Thursday July 29, 2004
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Seth's Top 30 Twins Prospects-Part 1
Good morning everyone! It has been awhile, too long, since I have really had time to do a write up that required some research. That said, I still don't have a lot of time, so what I am going to do is take a look at a list of the top 30 Twins prospects that I came up with last December. With the trade deadline on Saturday, it is possible that some of these guys may be headed elsewhere in order for the Twins to lure some help. Today, I will discuss my Top 10 choices. Tomorrow I will discuss selections 11-30.
#1 Joe Mauer, Catcher
OK, like there were any prospect lists coming into this baseball season where Joe Mauer was not ranked number one. That's ok though. It is something that I was more than happy to copy. The Twins obviously agreed when they traded All-Star AJ Pierzynski to clear his path. And Mauer has been far more than anyone could have even hoped, both offensively and defensively. The lone problem is that he has missed so much time due to his knee injury. He is back on the disabled list and will be getting a second opinion on it in Colorado this week. The team is hoping he will be back in early August. In his 35 games played this year, 15 of his 33 hits have gone for extra bases. He has even showed power, hitting six homers in 107 at bats after hitting just nine minor league homers in two and a half seasons and just over 1,000 at bats. He went from hitting 8th in the lineup to earning the #3 spot. Hopefully he will be able to come back to the Twins 100% in the near future, but since he is just 21 now, I think the team needs to be very careful with him. STATUS - As untouchable as untouchable gets.
#2 Justin Morneau, 1B
It takes a pretty good player in Joe Mauer to keep Justin Morneau out of any team's #1 prospect spot. He put on a power display in 2003 and continued it in 2004. The team did not clear that way for him, so he had to start the year at Rochester. He was called up for less the two weeks at the end of May but given little chance to play. So he was sent back down and he continued to rake. He was brought back up to the Twins when Doug Mientkiewicz was put on the Disabled List July 15. When Mientkiewicz was ready to play again, Morneau had taken over. The Twins are now trying to trade Mientkiewicz. All told, Morneau has hit 27 home runs this season. He should be locked into 1B and the cleanup spot in the Twins order for years to come! Status - Absolutely untouchable!
#3 JD Durbin, RHP
Ron Gardenhire really likes Durbin. There was talk that he could make the Twins rotation out of spring training, but they wanted him to continue to work on his changeup. When he was sent down early in spring training, the team said that they just wanted him to work on some things and that they could call him up from New Britain as easily as Rochester. With the problems the Twins have had with their 5th starter spot, it is likely that Durbin would have been up by now. Unfortunately, a few starts into the season, Durbin had a torn labrum and missed about six weeks of time. He was brought along slowly, but apparently his fastball is touching 96 mph again. He is 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA. Status - Untouchable!
#4 Jesse Crain, RHP
I said all along this offseason that I had no problem with the Twins giving the closer's job to Joe Nathan because he was very good. However, I felt that Nathan would be a one-year closer because the Twins could just bring up Jesse Crain and give him the closer role in 2005. I have absolutely no idea why Crain has not been called up to this point to help set up for Nathan. He has had another great season. He started out a little slow, but he is 3-2 with 19 saves for Rochester. His ERA is 2.54 and in 49 2/3 innings, he has struck out 63 and walked just 16. I think he will be in a Twins uniform within a week. Status - Untouchable!
#5 Grant Balfour, RHP
When I wrote this, I had a feeling that Grant Balfour would have a shot to be the Twins #5 starter. This spring, he struggled with injuries, including a shoulder injury that kept him on the Disabled List as the season started. All told, the injuries really kept him from getting innings as a starter. When he came back, he really struggled in his first few outings. That said, he has been really solid in his set up role since then. He throws hard (actually touching 100 mph a couple times). The only question with him has been how he reacts to adversity. So far, when things go bad for him, they go bad! But, when he has control, he is nearly unhittable. Status - Untouchable.
#6 Matt Moses, 3B
Matt Moses' career has been a series of ups and downs so far. After the Twins took him in the first round last year, doctors found a hole in his heart. That was patched up and he went on to hit .385 in 18 games for the Gulf Coast Twins. He started this year hitting 3rd for Quad Cities. Unfortunately, he has fought injuries much of the season. In 20 games, Moses was hitting .237 with seven doubles and three homers. He is currently out because of a bad back. Status - Probably untouchable.
