Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Twins Minor League Reports

Q&A with Josh Rabe

Rochester Red Wings Outfielder

Good morning to everyone!

Today, I am proud to provide you with another Q&A with a member of the Twins organization. Josh Rabe (pronounced Ray-Bee) is an outfielder with the Twins AAA Affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings. He was one of the last players sent back to minor league camp this spring. Through Sunday, he was hitting a robust .414/.470/.483 with four doubles and five RBI. He also has stolen three bases. The 27 year old was drafted by the Twins in the 11th round of the 2000 draft out of Quincy University (in Illinois) where he was a two-time All-American. He signed quickly and played that summer at Elizabethton. In 2001, he spent the year at Low A Quad City where he hit .282 with 25 doubles. In 2002, he moved up to Ft. Myers where, in 85 games, he hit .340/.427/.481 with 23 doubles, six homers and 16 stolen bases. He moved up to AA New Britain and hit .235 the rest of that year (46 games). He figured out AA pitching right away in 2003. In 94 games, he hit .303/.361/.445 with 15 doubles, 11 homers and 70 RBI. He also stole 19 bases. He spent the final 38 games of 2003 with Rochester where he hit .237. In 121 games in 2004 with the Red Wings, he hit .264/.333/.376 with 27 doubles, 7 homers, 43 RBI and 25 stolen bases. Last year, Rabe returned to Rochester and experienced a difficult year. He fought an injury that Minnesota sports fans have become all-too-familiar with in recent years, plantar fasciitus. Although he missed quite a bit of time, he showed more power than he had the previous year.

So, in my opinion, Josh Rabe is a vastly underrated prospect in the Twins system. Much of that probably has to do with his age. More of it probably has to do with the fact that he got to AAA at a time when the Twins outfield was filled with the likes of Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter, Lew Ford, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and others. I have seen him play several times on TV in the last few seasons. To me, he is reminiscent of Michael Restovich. He is a big man with some power, but he also has very good speed and base running skills. I believe that if he were given a real shot, he could be a good major league outfielder. In the Twins organization, I think that he can be a very good hitter off of the bench and a fourth or fifth outfielder. I am just guessing, but he would probably jump at that opportunity!  

I know, you don't want to read any more background. Check out his minor league numbers and other information here. Let's just get to the Q&A already! Again, I think that this is very interesting to read and I hope, and am sure, that you will enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it and would encourage you to leave some feedback if you would like, either in the Comments below, or send me an e-mail.

Thanks again to Josh Rabe for taking the time to answer my questions. 

Let the Questions Begin!

SethSpeaks: Growing up in Illinois, who was your favorite team, and who were some of your favorite players to watch and emulate?

Josh Rabe: My favorite team growing up was the St Louis Cardinals. I loved Ozzie Smith when I was a kid. I even used the same glove he used when I was younger.

SethSpeaks: Tell us a little about your high school career. Any memories?

Josh Rabe: I went to a real small high school in rural west central Illinois. Baseball in that area is not exactly a big thing there. As a matter of fact, our baseball field did not even have grass on the infield. Football and basketball are mainstays in west central Illinois, so baseball is not a priority for small schools like I went to.

SethSpeaks: For those of us in the Upper Midwest, tell us a little about Quincy University and your career there.

Josh Rabe: I went to Quincy University because it was the only place to offer me a scholarship for baseball. I got multiple offers to play football and basketball, but I wanted to pursue my dream of playing professional baseball and QU was the only place that wanted me. The college was only about 20 minutes from my home town so my parents got to watch me play. Even though it was not the place where I wanted to end up, I would not trade my time there for anything because of my college coach and friends I made are irreplaceable.

SethSpeaks: The Twins took you in the 11th round in 2000. Had you talked to the Twins' scouts much, and where were you expecting to be drafted?

Josh Rabe: Coming into the draft of 2000, I was advised by scouts that I probably would be taken between rounds 8 to 13. I had a personal workout in the Metrodome, but I did not know if the Twins were going to take me. I had similar workouts for the Cardinals and the Cubs so it was hard to narrow down who was going to pull the trigger first with regards to drafting me.

SethSpeaks: What was the adjustment to pro baseball like for you?

Josh Rabe: The biggest adjustment for me concerning professional baseball was playing a game every day. It is hard mentally to adjust to having a game every day. You have to have a lot of self confidence and a short memory if you are going to survive in this game and the sooner a young player figures that out the better off he is.

SethSpeaks: Who were some of the coaches or people that have helped you get to this point in your career? 

Josh Rabe: Obviously my parents have helped me immensely throughout the years, but I have to give a lot of thanks to my college coach Pat Atwell. He was a tremendous coach and a great person to be affiliated with.

SethSpeaks: You are now in your fourth season with the Red Wings. Last year you missed some time but showed excellent power. In 2004, you had 25 stolen bases. How would you describe yourself as a player. What are your strengths, and what areas would you say you most have to improve upon?

