Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
An Unfortunate Goodbye
Q&A with Eli Tintor
Good morning everybody! Thank you for stopping by the site again today. I had a change of plan today, and decided to push the Final Grades of the players back to tomorrow. I will give grades for the final month of the season for both the hitters and the pitchers. And again, please be sure to e-mail me your responses to the Discussion Question on the 2006 Minnesota Twins, as those responses will be posted on Friday. (To see my thoughts on what should be done, click here)
The White Sox sure are a Small-Ball team, huh? Anyone who still buys that is just delusional! In their 14-2 win yesterday, former Twins catcher AJ Pierzynski hit two homers and drove in four runs. Paul Konerko and Juan Uribe homered. Even Scott Podsednik homered, his first of the year.
Funny how those young, non-veterans are actually capable of helping a team win, isn't it? How about the three-run double in the first inning by Robinson Cano that got the Yankees off to a great start in their 4-2 win against the Angels.
Jake Peavy was pitching with a broken rib, and it showed as the Cardinals got six RBI in the first four innings off the bat of Reggie Sanders and took a 8-5 win over the Padres.
But today, I am very excited to post for you a very fun and interesting Question and Answer segment with yet another Twins prospect. Eli Tintor is a 20 year old catcher from northern Minnesota town of Hibbing. The Twins drafted him in the 18th round of the 2003 major league draft out of high school. He spent that season and 2004 with the Twins Gulf Coast League team. He stayed in Ft. Myers at the end of the 2004 season and played briefly with the Miracle. This year, he moved up to Elizabethton and was a big part of their championship team.
I want to thank Eli very much for taking the time to answer a bunch of questions. I happen to think that his responses were great, and I am sure that you will enjoy them as well. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
Let's get to the questions:
SethSpeaks: Like Pat Neshek, you grew up in Minnesota, so that means a few questions to start things out. First, who were your favorite players when you were growing up?
Eli Tintor: I didn't have many favorite players growing up but the athlete I did like was Dieon Sanders, because he was just an athlete compared to everyone else.
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Hibbing, that is a ways from the Dome. Did you get to many Twins games? Any good memories?
Eli Tintor: Oh yeah, we went and still do go to the games all the time, and since my father has his connections it made it easy for us to get tickets whenever, I have been an avid Twins fan my whole life.
SethSpeaks: I too grew up in the northern half of Minnesota. I remember playing high school baseball. What it meant was practicing indoors for a month, having your first few games postponed because of snow, and then playing catch up. What were your memories of high school baseball in Minnesota?
Eli Tintor: Just like you said cold and short seasons, but it toughens you up mentally so I feel that helped out a bit.
SethSpeaks: Were you able to do anything baseball related in the winter? Did you play other sports?
Eli Tintor: Yes, me and my dad always found a spot to put up a batting cage during the winter, I remember going into my senior year and that winter we had to put up the cage in a horse shoe court that had nothing but tin walls surrounding it, and in the dead of winter in northern MN, that place was never above zero, but you gotta put in that extra work. Also, yes I did play many other sports throughout my high school years, I was going to go to the University Of MN Duluth on a full Football scholarship, in football I was an all-state, all-area, all-conference, QB, linebacker, punt returner, kick returner, punter, and I also held the ball on the field goals.
SethSpeaks: Correct me if I'm wrong, but was your father drafted by the Twins in the 5th round in 1973? What was his career like, and what role did he play in your baseball life?
Eli Tintor: Yes that is correct, I believe he had shoulder trouble that ended his career earlier than he would have wished, But he has been the biggest factor for me getting me where I am at now, always pushing me to do the extra push up during commercials, extra sit ups, extra swings, etc... And after seeing all that hard work starting to pay off I now know why all that was necessary.
SethSpeaks: When it was the Twins that drafted you in the 18th round in 2003, what were your thoughts?
Eli Tintor: I was extremely happy, but I had the confidence of knowing I was going to be picked up so I was ready for it when they did draft me.
SethSpeaks: What were your options out of high school? Did you know you were going to sign, or were you planning on going to college?
Eli Tintor: Like I said earlier I had already committed to UMD on a football and baseball scholarship if the draft didn't go as I wanted I would have done that.
SethSpeaks: What were the factors the made you decide to sign?
Eli Tintor: It wasn't any money or anything like that, too many people just want the most money they can get but you will see those guys weed out over the years because the heart isn't into it, it was just my love for the game that made my mind up.
SethSpeaks: After signing, you were sent to Ft. Myers and played in the Gulf Coast League. What were your first memories of pro ball? What was going through your mind putting on a uniform with the word "Twins" on it?
Eli Tintor: My first memory of it is that it was just so hot all the time, I liked all the work we did and all that and when I got that jersey on I knew in my heart that this was for me.
SethSpeaks: In 2004, you stayed in extended spring training before playing again with the GCL Twins. Can you tell us what extended spring training is, and what types of things are done during that time?
Eli Tintor: Extended is just like it says, an extended spring training. The same routines as you've been doing through out spring training but with less players, so you get some more work done before sending you off to your season spot.
