Thursday, August 31, 2006
Twins Minor League Reports
Getting to Know:
Good morning everyone! For the second straight night, the Twins got a great start from a rookie pitcher against the Royals and their offense did nothing so both got losses. Boof Bonser threw five shutout innings before giving up three in the sixth, but he was great. Two straight losses to the Royals will certainly upset a lot of Twins fans, and that is understandable. Some may think that these two losses may have cost the Twins a playoff spot. And that case could certainly be made. But, I am going to choose to be positive. The Twins need to have their post-season roster set by midnight tonight. Will they make it? I don't know. But they have to make a move or two for just in case.
By the end of tonight, I believe that Alexi Casilla will be a member of the Minnesota Twins. He will give the Twins playoff roster its second member who was playing in Hi-A Ft. Myers to start the season. Seem crazy? Maybe it is, but I don't think so for several reasons. So, today, I am going to highlight the short career of Alexi Casilla as well as present the reasons that I believe he should be added to the Twins post season roster today.
Coming into the 2006 season, Twins fans knew little about Alexi Casilla. To us, he was "the guy we got to get JC Romero off our hands" last winter. At the time, I thought that because of the going rate for left-handed relief pitchers in the offseason, that the Twins could maybe have received more in return for the enigmatic Romero. I knew that the likes of Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick were not options, but I was hoping they could get a prospect the caliber of Erick Aybar. Well, as it turns out, they just may have!
Alexi Casilla was born in San Cristobal of the Dominican Republic on July 20th of 1984. In 2003, he signed with the Anaheim Angels (I think that's what they were called at that time) as a free agent.
Casilla spent the majority of the 2004 season playing in the Rookie Leagues. All together, he stole 26 bases in 35 attempts.
In 2005, Casilla spent most of the season with Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League. In 78 games, he hit .325/.392/.409 with 11 doubles, three triples, three homers and 17 RBI. He stole 47 bases in 59 attempts. One thing I look for in a minor league player, particularly a player who relies on speed and not power is his strikeout to walk ratio. For the season, he walked 29 times and struck out 31 times. Late in the season, Casilla played in seven games for AA Arkansas and then 13 games with AAA Salt Lake. I remember being happy about Romero being gone, but disappointed that the team wasn't able to get more. However, I also understood that if Terry Ryan would have been offered more, he would have taken it. And then Roger did an analysis of Casilla's 2005 season in the Midwest League and compared it to the other Twins prospects in Beloit last year and he was far and away above them all, including David Winfree, the Twins minor league player of the year last year.
HIS 2006 SEASON
Wisely, the Twins started Alexi Casilla in the Florida State League, in Ft. Myers. He immediately showed the type of player that he can be. After hitting .286 in April, Casilla hit .327 in May, .328 in June and .538 in 26 at bats in July before he was called up to AA New Britain. All told, in 78 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .331/.390/.406 with 12 doubles, six triples and 33 RBI. He walked 30 times to go with 36 strikeouts. He had 31 stolen bases in 37 attempts.
He immediately made an impact at the top of the New Britain batting order. Through Tuesday, Casilla was hitting .305/.380/.396 with 10 doubles, a triple, a homer and 13 RBI. He has 16 walks and 19 strikeouts. He has also stolen 19 bases in 22 attempts.
So, for the season, Alexi Casilla has played in 121 games. He has hit .322/.387/.402 with 22 doubles, seven triples, a homer and 46 RBI. He also has 50 stolen bases in 59 attempts.
He was named the SethSpeaks.net Minor League player of the month for July (as well as the Twins actual minor league player of the month, which I assume carries more weight and glamour). Baseball America named him the Most Exciting Player in the Florida State League as well as the fastest and best base runner in the league.
SO, CALL UP CASILLA?
Is Alexi Casilla ready to be an every day player in the Major Leagues right now? I don't think so. As good as he has been this year, I think that he is probably at least a half-season away from being ready for a full time job with the Twins. However, the Twins need to set their post-season roster by midnight tonight. As they sit right now, the Twins have 12 pitchers and 13 hitters on their Major League roster. Most years, a post season roster consists of 11 pitchers and 14 hitters. The reason is because instead of having five starters, only three (in the Division Series) or four (in the Championship Series and World Series) are used. Situational play, such as pinch hitting and pinch running is done more as individual games are much more important. Having a guy who can play some defense late in games or lay down a sacrifice bunt or steal a base is important.
