On Thursday, the Twins will begin their spring training schedule with a night game against the Boston Red Sox down in Ft. Myers. Throughout the spring, Twins fans are able to enjoy the great work done by the Star Tribune’s LaVelle Neal and Joe Christensen. If you’re like me, you’re excited to read spring training box scores. The starters are just getting their work in, but I really enjoy seeing how the minor leaguers perform in their opportunities.

Now, some of the minor leaguers are there as roster fillers, or simply to allow the manager and coaches to see what they may have down the line. However, there are several players who hope to make an impression because they are literally one injury from being with the Twins. So how they perform does matter to some degree (you always have to consider the small sample size that 50 spring training at bats really is).
Today I thought I would write a quick blog attempting to help those of you who will read spring training box scores. I will write down each of the minor leaguers that are in camp and give a semi-educated estimate of the percent likelihood that the particular player will see some time with the Minnesota Twins big league club in 2010. It will be followed with a brief description and explanation.
For instance, a player who is on the 40 man roster going into the season has a better chance of being called up than a player who does not have to be added to the 40 man roster. The reasoning for that is because to add a player to the 40 man roster, someone must be removed. Obviously big league need is the biggest factor, so as positions of need are realized, minor leaguers from those positions are more likely promoted. I will sort the players by my estimated likelihood of a big league appearance in 2010:
1.       Danny Valencia – 25 years old – 3B – 93%
He has a very outside chance of making the roster out of spring training, but more likely, he could be promoted in June or July to man the hot corner.
2.       Drew Butera – 26 years old – C – 89%
The Jose Morales wrist surgery and the Twins rightful patience with his return make Butera likely for the opening day roster. He is a defensive wiz and son of former Twins catcher Sal.
3.       Anthony Slama – 26 years old – RH RP – 83%
Slama has done nothing but dominate minor league hitters since his professional debut in 2007. He was very good in all but one of his 13 AAA games late last season.
4.       Jeff Manship – 24 years old – RHP – 77%
Manship got his first big league win in the Twins final weekend in 2009. He stayed below the rookie-eligibility limit, and he impressed the manager enough in 2009 that he will get more opportunities when needed.
5.       Anthony Swarzak – 24 years old – RHP – 71%
Swarzak seems to be a forgotten name when discussing the Twins starting pitching depth, but he pitched well in his first promotion to the Twins in 2009. He did exceed the rookie innings pitched limit, so he is no longer a rookie in 2010.
6.       Wilson Ramos – 22 years old – C – 54%
There is a chance that the Twins could bring Ramos up north for opening day as he is likely a better option than Butera. However, Ramos is young and immensely gifted with the bat, glove and arm, so he will likely play every day, not be Joe Mauer’s backup which is why I think he’ll start in the minor leagues. That said, he has enough bat to get some time this year already.
7.       Rob Delaney – 25 years old – RH RP – 49%
The Twins signed Delaney from St. John’s (NY) University in 2006 after he went undrafted. Like Slama, he dominated hitters all the way to AA with a strong fastball and impeccable control. He hit his first struggles last year in AAA, but he is smart and has good control, so he is clearly a solid option for the Twins bullpen if called upon.
8.       Trevor Plouffe – 24 years old – Infielder – 47%
The acquisition of JJ Hardy certainly hurts Plouffe’s opportunity to be the Twins shortstop of the future. However, he should not be forgotten as he is still quite young. He will likely play three infield positions this spring and could be a 2011 option at 2B or SS.
9.       Luke Hughes – 25 years old – Infielder/Outfielder – 37%
Although he doesn’t have a strong defensive position on the field, he can play as many as seven positions which does give him value. But his value is his powerful bat from the right side of the plate.
10.   Rene Tosoni – 23 years old – Outfield – 26%
The Canadian outfielder has quickly moved up the Twins system. In 2009, he was the MVP of the Futures Game, played well in AA and in the Arizona Fall League. Struggles against lefties, but could be ready as a platoon player by midseason.
11.   Jose Lugo – 26 years old – LH RP – 19%
Lugo is left-handed, throws a 94 mph fastball with a very good slider. He struggles with his control, but in terms of stuff, he could be very good. If Jose Mijares had to miss time, I think Lugo would be an option.
12.   Alex Burnett – 22 years old – RH RP – 11%
Burnett moved from the rotation to the bullpen in 2009, a move that typically is not positive for a pitcher’s career. But in this case, it was the best thing for Burnett whose future was never so optimistic as a starter. There is a lot of bullpen depth in 2010, but Burnett’s name has to be mentioned in the discussion of Who will be the next Twins closer?
13.   Ben Revere – 21 years old – OF – 9%
Revere is in camp to make an impression. Ideally the Twins would not bring him up in 2010 because he doesn’t even need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the 2011 season. But if his .337 career minor league batting average indicates anything, he may be up much sooner. He’ll start in AA New Britain, but could be up in the season’s second half if he performs.
14.   Steve Singleton – 24 years old – 2B – 8%
“Sing” is one of those guys who doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything pretty well. He can play three infield positions, he can hit for average and has some power. Orlando Hudson is signed for just one year. Singleton’s development in 2010 is one thing to watch as he could be the 2B of the future.
