Sunday, December 18, 2011

Goodbye Bob

Last Sunday, my good friend Bob O'Neill passed away at 36 years old.

I don't completely know the circumstances of his last days, but he was having tough times. I'm still numb to the whole situation.

I met Bob in 1996, when he moved into my college apartment replacing a roommate that had moved out. We got along right away! Bob came from a different background than I did, but we bonded over music, the Simpson's, beer and sarcasm. We had some good times in college, listening to Iron Maiden and singing 665, the Neighbor of the Beast.....

I also turned Bob into a little bit of a Rolling Stones fan and he even lifted weights with me for a little bit. Usually weighing around 127, Bob was all proud of getting to 131.

Eventually, I moved on to a different school and Bob moved on as well. Some of my favorite stories about Bob were at his new apartment. There's the one where we were listening to Metallica so loud that the cops not only came, but they could identify the exact song we were listening to. I believe it was "Seek & Destroy". Well, the cops message to turn it down was lost on us a little. We were so excited that he could hear it so clearly and he knew the song. We wanted him to stay and listen to tunes with us. There is also the night that Bob was talking smack to "Satan" the cat. Well, not only did Satan deserve his name, but he was also going to be neutered soon. Bob had a couple beers in him and he kept saying to the cat, "you think you're hot shit, but just wait". The looks on his face and the sound of his voice as he was talking down to that cat is one of my favorite memories ever.

Bob was a fun guy to hang out with but he also cared about people. I had fallen on some hard financial times and I asked Bob if I could move in to his house. I didn't really think that he'd go for it but, not only did he let me move, he charged me almost no rent. All he asked is that I help him around the house, pay what I could & when my situation improved, pay him  more.

I moved out of Bob's place in 2004. I moved to New York state for a decent job. Early on, I always made it a point to hang out with Bob when I came to town..... but, eventually, I came to town less, I moved more times and met my Allison and got married. Life happened and I had fallen out of touch with Bob a little. I have fallen out of touch with other buddies as well.

I know now that Bob had fallen on hard times. I knew he had been out of work when we spoke in the spring of 2010. I tried to convince him to apply to my company in Texas. He wasn't terribly interested in a Texas move (not sure why, the Republican values, gun laws and wide open spaces seemed like a good fit). I since lost that job and had to take a job in New Hampshire. That job keeps me constantly busy. I also spent nearly 2 years away from my family and often commuting to see them. I haven't even been to Minnesota since May 2010. Life happened to me and didn't know that Bob was in such a bad place.

When I got the news on Tuesday and was told how I was one of Bob's best friends and I realized I hadn't spoken to him in a year and a half, I felt terrible. I still feel terrible. I feel bad that I hadn't seen him in awhile. I feel bad that I wasn't aware or able to help him in his dark times. 

I was looking forward to seeing after Christmas and I plan on having a beer in your honor at Dubliner. I will always remember the good stories. Bob commenting on something smelling so bad "That it really Vikings"

Life is short! Call your friends, visit as often as you can. I've lost 2 of my best friends in the last 2 years and I hadn't seen either of them in their last 2+ years before they'd passed away. I wasn't even able to go to his funeral.

God Bless you Bob and the entire O'Neill family.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Big Night for Twins prospects

It has been awhile since I have written, so tonight, I will post some stuff I have written about Liam Hendriks, Joe Benson & Chris Parmelee.

Andrew Kneeland of TwinsTarget and I ranked Liam Hendriks number 6 overall. Here is what I wrote about him in January.

6. Liam Hendriks, RHP, 21 years old

courtesy: (
2010 stats: 8-4 with a 1.74 ERA, 105/12 K/BB in 108.2 innings between Beloit and Fort Myers.
Last year's rank: N/A
Acquired: Signed out of Perth, Australia in February 2007.

So, what makes someone a top prospect? Some prospects are more tools than numbers. The guys that scouts just look at and drool over the possibilities. They say, this guy will be the next.... Other guys become top prospects through hard-work and sheer numbers. Liam Hendriks is part of the latter group.

The Australian hurler made his debut in the GCL at 18 years of age, striking out 52 and walking 11 in 44 innings. A nice start to his professional career. In 2008, back surgery derailed his entire season. In 2009, he came back from injury and made the Australian roster in the World Baseball Classic. He was the roster's youngest player. After the WBC, he split the season between Elizabethtown and Beloit. He had a decent year with a 3.55 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 19 walks in 83.2 innings. Not a bad year for such a young guy, especially one who had missed a year of development.

