HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Other than relocating Twins Fest to the National Sports Center, Blaine, there hasn't been any news out of the Twins organization this week. Just because we haven't heard anything however, doesn't mean that nothing is being done. We have learned these past few years that Bill Smith is good at keeping his negotiations very quiet. What will be the next move that he makes, signing Carl Pavano or maybe Jim Thome? Or will his next signing be a complete surprise, perhaps a very good relief pitcher?
The readers of Twinkie Town were clear that they do not want Tsuyoshi Nishioka included in this year's Top 50. By a vote of more than two to one, 289-129, they said no to voting on where Nishioka should be placed in our 2011 poll.
Read about how several prospects are doing in winter ball after the jump.
Liam Hendriks made one start for the Perth Heat this week, picking up the loss versus Sydney on Thursday. Hendriks' season has been one of a couple very good starts then one that isn't so good. Thursday, he allowed three runs (two earned) in only 4.0 innings which moved his ERA to 6.49. His catcher, Allan de San MIguel is having an excellent winter, hitting .306/.449/.471 with three home runs in 85 at bats. de San Miguel is hitting .314 average in his last ten games with nine walks and only seven strikeouts.
Those of you that saw last spring's interview with the Twins top scout, Howie Norsetter, read of his excitement about Rory Rhodes. Rhodes is a nineteen year old corner infielder who is 6'7" tall with what he descibed as massive power. Rhodes, who hit .319 average in the GCL last summer, is hitting .284/.346/.493 with six doubles, a triple and two home runs amongst his nineteen hits for the Brisbane Bandits.
The biggest news for Twins fans out of the Puerto Rican League is that top prospect Angel Morales is back on the field. After not playing since November 7th, Morales played in three games this week. He was 2-10 and is now hitting .258 average in only 31 at bats. We selected Eddie Rosario as our eighteenth ranked prospect yesterday. Rosario has been playing regularly for Mayguez the last two weeks, usually as their lead off hitter and centerfielder. Rosario is another nineteen year old prospect who is getting his first taste of winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. In his first 47 at bats, Rosario is hitting .213/.245/.255 with three stolen bases. Nelvin Fuentes had his first rough outing on Tuesday, allowing two earned runs in 0.2 inning which moved his ERA up to 1.71 in 21.0 innings. Fuentes, who had allowed only two runs in his previous twenty appearances, is another young lefty who appears destined to someday pitch for the Twins.
Alexi Casilla had another big week, going 7-23 for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League.
Deolis Guerra was the starter Sunday for Magallanes down in Venezuela. He didn't get a decision while pitching 6.0 innings with four hits, three runs, four strikeouts and a walk. Guerra has appeared in nine games (seven starts) with a 3.12 ERA, 36 strikeouts and only 5 walks in 43.1 innings. After making a dozen starts for Caribes, recently signed Andrew Baldwin made his first appearance out of the bullpen Thursday allowing one hit and no runs in 1.0 inning. Baldwin will be one of many recently signed minor league free agents who will battle for a spot or two in the Twins bullpen this spring.
In a league filled with veteran starters, Cesar Ciurcina is one of few twenty year old starters in the league. Ciurcina had a rough start Monday, allowing four hits, five walks and three earned runs in 3.1 innings. In 32.0 innings, Ciurcina has a solid 3.24 ERA. Jose Mijares is getting his work in this winter, making three appearances this week (3.1 innings) with two hits and no runs with three strikeouts. Yangervis Solarte was 4-13 with a walk as he continues to play as well as players with much more experience. Solarte is hitting .268/.342/.361 in 97 at bats for Aragua.