15.   Brock Peterson – 26 years old – 1B –  7%
Peterson is one of the great stories in the organization. He was a 49th round draft pick who has just slowly worked his way up the system. After a slow start in AAA last year, he was the team’s top hitter the second half of the season. When Justin Morneau and Justin Huber were hurt, I don’t know why Peterson wasn’t promoted.
16.   Brian Dinkelman – 26 years old – 2B/LF – 5%
Dinkelman has been a doubles-machine most of his career. One of the best hitters in NAIA history, Dinkelman has continued to hit with the Twins. Primarily a 2B, he played more left field once Singleton was promoted to AA last year. He is a solid top-of-the-order bat.
17.   Loek Van Mil – 25 years old – RH RP – 2.2%
Known for being the tallest player in professional baseball, the 7’1” Van Mil now sports a 97 mph fastball. He signed late from The Netherlands, and finding a good release point can be difficult. Despite his age and fastball, he is still a project, but worth taking the risk.
18.   Toby Gardenhire – 27 years old – utility – 2.0%
The manager’s son has carved out a pretty solid career as a minor league utility player. He plays very good defense at three infield spots, can play the outfield and the smartest thing he did was start spending time with a catcher’s mitt. His ceiling is bad hitter, strong defensive utility infielder.
19.   Chris Parmelee – 22 years old – 1B/OF – 1.8%
The Twins top pick in 2006 has definitely made strides the last couple of years. He has tremendous power. He has shown an ability to take a lot of pitches and work walks. He has also reduced his strikeout rate. He is a legitimate power prospect, but he won’t be promoted in 2010. He’ll be added to the 40 man after the season.
20.   Kyle Waldrop – 24 years old – RH RP – 1.6%
The Twins third first-round pick in 2004 out of high school, Waldrop was a very good control pitcher who was working his way up the system until shoulder surgery cost him the entire 2008 season. In 2009, he pitched out of the bullpen and did quite well, earning this opportunity. But again, the bullpen depth means that this is likely just an opportunity to make an impression.
21.   Deolis Guerra – 20 years old – RHP – 1.2%
The one player remaining from the Johan Santana trade really improved from 2008 to 2009. He moved up to AA and threw alright. He is said to have the best changeup in the organization. He still has high upside, but will need patience.
22.   Danny Lehmann – 24 year old – C – 1.1%
Lehmann, like Butera, is a very good defensive catcher who has the complete confidence and respect of the pitchers who throw to him.
23.   Juan Portes – 24 years old – IF/OF – 0.7%
Portes was drafted for his bat, but in two years at Ft. Myers, he didn’t hit much. Still, the Twins promoted him to AA last year and he hit well again. Like Hughes, he doesn’t have a real position, but this is a nice honor.
24.   Danny Rams – 21 years old – C – 0.3%
The Twins second round pick out of high school in 2007 may have as much power as anyone in the Twins farm system. When he makes contact (which isn’t a lot), he hits the ball with authority. Also a very strong-armed catcher.
25.   Jair Fernandez – 24 years old – C – 0.2%
Another catcher for bullpens with all of the pitchers in spring training. Not strong offensively or defensively.
26.   Estarlin de Los Santos – 23 years old – SS – 0.1%
It was shocking when the Twins protected de Los Santos on their 40 man roster this winter. He has good talent, but he has missed half seasons each of the past two years due to injury. However, he’s got a good glove, great range and a strong arm, and offensively, he can accumulate a lot of doubles and triples due to speed.
So there you have it, a little bit on all 26 minor leaguers who are in big league camp. Now when you look at a Twins spring training box score and see how well these guys do, you have a little better idea about if they have a chance of being in a Twins uniform in 2010. Would your percentages look any different? Do you have any questions about any of these guys?
Be sure to check out the following TwinsCentric related updates:
·         At 7:20 a.m. on Tuesdays (starting today), John Bonnes (The Twins Geek) will be a guest on The Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN.
·         John Bonnes and Twins lefty relief pitching prospect Joe Testa were the guests on Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast last night.
·         Seth Stohs joined Seth Kaplan and Phil Mackey on MyFox9.com’s Sports on Demand yesterday. The trio discussed many Twins topics.
·         At SethSpeaks.net, Seth posted a Q&A with Liam Hendriks, a right-handed pitching prospect from Australia.
·         Be sure to tune in tonight at 9:00 central time to The Show with Seth Stohs on SethSpeaks.net. Lots of Twins discussion and guests.
·         The Twins Geek gave grades to each of GM Bill Smith’s offseason moves. Of course, there is one more rather large move that the team would certainly like to make before the season starts.
·         Finally, the Maple Street Press Twins 2010 Annual is now available on newsstands around the Upper Midwest. I had several people e-mail and text message me to tell me that they saw it on the news stand. Of course, those of you outside the region can still order from here.
Twins Centric also have a strong presence via social media:
  • Each of the four TwinsCentric bloggers are on Facebook, and there is a TwinsCentric page.
  • On Twitter, you can follow @TwinsCentric, @TwinsGeek, @nnelson9, @OverTheBaggy and @SethTweets.