In 2010, Hendriks returned to Beloit and he took off. Total Domination! In 6 starts and 34 innings he struck out 39 and walked 4. He only gave up 16 hits. That's a .59 WHIP! This earned him a quick promotion to Fort Myers. He was almost as dominant after his promotion. In 74.2 innings, he struck out 66 and walked 8. For the season, he had a 1.74 ERA, 8.75 K/BB rate and a .837 WHIP between Beloit and Fort Myers. He only gave up 2 HRs all season.These are crazy, off the charts type numbers.

He has 4 good pitches, but no single dominating pitch. His fastball touches the low 90s and he also features a decent curve and change-up. What made Hendriks so dominant in 2010 was his control. He only walked 12 guys in 108.2 innings. Coincidentally, Cliff Lee walked 12 in 108.2 innings for the Texas Rangers in 2010. While I'm not saying Hendriks can be the next Cliff Lee*, his 2010 numbers and stuff profile out to a similar kind of pitcher, albeit a right-handed one. *Lee only walked 6 in 103.2 innings in Seattle and 2 of his TX walks were intentional.

Hendriks will only be 22 years old in 2011 and it would seem he is just starting to hit his stride. The only thing slowing Hendriks down is injury. He's already had back surgery. Hopefully the nerve issue doesn't lead to something chronic. He was selected to the 2010 All-Star Futures Game but he missed the game due to appendicitis. These are two un-related types of maladies. Hopefully Hendriks is getting through a rash of random injuries early in his career and and is about to settle in for a long healthy career.

Ideal Scenario: Hendriks will probably start where he left off in Fort Myers. If he hits the ground running like he did in 2010, he should see an early New Britain promotion.

Path to the majors: Another good season in 2011 will leave Hendriks on the cusp of an MLB debut in 2012. With guys like Gibson, Bromberg, Wimmers and a decent major league staff all older and more advanced then the 22 year old Hendriks, 2013 is more realistic. If Hendriks has a season in 2011 like he did in 2010 however, the Twins might not be able to hold him back. He has middle of the rotation stuff but if he can keep his walk rate down, he could become an ace.

Andrew and I ranked Joe Benson #4.

Here is something Andrew Kneeland wrote about Joe Benson.

Below is something I posted at TwinsTarget last September.

With my first post, I will introduce you to my favorite Twins prospect, Joe Benson. He plays all outfield positions and is capable of playing a very good center field. The 22 year old was a Twins 2nd round draft pick in 2006 out of Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, Illinois. He is not as highly thought of in Twins prospect circles as Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere, or Angel Morales, but he should be. He is a similar, if more advanced player than Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales. Hicks most likely will walk a little more than Benson. He is the same age as Revere and has much more power and is a better fielder, if not as fast a runner.

In 2009, he batted .285/.414/.403 for Fort Myers with 14 stolen bases in 21 attempts. He ranked #4 overall in my Twins prospect list coming into 2010. At the time, I said "he is developing into a prototypical lead off or #2 hitter. He's another of many high-end outfield prospects in the Twins organization." Well in 2010, his power has taken off. The 6'2" 211 lb. Benson finally added power that his frame would suggest. Prior to 2010, Benson topped out at 5 HRs in a season. He had a .259/.343/.538 line with 27 HRs, 31 doubles and 8 triples for Fort Myers and New Britain. He also stole 19 bases in 28 tries. His .527 slugging percentage at New Britain ranked 5th in the Eastern League of players with 300 plus plate appearances. His .862 OPS ranked 11th of players with 300 plus PA. His 23 HRs ranked 4th in the league. He probably isn't a going to be a 1 or 2 hitter after-all, though he hits at the top of the order for New Britain. 

I have seen him play 3 times this season. When he was named as one of seven Twins to make the Arizona Fall league, I posted a scouting report on the 7 players.This was my scouting report on Benson:

I saw him in June and wrote this: He's 22 and LaVelle E. Neal thinks he'll arrive in 2012. For some reason, he was sent back to Fort Myers this year. I personally think he is a better player than Revere right now. He certainly looks to have more upside. He is almost as fast as Revere but also has power. He went 2-5 with a 2B and a walk on Wednesday and 1-4 with a HR in Thursday's game. He leads New Britain with 9 HRs. The bounce in power is great especially since he is considered more of a speed guy. He already has 13 HRs in 2010 between Fort Myers/New Britain. He's never had more than 5 HRs in a season. If Micheal Cuddyer were traded in the off-season, Benson may be better equipped then Revere to replace some of his offense by next season.

