS for a whole season. You really need to digest how good of a season that is to understand how good he was. Arcia’s season in historical reference was quite good as it is ranked as the 3rd best offensive season in Elizabethton since 1990. He only trailed Reuben Salazar’s 1999 season and Paul Russo’s 1990 season for the best individual seasons in E-town history. With that success Arcia became a top 10 prospect in just about everyone’s prospect lists for the Twins. So for the 2011 season the Twins decided the best course of action to send him to Beloit and see how he does for a full season. The problem was Arcia had injured his elbow in the offseason so he started the season as the Snappers DH and here is how he did.

Bel:20games 71ab .352avg 5hr 18rbi 8doub 1trip 50TB 9bb 16k 2sb .420/.704/1.124

Talk about building off his monster 2010 season it looked like Arcia was on the verge of doing that this year for the Snappers. He was mashing for the Snappers this spring and that was surprising as most Caribbean players usually struggle early on for the Snappers due to the cold weather. However, Arcia did well for Beloit and the thought was he could put up another great season in 2011 to match his 2010. However, the pain in his elbow became too much for him and he finally succumbed to his elbow. There were many rumors that he would need Tommy John surgery which would have ended his 2011 season. However, after multiple opinions and examinations it would be decided that the best course of action would be for Arcia to have arthroscopic surgery on his elbow and miss 4-6 weeks. So after his rehab and such he was ready to come back. He put up great numbers in the GCL and the time had come for him to return the Twins surprised everybody and kept him in Fort Myers with the Miracle instead of sending him back down to Beloit. After going up to Fort Myers these are the numbers Arcia put up with the Miracle.

FM: 34games .262avg 3hr 15rbi 8doub 1trip 52TB 5bb 32k .286/ .413/.698

Arcia is only 20 years old so to be up in Fort Myers is quite an accomplishment and probably a year ahead of schedule. His numbers in Fort Myers are quite impressive for his age and even he would say that he needs to get on base more and strikeout less. But I have been quite impressed with his extra base power and look for him to get better and better next year in Fort Myers. Enough of talk from me I asked Roger Dehring from Twinkie Town for his thoughts on Arcia and here is what he had to say.

First, I asked Roger what he thought were Arcia’s strengths and weaknesses were and this is his response. “His strengths are that he can flat out hit, better than anyone else in the system. He is also excellent defensively. I really don't see any weaknesses, other than like all young power hitters he could cut down on his strikeouts a bit.” I agree with him on most of those things except he has some weaknesses in my mind in that he strikes out too often and doesn’t walk at all. He can flat out hit, but there are others that can hit as well so I don’t see it as a clear cut thing, but make no mistake he is one of the best hitters in the system.

Next, Roger was asked how high of a ceiling he has for Arcia and a possible estimated time of arrival. “I see him as potentially becoming a frequent all-star. Looking at his numbers in the minors, he compares favorably with Justin Morneau, who turned 20 in May, 2001. Justin spent the first half of that year in the Midwest League, hitting .326/.420/.728 in 236 at bats with 12 home runs. He then hit .294/.385/.522 in 197 at bats at Ft. Myers. Arcia likewise turned 20 this past May. He began his year in the Midwest League where he hit .352/.420/.704 in 71 at bats with 5 home runs. Granted, that is a smaller sample because his stay was cut short with an injury, but the production is very similar. He is now in Ft. Myers, coming off his rehab and hitting .278/.305/.411 in 90 at bats with two home runs. I expect those numbers will rise as he gets used to the level of pitching and gets healthy, but it is scary how similar the two are at the same levels.” I am very high on Arcia as well, but I think we might be jumping the gun a little bit on Arcia comparison with Morneau as I view them as completely different hitters. I view Arcia as a gap hitter who will be doubles machine while Morneau was always a homerun hitter. I would compare Arcia more to a Jason Kubel who hit doubles like they were going out of style coming up.

Then, I asked Roger what he considers Arcia’s best position and his response was, “He has played some centerfield, however, doesn't have the speed to be a top centerfielder like Revere, Hicks or Rosario. He has a very good arm, thus either corner position works with right field being most likely.” I couldn’t agree more as he just does not have the speed for centerfield, but either corner spot would work fine for him.

Roger was then asked about how Arcia’s upside compares to a guy like Aaron Hicks and his response was, “Considering that he can become one of the elite hitters in baseball, I view him as a better prospect than Hicks.” I disagree with Roger on this one because Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks are totally different type of prospects. Hicks is the toolsy outfield prospect that the Twins thought that they were getting in Arcia. However, Arcia can just flat out hit and that will be his bread and butter going forward is being able hit. I think it is a personal preference with those two as they are just so different. I think Arcia has a better chance of fulfilling his potential, but it is just a personal opinion, but if I had to say if Hicks reaches his potential then I prefer Hicks by an eyelash.

I then asked Roger, What does Oswaldo Arcia need to get better at going forward and his response was, “He needs to play! Does he need to cut down on strikeouts a bit, yes. It is encouraging that as he has moved up two levels from last year, his strikeout rate hasn't gone up. I look for it to go down over the next few years.” The thing that I think he needs to improve is to take more walks, less strikeouts, and like Roger said he needs to play. Hopefully this was just a blip on the radar with this injury, but until he plays more we just don’t know.

Next, I asked Roger about Arcia’s defense and this was his response. “ Defensively, he has reasonable speed (he isn't Ben Revere) with an above average arm. As I stated, he doesn't make mistakes as supported by having one error since rookie ball in 2008...that is two and a half years with only one error earlier this year.” I think Arcia’s defense is fine, but the big question will be how did his arm come out of his elbow surgery. He had a solid arm, but if he lost much off his arm you could have a problem as he is too young to be a DH. Too athletic to be a DH so it will be interesting to see how his elbow comes around.

The final question I asked Roger was how high he has him rated and how much can he improve in his mind. “As you know, I don't have a Top 20 or Top 50. I have a rating system that I apply to the actual performances of all the players in the organization each year. Based on what Arcia has done so far this year, I will be shocked if he isn't the top rated player in the organization at the end of the year. In preparation for this response to your questions, I did a quick mid-year test of five of the Twins better players as of a few days ago. Arcia was comfortably first with Jairo Perez second. As for improvement, he needs to get healthy so that his last month at Ft. Myers will be more like the first month in Beloit.” I will say this about Arcia he is defiantly a top 5 prospect in the organization for the Twins. It really comes down to personal preference between 1-5 as I don’t believe there is a clear cut number 1 right now. I do think Arcia can continue to improve if he gets his walks up and his strikeouts down to be a top five prospect every year.

Oswaldo Arcia has transformed himself from a toolsy outfield prospect that the Twins signed for about $95,000 to one of the top prospects in the organization and one of the top 30 prospects in all of baseball. Arcia crushes the ball on a regular basis and seems to be getting better and better every day. After solid years in the DSL and the GCL he exploded in 2010 to put himself on the map. He has followed that up with another very good season in 2011 and if it were not for a balky elbow that forced him to miss a big chunk of games. Going forward the sky is the limit for Arcia as he has the ability to be off the charts. He is an extra base hit machine who reminds me of a young Jason Kubel. Think about it he is in Fort Myers at the age of 20 and really has the ability to get better and better. His weaknesses are relatively minor in that he strikes out a little bit too much and needs to learn to walk. However, those are things that are definitely fixable and I fully expect him to be a good major leaguer and the next line of great hitters that the Twins have been waiting to arrive. Arcia has the ability to be special and someone that we all will be talking about years from now.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trip to Beloit Day 3

Day 3 of the Beloit trip was a steamer even compared to days one and two. We got up at around nine after a long day on Saturday. We checked out of the hotel around eleven. Before we get any further I want to commend the Rodeway Hotel for being very hospitable to us while we were there. The room was clean with the beds comfortable and plenty of towels. We then stopped at my favorite restaurant and yours in Applebee’s for lunch once again. Once again we got a great meal as I had a chicked breast with some steamed veggies and steamed potatoe wedges. All I can say is magnificent once again. The only thing I was disappointed in was the fact that our buddy Josh was not there this day. Not to say our server did a bad job, but Josh was very entertaining and made our experience there on Saturday much better. We then bummed around until noon when it was time to get to the park as it was a 2pm game.

When I stepped out of the car Sunday the first thing that went through my mind was man is it hot. It was a real steamer out so we did not sit in the outside bleachers instead we headed to the closed bleachers to watch West Michigan take batting practice. You could tell how hot it was because the Snappers did a short workout early then headed back to the clubhouse without taking batting practice on this day. We sat and watched West Michigan taking BP and the two guys that really stood out to me is Nick Castellanos who is rated as the Tigers number two prospect in the system at third base. He kept hitting shot after shot out of the park you could really tell he was a top prospect. The other was Catcher Rob Brantley who was also a top 15 prospect for the Tigers. The funny story was we met a former coach of Brantley who had made the trek down to Beloit to see him play. That should tell you all you need to know how when someone makes it to pro ball it is not just the player who has a vested interest, but all those that helped him get there.

