Last week, we looked at a couple of the Twins fifth starter candidates, Mike Pelfrey and Alex Meyer. This week we will continue to look at the Twins fifth starter candidates. Today, we will take a look at one of the newest pitchers in the Twins organization, Tim Stauffer.
Just before the holidays, the Twins signed 32-year-old, right-handed pitcher Tim Stauffer to a one-year contract worth $2.2 million. Though he has worked out of the San Diego Padres’ bullpen the past two seasons, he was told that he would be given an opportunity to start. Was that just something he was told by the Twins to get him to sign with them, or will he really be given a shot to leave Ft. Myers as the team’s fifth starter? Well, fortunately pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, so we’ll find out what kind of opportunity he really gets.
Stauffer was the first-round pick of the Padres in 2003. He was the fourth overall pick out of the University of Richmond. During his first professional season (2004), he started in High-A and pitched at three levels. By mid-May of 2005, he had made his major league debut with San Diego. He pitched mostly in AAA in 2006 and 2007.
Unfortunately, he had shoulder surgery and missed the entire 2008 season and almost half of the 2009 season. He returned to the Padres and made 14 starts that year. In 2010, he posted a 1.85 ERA, mostly out of the Padres bullpen. That led to his best seasons, 2011, when he made 31 starts. He went 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA in 185.2 innings. He was set to be the 2012 Opening Day starter, but instead he had surgery on his flexor tendon and made just one appearance all year. And that brings us to the 2013 season and he’s been a pretty solid bullpen performer the last two years. He combined to go 9-3 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He’s also struck out 131 batters in 134 innings.
What is he?
Stauffer is a typical, standard, middle-of-the-road, back-of-a-rotation starting pitcher in terms of his stuff. He has a good mix of pitches. His average fastball sits between 90 and 91 mph, and he throws it a little over half the time. He has added a cutter in the mid-80s which helps him get a lot of ground balls. His change-up sits around 80 mph, so it’s a good velocity difference from the fastball. He also has a slow curveball in the low-70s that he doesn’t throw a ton. Parker went into great details on what Stauffer is and what he throws in December. Be sure to read that here.
He needs to have very good control, and his career walks per nine average is at 3.0, which is really average. His career strikeout rate is 6.8 per nine, which again, is very average.
In other words, if he were to be the Twins 5th starter, and last the whole year, he would probably be... OK.
The hope, if Stauffer were named fifth starter, would be that he could work 185 innings like he did in 2011. Well, that may not actually be the goal. Stauffer, or others mentioned in this fifth starter debate, would presumably be just a stop gap. The bigger goal may be to have Trevor May or Alex Meyer fully ready for the role before midseason. Stauffer would then fall back into the Anthony Swarzak role. He’d be capable of pitching in long relief or 7th inning situations.
If I were to guess the odds that Tim Stauffer begins the season as the Twins fifth starter, I would probably put the odds at less than 1%.
Previous 5th starter candidate stories:
After looking at the Twins top hitter and starting pitcher performances for August the last couple of days, today we’ll take a look at the top relievers in the season’s final month. Next week, we’ll start looking at the players of the year.
There were a lot of terrific bullpen performances throughout the month of August. The Twins have focused their attention in recent drafts on hard-throwers, including several bullpen arms. That becomes apparent as you look through both the Honorable Mention and the Top 5.
Here are my choices for the Top 5 Twins Minor League Relief Pitchers in August, starting with several Honorable Mentions.
TOP 5 MINNESOTA TWINS RELIEF PITCHER OF AUGUST 2014
Number 5 – Cedar Rapids – RHP Dallas Gallant - 9 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 22 K
Gallant was #2 on this list in July, and he was just as good in August. The hard-throwing right-hander continued to dominate the Florida State League as a set up man who also recorded two saves in the month. He has walked a few too many, but his stuff is such that he doesn’t give up many hits. In fact, opponents hit just .122 off of him in August with a .422 OPS. After missing the first 50 games this season, Gallant is a guy who will likely start in Ft. Myers next year, but with some others, he could move up quickly.
Number 4 – Elizabethton – LHP Sam Clay - 7 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 20 K
Clay was the Twins 4th round pick this June out of Georgia Tech. His first nine appearances with Elizabethton were pretty brutal. However, he has figured out something and been very good the last month. In fact, he didn’t give up a run and found ways to miss bats. This is just the start of the run of 2014 Twins draft picks that appear on this list.
Number 3 – Rochester – RHP Lester Oliveros - 12 G, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 20.0 IP, 15 H, 7 BB, 31 K
His first big league appearance in over two years following Tommy John surgery didn’t go so well, but Oliveros has been spectacular throughout the 2014 season. He was dominant in August while also being a workhorse for the Red Wings. The still-just-26-year-old throws hard and has had much better control of his breaking ball than we saw the other night. With a strong September, he could find himself in the mix for a roster spot on Opening Day 2015.
