Friday, February 9, 2007
Twins Organizational Preview
Good morning everyone! Well, it is Friday, and it is time to preview the possible Twins organizational pitching staffs. Now, the Twins are generally considered to be loaded with pitching prospects, and in an attempt to place 55-60 pitchers into five teams, a person realizes just how difficult it can be. It also shows why the Twins pitching is generally very good; they have to pitch very well to advance, or they will be passed by several other prospects.
If you missed the other previews, you can find the Outfielders and Catchers here, and the Infielders here.
The Twins have the best pitcher in baseball in Johan Santana. He is incredible, and like everyone likes to say, the rest of the Twins starting staff is up in the air. Carlos Silva's option was picked up at over $4 million, so he will be given every shot at a rotation spot. Boof Bonser's September performance earned him an Opening Day roster spot. Ramon Ortiz was signed to a one year, $3.1 million contract, so he will be in the starting rotation. That means that the final spot will go to either Sidney Ponson, Scott Baker or Matt Garza. Some say that Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey are also in the mix for that fifth spot, but I think both need more seasoning. I don't think Sidney Ponson will make it. I think Garza's ceiling is very high, but I almost hope that Scott Baker takes that fifth spot and runs with it. The reality is that by July, there could be four new pitchers in the rotation.
That means that Matt Garza will likely be the ace of the Rochester staff, for the first month or so. Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey will also be in the Red Wings rotation. Jeremy Cummings was brought to the organization. He is a minor league veteran who threw a no-hitter late last season against the Red Wings. As with the Twins, I think that the 5th spot in the Rochester rotation is up for grabs. I think that Errol Simonitsch, Colby Miller and Nick Blackburn will fight that one out. In the end, Simonitsch is on the 40 man roster and he is ready for that next challenge.
At New Britain, one of my choices for a breakout pitcher, Anthony Swarzak, should be the top pitcher. I think that Nick Blackburn will start the season in the Rockcats rotation. Brian Duensing will return to AA after making several starts there last year. Oswaldo Sosa moved up to Ft. Myers at the end of last season and continued to pitch well. I think that he will be pushed up to New Britain to start. And finally, although I think that Kyle Aselton's long term roster hopes are likely in the bullpen, I think that he will start on the New Britain staff. Rule V choice Jesse Floyd could also make some starts.
Kyle Waldrop will likely spend much of the 2007 season with the Miracle after getting a taste of the Florida State League last year. Alexander Smit found "it" in the second half of last season as a starter. He was added to the Twins 40 man roster, and I think that he will continue to improve. I think that means a year in Ft. Myers. Jeff Manship could be a guy to move quickly up the system, but I think that he will start in Florida. Jay Rainville is one to watch this year. He missed all of last season. I think he will start where he left off. Zach Ward was excellent before he came over to the Twins at midseason. He should move up a level as well.
It is probably most difficult to project the Beloit rotation. Matthew Fox is certainly worth watching in 2007. He basically spent last season just building up some arm strength. The former supplemental 1st round pick (in 2004) could move quickly as well if he is back at 100% Adam Hawes missed time last year with injury, but he should be a starter. Jose Lugo should remain in the Snappers rotation after spending the second half of the season with the team. Finally, I think that two pitchers from last year's short-season rosters will make this rotation. I think that Brian Kirwan will be one of them. I would lean toward Alex Burnett being the second one, although Tyler Robertson, the team's third round pick a year ago, could make some appearances. Because of his youth, I bet he starts in Extended Spring Training and spends the rest of the summer with the E-Town Twins.