I also saw him in AugustHe went 0-5 and some of his swings were really hard. Carlos Gomez hard. He is certainly the best prospect in AA for the Twins currently, but he has some work to do. I love watching him in the field and he has legitimate power. He also might be wound to tight. He got mad a couple times during the game, tossing his helmet hard into the dugout and also on the field after just missing his pitch and flying out. The kind of reaction usually reserved for strikeouts. Benson has a ton of tools and potential that is starting to show. I hope he is able to keep his emotions in check and just enjoy the game a little more. He has enough ability to go a long way someday soon. 

Benson is a 5 tool player that could be a future star for the Twins. He can hit, hit for power, steal a base, plays great defense and has a good arm. He is more than capable in center field but may eventually shift to a corner. 

When he is in the lineup with Ben Revere, Revere has played center. Benson has also improved his on-base skills in the last couple of seasons. The one flaw in his game is his strikeout rate. Benson struck out 136 times in 519 plate appearances in 2010. His 115 Eastern League K's ranked 11th and his total of 136 would have placed him in 6th place for the league. That's a strikeout every 3.82 plate appearances. Many mention his strikeout rate as a reason to keep Benson in AA for another season and it may be a fair reaction. Give him more time to work on this flaw before promoting him to AAA or the majors. As a comparison, the Twins strikeout leader this year is Jason Kubel. He has 102 strikeouts in 515 plate appearances. Kubel never had more than 59 Ks in any minor league season. Benson's strikeouts are a problem. Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn never struck out that much in the minors. 

Joe Benson will be added to the 40 man roster over the winter and will get a look in spring training before he gets sent back to AA. Between Arizona Fall league and his return to New Britain, Benson should be tasked with lowering his K rate. If he can do that, he will be ready to make an impact with the big league club as soon as mid-season. Guys like Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales and Ben Revere could be great players for the Twins, but Joe Benson is the most likely to do it first.

Finally, here is what I wrote here about Parmelee in January: I ranked him as my 18th prospect.

18. Chris Parmelee First Base/Outfield 2/24/1988.
He was a Twins 1st round draft pick in 2006 out of Chino Hills high school (CA). He hit .285/.356/.401 for Fort Myers and New Britain. He hit .258/.359/.441 for Fort Myers before his promotion but his HR power really dropped off after he was promoted. He had only 6 HRs for New Britain, but he did have 25 doubles in 463 plate appearances. He has a good walk rate and his strikeout rate has come down every year, but his prospect value lies in his HR power. I ranked him #12 last year.
2011 outlook: Will probably spend all season in New Britain, unless he has a HUGE year.

Nothing new here, but given the big night for the Twins, I figured I'd post something.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

So Long Pat

Pat Neshek was claimed off of waivers by the San Diego Padres today. The announcement came from Neshek, via his twitter page: "I just got news that I am now a member of the San Diego Padres, packing up & heading west."

With that statement, Neshek was gone.  Pat was let go to provide the Twins with flexibility on the 40 man roster. The Twins could have optioned Neshek to AAA. He had an option left. They chose to let him walk for nothing. Any American League team could have had him and passed and 11 National League teams passed on him before San Diego picked him up.

Neshek had an excellent to start his career. He went 11-4 in 2006 and 2007 with a 2.19 ERA in 06 and 2.94 ERA in 07. He hasn't been good since. He has had an ERA of nearly 5 since 2008 and hasn't fully recovered from 2009 Tommy John surgery. He's only pitched 22.1 innings for the Twins since the end of the 2007 season. He's essentially been a WAR 0 player since 2007. His quirky delivery and deception made him a dominant reliever early in his career, but with a fastball in the mid 80s, deception might not be enough anymore.

Once Neshek made his announcement, twitter exploded in mostly anti-Twins, pro-Neshek grumbling.

Why all of the stress over a fringe player who is already 30 years old and he has gotten roughed up this spring?

First, he's one of us. He graduated from Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, MN. We love our Minnesota guys in Twins Territory.

Second and most important, he's a great guy. He speaks with fans on his site, (one that has a similar name to this one), as well as Facebook and twitter. His site is very comprehensive in reaching out to his fans. Fans can trade cards with him or chat with him and each other on the site's message board. The site has a lot of good content for fans. His site even helped him meet his wife. The first thing you see on the page, pretty much says everything about his fan friendliness. There is a standard greeting from Pat followed by instructions, for fans, to send him items to autograph.

