The big news this week is that baseball is back! Yes, pitchers and catchers reported yesterday. Preliminary reports indicated that only Venezuelan pitcher Yorman Bazardo wasn't in camp because of travel problems.
The Twins agreed to a one year contract with their last arbitration eligible player, Delmon Young. They settled at just under the midpoint of their offer and Young's request at $5,375,000. They also signed seventeen year old Dominican Republic right handed pitcher, Felix Jorge, for $250,000. Jorge was considered one of the top pitchers in last year's Dominican Republic rookie league.
The Perth Heat dropped game one of their best of three championship series against the Adelaide Bite last weekend. Luke Hughes and Allan de San Miguel were two of the Heat's leading hitters as they won games two and three to capture the first Australian Baseball League championship since the league was resurrected.
Over half of you believe that Billy Bullock will split his season between New Britain and Rochester, however, not make it to the Twins. A third of you see him spending time with the Twins while nine percent believe he will spend his entire season at New Britain.
I will reveal my pre-season selections for Player of the Year and Breakout Player of the Year after the jump.
2011 Break-out Player of the Year, Aaron Hicks...
Most scouts believe Hicks is one of the top two or three players in the organization. A gifted athlete, Hicks was a raw baseball player when drafted. After all, many organizaitons thought of him as a pitcher rather than an outfielder.
After being Baseball America's top ranked player in the Midwest League in 2009, the Twins and Hicks disappointed many fans when he returned to Beloit for a second season. He didn't move on to Ft. Myers, spending the entire year in the Midwest League. Hicks didn't dominate the league a second time around. He did improve however, as his batting average moved up .028 to .279, his on base percentage was up .048 to .401 and his slugging percentage was up .046 to .428. Hicks still struck out to much (112 times in 423 at bats), however, he also took an amazing 88 walks. He stole 21 bases, yet needs to develop better baserunning instincts as he was thrown out 11 times.
Many are asking when will this gifted young man put it together and become the player we have all heard about since being selected in the first round of the 2008 draft? I believe it will be this year at Ft. Myers.
2011 Player of the Year, Chris Parmelee...
When the Twins drafted Parmelee late in the first round of the 2006 draft, we heard comments such as he had the most power of any high school player in the draft. Parmelee joined the GCL Twins following the draft with a late season move to Beloit. His progress hit a wall as he returned to Beloit the next two years where he hit for only a .239 average both years, although his 2008 season was shortened by injury. During those two years, Parmelee gave us glimpses of his power by hitting 15 home runs in 2007 (447 at bats) and 14 home runs in 2008 (only 226 at bats).
Parmelee moved up to Ft. Myers in 2009 where he hit another 16 home runs with a line of .258/.359/.441. He also was near the top of the league with 73 runs batted in (the league leader had 75). Parmelee struck out a bit to much (109 times in 422 at bats) while also taking a lot of walks. After walking 52 times in his shortened 2008 season at Beloit, Parmelee walked a career high 65 times in 2009 in his All-Star season (he was a Mid-Season and Post-Season FSL All-Star) .
Parmelee began last year at New Britain and it wasn't working. After several Twins executives visited Connecticut, Parmelee and fellow top prospect Joe Benson returned to Ft. Myers. Rather than being in a funk, he went to work with immediate results by hitting .338/.430/.463 in 22 games before returning to AA. That Parmelee would go on to hit .275/.341/.389 is amazing considering his average was well under the Mendoza line the first month.
Following the season, Parmelee would join the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. In a short league with some lofty hitting numbers, he would hit .339/.405/.477 with a league best 11 doubles and 37 hits in 109 at bats. He would also take 12 walks while limiting his strikeouts to 17.
After a lot of hard work, Parmelee appears to have put the various pieces of his game together. He takes an above average number of walks while cutting down his strikeouts. Although his home runs were down last year (8), we know the power is there from previous years and he did have a lot of doubles in New Britain (25) and in the AFL.
After a long journey, it appears that Chris Parmelee is ready to make 2011 a special year. The big question is whether or not that will include putting on a Twins uniform for the first time?