That's fun.Twins Call Up Eduardo Nunez
Thanks to the magic of double headers and roster rules, both the Twins and the Blue Jays are allowed to carry 26 players for today only. In the case of the Twins, they'll call up newly acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez. He has gone 7-for-18 with a home run in two starts (six games total) with the Red Wings.
I'd imagine that Gardy would try to give Nunez a start in one of today's two games, simply to make the effort worth the time and money. Nunez will return to Rochester for Friday's game.Starting Pitchers Sorted Out
The Twins will send out Kyle Gibson for his scheduled afternoon start, while Mike Pelfrey will take to the hill in the second tilt. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, send last night's scheduled starter, R.A. Dickey, out for the afternoon contest. Dustin McGowan will counter for Game 2.
Thanks to all of you who voted. Let's look at the full list, plus a few details.
There was a massive difference in the organization's top prospects between our 2012 and 2013 lists. While the top end of our list is maybe a bit stronger than last season's ensemble, the depth of the Twins farm system this season really starts to show. Enjoy!Rank Name Pos Year (Drafted/Signed) Round Overall 2014 Age ETA Comment 1 Byron Buxton CF 2012 1 2 20 2015 Probably the best prospect in baseball, with potential plus (at least) tools in all five traditional areas. He won't play until May, but he's on his own timetable. 2 Miguel Sano 3B 2009 (DR) n/a n/a 21 2015 His 2014 debut has been postponed by a few months thanks to Tommy John surgery. He should recover in plenty of time to compete for the starting third base job on Opening Day 2015. 3 Alex Meyer RHP 2011 1 23 24 2014 Meyer is starting the season healthy and in Triple-A, so it's a matter of when - not if - he makes his Major League debut this summer. Providing he avoids injury, of course. 4 Eddie Rosario 2B/OF 2010 4 135 22 2015 A 50-game suspension to start the season, due to a drug of abuse (presumed to be marijuana) will slow his timetable a bit, but provided he continues to hit he'll be a valuable prospect and potential cornerstone starting, probably, in 2015. 5 Kohl Stewart RHP 2013 1 4 19 2017 Last year's first-round pick looked good in his debut last summer. Can he continue to look good as he continues to pitch against old, better hitters? Stewart's ceiling is high, and he's the only player in the top five (how did he finish fifth anyway) who will still be on this list in two years' time. 6 Josmil Pinto C 2006 (VEN) n/a n/a 25 2014 Pinto has already hit three home runs this season. Has Minnesota found a long-term catcher to follow Mauer? 7 Jose Berrios RHP 2012 1 32 20 2015 It's the same ETA as we gave him last season, as we'll continue to believe he's on the fast track until a lack of promotion tells us otherwise. It would be a late/Septemeber 2015 debut, but it's feasible. Can he adjust in his second full-length season? 8 Jorge Polanco 2B/SS 2009 (DR) n/a n/a 20 2016 If you haven't been keeping an eye on this guy, you need to - starting right now. The Twins have a pair of middle infield prospects who can really hit. Think Guzman and Rivas...but with much better bats and less speed. Polanco could be a Top 5 prospect in the organization next season. 9 Max Kepler CF/1B 2009 (GER) n/a n/a 21 2016 We've moved his ETA back a season following his sub-par 2013. He'll need to put up number this season or he'll fall down the 2015 list. Very talented, though, with plus skills in multiple areas. Will he move towards first base more permanently? Then he better hit. 10 Lewis Thorpe LHP 2012 (AUS) n/a n/a 18 2017 Thorpe came out of nowhere to impress scouts and number lovers alike. His ceiling doesn't appear to be as a number one, but he's been collecting rave reviews from all corners. He looks like a good bet to remain in the rotation as he is promoted, but is still at least three years away. One hell of a place to debut on a prospect list, though. 11 Trevor May RHP 2008 4 136 24 2014 The upside is wearing thin on May, but his proximity to the Majors and his raw stuff and strikeout numbers keep him very interesting. If he can improve on his command even a bit, he projects as a killer relief option - or a mid-rotation guy with strikeout potential but only two plus pitches. 12 Adam Brett Walker RF 2012 3 97 22 2016 Jumping up from number 25 last season, Walker's offense continues to be the source of his ceiling. Still lots of strikeouts and has a lot of work to do in controlling the strike zone, but he was a fringe prospect last season. This year, he has a chance to make or break that prospect status. 13 Felix Jorge RHP 2010 (DR) n/a n/a 20 2017 This is an incredible list debut for Jorge, but could be one of the players in the most dubious position. He was drug along in the wake of Lewis Thorpe - can he hang with his Australian counterpart? The ceiling is there. 14 Stephen Gonsalves LHP 2013 4 110 18 2018 The third of Minnesota's top four picks in the 2013 draft, Gonsalves impressed in his pro debut. His numbers will become less impressive as he moves through the system and his prospect status may be difficult to maintain as a result, but it was a very impressive debut. And he's left-handed. 15 Michael Tonkin RHP 2008 30 906 24 2014 Tonkin, as a prep pick in '08, was a gamble of a draft pick. He's turning out to be a pretty good result. If he's not a full-time member of the Major League bullpen by season's end, it will be a surprise. 