I followed those instructions and received this:

I sent him this card in early November 2009. I'd asked if he could put a Christmas message to my stepson, if he had a chance to before the holiday. It was already November, the season was over and he's a busy guy. I honestly didn't expect he'd get to the card before Christmas. I received the signed card back in less than 2 weeks. What a great Christmas gift to a kid. A Personalized message from a major league player.

Many feel sad for Pat as well. Sad that his hometown team gave up on him. Don't be sad. His time with the Twins was up. He wasn't going to make their opening day roster. Now he gets a chance to make a team who calls home Petco Park. The best pitcher's park in the majors. He gets a chance to play in one of the nicest cities in America.

He only pitched 129.2 innings for the Twins, but will forever be a fan favorite. 

Good Luck to one of my favorite players. I hope he is an all star for the Padres. 

I hope to get a signed Padres card someday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 20-16

Well, we've finally come to the end of the Twins prospects lists..... At least on this site. Please check out TwinsTarget for the final 15. If you've missed prospects 50-21, you can start by checking em out here.

20. Jose Gonzalez Lefty Reliever 2/3/1990.
He was signed signed in 2007 out of Tucupita, Venezuela. He went 2-1 with a .72 ERA for Elizabethtown and Fort Myers. He struck out 43 and walked 7 in 37.1 innings. He only gave up 20 hits! He has had good numbers at every level he has played since he was an 18 year old in the DSL. Here is a snippet from Seth Stohs earlier today at TwinkieTown, check it out : 
"Now, in terms of prospect status, it's a good example of numbers versus scouting. First, he's just 5-9 and his body type is often compared to that of Jose Mijares. That might be a warning sign. Right now, his fastball sits between 83 and 86 mph, although I'm told he touched 89 late in the season. So, it's a little difficult to get too excited...." 
His ceiling is probably left-handed specialist, but if he can keep up the production, he has a chance to be used more. I ranked him #37 last year.
2011 Outlook: He held his own at Fort Myers and I'd expect him to stay there most of the year.

19. Nelvin Fuentes Lefty Reliever 4/7/1989.
He was a Twins 16th round pick in 2007 from Loaiza, Puerto Rico. He was a part of the 2009 Baseball World Cup Puerto Rican roster. He has perfromed well in international competition. He went 1-1 with 3 saves and a 3.27 ERA for Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out 61 and walked 17 in 44 innings. If Fuentes can keep his K rate high as he moves up, he'll be a dominant lefty in the majors. I ranked him #43 last year.
2011 Outlook: Will start in Beloit or Fort Myers, he will move up quickly if he keeps striking out 12 per 9 innings.

18. Chris Parmelee First Base/Outfield 2/24/1988.
He was a Twins 1st round draft pick in 2006 out of Chino Hills high school (CA). He hit .285/.356/.401 for Fort Myers and New Britain. He hit .258/.359/.441 for Fort Myers before his promotion but his HR power really dropped off after he was promoted. He had only 6 HRs for New Britain, but he did have 25 doubles in 463 plate appearances. He has a good walk rate and his strikeout rate has come down every year, but his prospect value lies in his HR power. I ranked him #12 last year.
2011 outlook: Will probably spend all season in New Britain, unless he has a HUGE year.

17. Eddie Rosario Outfield 9/28/1991.
He was a Twins 4th round pick in 2010 from Guayama, Puerto Rico. He hit .294/.343/.438 and stole 22 bases in 27 attempts in 213 plate appearances for the Gulf Coast Twins. Many considered Rosario the best player out of Puerto Rico in last year's draft. He has drawn comparisons to  Bobby Abreu. He's another promising, toolsy outfield prospect in the Twins system.
2011 outlook: With a decent year in GCL, I'd expect he will spend 2011 in Elizabethtown.

16. Nate Roberts Outfield 2/25/1989.
He was a Twins 5th round draft pick in 2010. He hit .336/.444/.547 with 5 steals in 7 tries in 153 plate appearances for Elizabethtown after finishing a college season where he led the nation in runs and on base percentage. Just awesome offensive numbers! It will be interesting to see how Roberts does in less offensive leagues. The Appalachian League is very offensive oriented. Roberts will be fun to watch develop.
2011 outlook: Will start the season in Beloit.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 25-21

Earlier today, I posted a piece on #6 Twins prospect Alex Wimmers at Keeping with the pitching prospect theme, all five of the Twins prospects in this post are pitchers. If 6 pitching prospects wasn't enough reading, I wrote about #8 Adrian Salcedo the other day. If you've missed any of the other prospect posts, start here.