Josh Rabe: If I had to describe myself as a ballplayer I would say that I am just a guy that brings it to the field everyday. I am not a guy that is going to wow you with tools or light tower power, but I think I am a  fundamentally sound ballplayer that loves to compete and play the game. I like playing when the game is on the line and love it when the tension is high. I am working on my throwing mechanics so I can play right field along with center and left. That is only going to help me as a person competing for a roster spot.

SethSpeaks: Last year you struggled with plantar fasciitus, a condition that Minnesota sports fans have become all too familiar with. First, how does your foot feel now, and second, how frustrating was the injury for you?

Josh Rabe: Planter fasciitus is one of the most frustrating injuries an athlete can have. I hurt my hamstring at the end of May last year and while I was rehabbing my hamstring, I must have been running funny because a pain surfaced in my right foot. I tried to play through the pain, but I was only hurting myself worse, both statistically and physically. After about 8 games of agony, I finally gave in and sat out for two months. It still hurt a little after those two months, but it finally went away this winter in Venezuela. My foot is 100% right now.

SethSpeaks: Did you enjoy playing winter ball in Venezuela?

Josh Rabe: I loved playing winter ball in Venezuela. It was a way for me to make up lost playing time due to injuries and a way for me to expand and improve upon my game. Having a great season down there got me invited to Big league spring training and I plan on going back this year.

SethSpeaks: You were one of the final cuts out of spring training. Obviously the organization looks highly upon you as a player. What are your thoughts on the Twins organization?

Josh Rabe: The Twins run a first class organization and treat everyone pretty well. I like the fact that they are not afraid to promote within the organization if you are putting up the numbers, it gives you something to play for.

SethSpeaks: What is the best thing about a career in baseball?

Josh Rabe: The best thing about a career in baseball is playing a game for a living. It is still dumbfounding that my job is playing a game everyday.

SethSpeaks: What is the most difficult part of life in baseball?

Josh Rabe: Limited off days and time away from friends and family are a hard thing to deal with. Sometimes you would just like to have a weekend off you know, then you realize that you have 5 months off a year and it is not that bad.

SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball movie?

Josh Rabe: Major League, just for the one liners and comedy factor.

SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball book?

Josh Rabe: The only sports novel I have read is Friday Night Lights. 

SethSpeaks: What are your goals as the 2006 season begins?

Josh Rabe: My goal is to finally get to the big leagues.

SethSpeaks: Now in your seventh professional season, what would it mean to you to put on a big league uniform in a regular season game for the first time?

Josh Rabe: To put on a big league uniform would mean that I have finally reached my ultimate goal. Every little boy wants to play in the big leagues, and I would be one of the few that actually did. I just hope one day I could smile and shed some tears with my family and friends after a major league baseball game that I played in.

SethSpeaks: Is there anything else that you would like to share with Twins fans around the country about yourself?

Josh Rabe: I am just your everyday single 27 year old guy. Baseball is what I do for a living, but it does not define me as a person. I have goals and aspirations after baseball. I love to go out with friends, cook, watch movies, read about stuff not pertaining to sports, and anything that involves being outdoors. Even though I am from the Midwest I absolutely despise cold weather. I am learning how to play guitar. I love the Dave Matthews Band and anything that has an acoustic guitar involved in it. I would love to own a beach house, one where the water and sand is my backyard. And I think George W. Bush has done alright for himself, given the things that have happened under his watch.

Well said! Josh, I thank you again very, very much for taking the time to answer all of these questions so well.  


Do you have any thoughts or questions for Josh Rabe or me? If so, please feel free to e-mail me.


If you would like to read any previous Q&A's, here is a checklist:

2/24/06 - Q&A with Tommy Watkins (Twins minor league infielder)

2/20/06 - Spring Training Q&A (Part 2) (Several Twins and former Twins answer questions about spring)

1/3/06 - Q&A with Chris Coste (Phillies AAA player and former teammate)

11/29/05 - Q&A with Chris Brown (Twins 1B prospect, spent 2005 in Beloit)

11/25/05 - Q&A with Seth (your questions for me)

11/23/05 - Q&A with Pat Neshek (Twins Relief Pitching Prospect, just added to 40 man roster)

11/15/05 - Q&A with Jeff Dooley (the voice of the New Britain Rock Cats)

11/8/05 - Q&A with David Dorsey (local writer for The News-Press in Ft. Myers, FL)

10/25/05 - Q&A with Mark Sheldon (former Twins Beat Reporter for MLB.com)

10/18/05 - Q&A with Kevin Slowey (another top pitching prospect, Twins 2nd round pick in 2005)

10/11/05 - Q&A with Wes Holtsclaw (local writer for the Elizabethton Twins)

