TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at TwinsDaily.com and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at TwinsCentric@gmail.com.

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Posts about Off the field

TwinsCentric: Technology and two Twins

Posted by: Parker Hageman Updated: March 15, 2013 - 12:30 PM

 Technology is amazing, isn’t it? 

Sure, we’re missing the flying cars, moon colonies and hover boards but the fact that we all basically carry around personal computers/television sets that can make phone calls in our pocket is pretty mind-blowing. 

Baseball, while it may seem archaic with the bats made from trees and game play which doesn’t involve a time clock, is actually progressive and embraces new technologies off the field. Not long ago, the Pitch F/X cameras installed at all stadiums opened up a whole new world of data to the general public. This new insight has provided teems of information on pitchers, hitters, umpires and, most recently, catchers. Suddenly, we know whose curveball gets the most swing-and-misses (AJ Burnett at 44.1%), whose fastball generates the most groundballs (Scott Diamond at 58%), and whose catcher can coax the most strikes on pitches just out of the zone (Jose Molina, 13%).   

For front offices, this seems like really important stuff, particularly when evaluating free agent talent. But baseball does not want to stop there. MLB has been working on going beyond just the batter-pitcher matchups by exploring the world of contact (Hit F/X) and defense (Field F/X). Once available, the latter will be able tell us who gets the best jumps, who positions themselves the best and who covers the most ground. The former, Hit F/X, will be able to provide details on what kind of contact is necessary for a towering home run, a line drive, an opposite field double, and so on. 

At the SABR Analytics Convention in Phoenix a week ago, Baseball America dispatched Matt Eddy to cover the event which discusses these forthcoming technologies. While there, Eddy was treated to a presentation from Graham Goldbeck, a data analyst from Sportsvision – the creator of the F/X systems. Goldbeck released some new information farmed out from the nearly 600,000 ball-in-play situations captured by their Hit F/X system. What Hit F/X does is tracks the batter’s contact point, batted ball speed, the horizontal spray angle (like a spray chart) and the vertical launch angle. From this, Goldbeck found that hitters who tend to make contact out in front of the plate have a greater tendency to hit from home run power than those who make contact deeper in the zone: 

Goldbeck, a data analyst for Sportvision, the company behind Pitch f/x, determined that batters who make contact with the ball well in front of home plate tend to hit for more over-the-fence power, while those who let the ball travel deep do not. Therefore, pitchers who force batters to make late contact—or no contact—have an advantage. Batters tend to make contact with fastballs deeper in the zone than they make contact with curveballs, sliders or changeups, a fact that makes intuitive sense based on reaction times. 

[snip] 

Goldbeck found that batters maximize their power, as measured by isolated slugging percentage, about a foot in front of the home plate—a contact point of about 29 inches. The sweet spot for home runs occurs between 12 and 29 inches, with the caveat that batted-ball velocity decrease rapidly after 22 inches. His research confirmed that batters who meet the ball out front tend to pull for power, while those who wait often hit to the opposite field. 

This is analytical evidence of something that probably already knew from observation of two members of the Minnesota Twins who are on opposite ends of the spectrum: Josh Willingham and Joe Mauer. 

When it comes to Willingham, we knew one thing: He pulls the living fire out of the ball. Last year, his .487 isolated slugging percentage when pulling wash tied for sixth-highest in baseball. (Think if he had a more hitter-friendly home ballpark.) Why is he so good at pulling the ball? That is because he makes outstanding contact out in front of the plate, much like Goldbeck’s research suggests. Take a look at his connection point in this home run: 

 

 

Now, compare Willingham’s contact point to Mauer’s, who just sliced his patented left-field double. 

 

 

Mauer has been one of the game’s foremost connoisseur of going the other way. Part of the reason behind that is that he can let the ball travel much deeper into the zone than Willingham has ever allowed. As such, the natural conclusion is that he would have a much harder time of reaching the same home run totals as Willingham because his swing is not conducive to generating the kind of power. 

