Minor League Report...April 2, 2011

With the Twins opening day behind us and minor league play set to begin in less than a week, we can all sit back and begin to enjoy the 2011 season.

Last week 515 readers of Twinkie Town voiced their opinions as to who would fill out the bullpen. The top three selections were Glen Perkins and Dusty Hughes with Jeff Manship a distant third. Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson agreed with our selections as those three headed north for opening day in Canada.

After clearing waivers, the Twins traded Billy Bullock to the Braves as compensation to allow the Twins to keep Rule 5 pick Scott Diamond. I join many others in not understanding the logic of this move. Yes, I understand that the Twins are high on Diamond. But after clearing waivers it appears that the cost to keep him was too high. After all Bullock, who was a second round pick in 2009, is one of the few hard throwing relievers in the organization. It was only last winter when the Twins paid dearly for a hard throwing prospect in the J. J. Hardy trade. With several highly thought of starters now in the upper levels of the organization, isn't a hard throwing potential closer more valuable than a starter who appears to have an upside of another fifth starter?

As previously reported here and elsewhere, the Twins made their first 12 cuts earlier in the week. If you haven't seen it, Seth Stohs had an excellent review of those twelve cuts. Other moves included the retirement of reliever Chris Province when he learned that he was headed back to New Britain. They also cut Rochester outfielder/first baseman Erik Lis and AA catcher Jeff Howell. Lis has been a favorite of many of us since being drafted out of the University of Evansville in the ninth round of the 2005 draft. Howell is a veteran catcher who was picked up last summer when the organization was dangerously short of catchers.

The minor league rosters are scheduled to be set on Sunday, Seth Stohs had the information yesterday. You can see the complete rosters of all minor league teams at his site: http://www.sethspeaks.net/

After the jump I will touch on a few bits of information from minor league spring training.

Jim Mandalero of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle wrote about Ben Revere making the Red Wings. He also reported that Anthony Slama will begin his season on the disabled list, as will Ryan Mullins. Mandelaro's story can be seen as the second article on his website. http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/extrabases/

It had previously been reported that Revere spent considerable time working with Rod Carew on his bunting this spring. Could improved bunting skills have been the deciding factor in the decision to move him up to the Wings? Joining Revere in the Red Wings outfield will be Brian Dinkelman, Brandon Roberts, Dustin Martin and Rene Tosoni. Martin had an excellent spring training as did Roberts. I have heard that the Twins are excited to see if Roberts can continue to hit as he did during the last half of the season in Rochester when he led the team, hitting .333/.386/.425 in 153 at bats. The five outfielders will also alternate as the Wings designated hitter.

The starting five at Rochester are Yorman Bazardo, Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, Eric Hacker and Anthony Swarzak. After an unimpressive spring with the Twins, Hacker has been very effective since moving down to the Wings including throwing 5.0 shutout innings on Tuesday. Swarzak looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 following his 2009 season when he was an all-star at Rochester and made a dozen starts for the Twins. He hasn't gained back the weight he lost while in Venezuela, which has helped his fastball by several miles per hour.

One consequence of the Diamond move is that David Bromberg moves back to New Britain. After making nine starts with a 3.98 ERA in Rochester, the organization's former Pitcher of the Year will join Deolis Guerra in what should be a dominating Rock Cats starting rotation. Liam Hendriks will move up to join Steve Hirschfeld and Bobby Lanigan in the Cats rotation. Several sources have commented this spring that Guerra was the most improved pitcher in the organization. If that is true, both Guerra and Bromberg will be pushing hard to move up to AAA by the all-star break. Having Bromberg and Guerra at AA means the organization is back where it was a few years ago with a stable of pitchers at each of level pushing to move up should the Twins need starting arms during the season.

I know some of you are disappointed that the Rochester lineup will have alot of minor league veterans who are keeping some of the younger talent back at AA or high A. But Rochester and New Britain fans lived through seasons last year that were amongst the worst in the history of their leagues. Fielding strong lineups in both cities will reward those local fans who continued to show up in record numbers last year. It will also allow these future Twins prospects the opportunity to know what it means to win when they do take that final step to the big leagues.

It is disappointing to see Pat Dean, Ben Tootle and Matt Bashore open the season on the disabled list. It is approaching two years from the time Bashore and Tootle were drafted with each having pitched only a few innings. Dean has a huge upside, hopefully he can get back on the mound soon. Position players of note who will begin the season on the DL include Angel Morales and Nate Roberts.

Another note of interest is that the Twins have moved Andrei Lobanov from short relief to a starting spot in the Beloit rotation. It should be exciting to see how this Russian strikeout artist performs in his new role. It is also great to see Paul Kelly back on the roster at Ft. Myers. Hopefully, this is the season that he makes his comeback and plays the entire year.

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