Thursday, December 15, 2005
"Roger" on the Twins Outfielders
Good Morning to all! Well, I am now officially on the Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame kick. I definitely believe that Bert Belongs! FoxSports.com's Dayn Perry was the guest writer yesterday at The Baseball Analysts with his article on Blyleven. Today, it is a Hall of Fame voter, Jeff Peek writing and excellent article for Bert. I'm trying to do my part. On Tuesday night, I went to sportspages.com and went to the newspapers in the cities with major league ball teams (and surrounding papers) and sent an e-mail to their baseball writers, well to the ones that posted their e-mails. Anyway, I sent out e-mails to about 70 media members. As of when this was published, I had heard response from 13, most of them very positive. If they had a vote, they voted for Bert. If they didn't have a vote, they would if they could. Just one, Richard Justice from the Houston Chronicle admitted that he is really struggling with it and did list a few reasons. Of course, each could be argued. But I appreciate his response. It will be interesting to see if any more choose to respond and what they say. I would say that if you're interested, consider writing your Baseball Writers. I should point out that the four guys from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Charley Walters, Bob Sansavere, Gordon Wittenmeyer and Tom Powers, and voted for him. I've received no response from the guys from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Other positive responses have come from Kevin Baxter of the Miami Herald (doesn't have a vote), Paul Hoynes from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (I'm 'preaching to the choir'), Lynn Williams from the Detroit News (votes for him every year), Joe Rutter from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (2nd year voting, voted for him both years), Troy Renck from the Denver Post (not eligible to vote yet, but it is 'criminal' that anyone doesn't vote for him), John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle (votes for him) and Joe Haakenson of the LA Daily News (votes for him).
Just a real quick update on "The Stone." I went in to see a specialist today, and we decided that I would have the surgery to 'blast' the kidney stone up into hundreds of small granules, making them much easier to pass. The surgery will be on Friday sometime. I am sure the anesthesia will be a lot of fun! Don't worry. I will be back tomorrow with our football picks, so be sure to check back! Also, I am again backed up on the e-mails with everything going on, so please be patient with me and feel free to continue to write.
ROGER'S MINOR LEAGUE REVIEW - Outfielders
In previous weeks, "Roger" has done his positional review of the Twins system. He has reviewed the 2005 seasons of the catchers, the first basemen, the third basemen , and the middle infielders last week. This week, we will review the 2005 seasons of the Twins minor league outfielders. Remember about four years ago when the Twins had Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Restovich, Michael Ryan and other quality outfield prospects? I think many Twins fans think that the Twins are now really lacking in outfield prospects. Sure, there is Jason Kubel coming back from injury, and Alex Romero is a known commodity, and Denard Span is a 1st round draft pick, but there are plenty of other outfielders in the Twins system who could at least contribute at some level to the Minnesota Twins down the road. Today, we will discuss and recognize some of them. So, lets see what "Roger" has to say about all of the Twins minor league outfielders. If you have any thoughts for me or Roger, e-mail me, or leave some comments below. Have a great day!
Twins Minor League System Review
The Middle Infielders
Today we will take a look at the outfielders. A reminder about the ranking I show for each player. It is based on their performance in 2005 and if they missed part of the season, their ranking will be lower as a result. I have highlighted all rankings that were lowered because of injury or another reason (#46). Players included on the Twins 40-man roster will have their names in Bold Green.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
The Red Wings saw several outfielders complete good seasons, seasons which could put them in the hunt for a reserve role with the Twins in 2006. Kevin West (#9/D16, 1999) followed his breakout 2004 (29 HR) with a 20 home run season at Rochester (425ab/.271Ave/.355OBP/.478SLG). The 26 year old will be one of several players available should any Twins outfielders suffer injuries. (SETH NOTE - West suffered a knee injury playing in Venezuela and had surgery in the Cities. He could miss some time this season.) Another prospective reserve is 27 year old Josh Rabe (#17/D11, 2000), who saw his performance slip from previous seasons (285ab/.239Ave/.313OBP/.414SLG)…in part due to his being injured and spending time on the DL. Jason Tyner (#12/mlfa, 2005) is a 29 year old outfielder with speed (18SB/24Att). A defensive specialist, he also hits well (524ab/.286Ave/.351OBP/.334SLG) with good plate discipline (48BB/57SO). Tyner did well during his September call up, hitting .321 in 56 at bats with the Twins. Tyner was released following the season, thus taking him off the 40-man roster. He was re-signed to a minor league contract for 2006 and will get a long look in spring training for a fifth outfield spot. Second baseman Luis Maza also saw some playing time in left field as the Twins look for ways to increase his chances of making the Twins roster, perhaps as early as 2006.
