3/22/17

Live Fort Myers Report from the Twins Spring Training: 3/21/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training, and the first live from Fort Myers.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.

  • Last day at Fort Myers from me, so the next Twins' Spring Training report will be from up North
  • RHP Trevor May is having his Tommy John surgery today
  • LHP Ryan O'Rourke will start the season in the 10-day Disabled List with elbow tightness, diagnosed as flexor mass strain.  Athletics' P Homer Baily had that condition, and this is an interesting article on it.
  • The Twins released RHP Ryan Vogelsong per his request
  • Looks like C Stuart Turner might be returning from the Reds.
  • Kyle Gibson was good against the Phillies yesterday, pitching for 5 innings allowing 5 hits, including a HR, one walk, that one run and striking out 2.  His Spring ERA is 2.01 and WHIP 1.12 now.  Threw a variety of pitches and had good command and control.  He maxed out at 91 mph.  The Twins relievers, especially JT Chargois (8.64 ERA 2.28 WHIP for Spring), Buddy Boshers (8.59 ERA 1.91 WHIP), and Raul Fernandez (14.93 ERA 3.00 WHIP)were not that good, allowing 8 earned runs to the Philly AAA and AA players.   I cannot see Chargois or Boshers (Fernandez for that matter too, but he was never in the conversation, and, along with Jake Reed was cut after the game) to make the  Twins at this point and they both have options.  Boshers' 40-man spot might also be on jeopardy. 
  • As far as the 25th man spot battle goes, Danny Santana (.256/.289/.395), Ehire Adrianza (.280/.379/.400), and Bengie Gonzales (.462/.481/.654) all played with Santana starting at LF and the other two coming in infielder substitutions.   Despite hitting the least, Santana still has the upper hand because of position flexibility and also because of the fact that Jorge Polanco (.225/.244/.550) and Miguel Sano (.229/.270/.514) have been more than adequate with the gloves in their respective positions.  This fact and the presence of Eduardo Escobar (.273/.333/.303), makes yet another middle infielder less attractive than Santana.
  • RHP Phil Hughes touched 94 mph today at Astros, but pitched only 2 innings allowing 9 hits (2 HRs), 6 runs, and struck out 2.  Not very inspiring outing, but the Twins seem to feel that he is ready.
  • Back field day today where LHPs Craig Breslow and Stephen Gonsalves pitched an inning a piece for the Twins' high A and A teams respectively.  Good to see Gonsalves not being bother from his shoulder issues.  He was throwing all his pitches and had good command of the curveball, which is very encouraging.  As far as other pitchers went, RHP Derreck Rodriguez (A+) sporting long hair and a goatee (not unlike that of JT Chargois) and a new cutter that sat at 84-86 had a very good day.  His high 70s curve was sharp as always and had good command of both his 92-94 mph four-seamer and 89-91 mph two-seamer.  The Twins still treating him as a starter, but I will not be surprised if he is fast-tracked in the pen.  RHP Eddie Del Rosario (A) is lanky, has a rubber arm and a nice 92-93 fastball that looks like it will break a lot of bats.  First time to see one of the newest Twins pitchers and is one to keep an eye on:  Jonny Drozd (A+) who was signed as a minor league free agent this off-season from the Yankees organization.  Tall and lanky he is throwing sidearm with a lot of deception.  His bread and butter pitch is a frisbee slider that he is throwing at any count and runs from 72-74 mph.  He supplements it by a 86-87 mph two-seamer that he has excellent control of and a 76-77 mph change up that is a third pitch.  The lefty is pitching backwards, throwing many more sliders than fastballs and uses his fastball as a change of pace or an out pitch.  Andy McIver (A+) is another talk lanky lefty, but he throws 3/4 and is much more of a traditional pitcher throwing a 88-91 mph fastball with good command and a 78-79 mph change up.
  • Had the opportunity to see 5 catchers today:  On the high A side, I think that AJ Murphy will open a lot of eyes this season. He has very good bat control and squared more than a few balls this spring.  I really expect him to shoot on the prospect rankings.  Brian Navarreto is huge and a tremendous presence behind the plate.   He looks a lot like Adam Walker, but still, albeit being better in recognizing pitches than previous seasons, he has a hard time hitting his way out of a paper bag.  Mitchell Kranson whom the Twins drafted in the 9th round in 2016 from UC Berkeley looks like a catcher and he reminds me of a young Mitch Garver.  Will probably be at Cedar Rapids, but definitely someone to keep an eye on.  On the A side, two teenagers: Ben Rortverdt looks like the real thing behind the plate with good game calling and strong arm.  Passed balls/ wild pitches might give him some trouble this season.  Venezuelan Robert Molina might hit as well  as Navarreto, but he is definitely a presence when he catches.  Interesting to see him develop.
  • Parting thoughts about 2 players who happen to share the same first name:  Travis Blackenhorn looks a lot like Travis Harrison of yore.  Very tentative at the plate and plays smaller than he is.  Travis Harrison on the other hand, really opened some eyes both at Hammond Stadium and at the back fields.  He came in all muscle, attacks the balls and shows the power that the Twins hoped he will show when drafted.  As of now my choice for both the Twins' minor league comeback player of the year and player of the year.  Might be in the Cities by season's end.
  • Tomorrow is my travel day and will post my thoughts regarding my prediction of the 2017 Twins record some time next week.

3/20/17

Live Fort Myers Report from the Twins Spring Training: 3/20/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training, and the first live from Fort Myers.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.

