Ft. Myers Miracle
· Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster - Check.
· Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization - Check.
· Step 3: Configure the 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster - In progress.
· Step 4: Configure the 2011 Double-A New Britain Rock Cats 24-man roster – In progress.
· Step 5: Configure the 2011 Hi-A Ft. Myers Miracle 25-man roster – In progress.
It may have been easier to project these rosters if I would have done them a week ago. By waiting until now, I am getting reports of which players are going where, so my projections continue to be updated. I can’t verify, but I have been told that Brian Dozier will start the season at New Britain. I hadn’t included him yesterday, and now I won’t include him today, which is why I needed to write about it. Not only does that confuse my Ft. Myers projection, but now consider the infield options in New Britain. Between the three positions, Deibinson Romero, Estarlin de Los Santos, Brian Dozier, Steve Singleton, Ray Chang and Chris Cates, not to mention Toby Gardenhire. I continue to hear about some minor injuries that either mean a season will be started on the Disabled List or at a lower level to work back.
With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins High-A affiliate, the Ft. Myers Miracle. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)
Catchers: Danny Rams (40 man - No) – Dan Rohlfing (40 man - No)
Danny Rams made a strong impression on the Twins this spring. After two years in Beloit, he will move up to the Miracle. He continues to be a work in progress behind the plate, but he does continue to improve. He will also get time at DH and at 1B. Rohlfing skipped Beloit last year and held his own until a couple of freak injuries cost him much of the second half to his season. There was some talk that he would go to Beloit to start the season so he could get even more playing time. Also, don’t forget that Chris Herrmann was a non-roster invitee to big league spring training as a catcher and he will get plenty of time behind the plate.
Infielders: 1B – Nate Hanson (40 man - No), 2B – Nick Romero (40 man - No), 3B – Anderson Hidalgo (40 man – No), SS – James Beresford (40 man - No), Utility – Paul Kelly (40 man - No),
Nate Hanson had a very good 2010 season with the Miracle. However, assuming Chris Parmelee returns to New Britain (as he will), he won’t be platooned, so Hanson will likely return to Ft. Myers. Anderson Hidalgo missed time last year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he drops back to Beloit, but I will put him here. Nick Romero, James Beresford and Paul Kelly will be the three players to man the middle infield spots, and Romero and Kelly can also play 3B while Beresford is a solid 2B.
Outfielders: LF – Chris Herrmann (40 man - No), CF – Aaron Hicks (40 man - No), RF – Lance Ray (40 man - No), 4th outfielder – Jonathan Goncalves (40 man - No), 1B/OF/DH – Steven Liddle (40 man – No), DL – Angel Morales (40 man – No)
Angel Morales is fighting some elbow soreness and will likely start the season on the Disabled List. He told me last night that it is feeling better, so it should not cost him too much time. Aaron Hicks tweeted the other day that he will play for the Miracle this season which likely surprises no one. Chris Herrmann was called the best defensive left fielder in the Florida State League, but he will also get time behind the plate. Steve Liddle will get time in left field, first base and DH. Jonathan Goncalves will likely return to the Miracle outfield where he did a nice job last year, especially defensively. Finally, at least while Morales is out, Ray will get a lot of playing time with the Miracle. One person told me that Ray is the team’s best pure hitter right now.
Starting Pitchers: RHP Kane Holbrooks (40 man - No), RHP Tom Stuifbergen (40 man - No), RHP Alex Wimmers (40 man - No), Miguel Munoz (40 man - No), Brad Stillings (40 man - No)
Holbrooks is scheduled to make the Opening Day start for the Miracle. He was terrific at Beloit, in the bullpen the first half of last year, and did a very good job for the Miracle as a starter. He ended the season with one start in New Britain. Alex Wimmers signed late and impressed in 15 innings with the Miracle in August. It will be interesting to see if he stays with the Miracle through the season’s first half. Stuifbergen and his changeup have people in Ft. Myers talking. He is a smart, young pitcher with very good stuff who just needs to stay healthy. Brad Stillings has a terrific changeup and has pitched in the bullpen and rotation in his two seasons with the organization. Miguel Munoz throws hard, but sometimes he thinks too much on the mound. He does have really good stuff though.
Bullpen: RHP Bruce Pugh (40 man - No), RHP Shooter Hunt (40 man - No), RHP Jhon Garcia (40 man - No), LHP Blake Martin (40 man - No), RHP Brad Tippett (40 man - No), RHP Edgar Ibarra (40 man – No), LHP Tony Davis (40 man - No), LHP Nelvin Fuentes (40 man - No)
Bruce Pugh ended last season with a couple of starts in New Britain. He has been experiencing some back problems this spring, so the hard thrower will return to the Miracle and work out of the bullpen to start the season. It was surprising to hear that, after spending the 2nd half of 2010 in New Britain, Tony Davis returns to the Miracle. Hopefully he will find his control. Speaking of, Shooter Hunt returns to the Miracle in hopes of improving up his 2010 season. Brad Tippett has been a terrific pitcher for the Twins, whatever role he finds himself in, but last year was a wasted year thanks to some arm injuries. He is throwing well this spring though. Jhon Garcia actually got better and better as the season went along, and e pitched quite well in the Miracle bullpen at the end of 2010. Edgar Ibarra impressed me in a start I watched last year in Beloit. He has four pitches and is left-handed and throws hard. He and lefty Nelvin Fuentes will really make it difficult for left-handed hitters.
Overall: Hicks is obviously the biggest name on this roster, but he is not alone. Alex Wimmers and Tom Stuifbergen are exciting pitchers. Angel Morales has tremendous upside. Danny Rams, Anderson Hidalgo, James Beresford and Miguel Munoz are all solid prospects who will try to improve in their jump to the Miracle. And, if Twins fans are looking for someone to cheer loudly for this year in the Twins farm system, look no further than Paul Kelly. Pat Dean will start the season in Extended Spring with some shoulder discomfort, but he could move up quickly to the Miracle. Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle will also be starting at EST, but could be moved up to the Miracle, if not first in Beloit.
Later today, I will post my roster projection for the Low-A Beloit Snappers.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.