Friday, April 28, 2006
If you are interested, you can hear my first Blogger's Moment of 2006 by clicking here. The Bloggers Moment is airs during WCCO's Twins Magazine Show before the Twins broadcast each Saturday of the baseball season.
Twins Minor League Reports
Q&A with David Winfree
Ft. Myers Miracle Infielder
2005 Twins Minor League Player of the Year
Good morning to everyone! Before starting today, I wanted to thank all of you who left Comments yesterday. The 29 Comments was our high to this point. I appreciate you taking the time to contribute!
We are going to start out today with another Q&A with a Twins player. On Tuesday, we learned a little more about Rochester outfielder Josh Rabe. Today, we will learn more about the 2005 Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year, David Winfree.
David Winfree was drafted by the Twins in the 13th round of the 2003 draft out of his Virginia Beach, Virginia, high school. He signed quickly and reported to the Twins Gulf Coast League team. He struggled in his 70 at bats. In 2004, he stayed in the rookie leagues but moved up to Elizabethton where he hit .286/.349/.433 with eight homers and 37 RBI in 239 plate appearances. Last year, he made the jump to full-season ball and spent the year in the Midwest League, with the Beloit Snappers. The 3B cut down his strikeout rate significantly and improved to .294/.329/.452 with 31 doubles, 16 homers and 101 RBI. He was honored with the Sherry Robertson Award as the Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year. Others who have won the award include Kent Hrbek, Marty Cordova, Todd Walker, David Ortiz, Doug Mientkiewicz, Michael Cuddyer, Lew Ford, Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel.
Winfree was present at Twins Fest this winter, signing autographs. I happened to see him just walking around and started talking to him. He looked surprised that someone knew who he was. Well, I guess I have a pretty good idea of what is going on with the Twins minor league system. However, at 6-3 and 220 pounds, Winfree stands out in a crowd.
As for the future, Winfree certainly is a bright spot in the Twins system. There are very few high-ceiling hitting prospects, but Winfree is definitely one. Of course, another is also a 3B, that being Matt Moses, the 1st round pick in 2003. In reality, Winfree and Moses are very nearly the same prospect in my mind. I guess since Winfree bats right-handed and Moses bats left-handed, they are mirror images of each other. With the bat, they both can flat-out rake. Each shown some power, but I think that both of them could display much more as they gain more experience. Likewise, each is not considered great with the glove. We do know that Winfree has worked very hard to improve his glove work. Through his earlier baseball days, he has spent more time at 1B. If we just want to look at the big picture, if Winfree continues to hit and continues to move up the organizational ladder, the Twins will find a place for his bat!
Recently, Winfree was hit by a pitch and had a swollen thumb. He was put on the 7-Day Disabled List. I asked him how it was feeling and he said it was doing very well and that we should see his name in box scores soon. Although he had played in just six games and had 25 at bats, he was off to a very strong start in Ft. Myers this year. He was hitting .320/.370/.440 with three doubles and six RBI this year.
I'm sure 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! Well, thank you to David Winfree for taking the time to answer these questions. Again, I think that this is very interesting to read and I hope, and am sure, that you will enjoy it too.
If you have any comments for me or Mr. Winfree, please e-mail me, and I will try to answer your questions or forward them on to him and see if we can get you an answer.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: First things first... how is the elbow? What was the surgery? How did you rehab? And what is your timeline for returning to 100%?
David Winfree: I had arthroscopic shoulder surgery, they just shaved my acromion down and released some tension in my shoulder. It feels good right now it is just a little weak so I am rehabbing it a little down in extended but I should be back soon.
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Virginia, who was your favorite team, and who were some of your favorite players to watch and emulate?
David Winfree: I hate to say but my favorite team was the Braves, I guess it is better than the Yankees, I cant say that I emulated any players, I like watching Tony Gwynn hit. Now I think there is nobody better to watch hit than Albert Pujols.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little about your high school career.
David Winfree: I started my high school career at Greenbrier Christian Academy, and then transferred to First Colonial High School. I loved high school one of the best times in my life. I had a great coach Norbie Wilson, and had unbelievable teammates that I still stay in touch with about 90% of them.
SethSpeaks: When we talked at Twins Fest, you mentioned playing with and against guys like David Wright, Justin and BJ Upton. Can you tell us about these guys, or other players you played with or against?
David Winfree: BJ actually transferred to Greenbrier the day I left to go to first colonial, I transferred because of competition reasons, the conference was not the strongest. I played against both Dave and BJ and also played with Josh Rupe who made his MLB debut last year for the Texas Rangers, he is my brother in law and is also from Va. Beach. Also, Ryan Zimmerman who I played with and against since I was about 10.