  • Nick Burdi pitched a perfect inning last Wednesday.  
  • Kennys Vargas was 2 for 5 with a walk, a home run and three strikeouts for Team Puerto Rico in a WBC game Saturday.
  • Ervin Santana started for the Dominican Republic against the US last Saturday.  He pitched 2-2/3 innings, threw 68 pitches, allowed six hits, including a HR, 4 earned runs and struck out two hitters, taking the loss.
  • Former Twins RHP Pat Light was cut by the Pirates and was assigned to their minor league camp. 
  • The Twins battle for the last 2 spots still remains interesting.  Hector Santiago has not pitched more than 2-2/3 innings for Puerto Rico and will be used from the pen in tonight's game against the Netherlands.  Jason Haley did not pitch very well on Sunday at the Rex Sox,  lasting two innings, allowing 5 hits, including a HR, a walk, and 4 ERs.  He struck out 4 in those 2 innings.  On Monday at the Blue Jays Tyler Duffey went 5 innings, allowing only 4 hits and a walk, striking out 2 and dropping his Spring ERA down to 3.86.  At the same game Adalberto Mejia followed, pitching 4 innings allowing 3 hits (including a HR,) 2 walks and 2 ER, while striking out 5.  His ERA is now at 1.88.  These 4 pitches, in addition to Jose Berrios who might start the WBC final for PR, are in battle for the last 2 rotation sports for the Twins.
  • ByungHo Park and Miguel Sano had long HRs today and Dunedin, but so did Mitch Garver at the back fields that was my focus of the action for the last two days, and attracted Twins Brass including Favrey, Levine, Antony, Steil, etc.  News from the back fields:
  • Pitching Notes:  RHP Ryan Eades, who dropped from my top 50 prospect list, was the biggest surprise today (and, yes, Tyler Jay was also pitching.)  The 25 year old former second roung pick in 2013, sported shoulder long hair and a big fastball that was sitting at 94-96 mph that he supplemented with a low to mid 80s changeup.   He looks like he is making the transition to a reliever, but that fastball was very surprising.  The command is not as crisp as it should be, but this is his second ST week.   Tyler Jay who the organization fast tracked by deciding that he will be a full time reliever was throwing 92-94 with the fastball that was hitting spots and inducing ground balls that was supplemented with a very good, 79-81 mph curve that was missing bats and was commanded very well.  Bit of rust, but still early in the ST.  A few relatively new to organization players also pitched:  23 year old Tyler Fox who was signed as an undrafted free agent last season was hit pretty hard yesterday and was serving bombs to the Cedar Rapids hitters.  34 year old Jim Miller who was acquired as a minor league free agent this off-season was ineffective for Rochester, topping off at 89 mph and trying to get outs with off-speed pitches that was sitting from the high 60s to low 70s.  However fellow minor league free agent signee this off-season, 28 year old lefty Matt Tracy was pretty impressive starting for Rochester: He was an imposing figure on the mount featuring an 89-91 mph fastball and a very good 80-81 mph change that induces swings and misses, having 4 strikeouts in 2 innings.  Very composed and excellent command and control.  He might pitch for the Twins this season, if this continues.  Alan Busenitz (of the Nolasco and Meyer trade fame) throws a 93-95 mph fastball and a low 80s curve and the 26 year old looked pretty promising today.  26 year old Dominican Confesor Lara who was singed late last season from the independent leagues as an injury fill in looks like a worth while work in progress.  He throws a very heavy sinker at 91-93 mph that induces plenty of swings and misses that he supplements with a mid 80s off-spead offering that needs some work.  But that singer is a good base to make him a suitable reliever, if he develops a secondary pitch.
  • Other than the Fort Myers (and maybe Rochester, pending opt outs) team, it looks like that the full season minor league teams of the Twins will be excellent this season, with the bats at Cedar Rapids and the arms in Chattanooga leading the way.  A Burdi, Jay, Curtiss pen in Chattanooga has the possibility of being one of the most lethal ever at any level.
  • Tomorrow the Twins are hosting the Phillies and I will be following this action.

3/19/17

Predicting the Twins 25-man Roster - version 3.0

Right before I came to Fort Myers, I published by second prediction regarding the Twins' 25 man roster.  That was:

Starting Pitchers (5)
Ervin Santana
Kyle Gibson
Phil Hughes
Trevor May
Hector Santiago (*)

Relievers (7)
Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
J.T. Chargois
Matt Belisle
Craig Breslow (*)
Taylor Rogers (*)
Justin Haley

Catchers (2)
Jason Castro (*)
Chris Gimenez

Infielders (5)
Joe Mauer (*)
Brian Dozier
Jorge Polanco (#)
Miguel Sano
Eduardo Escobar (#)

Outfielders (5)
Byron Buxton
Max Kepler (*)
Eddie Rosario (*)
Robbie Grossman  (#)
Drew Stubbs

25th man (1)
Danny Santana (#)


Now after Trevor May's injury, the rotation and the bullpen look mostly like this:


Starting Pitchers (5)
Ervin Santana
Kyle Gibson
Phil Hughes
Adablerto Mejia (*)
Jose Berrios 


Relievers (7)
Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
Matt Belisle
Craig Breslow (*)
Taylor Rogers (*)
Justin Haley
Hector Santiago (*)

The important data point is that Santiago has been used exclusively out of the bullpen for Team Puerto Rico in the WBC and will not be ready to start.  If ready to start, he will likely take Berrios' position who I think has been bypassed in the depth charts by Mejia at this point. 

Here are how the position players look like:

Catchers (2)
Jason Castro (*)
Chris Gimenez

Infielders (5)
Joe Mauer (*)
Brian Dozier
Jorge Polanco (#)
Miguel Sano
Eduardo Escobar (#)

ByungHo Park

Outfielders (5)
Byron Buxton
Max Kepler (*)
Eddie Rosario (*)
Robbie Grossman  (#)

25th man (1)
Danny Santana (#)


One change here: Park over Stubbs.   Park and Kennys Vargas, along with Matt Hague are fighting for a rotation spot and Park is definitely ahead at this point with Vargas at the WBC.  For the 25 man spot the battle is between D. Santana, Stubbs, Ehire Adrianza and Bengi Gonzales.  Santana seems to be ahead as far as the Twins preferences go, at this point.

3/18/17

Live Fort Myers Report from the Twins Spring Training: 3/18/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training, and the first live from Fort Myers.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.

  • On Saturday C Mitch Garver, OF Zack Granite, OF Daniel Palka, and IF Edgelb Vielma were optioned to AAA Rochester.  IF Niko Goodrum, IF Nick Gordon, IF Leonardo Reginatto, and C Dan Rohlfing were reassigned to the Twins' minor league camp. 
  • LHP Tyler Jay and the Twins decided that he better move full time to the bullpen.  A great decision.  Add Burdi, and hope that one of Duffey/Chargois/Reed gets it, and will get the Twins' version of the Nasty Boys, as soon as later this season.
  • The Twins hosted the Red Sox today, in a game that rotation hopeful Ryan Vogelsong started.  He lasted three innings, and needed 62 pitches to do so.  Here is a complete pitching log.  His fastball touched 87 three times and it felt that he was pitching batting practice out there and that he was a pitch away from disaster.  Yesterday I questioned whether Phil Hughes is ready to pitch in a Twins' game this coming season.  Compared to Vogelsong, he is light years away.  I just cannot see Vogelsong making the Twins right now, Culture Club or not...  In addition, the time that Vogelsong takes between pitches makes Mr Pelfrey seem lightning fast.
  • Jake Reed got his fastball up to 97, and his slider was at 84-86, but he did not attack batters.  Max Kepler had to leave after the first inning because Pablo Santoval deliberately stepped on his hand after a slide.  Reed had a chance to make him pay for it or even throw a bit of chin music, giving the message that the Twins are not any more going to be a team that goes belly up easily.  Instead he was tentative and served him a 94 mph FB down the middle that was turned into a home run and opened the doors for a 5-run inning.   Trevor Hildenberger followed with an equal uffdaish appearance, featuring an 85-87 mph FB and a 75-76 mph off-speed pitch that was batting practice like.  Nick Tepesh followed and allowed 5 more runs to score.  Matt Belisle struck out the side of AAA Red Sox hitters he faced and Brian Kintzler allowed a couple of hits to them before he realized that he better get serious and close the game.  All in all a pretty horrific pitching appearance by the Twins.
  • As far as the sticks went,  the Twins had a great first inning against reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and quickly get up 4 runs.  Brian Dozier went 3 for 3,  Miguel Sano had a nice opposite field hit, and ByungHo Park added a couple of hits.   Danny Santana was very disappointing with the glove, not getting to a couple of balls a regular outfield could easily get to at LF, costing the Twins at least 3 runs and becoming the third out trying to steal second, albeit in a hit and run play.
  • I will take another cut at the likely Twins' roster tomorrow, but the rotation spots are getting very thin with the disappointing appearance of Vogelsong and the fact that Hector Santiago will not make a single star for Team Puerto Rico and thus will be unlikely to be stretched enough to start the season in an MLB rotation.  But that was his choice, and his contract is not guaranteed.  Jason Haley will start tomorrow's game at the Jet Blue Park, while the Twins will be having minor league intrasquad games in the bag fields tomorrow, and this is where I will be.

