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Minor League Report...November 13, 2010

With the first snowstorm of the winter upon us, it is good to remember that pitchers and catchers report three months from today. With ten players from last year's team leaving as free-agents, Bill Smith and his management team have lots of work facing them before spring training opens.

Our DSL Twins Player of the Year was Miguel Sano, who collected 93 of 115 (80%) votes cast. Starting pitcher, Sterling Bonilla was a distant second with 10 (8%) votes.

CMathewson linked to a post by Charlie Waters of the Pioneer Press. He indicated that the Twins ranked Eric Hacker as the top six year minor league free agent pitcher on the market. Whether or not he pitches a game for the Twins next year, it is good to see they are making an effort to strengthen the Rochester pitching staff. As of today, the leading candidates for Rochester's starting rotation are Hacker, David Bromberg, Kyle Gibson, Ryan Mullins, Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship, if he isn't with the Twins. This group should be stronger than last year's staff whose failures were one of the major reasons for Rochester's dismal season.

Last week I missed that Clay Condrey also filed for free agency and is no longer on the Twins 40-man roster. In other moves, the Twins released six minor league players. This group included four foreign players, Yancarlo Franco (Spain), In Kyung Kang (South Korea), Yorby Martinez (Venezuela), Frederic Hanvi (France), and former draft picks Michael Harrington and Drew Thompson. Thompson was a 2005 second round pick who has battled injuries his entire career, missing all of 2007 and 2008.

There is also big news from down under as winter ball returned to Australia when the Australia Baseball League began playing a forty game schedule. After the jump, I will look at Twins playing in the Caribbean Leagues as well as the Arizona Fall League which has only five games remaining in their season.

Joe Benson hit his first home run in the Saguaro's 11-1 loss on Wednesday. After a slow start, Benson is hitting .224/.283/.408 in 49 at bats with six doubles. Chris Parmelee is the Twins top hitter at .344/.408/.484 with nine doubles and only fifteen strikeouts in 93 at bats. Ben Revere continues to lead the Arizona Fall League with eleven stolen bases in eleven attempts while hitting .330/.394/.372. Revere was 1-3 in Saturday's Rising Stars game featuring the top players in the AFL.

This is a hitters league and short season so raw numbers can be misleading. This is especially true for pitchers who often are working to develop another pitch or on some aspect of their game. David Bromberg has a 0-2 record with a 7.71 ERA in 18.2 innings with 17 strikeouts. Tyler Robertson has the best ERA (4.15) of the four Twins pitchers. Robertson, who has been used as a reliever in eleven games (13.2 innings), allowed five unearned runs in 1.0 inning last night. Carlos Gutierrez pitched a shutout inning with two strikeouts in the Rising Stars Game. Gutierrez made three appearances this week, pitching 3.0 shutout innings with one hit, one strikeout and one walk. Kyle Waldrop had a rough outing on Wednesday when he allowed four runs in 1.0 inning raising his ERA to 10.80 in 11.2 innings.

The Puerto Rico Winter League Indios de Mayaguez have more Twins on their roster than any team other than Aragua in the VWL. Bobby Lanigan made three starts, pitching 13.0 innings with a 4.15 ERA. Lefty reliever Nelvin Fuentes, who is following up on his excellent 2009 winter season, hasn't allowed a run in seven games (6.2 innings) as a left handed specialist. Steve Hirschfield has a 7.71 ERA, however, he has appeared in only three games (4.2 innings). Young outfielders Eddie Rosario and Daniel Ortiz are both with Indios this year. Rosario is hitting .154 average in 13 at bats while Ortiz is hitting .111 average in 18 at bats. First baseman Kennys Vargas is hitless in one at bat.

Angel Morales began his season last year with Leones de Ponce, hitting a buck something before Thanksgiving. He then turned it up a notch to finish his winter season hitting .295/.358/.311. He is off to a much better start this year, hitting .286/.407/.476 in 21 at bats with four of his six hits doubles.

Alexi Casilla is back with his winter team in the Dominican Winter League, Gigantes del Cibao. Casilla is hitting .267/.340/.422 in 45 at bats with two doubles, a triple and home run. Estarlin De Los Santos has two hits in six at bats with Gigantes.

Eleven Twins are on the roster of the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League. They are pitchers Jose Mijares, Cesar Ciurcina, Jhon Garcia, Gumercindo Gonzalez, Edgar Ibarra, Miguel Munoz and Anthony Swarzak. Other players include Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia, Jonathan Goncalves and Yangervis Solarte.

Former Twin Wilson Ramos is again the Tigres leading hitter at .378/.465/.568 in 37 at bats. Yangervis Solarte is also off to a good start, hitting .318/.400/.591 in 22 at bats. Jonathan Goncalves is hitting .214 average in 14 at bats while Josmil Pinto is hitless in his only at bat.

Anthony Swarzak made four starts (19.2 innings) with a 0-3 record and 5.03 ERA. Cesar Ciurcina made five relief appearances, pitching 6.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA. Jhon Garcia and Miguel Munoz haven't done well in their first few appearances. Garcia has a 0-2 record with a 17.05 ERA in two starts (6.2 innings) while Munoz has a 14.73 ERA in 3.2 innings. Edgar Ibarra hasn't allowed a run in three appearances (2.0 innings) while Jose Mijares has pitched one shutout inning, picking up his first save.

Several top prospects are staying home as the Australian Baseball League gets underway. First baseman Rory Rhodes has a single, double and triple in his first eleven at bats with Brisbane. Three Twins are with the Perth Heat, Luke Hughes, Alan de San Miguel and Liam Hendriks. Hughes played second base in his first few games where he continues to focus on a position he could play for the Twins in 2011. Liam Hendriks is being used in a different role as Perth's closer. Hendriks appeared in two games (2.0 innings), picking up two saves.