All four full-season teams began play this week. Three teams opened on Thursday with Beloit beginning last night following a Thursday rainout. The teams combined record this week was 2-4 with Beloit and New Britain, who was rained out last night, both losing their only games.
There already has been one transaction as the Twins placed Michael Cuddyer on the DL and recalled Denard Span.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (1-1)
The Red Wings opening roster included 11 pitchers and 13 position players. The starting rotation includes Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Heath Totten. The bullpen has a nice mix of three lefties, Ricky Barrett, Carmen Cali and Mariano Gomez and right handers Julio DePaula, Casey Daigle and Bobby Korecky.
There are two catchers on the roster, Jose Morales and Eli Whiteside. The 7 infielders are Randy Ruiz, Howie Clark, Chris Basak, Alexi Casilla, Tommy Watkins, Matt Macri and Brian Buscher. The outfielders are Jon Knott, Denard Span, Jason Pridie and Garrett Jones. With Watkins and Basek able to play the outfield, I look for Span's spot on the roster to be filled by Fransisco Liriano who is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday with the Wings. The Red Wings also have listed Alejandro Machado, Doug Deeds and Darnel McDonald on their roster, however, they are all on the disabled list.
Thursday's opening game in Richmond was played during a light rain with a temp in the low 40's. The Twins pitchers didn't respond well to the conditions with starter Glen Perkins lasting only 3.0 innings with 4 hits, 5 walks and 2 runs (1 earned). In the bottom of the second, Perkins commited a balk allowing Richmond to take a 2-1 lead. In something I have never heard before, Richmond pitcher (Carlyle) returned the favor in the top of the third inning by balking home Jason Pridie (who led off with a double and moved to third on a passed ball) to tie the game 2-2.
Brian Duensing had an excellent start last night in the Wings 4-3 loss, pitching 5.2 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 3K/1BB. The hitting star of the week was Garrett Jones who was 3 for 4 on Thursday with a double, 3 runs and 2 rbi with another 3 hits last night in 5 at bats with his first home run. Alexi Casilla was 2 for 5 on Thursday and 1 for 5 last night with a stolen base. Denard Span was 2 for 5 on Thursday with a run scored and 1 for 4 last night with a walk and contrary to what is being reported elsewhere, 2 stolen bases. Matt Macri had a tough night last night with 3 strikeouts and 2 errors.
The Red Wings have a strong roster this year that was enhanced with several minor league veterans who likely joined the Twins organization in what may be their Last Chance of making it to the major leagues. This group includes pitchers Heath Totten, Casey Daigle and Mariano Gomez, plus, first baseman Randy Ruiz, infielder Howie Clark and outfielder Jon Knott. In addition, the team has three other veterans who could join Rochester, pitchers Zach Day and Danny Graves, plus, catcher Ryan Jorgenson.
Top Prospects to Watch in 2008. There are several highly rated pitchers on the Rochester staff, including former first round pick Glen Perkins, two pitchers obtained in the Mets trade, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey, and another promising lefty, Brian Duensing. Several top position players who could help the Twins by September include Alexi Casilla, Brian Buscher, Jason Pridie, Garrett Jones and Denard Span.
New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (0-1)
The Rock Cat roster has 12 pitchers including starters Ryan Mullins, Anthony Swarzak, Oswaldo Sosa, Jay Rainville and Jason Miller. The bullpen includes Armando Gabino, Yohan Pino, Ben Julianel, Jay Sawatski, Zach Ward, David Shinskie and Kyle Aselton. The Cats have two pitchers on the DL, Errol Simonitsch and Jose Mijares.
Their 12 position players include catchers, Jeff Christy and Drew Butera, infielders, Brock Peterson, Luke Hughes, Feliz Molina, Trevor Plouffe and Steven Tolleson, and outfielders, Brandon Roberts, David Winfree, Matt Moses, Erik Lis and Dustin Martin.
Ryan Mullins had an excellent opening day start, pitching 5.0 shutout innings with 2 hits in their 3-0 loss. Armando Gabino allowed his first run as a Rock Cat (did not allow a run last year in 16.0 innings) with Zach Ward having a solid outing with an inning pitched out of the bullpen for this former starter. The only player to get multiple hits was catcher Drew Butera who was 2 for 3 following an excellent spring training with the Twins.
Although it may not be their last chance with the Twins, former top prospects Matt Moses and David Winfree both have been converted to the outfield as the Twins try to find the best positions on the field for both players who once were amongst the best hitting prospects in the system. On opening day, Moses was batting clean up and in left field with Winfree hitting sixth and in right field.
Top prospects to watch in 2008...Anthony Swarzak, Jay Rainville, Oswaldo Sosa and Ryan Mullins all are pitchers who are candidates to make it to the Twins at some future date and will be exciting to watch this season. Trevor Plouffe may be the top shortstop in the organization, while Brandon Roberts is a top center field prospect who is blocked by Gomez and Span. In addition, Erik Lis is one of the top hitting prospects in the system who will get a lot of at bats as the Rock Cat DH in 2008.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (1-1)
The Miracle opening day roster includes starters, Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, Cole DeVries, Tyler Robertson and Deolis Guerra with Kyle Waldrop on the DL. The bullpen includes, Rob Delaney, Jose Lugo, Anthony Slama, Danny Vais, Frank Mata and Matt Fox.