3/17/17

Live Fort Myers Report from the Twins Spring Training: 3/17/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training, and the first live from Fort Myers.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.

  • The Twins played at Port Charlotte today against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Phil Hughes made his latest start and was effective.   He threw 57 pitches in 5 innings and then 21 more in the bullpen.   You can see each of his pitches here.   This was the start that Hughes was supposed to go 100% with his fastball, but it sat at 88-90, touching 91 once.  He had a good command today and he mixed his pitches well to keep the Rays players guessing; he ended up with 8 swinging strikes out of those 57 pitches (14.0 %)  If this is indeed 100% for Hughes right now, the Twins need to decide whether they can think that he can embrace his inner crafty righty and be a different pitcher or whether he should start the season in the DL until his fastball reaches its pre-injury levels.  I am on the fence about it right now.
  • JT Chargois who followed hit 94-96 with his fastball and 84-86 with his slider.  He was a bit out of control, esp when a Ray reached.  Have yet to see much from Chargois this Spring and I feel that he will get caught in the numbers game and will be optioned to Rochester to start the seasons.   Buddy Boshers and Alex Wimmers pitched ok, but against minor leaguers, so it is tough to judge their assignments.
  • The Twins bats were alive early.  Jorge Polanco hit a line drive solo home run in the second and made every single play that was in his direction.   Brian Dozier hit a 3-run home run the following inning and that was all the offense that the Twins would need to win the game.  Max Kelper had a highlight reel diving catch early in the game.
  • Interesting to see that Gene Glynn is the coach who is responsible for the outfield formation; also during the game Jeff Pickler several times seeked and talked with Paul Molitor when the Twins were hitting.
  • Tomorrow the Twins will host Boston with Ryan Vogelsong starting.

3/16/17

Live Fort Myers Report from the Twins Spring Training: 3/16/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training, and the first live from Fort Myers.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.

  • Back fields day today, but the news from yesterday is that they timed Glen Perkins' fastball at 78 mph, and he apparently has no goals or timetable for his return.
  • Former Twins' LHP Logan Darnell has signed a contract with the Somerset Patriots of the Independent Atlantic League 
  • The Twins were at Jupiter, hosts of the Cardinals, where Kyle Gibson put together a great performance allowing only one hit (unfortunately a home run and the only run) and a walk and striking out 5 in 5 innings.  The action was in the back fields where the Twins high A, A, and extended Spring Training teams were hosting the equivalent Rays' teams.
  • My focus was at field four, where several of the Twins' top prospects played for the Cedar Rapids team against the Rays' Bowling Green team.  Number 1 prospect SS Wander Javier, who is just eighteen, held up on his own in a league that averages 3-5 years older players.  He had several good to great plays with the glove had good plate appearances.  In his first PA he would have had a sure fire triple, if for some strange reason, Toby Gardenhire, the third base coach did not put the stop sign up when Javier was half way through the third base, yet then waving him in.  Still he was out by half a foot.  Good solid contact and excellent eye for the ball.
  • Other top prospects were Lewin Diaz and Amaurys Minier who split time at first base and were good with the glove.  Minier almost did the splits trying to save an errant throw by second baseman Andre Jernigan, but was not successful.  SS Joe Cronin, namesake of the franchise's Hall of Famer, played at LF today.  It will be hard for any team that has Javier on the roster to play him any place but SS.
  • As far as pitching went, I was not very impressed with the starter Tyrel Breadsley, or his first reliever Hector Lujan, even though they both had nice change ups.  The third reliever, LHP Alex Robinson, was impressive.  The Twins' 5th round pick from 2015 from University of Maryland showed excellent control of a 93-95 mph fastball and a good slider and change up and struck out the side for the 5th inning.  Someone definitely to keep an eye on.  Garrett Kelly who followed flashed  a very good 89-91 two seamer and 91-94 four seamer, and a high 80s cutter, getting ground outs, but at some point his control fell off and was all over the place.
  • On the other field LHP Lachlan Wells, looks like he has grown a few inches (up to 6'1" or 6'2" now) and got rid of his trademark glasses.  Pitching for high A Fort Myers, his FB was ranging from 91-92 and his supplementary stuff was working well.  There were 3 scouts there for him.  Travis Blackenhorn in the same team played second base and had a couple of tentative swings.  I noticed that his bat is very buzy in his batting stance, something that the Twins might want to look at some point.
  • At the EST field Taylor Clemencia was filthy.  He was throwing a low 70s devastating curve that he supplemented with a well commanded 84-85 mph pitch that I thought was a change, but it was his fastball.  Not sure whether he is coming back from an injury, that velocity has to be monitored.  On the other hand that curve was a plus plus pitch.
  • Tomorrow with drive to Port Charlotte to watch the Twins visit the Rays.

3/15/17

Live Fort Myers Report from the Twins Spring Training: 3/15/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training, and the first live from Fort Myers.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.

  •  First full day at Fort Myers yesterday and the Twins had the day off and that was completely off.  No practices, no bullpens.  Off off.
  • There is a new look at the minor league park of the camp.  The drainage river pebbles have been replaces with turf and there is a new fence that would allow locking of the fields off, something that was previously impossible.  Also, by each bench there are now massage tables, another new thing this season.
  •  Attended some minor league batting practice and noticed a few of the players: OF  LaMonde Wade, OF Travis Harrison and IF Louis Arraez, all added bulk this off-season. OF  Edgar Corcino who was signed a couple off-seasons ago from the Frontier league looks like a monster and made some solid contact, his batting stance is a bit busy though.   So did C AJ Murray.  
  • Cardinal 70 of C70 at bat had his annual playing pepper off-season series for each team, and today was the Twins' turn.  Several Twins bloggers, including myself, answered several questions about the Twins off-season and 2017.  You can read it here.
  • When thinking about who will make the team one needs to consider that the following Twins' players are out of options: Ehire Adrianza, Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman, Jorge Polanco, Danny Santana, and Michael Tonkin.
  • The Twins hosted the Cardinals today and LHP Adalberto Mejia has a masterful start in front of an all time record attendance.  He scattered 4 hits in 3-2/3 innings, struck out 8 and left a scoreless game.  His fastball was ranging from 91-94 mph, and his slider and changeup were working very well, as one can tell from the swings and misses.  Jake Reed, Brad Kintzler, Ryan Pressly, Craig Breslow, Tyler Rogers preserved the shutout in the bullpen.   Tyler Duffey, in the minor league fields had a good couple of innings following by a disasterous one.  It is time that the Twins pull the plug in the hopes that he can be a starter and let him relieve full time.  He can be a dominant one.
  • The offense scored 8 runs.  BuyungHo Park and Matt Hague who are competing with Kennys Vargas for one 1B/DH spot each had a hit and raised their team best OPS to 1.307 and 1.495 respectfully.  Will not be surprised if Hague ends up wining that spot.  All this guy does is hit.

