A couple items of note this week include the Twins outrighting Brian Buscher to Rochester. This cleared a 40-man roster spot before the five free agents are removed in the next week. Why this was done at this time remains a mystery? My best guess is that the Twins were in discussion on some deal from which they may have needed an open spot on their roster. It turned out to not be the case with the J.J. Hardy deal. Maybe during the Hardy discussions there were other players under consideration or there could have been another deal (perhaps Tampa) being discussed that would have required an extra roster spot.
On a more serious note, Seth Stohs reported yesterday that Wilson Ramos injured his knee in Thursday's game in Venezuela. I had noted when reviewing the boxscore that he was removed from the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after drawing a walk. He finished the game with a 1-1 night, a walk, double and 2 runs scored. So whatever the injury was either happened on a play at the plate or he ran the bases, scored and then was removed. I believe that Ramos is a Top 10 prospect and I don't mean in the Twins organization, rather, in all of baseball. He was hitting better than anyone in the VWL (.403/.460/.766 with a league high 6 home runs and 23 RBI in 77 at bats) and getting him healthy for spring training is the most important concern the Twins have this winter....well, maybe second most important behind signing another catcher to a contract extension!
They say when you go to an Arizona Fall League game it is like going to a minor league all-star game. That makes today's AFL Rising Stars Showcase a special day for prospect junkies and scouts. This year's Number 1 overall pick, Stephen Strasburg, has been scratched from appearing in this game because of a strained arm. Strasburg has a 3-1 record in four starts with a 5.28ERA, 15.1 innings and 17K/5BB. The lone Twins representative in this game will be outfielder Rene Tosoni.
Mesa was 4-2 this week to improve their record to 9-12 and move into a tie for second place, 3.5 games out of first in their three team division. Rene Tosoni was 4-18 and is now hitting .254/.338/.390 in 59 at bats. Chris Parmalee was 2-12 this week, yet continues to lead the Solar Sox with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 53 at bats. Steve Singleton was 4-11 and is hitting .300/.302/.440 in 50 at bats. Steve Hirschfield had his best outing of the fall in last night's 11-1 win, allowing 1 hit in 3.0 shutout innings with 2K/0BB. Hirschfield lowered his ERA to 11.17 with 11K/3BB. It will take all fall to get his ERA down to a good number after giving up 6 earned runs in 0.1 inning on October 20th. Spencer Steedley pitched 2 shutout innings to lower his ERA to 5.00 in 8 games, 9.0 innings with 6K/12BB. Alex Burnett has appeared in 7 games with 6.2 innings, 6K/7BB and 4.05ERA. Michael McCardell has pitched 8.2 innings with a 7.27ERA and 11K/5BB.
Armando Gabino made his first appearance this week for Aguilas in the DWL, pitching 0.2 inning with 1 strikeout. Estarlin De Los Santos didn't play a lot last year for Gigante and didn't get a lot of hits when he did. This is not unusual for a young player in a veteran winter league like the DWL. Although most of the major league players haven't arrived De Los Santos is playing regularly early this year, hitting .277/.320/.319 with a 2-7 week in 2 games this week.
Juan Morillo did not appear in any of Toros games this week, however, Jose Lugo appeared in two. Lugo has been one of his teams better relievers having appeared in 8 games, 8.0 innings with a 2-1 record, 3.38ERA and 7K/3BB. Over in Venezuela, Winston Marquez did not make any appearances this week.
Aragua improved their record to 9-14, moving into a fifth place tie 8.5 games out of first. Frank Mata has been one of their better relievers with a 2-1 record in 10 games, 16.1 innings with 10K/5BB. Mata's 3.31ERA is the best on the staff of any pitchers with over 4 innings of work. Justin Huber hit his second and third home runs with 5 RBI last night in the Tigres 9-6 win. Hopefully Huber, who is hitting .300/.400/.517 in 60 at bats with 14 RBI, will be back with the Twins next season.
With Carlos Gomez gone it will be interesting to see who will be the Twins extra outfielder next spring. Many assume it will be Jason Pridie but Dustin Martin may have something to say about that. After an excellent spring training last year Martin had what must be considered a disappointing season at Rochester. Any chance he has to earn that spot next spring begins with his performance this winter in Venezuela. After a slow first week or so, Martin has raised his average to .293/.400/.467 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 75 at bats. With all the top center fielders in the organization at least a couple years from being ready to help the Twins, Martin may be an option to fill a reserve spot next spring.