Dingers aside, Mauer’s approach affords him superior contact rate over Willingham’s approach. Another thing that Goldbeck’s research said about Willingham is that he has one of the most consistent contact points. This means that he is susceptible to other pitch types or various locations away from his standard impact zone. As such, we see that he had a well-below contact rate average (75.9% versus 79% league average) in 2012 compared to Mauer who was well above that mark (87.8%). 

Additionally, although it is possible that Mauer may suddenly start hitting the ball out in front and launching dingers into the newly minted party deck in right field, the study suggests that the likelihood of this happening is low. It is rare for hitters to change their stripes: 

While most batters conform to career norms, Goldbeck noted one player whose contact point has progressed forward through the seasons. The Royals' Alex Gordon went from about 50 extra-base hits per season in 2007-08 to about 70 in 2011-12, all while steadily meeting the ball farther out in front of the plate. 

We’ve reached an age where we have a greater understanding of the game than ever before. We confirm why Josh Willingham can decimate Target Field while many other hitters cannot. We know that while everyone may wish for Mauer to take that step forward and hit home runs by the bushel, we are learning from the technology that it just simply may not be possible – that is, unless the left field fence is moved in 50 feet or so.

Technology is amazing. 

TwinsCentric: Starting pitching options

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: June 14, 2012 - 2:36 AM

As PJ Walters walked slowly off the field with a trainer in the top of the first after failing to get an out through the game’s first four batters thoughts immediately jumped to the Twins’ starting rotation. Scott Diamond will be on the mound on Thursday in the series finale versus the Phillies. Francisco Liriano and Nick Blackburn are back in the rotation after missing starts. Carl Pavano is on the Disabled List. PJ Walters will have an MRI on his shoulder on Thursday. Who will make upcoming starts for the Twins and is there any help in the Rochester starting rotation?

Here is a look at the Twins and Red Wings upcoming schedules:
 

Day
 
Twins Starter
 
Red Wings starter
 
Thursday, June 14
 
Scott Diamond
 
Luke French
 
Friday, June 15
 
Francisco Liriano
 
Liam Hendriks?
 
Saturday, June 16
 
Liam Hendriks?
 
Cole De Vries
 
Sunday, June 17
 
Nick Blackburn
 
Matt Maloney
 
Monday, June 18
 
No Game Scheduled
 
Sam Deduno
 
Tuesday, June 19
 
?
 
Luke French
 
Wednesday, June 20
 
?
 
Liam Hendriks?
 
Thursday, June 21
 
?
 
Cole De Vries
 
Friday, June 22
 
?
 
Matt Maloney
 
Saturday, June 23
 
?
 
Sam Deduno
 
Sunday, June 24
 
?
 
Luke French
 


We have all heard that it appears that Liam Hendriks (turned 23 in February) will be called up to start for the Twins on Saturday. In fact, if you look at Yahoo! Sports schedule, it lists Hendriks as the Twins scheduled starter for Saturday. However, as of late Wednesday night, Hendriks had not yet been informed that he would be promoted. As he is also scheduled to start for Rochester on Friday, he will have to be told on Thursday. Hendriks is currently 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA with the Red Wings. In 46.1 innings, he has given up just 29 hits, walked 13 and struck out 42.

Let’s make an assumption that Hendriks will start for the Twins on Saturday, the Red Wings will need a starter for Friday. The Red Wings have already had 14 pitchers start a game for the team this season. Bullpen guys like Brendan Wise and Esmerling Vasquez have made spot starts in Bullpen games. It is also possible that David Bromberg (25 until September) could come off of the 7-Day Disabled List to start. He last pitched for the Red Wings on June 2nd. After a rough start to his season in the New Britain bullpen, Bromberg earned his promotion to the Red Wings in late May. He made two starts before going on the DL with right shoulder tendonitis. If Bromberg is not able to go, righty Steve Hirschfeld could be brought up to start for the Red Wings. The 26-year-old threw five shutout innings for Rochester in a spot start last week. The other option would be 22-year-old BJ Hermsen who is 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA in eight starts for the Rock Cats.

