Thursday, February 7, 2008
2008 New Britain Rockcats
Hey everyone! Here are just a couple of quick notes before we get to the projected Rockcats roster:
Nick Nelson sees that there has been a major, or monumental shift in the Twins system.
Brendan Harris or Nick Punto for Twins 2B in 2008? What do you think? What do you think I think? Ha!
Which Twins prospects ranked 26th - 30th in Aaron Gleeman's Twins Prospect list?
What are Josh's Thoughts on his 21st - 30th ranked Twins Prospects? And here are his thoughts on his Prospects #11-20.
Better player... Kevin Garnett or Larry Bird? You make the call. Stick & Ball Guy gives you something to chew on...
I just started a Community Prospect Diary for the Twins #28 prospect over at Twinkie Town.
Finally, I encourage everyone to head over to BrentNet today to find out which TV shows he ranks the Top 10 of all-time! He has been counting down the Top 100 in a very interesting series that could create a lot of discussion for you and your friends. (Here are 91-100, 81-90, 71-80, 61-70, 51-60, 41-50, 31-40, 21-30, 11-20) I really like when Brent does his Top 100 lists. If you missed his Top 100 hip hop songs of all time list a couple of years ago, be sure to check it out.
Today we continue our preview of the 2008 Minnesota Twins and their affiliate's rosters. Since this is done before spring training even starts, it is very much subject to change. But it is fun to start thinking it through now that the Johan Santana trade has been completed. On Tuesday, we looked at my projection of the Minnesota Twins opening day roster. Yesterday we looked at a potential Rochester Red Wings roster. Today, we drop to AA and try to project the opening day roster of the Eastern League's New Britain Rockcats. Whereas there are not a lot of prospects on the Red Wings roster, starting with this group, you will see that the Twins do have a lot of quality prospects at various position. And don't be surprised if some of these guys, even if they do start the season at New Britain, find their way onto the Twins active roster at some point this year. I am of the belief that once you dominate at AA, you are ready for the big leagues. With that, let's take a look at some of the names that Twins fans should probably start getting acquainted with, if they aren't already.
2008 NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
|Starting Pitchers||Anthony Swarzak||Ryan Mullins||Oswaldo Sosa||Jay Rainville||Kyle Waldrop|
Anthony Swarzak could compete for the Twins fifth starter spot. After a poor start in the bad New England weather last spring, things got worse for Swarzak when he was suspended for 50 games for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. He came back and proved himself again, pitching very well. He could move up quickly, but I have no problem with him starting back at New Britain. Ryan Mullins pitched well at Ft. Myers and New Britain last year and got three starts in Rochester as well. He'll likely start with the 'Cats again, but is another guy that could move up. After going 5-5 with a 2.23 ERA in 18 starts at Ft. Myers, Oswaldo Sosa was promoted to New Britain where he struggled in five starts. But he is still just 22 years old. 2007 was a big return season for Jay Rainville and he did very well in the Ft. Myers for the whole season. After missing all of 2006 with a nerve problem in his shoulder, the most important thing for him was to stay healthy and get stronger. I expect him to jump up the Twins prospect list through the 2008 season. Kyle Waldrop started great at Ft. Myers and was promoted to New Britain where he experienced ups and downs in his 11 AA starts before returning to Ft. Myers to finish the season. He will be just 22 throughout the whole season, so he still has plenty of time to keep improving. All three of the 2004 draftees will pitch the entire 2008 season at age 22, a couple of years below the average age of a AA player. Sosa will also be 22. Ryan Mullins will be the old man at 24 years old the whole season.