3/13/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 3/13/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting this week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and daily and will be indicated in the title.
  • The Tigers' closer, Fransisco Rodriguez and Royals starting catcher Salvador Perez both were injured in the same WBC play.   Interesting enough, Perez was injured by sliding Royals' teammate, former Twin,  Drew Butera who now might have gained him a starter's job.
  • Twins LHP Hector Santiago came in relief with one out in the 4th inning in their WBC game against Mexico.  His fastball was between 86 and 89 mph, a few ticks below his 91.4 mph last season average.  He threw 42 pitches, a bit under the 60 he was slated to throw for the Twins at this point.  He pitched 2-2/3 innings allowing 4 hits and 3 runs (1 earned) striking out 3.
  • Twins RHP Phil Hughes started at home against the Orioles Sunday.  He pitched 5 innings, allowed 6 hits and a walk and struck out 4.  Three of those hits were HRs and allowed 4 earned runs.  His FB was up to 92, which is encouraging, since in the past he said that he will not throw 100% until his next appearance.  Will be interesting to see the velocity and results then.  The 3 gopherballs were not encouraging.  Craig Breslow was effective in relief, but penciled in closer Brandon Kintzler was not, allowing a couple hits and a run.  Jorge Polanco hit a grand slam in the game, and Brian Buxton and Miguel Sano had a double each, Buxton also had a home run.  Good to see the young Twins' bats getting warmed up as the opening day approaches.
  • Ryan Vogelsong started the split squad game at Pittsburgh.  He pitched 2-1/3 innings, allowed 4 hits and 3 earned runs and struck one a batter.  He mentioned that he preferred the starting routine and felt better as a starter.   He was up to 89 mph. At that game Daniel Palka got his team leading 9th walk of the Spring and had his first home run.  Matt Hague who is fighting for a 1B/DH position with Kennys Vargas (who had his first game with Team Puerto Rico in the WBC Sunday, also on Sunday had a walk and was hit by a pitch in 5 PAs) and ByungHo Park, went 3 for 4 with 3 doubles.  LHP Taylor Rogers pitched 2 scoreless innings allowing a base on balls and striking out a batter.
  • Jose Berrios pitched on Sunday in the WBC against Italy after 11 days rest and the rust showed:  He walked the first batter he faced and allowed a HR to the second batter he faced, before he was done with the inning.  Other than a HR to Drew Butera, his second inning was clean, and then set down ten in a row.  His fastball was at 91-93 mph and his breaking ball was really biting and induced swings and misses.  He threw 62 pitches in those 5 innings, allowing  2 Hits, a walk and 3 earned runs, while striking out six.
  • Looks like Ervin Santana might pitch for the Dominican WBC team in the next phase.  He will start next Tuesday's game against Puerto Rico instead of pitching to minor leaguers in camp.
  • One reporter predicts that the Twins will win the 2017 World Series.
  • First cuts: The Twins optioned LHP Mason Melotakis to AAA, RHPs Fernando Romero and Felix Jorge and LHP Randy Rosario to AA, and assigned LHP Stephen Gonsalves and RHP Aaron Slegers to their minor league club. 
  • I am officially in Fort Myers and the next week or so expect daily live correspondence from the Twins' major and minor league club.  Make sure that you follow my twitter @thrylos98 for updates

3/11/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 3/11/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks, starting the coming week, these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • Ervin Santana labored a bit on Thursday against Team Colombia pitching 4 innings, walking one, striking out 3, allowing 4 hits including one HR and 2 ERs. Nick Tepesch, Ryan O'Rourke, and Michael Tonkin each had yet another unsteady appearance, while Brandon Kintlzer and Tyler Rogers were exceptional.  I just cannot see Tonkin and O'Rourke making the team at this point, which will potentially free two 40-man roster spots.
  • 27 year old UT Bengie Gonzalez who was signed as a minor league free agent and played his highest level at AA, has really opened some eyes this spring and put himself in the competition for a bench spot.
  • Molitor thinks that Twins prospect Nick Gordon "does not have a plus arm at SS".  Gordon came in Saturday against Boston and played second base.
  • The Twins have hired Jeremy Hefner (a former Mets' RHP) as an advanced scout.  This is his reaction.
  • This Friday visiting the Marlins, Tyler Duffey pitched 3 innings, allowing 3 hits and one ER, striking out one hitter and lowering his ERA to 6.75 this spring.  He was followed by Adalberto Mejia who spread 2 hits and 2 walks in 3 innings striking out one hitter and lowering his ERA to 1.35 this Spring.  Justin Haley followed with two innings, allowing one hit, one walk, hit a batter and struck out two, lowering his ERA to 4.05.  One of these pitchers are likely to challenge Hector Santiago (12.27 ERA and 2.45 WHIP) for a position in the Twins rotation, if the latter's play with Team Puerto Rico in the WBC puts him behind as far as readiness go.  The Marlins game was Santiago's turn in the rotation.
  • ByungHo ParkJ.R. Murphy, and Dan Rohlfing each homered against Miami off Wei-Yin Chen; Park's was his team leading 3rd HR this Spring.
  • Sad news this spring:  RHP Trevor May who seemed to hold by himself this Spring and finally earn a rotation spot has been diagnosed with a torn UCL and will be out for the season.  He suffered the injury at arguably his most impressive outing of the Spring Training, against Team USA.   The current rotation situation has Duffey, Mejia, Haley, Santiago, Tepesch, Jose Berrios and Ryan Vogelsong, competing for 2 spots.
  • Kyle Gibson had a solid outing on Saturday against the Red Sox, a game the Twins won 13-0.  He pitched 5 innings, allowed 4 hits and a walk and struck out 4.  13 of his 15 outs were ground outs. His Spring ERA is 2.19.  The Twins' bats were on fire that game with every starter but Brian Dozier (who walked and scored as the lead off hitter), had at least one hit, with Miquel Sano having a triple and a single and Jorge Polanco two doubles.