So, if PJ Walters can’t start for the Twins next Tuesday, who will? I think because of the off day on Monday, the Twins would go with just four starters this time through the rotation with Diamond starting again on Tuesday on regular rest. If that’s the case, the next time the Twins would need a starter would be Saturday, June 23, in Cincinnati. Could Walters be ready then? Is there any chance that Carl Pavano would be ready to come off the Disabled List by then? As of now, the answer to both questions would likely be no.

I think we can also assume that the Twins would not consider going to 13 pitchers on the staff during their games in National League ball parks.

So here is an update on the other Red Wings starters and others the Twins could use to start that game (again, making the assumption that Liam Hendriks will come up and start Saturday):

Jeff Manship
– He went three innings on Wednesday night. When he was starting in Rochester, he was the team’s top starter (of those not promoted), posting an ERA of 3.08.

Anthony Swarzak
– He has already made several spot starts for the Twins this year. The team clearly prefers him to be in the bullpen.

Brian Duensing
– for some reason his name keeps coming up as a starting option despite the fact that he’s done a terrific job out of the bullpen and wouldn’t be stretched out at this point.

Cole De Vries
(27 until February) – He was just optioned to Rochester on June 7, days after recording his first big league Win. He last started for the Red Wings on Sunday and gave up six runs on six hits in just two innings. His overall Rochester numbers this year are 1-5 with a 5.18 ERA. He’s given up 53 hits in 48 innings. He is on the 40 man roster.

Matt Maloney
(28 until January) – Maloney was removed from the Twins 25 and 40 man rosters in early May. He cleared waivers and was sent to Rochester. He pitched twice out of the bullpen before moving into the starting rotation. He is 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA. In 18.2 innings, he has given up 31 hits, walked two and struck out 13. His most recent start was on Monday, and he gave up six runs (3 earned) on five hits in just two innings.

Luke French
(26 until September) – French went a combined 9-12 in 31 games (25 starts) for the Tigers and the Mariners in 2009 and 2010. The Twins signed him right before spring training to a minor league contract. He made five starts in New Britain before moving up to Rochester. The lefty has made seven starts for the Red Wings and is 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA. In 38 innings, he has given up 32 hits, walked 17 and struck out 23. However, he has not given up more than two runs in his last four starts (1-1, 2.05 ERA).

Sam Deduno
(28 until July 2) – The Twins signed the minor league free agent and invited him to spring training. He left his April 27th start after walking the first two batters and was put on the disabled list with right shoulder tendonitis. On Tuesday, he made his return and threw four scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit, walked three and struck out five. On the year, he is 0-1 with a 3.15 ERA. In 20 innings, he has given up 15 hits, walked 11 and struck out 18. He pitched in four games for the Rockies in 2010, and two games for the Padres in 2011.

With all of the above, I believe this is what the upcoming schedule will look like:
 

Day
 
Twins Starter
 
Red Wings starter
 
Thursday, June 14
 
Scott Diamond
 
Luke French
 
Friday, June 15
 
Francisco Liriano
 
Steve Hirschfeld
 
Saturday, June 16
 
Liam Hendriks
 
Cole De Vries
 
Sunday, June 17
 
Nick Blackburn
 
Matt Maloney
 
Monday, June 18
 
No Game Scheduled
 
Sam Deduno
 
Tuesday, June 19
 
Scott Diamond
 
Luke French
 
Wednesday, June 20
 
Francisco Liriano
 
Steve Hirschfeld
 
Thursday, June 21
 
Liam Hendriks
 
Cole De Vries
 
Friday, June 22
 
Nick Blackburn
 
Matt Maloney
 
Saturday, June 23
 
Jeff Manship
 
Sam Deduno
 
Sunday, June 24
 
Scott Diamond
 
Luke French
 



Of course, this is the great game of baseball which means anything can happen, and all of the above thought may be out the window! Any thoughts on the Twins upcoming rotation? Any thoughts on the Red Wings rotation? Any wonder why the Red Wings are struggling again in 2012?