Number 2 – Ft. Myers – Nick Burdi - 10 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 17 K
When he was drafted, we knew about the 100 mph fastball, and we had heard about the 91 mph slider that he flashed early in the college season. Burdi has touched those numbers in his 2+ months in professional baseball. He was promoted to Ft. Myers at the end of July, and he is yet to give up a run. He has plenty of strikeouts, but it’s more encouraging to see his walks decreasing. Burdi is a guy who will likely fly through the Twins farm system and could certainly be in Minnesota in 2015.
And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
Cedar Rapids – Jake Reed - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 16 K
Reed also won this award in July when he posted a 0.18 WHIP through that month, his first month with the Kernels. The 5th round pick from Oregon remained dominant in the season’s final month. He is strong enough yet that the Twins are sending him to the Arizona Fall League this year. In August, he went 1-0 and recorded three saves. Opponents hit just .116 off of him with a silly .295 OPS. Reed throws hard, hitting 97 at times. He has a breaking pitch that will need to improve, but considering he’s been a pro for a little over two months, he’s on a good track toward Target Field.
So what do you think? I’ve listed five relievers here (along with several other Honorable Mentions) that deserve be recognized for their terrific performances this past month. Who would your choice be? How would you rank these guys (and feel free to include others)?
We are already about 15 games into the minor league season. It’s not a lot of games, but it is just over 10% of the season’s schedule, even if there have been a lot of weather-related postponements and double headers. It’s too early to call any of the numbers more than a Small Sample Size, but it’s always fun to take an early look at Twins prospects.
Below, you will find my preseason Top 30 Minnesota Twins prospects along with their statistics through Sunday, along with some of my thoughts and observations on many of the players. It’s exciting to see so many of those top prospects have started the season strong.
(Note this is my personal prospect ranking, use for entertainment purposes – and for learning about Twins prospects – only.)
1. Miguel Sano – Ft. Myers Miracle - .375/.438/.734 (1.173) with 5-2B, 0-3B, 6-HR, 16-RBI in 64 AB.
2. Byron Buxton – Cedar Rapids Kernels - .415/.523/.642 (1.165) with 2-2B, 2-3B, 2-HR, 10-RBI in 53 AB. Also 6-10 in SB attempts.
3. Oswaldo Arcia – Rochester Red Wings - .394/.474/.727 (1.201) with 2-2B, 3-HR, 8-RBI. Also 1-9 in 3 games with the Minnesota Twins.
4. Alex Meyer – New Britain Rock Cats – 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 16 IP, 13 H, 7 BB, 19 K
These top four prospects would most likely fit into an “Elite” category. These are the guys who should be in Top 50 lists by any publication. All four of them are off to spectacular starts. Sano and Buxton are like Prospects 1a and 1b. Arcia and Meyer would be #1 prospects in several organizations.
5. Aaron Hicks – Minnesota Twins – .059/.200/.059 (.259) with 4-RBI.
6. Kyle Gibson – Rochester Red Wings – 0-3, 4.43 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 19 H, 7 BB, 19 K
7. Eddie Rosario – Ft. Myers Miracle – .352/.385/.507 (.892) with 5-2B, 2-HR, 11-RBI in 71 AB
8. J.O. Berrios – Extended Spring Training –
This would be the second tier of prospects. They aren’t quite in the elite category, but they are highly regarded in the industry. Hicks’s struggles at the onset of his big league career have been chronicled, but there is no reason to believe that he will not adjust. Gibson is still working on his gradual return from Tommy John surgery and is really just building up strength. Rosario made a name for himself in Puerto Rico this offseason, and earned his spot on that country’s WBC team. He impressed in Ft. Myers in spring training and he is off to a fast start with the Miracle. Berrios is also from Puerto Rico and despite his youth, he too was on the Puerto Rican WBC team. Because of that, he spent the first three weeks of the season in Ft. Myers, in Extended Spring Training. He made his first Cedar Rapids start on Monday night and gave up two runs in five innings. He sat between 92 and 94 with his fastball and touched 96. He got a couple of strikeouts on a strong breaking ball.
9. Trevor May – New Britain Rock Cats – 0-1, 3.14 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 13 H, 10 BB, 19 K
10. Max Kepler – Extended Spring Training Disabled List –
Rounding out the Top 10, these prospects have high ceilings yet have something to overcome. For May, it is his ability to consistently throw strikes. He has the ‘stuff,’ but if he can’t control it, it will be hard to him to get big league hitters out. Kepler is yet to play because of an elbow injury. He’s still young and raw, but incredibly talented. He has to stay on the field.
11. Joe Benson – Rochester Red Wings – .170/.235/.191 (.427) with 1-2B, 0-HR, 1-RBI (Benson has been bothered by his wrist early in the season and is off to a slow start. He’s primarily playing left field although he has already played all three outfield positions).