16 Travis Harrison 3B 2011 1 50 21 2017 If he can't stick at third base, or if he can't continue to hit, Harrison will lose his status as one of the organization's most powerful hitting prospects. It's easy to rake in a Rookie league, if you have any power at all - so now is when we start to see what kind of prospect Harrison truly is. 17 Danny Santana SS 2007 (DR) n/a n/a 23 2014 Good contact skills and good (but inconsistent) defensive abilities, along with his proximity to the Majors, keep Santana one of the organization's first options for a callup this summer. If he's not taking most of September's starts at short, something has gone wrong - or Pedro Florimon is playing over his head. 18 Kennys Vargas 1B 2008 (PR) n/a n/a 23 2015 Vargas' power keeps him interesting. He's getting old for his level, however, so he needs to keep hitting. The Twins added him to the 40-man roster over the winter, so they liked him enough to protect him. 19 Ryan Eades RHP 2013 2 43 22 2016 It wasn't an impressive debut for Eades in 2013, but it can be considered a write-off if he comes in this season and starts to show the potential that the front office clearly saw when they drafted him with their second selection last June. 20 Zach Jones RHP 2012 4 130 23 2015 Killer strikeouts and proximity to the Majors mean he's a potential shut-down reliever, but command has to stay under observation. He could compete for a bullpen role out of spring training next year. 21 Fernando Romero RHP 2011 (DR) n/a n/a 19 2018 Baseball America likes him, and an impressive 2013 can tell you why. Is he a one-and-done, or will the talent be sustained? 22 Sean Gilmartin LHP 2011 1 28 24 2015 Gilmartin is a lefty who is already close to being Major League-ready. He's a low-ceiling, high-floor type of player, but for this year he's buried in the depth chart for both starters and relievers. Watch to see if his performance improves now that he's fully healthy. 23 Stuart Turner C 2013 3 78 22 2016 The final of four 2013 picks on our list, Turner's scouting report reveals a good defensive catcher who might also be able to hit. He may not climb the list for next season, but if he treads water he's doing something right. 24 Amaurys Minier 3B 2012 (DR) n/a n/a 18 2018 Supremely talented but years away. Very much a wild card since we have no track record, and not even a draft position to go on. Minier could climb the ranks quickly if he's anything like the player the scouts think he could be. 25 D.J. Baxendale RHP 2012 10 310 23 2015 Baxendale has dropped two spots in the rankings but has still leap-frogged fellow pitching draftees Melotakis and Bard. 26 Niko Goodrum SS 2010 2 71 22 2016 Down six places, Goodrum is talented but needs a season that makes people take notice. He could climb the list eventually due to his proximity to the Majors. 27 Mason Melotakis LHP 2012 2 63 23 2016 Finished in Single-A in 2012 and stayed there all of 2013, but has moved onto Advanced-A this season. He needs to develop one or two pitches to be an effective relief option in the future, as his ability to start long-term is still up in the air. 28 Lewin Diaz OF 2013 (DR) n/a n/a 17 2019 The only player on our list projected to debut any later than 2018, Diaz has yet to record a statistic for the organization. Right now it's all ceiling, scouting, and projectability. Because that's a thing. 29 Logan Darnell LHP 2010 6 195 25 2014 Darnell's proximity to the Majors, left-handedness, and being essentially Major League-ready mean he cracks our Top 30. Providing he's healthy and doesn't implode, no doubt we'll see him with the Twins at some point this year. 30 Adrian Salcedo RHP 2007 (DR) n/a n/a 23 2015 Salcedo ranked 13th on our list in 2012, missed our list entirely last season, and now reappears at the end of our list for 2014. With another solid season, he could be one of the first options to be called up for the 2015 bullpen.
Observations of this year's Top 30 list.
I can't stop thinking about the draft in June. We'll see how many draft-related features I can come up with before it actually happens.
Including supplemental first-round selections, in ten seasons worth of MLB drafts the Twins have picked 22 first rounders. That's not too shabby. How have the Twins performed when it's come to their most valuable picks? Let's find out.
Wins Above Replacement totals are via Baseball Reference. I make note of players taken later in the round not to argue that that's who the Twins should have taken, but to illustrate who was still available as a tool for comparison. Arguing against a team's selections because there were better players available later is an exercise in futility, and would result in the mass firing of every scouting staff in the league; we just want to look at the big picture.2004
Plouffe (1.7 Career WAR)
Aside from a few hot weeks in 2012, Plouffe hasn't lived up to expectations. Among first-round shortstops he certainly wasn't the biggest flop, with Matt Bush at number one overall completely falling on his face. Chris Nelson for the Rockies (-2.3 WAR at number nine) hasn't faired well either, in spite of making the Top 100 list for Baseball America in 2005 and Baseball Prospectus in 2008. He's toiling away in Triple-A this year. The most successful shortstop drafted after Plouffe was Dustin Pedroia, at 65 overall; no doubt a stretch for anyone to consider taking in round one. He has the rest of 2014 to show what he can do, and he could even start 2015 as Minnesota's starting third baseman, but no doubt his clock will be ticking once Miguel Sano is healthy.
Perkins (7.1 Career WAR)
After failing miserably as a starter (.827 opponent OPS, 5.06 ERA in 251 innings from 2008 to 2010), Perkins finally made the full-time switch to the bullpen in 2011. He was a dominant set-up man in '11 before becoming the team's closer in late June, 2012. He's been among the league's best closers ever since.
Waldrop (0.5 Career WAR)
Waldrop posted a 3.62 ERA for the Twins in 24 relief appearances between 2011 and 2012, but the peripherals were red flags. He made two starts and three relief appearances for Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate last season but has yet to play in 2014. More successful pitchers taken after Waldrop include Gio Gonzalez (38th overall), Huston Street (40th), and Yovani Galladro (46th).
Fox (0.0 Career WAR)
Fox, like Perkins, was a collegiate selection - except Fox's career saw the Twins almost groom him as a swing man. He was never a full-time starter or reliever while in Minnesota's system, missed all of 2005 due to injury, and was moved along so slowly that by the time he was close enough to be called up he was well past any prospect status. Between the Twins and Red Sox, all 7.1 career Major League innings came in 2010.