--

After reading all of the great Star Tribune Twins content, come on over to Twins Daily.
 

 

TwinsCentric: Organizational Depth Chart - Middle Infielders

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: January 31, 2012 - 7:14 AM

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – Now Available as an e-book for $6.99 by clicking here. You can, of course, still get the print version for $13.99 by clicking here.

 Last week, I started looking at the depth throughout the Twins system. I reviewed the catchers, first basemen and third basemen. After a weekend at Twins Fest (which I’ll write about very soon), I thought it would be good to get back into the Organizational Depth Chart series. Today, I am going to write about the Middle Infielders. I decided to put the shortstops and second basemen together because so many of these players can and will play both positions. As I’ve said before, the purpose of this series is two-fold (if not more). First, it’s a look at the depth at or near the big leagues. Second, it’s a glance at the depth at the position throughout the system. You can find out who might be coming up to the Twins if there is a need, and you can find out who the prospects to watch might be.

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended

Minnesota Twins  

Jamey Carroll (SS), Alexi Casilla (2B), Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes

About the time spring training starts, Carroll will turn 38 years old. Most consider him a utility player, and he probably is because he plays multiple positions. He has accumulated more than 350 plate appearances five of the last six years. The last two years, he has combined for 924 plate appearances. He played 129 games at second base, and another 135 and shortstop. The Twins are bringing him in for the next two seasons to be their starting shortstop. He’s an on-base machine, perfect for the #2 spot in the lineup. Alexi Casilla has proven himself to be a solid utility infielder but has often shown that he can’t handle an every day job. I thought last year was his last chance to prove that, but he’s getting another opportunity in 2012. I’m not going to say Luke Hughes is the answer, but Casilla has received so many opportunities, I’d rather Hughes get a shot at the regular, daily second base job with Casilla as a role player. We don’t know if Hughes will hit, but he does have some pop in his bat. We know that Casilla won’t do much. I’m understanding that Nishioka needs and deserves to start 2012 with an empty slate. 2011 was an awful year for him. He was adjusting to so many things on and off the field, and then he was hurt within the first week and never fully recovered. The best thing would have been for him to get a lot of time in the minors last year. Maybe that can happen in 2012.  

Rochester Red Wings

Brian Dozier (SS), Pedro Florimon (2B), Ray Chang, Brian Dinkelman

Brian Dozier was the minor league player of the year in 2011 and hopes to build upon that starting in spring training in 2012. There is little chance he’ll open with the Twins. In fact, there’s a better chance he returns to New Britain and based on the past, I would not be shocked if he did start the season with the Rock Cats. But he’s ready for AAA, and nearly ready for the big leagues. Part of why I would like to see Hughes get the starting gig with the Twins, is because by June, he could move to the bench with Carroll shifting to second base and Dozier jumping to the Twins. But, let’s see how he starts the 2012 season before counting any eggs, or something like that. The Twins claimed Florimon from the Orioles in December, but nearly immediately placed him on waivers. He cleared and was outrighted to Rochester. He jumped from AA to the big leagues with a September call-up. He will certainly get plenty of time at shortstop with Dozier moving to second. Chang will play all around the infield. He was the Red Wings starting shortstop while he was with the team last year, before his broken leg. Dinkelman finally got his chance with the Twins last year and hit .301. He struggled in Rochester. He can play second base but can also play the corner outfield positions.