There are three catchers on the roster, Wilson Ramos, Allan de San Miguel and Rodolpho Palacios. The seven infielders include, Johnny Woodard, Whit Robbins, Daniel Berg, Brian Dinkelman, Toby Gardenhire, Yancarlos Ortiz and Danny Valencia. The outfielders are Edward Ovalle, Juan Portes, Danny Santiesteban and Reno Tosoni.
The Miracle had Francisco Liriano making a rehab start in their opening game, when he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 8K/2BB in 5.1 innings. Cole DeVries followed with 4 hits and runs in 1.1 inning. Last night Jeff Manship started, pitching 5.0 innings with 3 hits, 3 runs and 4K/3BB. Of note is that the opposing starter last night was former Twin, Alexander Smit, who lasted 3.0 inning with 5 hits, 5 runs (4 earned) and 1K/4BB.
The hitting star this week was Danny Valencia, who was 4 for 7 with 3 runs, 6 rbi and a home run. Catcher Wilson Ramos was 3 for 5 with a home run on opening day while Rene Tosoni was 2 for 4.
Players who may be seeing their last chance with the organization this year could include former supplemental pick Matt Fox, first baseman Johnny Woodard, reliever Jose Lugo, infielder Toby Gardenhire and outfielders Edward Ovalle and Danny Santiesteban. All of these players have potential, however, must improve upon previous year's performances to move up to New Britain next year.
Top Prospects to watch in 2008. Four starters are amongst the best in the system, Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, Tyler Robertson and Deolis Guerra. All four could perform so well that the Twins will be forced to move them up to AA by the end of the year. The Miracle also have three of the top position players in the organization, catcher Wilson Ramos, third baseman Danny Valencia and outfielder Rene Tosoni. Ramos burst onto the scene last spring when he moved from EST to Beloit and was arguably their best hitter for the full season. His prospect status was legitimized this spring when some of the local beat writers learned of his abilities and began reporting on this young catcher. Tosoni, a 2005 36th round pick who signed as a draft and follow, was amongst the best hitters in the Appy League last summer in his first year of professional ball. He joined D.J. Romero in Beloit following Elizabethton's championship run, hitting well in limited at bats late in the season and during the playoffs. With two of the top outfield hitting prospects in the system returning to Beloit for a second season, this young man jumped past Beloit directly to Ft. Myers where he was 2 for 4 opening night. This will be an exciting year to watch Tosoni to see if the conventional media will soon learn that like Ramos, he is one of the top prospects in the organization.
Beloit Snappers (A) (0-1)
The Snappers starting rotation includes Brian Kirwan, Dave Bromberg, Michael Tarsi, Mike McCardell and Danny Berlind. The bullpen is strong with, Matt Williams, Blair Erickson, Steve Hirschfield, Charles Nolte, Dominique Rodgers, Spencer Steedley, Dan Hernandez, Henry Reyes and Loek VanMil.
There are four catchers on the roster, Greg Yersich, Dan Lehman, Jose Leger and recently acquired Jair Fernandez. Infielders are Ben Petsch, Chris Cates, Steve Singleton, Ramon Santana, D.J. Romero and Garrett Olson. The outfielders are Joe Benson, Chris Parmalee, Ozzie Lewis and Mark Dolenc. Also included on the roster/disabled list are infielders Paul Kelly and Andrew Thompson, while outfielder Eli Tintor is on the roster however, serving a suspension. It is also unknown as of this morning which of the pitchers listed above may be on the DL.
David Bromberg got beat up on opening day with 5 runs, 3 hits, 4K/3BB in 4.2 innings. Dominique Rodgers was excellent in late relief pitching 2.0 no hit innings with 3K/0BB. Joe Benson had a good first game going 2 for 5 with 2 doubles, a run and rbi, however, striking out 3 times. One game doesn't make a season, however, Chris Parmalee struck out all five times at bat. Last year's Appy League Player of the Year, Ozzie Lewis, was 1 for 4 with a home run and walk. D. J. Romero was 1 for 3 with a double, rbi and 2 walks.
Although not likely in their last chance with the Twins, former second round picks and once top middle infield prospects, Paul Kelly and Andrew Thompson, need to get back on the field as soon as possible. After missing all of last year following injuries from late 2006 (Kelly/knee and Thompson/back), they are again beginning the season on the DL. Dianna recently reported that she spoke with one of them who indicated that they should be back by May...followed by her asking, "which year?" Both of these young men were once excellent prospects, hopefully, they both can get back on the field soon and begin their journey back.
Top Prospects to watch in 2008. There are several players on this squad who were leaders on last year's Appy League Champion Twins. David Bromberg was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year. Michael Tarsi, Mike McCardell and Blair Erickson all had excellent seasons. Catcher Greg Yersich was a leading hitter in the Appy League while D. J. Romero hit as well as any hitter in the organization. Ozzie Lewis was the top hitter in the Appy League while Joe Benson and Chris Parmalee remain top prospects whose performances this season will be critical in their development.