Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Twins Minor League Report
Minnesota Twins - 2010
Good Morning everyone! I'm back. As promised, today I will be posting my thoughts on the Opening Day roster for the Twins in 2010, when they play their first game in the new stadium. I enjoy the topic, but found it very difficult to come up with my 25 man roster for several reasons. I made it a discussion question for this week and received several wonderful responses to the question. I will get to that in a little bit, but first I wanted to comment on a couple of things.
Did you happen to see the Washington Nationals game last night against the Astros, or at least the highlights? Well, the Nationals won the game, but in his post-game interview manager Frank Robinson was crying. Why? Well, he had to make an incredibly difficult decision. He removed former Twins DH Matthew LeCroy game in the 7th inning. That may not sound like much. However, LeCroy was Washington's catcher. By that point in the game, he had already committed two errors and the Astros had seven stolen bases against him. It was the right decision for Robinson to take him out of the game. The reason he was crying is because in reality he embarrassed LeCroy. No position player wants to be removed during the middle of an inning, unless it is as a double switch. Twins fans understand what a bad catcher LeCroy is. Really, he is a DH/PH, and that is it. When spring training had started and no team had signed him, LeCroy signed with the Nationals for a million dollars. He is really just their third string catcher and a pinch hitter. He has not caught much, and Twins fans know why. It is just really unfortunate that this situation manifested itself like this. What did the classy LeCroy say? "If my daddy was managing this team, I'm sure he would have done the same thing."
Fantasy Trade Opinions - My friend Tyler and I share a fantasy team. It is one of my five teams. This week, we completed a trade, and I was hoping some might be willing to give me some opinions on it. It is a 10 team points league. A starting lineup consists of three OF, two Middle infielders, two Corner infielders, a catcher, an Extra (any hitter), five starting pitchers and a closer. I mention that because there is no position difference between a 3B and a 1B. So, we traded Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu and Marcus Giles. We received David Ortiz, Grady Sizemore and Chase Utley. What do you think? How did we do?
Chris Coste was called up to the Phillies on Sunday morning. He has still not made his major league debut. He did not play in any of the Phillies three games against the Mets, each of which was close. In two of the games, he was the only Phillies player that did not play. What we need is for the Phillies to win a few blowout games so he can get a few at bats. There was much talk that when Aaron Rowand comes off the Disabled List this weekend, Coste would be sent back to Scranton. However, sources close to the situation have told me that if they sent Coste down, they would have six outfielders, which seems to be a bit much. I think that Chris Roberson would be sent down, and Coste would continue to play in that Alex Gonzalez role of utility player.
OK, let's get to the topic of the day, the 2010 Twins.
DISCUSSION QUESTION - Twins 2010
Many times, I lead into the Discussion Questions. This time, the question was pretty straight forward. Last week, the Minnesota legislature finally gave the OK for them to build their new stadium. The Twins should be playing there in 2010. So, my question was:
Who do you think will comprise the Twins roster for the home opener in the new stadium in 2010?
Well, let me start with my thoughts/predictions for a potential 2010 roster. Of course, it is all jus that, a guess. That is three and a half seasons from now. There will be trades. There will be free agent signings. There will be players who will not be offered arbitration. We don't have a perfect way to predict which prospects will come up and succeed. We have no idea if the current manager will still be in place. So much will change, but that doesn't mean we can't think ahead. If nothing else, it's just fun! Following my thoughts, I will post the thoughts of a few others who sent in their thoughts.
Catcher - This is an easy one. Joe Mauer will be in his first year after his free agency. I would assume that the Twins will try to get Mauer locked up in the offsason to keep him in their uniform until at least 2011. The Twin Cities native is already one of the best catchers in baseball and at 23 he will only get better. I also think that Mauer is one of the guys where cost should not matter. Get it done! Keep him in uniform.
First Base - A month ago, this may not have been such an easy choice, but now it is. Justin Morneau has turned his season around. He is taking much better at bats, and making much more solid, consistent contact. His power should really start to show. I was probably a year or two ahead in my predictions for Morneau. I still think that he can become a 35-40 home run, 100+ RBI guy. It may just happen in 2007, not 2005. I believe his arbitration and free agent schedule is the same as Mauer's. He shouldn't cost quite as much as Mauer, but the Twins should really try to lock him up through 2011 as well. They need to do it now before he has his monster season.