#7 Boof Bonser, RHP
OK, I was wrong. Maybe I let his name cloud my judgment. I may have been wrong on this one. I would have to say that there are at least three players who I did not even list in my Top 30, that I would now rank ahead of Bonser (who came to the Twins along with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano for AJ Pierzynski). Pitching in the same league he did last year, Bonser seems to have stagnated. He is currently 6-9 with a 5.18 ERA. In 116+ innings, he has given up 126 hits and 47 walks. However, for as much as he is struggling, it is important to remember that he is still just 22 years old. Status - Available in the right deal, I'm sure.
#8 Jason Kubel, OF
Speaking of people I might have been wrong about... I have thought well of Kubel, but I think that he has moved up this list further than anyone. With Morneau and Mauer with the Twins, Jason Kubel is without question, the Twins best hitting prospect. Until this year, the 12th round pick in the 2000 draft has moved slowly up the Twins system. He spent 2000 and 2001 with the Gulf Coast Twins. He spent 2002 with Quad Cities and 2003 with Ft. Myers. The assumption is that he would spend the entire 2004 season with New Britain. But Kubel thought differently. He spent a little over a month at New Britain and hit .377/.452/.667 with 14 doubles, 4 triples, six homers and 29 RBI. That meant a call up to Rochester on May 21. He has been amazing since then as well. He is hitting .345/.396/.523 with 21 doubles, seven homers and 41 RBI at that level. He also added 12 stolen bases. He played in the Futures Game this month. And now, he is considered one of the top prospects in baseball. Status - Absolutely untouchable!
#9 Jason Bartlett, SS
When Nick Punto had to go on the Disabled List on Tuesday, it was Jason Bartlett that the Twins called up. The Twins acquired Bartlett in exchange for Brian Buchanan a couple years ago. At the time, Bartlett was barely a prospect-level player. Now, he is one of the better middle infield prospects in baseball. With the Twins having an option for 2005 with Cristian Guzman which would pay him over $5 million, Bartlett should be given a shot at the Twins SS job next year. Bartlett is yet to play in a game for the Twins. At AAA, Bartlett started out very hot. But then he was hit by a pitch and fractured a bone in his wrist that sidelined him until just a couple weeks ago. He was hitting .310 at AAA. He has a good eye and puts the ball in play. Status - because he's a middle infielder, he should be untouchable.
#10 Francisco Liriano, LHP
Liriano is young (20) and throws hard. He has fought injuries each of the past two seasons in the Giants organization, but has made all of his starts this year for Ft. Myers. I still think this was a great acquisition for the Twins. Sure, his numbers so far this year are just 6-7 with a 3.87 ERA, he does have some other impressive numbers. For instance, in 111.2 innings pitched, he has struck out 118. He has given up 109 hits. An issue might be his 42 walks, but again, that could be attributed to his youth. Status - Available for the right player.
Tomorrow, I will continue this series by looking at how more prospects are faring this year. To see the list of the Top 30 prospects, click here.
If you have any other thoughts, questions, or comments, or ideas for future postings or research, please e-mail me.
TWINS SWEEP SOX
Twins Sweep the Sox! Twins sweep the Sox! I have to admit. I am shocked. Happily shocked, but shocked nonetheless. That said, the White Sox team that the Twins played this weekend is not the same team they played earlier in the season. With Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas out of the lineup with injuries, the lineup does not look the same at all and is not nearly as intimidating. But, it is still nice to sweep your nearest competitor in late July.
Carlos Silva went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. JC Romero came in and, despite the fact that the broadcasts teams want us to believe that he has been great since his call up because of the fact that he has not given up an earned run, he again allowed inherited runners to score. In this case, he gave up a hit and two walks without getting an out. Juan Rincon finished the seventh with a big bases loaded strikeout of Carlos Lee. He then pitched a 1-2-3 8th. Terry Mulholland entered the game in the bottom of the 9th. His start will be skipped this time, making him available. With runners on 1st and 3rd and one out, Mulholland got Joe Borchard to ground into a double play. In the top of the 10th, with 2 outs, Jacque Jones got what proved to be the game winning single to left field. The pitch before, Shingo Takatsu got Jones to pop out in foul territory, but Jose Valentin dropped the ball, giving Jones new life. Joe Nathan came in and pitched a perfect 9th for his 28th save with a little help from a Torii Hunter web gem.