Rainville, like Waldrop, was a prep pick. He had a nice fastball and his body drew comparisons to Roger Clemens, and he had made it to High-A ball at age 19. But he lost all of 2006 to a nerve injury in his right shoulder, spent all of 2007 back in High-A, and in 2008 struggled in Double-A. He chose to retire in August of 2009, his shoulder not cooperating.2005
Selections: Matt Garza (25), Hank Sanchez (39)
Garza (14.4 Career War)
Minnesota's most successful first-round pick of the last ten years was traded to Tampa Bay in the ill-fated Delmon Young trade, prior to the 2008 season. Young had a good season in 2010 but there's no doubt this is a deal that was sour before we even saw the players put on their new uniforms.
Sanchez was a powerful first baseman whose ability to hit the baseball an inhuman distance was not matched by his ability to not hit the baseball. He struck out in an astonishing 36% of his plate appearances, and he was out of baseball in 2009. Clay Buchholz was selected three picks later by Boston; Jed Lowrie seven picks later, also by Boston; Chase Headley and Yunel Escobar were both taken in the second round. But Sanchez was the first first baseman selected in the 2005 draft, and Ike Davis didn't sign with the Rays and was re-drafted by the Mets in '08, so it's not like the team could have done better if that's what they were really looking for.2006
Selections: Chris Parmelee (20)
Parmelee (1.4 Career WAR)
In spite of being the fourth prep position player taken in the 2006 draft, many pundits pegged Parmelee as the best prep hitter in the draft, praising his power potential as a future middle-of-the-order guy. That hasn't happened to date, and Parmelee's career with the Twins is in jeopardy after this season. Six of the next seven outfielders drafted after him didn't (or haven't) seen a plate appearance in the Majors, with Joe Benson being the only exception. Jon Jay (8.3 WAR) at 74th overall is the only outfielder taken after Parmelee (and Drew Stubbs, who was number one overall, really) to make an impact. Taken directly after Parmelee was Ian Kennedy, who has accrued 9.1 wins above replacement for the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Padres.2007
Selections: Ben Revere (28)
Revere (3.6 Career WAR)
When the Twins drafted Revere in June of '07, he was pegged as a plus for speed, defensive range, and had decent ratings as a hitter. He didn't grade out so well in terms of power, or arm strength and accuracy. All of these things are still true, although we now also know what a great guy he is. He's accrued the 12th-most value via WAR of the 64 players selected in the first and supplementary first rounds and no outfielder taken after him through the first two rounds has been better, although Josh Donaldson (9.7 WAR, 48th overall), Jordan Zimmerman (12.6 WAR, 67th overall), Giancarlo Stanton - who was drafted as a first baseman (15.6 WAR, 76th overall), and Freddie Freeman (9.9 WAR, 78th overall) have all made big impacts. Revere, obviously, netted the Twins Vance Worley and Trevor May, but they shouldn't be evaluated in a discussion revolving around draft success.More: Round 1, Pick 28: Ben Revere 2008
Hicks (0.1 Career WAR)
Labeled "one of the top three or four players in the draft" by Keith Law, Hicks could have been taken as a pitcher or an outfielder. Considered talented but raw, he was getting by "a lot on strength and speed" and needed time to develop, which he's been slow to do so far. When you draft a project you're essentially admitting that you realize the draft is a gamble. He's still just 24, and apart from Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia there aren't many outfielders in the system who will take his plate appearances, so he should have time to show what he's capable of. He was the first outfielder taken in the '08 draft but nobody from that position taken in the first two rounds has flourished. Brett Lawrie (9.7 WAR, 16th overall) and Ike Davis (5.9 WAR, 18th overall) were players taken shortly after him.More: Aaron Hicks scouting reports
The Twins tried Gutierrez at starter and then shifted him to the bullpen when it became apparent he wouldn't make it in the rotation. His strikeout rates jumped but the command issues remained. He ended up with the Cubs for 2013 but combined for just 11.2 minor league innings. As for this year, he isn't with the Cubs and I'm unsure if he's connected to any organization.
He allowed just 149 hits in 193 innings, all while striking out 219 batters, but there was just no command with Hunt. For all the men he sent down on strikes he actually gave more hitters a free pass - 236 to be exact. That's a walk rate of 24%. He made 28 relief appearances for Fort Myers in 2011, but was done after that.2009
Selections: Kyle Gibson (22), Matt Bashore (46)
Gibson (-0.2 Career WAR)
The career WAR doesn't look good but following a missed year-plus thanks to Tommy John surgery, the 26-year old Gibson is finally ready to show the Twins and the fans what he's capable of. Early scouting reports were worried about his frame, which is no longer an issue. He was projected to be a possible top ten pick, so to see him fall to the Twins felt like a possible gift. And it still could be. No other starter from the first and supplementary first rounds has made a great impact, but Mike Trout was taken three picks later.More: Twins select Kyle Gibson
Matt Bashore (n/a)
Bashore struggled with injuries from the word "Go." Two innings in his debut campaign in '09, followed by missing the whole of 2010, he made three starts in 2011, and then he was non-tendered. He did pitch 60 innings for Yankee affiliates in 2012, but after that he was done. It's unfortunate because, especially as a lefty, he looked like a promising pick - even if he would have profiled as a reliever long-term. Jason Kipnis was still on the board (63rd overall), but the Twins were focused on pitching - and rightfully so.2010
Selections: Alex Wimmers (21)
High floor, low ceiling, nearly Major League-ready, great curveball, average stuff. That's a summary of the scouting reports on Wimmers, who many thought would be ready to contribute by 2012 - even if at the back end of the rotation. It was a good pick for a team desperate for starting pitching. Sadly he's missed time for all kinds of reasons. On the plus side he's had two good starts to the season in Double-A: one earned run in 9.1 innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks. But he is 25, and time is running out on his prospect status. Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko (59th overall) and defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons (70th overall) were still available, but as for pitchers, Jesse Biddle (27th) and Noah Syndergaard (38th) went before the second round. Here's hoping Wimmers continues a strong comeback.More: Twins select Alex Wimmers 2011
Another pick who was considered very polished, Michael had Keith Law dub him the best shortstop in the draft ("although the competition for that title wasn't very strong") who probably would shift to second base. At the time, it was assumed that by 2014 we'd probably be seeing him in a Twins uniform, which hasn't come to pass. He's struggled mightily, although like Wimmers has started strong this year (.385/.419/.487 in 43 plate appearances at Advanced-A). It's easy to forget that he's just 23 because we've heard so little about him as a first-round pick. The Red Sox like Jackie Bradley (40th overall), and the next shortstop taken, Jace Peterson, has a fantastic eye at the plate and is at Double-A for San Diego this season - although he's also a year older than Michael.More: Twins select Levi Michael
Harrison has been in our list of top prospects both of the seasons in which he's been eligible. There continue to be doubts about whether he can stick at third or not, but his bat has looked good so far. He's 21 this season and is in Fort Myers, and while he's yet to his a home run 11 games into the season he's otherwise been just fine. In terms of players to keep an eye on this season he should probably on your short list, because if he adjusts and hits well his stock would rise dramatically for next season. Right now this looks like a solid pick.