After watching BP we got a chance to talk to BJ Hermsen, Adam Bryant, Michael Gonzalez, and Andy Leer. Talk about nice guys as each of those guys seemed geniounly happy to talk to us. That kind of thing is what makes this type of trip a must is it makes you realize these guys are just like you and I they just get paid to do something they love to do. They are accomplishing a dream that most of us had when we were little kids. The thing that impressed me the most though was how it did not change who they are. The coolest thing that I saw on Sunday though was these three Snapper fans who come to all the games. These people were just good people so we got to talk to them for a while and they came up to us from Twins Minor League Weekly and knew who we were I found that really cool. Then to find out that 2-3 times a year they hold BBQ’s for the players at their house with the only rule that no autographs. That really allows the players to relax and just be themselves without having to worry about the one percent of leaches that try to profit off these guys. Instead they get to know these guys as people and just have a good time. When the players would walk by they would give the little girl a hug and they were on first name basis which I found really really cool. Some people put these guys on pedastal’s but at the end of the day they are just people just like you and I and deserve to be treated with that kind of respect.

The game started and my favorite pitcher for the Snappers AJ Achter got the start and was really good. His change-up is the real deal as he got quite a few swings and misses on it. He can place his fastball on the corners as he is not overpowering so if he can place his fastball and throw that change-up he can be tough. He is just learning how to throw a slider because after he signed they decided to replace the curveball that he threw at Michigan State with a slider and he really feels it is coming around. I would say 35-40% of his sliders were good so it definitely is a work in progress, but something that if he can perfect it can really be a really good pitch for him. Achter went seven very good innings and gave up two runs on only six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. A very good outing and has been one of the most consistant pitchers for the Snappers since he got up to Beloit. Jose Gonzalez then came on and pitched the last two innings to pick up the save with a strikeout. Gonzalez is nota very big guy, but he can hump it up there pretty good for his size. A comparable I could think of is a young Jose Mijares body type and ability to throw pretty hard.

Offensively, the Snappers were only able to score three runs on seven hits, but that was enough on this day. Seth and I discussed during the game that he was a bad luck charm for the Snappers as they were 0-4 in games he had attended until this game. The Snappers were led by Wang Wei Lin who went 2-3 at the plate with a double and a single. Reggie Williams went 1-2 with a single and a walk. Lance Ray went 1-4 with a double smashed down the right field line that I made a call on, but Seth disputes. Ill leave it up to the readers when you say someone is going to hit a gapper does it not include the gap between the right field line and the right fielder. I think it does, but Seth disagreed with me so let me know what you think. Derek Mccallum went 1-2 with a single and a sacrifice fly. Tobias Streich went 1-3 with a single along with reaching on an error and scoring a run.

The best part of the day was right after the game we were walking out and I look up and there is former Twins General Manager and current consultant for the team Terry Ryan standing their extending his hand and saying “hi Im Terry Ryan” I shook his hand and was thinking no duh I know who you are and had been trying to get enough nerve all weekend to go talk to him. He was like why didn’t you guys come seek me out I was expecting it. Seth told him we knew he was working so we didn’t want to bother him. The fact that a guy like Terry Ryan would seek us out was the highlight to my trip. I know he has talked to Seth before, but for him to introduce himself to me was so cool and something that I will never forget. We walked a few more feet and there is Reggie Williams waiting for us to shake our hands and thank us for coming this weekend. I found that so cool as it ceases to amaze me how nice of a guy that Reggie Williams is. I know we are supposed to be professional with this, but I am a fan not a journalist and I really am pulling for Reggie Williams to make it because you are not going to find a nicer guy then him so best of luck to him. We then took off and our fun filled trip to Beloit was over so fast.

Before I end this I want to personally thank Jeff Vohs for being so friendly to us that weekend as he went above and beyond what he needed to do. He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met and he does not only the Snappers, the city of Beloit, and the State of Wisconsin a honor by all the work that he puts on. Also want to thank Justin Waters for all the work he put in from setting up the interviews for us and helping getting everything set-up and then doing PA for the game. He is also a credit to the organization and a credit to Jeff that he hired him to do the job. For those that have considered going down Beloit to see some baseball don’t hesitate as it is a grade A experience. If you think it is good ball watching town team ball you would not believe how good these guys are. The park and experience are second to none so I guarantee you that you will have a blast. Plus it is only 5.5 hours from the Twin Cities so there is no reason not to go because I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed and will have a time that you will be talking about for weeks. I know I am already looking forward to going back next summer as it will again be something that I enjoy once again. Again thanks a lot to the Snapper staff for an experience I will never forget.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trip to Beloit Day 2

Day two of the trip to Beloit had an early start to it compared to the day previous as we had another edition of Twins Minor League Weekly scheduled for 9:00am Saturday morning. That was all well and good, but the problem was my charger for my phone was not working and without my phone there would be Twins Minor League Weekly. So there I am going to Wal-Mart at 7:00am on a Saturday morning after a long day Friday. I got into Wal-Mart and found the right charger and went to pay and realized that I had forgotten my wallet back at the hotel. I may have good looks, but the girl at Wal-Mart was not about to give me a free charger so I headed back to the Hotel and grabbed my wallet. I then headed back to Wal-Mart and picked up the charger this time with money. I headed back to the hotel and decided to rest before the show, but about a half an hour before the show I realized I had a problem in that I couldn’t find my phone. I pulled all the blankets off the bed, looked in the trash, looked in Seth’s car and could not find it anywhere. At this point I was kind of freaking out as I paid some money for this phone and the idiot I am I didn’t put insurance on the phone so I would have been out some money. Finally, I went back to the room for one last look around before I head back to Wal-Mart to see if I brought it there. Luckily for me I found the phone underneath the bed so I was ready for the show. We got going on the show and wasn’t more than two minutes later that I realized that there was an echo in each of our phones from being too close together so that would have made a bad show. So I did the honorable thing and stepped outside. The only problem with that is I have left my notes in the room with my room key so I had no stats to talk about on the show. I tried to lightly knock on the door hoping it would get Seth’s attention, but when Seth is in the middle of a show he has a one track mind so there was no getting his attention to let me back in the room. All in all though I felt it was a solid show and a very entertaining morning.

We left the room about 11am because we wanted to get to the park about two in order to do some interviews with players after batting practice. So for lunch we went to my favorite restaurant and really everyone’s and that is Applebee’s. My thing is if you don’t like Applebee’s you’re really not American as it is as American as it gets. Anyway we had a great meal as I had some pasta which was delicious. We met this waiter named Josh who was hilarious who kept coming back to our table several times. One time he asked us if we were scouts and I so wanted to say yes, but my conscious got in the way. He then told us a story about how he and his fiancĂ© went to a Milwaukee Brewer game and how they had the best seats in the upper deck. It was just classic and made our lunch really fun.

We got to the field about 2:00pm and walked around a little bit before we saw Justin who got us an information packet. He gave us that because it was a new opponent in West Michigan after playing South Bend the night before. We went and sat down in another sweltering afternoon and saw Terry Ryan taking notes once again. The Snappers took a good round of BP once again and Lance Ray, Michael Gonzalez, and Jairo Perez just kept hitting shot after shot out of the park. I thought to myself what happens to those balls since this is not a Major League game do they have someone go find the balls or do they let the fans have the balls like they do in the game. After BP we got a chance and spend a few minutes to talk to Ben Tootle and Lance Ray. They were such level headed guys who seemed like they were geniounly happy to talk to us. Tootle talked about his recovery from Arm surgery and Lance Ray talked about what it has been like coming back from struggling in April to being one of the hottest hitters on the team. I will have more from these interviews when I do their player profiles, but just know these guys were great guys and the stereotype of professional athletes being jerks couldn’t be further from the truth with these guys as they are awesome guys.

The most interesting part of the pregame was once the fans were let into the stadium at 6pm how the autograph seekers go right for the locker rooms of the players and camp out there. Especially with Molitor being in attendance they were ready. When the players came out and went for their dugouts they were all over them. The players had a hard time getting to their dugouts, but what impressed me was Reggie Williams who had just arrived from Fort Myers after being sent back down to Beloit was very nice to us and took time to talk to us as he was hitting off the tee in cage. What a geniounly nice guy who had to be so disappointed to be back in Beloit, but you would never know it by talking to him as he was taking it as a challenge to get back to Fort Myers and the opportunity to get more playing time. I don’t know what is going to eventually happen to Reggie Williams, but for the rest of my life Reggie Williams will be an A+ person in my book. The funniest part of the pregame is when West Michigan came out from the lockeroom Tiger prospect Nick Castellanos, who most Tiger fans had come to see, ducked behind another player who was signing autographs and got to the West Michigan dugout. I am not saying he is a bad guy I don’t know the guy, but I found that hilarious how he avoided the throng of autograph seekers.