3/9/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 3/9/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • Twins 2B Brian Dozier has left camp on Monday to attend his grandmother's funeral
  • There was not an official game on Tuesday, so projected starter Phil Hughes threw 4 innings in the back fields to take his turn, in the first full day of Minor League workouts.  He was primarily working on his changeup, but he was observed to hit 91 mph with his fastball, which is an encouraging sign.   He also plucked Travis Harrison on the hand.
  • It looks like the first round of the Twins' cuts will happen next week, on March 13, and LHP Mason Melotakis who has not appeared in a game yet, will likely be part of it.
  • Former Twins  IF Tyler Ladendorf has signed a minor league contract with the White Sox
  • Against team USA on Wednesday night the Twins used a lineup that could be their opening day lineup:  Buxton CF, Mauer 1B, Dozier 2B, Sano 3B, Kepler RF, Park DH, Grossman LF, Castro C, Polanco SS.  Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, both with Team Puerto Rico might have the spots in DH and LF respectively in opening day.
  • Twins LHP Stephen Gonsalves was scratched from pitching against Team USA on Wednesday night because of a sore shoulder that has been bothering him since the AFL.
  • Trevor May apparently had butterflies against the level of competition in Team USA that has 18 All-Stars, allowing 2 quick hits and a wild pitch followed by a 2-run double, before getting a couple of ground outs, before striking out Giancarlo Stanton with 3 fastballs.  He has an easier second inning that should have been faster had the home plate umpire given him a clear looking Strike 3 on Andrew McCutchen.  He struck out Nolan Aronado in the third, allowing only an infield single in that inning.  In the fourth he got two outs before he walked McCutchen and reached his pitch limit.  Easily the best appearance of a Twins' SP this Spring based on competition.
  • The Team USA used relievers Luke Gregerson and Andrew Miller for the first 2 innings.  Gregerson was lights out, but Max Kepler got a double off Miller and ByungHo Park walked.  Lots of called strikes against Miller and pretty frustrating to see the plate umpire having a different strike zone for Miller than for May.  Jake McGee came in to face Jason Castro who got an RBI single against the lefty, followed by Jorge Polanco who tied the game with an infield single and chased the Colorado closer out of the game. DJ Baxendale, on loan to team USA, got Byron Buxton to pop up and end the inning
  • Speaking of, Buxton has been playing much more shallow centerfield this Spring and his speed allows him to get into deeper balls, while allowing him to catch shallower balls.  This will be interesting to see during the season.
  • Ryan Pressly made Daniel Murphy look like a fool striking him out in 3 pitches, then got Christian Yelich out with 2 pitches,  and got Alex Bregman to fly out in 1 pitch.  I would not be surprised if the is the Twins' closer sooner than later.
  • Craig Breslow finished the game for the Twins, pitching 2 innings facing lefties and righties and not allowing a run.  He got the save, but most importantly, I just cannot see how he does not make this Twins team.  
  • Alex Kirilloff, had his Tommy John surgery and looks successful.
  • Former Twins' OF Antoan Richardson has officially retired.
  • It looks like Reds' Rule 5 draft pick from the Twins, C Stuart Turner, has pretty high possibility of making the Reds' 25-man roster and not returning to the Twins' minors.

3/6/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 3/6/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • With the minor league Spring Training just around the corner, the Twins have announced the signings of LHP Jonny Drozd, and UT Shane Kennedy.   Drozd is a 25 year old 6'7", 200 lbs lefty reliever who made it to A+ Tampa in the Yankees organization.  Kennedy is a 25 year old who graduate from Clemson in 2015, was not drafted and played for the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier (Independent) League last season.
  • Trevor May pitched well on Saturday at Clearwater against the Phillies.  He allowed only one hit and had 2 strikeouts in 2-1/3 innings.  Jose Berrios, in his last appearance with the Twins before he moves on to WBC pitched 2 innings allowing 3 hits and 2 walks and struck out 4.  Still an improvement but the command is not there.   Hosting the Jays on Saturday Ervin Santana was in form, pitching three innings, spreading 5 hits, allowing a walk, but no run as striking out 1.   Ryan Vogelson and Adalberto Mejia pitched 1-1/3 innings each.  Mejia allowed no hits and had a strikeout, but Vogelson allowed an earned run in 2 hits and a walk.  Craig Breslow was perfect, striking out the only player he faced.
  • Twins' manager Paul Molitor, said that unless someone "gets derailed", Santana, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, and Hector Santiago will be in the Twins' rotation.   Phil Hughes has yet to throw at 100%, while Hector Santiago is very derailable at this point.   Molitor also indicated that he liked what he has seen from Mejia.
  • Santiago had an improved second start against the Nationals at West Palm Beach on Sunday, which actually looks really good on paper: 2-2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K.  However Santiago almost gave a 3R HR that was blown foul in the 3rd, and then managed loading the bases before striking out the next hitter.  Clearly an improvement over last time's performance in the 0-19 loss against Tampa, but still not great.   Tyler Duffey pitched two scoreless innings allowing just one hit, touching 96 mph with his fastball, and Justin Haley pitched 1-1/3 innings, allowing 3 hits, 2 runs and striking out one.  Definitely is on the bubble right now.
  • Eddie Rosario went 2/3 in his last game before joining Team Puerto Rico for the WBC, getting his Spring Batting Average up to .375 and solidifying a major league job.  1B Kenny Vargas, who is in the same situation, had no hits, two walks and a strikeout, bringing his batting average for the Spring at .077. Eduardo Escobar has his first hit of the Spring in the same game.   1B Matt Hague hit the first pitch he saw to the bleachers for a two-run HR, increasing his batting average to .462, and had a great play with the glove getting the last out of the 8th inning, putting himself in the conversation for a bench position with the Twins.
  • In the Twins at Nationals game Plate Umpire David Rackley was injured by a foul tip off Daniel Palka's bat in the 8th and had to leave the game.
  • How do teams feel about their players who are competing for a spot (like the Twins' Jose Berrios, Hector Santiago, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario) and leaving Spring Training to join their teams in the WBC?  Most of the teams are silent, but Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell had this to say regarding former Twins' LHP Fernando Abad, who put himself in this position: "In those positions of competing for a spot, you'd like to think that a guy's going to be here to make that mark here. He's aware of his status on the roster competing for a spot. When he returns, it's constant evaluating that's going on."  I suspect the same applies to the aforementioned Twins, without needed saying.

3/5/17

Predicting the Twins 25-man Roster - version 2.0

Ten days ago, before Spring Training games started, I took a preliminary cut at the potential Twins' 40-man roster. My view was that they Twins at this point will value veteran clubhouse presence and defense.  I also suspected that participating at the WBC was a negative

That 25-man roster was:

Starting Pitchers (5)
Ervin Santana
Kyle Gibson
Phil Hughes
Trevor May
Ryan Vogelsong

Relievers (7)
Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
J.T. Chargois
Matt Belisle
Craig Breslow (*)
Justin Haley
Hector Santiago (*)

Catchers (2)
Jason Castro (*)
Chris Gimenez

Infielders (6)
Joe Mauer (*)
Brian Dozier
Jorge Polanco (#)
Miguel Sano
Eduardo Escobar (#)
Ehire Adrianza (#)

Outfielders (5)
Byron Buxton
Max Kepler (*)
Robbie Grossman  (#)
Drew Stubbs
J.B. Shuck (*)

What have we seen in these 10 games or so:

Pitchers: 

I think that Ryan Vogelsong has not really appeared as ready as I thought, and his position is likely going to be taken by Hector Santiago who likely did enough in his game against the Nationals to step up one step in the depth charts.  Still to determine whether or not Phil Hughes will be ready, but for the time being, I assume that he will be.  I also assume that the Twins will need at least a longer look at Justin Haley.  With Santiago going to the rotation, another left-handed arm is needed for the pen and Taylor Rogers is likely on top of those charts.  Dark horse:  Nick Tepesch who has been pitching very well. So the Twins projected 25-man roster looks like this as far as pitching is concerned: 


Starting Pitchers (5)
Ervin Santana
Kyle Gibson
Phil Hughes
Trevor May
Hector Santiago (*)

Relievers (7)
Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
J.T. Chargois
Matt Belisle
Craig Breslow (*)
Taylor Rogers (*)
Justin Haley


Position Players:

As far as catching goes, I think that Chris Gimenez further solidified his position as the back up by playing at 1B and LF as well as a C, being Trevor May's personal catcher and is hitting .500 so far.  As far as infielders go, the only difference is that Ehire Adrianza just cannot hit and at this point I do not see him have a position.  As far as outfielders go, I think that Eddie Rosario, WBC and all, has solidified a position on the 25-man roster, hitting .375 and playing solid defense.  J.B. Shuck has not done so and it is taken off the list.  The last spot of the 25-man roster could either go to 1B/DH like Matt Hague and ByungHo Park, both of whom are on fire; however I think that Danny Santana who has been playing all over the field and has not hurt himself with the bat (.972 OPS) has this spot for the time being.    So the Twins' 25-man roster looks like this as far as hitting is concerned:

Catchers (2)
Jason Castro (*)
Chris Gimenez

Infielders (5)
Joe Mauer (*)
Brian Dozier
Jorge Polanco (#)
Miguel Sano
Eduardo Escobar (#)

Outfielders (5)
Byron Buxton
Max Kepler (*)
Eddie Rosario (*)
Robbie Grossman  (#)
Drew Stubbs

25th man (1)
Danny Santana (#)

The third version of the potential roster the week after next, while watching the Twins playing at Fort Myers.

3/3/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 3/3/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • The Twins were embarrassed on Fat Tuesday against the Ray in Port Charlotte:
    • The starter, LHP Hector Santiago, who feels confident enough for his spot on the Twins' rotation to abandon the team for 3 weeks to pitch for team Puerto Rico in the WBC, allowed 5 R in 2 innings with 5 hits and a walk.  Two of them were home runs.  LHP Randy Rosario bailed him out with a scoreless second inning before handing the ball to another rotation hopeful Tyler Duffey, who managed to get 2 outs while allowing 6 runs in 5 hits.  Felix Jorge followed and let a couple more score, before LHP Adalberto Mejia and RHP Ryan Pressly pitched a shutout inning each.  Matt Belisle and JT Chargois who followed them, allowed 3 runs each in an inning of work.
    • The hitting was equally horrific, with the Rays pitchers pitching a perfect game until the 7th.  The final score was 0-19 and was a totally forgettable game
  • Twins' 2016 first round draft pick, OF Alex Kirillof who injured his elbow last August 28th will require Tommy John surgery, because rest and rehab did not work, and will miss all of 2017.  Apparently he had a platelet injection before the rest and rehab.
  • Phil Hughes's second start against the Orioles was better, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks and an earned run in 2 innings, however his velocity was at 87-89.  Hughes admitted that he is not going to be throwing at 100% for 2 more starts, so it will be difficult to judge readiness, until then.  Speaking of LHPs Glen Perkins and Mason Melotakis took a couple more positive steps towards returning.   Other than Mike Tonkin (1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 HR, 2 ER) and Ryan O'Rourke (1 IP, 3 H, 1 K, 2 HR, 3 ER) who are quickly falling behind in the bullpen battle, the Twins' relievers were lights out yesterday
  • As far as position players go, Kennys Vargas still has to get his first hit and leaving next week for the WBC.  Given that he has an option left, he really needs to get on fire, because right now he is behind ByungHo Park.  Eduardo Escobar is also 0 for Spring at this point.

2/28/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/28/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • The Twins played their third game of the Spring hosting the Nationals on Sunday afternoon
    • Trevor May was pounding the strike zone earlier getting two ground outs with four pitches and then got into trouble with a looking eye single and two walks, but finally got a strikeout to finish the first.  His fastball was at 94-96, and threw a mid 80s change and breaking ball.  Worth mentioning that the catcher was Chris Gimenez.  He finished his work after two ground outs in the second inning, including one that was a highlight reel catch and throw by SS Jorge Polanco.  33 total pitches. 
    • Byron Buxton's double to start the Twins first is of additional significance because it came off a slider, a pitch that Buxton had a very hard time handling this time last year.  Very encouraging sign.   After Polanco got out from a line drive to RF, Brian Dozier failed to make contact with 1 out and RISP.  The Twins need better from him than looking strikeouts. Spring Training or not.  Despite his career season last year, Dozier hit .192/.288/.384 in high leverage situations, a number that needs to improve for the Twins to content, which not much to ask for the player who is treated as their best player. 
    • RHP Felix Jorge, the Twins' 23th prospect, relieved May and needed one sinker to end the second inning.  Jose Berrios pitched the third and, even though his fastball was at 94-95, his command was not crisp, allowing a couple of hits, a stolen base and a run.  The command improved in the second inning he pitched, after he issued a lead of walk, resulting to a ground out, and two strikeouts.
    • Jason Castro, the Twins' new catcher, playing as the DH, hit a low off-speed pitch by Nationals RHP A.J. Cole to the Right Field pavilion for a 2 run home run, his first as a Twin, driving in C Chris Gimenez who had singled previously to drive LF Eddie Rosario.  Speaking of Rosario at LF, this is the second game he has started there with Max Kepler at RF, despite Kepler suggesting that the is more comfortable at LF and Rosario having a stronger arm.  
    • In the second inning Buxton walked, stole a base and was driven in by Polanco, a series of outcomes that the Twins hope it happens often next season.   Former Twins' RHP Vance Worley was greeted in the third by a single by Dozier, and a ground rule double by Miguel Sano, followed by outs by Kepler,  Kennys Vargas, and Rosario, for only 1 run.
    • Craig Breslow, fighting for a pen position, came in to pitch the 5th.  His fastball was at 89-91. After two quick outs, he walked a couple batters and got out of the inning with a fly out.
    • Fernardo Romero, the Twins' 4th best prospect, was hitting 97-98 mph in the radar gun.  An interesting substitution:  Danny Santana came in at second base.
  • In a post appearance interview, Trevor May said that he "sees a lot of hungry guys to prove that 2016 is a fluke", which is encouraging.   He also said that he "wants pitch 200 innings, into the seventh inning" every ball game, and "to take the ball in the beginning of a playoff series", which is even more encouraging. 
  • A few interesting notes by the game against Miami the Twins won on Sunday:
    • Ervin Santana cruised in 2 innings spreading 2 hits and striking out 2.  The pen was tentative, other than Justin Haley who had an 1-2-3 6th inning that included a strikeout
    • Drew Stubs lead off again, but played Left field.  Got a hit and walked twice to raise his OPS to 1.917 second only to BuyungHo Park who had another HR as the first baseman to raise his OPS to 2.071.
    • On the Miami side former Twins' LHP Caleb Thielbar faced 2 batters and struck them both out in the second inning.  Miami had to use 11 pitches in this game...