10/5/05 - Q&A with Eli Tintor (Minnesota-native, catching prospect who played 2005 in E-Town)

7/28/05 - Q&A with Jim Mandelaro (local writer for the Rochester Red Wings)

2/28/05 - Q&A with Pat Neshek (Minnesota-native, reliever prospect who played 2005 at New Britain)

12/17/04 - Q&A with Alexander Smit (Holland-native, pitching prospect spent 2005 between Beloit and E-Town)

5/28/04 - Q&A with CJ Nitkowski (big league pitcher, spent Spring Training 2005 with the Twins)

Twins Thoughts

Tonight the Twins are hoping to get hot again against the Kansas City Royals. Here is the schedule along with the pitching matchups:

So, there are the pitching matchups, but what might it mean? If you want, you can just look at the first two numbers in the parentheses. Those are the Win-Loss record and the ERA. Those are the numbers that people normally look at, and they can tell us a lot, but not the whole story. The third number is WHIP (or, Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched). Any number over about 1.3 is not good. Anything under about 1.1 is very good. Finally, I included the opponent batting average. It tells us how hittable the pitcher can be. It can be looked at much like you would look at batting average for a hitter... except the opposite. Anything under about .270 is very good. Anything over .300 is horrible. So, it is quite easy to see why Kyle Lohse is not doing well. He is allowing way too many baserunners by being very hittable. Now, Scott Elarton may be 0-4, but his other numbers are very similar to those he put up with Cleveland a year ago.

The Twins are 7-11, and the Royals are 4-13. The Royals lineup includes: C - John Buck, 1B - Doug Mientkiewicz, 2B - Mark Grudzielanek, 3B - Mark Teahen, SS - Angel Berroa, LF - Emil Brown, CF - Shane Costa, RF - Reggie Sanders and DH - Mike Sweeney.

Sweeney and Brown are two guys that they have counted on, but neither is hitting over .200 (so far). Teahen and his .213 batting average are clearing the way for 2005 top pick Alex Gordon at 3B. On the other side, Angel Berroa is hitting .317 after a three game series against Cleveland in which he went 8-12. Reggie Sanders went 8-12. Mark Grudzielanek was 5-14. Even Mientkiewicz had four hits. This is a perfectly mediocre team. The way the Twins just played against the White Sox, mediocre might beat them.

So, this is a scary series for the Twins. If the win two out of three, it is expected. If they lose two or three, they will be bashed unabashedly, and deservingly so.     

Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Royals, this series or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.   


SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Danny Matienzo, New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Kevin Slowey, Ft. Myers Miracle

Here are the updates from last night's Twins minor league games. If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.


Monday - Red Wings   After being rained out Saturday and Sunday, the Red Wings enjoyed a scheduled day off on Monday. Tonight, they will start a four game series against Richmond.


Monday - Rockcats 1, Trenton 6  The Rockcats got off to an early lead and got great pitching to keep it. Glen Perkins started and threw four shutout innings. He walked one and struck out three. You can't help but wonder why he was taken out. Was it another disciplinary thing, or a strict pitch count? Anyway, Tristan Crawford came in and got the win as he pitched three shutout innings. Levale Speigner pitched the final two innings and gave up a run. Danny Matienzo was the hitting hero. He went 3-3 with a walk, a double and two RBI. Jose Morales was catching again and hit his first home run.

(UPDATE There was a 52 minute rain delay. That is why Perkins night came to an end.)


Monday - Miracle 4, Dunedin 5 The Miracle got another wonderful start from Kevin Slowey. However, the fact that they needed to record 27 outs, and not 26, cost Slowey a win. The righty did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. In six innings, he gave up a run on two hits and a walk. He struck out six. Julio DePaula came in and pitched two scoreless innings. He got the first two outs in the bottom of the 9th, but then he issued a walk... and then a double... and then there was a Trevor Plouffe error, and then, John Schneider hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Miracle a loss. I guess those Walks do haunt! Alexi Casilla went 2-5 with a triple and two runs. Deacon Burns went 2-4 with his third stolen base. Jeremy Pickrel went 2-4 with his third stolen base.                  


Monday - Snappers 2, Lansing 3  Just like the Miracle, the Snappers had a lead through 26 outs, it was that 27th out that came back to get them. Eduardo Morlan came out of his closer's role to make his first start of the year. He went four shutout innings and gave up just one hit and one walk. He struck out three. Alexander Smit went the next three innings and gave up just a run on a hit. He struck out three and most importantly, did not walk a batter. Yohan Pino worked a scoreless 8th and got the first two batters out in the 9th. But then a double, a walk and a game-ending, two-run double meant a loss for Beloit. Erik Lis led the offense with a 3-4 game. He had his fifth double and an RBI. Caleb Moore went 2-4 with two stolen bases.  

Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.

Let me know what you think.  Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today! Have a great day!



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