The Twins have as good a bullpen in baseball, and they are led by closer Joe Nathan, who in this blogger's opinion has been baseball's best closer over the past three years. The 7th and 8th innings should be pretty much sure things when put in the hands of Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, Pat Neshek and Dennys Reyes. Matt Guerrier is fully capable of success in that role as well, but he has been great in the role he has had. That really leaves just one bullpen spot available. To me, there are a few options. JD Durbin is out of options, and I think that the Twins would really like to keep him around (if he doesn't make the team, he would have to clear waivers to stay with the team) so I think he will be given the first shot at the role filled by Willie Eyre a year ago. If they choose to go with a second lefty, the options are probably veterans Mike Venafro or Randy Choate, although Carmen Cali, Ricky Barrett and Jason Miller may also get long looks.
The Rochester bullpen from a year ago was basically gutted. Levale Speigner (Nationals) and Kevin Cameron (Padres) were taken in the Rule V draft. One or both could be back in the organization if their new teams decide not to keep them around for the full year. Beau Kemp signed right away with the Toronto Blue Jays. Henry Bonilla was signed by the Angels. Bobby Korecky is back, and I think that he will start the season as the closer. I think that Ricky Barrett, Jason Miller and one of the Rule V returnees will also be back. I think that one of one of the lefties (Venafro, Choate or Cali) will decide to stay around as insurance for the Twins. Tristan Crawford also did enough at New Britain in 2006 to earn a promotion to Rochester.
Julio DePaula was added to the Twins 40 man roster, and I think that his season will start back with the Rockcats, although he could move up quickly. I think that he and Jay Sawatski could both be possible closers on this team. David Shinskie did not do well when he was moved up to New Britain last year, but I think that he will get another year to show what he can do. JP Martinez could be in the 9th inning mix as he has been a closer at both Class A levels the last two years. Danny Powers had a monster 2006 season and could start this season at AA. Finally, I think that this is a huge year for Jose Mijares. He could be a long-relief guy and make some spot starts. He needs to let his incredible stuff result in some numbers. Maybe that will happen in the bullpen.
Eduardo Morlan is a big-time prospect, but I have heard that he would prefer to be a reliever, instead of a starter. He could absolutely dominate as a closer. Ryan Mullins needs to move up from Beloit to make room for other starters, but I think that he will spend some time in the bullpen and maybe make some spot starts. Dan Leatherman had a great season last year, moving up three levels. Not bad at all considering that he didn't get drafted in any of baseball's 50 rounds last year! Yohan Pino has been tremendous in his pro career. I think he should be a starter, but the Twins seem to look at him as a reliever. He was a reliever for Aragua in the Venezuelan League. It does seem that no matter what his role, he gets it done. Angel Garcia needs to have a healthy season one of these years. He'll try to do that with the Miracle. And, Frank Mata got some good innings last year in his recovery from 2005 Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he can return to form in the Miracle bullpen in 2007!
Finally, there are several candidates for the Beloit bullpen. I think that Danny Hernandez will be given the first shot as the team's closer. Danny Vais and Armando Gabino should return to the team's bullpen. Sean Land and Derek Bromberg were starters in E-Twon a year ago, but they could make this roster. Robert Delaney should be on the team. Matt Williams is from Australia and he has done well. Minnesota native Aaron Craig should be on a full season roster. I also think that Loek Van Mil, the 7-footer, will make this roster. He is not young, so he needs to be pushed.
There are so many quality pitching prospects in the Twins system. I am sure that the team would like each to get enough innings, so it will be very interesting to see how this all shakes out.
So, if I have left anyone out, or you disagree with where I have placed some of the pitchers, please e-mail me or let's have some discussion in the Comments.
Hey ya’ll. I just haven’t really had much time to be online the last couple of nights. I hope you are enjoying the series on the Twins organization and the players in it. I did want to provide you with some extra links to some other articles. Orlando is nice, but being in a convention center all day makes it a little difficult to enjoy the weather. Oh well. Anyway, I should be back next week with all new articles. But for today, here are some additional articles for you to peruse. Have a great weekend! And please continue the conversation in the Comments below.
As always, please feel free to e-mail me any time with your thoughts, comments, stories or ideas for future stories.
Have a great weekend!|
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