Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Roger 2008 Twins Prospect Team
Part II: Starting Pitchers and Bullpen
Yesterday, we presented Rogerís 2008 Starting Lineup and Bench. Today it is time for the pitchers. Roger gives us his choices for the starting rotation and the bullpen.
2008 Twins Organization All-Star Team
Selected by Roger Dehring
The Twins organization had another successful season with the Ft. Myers Miracle, the Gulf Coast League Twins and the Dominican Summer League Twins all winning division championships and the Miracle going all the way to the Florida State League Championship series. There were many players with seasons worthy of end of the year recognition, however, the following are my selections of players who all had special seasons.
This twenty-nine man team will be presented with a nine man starting lineup, nine reserves and eleven pitchers (five starters, one long relief, two middle relief, two short relief and a closer). All players will include their age as of the first day of the season, my year-end ranking (in red) and the highest level played during the season. Players who had significant playing time with the Twins (Denard Span (#1), Brian Buscher (#3) and Francisco Liriano (#2)) are not eligible.
THE STARTING ROTATION
Tyler Robertson/LHP (20, #4, Ft. Myers Miracle)
Kevin Mulvey/RHP (22, #5, Rochester Red Wings)
Jeff Manship/RHP (23, #6, New Britain Rock Cats)
Michael McCardell/RHP (22, #7, Beloit Snappers)
Cole DeVries/RHP (23, #14, Ft. Myers Miracle)
Tyler Robertson was having a special year before going on the disabled list for the last few months of the season. A third round pick in the 2006 draft, Robertson has been known as a tall lefty with an unusual motion that some believe may have been responsible for this summers arm problems. Prior to the injury, Robertson had a 5-3 record in 15 starts (82.2 innings) with 1 complete game, a 2.72ERA and 73K/31BB. With the best ERA of all starters on the Miracle staff, Robertson was one player the Miracle could not replace as they made a run for the FSL championship. Assuming he fully recovers from his injuries, Robertson may begin 2009 back at Ft. Myers before moving up to New Britain during the season.
Kevin Mulvey may be the most successful pitcher of the three obtained in the Santana trade. Mulvey was the most consistent starter for the Red Wings as he led the team with 148.0 innings in 27 starts. Mulvey finished with a 7-9 record with 1 complete game, a 3.77ERA and 121K/48BB. Mulvey, who was recently ranked as the Twins eighth best prospect by Baseball America, should get a long look by the Twins in spring training with his being in contention for a starting role should the Twins trade a starter this winter. If they do not, look for Mulvey to return to Rochester and be one of the leading candidates for a call up during the 2009 season.
One of the best known starters in the organization these past few years has been Jeff Manship. Jeff began the 2008 season in Ft. Myers where he was selected as an all-star during the first half, finishing with a 7-3 record in 13 starts with one complete game shutout, a 2.86ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 63K/20BB in 78.2 innings. Jeff moved up to New Britain where he had some very good games as well as several which werenít up to his standards. Jeffís season at New Britain ended with 4.46ERA in 14 starts (76.2 innings) with a 3-6 record and 62K/24BB. Jeff finished his year in the Arizona Fall League where he had the honor of starting the championship game for the champion Phoenix Desert Dogs. Jeff wrote a blog during the AFL in which he commented on how tired he was as he was approaching 190 innings. In this prestigious hitters league, Jeff had a 2-1 record in 8 starts (32.1 innings) with a 5.01ERA and 29K/8BB. Depending upon what happens with the Twins rotation between now and spring, Manship could begin 2009 back at New Britain or in Rochester.
There were many raised eyebrows when USA Today named Michael McCardell as the Twins Top Prospect. Those who have followed the career of this young man since his selection in the sixth round of the 2007 draft were less likely to question USAís lofty selection. Other than when he was battling a mid-season injury, McCardell pitched as well as anyone in the organization as he compiled a 9-4 record in 22 games (135.1 innings) with 1 complete game. He finished with a 2.86ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 139K/25BB. McCardell should move up to Ft. Myers next season and a second step to New Britain wonít be out of the question if he pitches well during the first half.
One pitcher who continues to surprise many fans is Eden Prairie, Minnesota native Cole DeVries. Much as he did at Beloit in 2007 where he finished with a 9-5 record and 3.41ERA, DeVries pitched as well as anyone for the Miracle this year. Cole appeared in 24 games (135.1 innings) with a 10-9 record, 1 complete game, 2.93ERA and 105K/38BB. Cole was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 and has been as successful as any of the organizationís top prospects these past two seasons. Look for Cole to move up another level next year where he will likely continue to pitch beyond most fanís expectations.