Boyd snuck into the Twins' official Top 20 going into 2013 but has now fallen off that list, for good reason. He's back in Single-A again, at least to start the season, and he's now been shifted into the bullpen full time. In a small sample size his strikeout rates have predictably jumped but it will be the command that will need watching. Like Harrison he's just 21, so he needs to re-establish himself as a relief prospect. As a prep pick, like Harrison and unlike Michael, it's still pretty early to really know what is or isn't there.2012
Selections: Byron Buxton (2), Jose Berrios (32), Luke Bard (42)
A blue chip prospect. Nobody could have predicted he'd be as promising as he is, but credit to the Twins for making the pick.More: What are they saying: Byron Buxton
A Top Ten prospect within the organization the last two seasons, Berrios has turned into a solid pick so far. He's 20 years old in 2014 and is already pitching in Fort Myers.
Injuries have held Bard back, so it's hard to say why the command hasn't been there when he's actually pitched. Or whether any of his numbers are in any way indicative of his talent. If he doesn't pitch in 2014, it might be time to move on. A talented player, but as we've seen elsewhere on this list it always takes more than talent to become a player who represents a good pick.2013
Selections: Kohl Stewart (4)
Last year's draft saw three pitchers go in the first four picks, and Stewart was the first prep pitcher taken after Mark Appel and Jon Gray. It's too early to really say whether this was a good pick or not, but it was certainly the best decision based on the information we had at the time. Minnesota was also looking at third baseman Clint Frazier (5th overall) and outfielder Austin Meadows (9th overall), among others, but in Stewart the Twins saw the upside of a front-line starter...and that's hard to pass up. It's certainly hard to justify taking a lower ceiling player so high in the draft.Conclusions
In ten seasons and through 22 picks, the Twins have drafted one All-Star (Perkins), one starting pitcher who you'd be happy to have as a member of a playoff rotation (Garza), two fairly talented players who may or may not be regulars for the next half decade (Gibson and Hicks), two role players (Plouffe and Revere), a Quadruple-A guy (Parmelee), two Major League flameouts (Waldrop and Fox), five Minor League flameouts (Rainville, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Hunt, and Bashore), and then some guys for whom it's still too early to tell.
At some point, players go from what seems to be a pick that does or doesn't make sense - to a pick that has a quantifiable value to the organization. If we're to combine the two into some kind of general list, here's how I'd break the picks down in terms of performance and potential performance - understanding that everyone is up for a change depending on their performance, and admitting that it's an odd line to straddle for a number of players.
Good: Perkins, Garza, Stewart
Average: Plouffe, Revere, Hicks, Gibson, Harrison, Berrios
Below Average: Waldrop, Fox, Parmelee, Wimmers, Michael, Boyd, Bard
Bad: Rainville, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Hunt, Bashore
This is just the first of a two-part series looking at the level of success the Twins have had through the draft over the last ten years. Looking at the list now, do you feel like the organization has done well? Knowing that two of the team's four best prospects of the last ten years have yet to step foot on the diamond, is it good enough?
Things looked good for the Twins early on, but then things took a turn for the worse, as they always seem to do against the Blue Jays.
Things were looking good for Twins starter Phil Hughes as the Twins recorded two early runs and he cruised through five innings. Unfortunately, the good times weren't built to last.
The Twins were up 2-0 early thanks to a Chris Colabello double in the first and a Joe Mauer home run single in the second, but when the 6th inning hti the wheels really fell off. Blue Jay Munenori Kawasaki, who is from Japan, started off the inning with a double, and was promptly driven home by Jose Baustista for the first Jays run. Unfortunately, it didn't stop there. Adam Lind singled before Edwin Encarnacion drove both runners in. Phil Hughes was replaced with Michael Tonkin, but let's be real, it didn't make much of a difference. Dioner Navarro singled, Moises Sierra grounded out to score Lind, Brett Lawrie hit a sacrifice fly to score Encarnacion and Navarro on an error by everyone's love child Kurt Suzuki, and you know what? I really hate playing the Blue Jays.
It almost seemed like that was the only damage the Blue Jays would do--but no. Jared Burton gave up a grand slam to Brett Lawrie in the top of the 9th inning. Did I mention I hate playing the Blue Jays?