SethSpeaks: The Twins took you in the 10th round in 2003. Had you talked to the Twins' scouts much, and where were you expecting to be drafted?
David Winfree: Sorry to correct you but it was the 13th round and yes I did expect to be taken by the twins.
SethSpeaks: Last year, you were named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. How did you hear the news, and what was your reaction?
David Winfree: Jim Rantz called me and let me know that they were giving me the award. It is a great honor to receive it. Great players have won that award in the past and it feels great to be in such good company.
SethSpeaks: You drove in 101 runs a year ago in Beloit. You don't see many minor leaguers with 100 or more RBI. What do you attribute that to?
David Winfree: Driving in 100 runs I realized is not very easy to do. I drove in 101 runs last year and I give the credit to my teammates, they put me in great situations in which I was able to capitalizes on those opportunities and cash in those RBI's.
SethSpeaks: Who are some of the coaches or people that have helped you get to this point in your career?
David Winfree: Most importantly my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then my dad, Norbie Wilson, Towny Townsend, Chris Parsons, and coach Sinnen, all of these coaches I have played for along the way.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe yourself as a hitter/player. What are your strengths, and what areas would you say you most have to improve upon?
David Winfree: I would say hitting is my best strength, I need to work on being more patient and take my walks, I need to work on my defense, and u know I basically need to work on everything, there is always room for improvement.
SethSpeaks: What was the adjustment to pro baseball like for you?
David Winfree: Pro baseball was a huge adjustment, especially staying away from home for long periods of time, the baseball was a big change too, competition wise, but I wouldn't of had it any other way. I love the game and love what I do.
SethSpeaks: What is the best part, so far, about a career in baseball?
David Winfree: Having a privilege to put a uniform everyday and play the game I love, which there is no better one in the world.
SethSpeaks: What is the most difficult part of life in baseball?
David Winfree: Getting adjusted to the time schedule. Being on the road.
SethSpeaks: What are the positives about being a member of the Twins organization?
David Winfree: It is the best organization in baseball. They draw from within and develop their young players so what could be better than that.
SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball movie?
David Winfree: Bull Durham
SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball book?
David Winfree: Clearing the Bases
SethSpeaks: What are your goals heading into the 2006 season?
David Winfree: Just to try to cut down on wasted at bats, and to try to become more of a solid defensive player. I just want to have a solid year, work hard, play hard and let the rest take care of itself.
SethSpeaks: What was your offseason like, preparing for this year?
David Winfree:My off season was actually very short since I spent most of it down in Florida rehabbing, but I worked out good. I was able to work out down here in the new facilities with our strength and conditioning coordinator Perry Castellano.
SethSpeaks: What do you think it will be like to put on a big league uniform in a regular season game for the first time? If you worked the time table, when would you see yourself making your big league debut?
David Winfree: All I have to say to that is I will be speechless. Who knows when I will make my big league debut. All I can do is take care of my part on the field and let the rest take care of itself.
David, I thank you again very, very much for taking the time to answer all of these questions so well. During the season, I would imagine free time is at a premium!
Do you have any thoughts or questions for David Winfree 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:
4/25/06 - Q&A with Josh Rabe (Twins minor league outfielder at Rochester)
2/24/06 - Q&A with Tommy Watkins (Twins minor league infielder at New Britain)
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 my former college teammate)
11/29/05 - Q&A with Chris Brown (former 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, added to 40 man roster, 2006 in Rochester)
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, 2006 in Ft. Myers)
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, 2006 in Beloit)
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)
Well, it may not have been pretty, but the Twins did go into Kansas City and win two of three games against the Royals. As we know, the fact is that the Yankees lose to the Devil Rays, the White Sox and Indians will lose games to the Royals. Fact is that the best teams will lose to the worst teams from time to time over a 162 game season. The talent throughout the league is too good, and the old "any given night" saying holds so true. So, yes, we would all love to sweep the Royals, but another series win is always a good thing. As I have through most of the season, here is a quick look at how the Twins hitters did in the series:
Shannon Stewart (5-12, 2 BB, R)
Luis Castillo (3-12, BB, R, 2 RBI)
Joe Mauer (2-6, BB, RBI)
Rondell White (2-13, RBI, 2 K)
Torii Hunter (0-12, 2 K)
Lew Ford (3-11, BB, 2 R, K, SB)
Justin Morneau (1-7, HR, R, RBI, 2 K)
Tony Batista (0-6)
Juan Castro (1-4, 2B)
Michael Cuddyer (3-4, BB, 2 R, RBI, SB)
Nick Punto (0-4, BB, R)
Mike Redmond (1-5, RBI)
Luis Rodriguez (1-3, 2 BB, 2 R)
Ruben Sierra (1-2, RBI, K)
Some other thoughts on yesterday's 7-3 win and the series win:
Johan Santana was able to work eight innings. He gave up two runs in the 8th inning, so it would be easy to say that he should not have gone out there for that inning. However, his pitch count was still down, and after the inning, he was at 105 pitches. I think it was good in that he was able to build up his arm just a little bit in a less stressful situation.
