I’m calling the winter leagues over at this point. There might be a few playoff games, and even a few regular games. But for the most part it's done so I'm calling it and have put my offseason awards at the bottom of the post.
We have just a handful of weeks left until pitchers and catchers report. I wish I was a D-Back fan because they start on February 6th, while the Twins seem to feel that their team full of youngsters can wait until the last possible day to report. One more thing to complain about with this front office.
Let do a quick review of the Winter Ball participants in no particular order:
Jorge Polonco had a great offseason, if a bit up and down, but ended up hitting .294/.361/.383. This kid won’t turn 21 until July. In 49 games he had 21 walks and 29 strikeouts. That is some pretty great plate discipline, especially for such a young guy. If this switch hitter can stick at short he has a chance to be the team’s number one prospect after Sano and Buxton graduate. I have become pretty high on this kid, which if history is any guide means he is going to stink it up next year.
Lewis Thorpe has been riding a helium balloon all offseason. It's amazing how fast someone can go from "who" to "that guy" in just a few months. But he deserves it and is pitching pretty well in Australia. He has a 2.45 ERA in 36 innings, with 30 strikeouts and ten walks. I am reasonably certain he has no chance to start the year at Cedar Rapids but will not be surprised if he ends the season there. He is showing to be a bit of a fly ball pitcher and this might catch up to him as he progresses. Sometimes flyball pitchers end up as big strikeout guys like Johan Santana, or they end up giving up a lot of home runs.
Alex Meyer did not disappoint In the Arizona Fall League. He logged 26 innings, struck out 28, and walked seven. Opponents hit .213 off him. He did give up three homers and struggled in a few starts. The Desert Dogs were very careful in keeping his inning count low.
Overall we can feel pretty freaking positive about his play. He needs more innings and I suspect that he will be on an innings count this year. He has never pitched over 150 innings in one year and so if he stays healthy, I will be surprised if they let him crack 200. But he’s going to be good. He’s probably going to pitch for the Twins in 2014. But it's going to be a slow process as he builds up his arm strength and with the goal of eventually handling the workload of a full season.
Super prospect Byron Buxton got injured after 12 games in the Arizona Fall League. In those 12 games he had three homers and a pair of stolen bases, but hit a paltry .212/.288/.404. He struck out 15 times in 12 games, too. Not good. But for a kid who was seeing small town high school fastballs one year ago, to go up against Double-A arms was good experience for him.
Top 10 Prospect Max Kepler hit .234/.306/.313 in 64 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, including no homers in a league known for homers. So that’s concerning. He did show a decent eye and hopefully it's just a matter of time for this kid. He needs to play and he needs to learn how to tap that potential.
Eddie Rosario – He played in both Arizona and the Puerto Rican league. He stunk in both. His consolidated total was .201/.255/.293 in 50 games. Then he got busted for recreational drug use and suspended for the next 50 games. Yuck. Does it get any worse than that? Of Course Brian Dozier has been seen high fiving his agent as this happened (not true).
Super duper Masher Miguel Sano played two games before being shut down with an elbow injury. Reports are mixed if he needs Tommy John or not. Of course Trevor Plouffe, whose Twin’s career may have been saved by one more year, is busy clearing his computer web history of this site (not true.)
Lots of people are not high on Daniel (I call him Danny) Santana. They say he has too many errors, strikes out too much and doesn’t walk at all. All of which is true. But he has great speed, great range at short and a cannon for an arm. He hit .311/ .339/.451 in 29 games this offseason, which is not bad at all and in line with his Double-A stats in 2013. I think he is an underrated prospect, mostly because of his defensive potential with the ability to not be a black hole in the lineup. He stole eight bases this winter and is looks to be learning how to use his speed better. If Doug Bernier takes Santana’s spot in Triple-A next year I am going to be one unhappy camper, but I think he will be with the Twins sometime in 2014.
Oswaldo Arcia likely played his last season in the Winter Leagues. He should be with the club the whole year next year and maybe won’t feel the need to get his work in. He started off red hot but cooled down as the off season progressed. He hit .262/.386/.496, and that’s a good on-base percentage for a guy who struck out 46 times in 45 games. Obviously I like his bat but…I would appreciate it if he could down the strikeouts a bit.
