Monday, February 11, 2008
2008 Ft. Myers Miracle
Hey everyone! Here are just a couple of quick notes before we get to the projected Rockcats roster:
There is nothing better than some quality Jim Souhan bashing. The MN Gameday folks wrote a great article on Mr. Souhan. The author of Dregs and Vestiges was a little more blunt! It all stems from a pretty non-good Souhan article in Sunday's Strib.
Souhan is just such a contradiction to the talented, informed perspectives of the Strib's actual baseball writers, LaVelle E. Neal III and Joe Christensen. Christensen wrote a Sunday article on "The New Delmon" Young which is really good. He spent a couple of days in California with Young and talked to a lot of people around the 22 year old future (or current?) star. Quotes like this get me really excited to see what he will be able to do for the Twins in the next half-decade, "You get four years from 18-21 -- you know, college time -- where you can get in a little bit of trouble. But after that you've got to wake up and join the real world." Also, check out his reaction to doing a commercial with Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor and Kent Hrbek.
Did you see ESPN.com's Jim Caple's story on going to Twins Fantasy Camp? It is good, and in some parts, comical.
Top Prospect Alert gives us their Top 100 prospects in baseball list. There are three Twins on the list. They also updated their Top 10 Twins prospect list (following the Gomez/Guerra/Mulvey/Humber trade).
Today we continue our preview of the 2008 Minnesota Twins and their affiliate's rosters. Since this is done before spring training even starts, it is very much subject to change. But it is fun to start thinking it through now that the Johan Santana trade has been completed. Last Tuesday, we looked at my projection of the Minnesota Twins opening day roster. Last Wednesday, we looked at a potential Rochester Red Wings roster. Last Thursday, it was the New Britain Rockcats roster that we projected. We have two more teams to review, and in reality, these are two teams with a LOT of prospects and a lot of talent. Don't forget that in 2007, the Elizabethton Twins won the Appalachian League and the Beloit Snappers got to the championship series of the Midwest League. Many of those players will be promoted and fill the 2008 rosters of the Ft. Myers Miracle and the Beloit Snappers. Today, we will take a look at my projection for the 2008 Ft. Myers Miracle opening day roster. As I have mentioned in previous postings, I am just projecting the Opening Day roster. Some will be here all year, some will be here half a year. It depends on needs above as well as (and some times as much as) individual success. Anyway, let's get to the projections.
2008 FT. MYERS MIRACLE
|Starting Pitchers||Jeff Manship||Deolis Guerra||Tyler Robertson||Alex Burnett||Cole DeVries|
Before going any further, just take a look at this five man rotation!! If my rankings mean anything to you (and maybe there a couple of you for whom they do), the first four names on this roster would likely be in my Top 10 Twins prospects. Jeff Manship, of course, has a chance to start at New Britain, but because of all the pitchers throughout the system (and the five I projected at New Britain), I thought it might be best for him to get a handful of starts for the Miracle before advancing. Deolis Guerra pitched 2007 at age 18 in the Florida State League and held his own. However, I think it is best for him to at least start the season back here and give himself time to work on things and get better rather than just pushing. Tyler Robertson wasn't even supposed to start the season at Beloit last year, but he came up and was pretty dominant. That earned him the #1 spot on my Top Twins Prospects and should have earned him a promotion to Ft. Myers. Alex Burnett was the ace of the Beloit team last year and despite his height, he should continue to progress quickly. Cole DeVries was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota. In his pro debut last year, he was a consistent starter for the Snappers and warrants this promotion. Manship and DeVries just turned 23 years old. Robertson and Burnett will both be 20 this year. Guerra will turn 19 shortly after the season starts.
Anthony Slama was the Twins 39th round pick in 2006 out of the University of San Francisco, but he made his pro debut in 2007 at Elizabethton. He had four saves in six appearances. In 6.1 innings, he walked just one and struck out 10 to earn a promotion to Beloit. He pitched in 21 games and recorded ten saves after Robert Delaney was promoted to Ft. Myers. He went 1-1 with a 1.48 ERA. In 24.1 innings, he walked just nine and struck out 39. With my projection that Delaney will jump to the closer's role in New Britain, Slama seems to step smoothly into the role with the Miracle.
|Relief Pitcher||Dan Leatherman||Matt Williams||Aaron Craig||Caleb Moore||Blair Erickson||Spencer Steedley|
Dan Leatherman was a great story for the Twins organization. He went undrafted in the 2006 draft and the Twins signed him as a free agent. He dominated at both Elizabethton and Beloit. He went back to Beloit last year and went 7-4 with a 3.89 ERA in 78.2 innings. He walked 31 and struck out 67 which should be plenty to get that promotion to Ft. Myers. Matt Williams is a 20 year old from Australia who spent 2007 between Elizabethton and Beloit. If he is promoted to Ft. Myers, it will be a challenge for him, but he has the talent to do it. The Twins 28th round pick in 2004 out of his Rochester (MN) high school, Aaron Craig was very solid in the Beloit bullpen in 2007. He went 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 50.1 innings. He gave up 49 hits, walked 15 and struck out 43. This time last year, Caleb Moore was preparing for a season of catching. Midway through the season, he (and the Twins) decided he should become a pitcher. He went to Elizabethton and pitched well. I expect that the Twins will push him to Ft. Myers to see how he will do. As I have mentioned previously, I am generally against players skipping levels, especially in the lower minor leagues, but sometimes I think it is alright, especially with college (or specifically four year college) players. Blair Erickson was the Twins 10th round pick in 2007 out of UC-Irvine. He went to Elizabethton and walked three and struck out 17 in 17.2 innings. Spencer Steedley is a lefty out of UNC-Charlotte, taken by the Twins in the 25th round. In 37 innings with Elizabethton, he walked 12 and struck out 51! Both should be ready for the challenge that the Florida State League can present.