Second Base - Here is where the projections start to come in. I think that the 2010 Twins 2B will be Paul Kelly. The 2005 draft pick is playing in Low-A Beloit right now, but all indications are that he is a high ceiling type. I became impressed with him in his brief showing at Beloit at the end of last season. He is not hitting great right now, but he does appear to have a lot some power and speed. From all I've heard, he just looks like a ball player. For him to be a starter in 2010, he will really just have to move up one level each season.
Shortstop - I think that the 2010 Twins SS will be Alexi Casilla. He came to the Twins in the winter trade for JC Romero. If you look at the numbers he put up last season in the Midwest League, they are much better than any of the Twins prospects that played there. This year, he is playing very well at Ft. Myers. His batting average has been hovering around .300 all season, and although he is not a home run hitter, he does have a lot of extra base hits. I've heard people compare him to Luis Castillo offensively, but the mental image I get of him is more like Chone Figgins from the past two or three years. He has primarily played 2B this season, but has been a SS in previous years.
Third Base - This may come as a surprise to many, but I am going to predict that 2004 top pick Trevor Plouffe. The Ft. Myers shortstop is already getting some playing time at 3B this year. Now, he is playing SS at Ft. Myers this year, and Baseball America has named him as the organization's best defensive infielder, but at this point, I don't think that the box scores have shown that. From what I have heard, he has great range and a very strong arm, but sometimes misses the more routine plays. If he can turn things around defensively, I think that he will be the SS is 2010 (and then Casilla would move over to 2B with Kelly spending the year in Rochester). Offensively, we have not seen much from him yet either. He started out very poorly in Beloit last year, but came on well in the second half of the season. This spring, he is not hitting for much average and has shown next to no power, but his Isolated Discipline is incredible. I know he has been disappointing so far, but the potential for solid hitting, good fielding infielder is still very possible.
Left Field - I think that Jason Kubel will get a chance to play this weekend in left field against the Mariners, and I think that after Shannon Stewart is gone, Kubel will be the left fielder for the next half-dozen years. Kubel has a near-perfect swing and excellent approach at the plate. He may not have a big year this year, but as he and his knee continue to get stronger, he should come on strong. He is not a great defensive outfielder, but we are talking about him replacing Stewart in left, so will they really be missing much?
Center Field - I went with the easy choice here, and I don't think it is wrong. Denard Span is likely to be the Twins centerfielder within the next two years, and I think he will keep the position through at least a couple of arbitration years. His speed make him a fine candidate to cover some ground in the outfield. As long as his on base skills remain strong, I think that he will be the Twins leadoff hitter as well. Some worry about his lack of power, however, as I have mentioned before, I don't care about that from a speedy leadoff hitter. I would like to see him steal more bases and more consistently.
Right Field - Here is where I will likely surprise even more people. I am going with Michael Cuddyer. I think that with his success as a regular for the last month, he will get more playing time this year, and I really believe that he will continue to hit well. I believe that will lead to a long-term deal for Cuddyer. Even in 2010, Cuddyer will only be 31 years old, well within his prime. He will continue to improve defensively with more playing time out there.
Designated Hitter - Here is where I will put Matt Moses. I know he's a third baseman and there is hope that he will remain there and improve his defense. Let's just remember that Corey Koskie was a bad defensive player when he came up too. So there is hope for Moses defensively. There is really no doubt in anyone's mind about his ability to hit. So I do believe that he will be in the lineup. In my proposed infield, I think that Moses would get some playing time at 3B too.
Backup Catcher - Right now, my choice would be Caleb Moore. He is just in Beloit right now, but he is already 22 years old having spent three years in college. He can move up a level a year and would be ready to back up Joe Mauer by then. He will be 26, and probably very willing to accept the part-time duty.
Backup Corner Infielder - David Winfree, assuming he gets out of this dog house of sorts and over the elbow problems, should continue to hit throughout the minor leagues. He can play 3B and 1B, DH and pinch hit. As you can see, there are a lot of lefties in the starting lineup, so there need to be some righties on the bench who can play enough that the matchups do not completely favor any lefty.
Backup Middle Infielder - With his quality season so far, I think that Felix Molina has put his name on the Twins map. He has shown a good power/speed combination, and most assume that he will be a utility player. He can play three infield positions.