It was almost game time so we headed out to the picnic shelter in the right field line. I have to give the Snappers credit as that is quite a deal as it is all you can eat or drink for only 22.00 to me that is best deal in sports. Seth and I had a couple brats and a hamburger before we realized that it is really hard to see back there so we headed back to the grandstand and watched the game from there. Don’t get me wrong they are great tickets for big groups or fans that are there to visit or if they have families. However, Seth and I were there to watch the games so it was not a good fit for us so we found a seat back in the grandstand. The funniest part of sitting in the grandstand was about the 7th inning Seth went up to a guy thinking it was AJ Achter the scheduled Sunday afternoon pitcher who was doing a pitch count. He said something like “Hey AJ” and the guy was like “I’m not AJ” and later it turned out that the guy that he had talked to was the West Michigan pitcher for Sunday.

It was game time as Manuel Soliman was on the mound for the Snappers. He went 6 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits although only one of them were earned along with five strikeouts. The four unearned runs really were his undoing though as it was first and second with no one out and he fielded a bunt and threw to third. The only problem with that idea was there was no one covering third base at the time so two runs scored and he had trouble focusing again after that. Sam Spangler then came on and went two perfect innings along with three strikeouts and was very impressive. Michael Tonkin pitched the ninth allowing no runs on a hit along with three strikeouts. Soliman showed that he has a plus fastball in the low 90’s that can touch the mid 90’s with a good slider. The thing that he needs to work on in my opinion is keeping his composure when things are not going well for him other than that I came away very impressed with him.

Offensively for the Snappers it was not a great as they were only able to manage five hits off of West Michigan pitchers. Danny Ortiz led the way by going 2-3 with a double. Lance Ray went 1-3 with a double that was a rope down the right field line. Wang Wei Lin went 1-4 with a double of his own. Danny Santana went 1-3 at the plate while scoring one of the Snappers two runs on the night.

After the game the Snappers put on quite the impressive fireworks display and it puts to shame anything I had seen before in Perham for the 4th of July. It was quite impressive and lasted quite a bit. After talking to Jeff for a few minutes we went back to the Hotel and called it a night as we knew that Sunday was going to be a burner. Overall, it was a very fun day as we got to talk to some players and watched a very competitive baseball game. I will be back tomorrow with part 3 of my weekend in Beloit series.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Trip to Beloit Day 1

As many of you know last weekend I went to Beloit, Wisconsin with Seth Stohs of to watch three games of the Class A affiliate of the Twins in the Beloit Snappers. I am sure most of you have read Seth’s accounts of the experience and it was very good like usual from Seth. However, my accounts are going to be a bit different than his because he has seen minor league ball before as he and Josh Johnson went to Beloit last summer and he attended Spring Training in Febuary. I on the other hand had never even been to a independent ball game such as the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks or the St. Paul Saints. The highest level of baseball I have seen besides the Twins is the state tournament in Amateur baseball so I really did not know what to expect. In my observations take into account that I am not a journalist, but just a fan who enjoyed every taste, smell, sight, and emotion that you can experience at a game. I am going to break the three days into three parts so check back for more insight.

The trip really started for me early in the week as I was so excited for this trip as I have never seen a professional baseball game outside the Twin Cities so I was so excited. The excitement built when I found out that Terry Ryan, Mike Radcliff, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, Joel Lepel, and Bill Springman would be in Beloit for the weekend. That got me excited because those guys are top guys in the organization and for them to be there that weekend was a big thrill for myself.

Seth picked me up at the Dairy Queen on Thursday night about 6:30pm and traveled down to Chanhassen and got there about 10pm at night. We then went to Buffalo Wild Wings and I had the pleasure to meet The Twins Geek John Bonnes for the first time. I had him on podcasts before and had been at Twins Centric events, but hadn’t met him before. We ate and visited at BWW and then went back to Seth’s sister and went to bed to get ready for a big day the next day.

We got started at 7 in the morning and made the five and a half hour trip to Beloit and got there about 1:30. We checked into our hotel about two and got ready and got to the park about 3pm. When we got there we went into the office and asked to talk to Jeff Vohs the GM for the Snappers and they were like who are you guys and when we told who we were they were like oh yeah like they were expecting us. The marketing guy Justin Waters then took us out to meet Jeff on the field. We then spent about 30-45 minutes on the field talking to Jeff and man what a nice guy he answered all our questions in a very patient way. I was very awestruck seeing Paul Molitor on the field and then looking up in the stands during BP and seeing Terry Ryan taking notes. We then sat down and just watched BP as we saw guys hit shot after shot out of the park. I have always enjoyed watching BP so I was pretty entertained just sitting and watching batting practice. We then just walked around and checked out the facility and were very impressed how nice it was. The field was not awe inspiring, but was very solid and the kind of what you expect in minor league ball. I was kind of impressed by the new scoreboard that was put in this season. It is not fancy by any means but from what we were told it was much improved then what was there the year previous.

What impressed me the most though was Jeff Vohs and his staff and how hard they work. They worked their butts off to get the field ready, the concessions ready, the ticket booth ready. What surprised me the most was that the guys in the office Jeff Vohs, Assistant GM Matt Bosen, and Justin Waters were out there working as hard as the volunteers and the interns which you don’t see every day. In fact Jeff got on the tractor and dragged the field and then chalked the lines and that is coming from your General Manager so that really impressed me.

Now was gametime and we had great boxseats in the front row and got to see some good minor league ball. Even though the game did not go the way the Snappers had hoped it would go it was a very entertaining game. The Snappers lost the game to South Bend by a score of 10-2. Ryan O’ Rourke went 4+ innings and gave up four runs although only three were earned on only three hits along with five walks with one of them intentionally with four strikeouts. Nelson Fuentes then came in and worked two innings and gave up two runs on four hits along with a walk and two strikeouts. Ben Tootle then came on an pitched an inning and gave up a run on a hit and a walk. Bart Carter then came in and his line did not do him justice at all. Carter worked one inning and gave up three runs on four hits along with a strikeout. The thing about Carter’s inning though was all four hits were infield singles that were not hit hard at all. Jose Gonzalez then pitched a perfect 9th inning in relief. Offensively, the Snappers were led by Lance Ray who went 2-4 with a homerun and a double. Danny Ortiz went 2-4 at the plate. Danny Santana also went 2-4 at the plate. Now I am going to do some observations that I noticed at the game.

 Ryan O’ Rourke- What impressed me so much about O’ Rourke was his slider as it was very filthy. Seth and I discussed the fact that we felt that his slider is major league ready. He throws in the high 80’s to low 90’s and struggled a little bit by controlling his fastball. Left handed hitters had no shot against his slider it is that good. He struggles a little bit more against rightys and that is more controlling the fastball. Overall I am very impressed with O’ Roarke and think he can be very good and continue to move through the system.

 Nelvin Fuentes- Fuentes was the total opposite of O’Roarke when it comes to pace of the game. It seemed like it took longer for Fuentes to get through two innings than it did for O’Roarke to get through four innings. I was not impressed at all with Fuentes who left a lot of pitches up and did not do anything toimpress me.

 Ben Tootle- Tootle is a guy who is still recovering from injury and it is still a struggle. His arms and legs and flying anywhere and it is not hard to figure out why he is walking as many guys as he is. He needs to get some of his velocity back as he was hitting high 90’s before injury and now is barely hitting 90 so it will be a challenge to get him back up to his velocity level.

 Adam Bryant- I was so impressed by the 9th round pick out of Troy as he played a very good shortstop in this one. You could see the speed he has in a triple. He just looked very smooth at short.

 Lance Ray- That guy is the hitter I have been most impressed with as he hit shot after shot in batting practice over the fence. Then hit another shot in batting practice and another double. He has such a sweet swing that I am shocked that he didn’t do better early in the season but man is he hitting now.

 Danny Ortiz- I was impressed with his smooth swing that he is right on top of the ball. He plays a very good outfield and really you can tell that he is a high prospect as he is a smooth hitter.