Santana's three runs in eight innings gave him a Quality Start. It was Santana's second straight quality start and the Twins third straight quality start.
In Yahoo's Game Notes, they wrote that Joe Mauer did not play yesterday afternoon because of a sore hamstring. That surprised me. I wonder why anything was said about that, or if it is even factual? I mean, it was a day game after a night game against a left-handed pitcher, so Mauer wasn't playing either way. Hopefully there is nothing to the hamstring situation.
I'm as big a Justin Morneau supporter, but as of right now, he has been very disappointing. After the performance he had in 2004, I thought superstardom was in his future. The league adjusted to him, and Morneau has not be at all able to re-adjust to the adjustment. Aside from the occasional home run, he has done very little. Then yesterday, Michael Cuddyer got the start at 1B and went 3-4 with a double and a homer. Cuddyer, for all the strikeouts and his limitations, puts together decent at bats much of the time. I wonder if we are to the point where we need a strict platoon with Cuddyer and Morneau at 1B. Cuddyer should also play some in RF or even at 3B just to keep ready and get some at bats against righties, but it is starting to make sense.
When Ron Gardenhire took over as manager of the Twins, one of the first things he did was say that Jacque Jones was going to be his leadoff hitter and play every day. I thought it was great because Tom Kelly platooned Jacque Jones, and I didn't know why. My thinking was that even though Jacque had struggled against lefties in his career at that time, he just did not have enough opportunities against lefties for me to be able to say that he simply could not do it. Now, it didn't take terribly long for us, the fans, to realize that Jacque had no ability to do anything against a lefty. I mean, just look at his numbers against southpaws? Just awful! So, how long does a lefty deserve to bat against lefties before it should be clear that he should be platooned? My opinion is that the hitter deserves a little over a year. That first year will give a good basis for whether he can do it or not. I would then allow the player to get at bats against lefties for another month of the following season just to see if he has made any adjustments. If no improvement is made, then a platoon is necessary. Is Justin Morneau at that point yet?
The top two hitters, Shannon Stewart and Luis Castillo, combined to go 6-9 and get on-base eight of 11 plate appearances in the game yesterday. A team should win most of their games when they have opportunities like that.
Imagine how many runs the team would have scored if the four and five hitters, Rondell White and Torii Hunter, wouldn't have combined to strand 13 runners.
Did everyone read this quote from Torii Hunter in the Strib earlier in the week, "He can't teach me anything," Torii Hunter, the Twins' $10.75 million center fielder, said of Vavra. "Those guys played in the big leagues a long time. I don't think Vavra ever played in the big leagues." (Correction – the quote was actually from an article in the Pioneer Press last week.)
I ask this every time he played, but how does Luis Rodriguez not get more playing time, and why does he lose out on playing time because of Nick Punto???
The Twins are about to start their three game weekend series in Detroit against the Tigers. The Tigers are off to a very good start. They come into the series with a record of 13-9. The Twins are now 9-12. Chris Shelton has cooled off of late, but he is still their leading hitter. He is hitting .350/.416/.825 with five doubles, three tripled, nine homers and 19 RBI. They have several veterans who are off to decent starts such as Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco, Ivan Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen. Another key to their success has been the emergence of Curtis Granderson as their speed/on-base guy at the top of the order. Their pitching staff is solid. Mike Maroth has a sub-2.00 ERA. Kenny Rogers' ERA is just over 3.00. And their best pitchers will probably prove to be Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander as the season moves forward.
This is a big series in one way for the Twins. There are a lot of people, myself included, who wonder if these two teams could be vying for 3rd place in the AL Central. Most don't want to think that the Twins could finish fourth, but this is a legitimately good Tigers team, and the Twins will have to play well to win. Here are the pitching matchups for this weekend:
Friday - 6:05 p.m. - Brad Radke (2-2, 7.50, 1.54, .337) vs Nate Robertson (2-2, 4.98, 1.34, .271)
Saturday - 12:05 p.m. - Carlos Silva (1-3, 8.33, 1.52, .336) vs Justin Verlander (2-2, 4.18, 1.10, .205)
Sunday - 12:05 p.m. - Kyle Lohse (1-1, 8.55, 1.95, .329) vs Kenny Rogers (3-2, 3.21, 1.13, .228)
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Tigers, the AL Central or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Erold Andrus, Ft. Myers Miracle
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Tim Lahey, Ft. Myers Miracle
I have been meaning to link to this site for a week or two now, but have kept forgetting, but I would encourage all of you to check out Jim Mandelaro's Extra Bases blog. Jim, as you recall from the Q&A he did on this site last summer, is the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's Red Wings beat writer. He is blogging his thoughts on the team throughout the year, so please check it out and send him an e-mail to say hi!