But don't worry, the Twins rallied in the bottom of the 9th Trevor Plouffe his a solo home run in the bottom of the 9th so the final score was ever-so-slightly less embarrassing for the Twins.STUDS
Blue Jays - Continue dominance over Twins
Brett Lawrie - Grand Slam against the Twins
Chris Colabello - 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 double.DUDS
Twins - Lose again to the Blue Jays, can't list all failures individually.
1. SooFoo Fan
4. Blame Mauer bot
9. less cowbell, more 'neau
This awful weather this week is bringing back shades of last season. I remember working three games against the Tigers where the game time temperature was in the 40s every day.
As you've all likely heard by now, Byron Buxton is out with an injured wrist until at least May, per team sources. Buxton's injury is, unfortunately enough, not the team's only notable injury of a star prospect this season -- Miguel Sano underwent Tommy John surgery just last month, after right elbow injuries continued to plague him. The surgery did go well, and the good news is that Sano will likely be able to start coming back in about six months, but these are just two of the injuries that have hit the organization rather hard in the past couple of seasons -- and there is often question of whether or not the treatment has come too late.
Now that Sano's surgery is over, and he can start rehabbing, fans can expect to see him in either the Arizona Fall League or in the Dominican Winter League -- he's undecided as of yet -- but he for sure will be out until after the 2014 season, after being slated to start at Double-A. For Buxton, however, the Twins are hoping to avoid any longer delays with his wrist injury, and have 'hoped' that he'll be able to start at Double-A come May, but haven't said anything solid about the timetable (which is very unsurprising for anyone that's followed this team the past few years).
Alex Meyer, another top-ranked Twins prospect, has had his share of injuries since joining the team. Last June in New Britain, Meyer went on the DL in June with a shoulder strain. His shoulder had been nagging him, but it took a while before he was actually placed on the disabled list. After that, Meyer didn't return to the team and only pitched again in the Arizona Fall League. He's starting his 2014 season with the AAA Rochester Red Wings, and in his 10.1 IP has struck out 11, walked 1, and given up 3 earned runs.
Matt Hoffman, the lefty reliever signed by the Twins in December who's now pitching in Rochester, is currently on the 7-day DL with an arm issue. Right-handed pitcher for the New Britain Rock Cats, Daniel Turpen, is also listed on the disabled list. Turpen was the last piece in the Kevin Slowey trade, coming to Minnesota from the Colorado Rockies.
Fort Myers currently has a fair share of injured players as well, as they see both right-handed pitchers Zack Jones and Tyler Jones on the DL, left-handed pitcher Corey Williams, outfielder Buxton, OF J.D. Williams, OF Lance Ray, and OF Nate Roberts.
Down in Cedar Rapids, the Twins organization only has a couple players out for the time being, as RHP Luke Bard and SS Ryan Walker are injured. Bard, the oft-injured thrower, hasn't seen much pitching time since being drafted, and the Twins are likely to start looking at him as a reliever instead of a starter soon. His numbers are harder to analyze because of missing time, and since he's still at the low-A level at age 23, he needs to find a groove and stay in it without injuries this season to see what can come of his career.
Overall, the organization doesn't necessarily have more injuries than other teams, but the major injuries they've accrued the past season or two have definitely had more impact than most teams. With their top two prospects out right now, the organization will struggle to have players to showcase for the future. Ideally, we'll see Buxton back in the next few weeks, and that might have to be enough for now.
In an attempt to clarify what defines a catch, MLB has turned a gray area into a black-and-white issue, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
During the offseason, the biggest change being made to baseball was the expansion of instant replay. With the ability to challenge one play before the 7th inning and getting to challenge another if the first was successful, there was the relief that more calls would be correct.
However, thanks to a different rule change that was quietly made, that is not actually the case. Over the winter, MLB also changed the definition of what constitutes a catch, and in doing so they are penalizing defenses for plays they actually have successfully made.
When you think of a catch, I'm sure you think of a defender simply having the ball settle in his glove. Prior to this season, you would have been correct. But this year, MLB has adopted a new rule that states that if the defender drops the ball while attempting to transfer it from his glove to his bare hand, then it is no longer a catch.
The rule change has already come into play several times this year. The Twins have seen the play incorrectly ruled by the umpires when Kurt Suzuki caught a foul tip strike for a strikeout, then bobbled the ball and dropped it trying to remove it from his glove (my apologies, I can't seem to find the video). The home plate umpire still ruled the play resulted in a strikeout, even though by the new definition it should have been a foul ball because Suzuki "didn't" catch the ball.
This also has resulted in a new call on double plays. Before, if an infielder at second base caught a throw and then dropped the ball transferring it to his bare hand, the umpires would still give the fielder the out. Now, that same play means the runner is actually safe. The Tampa Bay Rays were hurt by that call when Ben Zobrist had that very play happen fielding a shovel toss from shortstop Yunel Escobar. Watching it in real speed, it seems like Zobrist never had control, but in slow-motion it appears like Zobrist had the ball lodged in his glove but just couldn't get it into his bare hand on the transfer. The Rays challenged the call and ended up losing the challenge.
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How about batted balls? Same story, umpires have been ruling that failed transfers lead to the batter being safe. This then leads into a couple of questions, some that seem dumb but could arguably be exploited.
Are you ready for another opponent Q&A? Here we go.
Walk us through your situation in the middle infield. Now that Maicer Izturis is out for the season, will Toronto just go with Ryan Goins at second base? It's a complicated situation, with Jose Reyes out of commission as well.
