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Minor League Report...March 12, 2011

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With opening day less than three weeks away we will begin seeing regulars playing longer in games. With minor league camp open and games starting on the back fields, the Twins will make their first round of cuts sometime during the next few days. Justin Morneau and Delmon Young returned this week with Michael Cuddyer only a couple days away. That leaves Joe Mauer as the lone regular who hasn't seen action.

Who will win the battle as the utility infielder and who will fill out the bullpen are questions yet to be answered. Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert have all laid claim to the one open bench spot in the opening day roster. Hughes leads the team with 27 at bats, three home runs and ten runs batted in. Scott Diamond (5.1 innings), Carlos Gutierrez (5.0 innings), Dusty Hughes (5.0 innings), and Kyle Waldrop (4.0 innings) have yet to allow an earned run. I will look at what this group and others have done after the jump.

Last week, 40% of the readers of Twinkie Town selected Scott Diamond for the second lefty spot in the bullpen. Nearly as many, 37%, chose Glen Perkins. Dusty Hughes was a distant third with 15% of our readers believing he will head north to Toronto for opening day.

One reliever who has yet to allow a run is Carlos Gutierrez. He appears to be close to being major league ready and there are indications that he will be very good. My question today is when will we see Gutierrez join the Twins?

Luke Hughes continues to be the hitting star this spring and Gardy has indicated he would like his bat on his bench. With Hughes, Tolbert and Plouffe all having one option remaining, two will begin their season at Rochester unless an injury opens up a second spot. Who from this trio makes the opening day roster may be the toughest decision Gardy and his staff will have later this spring.

As noted, Scott Diamond, Dusty Hughes and Kyle Waldrop have yet to allow an earned run. Waldrop closed out yesterday's game, striking out the side. Others who have been considered for a bullpen spot haven't pitched as well. Jim Hoey has made four appearances, pitching 4.2 innings with a 9.64 ERA. His last appearance was Wednesday when he allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in 0.2 innings in the 11-2 loss to Baltimore. One concern that remains is his control as he has walked four with only two strikeouts. Jeff Manship had three good outings before allowing four hits and three runs in Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh. Manship, 6.00 ERA, returned to form yesterday, pitching 2.0 innings with one hit and a strikeout.

Glen Perkins has allowed two runs in 5.0 innings with both runs coming on Monday. Of the many minor league veteran pitchers signed this winter, Eric Hacker was the only one added to the 40-man roster. Hacker has struggled, allowing 12 hits and 10 runs (9 earned) in four games (4.0 innings). Yorman Bazardo was very good for the Aragua Tigres this winter and continues pitching well for the Twins. He has appeared in three games (4.0 innings), with two hits, one run and two walks.

After a slow start, Ben Revere was 5-11 this week as his average moved up to .286. Revere has also stolen five bases in five attempts with a pair of doubles. Revere has taken three walks while striking out only once in 21 at bats. With the defensive play of the spring this week, all indications are that Revere is headed to Rochester where he will play every day. Looking at the number of veterans signed over the winter, there aren't going to be a lot of open spots on the Red Wings roster. Don't be surprised if top prospects such as Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee begin their season back in New Britain.

One player who we haven't heard as much about this spring is Rene Tosoni. Tosoni is returning from a season in which he had a great start before being shut down with shoulder surgery. He currently has the second most at bats on the team (26) with a strong .308 average, including one double. Although he has yet to take a walk, it is encouraging that he has struck out only three times. Tosoni was headed to Rochester last spring until the Twins signed Jason Repko in late March. Will Tosoni begin this season with the Red Wings?

One final note is that the Twins signed outfielder Joe Dickerson. Dickerson is a 24 year old outfielder who had been with the Kansas City organization. Dickerson, who was a fourth round pick by the Royals in 2005, had his best year in 2008 while in the Carolina League where he hit .297/.376/.442 with ten doubles, ten triples, five home runs and 24 stolen bases in 310 at bats. He was selected as a Rising Star in the AFL that fall before moving up to AA in 2009. He was limited to 126 at bats in 2009 before being shut down with an injury. He missed all of last year rehabbing and is expected to begin this season with the Ft. Myers Miracle.