Other outfielders seeing time with the Red Wings included Brian “Buck” Buchanon (#50/mlfa, 2005), who returned to the Twins organization late last summer (114ab/.316Ave/.355OBP/.482SLG) with 4 home runs and 16 rbi. Todd Dunwoody (#69/mlfa, 2004) is a 30 year old outfielder who joined the Twins in 2004. A reliable outfielder (300ab/.247Ave/.290OBP/.370SLG), he was released following the end of the season. Michael Ryan, who was also released following the season, spent part of the year with the Twins (117ab/.231Ave/.283OBP/.325SLG) after putting up solid numbers in Rochester (152ab/.283Ave/.343OBP/.461SLG).
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
Doug Deeds (#4/D9, 2002) was New Britain’s top hitter (493ab/.304Ave/.382OBP/.479SLG) at the age of 24. Deeds displayed some power (16 home runs and 34 doubles), while driving in 82 runs. Deeds is a very consistent hitter who has performed well as he has moved up the system, one step at a time. Look for Deeds to put up another solid year at Rochester in 2006.
Perhaps the top outfield prospect close to making the Twins roster is Venezuelan, Alex Romero (#3/ndfa, 2000). Romero, who at 22 was young for AA, put up excellent numbers at New Britain (509ab/.301Ave/.354OBP/.458SLG). Romero’s power is improving as he matures, hitting 31 doubles and 15 home runs (vs. 6 HR at Ft. Myers in 2004). Although he strikes out about twice as much as he walks, he only struck out 69 times in 509 at bats. Romero had one of New Britain’s best hitting streaks of all time… his 23 game hitting streak missed the franchise record by 2 games, however, he was safe in a franchise high 38 consecutive games. Romero, who improved his stock after a tremendous 2004/2005 winter season in Venezuela, will get a long look in spring training and will likely join Deeds in the Red Wing outfield. Look for Romero, who was recently added to the 40-man roster, to be considered for a call up in September or earlier should the Twins need an outfielder.
James Tomlin (#19/D7, 2000) was the Rock Cats starting centerfielder prior to Denard Span’s promotion in July. Tomlin struggled at New Britain in 2004 (490ab/.216Ave) following a 2003 season at Ft. Myers where his .303 batting average was comparable to teammates Joe Mauer (.335) and Jason Kubel (.298). Tomlin, who is young (turned 23 in August), is thought of as one of the system’s best defensive outfielders. He began this season slowly, however, improved as the season went on finishing with very respectable numbers (343ab/.274Ave/.327OBP/.385SLG) with 10 stolen bases in 15 attempts. If this speedy defensive specialist can continue to hit like the last half of 2005, he could be in consideration for a role with the Twins in 2007.