One pitcher would need to be removed from the Twins active roster. It is most likely that either Willie Eyre or Boof Bonser would be the pitcher removed from the Major League roster by late tonight. It could be Eyre because, despite his recent success, he is the bullpen guy least likely to be used in a playoff situation. The other option would be to take Bonser off (or Garza, or preferably Carlos Silva) because whoever the fourth start is could pitch in long relief, but the 5th starter would be unlikely to be used.
One batter would have to be added to the roster. Easy choices would be someone from Rochester like Chris Heintz, who might allow Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond to be in a playoff lineup. It could be a switch-hitting infielder like Terry Tiffee who has spent parts of how many seasons with the Twins already. I have heard the name of Andres Torres mentioned as a possible call up because of his speed, but he would be far too redundant on the roster that already includes so many outfielders. Josh Rabe may be a playoff option. However, don't forget that the Rochester Red Wings are in the hunt for a playoff spot in the International League. Believe me, if there is a guy on the Rochester roster that could make a difference for the Twins in the season's final month, Terry Ryan would not hesitate to call him up.
So, let's discuss what the Twins need? Their outfield roster already consists of Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Tyner, Lew Ford, Jason Kubel and Rondell White. They don't need another outfielder. Justin Morneau, Luis Castillo, Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto comprise the starting infield, but Luis Rodriguez is really the only utility infield option (unless you consider Cuddyer an option, which I would doubt they would.) Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond can handle catching duties.
So, if the Twins want a second utility infielder, a guy who (if needed) could put together a quality at bat, and a guy who can run the bases well, specifically with the ability to steal a base... Alexi Casilla is the guy! The 22 year old is really one of few bright spots (Kevin Slowey and Matt Garza would be other examples) in an incredibly disappointing season in New Britain. Their roster is loaded with high-level prospects and first round picks, but they are well below .500 and have no shot at the playoffs. Their season is coming to an end, so if they believe that he can fill a role in September and potentially in the playoffs, then why not. (A couple more New Britain call-up options would be Denard Span and Trent Oeltjen who are both having decent, but unspectacular, seasons for the Rockcats. However, if base running is a criteria for a call up, neither is ready, and certainly not to the caliber of Casilla. Also, they are both outfielders which makes it even less likely either would be recalled.)
Currently, Alexi Casilla is not on the Twins 40 man roster. I believe that they have 40 on their current roster, so someone would have to be removed in order to call him up. I don't think that Terry Ryan would have any difficulty taking Mike Smith off of the 40 man roster.
As I started this section with... Is Alexi Casilla ready to be an every day player in the Major Leagues right now? I don't think so. Is he a guy that could fill a role for the Twins in September and potentially in the playoffs? I absolutely think he can. Was Jarvis Brown a big league caliber player when the Twins called him up in 1991 on August 31? No way. Was he ever a big league caliber player? Probably not. Alexi Casilla is a far better prospect than Jarvis Brown ever was.
With Luis Castillo leaving last night's game with an apparent ankle injury, Casilla could be called up even sooner and get a couple of starts at 2B to see where he is.
By midnight tonight, we will find out if I am right. I think we know that the Twins will make at least one transaction to get to their desired playoff roster. Will it be Casilla or one of the other guys mentioned above called up? Will there be more than one move made? Is it possible that the Twins will make a deal at the deadline? We shall see.
(QUICK UPDATE - Casilla went 0-7 in the New Britain double header last night to drop his AA batting average to .294. The Twins do have a history of promoting players a level after a rough start or game.)
That brings me to my next topic:
DAVID WELLS A TWIN?
It is no secret that the Red Sox are actively looking to deal veteran (43 year old) David Wells before the trade deadline tonight. He did clear waivers and could be dealt. The Twins likely will need another starting pitcher. Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Boof Bonser have all pitched well of late. Brad Radke will miss another start this weekend against the Yankees, so they will need to make another move at that time. Carlos Silva has been horrible and should not be in the rotation any longer. Like early in the season when Kyle Lohse was on the mound, when Silva starts, there is no confidence in my mind that the Twins could win.
So, what would it cost the Twins to get Wells for a month? If the Twins need to give up a Top 10-15 prospect for Wells, I would not do it. If the Twins had to give up a prospect in that 10-15 range AND the Red Sox agreed to take Carlos Silva as well, then I would probably do it. Wells is not great, but he is a veteran, he has pitched in big September games in the past, he is healthy now. He might be a different look compared to the other guys in the rotation to keep opponents off balance.
Is it worth looking into dealing for David Wells? What would you give up? Send me an e-mail, or leave some Comments below.
