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Minor League Report...March 5, 2011

Isn't it great to be able to turn on the radio every day and listen to the Twins playing? It reminds us that the snow will soon be gone and they will be playing ball at Target Field.

Last week I asked who would be the third catcher in the organization. Nearly half of you believe it will be Rene Rivera with 18% opting for Danny Lehmann. The guys on the radio commented yesterday on Rivera's defensive abilities and playing time has indicated he may be the next guy the Twins would look at. Steve Holm is letting his bat do his talking, getting three hits in his first four at bats.

It is likely the Twins will keep a second left handed reliever to go with Jose Mijares. Five lefties have seen action during the Twins first six games. Glen Perkins appeared in two games, pitching 3.0 shutout innings with two hits, a walk and two strikeouts. Rule V pickup Scott Diamond also has a 0.00 ERA in two games, pitching 2.0 innings with two hits and no strikeouts or walks. Former Kansas City Royal Dusty Hughes is the third to not allow a run in his two games, pitching 2.0 innings with a hit, no walks and a strikeout. Chuck James has the most major league experience of the group, going 24-19 as a starter for the Braves in 2005-2009 with a 4.48 ERA. James gave up a run on three hits in his two games, 2.0 innings. James didn't walk anyone and has the most strikeouts, three. Phil Dumatrait made only one appearance, 1.0 inning, allowing two hits and a run for a 9.00 ERA.

One of these five should make the team with a chance a second could make it as the long reliever. Sit back and think that today you are Rick Anderson. Who is the leading candidate to be in your bullpen on opening day?

After the jump I will recap the highlights of the first week of camp for several young prospects.

Everybody is talking about Luke Hughes. To bring us all back to earth, Dan Gladden reminded us yesterday that last spring Juan Portes was one of the top hitters (.317 average) then had a terrible season hitting under .200. He was wrong as Portes actually hit .213 average at New Britain, but his point was right on!

It is clear that the Twins and especially Ron Gardenhire really like Hughes' bat. Yes, he occasionally struggles defensively as he did this week after making a great stop, then throwing the ball into the dugout on a play he clearly had no chance to get the runner. The positive with Hughes' defense is that he can play second, third, both corner outfield spots and is now working at first base. Hughes was also healthy this winter when he worked very hard on defense in his native Australia. Hitting .385/.467/.846 with a team high 13 at bats, two home runs and five runs batted in tells us Hughes will be back with the Twins this year, the only question is when.

Trevor Plouffe is another candidate for a spot in the Twins infield at some time in 2011. Plouffe has played both second and shortstop in four games with one hit in five at bats. He also had several hits batting third in yesterday's B game versus the Rays. If neither Plouffe nor Hughes makes the team on opening day, it is likely Plouffe will get the call if something happens to Casilla with Hughes called up if something happens to Valencia or Nishioka.

Brian Dozier didn't get votes when first included in the Twinkie Town Top 50, finally being selected as our 29th ranked prospect. It appears the Twins have a higher opinion of this young infielder who has been an all-star his only two years in the organization, at Elizabethton in 2009 and Ft. Myers in 2010. Dozier was this year's surprise when the Twins announced their non-roster invitees to spring training. He has seen action at both second and short in four games, getting two hits in four at bats.

Two of the top prospects with the Twins this spring are Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee. Both have made very good plays defensively, then had that ugly mental mistake. That is to be expected of young players who are going through this for the first time. The bigger news is that they both are proving they can hit. Parmelee, who could be in the discussion if Morneau isn't ready on opening day, has seen action in three games with two hits in five at bats including a double and a walk. Benson has three hits in twelve at bats, including a triple, walk and three runs batted in.

After missing much of last season to shoulder surgery, Rene Tosoni is back in the hunt to make his claim as a future Twin. With Cuddyer and Young both on the shelf, Tosoni has appeared in five games, getting three hits in ten at bats with one run batted in. Ben Revere is the lone player amongst this group of top prospects to have seen action with the Twins. Revere has also seen action in five games, getting one hit in eight at bats with two walks. He started the B-game yesterday morning, then had a big stolen base that led to an important run in the Twins 5-4 win over Tampa Bay yesterday afternoon.

The Twins currently have a lot of candidates for the Rochester outfield. Brian Dinkelman is in camp and could be the leading candidate to be Rochester's left fielder. They also signed Jeff Bailey to go with returning outfielders Dustin Martin and Brandon Roberts. Bailey can also play first base as does Justin Huber who returns after a year in Japan. The Twins will have some hard decisions later this month when they determine where Benson, Revere, Tosoni and Parmelee will be assigned for opening day. Don't be surprised if a couple of these future stars return to New Britain.