The Twins have often referred to Denard Span (#2/D1, 2002) as the heir apparent to Torii Hunter in center field. Span had phenomenal numbers (186ab/.339Ave/.410OBP/.403SLG) for the first half of the season at Ft. Myers. As a 21 year old in AA, Span’s numbers were very good after he was promoted in July (267ab/.285Ave/.355OBP/.345SLG). Span, who signed late and didn’t play in 2002, remains a work in progress having missed parts of both the 2003 and 2004 seasons to injuries. He is often referred to as the fastest player in the system, however, needs work on his base running as he is both thrown out and picked off to often (13SB/17Att) and (10SB/18Att) at Ft. Myers and New Britain, respectively. He is a slap hitter who appears to be an ideal lead off hitter with good plate discipline (22BB/25SO) and (22BB/41SO) at Ft. Myers and New Britain. Following the season, Span participated in the Arizona Fall League. Although there was a negative report from one source concerning his defensive play, players who played with him at New Britain have stated that he is a very good defensive player. Considering he was one of the younger players in the AFL, he had an excellent fall as Grand Canyon‘s lead off hitter (102ab/.294Ave/.339OBP/.353SLG) with 7BB/9SO and 7 stolen bases in 12 attempts. It is likely he will begin the season at New Britain and move to Rochester next summer.
After spending many years in the Twins system, Twin Cities native Matt Scanlon retired from baseball shortly after the start of the season. It should also be mentioned that the Twins recently signed an exciting young player, Brent Krause, who played for Fargo-Moorhead of the Northern League in 2005. Krause, who will be 23 next year, could begin his Twins career at New Britain.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi A)
Unlike New Britain who had several outfielders who are top prospects, Ft. Myers outfielders are less well known. Their top prospect is Trent Oeltjen (#20/ndfa, 2001), who is a 22 year old from Australia who left before the end of the season to join the Australian National Team in the World Cup. Oeltjen also missed the first few weeks of the season after getting a sliver in his eye from a broken bat while standing near the cage during batting practice in spring training. Oeltjen is a speedy outfielder (21SB/30Att) who was Ft. Myers top hitter after Moses and Span were promoted to New Britain (341ab/.287Ave/.369OBP/.396SLG). Another interesting prospect is Scott Whitrock (#29/D19, 2001) who is blessed with excellent speed (25SB/30Att) and power with his team leading 15 home runs. Whitrock’s offensive statistics (379ab/.222Ave/.278OBP/.398SLG) were dampened by his system leading 158 strike outs. He will need to maintain his power and cut down on strikeouts if he is to continue moving up the system.
Other outfielders who saw significant playing time at Ft. Myers included Ron Perodin (#67/D27, 2002). Perodin’s statistics (318ab/.226Ave/.305OBP/.255SLG) in 2005 were not as good as during his first season at Ft. Myers in 2004. Mark Zamojc (#43/D42, 2003) was promoted to Ft. Myers from Beloit (236ab/.237Ave/.307OBP/.360SLG) where he played both outfield and some first base. His numbers were (99ab/.222Ave/.278OBP/.293SLG) in limited playing time at Ft. Myers. Another Minnesota native, Justin Arneson (#68/ndfa, 2002) was injured for part of the season (171ab/.199Ave/.293OBP/.287SLG). Garrett Guzman (D10, 2001) was listed on the roster at the beginning of the season, however, did not see any action in 2005.
Beloit Snappers (Low A)
Beloit, who may have had the best infield in the system, also had a solid group of outfielders. Deacon Burns (#14/D26, 2004), who is built like a young Kirby Puckett, used his speed (13SB/16Att) to leg out 36 doubles and a franchise record 13 triples along with 12 home runs. He is an excellent defensive outfielder who is a solid two way player (527ab/.271Ave/.345OBP/.457SLG). Another outfield prospect playing for the Snappers is Jeremy Pickrel (#16/D10, 2004), who also has excellent speed (15SB/20Att) to go with the team’s second best batting average (393ab/.277Ave/.370OBP/.450SLG).
Tarrence Patterson (#36/D35, 2002) is another speedy outfielder (18SB/22Att) who was solid offensively (307ab/.254Ave/.331OBP/.345SLG) and defensively. Landon Burt (#52/D27, 2004) is another college outfielder selected from a lower round of the 2004 draft who had a solid season at Beloit (241ab/.241Ave/.306OBP/.299SLG). Dwayne White (#57/ndfa), who was signed as a minor league free agent, performed well (268ab/.261Ave/.326OBP/.332SLG) in his first season with the Twins.