The Twins signed Rob Delaney after the conclusion of his senior season at St. Johns in 2006. He certainly didn't stand out in his pro debut. But last year, he began the season as the closer for the Beloit Snappers. He was incredible recording 28 saves. He went 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA. After breaking the Snappers' save record he was promoted to Ft. Myers. In 17 games there, he went 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA and seven more saves. All together, in 70 innings he had 83 strikeouts and 16 walks. Those numbers and the terrific control made him my choice for the Rockcats closer job. It will be a good challenge for the righty who despite four years of college and not being drafted will still only be 23 years old all of the 2008 season.
|Relief Pitcher||Frank Mata||David Shinskie||Yohan Pino||Zach Ward||Errol Simonitsch||Matt Fox|
I wanted to put Frank Mata as the Rockcats closer. I actually had that, but I am just worried about his walk total. The Venezuelan throws hard. He had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2005 season. He pitched for Beloit in 2006. He began the 2007 season at Ft. Myers where he went 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 13 games. He was then promoted to New Britain for 32 games and he did not do well. He was 0-4 with a 5.36 ERA. He also walked 22 and struck out just 28 in 48.1 innings. Big year for Mata (he'll be 24 in spring), but if he gains any control, he could be good. David Shinskie was the Twins 4th round pick in 2003 out of high school. He throws hard too, but it hasn't really shown in strikeouts. Last year at Ft. Myers, he went 7-4 with a 3.36 ERA. Yohan Pino has done nothing but Win since signing with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic. He went 14-2 for Beloit in 2006 with a 1.91 ERA. He started last season in Ft. Myers bullpen and then made nine starts (including a no-hitter). He was 4-3 but had a 1.73 ERA in 67.2 innings. He earned a promotion to New Britain where he made eight starts. He actually went 2-4 with a 5.13 ERA. He went from 94 innings in 2006 to 115 in 2007. I have to think that because Pino is so skinny (listed at 158 pounds) the Twins want to really monitor his innings. Zach Ward wasn't as bad as his 5-17 record indicates. He had a solid 4.08 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 130 innings. But he did struggle down the stretch as well. He needs to move up (if only to make room in the Ft. Myers starting rotation) and deserves the promotion, but not a starting spot. Errol Simonitsch had an excellent 2005 season then struggled in 2006 and was hurt most of 2007. He needs to be given another shot, but his time may be short (again, because of what is at Ft. Myers). Finally, I am generally against skipping a level except for AAA, but I think that Matt Fox is and should be an exception. One of the Twins 1st round picks in 2004 out of college, Fox has been hurt since. He missed the entire 2005 season and pitched at Elizabethton in 2006 (going 4-0). Last year, he started the season late and then in the bullpen before moving into the Snappers rotation late in the season. Altogether he went 7-2 with a 3.50 ERA. He appears to be getting back to where he was when the Twins drafted him, but he is also already 25 years old, so I think pushing him a little bit would be good for him and for the organization.
|Brandon Roberts CF|
|Trevor Plouffe SS|
|Erik Lis DH|
|Brock Peterson 1B|
|Dustin Martin RF|
|David Winfree 3B|
|Matt Moses 2B|
|Juan Portes LF|
|Drew Butera C|
Brandon Roberts hit .167 last year in April for the Rockcats. His batting average by month for the rest of the season went .300, .303, .359, .327 and .300. That is worth getting excited about. Because of the CF situation with the Twins and Red Wings, however, Roberts should start the season back with the Rockcats. Trevor Plouffe remains in New Britain for the start of the 2008 season because of the crazy middle infield numbers this spring at Rochester. Also Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert deserve to play most every day for Rochester, and Plouffe needs to play every day. Also, with Adam Everett with the Twins for 2008, there is no need to rush Plouffe. After a strong 2007 season in New Britain, I am excited to see just what Plouffe can do there during the first half of 2008! Erik Lis can rake. He will hit no matter where he is. He needs a position, but DH is a position! Also, with the roster makeup that I have, he will be able to get ABs at 1B and LF on occasion as well. I expect big numbers from him in 2008. Brock Peterson is probably ready for AAA and will contend for the 1B job with the Red Wings. Last year, he had 40 extra base hits in just 389 at bats. It is interesting that people will point out that before the All-Star break, he had 21 walks and 69 strikeouts. After the All-Star break, he had 23 walks and