SethSpeaks: After the GCL season, you got into a few games with the Ft. Myers Miracle. Their season ended because of the hurricanes. What was that whole situation like for you and the team?
Eli Tintor: I loved it when I was sent up there, and for the hurricane situation it hit Fort Myers pretty good so no one was playing to there full potential throughout that time because it was hard to work through that.
SethSpeaks: This season, you stayed in extended spring, but moved up to Elizabethton. Is that where you expected to play? Do the Twins give you an idea after each season, or after training camp?
Eli Tintor: I was hoping I might be a little higher than that because through spring training I was with the Beloit club but the day before they shipped them off I was sent to the extended club, But you gotta take the good with the bad, ya know.
SethSpeaks: It was quite a season for the Elizabethton Twins this year. The team dominated the competition and won the Appalachian League championship. What was it like coming to the ballpark knowing you had a chance to win?
Eli Tintor: This year was fun, it was a very tight knit team, everybody was friends with everybody, and all the guys loved the game and we knew what we had to do to win. It didn't just come to us this year, we worked very hard thanks to Ray (Smith), Jeff (Reed), and Shelly (Jim Shellenback) keeping us going.
SethSpeaks: Elizabethton has been the home to the Twins affiliate for a long time. Can you tell us a little bit about the city itself.
Eli Tintor: Elizabethton is a very nice scenic little town located in the Appalachian mountains, The people are very caring and humble, the whole town treated us very kindly so in return we brought some life into that town for them this year.
SethSpeaks: I have also read that some players stay with host families in town. Is that the case?
Eli Tintor: Yep some guys did stay with host families, they are all very nice, caring people to let strangers come stay with them for a summer. Then guys rented apartments, and for me, me and my room mates rented out a house, so that was good.
SethSpeaks: You are a catcher and there were two other catchers on the E-Town roster, Caleb Moore and Sean Richardson. Even with that situation, you got a lot of at bats as the DH. That has to make you feel pretty good about how the organization feels about you and your bat?
Eli Tintor: Yeah it does, but I don't need to know how anybody thinks about me, but If I can honestly look in the mirror and tell myself that I gave the most I could for that day that was my reward on it's own, and I know in my heart that I will get there, takes time though.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe yourself as a hitter? What are your strengths at this time? What areas do you or the organization feel you need to work on yet?
Eli Tintor: I feel as a hitter that there is no one better and that's the type of attitude you need to have when your playing, I don't judge myself so I will leave what type of hitter I am up to you guys.
SethSpeaks: How about defensively?
Eli Tintor: Defensively, I am currently working on the receiving, throwing, and foot work.
SethSpeaks: At the end of the season, does the club just let you go home, or do they sit down with you and go through some of these things and encourage you to work on things during the off-season?
Eli Tintor: Yeah you just go home but, you get your sheets or something to let you know what to improve, plus if you just ask one of the coaches they will honestly let you know what to work on. Our strength coach Perry hands out some stuff like that.
SethSpeaks: OK, you did catch a bit this year. I think Twins fans are very interested in the pitchers you had a chance to see and catch. Can you briefly describe the following pitchers in terms of their 'stuff' and feel free to dive into the type of people they are:
Yohan Pino - Pino is a great guy with some nasty stuff, this whole season he was on the top of his game.
Ryan Mullins - Mullins too is great, he just has the confidence you need to be a winner.
Brian Duensing - Duensing to has great control over his ball and hit his spots very well.
Adam Hawes - Hawes is just lights out, I love that guy and he is only going to improve so expect big things.
Oswaldo Sosa - Sosa is a good friend, He is up there with the best of them,
Kevin Slowey - For the time I got to play with Slowey he is a great guy, and has some of the best stuff you can have, hits his spots like none other.
Matt Garza - Garza for the time I got to play with him was nasty too, definitely big league material.
(Granted the last two there did not stay in E-Town long at all)
Alexander Smit - Nasty lefty that will just blow the ball by guys whenever he wanted.
Tim Lahey - I love Lahey, he used to be a catcher and with that catcher arm motion he throws a heavy ball that gets on you quick, great guy too.
--All these pitchers, man, are just so good and it showed this season.--
SethSpeaks: Are there any other players that you have played with that you would like to recognize as good guys, team clowns, unbelievable talents, who would they be?
Eli Tintor: Man to be honest, I love every body that I meet and play with, it's hard to think of just 1, you meet the coolest guys playing this game.
SethSpeaks: Who are some of the guys from the other teams in the league that you look at, or face, and say that they are going to make it, they're tough to hit, they just look natural?
Eli Tintor: I don't really look at other players like that, I don't think there is any pitcher that can get his best stuff by me, but that's the way I think and I think that's the way you gotta approach it. For the hitters I just worry about my team and what we gotta do to get the others out. No one stood out to me.
SethSpeaks: Do you have any goals for 2006? Are you thinking that you'll be in Beloit, possibly Fort Myers?
Eli Tintor: I work hard in the off seasons, and this off season I am working double hard, I think I could play at any level so that's my goal to make it the the top.
SethSpeaks: What is your offseason plan this year? Instructional League? Work out? Will you be in Minnesota or down south somewhere?