After the game we talked to Jeff some more before we headed back to the Hotel for the night. The moment that we got back to the room I crashed from a long day, but knowing that I had a blast with two more games to go.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Joe Benson: The Twins enigma

When Joe Benson was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Joliet, Illinois everybody knew how talented he was. As a good football and baseball player he had scholarship offers from many different schools. However, his true love was baseball and let teams know that he wanted to play baseball. Benson is a toolsie type outfielder that the Twins seem to love in their prospects. He had the body type that the Twins love with a projectable body with a cannon for an arm along with the ability to run like a deer. From what I hear he is the second fastest guy in the organization behind Ben Revere. Coming out of high school he had quite a bit of projectable tools that would take time to develop. Take that along with such a competitive streak that has gotten him into trouble and you got quite a player. As he has gotten older and matured he has learned from his mistakes and has started to turn his tools into skills and that is what every prospects big goal is. Joe Benson is the reigning Twins minor league hitter of the year and was put on the 40 man roster after 2010. He has now established himself as a guy that has the ability to be crazy good and the only thing that can keep him from achieving his potential really is himself.
After quickly signing with the Twins after the 2006 draft it was not long for Benson to show his promise. He split the 2006 season between the GCL and Beloit where he put up very solid numbers. He started at the GCL and put up these numbers

2006GCL: 52 games 196ab .260avg 5hr 28rbi 9sb 11doubles 5triples 21bb 41k .335/.444/.779

2006 Beloit: 8games 5-19 2runs scored 1rbi 1sb 6k

In those 52 games Benson showed that he had some power with 21 xtra base hits to show for his efforts. The 21 walks were also impressive as he showed an ability to take a walk. The stat that would plague him as he went forward is he struck out too much and did not hit for a good average. He then finished the year with eight games in Beloit which did not mean anything just allowed him to get a taste of what the Midwest League would be like the next year.

In 2007 Benson spent the entire year in Beloit and did decently even though he would argue that he did not do as well as he would have wanted to. So here is what he did in Beloit in 2007 for the Snappers.

2007 Beloit: 122games .255avg 5hr 38rbi 18sb 18doub 8triples 73runs 49bb 124k .347/.368/.715

We learned a few things about Benson from his 2007 season at the young age of 19 is he is a xtra base machine as he had 31 extra base hits. That he has speen as his 18 stolen bases would attest to. However, the thing that would continue to plague him was the strikeouts as 124 strikeouts is way way too many. He knew that with his age and all the strikeouts he would be repeating Beloit again in 2008 and he did. Hereis how he responded in 2008 with the Snappers.

2008 Beloit: 69 games .248avg 4hr 27rbi 17sb 16doub 3triples 39runs 24bb 73k .326/.382/.708

2008 was a disappointing year for Benson as he got off to a really good start, but then was limited to just 69 games due to injury. The good part of his game continued to be the extra base hits as he had 23 extra base hits in those 69 games. However, the strikeouts were no better maybe even a little bit worth with over a strikeout a game during 2008. His stat line showed that there was promise there, but also he has so much talent that his first three years with the Twins had to be considered a disappointment as he is capable of so much more. In 2009 he moved up to Fort Myers and this is how he did with the Miracle

2009 FM: 80 games .285avg 5hr 29rbi’s 14sb 10doub 3triples 46runs 46bb 74k .414/.403/.817

2009 was a season that had its ups and downs for Benson and could have derailed his career. On the field it was his best season as a professional as he set a career high in batting average and cut his strikeouts down. He continued to rake extra base hits as he had 18 in only 80 games and a career high .817 OPS. However, the story that has to be told about his 2009 was late in the first half after striking out he punched a fence in frustration. The only problem with that was the part that he punched had the post which broke his hand. He missed a good portion of the rest of the year coming back from that injury. The Twins severely reprimanded him for not using more common sense and there were some that thought he would be released over this. There is a fine line between intensity and stupidity and he crossed that line. The thing about Joe Benson though that gained him a lot of respect is he did not make any excuses for his behavior and apologized to the Twins and worked his butt off to get back as soon as possible. It was a mistake that if he could do it over again would not do, but that is the thing about mistakes all you can do is learn from them and not make the same mistakes again. Joe Benson is a very intense baseball player and I don’t know for sure that something like this will never happen again, but the Twins are very hopeful that it won’t. After the frustrating 2009 season Joe Benson started the 2010 season in New Britain and would be demoted back in Fort Myers in May before returning to New Britain in July. These are the kind of numbers he put up at each of his stops.

2010 NB: 102games .251avg 23hr 49rbi 14sb 65runs 20doub 7trip 39bb 115k .336/.527/.862

2010 FM: 21games .294avg 4hr 13rbi 5sb 16runs 11doub 1trip 8bb 21k .375/.588/.963

2010 was the coming out party for Joe Benson as he put up some really good numbers hitting out of the leadoff spot. Benson hit 27 homeruns with 62rbi’s and 19sb along with 31doubles and 8triples. Those numbers are all career highs and gained him the 2010 Twins minor league hitter of the year. It was the breakthrough year that most Twins fans have been waiting out of Benson since he was drafted in the 2nd round in 2006. The key in my opinion was how he responded to being demoted to Fort Myers in May as he had been tearing it up in May after a terrible April. Instead of being angry and pouting he took it as a challenge and tore up FSL to earn a promotion back up to New Britain. Benson really showed maturity that he had failed to show the year previous with the post incident. Benson then started 2011 back with New Britain and was off to a good start before knee surgery put him on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. He is now back in New Britian and this is how he has done overall.

2011 NB: 62games .269avg 5hr 28rbi 8sb 19doub 2trip 37runs 25bb 64k .369/.443/.812

2011 has been another good year for Benson as he has continued you to just be a doubles machine and if not for the knee injury his numbers would be much much better. I wanted to get the guy that knows Benson best in blogging community and that is Seth Stohs who was nice enough to answer some questions on Benson.

First, I asked Seth what he considered Joe Benson’ strengths and weaknesses and his response was, “ Benson has incredible speed and a strong competitive fire. He is very strong and has tremendous power. He is also an elite defensive outfielder with a very strong arm. For his weaknesses, Benson's biggest hurdle at times is his ability to make contact. In the past, his competitiveness has got him in trouble, and that's something he works on.” I agree with Seth wholeheartedly as his athleticism is off the charts as I don’t think there is a better pure athlete in the whole organization. The contact is a big thing because he does not have enough power in order to strike out 100 times a year so he needs to clean that up.

Next, I asked Seth about what he considers Joe Benson’s best position and his response was, “He has the arm strength to play in Right Field. However, he is also almost as fast as Ben Revere and gets great jumps on fly balls. He can play all three positions well and his arm will play anywhere.” I really feel that Joe Benson’s future is in centerfield as you can’t teach his speed and feel that his skills fit best in center field. Not saying that he couldn’t be a success in a corner outfield position I just think his best position is center field.

I then asked Seth about what to make of Joe Benson’s up and down career thus far in his career, “Benson is a tremendous athlete. He played multiple sports in high school and was fairly raw in baseball. That is part of what creates the streakiness that we have seen. That's normal with athletic players like Torii Hunter and Aaron Hicks.” I agree with Seth to a point with Benson as he is very raw, but you would like to see a little bit more consistency out of him. He has all the tools now it is time to do it more consistently.

Seth was then asked if he felt if Joe Benson had turned the corner and he responded, “I don't know how to show 'turning a corner' but he has made a lot of improvements in each and every aspect of his game and we are starting to see those great tools become skills.” I really hope that Benson has turned the corner, but it is too soon to say whether he has or not. He still has some things to work on so until he fixes those things I wouldn’t say he has turned the corner.

I then asked Seth what kind of ceiling that Joe Benson has and when we could expect to see him in a Twins uniform and his response, “Benson has a high ceiling if he can make more contact and can stay healthy. We saw the power potential in 2010. He may never hit for a real high average, and he could strike out quite a bit, but he can be a 30/30 guy in time if all goes right. I think we could see him in a Twins uniform by the end of the 2012 season.” The comparison that comes to my head if Benson can develop is that of Torii Hunter who has the ablity to be the center fielderfor the Twins for many years and hit homeruns and doubles and just be a good player.

Next, I asked Seth what he feels that Benson needs to work on as he moves forward and his response was, “He needs to continue to make more contact” I would argue that is the thing that will determine whether he is a major leaguer or not as striking out as much as he has just is not going to work. If he can cut down his strikeout total he has the ability to be very good.

The Final question that I asked Seth was whether his temper issues were an isolated issue or something to be concerned with going forward, “It's a tough question because you want players to be strongly competitive and "get after it" but that does at times need to be controlled.” I totally agree with Seth in that there is a fine line between being competitive and being distracting. You don’t want him to lose his aggressiveness, but at the same time you can’t have things that happened in 2009 happen again. I believe he has learned from it and it won’t happen again so I think he will be fine.

Joe Benson is a prospect that has the ability to be an All Star or a bust. He has so much talent it is crazy and if he can make more contact he has the ability to be awesome. However, striking out 100 times a year just won’t work so that is why I consider him such an enigma because you really would have to grade him as an incomplete. He could go so many different directions it is crazy, but I really believe he will be one way or another. He either will be really good or not be anything and if I had to say right now I believe that he will be really really good. The big thing for Benson is if he can make more contact and cut his strikeouts down to say 70-80 a year than he would be awesome. He is a doubles machine who I believe can hit 40-50 doubles at the major league level. So the question becomes which Joe Benson develops because if the Joe Benson develops that is the doubles machine who can be very scary for opposing pitchers to have to face. Joe Benson is an enigma that really could be the future in center field for the Twins and be an all star caliber player, but he could go the other way so it will be interesting to see which way he goes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Adrian Salcedo: The Future

Adrian Salcedo signed with the Twins as a free agent from the Dominican Republic on December, 13th 2007 at the young age of 16. From the moment that he signed there was talk that he could be special. That’s not to say that he was a bonus baby because his signing bonus was not huge. However, with his size and projectable many felt that he could become special. Now he has grown to 6’4 and 175 which is too skinny for his height, but he has the stuff that you could see him blossom into a number one type at the big leagues. Is he going to evolve into that who knows, but he is so far away from the majors the odds are not in his favor. However, he reminds me of Miguel Sano in that he has huge upside and if he can develop that upside into skills he can have the kind of impact that the Twins have not had out of a right handed pitcher in decades. At the age of 16 the Twins decided to keep him in the Dominican and he had pretty good numbers.