just 21 strikeouts. It is a great point. However, he also had 30 of his 40 extra base hits in 272 at bats before the All-Star break. However, the other ten came in just 117 second half at bats. Maybe he can put together a season with great plate discipline and power. That would get people's attention. Any time a 49th round pick can catch your attention, it's a story, and the 24 year old could make his way to the Metrodome. Dustin Martin came over to the Twins in the Luis Castillo trade in July. A little known name, Martin went to the Ft. Myers Miracle and really did well. He can play CF but I don't anticipate him having problems adjusting to a corner. He has some extra base pop, takes walks (strikeouts out a lot) and can steal some bases. 2008 is a big year for David Winfree. Still just 22 years old, this will be his second season with the Rockcats. Based on this roster construction, I can see him playing some 3B to start the season, but he will also likely get time at 1B and DH. I absolutely believe that he will hit, but he needs to be healthy completely and find the drive. If he doesn't find it, there is a 3B at Ft. Myers who is more than ready to take over that spot on the field and in the lineup. The Twins sent Matt Moses to instructional league to teach him second base. La Velle still has some confidence in Moses's ability to hit saying that maybe he was thinking too much at 3B and letting it affect his hitting as well. Maybe a switch to 2B will be good for him, much like Michael Cuddyer getting away from 3B allowed him to relax and become a better hitter as well. I guess optimism is a good thing. For the Twins sake, I hope he comes through. He wasn't put on the 40 man roster and wasn't taken in the Rule V draft, so hopefully he has a good year and the Twins put him on the roster after the year. I am probably higher on Juan Portes than most Twins fans. The main thing that I hear from Twins people is that he can flat-out hit. He just is really trying to find a position right now. He can play three (or four) infield positions, and all three outfield positions. That is also important with this roster. I expect him to have a very solid offensive season. Finally, Drew Butera will likely be the primary catcher. He too came over in the Castillo trade. I think that there is a bit of a 'movement' back to the role of catchers being more about pitch calling and catching and leading a pitching staff as opposed to offensive contribution. If that is the case, reports indicate that Butera could be very good at those things, just not at hitting although he held his own in the Arizona Fall League.
|Korey Feiner||Backup Catcher|
|Kyle Geiger||Backup Catcher|
|Steve Tolleson||Backup 2B, SS, 3B|
|Luke Hughes||Backup 2B, 3B, LF, RF|
|Dwayne White||Backup OF|
I believe that Korey Feiner and Kyle Geiger are both important members of the Twins organization because of their catching skills. They need to find roster spots for both of them. Steve Tolleson has spent the last year and a half in Ft. Myers where he did a good job of getting on base and stealing bases. I think he will be able to get playing time at all three infield positions and as a DH. Luke Hughes is actually someone I am fairly high on. He has shown a lot of pop in limited playing time. He has some power. He can also play several positions which is very important to him and to this team. Finally, I wanted to have an actual outfielder as a backup on this roster. I was deciding between Dwayne White and Edward Ovalle. White is 24. Ovalle is 22. I think Ovalle is a little better prospect, so I chose to keep him down a level so that he could play more whereas White will be more of a role player with the Rockcats.
Well, I know that there are a couple of these guys that you probably thought I would put on the Rochester roster, and believe me, I thought about it. Likewise, I am certain there are no fewer than two players that you would have expected to be at New Britain to start the season that I project starting at Ft. Myers. Those are guys that are likely ready to be at this level very soon, but I also believe that a couple of guys warrant another look. Also, there are a lot of players on this roster who have a legitimate shot at contributing to the Minnesota Twins within the next two years, maybe sooner. The starter that I've projected all have a chance to move up in 2008. There are also a couple of hitters with a shot. However, there really aren't any openings at the big league level for 2008 (unless there are injuries), but there could be spots opening up at Rochester. With the Twins having so much minor league depth, these guys have the ability to move up a level this year, but they also have to know that there are several players that will start the season in Ft. Myers that could prove ready to move up at any time. To me, that is exciting!
Any thoughts? Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.