Elizabethton Twins (Rookie)
Edward Ovalle (#24/ndfa) is a 20 year old product of the Dominican Republic who was in his second year in the Twins system. Ovalle had solid statistics (239ab/.285Ave/.374OBP/.435SLG) while playing more outfield than any other player on the roster. Josh Land (#73/D38, 2004) is a 20 year old who had excellent statistics in limited playing time (72ab/.306Ave/.346OBP/.417SLG), as did Larry Jones (#60/D44, 2003) who was solid offensively (108ab/.287Ave/.389OBP/.417SLG).
Other outfielders for the championship Elizabethton Twins included Jilmer Arratia (#78/ndfa) who was one of the top hitters for the GCL Twins in 2004 (175ab/.320Ave), however, missed a substantial part of last season with an injury (100ab/.270Ave/.275OBP/.330SLG). Another was Mark Robinson (#44/D4, 2004), who also had solid numbers for a 19 year old (229ab/.245Ave/.311OBP/.354SLG).
One of the top young hitting prospects in the system, Juan Portes, is a second baseman who saw limited playing time in left field. With the recent acquisition of Alexi Casilla, will Portes be moved to left field full time?
Gulf Coast Twins (Rookie)
One of the most exciting young sluggers in the system was a 2004 draft and follow, Danny Santiesteban (#23/D39, 2004). Santiesteban, who is a 20 year old with plus speed, missed much of the season with a broken finger following an unbelievable start. In just 75 at bats, Santiesteban was amongst the system leaders in many power categories (.307Ave/.365OBP/.640SLG) with 6 home runs (1HR/12.5ab) and 24 rbi (1RBI/3.125ab). Another exciting young outfield prospect is Richard Sojo (#51/ndfa), who at 20 years old is an excellent hitter (148ab/.318Ave/.388OBP/.459SLG) leading the team with 11 doubles and 5 triples.
J.W. Wilson (#74/D6, 2005) had respectable numbers (83ab/.229Ave/.333OBP/.301SLG) for an 18 year old playing his first professional ball. Twenty year old Wesley Connor (#76/ndfa, 2005) was solid in his first year with the organization (65ab/.246ab/.286OBP/.385SLG). Simon Fletcher (#82/ndfa, 2003) was in his second season with the GCL Twins (60ab/.200Ave/.324OBP/.283SLG). Ricky Prady (#84/D29, 2004) was a draft and follow (34ab/.206Ave/.308OBP/.412SLG) who missed part of the season.
The Twins have three players at Rochester, Jason Tyner, Josh Rabe and Kevin West, who could battle for a fifth outfield slot and are potential short-term replacements should any outfielder be injured during the season. Their top prospects, Alex Romero and Denard Span, aren’t yet ready but could see duty in the Twins outfield beginning late summer or September. Romero is potentially a solid corner outfielder who hits for a good average and is developing reasonable power. Span is all about speed, a slap hitter who is an ideal lead off hitter and with experience should become a terror on the bases. Another top prospect is Doug Deeds, who isn’t as well known yet has quietly put up top numbers at every level of the organization.
Trent Oeltjen and Scott Whitrock are intriguing prospects who were both at Ft. Myers. Beloit had several outfielders who are further from the “Show.” Deacon Burns is a center fielder who uses his speed to generate many extra base hits. Jeremy Pickrel is another solid hitter who also has excellent speed and could develop into a solid big leaguer in a few years. Several outfielders from Elizabethton and the GCL appear to have promising futures, including Richard Sojo, JW Wilson, Edward Ovalle, Josh Land, Larry Jones and Jilmer Arratia. The outfielder from the rookie leagues who appears to have the most potential however, is slugger Danny Santiesteban. For a team as hungry for power as the Twins, Santiesteban could move quickly through the system. Finally, the acquisition of Alexi Casilla could cause the Twins to move Juan Portes to the outfield. He is one of the most exciting young hitters in their organization and may reach the parent club more quickly as an outfielder than if he remains at second base.