The infield situation is pretty sad really, the good news is that Jose Reyes should be back by the weekend. Right now:
Ryan Goins was named our second baseman before the start of spring training, on the strength of a great month plus with the glove at the end of last season. The trouble was he didn't hit at all last year (.252/.264/.345) and, considering the way he went through camp and the way he's started the season (.107/.167/143), those numbers from last year seem like a 'best case scenario. Our infield defense was so bad that you could understand the team being thrilled with someone that could make all the plays (Fangraphs had him at a 33.2 UZR/150), but many of use weren't thrilled with the idea of punting one spot in the batting order and we were hoping the team would sign Stephen Drew, but no such luck.
Jonathan Diaz was the surprise call up when Reyes went down. Diaz is a good glove/bad middle infielder, who has been a lifer in the minor leagues. He's 29 and has had 3111 minor league at bats, with just 4 in the majors. He hit .230/.358/.297 in those 3111 at bats. He is tiny, listed at a very generous 5'9". 5'7" is closer to the real number. He has given us some good at bats, and his strike zone is about the size of a postage stamp, but he's on the team for his defense. I'm not sure any team can punt two spots in the batting order.
Munenori Kawasaki was just called up to take Izturis' spot on the roster. He quickly became a fan favorite last year, not, so much, for his great play but more for his fun personality and his seeming ability to come through in the clutch. He was a breath of fresh in an awful season last year. It was nice to be reminded that baseball is entertainment. Of the three he is, by default, the best bat, and that is pretty sad.
Drew Hutchinson is the young gun in the Blue Jays' rotation. The Twins miss him this series, but tell us a bit about his ceiling - because some of those minor league numbers are pretty impressive.
Drew came up as an injury replacement in the rotation in April 2012, without a lot of fanfare, he was just 21 and really wasn't thought of as one of our top prospects. His first few starts weren't good, but then pitching coach Bruce Walton made a slight change to his delivery and added a couple of miles per hour to his fastball and he looked a good bit better. Unfortunately his elbow soon gave out and he joined the assembly of Blue Jays pitchers getting Tommy John surgery from Dr. Andrews. He got a few unspectacular minor league innings in at the end of last season.
He came into spring training looking to position himself as a possible call up when a starting pitcher went down with injury, but he had a great spring and the other possible 4th and 5th starters were terrible.
When he keeps his pitches down, he's almost unhittable, but he's had some command troubles in the early going, 8 walks in 14 innings. He really could have used a month in the minors to work out those issues, but we aren't really flush with major league ready starting pitchers, so he gets to work on this while drawing a major league salary.
It looks like the Jays are doing what the Twins are doing, which is running with an eight-man rotation and three-man bench. For Minnesota it's a case of starters not going consistently deep into games and, honestly, not a lot of talent to be had for the bench anyway since both starting corner outfielders are on the disabled list. What's the advantage for Toronto leveraging their roster with this personnel split?
Our GM, Alex Anthopoulos, seems to like the 8-man pen. I hate it. I tend to think the 8th man in your bullpen is never going to help you win but a 4th guy on the bench? Maybe someone that could pinch run or pinch hit? That could buy you a win or two.
In this case, he has a lot of relievers who are out of options and he fears losing one of them on waivers. Personally, I think we have two or three in the pen that, if someone was willing to make a waiver claim, we would be better off without.
Who are the guys non-Blue Jays fans should be aware of on offense that could be stepping up this season?
Well, Melky Cabrera looks like the early odds on favorite for comeback player of the year. Last year he looked so slow, like his was dragging a piano around with him all the time. On defense he had no range and on offense the only way he could get to first base was to hit one to the wall, and even then an outfielder with a good arm could make it a close play (maybe I exaggerate a little). He was finally put on the DL, in early August and later the news came out that he had an benign tumor wrapped around his spine. With it removed he looks like a whole different guy. He's stolen a couple of bases, he's legging out doubles and he's hitting the ball hard. He has a hit in every Jays game so far and is second on the team with four home runs.
Adam Lind is off to a hot start. He had a strong rebound last season after three years of really not being very threatening at the plate. Has he finally found a way to sustain an offensive presence?
A good part of it is that he's finally found a manager who has the good sense to sit him on the bench against lefties. He's always been able to hit righties but southpaws have been always been a mystery to him. Sitting him against lefties seems like a no-brainer, but John Gibbons is his first manager to figure that out. Cito Gaston and John Farrell seemed to think that if he was given enough at bats, he'd learn to hit them, but there was never enough at bats for that.
He's also been a little more relaxed at the plate. It seems like he's figured out that he is a major leaguer and he's not worried that a bad game will get him sent to the minors. He's also not really a pull hitter, he's best when he goes with the pitch but we've had a series of hitting coaches that like batters to pull everything. Lind is better off without that.
The Blue Jays will be better than the Twins again in 2014, but can they contend for the post-season?
Can they? Yeah, they can. There doesn't seem to be a team that is going to run away with the division. I thought the Rays were going to be the best team but they have been having Blue Jay-like injury troubles in their rotation.
The baseball gods seem to have had it in for us the last couple of years. They owe us. The key to our season is keeping guys healthy. Our front line talent is as good as anyone's in the division, but we aren't deep. A handful of injuries and we'll be back at the bottom of the division. Last year? Just about everyone hit the DL at some point in the season. This year, we can't have that. If we stay healthy we can contend.
Both teams have momentum going into this week's series, but only one team can prevail (and it will probably be the Blue Jays).Toronto Blue Jays (7-6) at Minnesota Twins (6-6) Probables
Good day, Twins fans! Here are today's Twins links:
After last weeks' trade of Miguel Sulbaran, we have room for one more player on our Top 30 prospect list! Logan Darnell blew away the competition in the first final vote, garnering 45% of the vote. Adrian Salcedo came in a distance second place, with 22%. Let's get this sucker out of the way, shall we?