Backup Outfielder - I think that there will be two. The first will be Erik Lis. First, he would be a left-handed bat off of the bench. He can play 1B as that is what he has played much of his career. They have started playing him out in left field as well, and I would think that if Morneau becomes what I think he can be, Lis will get more and more outfield time.
Backup Outfielder #2 - I think that this position will go to a second Minnesota native, Hibbing native Eli Tintor. The former catcher is a great athlete. He is as fast as most outfielders and his arm is as strong as anybody's. I realize that I don't really have a backup centerfielder, but I think that Tintor could handle it if need be. If not, I think Trent Oeltjen is the guy to watch here.
Starting Pitcher - I wanted to put someone else as the #1 starter, but Johan Santana will still be just 30 years old in 2010, still in the prime of his career. Also at this point, he should be the clear leader of the pitching staff. His current contract ends after the 2009 season, so they will need to add another year to this contract to ensure he'll be around. I hope that they don't wait for him to become a free agent, and I don't think that they will.
Starting Pitcher - His rapid ascension through the Twins system could put Matt Garza in the Twins starting rotation as early as August. However, I think that they will hold off until next spring to give him the right to earn a rotation spot. In 2010, he will still be just 25 years old. He could be an ace-type by that time.
Starting Pitcher - Of course I was considering putting Francisco Liriano as the #1 pitcher, and it is very possible that in reality he will be their best pitcher. I mentioned my reason for putting Santana at #1 above, and I think that he and Liriano are too similar to put back-to-back. Liriano could get some good pitching matchups in the 3-spot and could be competing for multiple Cy Young Awards by this point already.
Starting Pitcher - Kevin Slowey has been amazing this year. What he is doing is just as impressive as Matt Garza, just without the recognition. Slowey reminds many of Brad Radke. If he is as good as Brad Radke has been for as long as Radke was good, Twins fans should be thrilled. I think that he could be even better. Others have compared him to Mike Mussina. That's not a bad #4 starter either.
Starting Pitcher - I think that the current #5 starter for the Twins, Scott Baker, will still be in the rotation, and probably still as the #5 guy. This is not a negative on Baker and his future as much as it is a positive about the Twins future in terms of pitching. Baker has struggled in the last month, but he showed a lot in his minor league career and even in the big leagues last year and in April to make me believe that he will turn a corner.
Closer - I think that Pat Neshek will get called up to the Twins this season. Then I think that he will be a key member of the Twins bullpen the next year or two. However, I do believe that he will eventually become the team's closer.
RH Reliever - Kevin Cameron made a name for himself in spring training this year. I think that he could get a bullpen spot in 2007. I think it would be more the Matt Guerrier role at that time, but as he succeeds, he should get more important situations.
RH Reliever - Jay Rainville was one of the Twins better pitching prospects last year, but shoulder surgery this spring means that he won't pitch this year. I just don't think that he should be forgotten. He will likely come back next year and return to Ft. Myers to rehab, but assuming health, he is most compared to Roger Clemens, so that is good!
RH Reliever - I think that the current Matt Guerrier/Willie Eyre role will be filled by Adam Harben. I think Harben could make a big league debut by mid-2007, particularly if the Twins chose to rebuild next year. It would be as a long reliever and spot starter.
LH Reliever - Glen Perkins is one of the Twins top prospects, and he will probably be a starting pitcher for the team very soon. However, look at those five starters I chose and tell me who to take out. Probably Baker, and this is a case where trade could make something possible. However, would a team want three lefty starters in their rotation? I wouldn't have a problem with it.
LH Reliever - With his 'stuff' and arm, Jose Mijares could be the next JC Romero. He is on the 40 man roster, but he is probably three full options away from being ready for the big leagues. However, when he gets there, he could be a dominating lefty.
So there you have it. There is my prediction (as of May 26, 2006) for the Opening Day 2010 Minnesota Twins roster. This is the team that will line up on the third base line for the first game at the new stadium. What do you think? I would love to hear any thoughts on any of the players.
Here are some of the struggles I had developing this roster:
In an initial lineup projection, I actually had six left handed hitters in the starting lineup. I still have five in this one. However, what I did was allow for some lineup versatility. Plouffe can play 2B or SS. Against some lefties, Winfree can DH or play 3B with Moses getting a day off. Other similar things could be done.