Another excellent job by Roger, detailing the outfielders in the Twins minor league system. Really, I don't need to summarize anything because he has it covered very well. But, I do like to share my opinions. What I do throughout the season is update my site daily with highlights from all of the Twins affiliates. In doing so, some names just pop up all the times. Some hitters just seem to constantly get multiple hits, or exhibit power. So, that is how I generally get to know them and base an opinion.
There are some obvious ones, as Roger mentioned, like Denard Span and Alex Romero, who everybody knows about. They show up a lot. A few other guys have really stuck out to me in doing that. Ever since he was drafted on Day 2 by the Twins in 2004, Deacon Burns has done nothing but rake, and with lots of extra base hits. He is a guy who is very intriguing. Doug Deeds is another guy like that. Sure, Romero may have been more spectacular in the second half, but Deeds was so consistent throughout the year. That is another good way to get noticed.
I think one reason that the Twins minor league outfielders are not thought of more highly is because of the age of the guys playing at AAA. I consider West and Rabe prospects still, but they are certainly not young. And Tyner has had chance after chance and teams finally realized that he is what he is. Buchanan and Dunwoody were essentially organizational fillers. Sure, these guys are very important to an organization. Tyner has shown that his speed can help the Twins. I still think that West and Rabe could contribute as bit players off the bench if summoned.
I am very intrigued by the outfielders who ended the year at New Britain though. Deeds was consistently good all year. Romero can be very impressive. Denard Span just had a great year and when he moved up to AA, he did not slow down, playing a level or two above his age. But I agree with Roger in that as long as Torii Hunter is on the Twins roster, the team can afford to be patient with Span. He should start the year at AA again and move up as needed.
And, those who have checked out this site for a couple of years know that I have seemingly picked up a name from the minor leagues each year that I predict big things for. Two years ago, it was Kubel, a year before his breakout year. Last year, I predicted big things for Alex Romero because his Ft. Myers numbers were so similar to Kubel's. I picked out Trent Oeltjen a couple of years too, not really for any of those reasons, but mainly just because of how young he is and his ability to walk. I was very interested in seeing how he would do at Ft. Myers in order to compare his season to those of Kubel and Romero. Well, because of the preseason injury, he missed a significant chunk of time. However, we can see that he will not have the power that Kubel and Romero are capable of, but he should be able to hit for average and get on-base and steal bases. So, I think he'll be an impact player with the Twins in two or three years, but it will not be the same type of impact.
Another clear sign is the value that the Twins organization puts on having speed in CF. Torii Hunter, Jason Tyner, Denard Span, James Tomlin, Trent Oeltjen, Ron Perodin, Terrance Patterson and Mark Robinson can all fly!
Finally, one area that Roger and I disagree is on Danny Santiesteban. He did put up good numbers, but he was 20 years old at the GCL. That isn't old, but he also had a year of college competition behind him. Then he had a wrist injury, which is always scary for a power hitting type. I will be very interested in what he does next year. I would like to see the Twins push him up to Beloit to see what he is capable of.
So, overall, I definitely agree with Roger that the Twins do have some quality outfield prospects. Some of the more high level prospects will be playing in New Britain and Rochester next year, so it will be OK to get a little more excited about them. Do you have any thoughts on the Twins minor league outfielders? If so, e-mail me, or post some comments below. Check back next week when Roger will help us learn more about another position in the Twins minor league system.
Just a few thoughts on some of the deals made in Day 3 of the Winter Meetings, along with a few other thoughts on the baseball world.