2/25/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/25/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • Twins LHP Craig Breslow decided to focus in the Twins' Spring Training and making the team, and will not pitch for Israel in the WBC 
  • Similarly former Twins RHP Liam Hendricks, now with the A's will not participate in the WBC team Australia.
  • The Twins who had the worst record last season in the majors, are ranked ahead of several other teams in the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings by Jonah Keri.
  • The Twins played their first game hosting the Rays on Friday.  Some highlights:
    • Kyle Gibson threw 30 pitches and almost got 2 innings of work, if it were not for a throwing error charged to SS Jorge Polanco on a throw that 1B Kennys Vargas could not get from the dirt.  Gibson struck out 2 in the first inning and he induced ground balls with his 90-91 mph two-seamer.  The news is that he has been throwing his four-seamer up in the zone up to 94 and that missed bats.  Also threw off-speed pitches at 80-81 mph.
    • Byungho Park, who was the DH, got the first hit for the Twins in the second inning as a single and got a double (that was a missed HR) in the 4th inning.
    • Brandon Kintzler and Justin Haley had a few problems and allowed a run each.
    • Brian Buxton stole third base, something he should try to do more.
  • Wayne Krivsky, 63 years old, was demoted from "Special Assistant to the GM" to "Scout." Expect him to retire. Also, the Twins have hired former Chicago Cubs advance scout Keith Stohr and Earl Frishman was promoted to special assignment scout.
  • The Twins went across town to Jet Blue to play the Red Sox on Saturday.
    • There was not a radar in the stadium but Phil Hughes did not look ready, with his velocity approximately in the high 80s.  He fell behind every batter he faced and was saved by a double play at the end.  His command was just not there and the ball was all over the plate.   
    • Tyler Duffey who followed Hughes was sharper and pitched for one inning.  Ryan Vogelsong followed for 2/3s of an inning and got rocked.  He was very inconsistent, had a wild pitch, among the 32 pitches he threw, and ended up having to throw fastballs down the middle when fell behind the count, which, of course, did not work.  Lefty Randy Rosario who followed was impressive striking out Xander Bogards.  Adalberto Mejia followed in the fifth and was tested against Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland, Chris Young, and Pablo Santoval. His breaking ball looked great and fastball was mostly effective; allowing a double to Betts, grounding out Ramirez, and striking out Moreland, walking Young and got Santoval to fly out, however Grossman botched the play.
    • Byungho Park continued being of fire with a HR, followed by a sacrifice fly; Drew Stubbs struck out twice and hit a long HR on dead centerfield against Matt Barnes, and lost a couple of balls in the sun.
    • Interesting substitution that might indicate their relative position in the Twins' depth charts: J.B. Shuck came in to play Centerfield while Zach Granite played Right Field.  Also, C Chris Gimenez who is battling for the back up spot, played first base as a sub, showing his versatility.

2/24/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/24/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.
  •  According to a study by Eno Sarris at Fangraphs, a Twins' pitcher had the 7th "unluckiest" change up in the majors last season.  However, the semantic line between "unlucky" and "unfortunate" is a very thin one.
  • Twins RHP JT Chargois has worked with pitching coach Neil Allen and LHP Glen Perkins to change his baseball grip on his slider, to compensate for the differences between the major league and minor league balls.
  • Former Twins RHP Josh Roenicke has signed a contract with Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League
  • Twins LHP Glen Perkins finished his third bullpen of 15 pitches each, with "no issues".  Still it is likely that he will start the season in the Disabled List.  No reports of his velocity yet. 
  • The Twins' off-season get a final grade of a C-, according to a particular national baseball reporter.
  • It looks like LHP Hector Santiago will have 6 days rest and RHP Jose Berrios a full 9 days before they start their first games for Puerto Rico in the WBC.  This is unfortunate for their preparation, especially for Berrios, while fighting for a spot in the Twins' rotation.
  • Former Twins' RHP Matt Capps will audition for teams in Marietta, GA this coming Sunday February 26th.
  • The Twins are playing their first Spring Training game at 7:05 PM EST, hosting the Tampa Bay Rays.  The game is available via gameday audio to the mlb.tv subscribers.

2/23/17

Predicting the Twins 25-man Roster - version 1.0

Tomorrow Friday the 24th is the first Spring Training game for the Twins at Fort Myers against the Tampa Bay Rays.  There is a lot of Spring Training left, but here is my first cut at a prediction of the Twins' 25 man roster, with commentary on each position.  Note:  This is not what I would do, this is predicting what the Twins will do. Lefties are noted by an asterisk (*) and switch hitters by a hash (#)

Starting Pitchers (5)

Ervin Santana
Kyle Gibson
Phil Hughes
Trevor May
Ryan Vogelsong

I see this as a battle for  2 spots among several pitchers, including in addition to the predicted winners, Jose Berrios, Justin Haley, Hector Santiago, and Nick Tepesch.   Based on the planned order of pitching Hector Santiago might be ahead of Ryan Vogelson right now; however the fact that he, like Jose Berrios, will be missing from the Twins camp, joining the Puerto Rico team in the WBC, decreases his probabilities to win a battle, like Berrios.

Relievers (7)

Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
J.T. Chargois
Matt Belisle
Craig Breslow (*)
Justin Haley
Hector Santiago (*)

Kintzler, Pressly, and Belisle are locks, pending injuries.  Haley and Santiago will be the two long men and spot starters, if necessary.  With Santiago being a lefty there is likely one more spot and based on what he brings to the table (and despite the fact that he will be pitching for the Israel WBC team that, unlike Puerto Rico, is not slated to go far,) Craig Breslow will win that spot.  The last spot will go to the most talented pitcher from the group, J.T. Chargois who will win it over former starter Tyler Duffey who will be optioned to Rochester to transition as a full time reliever.

Catchers (2)

Jason Castro (*)
Chris Gimenez 

The battle for the second catcher is three-way, between veteran Chris Gimenez and younger players J.R. Murphy and Mitch Garver.  I see Gimenez winning the battle because of the praise he has received as being able to help younger pitchers, as well as hitting lefties ok, something that the projected started Jason Castro does not.

Infielders (6)

Joe Mauer (*)
Brian Dozier
Jorge Polanco (#)
Miguel Sano
Eduardo Escobar (#)
Ehire Adrianza (#)

Outfielders (5)

Byron Buxton
Max Kepler (*)
Robbie Grossman  (#)
Drew Stubbs
J.B. Shuck (*)

A few surprises here.  I suspect that the Twins will go with experience over youth, and, like Santiago and Berrios, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, both of whom have one remaining option, will not make the team because of their choice to leave camp and join team Puerto Rico in the WBC.  The last cut was Danny Santana, who is out of options.  JB. Shuck wins over Santana because of the better glove at the OF and the fact that Ehire Andrianza's presence makes Santana unnecessary as an infielder.   I foresee a rotation at the DH spot with the primary DH being Grossman, and Mauer, Sano, Polanco, Kepler, and Stubbs rotating.   When Mauer is the DH, Max Kepler and/or Ehire Adrianza can man 1B in this configuration.

This is the first version of a predicted Twins' 25 man roster, and my predictions will likely change when they start playing games.  My view is that they Twins at this point will value veteran clubhouse presence and defense.

2/22/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/22/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Spring Training related posts here.