DSL: 4-4 1.65era 12 starts 65.1inn 47 hits 8bb 50k .198OBA

You could see the promise in those numbers as he held opponents to a less than .200 batting average and had almost a strikeout an inning and such a small era. Scouts that saw him began to salivate on what he could become if he continues to grow and improve. After those great numbers Salcedo made his American debut in 2009 as an eighteen year old with the GCL and did not disappoint.

2009 GCL: 3-2 1.46era 10 starts 61.2inn 60 hits 3bb 58 strikeouts .241OBA

That is when Salcedo exploded onto the scene as his walk to strikeout rate showed. Only three walks and 58 strikeouts is unbelievable. He gave up a few more hits than he did in 2008, but against better hitters and culture shock those numbers are unbelievable. He lowered his era in about the same inning total was quite impressive. The stat that impressed me the most was three walks in 61.2 innings which is like a walk every 20 innings which is crazy good. That season is where most felt he was a top 10 prospect in the Twins organization and felt that his potential was out of this world. In 2010 he started in EST with the idea to send him to Elizabethton when the time came. However, when the need arose in Fort Myers he took the big leap and amazingly held his own two to three levels too high for what he was ready for at the age of 19. He finished the season in Elizabethton and here is how he did.

2010 FM: 1-3 6.26 6starts 27.1inn 42hits 8bb 16k

2010 E-Town: 4-3 3.27era 16games 8starts 66inn 55hits 10bb 65k .230OBA

You may look at his Fort Myers numbers and said who he got rocked, but you got to remember that he was facing guys four to five years older than he was, but he went out there every time and competed. When he got to Elizabethton I expected him to dominate the way that he did in the DSL and the GCL, but he got off to a rough start and had an alright year. The thing that was big for him is he got the experience against some really good hitters. The stat that impressed me is as his velocity got higher and higher his walk total did not. In 93.1 innings he only walked 18 batters which are mighty impressive to me. This year the time came for Salcedo to see some stronger completion so at the age of 20 he got up to Beloit this year and has been solid.

2011 Beloit: 5-3 2.81era 16starts 99.1inn 90hits 24bb 68strikeouts .242OBA

Adrian Salcedo’s 2011 have been up and down as he has done some things very well and then there are some other things that leave you concerned. You got to love the 2.81 era and the .242 OBA. However, the question has to be what happened to the strikeouts as in every other year he averaged near a strikeout per inning and this year he is way less. With that he has been said to be touching 95 so you would think that his strikeouts would increase instead of decrease. That could be a number of different factors including the Twins wanting him to get more contact so that he can stay later in games. Or just that he is working on his secondary pitches and that has led to more contact. Regardless with him hitting 95 I really believe it is a matter of time before the strikeout rate not only gets back to where it was, but also improves. When you throw that hard it is just a matter of time for the strikeout numbers to rise. With that I am going to stop talking and let someone else have their say in this phenom. I am joined by fellow minor league guru Josh Johnson of josh’s thoughts on what he thinks of Adrian Salcedo.

First I asked him what he felt were Salcedo’s strengths and weaknesses and his response was, “Strengths: Projectable body, above average control, good velocity, and strong work ethic, young. Weaknesses: Underweight, this year he’s seen a dip in strikeouts, needs to refine his change-up and curveball.” I totally agree with Josh that his Velo will always be a strength for Salcedo and that is what will be his bread and butter. The thing with any pitching prospect though is they need to continually work on their secondary pitches as they move forward and that is no different for Adrian Salcedo. If he can refine his change-up and curveball to the level of his fastball then you have a package that will be really hard to handle.

Next, I asked Josh how high of a ceiling that he thinks that Salcedo has, “I think Salcedo’s ceiling is as a top of the rotation starter, but I’m still hesitant to call him a “future ace” because he’s so young. You can certainly make an argument though that he has more potential than any pitcher in the system.” That is where I disagree a bit with Josh as when I think of ceiling I think that if he develops how good can he be and when I see Salcedo I see a guy that has the potential to throw in the mid to high 90’s with great secondary pitches who defiantly can be an ace. So that is the ceiling that I see in him.

Next, I asked Josh what kind of reproitroire that Salcedo has and how hard he throws and his response, “Salcedo has a four-pitch repertoire. He has a 92-93 mph fastball, that he can sometimes crank up to 94 and 95 mph. He kind of throws two different variations of the slider; a big, loopy slider that he usually throws around 80-82 mph, and a sharp slider that he throws in the mid-80’s. His loopy slider is often confused with a curveball, but he does throw a regular curveball as well. His curveball has a big break, but he hasn’t been able to control it consistently throughout his career. If he’s able to control it, his curveball could be a nice weapon in his arsenal. He also throws a change-up in the low-to-mid 80’s. It’s a work in progress, but knowing the Twins, they’ll work hard with him to perfect his change-up before he reaches the Majors.” I couldn’t agree with Josh more on the the fact that the Twins love to see a plus changeup before they bring the prospect up to the big leagues. So I think Salcedo has to improve his change-up before we see him in the big leagues.

Then I asked Josh about what the future holds for Adrian Salcedo and his response was, “He’ll continue to move through the system at a steady pace until he reaches the majors. As I mentioned, he has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Speaking optimistically, of course, Salcedo reminds me little like a young Ubaldo Jimenez. At Salcedo’s age, Jimenez’s frame was a lot like Salcedo’s. He also has the making of an impressive repertoire like Jimenez does. If Salcedo can become near the pitcher Jimenez is, the Twins would have to be ecstatic.” I really like the comparison to Jimenez as that was what I was thinking too for a comparison to what Salcedo can be if he fulfills his potential. If he can get to that level all Twins fans would have themselves quite a pitcher.

Next, I asked Josh about being at such a young age is it too early to judge how good he will be? Do you think he can be an ace and what would you consider his ETA and his response was, “When evaluating prospects, you are always taking a risk? Given his age, ability, and production, he’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on and I’m a believer that he has more potential than anyone else in the system. If things go as planned – which it’s important to note that it rarely does –Twins fans can expect to see Salcedo sometime in 2014 (keep in mind that he’ll only be 23-years-old in 2014).” I agree that it is so hard to project these guys at such a young age and with so many promotions to get to the big leagues. However, that is what I find fun to talk about is to see if these guys can meet their potential.

The final question I asked Josh was what makes Salcedo different than some of the other starters in the organization and his response was, “I think Salcedo’s work ethic and athleticism makes him stand out amongst other pitchers in the organization. This isn’t a slight at anyone in the system (at least in particular), but I’ve been told that Salcedo’s work ethic is incredible and that he’s a man amongst boys in the weight room. Seth Stohs recounted in Spring Training that Salcedo sprinted the mile-run. Given his skinny frame, he’s been hitting the weight room hard this season in order to get stronger and bigger. He was forced to the bullpen late in 2010 because he was exhausted by the time August rolled around. So hopefully this year he’ll be able to last the entire year in the rotation, but it’s important to note that he’s already at his career high in innings pitched.”

Adrian Salcedo is a long ways away from being on the verge of being a big leaguer and who knows if he is going to be anything. However, the potential is there and as a prospect guy that is what you are looking for is the promise to become special. For years the Twins have went with pitchers that were good, but not special and who had a high likelihood of reaching their potential. With a guy like Salcedo the chances of him getting to be as good as he could be is probably remote, but the potential is there and that is what gets everyone so excited. If Adrian Salcedo can get to where he needs to get he can be the right handed ace the Twins have been waiting on for years. It will be very interesting to see if he continues you to get better and better and to get stronger. Because if he does the Twins just might have hit the jackpot as a prospect and he could be the future ace for the Twins as they head into the next phase of Twins Baseball.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Miguel Sano: The Next Big Thing

The Twins had a reputation of not spending big on international free agents so when it was announced Miguel Angel Sano would be signing with a major league team in the summer of 2009 most people didn’t think the Twins would be in the mix. Even when it was revealed that the Twins were one of the teams interested in acquiring Sano most Twins fans rolled their eyes. He was the kind of talent that signed with the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Dodgers so what chance would the Twins have to acquire a talent like this. Then a big thing happened that not a lot of people want to talk about with Sano that changed everything.