|Joe Benson CF|
|Brian Dinkelman 2B|
|Danny Valencia 3B|
|Johnny Woodard 1B|
|Wilson Ramos C|
|Whit Robbins DH|
|Danny Santiesteban RF|
|Edward Ovalle LF|
|Steve Singleton SS|
Joe Benson may have to start the season in Beloit, but I think that he will be ready for the Florida State League. The toughest thing for me is determining how good the Twins top pick, hitting prospects can be. The Midwest League and the Florida State League are not hitter-friendly leagues so putting up unspectacular numbers can actually be impressive when considering the age. That is where things like tools and skills and potential and maybe most importantly, makeup, come into play. That is why I think that Joe Benson is ready for the rigors of the FSL. Brian Dinkelman came up to Ft. Myers right after the Midwest League all-star game last year. His FM numbers last year (.255/.361/.389) were not impressive, but much of that was due to a horrible hitless streak in the season's final few weeks. He will hit and he will likely get a second half promotion. Danny Valencia's promotion may be much quicker than that. He could move up soon into the season as there is not a certain, solid 3B at New Britain. Johnny Woodard, like Valencia and Dinkelman, was promoted after the all-star break and although he didn't have the same impact, he continued to show power. Health has been his biggest problem since the Twins used their 3rd round pick in 2003 on him. Wilson Ramos is probably the Twins most intriguing prospect to many Twins fans. We have heard and read a lot about him since LaVelle mentioned him in his Top 10 Twins prospect list last year. He was set to play for Elizabethton in 2007 but got a chance with Beloit and took full advantage showing plenty of pop. He was hurt to end the season, but he should be healthy and ready to go. Whit Robbins was excellent at Beloit right after he was drafted in 2006, but last year, he really struggled at Ft. Myers last year before being demoted to Beloit. He never played for the Snappers because of injury. If healthy, he can certainly hit! Danny Santiesteban is all about defense and hustle. His offensive numbers at Beloit in 2007 were nothing to write home about, but he does a lot of things on the field to help a team win. Edward Ovalle is a prospect few talk about, but he has shown some pop despite hitting for little average. Steve Singleton missed time at the start of the 2007 season, but once he started playing for Beloit, he played well. He will hit some, but he is primarily a glove guy.
|Jeff Christy||Backup Catcher|
|Allan de san Miguel||Backup Catcher|
|Garrett Olson||Backup 2B, SS, 3B, OF|
|Toby Gardenhire||Backup 2B, 3B, SS|
|Paul Kelly||Part-Time SS|
Like in New Britain, I feel that the Twins may have to stock three catchers in Ft. Myers. Ramos needs to play, but Jeff Christy is known for his smarts and his defense and should stick around longer. Allan de San Miguel is a guy who is young and young for his level of play, but he has done absolutely nothing to prove that he is worth keeping. But there must be a reason that they keep him around? Garrett Olson is a guy that needs to get at bats. He will hit. I think he can be one of those super utility types that is in the lineup something like 6 out of 7 games all around the field. Toby Gardenhire likely remains an extra player who also will have to play some OF to maintain any value to the organization. Paul Kelly is another intriguing Twins prospect. He was the Twins top SS prospect coming into 2007, but he missed all but a couple of at bats during the season. If he is healthy, he will get a lot of at bats instead of Singleton, but he is going to have to prove his health. I think that the same can be said for fell 2005 pick Andrew Thompson.
As with the other levels I've projected, I am sure that there are some guys that you feel I've missed so far, and that there are others who should be at a higher level. Many want both Jeff Manship and Danny Valencia to start at New Britain, and I'm sure that both would have that chance. If they start there, great. If they start at Ft. Myers, don't be surprised if their stay is short. There are several very intriguing prospects to watch at this level. Will the Twins continue to push Deolis Guerra, or let him repeat the Florida State League. Can Tyler Robertson and Alex Burnett continue to rank highly among Twins prospects? Can Joe Benson cut down on his strikeouts and succeed in the FSL? Can Wilson Ramos continue to impress? Will Paul Kelly finally be healthy? There are some great prospects at this level, but this is a difficult level and often times is a place where guys really struggle. Which prospects will thrive, which will falter?
Any thoughts? Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.