12. Kennys Vargas – Ft. Myers Miracle – .238/.294/.460 (.754) with 5-2B, 3-HR, 12-RBI in 63 AB (Vargas just looks like David Ortiz. He’s fun-loving, and strong. He has a ton of power, but has a lot of work to do to advance. The talent is there!)
13. Danny Santana – New Britain Rock Cats – .250/.267/.319 (.586) with 1-2B, 2-3B, 0-HR, 7 RBI in 72 AB. (Santana has struggled some in the early season with the bat. That can be attributed to small sample size. However, one concern would be the eight errors he already has committed at shortstop.)
14. Travis Harrison – Cedar Rapids Kernels – .291/.349/.527 (.876) with 7-2B, 2-HR, 8-RBI in 55 AB (Harrison has tremendous power potential, potential that is still yet to develop. He certainly looks the part with a strong, balanced swing. He has five errors on the season.)
15. Alex Wimmers – Disabled List – (Alex Wimmers had Tommy John surgery last August, so he will likely be getting on a mound in another 4-6 weeks for the first time. It’s possible that he could start rehabbing when the GCL season begins.)
16. Adam Walker – Cedar Rapids Kernels – .264/.328/.358 (.686) with 2-2B, 1-HR, 9-RBI in 53 AB (Walker has as much power as anyone in the organization, including Miguel Sano. HE is a big, strong man. Last night, he added a long blast for his second home run. His father was a replacement player for the Vikings back in the ‘80s.)
17. Chris Herrmann – Rochester Red Wings – .175/.233/.200 (.433) with 1-2B, 2-RBI, in 40 AB (Herrmann is struggling early in the season, in his first games at the AAA level. He has primarily been catching early in the season, though he has the versatility to play other positions as well.)
18. BJ Hermsen – New Britain Rock Cats – 0-1, 9.64 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K (Hermsen went to big league spring training. After being optioned, he was sidelined by an intercostal strain. He made just his first start of the season on Sunday for the Rock Cats. )
19. Jorge Polanco – Cedar Rapids Kernels – .300/.323/.417 (.739) with 4-2B, 1-HR, 11-RBI in 60 AB (Polanco had a good offensive numbers a year ago in Elizabethton, but I wasn’t able to move him higher up this list. Whenever I update this list, Polanco will move up. Having seen him play, he was a pleasant surprise. Specifically, he was great to see him swing and hit. I now am a believer in his potential with the bat. He has a ways to go, but he has a real chance.)
20. Luke Bard – Extended Spring Training Disabled List – (Bard is in extended spring training fighting some arm soreness. When he is able to reach the pitch count limit, he will move up to Cedar Rapids, or possibly right to Ft. Myers.)
21. Adrian Salcedo – Ft. Myers Miracle – 1-0, 5.63 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 8 K (a former Top 10 prospect, he had a lost 2012 season due to elbow and shoulder injuries. He did not have surgery, and he is being brought along slowly. So far, he has been used only out of the bullpen.)
22. Mason Melotakis – Cedar Rapids Kernels – 1-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 7 BB, 11 K (Melotakis was one of the 2012 draft picks who was a college reliever but will get an opportunity to start in 2013. He has had mixed results through three starts. He’s limited runs, though he has given up a lot of base runners. He throws 94 from the left-side, so he’s got a chance.)
23. Nate Roberts – Disabled List – (Roberts had a good year at Beloit last year, and then he went to Arizona and led the AFL in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. Unfortunately, he tore his meniscus while preparing for the season and is on the disabled list awaiting clearance to play.)
24. Michael Tonkin – New Britain Rock Cats – 1-0, 6.23 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 8.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 7 K (Tonkin took a big step forward in 2012, and with a big fastball/slider combination, he has a chance to move up quickly in 2013. Off to a slow start so far in New Britain.)
25. Pedro Hernandez – Minnesota Twins – 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 4 K (The lefty had a very good camp with the Twins but he went back to Rochester to stretch out and start. He never did pitch for the Red Wings as he was needed for a spot start with the Twins. He has stuck.)
26. Danny Ortiz – New Britain Rock Cats – .313/.356/.582 (.938) with 7-2B, 1-3B, 3-HR, 13-RBI in 67 AB (Often overlooked among all of the Twins outfield prospects, but Ortiz can hit. The Puerto Rican is off to a fast start with the Rock Cats. He can play all three positions. He’s not a big guy, but he packs a big punch.)
27. Niko Goodrum – Cedar Rapids Kernels – .298/.400/.383 (.783) with 4-2B, 0-HR, 5-RBI in 47 AB (Niko is a tremendous athlete who is finally growing into his frame. He plays a very good shortstop. He has greatly improved his swing from the left-side. He’s got a chance to keep moving up.)