Coming up with five starting pitchers is impossible. To me, the top four are easy. But then, who do you make the 5th starter? Glen Perkins, Boof Bonser, Adam Harben, Errol Simonitsch, Jay Rainville, Anthony Swarzak, Justin Jones, Kyle Waldrop, Brian Duensing, Ryan Mullins, Adam Hawes, or maybe their 2006 top draft choice?
Filling out a bullpen is impossible. I don't know how I left Eduardo Morlan off of this list somewhere, but also what about Willie Eyre, JD Durbin, JP Martinez, Jay Sawatski, Tim Lahey and others?
Feel Free to e-mail me your thoughts, and also please leave some comments down below. Here are a few other people's predictions for the 2010 Twins roster:
From Brad in LaCrosse:Here goes my wild guess as to the 2010 opening day lineup.CF Span - needs to work on his base stealing and needs to get his OBP higher to be an elite OF prospectC Mauer - Ryan needs to be proactive and Joe up to a long term contractDH Travis Hafner - ND boy moves closer to home to finish his career1B Morneau - the past month I think we are starting to see the true hitter3B Moses - while he lacks the glove, I truly think his bat will be ready next year for sureLF Kubel - never seen him play, but everyone says his bat is for realRF Juan Portes - glove not good enough for 2B, but is developing some good power. I also like Guzman in this spot2B Casilla - the kid is looking pretty impressive in the minors and maybe we did get the better end of the JC tradeSS Bartlett - Plouffe isn't showing much in the minors. If Bartlett doesn't cut it I like Thompson in this spotBenchCaleb MooreDoug Deeds - a younger Lew FordSteve Tolleson - solid utility guyFelix Molina -Raul Ibanez - pinch hitter/5th OFSP - LirianoSP - PerkinsSP - Santana - I can really see him getting traded or walking away though. I sure hope not. If the young guys continue to develop I can really see a blockbuster trade in a couple years. If Garza, Baker, Boof, Rainville, etc continue to develop into top tier pitchers.SP - Garza - the kid is putting up better #'s than Liriano did last yearSP - Alexander Smit - patience finally pays off with the big guy.RP - Adam Hawes -RP - Yohan PinoRP - Brian DuensingRP - Eduardo Morlan - nasty stuff - replaces Rincon in a year of 2RP - Pat Neshek - local boy does goodCL -Slowey - nasty numbers. Ryan will not re-up Nathan to a $10 million per year plus contract. I see Joe going to the Yanks in a year or 2 to replace the greatest closer ever, I think Nathan could handle the NYC pressure.Look at the pitchers in our minor leagues!!!!!!!! Of the 11 pitchers I project to the 2010 opening day roster 8 of them are power pitchers. I think projecting the pitchers is SO hard. I feel like I am dissing kids like Rainville, Waldrop, Swarzak, Mullins, Durbin, Sosa, Mijares, Aselton, and others.From Roger:The lineup I foresee in 2010 follows:Catcher - Joe Mauer will be signed to a long-term contract, and at 27 will be approaching his prime. The backup will be Caleb Moore, who will beat out Allan de San Miguel who will be at Rochester at the age of 22.First Base - Justin Morneau will also be signed and will be a solid hitter with an average in the .285-.295 range with 40 homers and well over 100 rbi annually. His backup will be Erik Lis, who will also get some at bats as the DH and some innings in the outfield.Second Base - Alexi Casilla will be in his third year as the team's stolen base leader who hits well over .300.Shortstop - Paul Kelly will join the team late in 2009 and although not technically a rookie, will be in his first year as the everyday shortstop at the age of 23.Third base - Matt Moses has become one of the teams top hitters with a .300+Ave and 30 homers. David Winfree will have recovered from his problems of early 2006 and will be the team's backup third baseman and alternate with Lis for DH. Should Winfree not get back on track with his development, the Twins will use one of their fine prospects (Perkins is an example) to trade for a solid right hand hitting DH for the #5 spot in the order.Reserve infield - Felix Molina and Steve Tolleson will be the backup middle infielders.Outfield - The starters will be Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Alex Romero. The reserve will be Trent Oeltjen, with first baseman Erik Lis available for some duty in left field.Starting Pitching - Santana will be the team's #1 starter, however, will no longer be its Ace. He will be signed to a three year extension prior to 2008, and under contract through 2011. Liriano will have become the team's best pitcher in 2008, although will be pitching out of the #3 slot so he is not to be back-to-back with Santana. The #2 starter will be Matt Garza, who has become the Twins version of Jason Verlander. The rotation will be filled out by Kevin Slowey and Jay Rainville, who has recovered from this years arm problems, made his debut in September, 2008 and was brought up and inserted into the starting rotation in summer, 2009...replacing Glen Perkins who was doing well, however, was traded to open a spot for Rainville.Bullpen - The closer is Pat Neshek, with 5 set-up men including J.P. Martinez, Dan Powers, Matt Williams, Eduardo Morlan and Jose Mijares.The Lineup is very left-handed in the 3-5 spots, however, as Mauer and Kubel matured they have proven to hit right and left handed pitchers equally well:Denard Span - CFAlexi Casilla - 2BJoe Mauer - CJustin Morneau - 1BJason Kubel - RFDavid Winfree - DHMatt Moses - 3BAlex Romero - LFPaul Kelly - SSStarting Rotation:Johan Santana - LMatt Garza - RFrancisco Liriano - LJay Rainville - RKevin Slowey - RLooking at this lineup with speed, power and average, combined with a league best starting rotation, yes, the Twins will have an excellent chance to open their new stadium with a "World Series" banner!