  • Paul Molitor finally made a public admission that the Twins have  mishandled SS Jorge Polanco's development as a shortstop.   I have been discussing this unfortunate situation for a while now.   Hopefully the new Twins' regime is starting to hold people accountable for mis-developing players with star potential.  Good to see many people now in the Polanco bandwagon. Was lonely for a while ;) 
  • Former Twins prospect C Stuart Turner who was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the last Rule 5 draft, has a good possibility of returning to the Twins' system, because to make the Reds they will have to carry 3 catchers
  • It is still very early in the Spring Training, but it appears that that the Twins are pairing C Chris Gimenez who has a good reputation in helping develop young pitchers with young RHP Jose Berrios.  This might have implications in the back up catcher battle, esp. if Berrios starts next season in Rochester.  
  • David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer, indicates that the Twins' LF was the 4th weakest position in the majors since 2007.
  • The Twins are linked to 16 year old Dominican switch hitting SS Jelfrey Marte who will demand a bonus close to $3M.
  • The Twins are looking at High Schoolers, in addition to SS/RHP Hunter Greene for the first overall pick of the 2017 draft the coming June, including IF/OF Royce Lewis
  • SS Ehire Adrianza has been taking ground balls at third base.  It will be interesting to see if there is future for him as a utility player in the 2017 Twins' roster.
  • Twins' General Manager Thad Levine has indicated that Brandon Kintzler will be given every opportunity to start 2017 as the Twins' closer.
  • The Twins have signed LHP Evan Sanders  as an undrafted free agent to a minor league contract.
  • The Twins have signed RHP David Fischer to a minor league contact. The 26 year old has played in the Nationals organization and in the Independent Leagues for the last two seasons.

2/21/17

Complete List of the Twins' Ballpark Giveaways for 2017

The Minnesota Twins have announced their ballpark giveaways for 2017.  Here is the complete list along with the sponsors and the target audience, to help you select the games you attend this season at Target Field, if collecting bobbleheads and/or DQ caps is your thing:

April 3, Twins Long Sleeve Hooded T-Shirt in adult M or XL (all, 30,000) / Northland Ford Dealers
April 15, Twins Fur Trapper Hat (all, 10,000) / Pepsi
April 17, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 18, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 19, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 20, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 22, Twins Red Cap (all, 20,000) / DQ
April 23, Twins customizible T-shirt in Youth M or XL, (kids, 5,000)

May 2, MLB Network Bag (all, 10,000) / MLB Network
May 3, MLB Network Bag (all, 10,000) / MLB Network
May 6, Twins Rocket Raccoom Bobblehead (all, 10,000) / MARVEL
May 7, Twins Beach Tote (all, 5,000) / The beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
May 20, Twins Batting Practice Pullover in adult M or XL (all, 10,000)  /  CenturyLink
May 29, Brian Dozier T-Shirt in adult M or XL (all, 10,000) 

June 14, LED Energy Efficient Light Bulb (all, postgame) / Xcel Energy
June 18, Twins Father's day socks (male 18+, 10,000) / Sheboygan Sausage Company
June 21, Twins Star Wars T-Shirt in adult M or XL (all, 10,000)

July 8, Twins Cap (all, 20,000) / DQ
July 9, Twins Bat and Ball Set (kids 14-, 10,000) / Play Ball
July 18, Twins Beach Towell (all, 7,500) / Pentair
July 22, Twins 1987 World Championship Stein (21+, 10,000) / Budweiser

August 3, Twins Diversity Day Item (all, 5,000) / Treasure Island Resort & Casino
August 4, National Baseball Day Commemorative Day Trading Card Pack (all) / Topps
August 5, Twins Back to School Item (14-, 5,000) / Target
August 6, T.C. Bear Bobblehead (all, 10,000) / US Bank
August 18, Rod Carew Bobblehead (all, 10,000)
August 19, Michael Cuddyer Twins HOF Bobblehead (all, 10,000) / Delta Airlines
August 20, Michael Cuddyer and Any MacPhail HOF Pins (all, 5,000) / Coordinated Business Systems

September 29, Twins Stocking Cap (all, 30,000) / Target
September 30, Twins Stocking Cap (all, 30,000) / Target
October 1, Twins Stocking Cap (14-, 10,000) / Target

2/20/17

News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/20/17

As every Spring, I will be following the Twins and providing news and notes.  For about 10 days I will be in Fort Myers providing live coverage from the Twins' Spring Training.  Those post will be noted as such.  Otherwise I will be providing summaries of the team's activities and individual posts on certain subjects relating to the Twins' preparation for 2017.  You can find all 2017 Spring Training related posts here.

  • The Twins have signed 28 year old journeyman and former Gophers RHP Seth Rosin to a minor league contract.  The Arden Hills, MN native was drafted by the Twins in the 28th round of the 2007 draft, but decided to go to the Univesity of Minnesota instead.  He projects as a Rochester pen depth signing. 
  • RHPs Kyle Gibson Nick Burdi, and Jose Berrios have been changing their deliveries, the first two to keep their shoulder and elbow healthy, and Berrios to hid his pitches better and avoid tipping them.  So has done LHP Craig Breslow, with his motivation being to re-invent himself.
  • 1B/DH Kennys Vargas has worked out with Manny Ramirez this winter.  Ramirez has been fellow Dominican's Miguel Sano's winter training partner, but Sano decided to work out for former third baseman Fernando Tatis, to include some fielding work this winter.  In an interesting confession, Vargas indicated that the Twins' coaches wanted him "for years to cut down his swing and use the whole field, as [they did with] Ortiz", something that Ramirez and him worked to fix last winter.
  • LHP Hector Santiago, changed his number to 53 from 66 last season.  He wore 53 both with the Angels and the White Sox previously.  The number became available when RHP Pat Light was traded to the Pirates a couple weeks ago.  Santiago will fight about 10 other candidates for a position to the Twins' rotation this Spring, something he will not be handed, as he decided to take off the Twins' camp and pitch for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the WBC.  Jose Berrios, another pitcher fighting for a rotation sport for the Twins, will be in the same disadvantage because he made the same choice.
  • 2B Brian Dozier is surprised to be back with the team.  His and the Twins' wish might come true by next off-season, now the Mets will have an opening in the position.
  • LHP Glen Perkins who is recuperating from a torn labrum surgery, pitch twice from the mound in bullpens without any problem.  It was indicated that he was pitching at "75%", but no velocities were mentioned.  Something will definitely keep and eye on and report live when in Fort Myers, as with RHP Phil Hughes' recovery from TOS surgery.  Hughes sounds ahead of Perkins, as far as recovery goes, and, unlike Perkins, who will likely start the season in the DL, is planning to start the season with the big club.  For both, return of velocity is essential to be effective, and will keep an eye on that.  During his recovery Perkins used an electronic muscle simulator, instead of icing after workouts.
  • LHP Mason Melotakis is the only other injured player in the camp, recovering from an oblique strain and not throwing.
  • The Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said the following in an interview by Mackey and Judd:
    • He would like information to be shared throughout the organization, making more informed decisions through collaboration, bringing different ideas from different departments.
    • He wants his staff to check their egos in the door and share ideas.  Will abolish the "we've always done it this way" mentality, and explore the "whys' of doing something.
    • Being patient with changes in order to make good informed decisions that will be happening as the time passes
    • C Jason Castro can impact the game, in addition to pitch framing, with his game calling abilities, as well as with his bat that "has upside".
    • There is not "an one size fits all approach" with the pitchers.  They will try to leverage each pitcher's strengths .
    • Was imperative to spend 5-10 minutes with each players to make sure that everyone understands the expectations as well as that the management is accessibly for the players.
    • He believes that the team can "take a step forward" this year with the players the team has, by giving them more resources to succeed.