We are entering the quietest three week period of the year for minor league fans. Fortunately, there was exciting news this week as Bill Smith has done everything possible to make the 2010 Twins the best they can possibly be. With the exception of one contract that he needs to finish, the signing of Orlando Hudson means Bill Smith's winter is done. Soon, everyone can stop thinking about baseball and begin watching it!
To open a spot on the 40-man roster for Jim Thome, the Twins waived Steve Tolleson and he was picked up by the Oakland Athletics. With the signing of Hudson, the Twins will need to create another spot on their roster. It is likely that this has already been done, however, moves like this normally take a couple days before we find out what it was. Did the Twins waive someone? If so, did he make it through waivers so he can be assigned to Rochester? Or have the Twins completed a trade for an exciting young prospect at a lower level who doesn't need to be added to the roster? If it is a trade, who was it? Perkins? Casilla? We should all find out within the next few days.....then on to spring training.
The signing of Hudson also means it is less likely that Matt Tolbert will begin the season with the Twins. With a strong starting rotation, superb bullpen, one of the top young catchers in the game and an infield of Peterson, Tolbert, Plouffe and Valencia...the 2010 Red Wings should be strong contenders in the International League!
Francisco Liriano's Escogido team won the Dominican Winter League championship with Liriano dominating in the critical game nine. While in Minneapolis for Twins Fest, we learned that Liriano has decided to take three weeks off and will not be pitching for Escogido in the Caribbean Series. After a winter in which we saw his fastball and slider approaching the velocity he had before his injury, Liriano appears to be a young man focused on returning to the starting rotation in 2010.
When Caracus won the Venezuelan Winter League, they picked up Wilson Ramos for the Venezuelan playoffs. Ramos is not however, on their roster for the Caribbean Series which gives Ramos about four weeks rest prior to spring training.
Danny Valencia and lefty specialist Nelvin Fuentes are both playing for Mayaguez, the Puerto Rican Winter League champions. Fuentes made one appearance on Wednesday, pitching 0.1 inning with 3 hits, 1 unearned run and 0K/0BB. Puerto Rico had a big win over previously undefeated Dominican Republic last night, 7-3. Former Twin Randy Ruiz was 2-2 with 2 walks, however, the star was Twins prospect Danny Valencia. Valencia was 2-4 with a double, run scored and 3 RBI. In three games earlier in the week, Valencia was 2-12 with a double. With their win last night, Puerto Rico has a 2-2 record which is tied with Mexico one game behind the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series championship.