I also want to announce my new Twins pod-cast. Touch 'Em All with Louie Schuth of Hitting the Eephus and myself will be on the air Monday nights at 11 Eastern/10 Central. Please join us for our first show Monday night.

One way to get the latest news about this blog, my TwinsTarget posts, or my podcast is to like my blog page on facebook.

25. Martire Garcia Lefty Starter 3/1/1990.
He was signed out of Yamasa, Dominican Republic in 2007. He went 8-1 with a 3.31 ERA for Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out 93 and walked 38 in 73.1 innings. He struck out a ton of guys in 2010, even without possessing an overpowering fastball. His fastball does have good movement however and he does possess a good hard curve ball. He does give up too many base-runners, walking too many guys. Garcia is young and at 5'11" 150 lbs., very small. It will be interesting to see if he can gain some weight and a couple miles per hour on his fastball.  Not a lot of information on him out there, but his numbers, age and left-handedness make him an intriguing prospect.
2011 outlook: Look for Garcia to spend most of the year in Beloit.

24. Bobby Lanigan Starter 5/5/1987.
He was a Twins 3rd round draft pick in 2008. He went 5-4 with a 3.48 ERA for Fort Myers and New Britain. He struck out 58 and walked 19 in 95.2 innings. Lanigan was injured part of the year and his K and BB numbers really suffered when he was promoted to New Britain. His fastball tops out at around 92 mph and he has a nice change up. I shot some crude phone video of Lanigan here. He could be a back of the rotation starter option for the Twins in a couple of years.
2011 outlook: Lanigan will probably spend the season in New Britain with a call-up to Rochester if their is a depth issue.

23. Dan Osterbrock Lefty Starter 1/27/1987.
He was a Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He went 9-9 with a 2.65 ERA for Beloit and Fort Myers. He struck out 106 and walked 28 in 139.1 innings. He doesn't throw really hard but has amazing control, walking less than 2 per inning in 2010. He is another one of those solid starter prospects that throws strikes in the Twins system. He could be a back-end of the rotation guy for the Twins in 2 or 3 years. A left-handed starter that throws strikes can be pretty valuable.
2011 outlook: Osterbrock will probably spend the season in New Britain.

22. Kyle Waldrop Reliever 10/27/1985.
He was the Twins 25th overall pick in 2004 out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He went 5-3 with 2 saves and a 2.57 ERA for AAA Rochester. He struck out 60 and walked 20 in 87.2 innings. The former first round pick had seemed to hit a wall as a starter, but he has really developed into a great reliever. He was left unprotected in the rule 5 draft, probably due to his underwhelming strikeout rate. The Twins are fortunate that Waldrop went unclaimed, he could be needed on the major league club in 2011.
2011 outlook: Waldrop is not on the 40-man roster, but should be in the mix to help fill out the Twins bullpen that has lost many parts.

21. Pat Dean Starter 5/25/1989.
He was a Twins 3rd round draft pick out of Boston College in 2010. He went 2-2 with a 2.59 ERA for Elizabethtown. He struck out 32 and walked only 1 in 24.1 innings. He has great control and a 92 MPH fastball. He could move through the system quickly. That's right, the Twins drafted a starter in an early round out of college. Another shocker, he is a strike thrower.
2011 outlook: Dean will probably start the season in Beloit and if he dominates, earn a relatively quick promotion.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't doubt Joe Nathan!

The Twins have lost 4 top flight free agent relievers in the 2010 off-season. A post about the 2011 bullpen options is forthcoming, but I ended up wanting to examine Joe Nathan more.

I'm here to tell you to be hopeful. Don't Doubt Joe Nathan!

Jim McIssac/Getty Images

Joe Nathan came to the Twins before the 2004 season. Nathan had never closed before, but all he has done is save 246 games in 271 chances. He's never had an ERA above 2.70, has struck out at least 9.67 batters per 9 innings and never walked more than 2.88 per 9. He was a top 5 closer from 2004 - 2009. He's been awesome. 