Be sure also to check out the Ft. Myers Miracle Ramblings, a fun blog about the Twins high-A affiliate.
Also, 'cmathewson' posted an interesting article on the six Twins pitching prospects with the highest ceilings. It includes a poll for you to make your choice.
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Thursday - Red Wings 10, Richmond 11 – Pat Neshek would probably like nothing more than to get out of Richmond. He would probably like never to face Scott Thorman again! Of course, having e-chatted with Pat several times, I would actually guess that he would love to get to face him one more time with the game on the line. Remember on Tuesday night, Neshek got his first blown save when he gave up a game-tying home run to Thorman? Well, last night, with two on and two out and a two run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Thorman was able to hit a game-winning, three run homer off of Neshek to give Richmond the win. The game was back and forth the entire way. Boof Bonser got the start for the Red Wings and gave up four runs on eight hits and four walks in 5.2 innings. Jason Miller gave up a hit to the only batter he faced. Mike Smith gave up four runs (just one earned) on four hits in 1.1 innings. Matt Ford pitched a scoreless eighth before Neshek pitched the ninth. Offensively, the Red Wings were led by Jason Hart who was 3-5 with two RBI. Andres Torres went 2-5 with a double. Josh Rabe was 1-3 with two walks, two runs scored and three runs batted in. Jason Kubel and Glenn Williams each hit their first homer of the year.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday - Rockcats – No Game Scheduled
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday - Miracle 8, Clearwater 6 – Kyle Geiger and Luke Hughes each had RBI singles in the top of the 9th to gave the Miracle the go-ahead runs. John Thomas started and went just four innings. He allowed four runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out three. Josh Hill came in and gave up two unearned runs in 1.1 innings. Jose Mijares made his first appearance of the year. He went 1.1 innings and gave up two hits and a walk, but no runs. Finally, Tim Lahey improves to 3-0 by going 2.1 innings, giving up only a walk. On offense, Erold Andrus went 2-3, was hit by a pitch, doubled, tripled and drove in two runs. Jeremy Pickrel went 2-2 with two walks, a stolen base and three runs scored. Luke Hughes went 3-4. Kyle Geiger was 2-4. Trevor Plouffe committed his 7th and 8th errors of the season yet we continue to hear what a defensive marvel he really is at SS.
Thursday - Snappers 4, Quad Cities 6 (15 innings) – Yes, really! Another 15 inning game! Alexander Smit gave up Randy Roth's 8th home run of the year with a runner on in the bottom of the 15th to send the fans home. Kyle Waldrop got the start for the Snappers. In 4.1 innings, he gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. He walked none and struck out four. Danny Vais came in and gave up three hits, but no runs, in his 1.2 innings. Yohan Pino struck out four in his two innings. Danny Powers struck out three in his two scoreless innings. Then Alexander Smit gave up the two runs after recording just one out. Offensively, Drew Thompson went 3-7. Terrance Patterson went 2-7. Tough day at the park award gets split in this game. Paul Kelly and Erik Lis were both 0-6 with a walk, but Eli Tintor went 0-7.
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.
Other Thoughts and Links
Here are just a couple of other links or thoughts that I would like to share:
Check out BrentNet for an interesting list of some of the baseball players who have made crazy amounts of money to do very little!
Onterrio Smith probably won't get to play in the NFL in 2006 after being suspended for all of 2005. The league will likely not reinstate him and the Vikings have formally let him go. What a waste of so much talent. The Vikings took him in the 3rd round a few years ago. Talent-wise, he was great. Apparently intelligence-wise, he just does not get it. Smith. Ricky Williams. Maurice Claurett. Len Bias. Chris Washburn. Josh Hamilton. Brien Taylor. There are just too many examples of people who have let other things affect their lives. Will Delmon Young be the next?
Do you remember when Saturday Night Live was funny. I know, I am really going back a number of years, maybe even a decade. It just has not been the same since guys like Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and that gang left the show. Well, do you remember when Michael Jordan was on SNL? Here is a reminder.
This is arguably the craziest shot in basketball history!!
It may have been a horrible season on the court, but yesterday, it was announced that the Wolves' Kevin Garnett was the recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award given annually to one player or coach who does a lot in the community.
Finally, congratulations to Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. The St. Paul native and former Gopher and former Twins player was one of ten people who will be among the first class of College Baseball Hall of Famers. The inaugural list of inductees is a very impressive one! Check it out here.
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 and for the week!
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