Hunter starred on offense too with a 2-5 performance. He had a homer (his 12th) and 2 RBI. He also stole his 12th base. Jacque Jones was 2-5 with the game-winning RBI. Henry Blanco continued his good streak going 2-4. Lew Ford was 1-4, but hit his 13th homer.
It was a strange day for Justin Morneau. In the 2nd, with two strikes, Morneau drove a ball to left field. It hit the top of the wall and bounced straight up and back into the field of play. Initially, the ball was called a home run. Carlos Lee argued and so did Ozzie Guillen, and in the end, the umpire was overruled and Morneau was sent back to 2B. Clearly, they made the right call. In the 5th inning, Morneau came up and drove a ball down the right field line which was again called a home run by the 1B umpire (whose call it is). When the White Sox argued that is was actually a foul ball, then umps gathered and three of them said that they saw it go foul, so they overturned that call as well. At this point, Ron Gardenhire got booted, and for good reason. There is no way that any of the other three umpires saw it better than the 1B ump. I've seen a few replays and I really don't know what the right call was.
With the three-game sweep, the Twins now have a little lead in the division. Here are the current standings:
American League Central Standings
Minnesota Twins 57-44 .564 ---
Chicago White Sox 52-46 .531 3.5
Cleveland Indians 52-50 .510 5.5
Detroit Tigers 47-54 . 465 10.0
Kansas City Royals 35-64 .354 21.0
Having a 3.5 game lead sure is a nice thing. But let's not get ahead of ourselves quite yet. After a day off today, the Twins will host the Boston Red Sox in a three game weekend series. Things don't get easier after that with games against the Angels and A's next week. So, the lead is very nice, but there is still a lot of work to be done!
Speaking of work, I would say that Terry Ryan will be rather busy the next couple of days. I am still baffled and confused by the Doug Mientkiewicz situation. He now has not played the last four games. The trade to Pittsburgh for Kris Benson is now in off-mode (which, of course, could change at any moment). It would be nice to have that situation resolved. But I imagine that Ryan is working the phones on more than just that deal. Also, he has to be contemplating recalling Jesse Crain for the bullpen.
Again, the next couple of days should be very interesting for Twins fans, even without having a game today. Do you have any thoughts on how the Twins are playing, about all the trade rumors, or anything to do with the Twins? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Redwings 2, Ottawa 3 - Beau Kemp gave up an unearned run in the 8th and the Redwings bats just did not come through. Matt Guerrier started and gave up two runs on six hits and three walks in five innings. Adam Johnson came in and struck out five in two scoreless innings. Todd Dunwoody led the offense going 2-4. Josh Rabe entered the game later and went 1-1 with a walk and a home run.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Rockcats 5, New Hampshire 6 - Boof Bonser got the start and gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in five innings. (he struck out 5) Jason Miller had his first rough outing. He gave up two runs on two his and two walks in two innings. He still struck out four. Travis Bowyer pitched two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two. Garrett Jones and Gabby Torres were both 2-4. Tommy Watkins and a two-RBI double. Bryan Kennedy hit his third homer of the year, which scored two more runs.
FT. MYERS MIRACLE
Miracle 5, Clearwater 4 - The Miracle used their six hits well to win this game. Trent Oeltjen, Danny Matienzo, Doug Deeds and Garrett Guzman each had a double. Justin Olson, who has been relieving much of the year even making the Florida St. League All-Star team, made the start. He went four innings and gave up three runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out five. Josh Gray, Jannio Gutierrez and Marcus Moseley each pitched a scoreless inning. Pat Neshek got the last five outs, allowing a run, to record his fourth save.
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Swing - No games on the Midwest League schedule.
E-Twins 6, Danville 2 - The E-Twins got solid pitching to go with some hitting and recorded another win. Chris Marini improved to 3-1 by giving up two runs (1 earned) on five hits and a walk, in 5 innings. Jeff Mousser and Jason Bowlin each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. CF Tarrence Patterson had two doubles in four at bats. RF Deacon Burns went 2-3 with a double and 2 RBI. 2B Luke Hughes went 2-3 with a double. SS Trevor Plouffe hit a 2-run homer, his third of the season.
And I am going to call it a day. Thanks for stopping by this website and please continue to do so. The hit counts are continuing to go up and I appreciate that!! If you ever have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me. Have a great day!
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