Late in spring training, Nathan injured his elbow. He had to have the ulnar collateral ligament replaced. He had to have Tommy John Surgery! His season was over. Surprisingly, the Twins were fine without him. The bullpen, led by John Rauch, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier had a solid season and was further augmented by late season trades of Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes. The Twins did a great job of replacing Nathan's impact. While no reliever was as individually as dominant as Joe Nathan, the bullpen as a whole was solid.

The Twins don't have the same bullpen depth in 2011. They lost Crain, Guerrier, Rauch, and Fuentes this off-season and they have not picked up a single free agent reliever. The Twins may not have missed Joe Nathan in 2010, but the Twins could sure use him in 2011.

Ideally, Nathan comes back and takes the closer position from Matt Capps early in the season and dominates as if he'd never left. As a closer, Nathan has been a much more dominant closer than Matt Capps. He's had much better strikeout rates and allowed far less base runners over his career. His WHIP is almost always under 1.00. If Nathan is nearly 100% of his 2009 numbers, he is a much better closing option than Capps. Sliding in a healthy Nathan as the closer and Capps as set-up guy would give the Twins a nice back of the bullpen.

His Tommy John surgery is the great unknown. Many pitchers take about 2 years to come back from the surgery and it should be expected that Nathan might as well. The Twins have examples of guys coming back slowly from Tommy John surgery. Francisco Liriano took 3 years, just to return to 95% of his 2006 self. Pat Neshek wasn't the same pitcher in 2010 as he had been pre-surgery. Looking further back, Joe Mays was never the same after he had the surgery. Three examples of Twins guys coming back slow.

Will Nathan have the same set-backs? Not everyone comes back from the surgery so slow. Many pitchers return at close to 100% after just one year. Tim Hudson returned from Tommy John surgery in 2009 after only 11 months. In the month of September, he'd thrown well enough to earn a new 3 year/$28 million deal. His strikeout rates and walk rates in 2010 were virtually the same as the rest of his career. He was the same pitcher in 2010 as he was in 2008.

The one name that keeps coming up in my mind though is Billy Wagner! Wagner returned from the surgery in 2009, about 10 months after his surgery. His K rate actually went up in 2009/2010 and his walk rate only went up a tad. He was still throwing 98 in 2010. Wagner, like Nathan was a closer near the end of a great career. Wagner wanted to prove that he could be the guy he was before the surgery. He wasn't ready to retire. Nathan could do the same thing!

I'm not saying Nathan can do what Wagner or Hudson did, but why couldn't it happen. Nathan is near the end of his career. He is not a guy who's mechanics are going to be changed. He is not going to be brought back slow or babied in advance of his return, like Liriano and Neshek were. Nathan is owed a lot of money by the Twins in 2011. Then he is a free-agent. The Twins won't hold Nathan back if he feels fine, due to his age and their investment in him. Nathan isn't going to be interested in holding himself back either. Nathan will want to pitch. He's a guy fighting for one last chance at a title, one last chance at a contract. He has an option for 2012 that he'd like the Twins to pick up. He has a lot to prove in 2011 in order to have the option picked up or have an option to close in 2012.

Am I saying Nathan will return to form as quickly as Hudson or Wagner? No. They both pitched well near the end of a season and then had another off-season to rest. What I am saying is, it's not impossible that Nathan will come back at close to 100%, in fact, there is precedent.

Most Twins fans are nervous that Nathan's return won't go well, many aren't even expecting him to do much in 2011 at all. Guessing his effectiveness and his return to closer date has been a popular topic on twitter and other blogs. This just shows how nervous Twins fans are. Neshek, Liriano, and Mays are three Twins that have had difficulty coming back from Tommy John surgery. Though those players had different circumstances than Nathan. All three players were in their prime and the Twins had long term investment in them. Nathan is near the end with a short-term investment. He has something to prove and the Twins could be the beneficiaries. There is reason to be hopeful for Nathan, not just pessimistic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 30-26

For the second time in the last week, my home has been attacked by killer snowmen and the weather they bring. To celebrate this and the Twins giving Matt Capps $7.1 million, we will look at Twins prospects 30-26. If you missed any of the other posts, you can find them here. I have also posted the Twins #8 prospect at today!

30. Rob Delaney Reliever 9/8/1984.
He was signed in 2006 out of St. John's University. He went 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA for Rochester. He struck out 92 and walked 23 in 80 innings. He also made his MLB debut in 2010. He's been a consistently decent reliever since being signed as an un-drafted free agent in 2006. He has a good strikeout and walk rate and should be in the mix for the bullpen in 2011. I ranked him #18 last year.
2011 outlook: He is an option for the Twins wide open bullpen but will probably start the season in Rochester.