It came out that there was some question whether Sano was really 16 years old as he had been touting. That has been a question revolving guys from the Caribbean for years from guys like Orlando Hernandez to Miguel Tejada there was thought that many players from the region would lie about their age. So with that question about Sano a bunch of the big market teams washed their hands of him not knowing if he was as old as he was saying he was. Major League Baseball then began an independent investigation in order to find out how old he really was. Most people then expected him to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates who had developed a relationship with his family. However, the Twins stayed in the weeds and kept in contact with Sano’s representative that they felt they were the best fit for Sano. As the Pirates put more and more pressure on Sano the Twins stayed patient while the investigation continued to find out his age. Then in mid-July Major League Baseball decided that they could not prove that he was not 17 years old so they allowed him to sign with a Major League team. It was then announced that Miguel Angel Sano would be signing with the Twins for 3.15 million bonus. The largest international signing in Twins history. People in the Pirate organization claim that the Sano family did not do things in good faith, but whatever the Twins won the rights to Sano and began his career with the Twins in spring of 2010. After going to extended spring training the Twins sent Sano back to the Dominican Republic to start his career close to his family. Here is how he fared there.

DSL: .344 20games 22-64 11runs 2doub 1tri 3hr 10rbi 14bb 17k .463/.547/1.009

Those were the kind of numbers that Twins brass were thinking when they signed him so they brought him back to the United States in time to play in Gulf Coast League season in Fort Myers and this is how he did there.

GCL: .291 41games 43-148 23runs 14doub 4hr 19rbi 10bb 43k .338/.466/.804

To many the question would be why would you give three plus million to a 17 year old kid from the Dominican Republic and that is a very fair question. Miguel Sano is huge at 6’3 195 and only 18 years old now so you expect him to keep growing. Plus he has such quick hands he such high power potential. Just watching videos on Sano as a 17 year old kid made you salivate at the thought of what he could do when he got more experience and got stronger. You heard comparisons to such hitters as Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, and Albert Pujols. To even be mentioned in the same breath as those guys is quite remarkable. He started at shortstop, but as he keeps getting bigger and bigger it is becoming clear he won’t be a shortstop. He does not have the quickness to play outfield so the two most likely positions he looks headed for 3rd base and first base. To be honest right now his defense is atrocious so likely he will end up a 1st baseman.

That brings the comparisons to Miguel Cabrera in my mind as they were built very similarly when they were 18 years old. So if you can get a guy of Miguel Cabrera’s potential for 3.15 million you do that in a heartbeat and just let the guy play. There is no doubt in my mind that Miguel Sano has the most upside of anyone in the Twins organization as he has the chance to be a 40 hr a year type of slugger and how often do you find guys like that. I asked these questions to my good friend Seth Stohs from to see what his opinion of Sano is and if it is as high as mine.

First question I asked Seth was what he considered Sano’s strengths and weaknesses and his response was, “He's huge. He has very quick hands. He has big power. He can hit. Lots of strikeouts and lots of errors. Hopefully he can improve in both of those areas. He's 18. He has a lot of maturing to do yet.” I totally agree with Seth on this as Sano is only 18 years old and has a lot of maturing to do, but that is par for the course with young prospects. The thing that you can’t teach though is the ability to hit the ball out of the park and he definitely has that skill and will continue to develop it.

Next, I asked Seth how surprised he was that the Twins got involved in the Sano bidding, “The Twins were always mentioned as being involved and that alone was quite surprising. When the bonus was believed to be in the $3-4 million range, I assumed that the Twins were out of it. So when it was announced he would sign with the Twins, I was rather surprised” I will go one step further when I heard how much the bonus was going to be I was positive that the Twins were out of it and when I heard that he had signed with the Twins I had to take a double take because I was quite shocked.

I then asked Seth, what does Miguel Sano need to work on the most in order to achieve his potential and he said, “Cut down the strikeouts, and find a position that he can be adequate at.” I agree with Seth somewhat as he probably will always strike out some as he won’t ever in my opinion be a guy that doesn’t strike out much, but if he can cut his strikeouts by a third with his power he could put massive numbers. More important in my opinion is find a position that you can feel good about putting at every day. Will he ever be a gold glove fielder probably not, but if you can find a position he can be decent at then that is what you are looking for.

Next, I asked Seth about Miguel Sano’s ceiling and he said, “Names like Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera are mentioned as comparables. He does have power and can be very good, but he is a long ways away.” I know Seth is much more conservative when rating prospects and he has been doing this longer and is quite respected. However, I am not going to put the cold water on the hope for Sano as I truly feel that is the ceiling for him and the Twins have not had that kind of power hitter in their lineup since Harmon Killebrew.

Then I asked Seth if he thinks putting a 17 year old kid that you never know if they are going to turn out in the top two-three in prospect lists is outrageous. Seth’s response was, “Prospect lists are so individualized and personal. Everyone has a different opinion and method for how to determine. If someone's ranking is based purely on potential, ceiling and upside, then Sano has to be near the top of the Twins lists. So, no, I don't find it outrageous. I just ranked him 5th” I totally agree with Seth as I had him as my third best prospect and look for him to rise with more experience.

I then asked Seth, what position he sees Sano eventually playing, “1B or DH. But despite the errors at SS and 3B, it's not impossible for him to improve. Isn't one of the popular things to note about Derek Jeter that he committed over 60 errors his first full pro season? I would say they should try to keep him on the left side of the infield for as long as they can.” I view Sano as a future first baseman, but I agree with Seth to keep him on the left side of the diamond as long as humanly possible as his value as a shortstop or a 3rd baseman is way higher than if he is a first baseman or a DH. Who knows he could improve and become the next Alex Rodriguez at 3rd base.

Seth was then asked about when Twins fans should expect to see Sano and his response, “2015 at the earliest” To me that is such a tough question to answer as he is five promotions away from the big leagues and if he goes a year per level then we are looking at 2016. However, I expect him to jump some levels when he figures out how good he truly can be. So my projection is sometime in 2014 season so he still is a ways from joining the Twins.

Finally, the last thing I asked Seth was what about his game really excites him as a prospect guru, “The power potential. He's a long ways away from being big-league ready, but he has potential to be special.” I totally agree I feel that Sano has the tools to be a special hitter who can be unbelievable as a power hitter.

Miguel Angel Sano is an enigma in that he could turn out to be the greatest power hitter in Twins history or he could be a bust. The great thing about prospects is you don’t know how these guys are going to turn out. The fun part is watching Sano either turn into the special power hitter he has the ability to be or into the guy that struggles. Sano has the potential to be one of the greatest power hitters that this organization has ever seen. It will be interesting to see how he develops as a player as he has the ability, the work ethic, and the support staff to help him develop into the player that Twins fans have been craving since the departure of the late Harmon Killabrew. Sano has the ability to hit bombs out of Target Field like Killebrew did in old Met Stadium it just will be interesting if he can harness those skills to achieve his destiny.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 2011 Top 50 prospects with stats

Here is my top 50 prospects with their stats so far and I am going to do something a little bit different in order for you to get to know them. I have been player profiles once a week well I am going to comtinue to do them and every week it will be on someone in my top 50. I am not going to follow the list to not make it too predictable, but everyone that made the top 50 will be profiled so check back every Friday for the newest edition of my player profiles to get know more and more about this great Twins prospects.

1Aaron Hicks:.274 2hr 23rbi 10stolen bases 19doub 3triples 43walks 56k.388/.412/.800

