Friday, April 9, 2010
2010 New Britain Rock Cats Preview
The 2010 Twins minor league roster previews are brought to you by the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Get your copy here!
And, by the way, if youíre able to, be sure to join me and the rest of TwinsCentric at Majors Sports Cafť in Blaine on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until the end of the Twins/White Sox game. Drink and appetizer specials. Lots of prizes to give away. Lots of talk with Twins fans. Itíd be fun to meet you!
Jeff Smith will be the Rock Catsí manager in 2010 after managing the Ft. Myers Miracle last year. Rudy Hernandez will be the hitting coach while Stu Cliburn is the pitching coach. Letís take a look at players on the Rock Cats roster to start the 2010 season (note Ė prospect ranking for my choices for Top 30 Twins prospects as updated in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook):
The Starting Pitchers
Carlos Gutierrez (15), David Bromberg (8), Mike McCardell (25), Deolis Guerra (11), Tyler Robertson (17).
This is the group that I predicted would be the starting five for New Britain. That said, itís actually strange being right. Gutierrez is going to get another shot as a starter, and I like the decision. He could be a very good relief pitcher today, but if he can develop a second and third pitch, through more innings pitched, it will be best long-term. Bromberg, as you all know, has led his league in strikeouts each of the last three seasons. He has terrific stuff, throws hard, gets good movement and has a good idea of what he is doing on the mound. He should continue to be solid. McCardell ended last season with the Rockcats. In the offseason, he had some bone chips removed from his elbow, and he said that he is back to 100% Deolis Guerra is the one remaining direct piece from the Johan Santana trade. All along, he was the one with the biggest upside. He struggled in 2008, but made great improvement, specifically with his control, in 2009. He has the best changeup in the organization and should be even better this year. Finally, Tyler Robertson was my #1 Twins prospect in 2007. But injury hurt him in 2008, and in 2009, he returned, stayed healthy and pitched well. He moves up a level where his high baseball IQ should really help him adjust.
The Bullpen Arms
Santos Arias (28), Cole Devries, Steve Hirschfeld, Chris Province, Joe Testa, Spencer Steedley, (Loek Van Mil).
This is certainly an interesting bullpen. Province was in the same league in 2009 when he was with the Red Sox organization. He came to the Twins in the Boof Bonser trade. He should be solid. Spencer Steedley impressed me when I saw him in the Arizona Fall League. He mixed some slow curves and change ups, and then suddenly would throw fastballs at 92 mph right by hitters. Joe Testa dominated in Beloit and Ft. Myers last year and gets to start with the Rockcats this year. The undrafted lefty has a chance to move up another level this year. Cole Devries signed in 2006 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Minnesota. He began 2009 in the Rockcats rotation and pitched well in the first half, but he really struggled in the second half. Heís back, but this time he begins in the bullpen. Santos Arias and Steve Hirschfeld both started 2009 in the Ft. Myers bullpen, and by the second half, they were arguably the Miracleís top two starters. Arias is a big-time sleeper, a little guy who is wiry and throws 95! Hirschfeld is a solid prospect who also pitched in the AFL last spring. Loek Van Mil begins the season on the Disabled List again. At this stage, health is his only concern. He became a legit big league prospect last year when he hit 97 on the radar gun, so itíll be interesting to see how healthy he is. †
Danny Lehmann, Alexander Soto.
I was a little surprised that Lehmann didnít start the season in Rochester, but the more I think about it, the more it says about what the Twins think of him. First, they must want him to play. If he was backing up Wilson Ramos in Rochester, he wouldnít play a lot. By sending him back to AA, he can play more. Secondly, all five of the pitchers in the Rockcats starting rotation, and at least half of the bullpen, are realistically future big leaguers. The Twins are wise to set them up with a great defensive catcher, and a smart catcher who can work with them and help make them better. Soto is a solid defensive catcher. Several pitchers like throwing to him. He doesnít hit for average, but he has shown glimpses of power in his career. †
Chris Parmelee (14), Whit Robbins, Steve Singleton (26), Estarlin de Los Santos, Yancarlos Ortiz, Juan Portes, Toby Gardenhire.
Chris Parmelee had a very strong year in 2009 in Ft. Myers. He continued to take walks and display some good power, but he also cut down on the strikeouts a little bit. He had a solid performance in the AFL last year too. Whit Robbins was an All-Star in the Eastern League a year ago, and displays a tremendous glove. He will likely play a lot of 1B with Parmelee at DH or in the OF. Singleton is a strong prospect who can play three positions. Now a switch-hitter, he has certainly put himself on the map. Juan Portes surprisingly spent the entire spring camp with the Twins as a non-roster invite. He primarily played in the corner outfield spots, but he is expected to play a lot of 3B for the Rockcats this year. Estarlin de Los Santos was the surprise name added to the 40 man roster, but there is no question that he has a ton of talent and speed. Ortiz was the shortstop quite a bit last year in AA and will likely play significantly up the middle. And Gardenhire is a solid defensive player at all four infield positions, can play the outfield and is even willing to don the tools of ignorance. Having a glove like his on a roster is a good thing for the pitchers.
Joe Benson (12), Ben Revere (6), Rene Tosoni (9), Mark Dolenc.
This outfield is incredibly talented and incredibly athletic. Iím sure Tosoni was disappointed in the Twins signing of Jason Repko as it means he heads back to the Rockcats where he hit 15 homers a year ago. I actually think that it makes the most sense to send him back to New Britain. Tosoniís game is pretty well-rounded, but he still needs to figure out how to hit left-handed pitchers. Since he isnít on the 40 man roster, and there isnít a need in the Twins outfield, there is zero need to push him when he still has much to improve. Ben Revere had a very good showing in big league camp. He is a very good batting average hitter. He still needs to work on his patience at the plate and has room to improve tremendously. I am still waiting for some power to show, as his power numbers dropped in 2009. Joe Benson is arguably the best athlete in the Twins system (all due respect to Aaron Hicks). He had a very good season in 2009 at Ft. Myers. He is one of the fastest players in the system, but he is also very strong and capable of power. His eye at the plate vastly improved, and he plays a very strong outfield with a strong arm. Dolenc is a guy who is a great athlete. The Minnesota State-Mankato alum has all the tools, but he isnít young. He is a potential fourth outfielder who should still get some good playing time this year.
This is an incredibly talented team, probably the most talented in the system. Many of the Twins top prospects are here. The starting five all has high potential. There are two other guys that could be starting that are currently in the bullpen. The lineup should be quite strong as well and improve over the course of the year.
If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to askÖ Leave your questions or comments.