Eduardo Escobar had an up and down winter. He started off hot but then cooled a bit. Then really cooled down. He ended at .254/.315/.415. I don’t know where he fits with this club. Utility guy with some pop? I just have a hard time figuring out this club’s middle infield with Pedro Florimon, Doug Bernier, Jason Bartlet & Danny Santana all in the mix with Santana having the best potential but Florimon being the best defender right now.
Josmil Pinto had a terrible winter. Ten games with a .179/.179/.179 triple slash – this is what five singles and no walks in 28 at-bats looks like. Uhg, but whatever. Too small of a sample to say anything
Yorman Landa had a helluva winter. He was used in the bullpen for roughly an inning at a time and tallied 17 strikeouts in 18 innings with 6 walks. This kid is a ground ball pitcher extraordinaire and he deserves some love. He is a guy who could be a top 15 prospect next time Twinkie Town votes. He is very young and in my opinion deserving of a starting spot in Cedar Rapids next year. He is only 6 months older than Thorpe and more advanced.
Deolis Guerra got invited to spring training this year and if Terry Ryan makes some trades in the bullpen, he has a chance to be on the team sometime next year. He was injured for most of 2013 but this offseason he picked up 27 strikeouts in 21 innings out of the bullpen. That’s pretty freakin’ good.
Edgar Ibarra had a pretty nice winter. The left handed reliever managed 34 strikeouts in 33 innings, with a 3.55 ERA. He is great against lefties but righties, not as much. He has LOOGY written all over him
Kennys Vargas had an as-you-expect offseason, by hitting .261/ .331/.413 with five home runs - not bad for the Switch Hitting Masher. I am still unclear to as why the Twins added him to the 40 man roster but hopefully he makes some noise in Double-A next year.
Dakota Watts pitched 26 innings and had 17 walks and 14 strikeouts. That is downright bad. He had a nice year at Double-A last year out of the bullpen with a 0.74 ERA in 36 innings but looked to be injured. So hopefully this is some kind of anomaly. I liked him a bit as he is supposed to have a heavy fastball.
Chris Colabello was really bad. No homers in 58 at-bats (17 games). Too small of a sample to make any kind of judgement, but still - its hard to believe he sees the inside of Target Field next year, especially with Joe Mauer at first base.
Trevor May was used out of the bullpen for most of his starts in Arizona. I dunno. He strikes guys out and from all tell has pretty great stuff. But he gives up too many hits and too many walks. Big year for him next year to prove he can be a starter.
Miguel Sulbaran had a nice offseason. Only 7.2 Innings but very effective against lefties and didn't let up a run. How Ryan got him for Drew Butera I'll never know.
MLB.com says Yohan Pino is back with the team. He didn't pitch too well, with a 4.32 ERA in 68 innings. He is notable as the prospect traded to the Indians for Carl Pavano. I lamented this when it happened as I liked him as a prospect. But once again the Twins knew better than me as this never came back to bite the Twins.
The coveted TRIPO - Awards
(This Random Internet Poster's Offseason Awards)
TRIPO Award Hitter: Jorge Polanco - Very young with exceptional plate discipline. Going to be a good player and in my opinion, likely to be the best hitter not named Buxton or Sano in the system.
TRIPO Award Starting Pitcher: Alex Meyer - He was dominant. Opponents hit .213 off him and he struck out 28 batters in 26 innings. We could look at Lewis Thorpe here, too, who has been good. But Meyer was better in less innings. We can expect good things from this guy if he stays healthy.
TRIPO Award Relief Pitcher: Deolis Guerra. It was between him and Edgar Ibarra. Ibarra had a better ERA and pitched more innings, however he wasn't as effective against righties. Guerra was a bit more complete from both sides of the plate and did a great job keeping the ball on the ground. Ibarra has a better chance to have an impact with the Twins this year as he is on the 40 man roster. Guerra bounced back from injury and had a nice offseason. Hopefully he can capitalize and it would be nice if he was with the Twins this year. He is the last piece from the Johan Santana trade still in the system.
It was a fun offseason. Some young guys took some big steps forward, but it disappointing to watch Rosario struggle. I wish players like Randy Rosario or James Beresford could have played. I have Rosario tabbed for the Cedar Rapids rotation next year but I am starting to wonder if the Twins feel the same. I am surprised Beresord isn't playing in Australia this year as he really came on. I am not super high on the kid as prospect but he is good enough to be considered as a top 30 type of guy.
Full Stats can be found by clicking here. I couldn't get it to format correctly.