2B Acquisition maybe plouffe
SS Plouffe or Bartlett
SP Slowey ( Wow and there are other options as well).
So there you have it, a few thoughts on the 2010 Twins roster. I look forward to looking back on this over the next couple of seasons, and then in 2010, it will be fun to see how many of our guesses were correct. Now, feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the future Twins roster, or leave some Comments and discuss this below.
Can I even explain how excited I am to watch the Twins/Mariners game tonight? Sure, it is a game of two bad teams, but the pitching matchup of Francisco Liriano and Felix Hernandez is remarkable. Those two pitching prospects going against two pathetic offenses could mean a memorable pitcher's dual. Of course, I will be driving in a vehicle during much of the game, so hopefully I will be able to listen to it.
Be sure to check out John Sickels' Minor League Blog on Saturday where he promises an article on a Draft Review of the 1989 Minnesota Twins.
Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend:
Any thoughts on the Twins, Mariners, or anything baseball, please e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Monday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Kevin West, New Britain Rockcats
Monday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Tristan Crawford, New Britain Rockcats
First things first, Kevin West is back! West has been one of my favorite Twins minor leaguers the last few seasons because of his power. This winter while playing in Venezuela, he suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery. I was surprised to see that he has now played two games for New Britain. My assumption is that after a week or two there, he will be sent up to Rochester. Whose roster spot he takes there should be interesting.
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Thursday - Red Wings – Rained Out.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday - Rockcats 2, Trenton 6 – Alex Romero is on an absolute tear of late. Last night, he went 2-4 with his ninth double. He also stole his 10th base. His batting average is now up to .312. Scott Whitrock was also 2-4 and stole his sixth base. Nick Blackburn took the loss and fell to 3-5. In 5.1 innings, he gave up six runs (4 earned) on nine hits. He walked none, but also struck out just one. Jay Sawatski walked three in 1.2 innings, but did not allow a run. Tristan Crawford went the final 2.1 innings unscathed, and he struck out three.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday - Miracle 5, Brevard County 4 (10) – In the 10th inning, Garrett Guzman pinch hit for Justin Arneson and doubled in Trevor Plouffe with the game-winning run. Kevin West hit a grand slam, and Alexi Casilla went 3-4. Anthony Swarzak started and in five innings he gave up three runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out six. Ryan Callahan threw two shutout innings. Tim Lahey gave up a run in his two innings. JP Martinez got the win with a perfect 10th inning.
Thursday - Snappers 2, Burlington 4 – Eduardo Morlan started and gave up only an unearned run in five innings. He allowed just three hits, but he walked three and threw two wild pitches. He struck out four. Yohan Pino gave up a run in 2.1 innings. Jose Lugo gave up two earned runs on a hit and a walk in a third of an inning. Frank Mata came in and allowed Lugo's runs to score. Edward Ovalle had two of the Snappers four hits, and both RBI. He hit his ninth double.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
And on that note, I will call it a day and a week. I certainly hope that you have found some things that were worth reading. There will not be a posting on Monday, Memorial Day, but next week, I will have a great Q&A with another Twins minor leaguer and will post my Top 20 Twins Prospect list. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
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