Twinkie Town Top 29 Prospects for 2014
Rogers was, as our own Roger notes, one of the better pitchers in the Twins' minor league system last year. He doesn't strike anyone out, but the command is decent and he does a good job of limiting base runners. He was an 11th-round pick in 2012 so you'd like to hope he can move quickly, but some of that will depend on how well he adapts to tougher competition. Can he continue to be successful even if he posts pedestrian strikeout rates?Adrian Salcedo, RHP
Salcedo has been off of our list for the last couple years after making appearances earlier in his history with the organization. It's been a slow move through the ranks so far, but with his move to the bullpen his rate stats have improved and, with them, the front-line stats like ERA and WHIP. It's helped him to be a more efficient and effective pitcher, and as a result we see him on our list towards the end of our voting. He's a borderline Top 30 guy, so where he lands is up to you.Dalton Hicks, 1B
Year Age Tm Classification of League
With his season numbers inflated by 400 really good plate appearances in Single-A, it's easy to see Hicks as a legitimate prospect. He's just two years into his professional baseball career, but finishing High-A at age 23, with a performance that isn't all that inspiring, will paint things in a new light. A bigger issue: if Kennys Vargas starts the season at Double-A, which he should, Hicks could return to Fort Myers to start the season as a 24-year old. We need to see more from Hicks before his prospect status improves, and there isn't much time left for that, either.Tyler Jones, RHP
Year Age Tm Classification of League
106 votes | Results
We'll be posting one final prospect vote later this morning, simply because of last week's trade that sent Miguel Sulbaran to New York in exchange for Eduardo Nunez. Everybody moves up a slot, and that leaves room for one last player. In the meantime...
Get out the brooms!
Well, that happened. For the first time this season we've seen a Twins game end in an unconventional manner, with Glen Perkins securing his third save and the win when Mike Moustakas tripped Kurt Suzuki on a foul pop up. It was definitely an accident, and I'm not convinced that Suzuki would have been able to find the ball without Moustakas' left foot getting in the way since he was going in the wrong direction anyway, but them's the rules. Tough break for the Royals, although to be fair getting a run off Perkins with two outs would have been a big hill to climb, anyway.
Jason Vargas and Kevin Correia each went seven innings, giving Correia his first quality start of the spring. He did come out for the eighth and pitched to three batters, but a walk, single, and throwing error by Trevor Plouffe helped put the Royals on the board. Nori Aoki brought in another run off of a sac bunt and Eric Hosmer doubled over Aaron Hicks' head in center for the third run of the inning, giving the Royals the lead.
Correia had been remarkably efficient up to that point, with just one inning seeing him throw more than 12 pitches. The second, sixth, and seventh innings all saw him throw fewer than ten pitches each. Until the eighth, it really seemed like Kansas City just couldn't pick him up.
Nobody scored until the bottom of the seventh, when Josmil Pinto took Vargas deep to left field for a two-run homer. The next inning, following the Royals' three-run top of the eighth, Aaron Crow and Wade Davis gave the game back to Minnesota. Crow couldn't find the strike zone with much of anything, walking Pedro Florimon (who then stole second) and Brian Dozier before getting pulled. Davis took over and walked Plouffe two batters later, loading the bases for Chris Herrmann. And this is the play that made the afternoon.
Herrmann got just enough of a Davis breaking ball to chop it weakly to the third base side of the mound. With runners on the move, maybe Davis felt pressure to get the ball home quickly or maybe he just didn't get himself set, but he tried to flip the ball to Salvador Perez at home and it just didn't work out. The ball skipped away from Perez who gave chase and flipped the ball back to Davis. Davis, meanwhile, looked like he still thought he could get a force out and did his best to step on home before Dozier but, naturally, that made no difference. It was a two-run mistake, and Perkins locked it up just minutes later.
With their first sweep of the season, the Twins improve to 6-6. Heroes at this early juncture have been all of the guys the team needs in order to have a chance to win games: everyone. Pinto came through today, a trio of guys were patient enough to coax out walks late in the game when the pressure was on, and the pitching was good enough to get the job done.
I have to say it: so far, it's been fun watching Twins games this year. Tell your friends.ROLL CALL!
Ricky Nolasco delivers eight strong innings as his offense makes the most of their opportunities.
The Twins generally live and die by a combination of pitching and performance with runners in scoring position. That's true for every team in baseball but Minnesota needs success on both ends more often than some of the more talented teams in the league. Today, they managed to win with a great performance in just one of those categories.
Ricky Nolasco's first two starts for the Twins have been disappointing. Both were away games versus a division rival, where he'd combined for ten innings and ten earned runs, but today he started to make up for the miserable start by pitching eight innings of one-run baseball against yet another division rival. It was an efficient an outing as we've seen from Minnesota so far this year, including a seven-pitch fourth and no inning that saw him throw more than 18 pitches.
Only in the fifth did Nolasco look anything other than in control. He picked up two of eight groundouts following a leadoff double from Alex Gordon, but Lorenzo Cain delivered by pulling a hanging slider between Trevor Plouffe and the third base bag for a run-scoring double.
Outside of that frame, the game was all Twins. Brian Dozier got things started with his second lead off home run of the season, already his fourth bomb of 2014. He's only collected eight hits this season, but they've counted. In the bottom of the second the Royals and James Shields just imploded, allowing a pair of errors and a bases-loaded walk to Aaron Hicks that gave Minnesota a 4-0 lead before this happened.
That is one sexy home run from Joe Mauer. To the right-center field gap of Target Field? My heart, it is a-flutter.
Those were all the runs the Twins would score, and Mauer's massive homer was also the team's only hit with runners in scoring position today. Luckily, Nolasco had that covered. With Josh Willingham hitting the disabled list earlier today the Twins recalled Michael Tonkin, who took over for the ninth and struck out a batter en route to a scoreless frame.