Juan Rincon is one of the top set up men in baseball. That has been true for a couple of years. However, as Willie Eyre has turned his season around, Juan Rincon has really struggled of late. Last night, he gave up a run on three hits in his inning. Yes, the run scored on a bloop single, but he was hit pretty hard before that. In five of his last eight outings, he has given up at least two hits. His ERA has gone from 2.17 to 2.67. I'm not worried. He will be fine, but he is just going through a rough stretch right now.
Speaking of struggling, last night Joe Mauer went 0-4 to drop his batting average to .350 for the first time since May 30. He has just one hit in his last 16 at bats and really isn't even putting together quality at bats. His bat just looks a little slower. His strikeout last night against Jimmy Gobble just looked completely uninspired. And the past ball that he had in the top of the 9th was pretty bad, a lack of concentration. I hate to even say anything negative about Mauer. He has been tremendous all season. He just has to be tired. He has to be worn down. I have to assume that he will be out of the lineup this afternoon in the final game against the Royals. His legs and his importance to this team's success may make the recall of Chris Heintz more important now, just to give Mauer the chance to get a few days away from catching.
CUDDYER ... NOT STRUGGLING
Last night, Michael Cuddyer had three of the Twins six hits. Two of those hits were home runs as he drove in all three of the Twins runs. In his last seven games, he is 14-29 (.483) with three doubles, a triple, two homers and ten RBI. With 90 RBI on the season, he is on pace to drive in 111 runs.
ANOTHER ROSTER OPTION
On July 14, Jason Kubel went 3-5 against the Indians to end that day hitting .300. Since that game, Kubel has ten hits in 71 at bats. That's a .141 batting average. He has provided just one home run and two RBI in that time. Clearly, he is not playing at 100% He is hitting too many weak ground balls and fly balls, and he just has no speed at all. Maybe it is time to consider sending Kubel down tomorrow and let him get healthy in helping the Red Wings toward the playoffs. I absolutely still believe that Jason Kubel will have a big future in the Twins lineup. He just needs more time to get healthy again. We saw what a healthy Kubel is capable of before the All-Star break.
Please feel free to e-mail me. about any of these topics, or anything regarding the Twins. Also, if you have any theories or ideas for the Twins that you would like to share, leave some Comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Erold Andrus, Ft. Myers Miracle
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Nick Blackburn, New Britain Rockcats
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Wednesday - Red Wings 2, Buffalo 6 – The Red Wings managed just four hits in the game. Alex Romero was 1-2 with a walk, a double and a stolen base. Garrett Jones hit his 19th homer. Jason Miller started and gave up two runs on three hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Henry Bonilla gave up four runs (3 earned) over the next 1.1 innings. Kevin Cameron and Matt Ford each pitched a scoreless inning.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Rockcats 5, Reading 0 - Game 1 – Nick Blackburn has to feel good about this outing. He went all seven innings and gave up no runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out five on his way to his 7th win. Jose Morales went 2-3 with an RBI double. Doug Deeds hit his 13th homer and drove in three runs.
Wednesday - Rockcats 2, Reading 3 - Game 2 – Brian Duensing made a nice start in this game. The lefty gave up a run on three hits and two walks in his 5.1 innings. Julio DePaula gave up a run on two hits and a walk in just 2/3 of an inning. Jay Sawatski struck out three in two shutout innings. But David Shinskie gave up a leadoff homer in the 9th for the loss. Matt Moses went 2-4 with his 15th homer. Doug Deeds went 2-4 with his 35th double. Scott Whitrock was 2-4. Danny Matienzo hit his 17th homer.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 7, Clearwater 5 - Kyle Waldrop gave up just one run over the first four innings. However, two hits and a walk to lead off the fifth meant that in four innings, he gave up three runs on six hits and three walks. Tim Lahey went the next three innings and improved to 7-1. He gave up two hits, but no runs. Ryan Callahan gave up two hits and a scoreless inning. Danny Powers gave up two runs in one inning. Erold Andrus went 3-5 with his third triple, fourth homer and four RBI. Deacon Burns went 2-5 with his 5th homer. David Winfree was 2-5 with a double. Brandon Roberts was 2-6.
Wednesday - Snappers, SW Michigan 3 – Rained Out.
Wednesday - E-Twins 2, Princeton 10 – E-Town was only able to record two hits in this game. Patrick Bryant started and gave up seven runs (6 earned) on eight hits and two walks in five innings. Brandon McConnell went a scoreless inning. Danny Hernandez then gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in one inning. He struck out two.
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.
That is it for today! Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.|
Back to Archives Home