Zach Ward/RHP/Long relief (24, #35, New Britain Rock Cats)
Jose Mijares/LHP/Middle relief (23, #16, New Britain Rock Cats/Minnesota Twins)
Charles Nolte/RHP/Middle relief (22, #12, Beloit Snappers)
Ben Julianel/LHP/Short relief (28, #15, New Britain Rock Cats)
Anthony Slama/RHP/Short relief (24, #3, Ft. Myers Miracle)
Robert Delaney/RHP/Closer (23, #1, New Britain Rock Cats)
Zach Ward was one of the top relief pitchers in the organization while pitching out of the New Britain bullpen during April and May with a 0.54ERA and 1.59ERA, respectively. In June and July the Twins moved him in and out of the starting rotation and he wasnĎt as successful. He returned to the bullpen exclusively in August when he compiled a 3.00ERA with a 3-0 record. Ward finished his season with a 5-6 record in 46 games (5 starts), 93.0 innings, a 3.77ERA and 81K/51BB. While working out of the bullpen, Ward appeared in 41 games (68.1 innings) with a 3.16ERA, 5-2 record, 1 save and 59K/38BB. Without being privy to the opinions of New Britainís management, it appears that Ward was either less effective as a starter or tired as a result of appearing in nearly 50 games in 5 months. Ward is not on the Twins 40-man roster, however, should move up to Rochester in 2009.
Jose Mijares broke his elbow in an auto accident last winter in Venezuela. As a result he didnít appear in any games until mid-summer when he began his rehab in the GCL, appearing in 7 games (11.0 innings) with a 0.82ERA, 2-1 record and 16K/1BB. Mijares moved up to Ft. Myers where he appeared in 5 games (10.1 innings) with a 2.61ERA and 8K/3BB. He then moved up another level to New Britain where he appeared in 11 games (15.1 innings) with a 1-1 record, 2.93ERA and 17K/7BB. Mijares was then somewhat of a surprise September call up where he became one of the Twins most consistent late inning options in September. With the Twins, Mijares appeared in 10 games with a 0-1 record, 0.87ERA and 5K/0BB. This winter Mijares is being used as a closer for the Aragua Tigres in his native Venezuela where he has a 2-1 record and 8 saves with a 0.59ERA in 17 games (15.1 innings) with 17K/5BB. All indications are that the Twins will be counting on Mijares to be one of their left-handed short relief options in 2009.
Charles Nolte was a twenty-fourth round selection in the 2007 draft. After an excellent rookie season with the GCL Twins in 2007, Nolte moved up to Beloit where he was their most effective reliever throughout the season. Nolte appeared in 44 games (70.1 innings) with a 4-3 record, 1 save, 2.05ERA and 75K/35BB. Nolte should move up to Ft. Myers next season where he should continue to impress the Twins.
Last winter the Twins signed a left-handed veteran minor league pitcher, Ben Julianel. Julianel was assigned to New Britain where he tied Bobby Korecky for the most saves in the organization with 26. Ben was consistently a bright spot for the Rock Cats as they struggled all season, finishing with a 2.37ERA in 56 games (68.1 innings) with 78K/30BB. Julianel is not on the Twins 40-man roster and should he return, he will likely move up to Rochester next spring.
Anthony Slama was one of the most successful relievers in minor league baseball during 2008. He shared the closer/short-relief duties with Rob Delaney during the first half then was the Miracle closer when Delaney moved up to New Britain. Many have questioned why Slama remained at Ft. Myers all season, however, he and Delaney had nearly identical seasons and the Twins likely wanted Slama to remain with Ft. Myers to get experience as a closer. Slama appeared in 51 games (71.0 innings) with a 4-1 record, 25 saves, 1.01ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 110K/24BB. Slama finished his season with an amazing 1.642 Dominance Ratio (Strikeouts divided by (hits plus walks)). Slama moved on to the Arizona Fall League where he pitched very well in most appearances, however, in a short season it takes only one or two poor outings to ruin a short relievers numbers. Slama appeared in 12 games (10.0 innings) with 1 save, 8.10ERA and 10K/7BB. Look for Slama to move up to New Britain next spring where he will most likely put up numbers similar to what he did in Ft. Myers this season.
Rob Delaney was another reliever who pitched as well as anyone this year. My top ranked pitcher in the organization began his season sharing the closer duties with Anthony Slama in Ft. Myers. Delaney had a 1-2 record with 13 saves in 23 appearances (31.2 innings), 1.42ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 34K/4BB. Delaney moved up to New Britain following the all-star game where he had a 2-1 record with 5 saves in 23 appearances (34.1 innings), 1.04ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 38K/7BB. Delaney also moved on to the Arizona Fall League in October where like Slama, he pitched very well in most games with a few so-so outings. Slama finished his fall season with a 1-1 record in 11 games (11.2 innings) with a 4.63ERA and 11K/4BB.