New Britain Rock Cats

James Beresford (SS), Estarlin de Los Santos (2B), Chris Cates

James Beresford is tremendous with the glove. He is a smooth fielder with soft hands and a strong arm. He can play both middle infield positions well and is a leader on the infield. His play in international competition has really been impressive. He has hit for average in his minor league career. He takes really good, quality at bats. But because he is almost exclusively a singles hitter, he will not be walked often. He also doesn’t strike out much. He works very hard to gain weight, and hopefully that will happen soon to give the opponents a little concern for extra base hits. De Los Santos was once considered a quality prospect in the Twins system. He was added to the 40 man roster, but that lasted just a year. 2011 was a lost year for him. He spent most of the season on the Disabled List, rehabbed quite a bit in the GCL. He got a little time at Ft. Myers, played second base before he finally ended his season with elbow surgery. Although he could have become a free agent at the end of the season, he signed quickly to remain with the Twins. Cates is a strong defender at both middle infield positions. He also has a very strong arm.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Tyler Grimes (SS), Danny Santana (2B), Reggie Williams, Adam Bryant

Grimes was the Twins 5th round pick just last year out of college baseball power house Wichita State. He missed a little bit of time after signing with the Twins and reporting to Beloit. He can hit. He’s another on-base percentage guy with some pop in his bat. He has good speed and plays solid defense. Santana primarily played shortstop in Beloit, but he will likely get time at second base and in centerfield as well in 2011. He has great range, soft hands and a very strong arm. He does have pop in his bat although his 2011 numbers don’t necessarily show it. He has a immense talent and all the tools, but he will need to start putting it together. Reggie Williams was a fourth round pick in 2007 out of high school. He is a terrific athlete, and he will play all around the diamond in 2012. He can play four infield positions and probably all three outfield positions. He primarily plays 2B, 3B and LF, but who knows, we may even see him behind the plate this year.

Beloit Snappers

Levi Michael (SS), Eddie Rosario (2B), AJ Pettersen, Stephen Wickens,  Nick Lockwood

One question we’ve been hearing all offseason is Where will Levi Michael start his 2012 season? The Twins have had top college pitchers jump straight to Ft. Myers. All indications are the Michael will begin the season with the Beloit Snappers. Making me want to get to Beloit early in the season is an infield that should include Michael, Rosario and Miguel Sano. I would also expect that Michael would get no more than a half-season in Beloit before being promoted. Rosario was the Appy League co-MVP last year when he hit .337 with 38 extra base hits, including 21 home runs in 67 games. He also is a tremendous center fielder. During Instructional League, he was moved to second base. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I would assume he will continue to get some time in the outfield as well. Sano will likely see some time at shortstop. Minnetonka native and former Gopher and last year’s 25th round pick AJ Pettersen said he is willing to play anywhere, but he is a natural shortstop who started there for the Gophers four years. Wickens is a Canadian who is a four year college shortstop as well with very good on-base skills. I would expect that Michael will be promoted in mid-June with Niko Goodrum moving up to take his spot. Nick Lockwood is a tremendous defensive second baseman. Although he didn't hit much at E-town last year, he has a strong, line drive swing and uses the whole field.

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Niko Goodrum (SS), Jorge Polanco (SS), Wander Guillen (2B)

Goodrum had a very strong season with the Elizabethton Twins, even if it was lost behind the big seasons of Sano and Rosario. He is a tremendous athlete who will take a while to develop. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the season at Extended Spring Training. I would, however, be surprised if he spends any more time with Elizabethton. I would expect him to be promoted to Beloit whenever there is a need, or whenever Michael is promoted. Polanco signed with the Twins for over $750,000 two years ago. He and Miguel Sano split 2010 between the DSL and GCL. Polanco returned to the GCL in 2011 and didn’t do much with the bat. Touted for his terrific defense at shortstop, he played 19 games there in 2011, 14 at third base and 11 at second base. He also played all three outfield positions. He will spend 2012 in Elizabethton. Wander Guillen is a third baseman, but with Travis Harrison around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Guillen play more at second base, where he has played a little the past two seasons. He also should advance to E-Town in 2012 after splitting 2011 between the DSL and GCL.