29. Anthony Slama Relief Pitcher 1/6/1984.
He was a Twins 39th round draft pick in 2006 out of the University of San Diego. He went 2-2 with 17 saves and a 2.20 ERA in 54 appearance for Rochester. He struck out 74 and walked 32 in 65.1 innings. He made his major league debut in 2010 and will be in the mix for 2011, especially with the free agent losses to the Twins bullpen. He doesn't have outstanding stuff but always manages to get the job done. The success of the 2011 Twins bullpen will in part be based on how well Slama can do for the major league club. I ranked him #31 last year.
2011 outlook: Probably has a leg-up over Delaney for a spot in the Twins bullpen.

28. Daniel Rams Catcher/First Base 12/19/1988.
He was a Twins 2nd round pick out of Miami, FL in 2007. He hit .243/.310/.450 for Beloit. He also struck out an incredible 145 times! He has a good arm as a catcher, throwing out 47% of would be base-stealers. The Twins might see his HR power as a better attribute than his catching. He does split time at first base but is young enough, that, for now, he'll get a chance to catch. A power hitting catcher prospect is always coveted, if his power jumps ahead of his catching ability, he may see a change of position. Rams has to cut his strikeout rate and find a way to get on base more often to have real value away from the catching position.
2011 outlook: He will probably spend all season at Fort Myers, unless catching shortages require him to move up.

27. Anderson Hidalgo Third Base 9/5/1988.
He was signed in 2006 out of Valencia, Venezuela. He hit .316/.375/.443 for Beloit. Hidalgo is a doubles machine, with 25 in only 315 plate appearances. He gets on base and hits for some power, but will have to improve his power to be a major factor at third base. He's only 5'9" but his skills could make him a #2 hitter someday. I ranked him #38 last year.
2011 outlook: He will probably spend most of the season at Fort Myers.

26. Bruce Pugh Starter 7/18/1988.
He was the Twins 19th round draft pick in 2008 out of Hillsborough Community College. He went 7-10 with a 4.03 ERA at Fort Myers with 106 strikeouts and 48 walks in 102.2 innings. He only gave up 81 hits! He's always struck out more than 1 per inning and given up less than a hit per inning, he's also improved his walk rate a little. He could be a good middle rotation starter for the Twins in a couple of years if he continues to lower his walk rate.
2011 outlook: He'll probably spend the season in New Britain.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 35-31

The Twins finally re-signed Jim Thome this week. The 1 year $3 million contract was less than I was willing to give him in August. I guess the Twins could have given him anything they want. It's not my money. anyway, lets look at 5 more prospects. My other prospect write-ups can be found here!

35. Miguel Munoz Starter 8/4/1988.
He was signed out of Caracas, Venezuela in 2005. He went 12-7 with a 4.37 ERA for Beloit. He struck out 121 and walked 48 in 131.2 innings. He throws hard but he walks too many. He had a decent season in his first full minor league season. If he can keep his walk rate down and K rate up, he should move up quickly.
2011 outlook: He will most likely spend the year in Fort Myers.

34. Billy Bullock Reliever 2/27/1988.
He was the Twins second round pick out of the University of Florida in 2009. He went 2-8 with 27 saves in 58 appearances between Fort Myers and New Britain. He could be a Twins closer someday. He stuck out 105 in 74 innings. He allows too many base runners though, giving up 73 hits and 43 walks. I saw him in August, he looked good, hitting 95 on the gun. If he can cut the base runners, he could be in the mix for closer as soon as 2012. 
2011 outlook: He will start the season in New Britain with a probable promotion to AAA.

33. Dakota Watts Reliever 11/16/1987.
He was drafted in the 16th round out of Cal State Stanislaus in 2009. He went 6-3 with 8 saves and a 3.10 ERA mostly at Beloit and Fort Myers. He struck out 89 and walked 44 in 81.1 innings. He throws hard and has a good slider and strikes out guys, but he walks too many. I wrote more about him and Kane Holbrooks last fall. Like Bullock, if he could get his walk rate down, he could be a future set-up guy or closer.
2011 outlook: He will either start the season closing in Fort Myers or in the New Britain bullpen.