Eli Tintor: I will be up here in MN working out till after new years than I will be headed back down to Fort Myers to get my mind set on track for the season coming up. I think it will be a big year.
SethSpeaks: How do you feel about seeing yourself on baseball cards?
Eli Tintor: I love it, this is my first card and that's all I wanted. I just like the fact that people actually recognize me now the longer your in uniform I guess.
SethSpeaks: How does it feel when someone asks for your autograph? Any tips for autograph seekers to improve their chances?
Eli Tintor: It feels good, because I remember when I was in there shoes, and that's what some people forget. But I will turn someone down if they think they can just get it without asking nicely, Like some guys just say sign this and I tell them what my thoughts are on that and move on.
SethSpeaks: And finally, what is the best part about minor league baseball life, and conversely, what is the toughest?
Eli Tintor: Just the fact that I am a MN Twin, I couldn't ask for anything else in this world, the toughest is that you can't really go anywhere without people looking at ya, I hate that.
Yeah, also some lady made a fan club for me and its somewhere on the internet, it's like elitintorfanclub
Eli, thank you again for taking the time to answer all of my questions. I think it turned out great. Again, if you have any thoughts or comments on this, please e-mail me.
The Twins officially cut ties with three players yesterday, for now at least. The biggest name on the cut-list was 2B Luis Rivas. He was out righted to AAA Rochester, meaning he was taken off of the 40 man roster and will become a free agent. There is no way that the Twins will bring him back. Rivas was given more than enough chances to be productive and it just never happened. I hope he goes elsewhere and finds success. It would just never happen with the Twins.
The other two dropped from the roster were 2B Brent Abernathy and OF Michael Ryan. Both are now free agents. The Twins have said that they may try to re-sign Abernathy to a minor league contract which makes sense. And Ryan really had just one good month for the Twins, in September of 2003. But since then, he has done nothing.
Really, all this is is the start of the roster makeover. I would expect that another three to six players on the 40 man roster will be taken off of it and allowed to become free agents. Like I said yesterday, I am pretty sure that Chris Heintz will be taken off the roster, and the team will try to sign him again to a minor league contract. I would assume that the same will be done with Glenn Williams. Others who may or may not be removed from the 40 many roster include Rob Bowen, Scott Tyler, Terry Tiffee, David Gassner and Jason Tyner. A couple of them may be re-signed to minor league contracts.
It will be interesting to see what happens.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Six members of the Minnesota Twins organization reported to Arizona a couple of days ago for the annual Fall League. It is a place where teams send some of their top prospects to play against other top prospect. The Twins, like the other teams, send six players to the league and combine with players form three other organizations to form the Grand Canyon Rafters. Yesterday, the team played its first game and four of the six Twins prospects got to play:
Glen Perkins was the starting pitcher. The lefty gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk. He struck out two in his three innings. Runners were 2-3 in stolen base attempts against him.
Ricky Barrett came in to pitch the 6th inning. He gave up two runs, neither earned, on just one hit. But it was a two run home run.
Denard Span was the leadoff hitter for the team. He went 2-4 with a single and a double. One thing he needs to work on is base stealing. In this game, he was both caught stealing and picked off.
Finally, 1B Garrett Jones batted cleanup and went 2-3 with two walks. His two hits were both home runs. He drove in three runs.
The other two Twins participants are Matt Moses and Travis Bowyer.
AN UNFORTUNATE GOOD BYE
I have written on here a number of times why I chose to start writing this site. When I went to the State Fair last month and appeared on WCCO radio with him, I said that the Twins Geek was the godfather, so to speak, of the Twins blogging community. I stand behind that completely. There are a lot of Twins blogs, but I think that most of them are the result of the Geek.
Well, last night, the Twins Geek made an announcement that I am sure will surprise a good many Twins fans, and baseball fans in general. The Twins Geek has decided to shut down TwinsGeek.com and TwinsTerritory.com. Last night, he wrote an excellent posting called The Three Rules of Breakups in which he detailed many of the reasons why he is shutting it down. He acknowledges that part of it is due to technology issues, but that is probably a small part. I just don't know if people fully understand how much work, and how much research and how much time really goes into writing a post worthy of the people who take the time to read what we write. The Geek has a wife and two kids, affectionately known as The Chatty Chatty Princess and The Misunderstood one, and I am sure he would love to spend more time with them. The comment that he mentioned that hit me the most was that he will be able to listen to a Twins game on the radio while working on a project and not have to jot down notes. He will simply be able to enjoy the game. Believe me, I completely understand that.
When I met John Bonnes (aka The Twins Geek), he was a very good guy. He was fun to talk to, very passionate about baseball and the Twins, and just a good guy. He will likely continue to be all of those things, just with lots more time at his disposal. The Geek will be missed by many, myself included because he was/is so good at this blogging thing that we all try to do.
Good Luck John!
NOTE TO THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTE TO TWINS TERRITORY - I am looking for guest writers throughout the offseason, for one entry each week. If you are at all interested in writing once for this site, or would like to know what I would like to see from these postings, please e-mail me.
That is it for me for today. I will be back on tomorrow with those Twins September Grades. If you have any questions or comments, or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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