Roger does a fantastic job of rounding up reports on the minor leagues each week, but I wanted to take one last run through the Winter Leagues to highlight a few of our best and brightest.
|VWL - Justin Huber||21||78||11||22||4||1||3||19||10||18||1||0||.282||.385||.474|
Justin won't be back with the Twins this season, as he's off to enjoy some time in Japan, but it's worth noting that he did have a good few games with the Aragua Tigers. Some of that success is no doubt due to the fact that he was a 28-year old playing with a bunch of teenagers and guys in their early 20's, but it's better having the results you "should" have than under-performing.
|VWL - Dustin Martin||44||151||22||45||9||0||6||25||25||37||5||3||.298||.395||.477|
Martin, who turns 26 this spring, also played for the Aragua Tigers and had himself one hell of a winter. While he mostly played corner outfield for Rochester last season, he has spent time in center as well. It's not likely, considering that the competition in Winter Ball isn't on-par with triple-A competition, but if Martin comes out hot next month he might compete for that fifth outfielder spot.
Right now, if anyone has a chance, Jacque Jones probably has a more realistic shot of making the 25-man roster than Martin. He'll have to excel.
More after the break...
|AFL - Chris Parmelee||21||80||10||20||8||2||4||21||11||24||1||1||.250||.337||.550|
Over in the Arizona Fall League, Parmelee was a run-producing machine, driving in a run per game as 60% of his hits went for extra bases. Again, it's a small sample, but this is pretty much what we're looking for from the prep draft pick. Parmelee will turn 22 later this month, and should get a big chance to prove himself in double-A this year. His upside is probably an Adam Dunn/Nick Swisher type of hitter, but as we all know there's plenty of value there.
|VWL - Wilson Ramos||54||208||38||69||14||1||12||49||21||41||0||0||.332||.397||.582|
I hate to say anyone in the Winter Leagues is playing over their head, so let's just say that Ramos had one hell of an off-season. Another member of the Tigers, Ramos is the pride of Minnesota's catching prospects and, at 22, is on the verge of giving the organization some positional excess. Even without these glowing Winter League numbers he'd be competing for the backup catcher job with Drew Butera, although some believe that Butera already has the edge on the role since Ramos still needs to experience triple-A pitching. Butera, who has no offense to speak of (.560 OPS in Rochester in '09), is considered to be who he can be already; Ramos can afford to be brought along slowly for development.
|AFL - Alex Burnett||0-0||10||0||0||0||3||0||10.2||6||4||4||0||10||11||3.38||1.50|
Burnett rocked in the Arizona Fall League this year, converting all three of his save opportunities which might be a precursor for his future role with the Twins. He did have a few issues with control, walking almost a batter per inning, but he kept the ball from leaving the park and managed to mitigate damage for the most part. Burnett is just 22 but should see time with the Twins next season if he doesn't get a cup of coffee this year.
|VWL - Jhon Garcia||1-1||3||3||0||0||0||0||11.0||10||6||6||1||2||9||4.91||1.09|
A pitcher for the Aragua Tigers, the 22-year old right-hander was signed as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2008 season. He's efficient and is known for his control, but his nine strikeouts in eleven innings is a little misleading as to how strong of a strikeout pitcher he truly is.
|DWL - Francisco Liriano||0-0||3||3||0||0||0||0||11.2||8||2||2||0||2||17||1.54||0.86|
The first of two guys on this list from the Dominican Winter League, we've all heard the amazing stories of Liriano's fastball (Now With Velocity!) and the return of his nasty slider. Obviously his playoff numbers aren't included, but in three starts for Leones del Escogedo he was clearly on top of his game. Have the rumors of his demise been greatly exaggerated?
|DWL - Jose Lugo||3-1||15||0||0||0||0||0||13.1||11||4||3||0||5||13||2.03||1.20|
A teammate of Liriano's, Lugo turns 26 in May. He's been known to strike hitters out (56 in 58 innings with the Rock Cats last year, and then 11 in nine innings with the Red Wings), but he lacks control. Lugo was a Rule 5 draft pickup from the Royals in 2008. It's likely he's just roster filler at this point, but he had a good stint in Escogedo.
Other notables who struggled...
Danny Valencia: Between Mayaguez and Puerto Rico, our future third baseman struggled to a .222/.278/.367 line in 24 games.
Alexi Casilla: It wasn't all bad this winter for Alexi, but the non-playoff game totals read like a nightmare--.219/.288/.288.
Rene Tosoni: 24 strikeouts in 87 at-bats, and a .643 OPS.
Angel Morales: Our young, toolsy outfielder didn't bash at all, managing just one extra base hit in 21 games.
Mike McCardell: Mike is hopefully going to be a good pitcher, but he did get lit up a bit. Seven runs in 8.2 innings, in spite of an impressive 11 strikeouts.
Deolis Guerra: The last of The Santana Return (not counting J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez of course) is still just 20 years old. He struck out 12 and walked just four in 16 innings, but couldn't keep hitters off base (literally or figuratively) as opponents cracked 20 hits off him. Add a trio of wild pitches to that bunch, and it wasn't the most successful Winter League stint for Guerra.