2 Kyle Gibson: 3-7 3.87era 15starts 81.1innings 85hits 21bb 83k .264OBA

3 Miguel Sano: .227 0hr 1rbi 1sb 0bb 8k 5-24 .208/.208/.417 5games

4 Ben Revere: .300 1hr 17rbi 14sb 7 doubles 1triple 10 walks 23k combined MLB&AAA

5 Liam Hendriks: 7-2 2.81era 13starts 2CG 77innings 74 hits 16bb 70k .253OBA

6 Joe Benson: .294 5hr 26rbi 7sb 28runs 16doub 2trip 19bb 50k .380/.489/.869 50games

7 Adrian Salcedo: 5-3 3.06era 13starts 1CG 79.1inn 72hits 19bb 58strikeouts .242OBA

8 Oswaldo Arcia:.352 5hr18rbi2sb 18runs 8doub 1tri9walks16k’s.420/.704/1.124 20games

9 Angel Morales: Has not Played

10 Chris Parmelee: .287 5hr 37rbi 42runs 15doubles 2triples 34bb 46k .371/.418/.789

11 David Bromberg: 1-1 3.63era 3starts 22.1innings 24hits 4bb 11k .282OBA

12 Rene Tosoni: .246 7hr 30rbi 4sb 24runs 12doub 11bb 48k

13 Max Keppler: .000 0-13 0hr 0rbi 1run 2bb 6k .133/.000/.133

14 Carlos Gutierrez: 2-2 3.66era 31games 46.2inn 41hits 21bb 35 strikeouts 3.82GB

15 Levi Michael: 2011 draft pick

16 Bobby Lanigan: 5-5 3.52era 14starts 84.1inn 91hits 19bb 52 strikeouts .279OBA

17 BJ Hermsen: 5-6 3.75era 12starts 1CG 72inn 88hits 19bb 47k .304OBA

18 Daniel Ortiz: .268 7hr 45rbi 4sb 33runs 24doub 2trip 15bb 44k .309/.464/.773

19 Trevor Plouffe: .280 13hr 35rbi 4sb 35runs 11doub 2trip 21bb 35k combined MLB&AAA

20 Pat Dean: 1-0 2.84era 7starts 38inn 34hits 8bb 34k .242OBA

21 Tom Stuifbergen: 2-4 3.25era 11starts 1CG 55.1inn 63hits 14bb 35k .288OBA

22 Eddie Rosario: .318 0hr 2rbi 2sb 7-22 5runs 1triple 3bb 8k .400/.409/.809 5games

23 Travis Harrison: 2011 Draft Pick from high school

24 Danny Rams: .249 4hr 23rbi 21runs 12doubles 2triples 21bb 65k .335/.391/.726

25 Michael Gonzalez: .304 9hr 46rbi 2sb 35runs 11doubles 33bb 57k .390/.473/.863

26 AJ Achter: 2-1 3.99era 6starts 29.1inn 25hits 8bb 27k .238OBA

27 Niko Goodrum: .250 1hr 2rbi 2-8 2 strikeouts .333/.625/.958

28 James Beresford: .254 0hr 22rbi 28runs 5 doubles 18bb 31k .298/.272/.570

29 Alex Wimmers: 0-1 Infinityera 1start 4 runs 6bb 0k 1.000OBA

30 Evan Bigley: .263 5hr 34rbi 4sb 31runs 16doub 3trip 18bb 51k .323/.416/.739

31 Jorge Polanco: .105 0hr 2rbi 2-19 1 double 1bb 2k .182/.158/.340

32 Steve Singleton: .272 5hr 24rbi 2sb 36runs 24doub 10bb33k.314/.418/.731comb AA&AAA

33 Scott Diamond: 4-6 4.94era 14starts 71inn 86hits 26bb 55k .301OBA

34 Miguel Munoz: 1-0 1.59era 1start 5.2inn 2hits 4bb 1k .125OBA

35 Hudson Boyd: 2011 draft pick from high school

36 Bruce Pugh: 2-4 5.91era 25games 13saves 35inn 41hits 19bb 37k .299OBA comb h-A&AA

37 Chris Hermann:.267 4hr 36rbi 3sb 36runs 11dou2tri42bb35k.375/.381/.756comb h-A&AA

38 Brett Jacobson: 3-1 2.78era 17games 8starts 1CG 55inn 37hits 38bb 41k .206OBA

39 Corey Williams: 2011 draft pick from Vanderbilt

40 Blayne Weller: 4-3 3.89era 24games 39.1inn 40 hits 24bb 36k .274OBA

41 Steve Hirschfeld: 4-4 2.70era 13starts 76.2inn 61hits 21bb 53k .221OBA

42 Dakota Watts: 2-2 4.91era 23games 8saves 29.1inn 32hits 14bb 23k .286OBA

43 Yangervis Solarte: .322 3hr 25rbi 4sb 37runs 19doub 3trip 11bb 18k .356/.452/.808

44 Madison Boer: 2011 draft pick from Oregon

45 Rory Rhodes: .353 1hr 2rbi 6-17 2runs 3doubles 2bb 6k .421/.706/1.127

46 Matt Hauser: 3-2 1.65era 24games 6saves 32.2inn 28hits 18bb 44k .228OBA comb A&h-A

47 Anderson Hidalgo: .291 2hr 21rbi 27runs 16doubles 15bb 36k .344/.399/.743

48 Logan Darnell: 6-3 3.42era 13starts 73.2inn 63hits 20bb 38k .228OBA comb A&Hi-A

49 Andrew Albers: 4-1 1.52era 19games 2starts 1save 47.1inn 43hits 7bb 40k .246OBA

50 Clint Dempster: 3-2 1.96era 25games 5saves 36.2inn 21hits 9bb 36k .164OBA

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kyle Gibson: On the Verge

Going into the 2009 college season Kyle Gibson was one of the highest rated prospects for the 2009 draft. Most draft experts expected Gibson to be taken in the top 10 in the 2009 MLB draft from the University of Missouri. However, during the season Gibson suffered a stress fracture in his pitching forearm. He claimed that he was completely healed by the time the draft happened, but obviously teams did not believe him. For a guy that was projected to be a top ten guy, Gibson’s stock dropped worse than the stock market. The Twins were lucky to have Gibson drop to them at pick 22. The Twins got to the podium in record time in order to get the 6’6 right hander from Greenfield, Indiana. After the draft the question was could the Twins sign him as he made it known after the draft that he expected to be paid like a top ten pick like he should have been drafted. After much speculation the Twins and Gibson were able to compromise and signed was 1.8 million. Being that Gibson signed so late in the season they had him wait until instructional league to throw. Then in 2010 he came on the scene and just had a dominant season. Gibson started the season in Fort Myers with the Miracle and was just awesome. These are the numbers he put up with the Miracle:

FM: 4-1 1.87 era 7 starts 43.1 innings 33 hits 12 walks 40 strikeouts 1.00 whip

Gibson just showed his dominance with the Miracle, but the stat that just impressed the heck out of me was his 3.83 ground ball rate which is awesome. That just showed that he is a groundball machine as his heavy sinker would show. There are not many major leaguers that can induce that many ground balls and for a guy making his first major league stop it was quite impressive. Gibson then moved up to AA New Britain and it was there where he suffered through his first real ups and downs as a professional. However, what impressed me was after getting killed in two or three starts he made the proper adjustments and came on strong. That is the important thing for a prospect is being able to make adjustments when things are not going well and that is probably Gibson’s strengths as a pitcher is his ability to make the needed adjustments and get better and better. At New Britain he put up the following numbers, but keep in mind that most prospects hit the wall at the AA level, but Gibson hit the wall and then just broke through it.

NB: 7-5 3.68 era 16 starts 93 innings 91 hits 22 walks 77 strikeouts 1.22 whip

As I said it was a tougher level so he took some bumps in the road, but he persevered through it and became a better pitcher for it. Towards the end of the season they put him in the bullpen in order to limit his innings since he did not pitch very much in 2009 due to his injury. His groundout rate stayed strong at 2.21 which is not where it was in Fort Myers, but is still very very good. When you thought he would finish the year in New Britain then came some injuries in Rochester so he went up and made a few starts up with the Red Wings.

Roc: 3 starts 1.72 era 15.2 innings 12 hits 5 walks and 9 strikeouts 1.09 whip

Here is his numbers for 2010 season as a whole to show how good he was
11-6 2.96 era 26 starts 152 innings 136 hits 39 walks 126 strikeouts 1.15 whip

After his great 2010 season most prospect guys had Gibson as either the number one or two prospect in the whole organization for the Twins. That is saying something as the Twins have bulked up their farm system with better drafting and spending more money overseas than they had ever done before. There were some that wondered if Gibson would start the 2011 season with the Twins or more likely go to Rochester for a couple months in order to avoid the Super 2 status that organizations want to avoid at any cost as it will cost them more money as the player gets another year of arbitration which means one less year of having their contract renewed. So Gibson started the year in Rochester and again has had his ups and downs with a higher level. This is what Gibson has done in 2011 so far with the Red Wings.

Roch: 3-7 3.89 era 14 starts 76.1 innings 79 hits 20 walks 80 strikeouts 1.88 ground out rate

Well it has been a mixed bag for Gibson this season in Rochester as he has had his great outings as he almost threw a no hitter earlier this season and then he has also had his rough outings. However, through and through it has been a solid season for Gibson, but it is obvious that Gibson was not ready for the Twins at the beginning of the year and his time in Rochester has done him good. I know what I think, but I wanted to get a different perspective on Gibson so I got the blogger that probably knows Gibson the best and that is Seth Stohs from who has had Gibson on quite a few of his podcasts. Seth was kind enough to answer some questions about Kyle Gibson and really allowed me to see a different perspective of Kyle Gibson the prospect.

The first thing that I asked Seth was what he felt were Kyle’s strengths and weaknesses as a pitcher and he replied, “Strengths - he throws a bunch of pitches, has good control of all of them, gets a lot of ground balls and understand how to pitch and the mental side of the game. As for weaknesses, there really aren't any. Of coure, there are things he can improve, and he will work on those things, but that will just come with more innings and time.” I couldn’t agree more with Seth in that he has a lot of high quality pitches that he can control both sides of the plate to get guys out. I believe the old saying is true that the more bullets that you have in the gun to get guys out the better off your going to be. I do think that Gibson can become a little more consistant, but that will come with time. He just needs to pitch to get better at everything, but the thing I love about Gibson is his strengths way outweigh his weaknesses.