With their second win in a row, the Twins improve to 5-6, one half game in front of the Royals. That means Sunday's game is their first chance to sweep a series this year, so be back here at 1:10pm tomorrow!
Brian Dozier Joe Mauer Ricky Nolasco
NO DUDS, TWINS WIN
A Twins starter pitching INTO THE SEVENTH INNING. NOT A MISPRINT.
Gibson, like the rest of the rotation, fell behind early, but that's where the similarity ends. An asterisk can be placed on the one run he allowed, as Pedro Florimon kicked what looked like a double play ball that would have ended the first inning with no damage done. After that, Gibson's sinker induced grounder upon grounder, and the next thing you know it's the 7th inning and the Twins are up by six runs. Gibson finished at exactly 100 pitches with 3 Ks and 4 BBs, running his record to 2-0. Not Johan in his prime, but it'll do. Jesus, it'll do.
A Chris Colabello single and Jason Kubel triple gave the Twins a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first, and they broke the game wide open in the 4th. Josmil Pinto stroked a second-deck solo dong to open the inning, and Joe Mauer's first RBI of the season chased Twins nemesis Bruce Chen from the game. Royals reliever Louis Coleman immediately threw a wild pitch to plate Aaron Hicks, and a Colabello double scored two more to make it 7-1 and the rest of the game...fun? To watch? What?
By pitching into the 7th inning, Gibson also gave the bullpen something approaching a break. Brian Deunsing finished up the 7th and 8th, and Anthony Swarzak completed the 9th. The Twins are now undefeated in night games. Eat it, sun.ROBOT ROLL CALL # Commenter # Comments 1 SooFoo Fan 61 2 archie2227 56 3 montanatwinsfan 49 4 J-Dog: VikingsSuperFan 42 5 ColossusOfRhode 40 6 wayback 39 7 DavidRF 35 8 kenzertz 30 9 whiskeyplz 28 10 less cowbell, more 'neau 24 11 MNWildcat 17 12 NoahRJ 7 13 Luke in MN 5 14 jere.johnson.37 4 15 fischean 2 16 y2jayjk 2 17 gonzobob 1
CHARTS AND GRAPHS
This was a fun game that I liked watching. Enjoy your weekend, everybody.
"I'm not saying he's the one doing it, but has he ever denied it, even once? Funny. Draw your own conclusions."
A rash of mysterious and grisly cattle mutilations across the upper midwest has baffled authorities and terrified farmers and ranchers. While they search for answers and security, local Twins fans and sports media have their own concerns.
"I went out to do chores the other morning, and there was the head of one of my cows on a pike, right there in the middle of the pasture," said Elmer Kulberg, a third-generation Bird Island cattle farmer. "The rest of her was all tore up. And Joe Mauer hasn't done a darn thing about it."
His son Darrell agreed.
"Show some leadership, some fire, you know? Kick over a table, let those cattle mutilators know that they're on notice."
A spokesman for a local sports media group speculated that Mauer's silence may have a sinister motive.
"I'm not saying he's the one doing it, but he's never denied it, not even once," said Charlie Tersteeg, who represents the Steadfast Order Of Outrageously Hot Original Takes (SOOOHOT). "Funny. Draw your own conclusions. Fortunately, we have the brave journalists and radio personalities in SOOOHOT to draw them for you."
"When Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski were around here, you knew that if someone got out of line, they'd hear about it," continued Tersteeg. "Now we have innocent cows being slaughtered by unknown forces, and the $23 million dollar man is sitting on his hands. Again. Now, is it because he doesn't want to lead, or because he's hiding the blood on those hands? You tell me which is worse."
State and federal officials say Mauer is not under suspicion in any of the cases, and as a private citizen bears no responsibility to discuss the case. Tersteeg scoffed at the notion.
"The guys upstairs protecting Mauer, instead of holding him responsible. Where have I heard that before, besides every day at Target Field? All I know is that when Torii was around, walking the walk and talking the talk, the pitching was a lot better and our cows were alive. Can't say either of those things anymore. Maybe someone should do something about it, instead of taking another day off."
Everyone's so damn sad.
Soundtrack: "Good Times Bad Times," Blitzen Trapper
Am I asking too much for the Twins starters to attack the strike zone and keep their pitch count under 100 by the 5th inning?— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) April 10, 2014
The Twins dropped their third in a row today, as the A's swept the 3-game series in Minnesota. Brian Dozier put the Twins on the board right away in the first inning with a solo homer, but after that, the Minnesota offense seemed to take an afternoon nap.
The A's were able to take their ninth straight against the Twins, now having outscored them 86-27 in their last nine matchups. Their pitching staff not only kept the Twins off the board after the first inning, but kept the runners off the bases after the third, allowing no hits for Minnesota batters.
Mike Pelfrey, on the other hand, allowed numerous hits, including two 2-run homers. His five innings pitched included 9 hits, all six of the earned runs, four walks, and just two strikeouts. The bullpen team of Sam Deduno and Casey Fien were able to come in and staunch the bleeding, allowing no further runs and striking out a combined three batters and walking just one.
Dan Straily had the Twins number today, as he went a very solid seven innings, giving up just the three hits to Twins batters, striking out five, and walking just two. The Oakland bullpen sealed the deal, as Ryan Cook and Fernando Abad came in for two innings to continue keeping the lethargic Twins offense quiet.
There really isn't much to cover in regards to the Twins offense. Thankfully, Brian Dozier has kept up his offensive prowess, knocking out another homer for the second game in a row. He's got three on the year.
Super Awesome Commenter Roll Call
Good job finding things to talk about while the Twins took a nap played an afternoon game!
Win Expectancy (Courtesy of fangraphs.com)
Stop by tomorrow for more live Twins coverage!