Wow, the White Sox sure are not standing pat, are they? Yesterday, they were the winners in the Javier Vazquez sweepstakes. They acquired the talented righty from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Luis Vizcaino and Chris Young. El Duque is done. Vizcaino is an average middle reliever. Chris Young is a decent outfield prospect. He is probably the key to the deal for the D-backs. But why? I mean, they already have Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green in their corner outfield positions and they're not moving. A few guys played CF for them a year ago, including Luis Terrero, a decent prospect. But they also have Carlos Quentin, a very high-level outfield prospect. So, will Young get a shot with Arizona? For the White Sox, another excellent pitcher. It will now be interesting to see how their rotation lines up, or if they will make another deal. As it is, I would assume it would go Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia with Brandon McCarthy likely moved to the bullpen for the time being. Excellent deal for the Sox.
So, Alex Rodriguez is going to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, huh? That has been an issue that bothered me since I first heard that he was even considering it. Yes, his parents were both born there and moved to the USA. A-Rod, however, was born in New York and grew up in Miami. That was my big argument that he should play for the USA. However, he is a dual citizen and still spends time with family in the Dominican. I still believe that he will be bashed for this decision, and that is fair. However, what if it is something that his parents asked him to do, and since he is eligible, he is going by them. We may never know that. Of course, there is an argument the other way saying, why shouldn't he play for the Dominican Republic. He is closer to being Dominican than the players going to play for Italy, like Mike Piazza. However, the difference is that Mike Piazza would not make Team USA's roster. He would be behind the likes of Jason Varitek and Joe Mauer and even Brad Ausmus and probably others in the pecking order. So, 1.) it is his opportunity to play in the Classic, and 2.) his presence will help promote baseball in Italy. The Dominican Republic already has a stacked lineup with guys like SS Miguel Tejada, 2B Alfonso Soriano, 1B Albert Pujols, DH David Ortiz, OF Miguel Cabrera, OF Vlad Guerrero, and pitchers like Pedro Martinez and Bartolo Colon. For the Twins, Jesse Crain is an interesting case. He was actually born in Toronto, so he could pitch for them in the Classic. However, in the 2003 Olympic Qualifying team, Crain was dominant for Team USA. He probably would not make the Team USA roster in this, so should he play for Team Canada? And, if he does, how does that affect his future Team USA standing? All interesting questions.
So, what will the Twins do at 3B for next year??? It appears that Bill Mueller is about to sign a two year, $9.5 million contract with the Dodgers, and Nomar Garciaparra has narrowed his teams to three or four, none of which is the Twins. Who does that leave? Joe Randa? I guess, but really, is he that much better than Michael Cuddyer?
And, who was it that said, Don't be surprised if Nomar Garciaparra signs with the Yankees? Of course, I thought he would be their second baseman, and the Yankees are talking about playing him at 1B. I can totally see him shifting out to CF, but I wonder how playing out there would affect his frequent injuries?
An interesting situation is happening. The Red Sox are working on a plan for if/when Johnny Damon leaves. They have said that they will go no higher than four years and $40 million. Damon is holding off, looking for more. Well, there is talk that the Red Sox are talking to the Mariners about a trade of Matt Clement to the Mariners in return for CF Jeremy Reed. It would be a good deal for the Red Sox, although I think that Clement could do alright with the Red Sox again. But Reed is a young CF with a lot of speed. He's great defensively and has been good at getting on-base. Excellent backup plan!
The question then becomes, who would play CF for the Mariners? Jamal Strong? How about Jacque Jones?
Billy Beane continues to say that he won't trade Barry Zito now. Personally, I think that he will. As soon as Mets are willing to give them Lastings Milledge, it would be done. I wonder if they were willing to take on Milton Bradley for one year, thinking that they can get Milledge and give him the CF job for years to come?
Any thought on the baseball trades, signings or rumors? E-mail me. or leave some comments.
That's all, folks! I will call it a day. I certainly hope that you have found Roger's article on the Twins outfielders worth reading, and I hope that many of you will have comments for him. I will be back tomorrow for more of my own thoughts on some of your questions, as well as the NFL "Expert" Picks. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
Back to Archives Home