32. Paul Bargas Lefty Reliever 10/13/1988.
Bargas was recently acquired in a trade with Colorado for backup catcher Jose Morales. He went 5-4 with 5 saves and a 3.59 ERA in the high A Sally League. He struck out 64 and walked 19 in 67.2 innings while only giving up 57 hits. The Twins have made very few moves so far this off-season, but other than re-signing Jim Thome, trading for a 22 year old lefty with a decent K and BB rate has been their beat move to date. Another future closer candidate?
2011 outlook: Will probably spend all season in New Britain's bullpen.

31. Rene Tosoni Outfield 6/2/1986.
He was a Twins 36th round draft pick in 2005 out of Toronto, Canada. He hit .270/.369/.422 for New Britain before an injury ended his season in early June. He found some HR power in 2009, vaulting him up the prospect rankings. He is a decent outfield prospect, but he has been passed in the system by Joe Benson and Ben Revere, with Angel Morales right behind him. He is a useful prospect, but could get lost in the shuffle at such a deep position in the Twins system. I had him ranked #14 before last season.
2011 outlook: Will probably be manning the Rochester outfield. Could be an injury call-up.

There are questions about the Twins bullpen in 2011, but the 2012 bullpen already looks pretty good with Bullock, Watts, and Bargas in the mix!

Look for a podcast coming soon. Information to follow!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 40-36

We're Back! A couple weeks back, I posted Twins prospects 50-46 and 45-41. What have I been doing since then? Well, while I have been counting down the 50th through 16th best Twins prospect here, I have also been helping with the final 15 prospects at TwinsTarget. Please check out the Twins top 15 there. So far, I have posted the 14th, 12th and 10th best Twins prospect. 

40. Brandon Roberts Outfielder 11/9/1984.
He was the Reds 7th round draft pick in 2005 out of Cal Poly State-San Luis Obispo. He hit .327/.404/.417 with 22 stolen bases in 25 attempts mostly in AA and AAA in 374 plate appearances. He has really brought his numbers up in the last couple years and should be in the mix as a 5th outfielder for the Twins, though he has not been invited to major league camp. I really like Roberts. He gets on base and has some speed. I'd like to see him get a chance. Due to his age and higher end outfield prospects, Roberts probably has a better chance to make the majors in a different organization.
2011 Outlook: Will spend the season in AAA, could get a call-up with a couple injuries. 

39. Lance Ray First Base 9/2/1989.
He was a Twins 8th round pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. He hit .289/.372/.417 for Elizabethtown and Beloit. Ray had awesome numbers at Kentucky before he was drafted, hitting .356/.458/.720. He showed good on base skills once he signed, if he could find the power numbers he had in college, he would rocket up prospect boards.
2011 Outlook: Will start the season in Beloit, potential mid-season promotion to Fort Myers.

38. Daniel Ortiz Outfield 1/5/1990.
He was a Twins 4th round draft pick in 2008 out of Harrison High School in Puerto Rico. He hit .259/.299/.498 for Elizabethtown. He missed all of 2009 but came back with a really nice power year in 2010. His power is nice but he doesn't walk much and he strikes out a ton. The Appalachian League is an offensive league, so it will be interesting to watch his growth and his numbers once he moves up to A ball. He has a long way to go, but will only be 21 in 2011.
2011 Outlook: Will probably spend the whole season in Beloit.

37. Jorge Polanco Shortstop 7/5/1993.
He was signed in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic for $750,000. He hit just .233/.299/.301 in 119 plate appearances for the Gulf Coast League Twins but wasn't even 17 until July. He is known as a glove first guy, some have already dubbed Polanco the best infield defender in the system. A great defensive shortstop is very valuable. If Polanco can bring anything resembling a competent bat to the plate, he could have a very nice major league career. The defense is there, it will be interesting to see if the bat comes.
2011 Outlook: Should spend another season in the GCL.

36. Trevor Plouffe Shortstop 6/15/1986.
He was the 20th overall draft pick by the Twins ins 2004. Plouffe is one of the few middle infield 'prospects" in the Twins system near helping the big league club. His power continued to improve in 2010 and he has put himself in the mix for the everyday shortstop position in 2011. He hit .244/.300/.430 in Rochester. He made his major league debut in 2010. He hit just .146/.143/.317 in 22 major league games. He mostly served as Jim Thome's pinch runner. He has a decent glove and some power and will most likely be on the major league roster when the season begins. If Trevor can improve his on-base skills and he can stay at shortstop, he will have a solid major league career. 
2011 Outlook: Will probably start the season on the Twins bench, may go back to Rochester to play every day.