Good morning from balmy Denver. Hey, it has been over 50 degrees every day since our arrival on Wednesday.
The only Twins transaction this week was the announcement that they received relief pitcher Chris Province as compensation for Boof Bonser. Most reports indicate that Province has a very good sinker, but needs to work on a second pitch to have a legitimate chance at a major league career. Province, who is the all-time saves leader at Southeast Louisiana University, had a 2-4 record with 1 save, 2.60 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 55K/32BB at AA Portland (Eastern League) last summer. He allowed only three home runs in 79.2 innings.
Province, who was on the same Mesa AFL team this fall as the Twins prospects, had a 0-2 record and 2 saves in 13.0 innings with a 3.46 ERA and 9K/5BB.
It was also reported that Philip Humber signed with the Kansas City Royals. That means that Deolis Guerra is the lone remaining prospect from the Santana trade...not including John Rauch and J.J. Hardy who were obtained in trades for Kevin Mulvey and Carlos Gomez.
Last year's Caribbean Champion Aragua Tigres are having a difficult winter. They are currently in sixth place (out of eight teams), 11.5 games out of first place in the Venezuelan Winter League. It is now the time of year when most of the lower level prospects have been replaced by players with major league experience. Yangervis Solarte and Wilson Ramos are the lone Twins prospects playing regularly as neither Jason Pridie nor Dustin Martin saw any action this week.
Ramos continues as one of the league's top hitters at .348/.411/.597 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 191 at bats. As the level of pitching improves, Ramos has continued to hit well in his last ten games at .275/.370/.625 with 4 home runs, 5 walks and only 5 strikeouts. Solarte has been the Tigres regular left fielder of late and the 22 year old is hitting a respectable .313/.380/.446. Former Twin prospect Yohan Pino pitched a solid 5.0 innings in last night's 4-3 win to even his record at 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA.
Over in the Dominican Republic, Escogido holds a 2.5 game lead in first place. Francisco Liriano made his third start of the winter in Wednesday's 6-0 win, pitching 5.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 6K/1BB. Alexi Casilla is a reserve middle infielder for Gigantes (fourth place, 3.0 games behind Escogido), with only 1 at bat this week.
More veterans are also reporting to the Puerto Rico Winter League, including Danny Valencia. Valencia has appeared in five games for Mayaguez, going 4-18 with 3 walks and 4 runs scored (.222/.333/.222). Nelvin Fuentes is one young prospect who continues to see action for Mayaguez, primarily as a left handed specialist. Fuentes has appeared in 9 games, 6.1 innings, 5.40 ERA and 2K/6BB. There are two veterans on the Mayaguez roster that we are familiar with, Craig Monroe and Randy Ruiz.
With Christmas Eve only five days away, will Joe Mauer have a nice present from Bill Smith under his tree?