TOP THREE (OR SO...) PROSPECTS

1.)    Eddie Rosario, 2.) Brian Dozier, 3.) Levi Michael, 4.) Niko Goodrum, 5.) Danny Santana, 6.) James Beresford, 7.) Tyler Grimes, 8.) Jorge Polanco

SUMMARY

After what Twins fans saw at the shortstop position in 2011, it was pretty clear that the Twins needed a change in 2012! Alexi Casilla started the season as the shortstop and through five weeks was hitting about .150. Trevor Plouffe got a couple of games. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was given an opportunity. It wasn’t pretty all season. Jamey Carroll should bring consistency to the position. He may not have a ton of range, but he will make most of the routine plays and it winds up that trait is pretty important. Cailla and Hughes may be a solid platoon and the Twins should see again what they have in Nishioka, if anything. Brian Dozier is on the cusp and we should (or at least could) see him by July. The lower levels of the system actually provide a bunch of solid prospects to at least be excited about. Rosario is intriguing as a second baseman. Scouts love Levi Michael and he could move fairly quickly. He was one of five college shortstops the Twins drafted in 2011 (Michael-1, Grimes-5, Bryant-9, Pettersen-25, Wickens-33), each of which should get a lot of playing time in 2012. Accumulating a lot of talent in the lower levels is great, and hopefully a couple of them will continue to progress through the system. 

TwinsCentric: Morneau and progress

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: January 18, 2012 - 1:11 AM

 

About a month from today, Jamey Carroll will turn 38 years old. That will make the veteran infielder, signed by the Twins earlier this offseason to man shortstop over the next couple seasons, the same age as former Minnesota third baseman Corey Koskie.

Of course, while Carroll is enjoying the best years of his pro baseball career, Koskie has been out of the game since 2006, when a concussion sustained in Milwaukee ended his days as a major-leaguer.

An athletic baseball player with a tremendous passion for the game, cut down in his prime by an injury that seemed totally harmless at the time, even to him. I brought up the unfortunate parallel between Koskie and Justin Morneau after the latter had been sidelined for a month by a concussion suffered in 2010, and unfortunately, little has happened since then to dispel such allusions.

In the weeks and months following Morneau's initial incident, Twins trainers repeatedly talked about the "progress" he was making toward getting back on the field. He never returned in 2010, but embarked on an offseason program designed to get him back into playing shape while protecting his head. Again, "progress" was the go-to buzzword in all Morneau updates.

The first baseman returned to the field for for 69 games last year, but was hardly the same player, and after re-triggering concussion symptoms on a fielding attempt in August, he was again shut down for the year. Now, Twins fans are left in the same state of limbo that they were a year ago, with the word "progress" once again being tossed around in the absence of any more substantive news.

At this point, the word has basically lost all meaning, but Twins officials can hardly be blamed for falling back on it. As was the case last winter, they don't know what Morneau's status truly is, or what to expect from him when he shows up in Ft. Myers next month.

That's very unfortunate. As Judd Zulgad wrote yesterday for ESPN 1500, the first baseman's situation is distinctly more worrisome than that of Joe Mauer, who by all accounts is feeling much stronger after a surgery-free offseason.

It seems likely that Mauer will be able to play at a high level this year, and even if his balky knee prevents him from catching full-time, the club has added a couple intriguing backup options at catcher in Ryan Doumit and J.R. Towles (a former outstanding prospect who's worth keeping an eye on).

But there's no one who can replace the value that a healthy Morneau provides, both on and off the field. Team insiders suggest that, with Michael Cuddyer gone, Morneau is the one player who can step in as a vocal clubhouse anchor, with the kind of fiery personality to rally the troops and avoid a catastrophe similar to last year.

If Morneau can't go, not only will the Twins lack a slugging first baseman capable of pounding 30 home runs with 100-plus RBI -- they'll also lack an obvious candidate to provide true leadership on this club, whatever you believe that's worth.

Certainly the league's award voters have recognized Morneau's value as stretching beyond his numbers. He won the AL MVP in 2006 with a questionable statistical case and placed second in 2008 with even lesser numbers, despite the Twins missing the playoffs.

Mauer might be the Twins' best player, but Morneau is a vital cog. His uncertain (at best) status going forward is probably the No. 1 overarching concern that surrounds this 2012 team.