Next, I asked Seth what does Kyle Gibson throw and he is his response, “Gibson sits between 89 and 92, but he can touch 93 with his fastball. He has a very good slider, and a decent changeup. The big thing is that he gets a ton of ground balls because his pitches all sink.” The thing that I would like to add that some guys think if you don’t throw 97 you can’t be a top of the rotation starting pitcher and that is so not true. Gibson can control all of his pitches and get tons of ground balls, but he can also strikeout his share of hitters which makes him all the more dangerous.

Then I asked Seth if Gibson was ready for the Big Leagues, “If he was with another team, or if the Twins were currently in a position to need a starter, he could pitch in the big leagues and be a solid starter. The fact that he doesn't have to be pushed allows him to continue to work and get better.” My feeling on this is I do think that Gibson needs a little more time in AAA in order to become more and more consistant. Could he survive at the Big League Level probably, but another half of a year in AAA is not going to hurt him one bit and will allow him to work on things so he is ready to come out of spring training in 2012 in the Twins rotation.

Next, I asked Seth what he feels that Gibson needs to work on the most. “Sounds like a boring answer, but he really just needs to work on his consistency. Consistency with all of his pitches. Consistency from inning to inning. It is strange to say that because he seemingly gives up 2-3 runs every game. But in many of those games, he has given up those runs in one of the innings. So, consistency with his pitches, all of the basic stuff that can always get better.” I totally agree there is not one thing in particular that he needs to work on, but just to become more and more consistant in everything he does.

Then Seth was asked about what he likes most about Kyle Gibson, “What's not to like? He is a terrific pitcher with all of the attributes that make a potentially very good major league pitcher. But I think his best attributes have little to do with throwing a baseball. Gibson is a well-grounded individual with strong character. He is very smart. He is very competitive and hard working. He is humble and will never take anything for granted. Then we can talk about his pitching!” That is what impressed me the most about Gibson the few times that I have talked to him is how humble he is. A person with his talent you would think he would be all full of himself, but that could not be further from the truth as he is a geniounly good guy along with being a very good pitcher.

The big question I then asked Seth is why most prospect guides have Gibson ranked as the Twins number one prospect, “he's a great combination of everything you look for in a pitching prospect. He's got all of the intangibles. His 6-6, lanky, projectable. But he also is very close, and he is putting up the numbers. Prospect ratings are about upside and about likelihood of reaching that upside. Gibson has the ability to be an All-Star pitcher, and he is close and likely to be a very good big league pitcher.” My opinion is why he is so highly regarded is not only his high ceiling, but he is very likely to reach his ceiling because of his hard work and determination, but most of all because he makes good adjustments.

The final question I asked Seth was about Gibson’s ceiling, “Due to the sinkerball, his absolute ceiling would be Brandon Webb circa 2006-2008... An innings-eater, with very good ERA, low walks and lots of ground balls. As far as strikeouts, he'll likely be in the Scott Baker range where he will strikeout between 7 and 7.5 batters per nine innings. But that's where the Cliff Lee's and Roy Halladay's are as well. So, when people talk about Gibson not being a prototypical #1 because of the lack of strikeouts, don't buy it. I don't know if Gibson will be a #1, but the reason won't be the strikeouts because Halladay, Lee and other accepted #1s don't necessarily strikeout a ton either. That said, Gibson's strikeout totals this year have been encouraging as well!” My feeling is that Gibson absolutely has the potential to be a number one starter at the big leagues and at very worst a very good number two on a good rotation.

Kyle Gibson has taken the negative of dropping in the draft as a positive and made people forget about all the concerns in the draft. He is such a hard worker and so determined to succeed that I would not put anything past him. I think he has some things to work on and feel that he can be better than he is right now so that is exciting as his work effort will not allow him to accept being a pretty good pitcher, but to be the best he can be. I really believe in two to three years Kyle Gibson will be a all-star caliber pitcher for the Twins and the next in a long line of great pitchers that have made their home in Minnesota.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Players of the Week Part II

Rochester Red Wings 28-42 14gb

Pitcher of the Week: Anthony Slama- The month of June has not been a good month pitching wise for the Red Wings. The starting pitching has been atrocious and the bullpen has not been much better. It was hard to pick a pitcher of the last week to ten days, however there was one guy that stood out in my mind and that was Anthony Slama. In his last ten outing Slama went 1-0 with a era of 1.38 in 13 innings of work including a save. In those 13 innings Slama only gave up seven hits with an incredible strikeout to walk rate of two walks and sixteen strikeouts. On the year now Slama is 3-1 with a very solid 3.16 era in 22 games. Slama has worked 31.1 innings on the year and only gave up 24 hits with just twelve walks and 33 strikeouts. Slama had a rough start to the season as he was injured early in spring training otherwise he likely would have made the Twins. So he missed the first 4-5 weeks of the year with arm issues which slowed him down. When he came back he did pretty well and with all the injuries with the Twins he earned a call up from the Twins and did pretty well even though he only appeared in two games where he threw 2.1 shutout innings with two walks and three strikeouts. The thing I don’t understand is all he has done at the minor league level is dominate. He however has not really gotten a fair chance with the Twins to show how good he can be. If he keeps dominating in Rochester it won’t be long until he gets another shot with the Twins.

Hitter of the Week: Trevor Plouffe- After suffering a hand injury in his last game with the Twins before his demotion that required Plouffe to miss some time with the Red Wings he sure came back strong. In the last 10 days Plouffe is hitting .326 with three doubles, a triple, three homeruns, and nine rbi’s along with three walks. He has a stat line of .326/.370/.651/1.021 which is quite impressive no matter how long it lasts. On the year now Plouffe is hitting .298 with seven doubles, two triples, a team high nine homeruns, and 22 rbi’s along with eleven walks. He had a stat line of /298/.353/.612/.965 which would be the best year of his career if he can keep it up. Trevor Plouffe did not get a quality opportunity with the Twins as everytime he made a mistake with the Twins Gardy wouldn’t play him for two to three days and Plouffe has such potential that you need to let him work through his mistakes. I think the best thing for him is probably to be traded by the Twins as he obviously is not going to get that kind of opportunity with the Twins. Maybe I am higher than most, but I am quite high on Trevor Plouffe and given a real opportunity he will be a quality shortstop. He will never be a star, but I think he can be a league average shortstop, it just is too bad that he won’t get that opportunity with the Twins so the best thing for everybody is to move him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twins players of the week

Minnesota Twins
Weekly Record 5-0

Pitcher of the Week: Scott Baker- Big Spot Scott has reappeared in 2011 and was totally awesome the last week. After getting off to a good start in April, Baker struggled a bit in May. Now in June he has been unbelievable again and has been even better the last week. In his last three starts Baker has been unhittable as he is 3-0 with an unbelievable 1.50 era. In those three starts he worked 24 innings which equals out to eight innings a start which is totally unbelievable for a guy a year ago that a guy that many thought had no heart. In those 24 innings he gave up just 18 hits, but what impressed me the most was walking only one batter while striking out an incredible 22 batters. Baker has always been very talented just because he got so much ability it is nice to see him coming back. People forget why he received that big contract in the first place and that reason is he is a very good pitcher. On the year Baker is 5-4 with a very good 3.24 era in 91.2 innings in 14 starts which is almost seven innings a start. He has walked 24 while striking out a very good 88 batters in his 91.2 innings so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that is almost a strikeout an inning which would be a career high. I am surprised he has not gotten more play as a candidate for the All Star game as he is nineteenth in era, 25th in innings pitched, and most impressively tenth in era. He has three starts remaining before the break so it will give him time to make a bigger case inclusion in the 2011 All Star Game.

Hitter of the Week: Michael Cuddyer- It seemed like when Justin Morneau went out of the lineup Michael Cuddyer really stepped up in a big way. He has been absolutely raking in the last week. In the last week he has hit a robust .368 on 7-19 hitting with three doubles, a homerun along with two RBI’s and five runs scored. Cuddyer has been one of the few guys that haven’t missed time due to injury this year and having one of his better years of his career. Cuddy is hitting .280 with a team leading 10 homeruns and 28 RBI’s along with twelve doubles, scored 30 runs and drew 22 walks. He has a stat line of .280/.343/.451/.794 which is ok, but he is defiantly capable of doing much more. With all the injuries to his teammates though the production from Cuddy has been key as the Twins are digging themselves out a monumental hole that they put themselves in early in the season. That is why he is my selection as the Twins representative for the 2011 All Star Game in Arizona. Cuddy epitomizes what it means to be a Twin on and off the field and his numbers that he has put up this year have been key as the Twins attempt to do the unthinkable and win their seventh division title in the last ten years. If they are able to do that than Cuddy will be a catalyst and someone worthy inclusion as an all-star.