As I celebrate a personal milestone today, there isn't a lot to talk about from the Twins organization. So I will use today to make my pre-season predictions for the Twins Pitcher and Player of the Year.
There was some player activity this week. Seth Stohs reported that the Twins signed a low level second baseman, Matt Gaski. The Twins announced that the Mets had claimed Jason Pridie after he was placed on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster for Orlando Hudson. Spring training is going to be very interesting this year as we all speculate just who will win those last two spots on the Twins bench? In a related move the Twins signed former fan favorite Jacque Jones to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Following his best season in the organization, the Twins gave a belated spring training invitation to Toby Gardenhire. Gardenhire can play every position on the field and will be valuable with Jose Morales scheduled to miss most of spring training.
Seth told me yesterday that he needs comments from one of the people participating in his draft before he can finish his report on our recent draft. Finally, LaVelle E. Neal III reported that two of last summer's International signees, Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco, will report to spring training and EST in Florida with all the Latin players, then return to the DSL summer league which starts about June 1st. They will return to Florida when the GCL Twins begin play in late June.
The Dominican Republic participant in the Caribbean Series Championship, Escogido, won their final game last Sunday to finish with a 5-1 record to win the 2010 Series. Escogido won this year's championship without their Ace, Francisco Liriano, who decided to take three weeks rest before reporting to spring training. Escogido's only loss was to second place Puerto Rico who finished second with a 4-2 record. Mayaguez finished fourth in the five team Puerto Rico Winter League, 8.5 games behind Arecibo. With third baseman Danny Valencia and lefty specialist Nelvin Fuentes on their squad, Mayaguez was a surprise winner of the Puerto Rico playoffs. Danny Valencia finished the Caribbean series at 5-23, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI and 1 walk. In last Saturday's critical game with Mexico (were tied at 2-2), Valencia was 1-3 with a home run and walk.
Now my pre-season predictions for the 2010 Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year.
Ben Revere will have another Ben Revere type of season as one of the top hitters, run scorers and base stealers in the Eastern League. The Twins will decide that Wilson Ramos needs to play every day, thus, he will either begin his season in Rochester or return to Rochester when Jose Morales is ready to play in late April or early May. Ramos will hit around a .300 Average with about 20 home runs as Rochester's MVP before his callup to the Twins in September. Ft. Myers outfielder Angel Morales will have his break-out season as the top hitter in the Florida State League. He will build on his late season play at Beloit and from the Puerto Rico winter league to cut down his strikeout rate to 20% while leading the Miracle with 20+ home runs with a .300+ average. Aaron Hicks will return to Beloit where he will dominate before a mid-season promotion to Ft. Myers where he will hit much as Joe Benson did last summer.
The Twins will take their time with young starter Adrian Salcedo who will begin his season in EST before reporting to Elizabethton. He will pitch as well as anyone in the organization before a late season promotion to Beloit where he will continue to dominate. David Bromberg will move up to the Eastern League where he will lead the league in strikeouts. Carlos Gutierrez will begin his season in AA with a mid-season promotion to Rochester. Gutierrez will be as good as any pitcher in the organization in the first half, however, will tire late in the year. He will remain in the Rochester rotation as he builds his innings pitched, yet, his final numbers won't reflect his brilliant first half. Michael McCardell will also begin his season at New Britain where he will be one of the league's best during the first half. McCardell will also get a promotion to Rochester where he will confirm that he has a future in the Twins rotation. The most exciting story this summer will be the performance of 2009 first round pick Kyle Gibson. Gibson will begin at Ft. Myers where he will dominate as Jeff Manship and Kevin Slowey did before him. Gibson will move up to New Britain following his start in the FSL All-Star game, where he becomes the late season leader of a pitching staff that takes the Rock Cats to a successful run in the playoffs.
My predictions are that Angel Morales will be the Twins 2010 Player of the Year. Kyle Gibson will be the 2010 Pitcher of the Year.