For the sake of Twins fans – and him and his family more than anything – I hope his "progress" this offseason is a lot more meaningful than in past instances.

 

TwinsCentric: ZOOM! Twins add powerful, but fragile, bullpen arm

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: January 15, 2012 - 11:37 PM

For Twins fans, the image is tough to forget.

Joel Zumaya was pitching to Delmon Young in the eighth inning of a late June game at Target Field. On a full count, the right-hander reared back and unleashed a 99 mph fastball, which Young fouled off.

It was immediately obvious that something went very wrong with Zumaya on the pitch, as he quickly clutched his right elbow and collapsed to the ground in extreme pain. His right hand was shaking violently as his coaches and teammates huddled around him near the pitcher's mound.

As it would turn out, Zumaya suffered an elbow fracture on the delivery, specifically to the olecranon, which is the top-most point of the ulna (shown to the right). It was the latest in a long line of arm injuries for the righty – the nature of the beast when your game is built around hurling triple-digit heaters – and it's kept him off the field for the last year and a half.

Zumaya can't have fond memories of Target Field, but it looks like he'll return to pitch at the site of his most gruesome injury, as he's reportedly agreed to terms with the Twins on a one-year deal. Pending a physical – which is no simple formality in this case – the reliever will earn a base salary of $800,000 plus incentives to serve as a much-needed right-handed power arm at the back end of the bullpen.

While auditioning in front of an army of scouts back in December, Zumaya was reportedly registering between 93-96 mph with decent command. That's a step back from his previous elite heat (his fastball was averaging 99.3 mph in 2010 before he went down) but it would still qualify him as the hardest thrower on the Twins' staff, and he'll likely add some ticks in spring training if he can stay healthy.

That's a big "if," obviously, as the newly added setup man will join a lengthy list of health question marks in Ft. Myers. Still, Zumaya is only 27, and broken bones tend to heal more reliably than torn ligaments. If the fireballer can finally make his way through a full season with good health – something he hasn't done since his rookie year in 2006 – he could provide a huge boost from the right side in the late innings.

And if things don't work out, the Twins won't be out much money, as his deal is non-guaranteed and his base salary is barely more than the club would've paid to keep Jose Mijares around. This is the kind of low-risk, high-upside signing that Terry Ryan should be looking to make whenever he can, especially with the payroll restrictions that have been imposed upon him.

The fact remains, though, that if Zumaya's arm fails him as it has in five straight seasons, Alex Burnett stands to be the top fallback option. We'll see if Ryan is done shopping for relief help.

TwinsCentric: Twins Prospect Handbook Coming Soon

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: January 10, 2012 - 2:38 AM
Before you get started, be sure to listen to last night’s 90-minute Twins Minor League Weekly show. There were a lot of great topics discussed, so listen to it and let me know what you think. Feedback is always welcome!
 
As I mentioned yesterday, the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 will be available soon. As has been the case in previous years, there will be over 160 profiles of Twins minor league prospects, from AJ Achter to Jacob Younis. It includes my choices for the Twins top prospects in the Dominican Summer League. There are special articles from Cody Christie (NoDak Twins Fans) and Roger Dehring (Twinkie Town).You’ll find my updated prospect list and the history of my top 30 Twins prospects over the past seven years (which is rather interesting in retrospect!). I also wrote articles with a ton of quotes from Brian Dozier (Hitter of the Year), Liam Hendriks (Starting Pitcher of the Year) and Andrew Albers (Relief Pitcher of the Year).
 
 
Today, I thought I would share with you a couple of paragraphs from the three articles. Each is full of quotes from each player.
 
BRIAN DOZIER – SS – Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year
 
 
He credited his manager, Jake Mauer. “I tell you what, he’s a player’s coach. He’s been there, gone through the system and everything. He really relates to his players very well.”
 
He moved up to New Britain and worked for former Twins hero Tom Brunansky, a member of the Twins 1987 World Series championship team. Dozier said, “He is one of the best when it comes to hitting. He knows how to hit. Actually, when I got moved up, he found a couple of little tweaks in my swing that I never knew I was doing. He showed me on film. I was like, ‘Well, that makes sense!’ Ever since then, since that first week, we worked really hard in the cage, and he found a couple of things, and it took off from there.”
 
 
Mark Dolenc is a Minnesota native who spent the past two seasons in New Britain. He said, “When Dozier came up, he immediately stepped in and took on a leadership role.”
 
Dozier said, “I think from a leadership aspect, everybody kind of looks to the shortstop. They are the captain on the infield. I know Gardy takes a lot of pride in his shortstop being like the quarterback on the field. I’ve taken that to heart a lot. Same thing with my college coach, he was the same way. I’m not a big vocal guy. I never have been. I do try to put myself into the right situations, the right place at the right time, not only on the field but off the field. If you play the game the way it is supposed to be played and always give 110%, people respect that. I try to do that each and every day.”
 
 
LIAM HENDRIKS – RH SP – Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year
 
 
“I was lucky because when I was younger, I didn’t throw very hard, so I had to throw strikes. I was able to keep it up and as I started throwing harder it stuck with me which is always good. I can locate most (of my pitches) pretty well. I think my changeup is my best pitch, but at times, it is the slider, and every now and then, it’s even the curve ball. I’ve got the pitches so if one isn’t working, I can hopefully fall back on another one.”
 
“Philosophy-wise, just get ahead. You look at the averages up 0-2, rather than down 2-0. As soon as you get ahead, it makes the hitters sweat a little bit. Most of the time, guys aren’t going to hit you hard.”
It has been a meteoric rise through the Twins farm system the past two years. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he pitched in Beloit (Low A), Ft. Myers (High-A), New Britain (AA), Rochester (AAA) and with the Twins (MLB).
 
“Every now and then, I’ll think back and think that this takes guys six to eight years to do at times. And I’ve gone from Low A in my first full season in pro ball to the major leagues in two years. I look at it that way and think, ‘Oh Wow! That doesn’t happen often, especially to guys who were signed or drafted out of high school like myself.”
 
“As I was saying to Luke Hughes, the stars had to align for me to get the call up this year. Luckily enough they did, and hopefully I’ve opened up some eyes up there. I’m hoping to head to spring training and open some more.”
 
 
ANDREW ALBERS – LH RP – Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year
 
 
22 games with the Miracle, he went 4-1 with four saves. In 52.1 innings, he gave up 48 hits, walked seven and struck out 46.
 
“My plan was to just go out and be aggressive and pitch to my strengths. I guess I surprised myself a little bit with the first half that I had. Everything kind of went my way, and I caught some breaks and got a little lucky. The defense was outstanding with the likes of Brian Dozier, James Beresford and Aaron Hicks up the middle. Those three guys can make up for a lot of mistakes that I make as a pitcher.”
 
 
So what has he learned about himself along this journey?
 
“I found out that I could still pitch. I had been through a bit of adversity and come out better from it. I learned that I didn't have to live and die with every game and that there are a lot more important issues out there than winning or losing a baseball game. I think being out of the baseball world and not having a job in affiliated ball allowed me to gain a new perspective on different areas of my life. I began to enjoy baseball a lot more and was able to relax more on the mound instead of putting so much pressure on myself to perform every time out. I think that attitude has greatly contributed to my success.”
 
 
All three of these players played at least half of season at Double-A New Britain, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that we could see all three players in a Twins uniform. All three were generous with their time as they answered my questions via e-mail and on podcasts and such.
 
I’m really excited about the 2012 book. I think that the three previous books were good and this one can be better. Twins blogger Josh Johnson designed the cover. Johnson, along with TwinsCentric’s Nick Nelson and the NoDak Twins Fan Cody Christie, helped me by writing some profiles. The profiles are a good combination of stats, advances stats and splits and scouting reports. Much more information will be coming in the near future.
 
Thank you to all for your support!

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