28. Matt Summers – Ft. Myers Miracle – 1-1, 4.30 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 16 H, 5 BB, 5 K (Summers certainly looks the part of potential starter. He has the motion and the delivery. He has stuff and touches 93 at times. Not sure why he doesn’t get many strikeouts as a starter.)
29. Hudson Boyd – Cedar Rapids Kernels – 1-1, 5.14 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 13 H, 7 BB, 12 K (Boyd is young, and has a lot to improve, but seeing him in person, you can see why the team would make him a supplemental first-round pick. He’s got a good arm, a good changeup and a good curveball. He’ll develop and has a chance to be good.)
30. Levi Michael – Disabled List – (Michael struggled throughout his first pro season in 2012. In 2013, he has fought a shoulder injury. In his stead, former Gopher and Minnetonka native AJ Pettersen has run with the shortstop job in Ft. Myers, hitting .360 on the season and hitting at the top of the order. Michael is likely out another week or two, and when he’s healthy, he’ll likely be starting.)
Feel free to ask questions about these 30 prospects or any other prospect in the Twins farm system.
Head over to Twins Daily for just a ton of new content each day on the Twins and their minor league system. Join the discussion in the Forums.
The Big Picture
The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals are currently 47-45, 4.5 games behind both the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are also 4.5 games behind those two teams in the Wild Card race, but just three games back of the Atlanta Braves and 1.5 games behind the Dodgers for the second Wild Card. The team traditionally is not afraid to make a splash at the trade deadline. Last year, it was a deadline deal that is often credited for propelling the team to the playoffs late in the season. They won’t be afraid to pull the trigger on another deal this July.
Carlos Beltran is playing like an MVP. Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman continue to rake. David Freese became a household name in the playoffs last year and has broken out for real this season. This is a good, deep team that frankly, should not be outside of the current playoff picture looking in.
Why They Will Trade With the Twins The Cardinals are blessed with one of baseball’s best offenses. Their pitching is pretty middle-of-the-pack, and their bullpen could use some proven, quality arms. The Red Birds are 12th in baseball with a 3.89 ERA, 15th in WHIP at 1.31, and 22nd in opponent batting average, at .260. Their starters have generally been just find, providing the team with 55 Quality Starts, which ranks sixth in the game. Adam Wainright (7-10, 4.42, 1.29), Kyle Lohse (9-2, 2.80, 1.10), Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.27, 1.21), and Jake Westbrook (7-8, 3.82, 1.33) make up four-fifths of the starting rotation. Jaime Garcia is most likely out until at least mid-August. He had an elbow injury in May and is now out with a shoulder injury. Just last week, ace Chris Carpenter had shoulder surgery and is out for the year. Joe Kelly has stepped in and is 1-2 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP, but I am certain that the Cardinals would be on the lookout for an impact starter. In fact, they are rumored to be kicking the tires on Mariners LHP Jason Vargas.
Considering that several of the other big name pitchers who are likely on the trade block are from the NL Central (Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza of the Cubs, and Zach Greinke and Shawn Marcum of the Brewers), it certainly helps make a case for the Cardinals and Twins having some in-depth conversations surrounding lefty Francisco Liriano. Liriano has been pitching as well as anyone in baseball of late. He could also balance out their rotation a little bit by giving them a left-handed starting pitcher.
The Cardinals bullpen after Jason Motte and righty Mitchell Boggs is kind of a mess. If the Twins are willing to deal the likes of Glen Perkins or Jared Burton, they could get back quite a haul at this time. That said, someone like Casey Fien, who has come up recently as a minor league veteran and pitched very well and shown a lot of life on his pitches, might be someone of interest in a much more minor deal.
Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
Tom Brunansky for Tommy Herr.
OK, that deal was horrible, but it was made 24 years ago, so I think we should be able to move past it by now.
The Cardinals offense is very strong. They rank 2nd in MLB in batting average (.274), 2nd in on-base percentage (.340), 7th in slugging percentage (.478) and 5th in runs scored. With Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran playing the corner outfield spots, and John Joy posting an OBP around .360, they are one team that doesn't need to go after an outfielder. The only players among their regulars that are currently posting sub-.700 OPS are 2B Daniel Descalso and All Star SS Rafael Furcal (.699). Frankly, the Twins don't have a better option for them at that position.
The Cardinals are used to being in the playoffs and the teams they are chasing may not have better teams on paper. This team may just need to infuse one piece to go on a run. They may also see the Joey Votto injury and think that now is the time to go for it. They will never say it, but I'm sure that Mike Matheny and his ball players would love to get back to the playoffs and show that they can do it without manager Tony LaRussa or all-time great Albert Pujols.
And it turns out that the Cardinals have a few high-ceiling pitching prospects that, so sad, aren't quite ready to take a spot in the rotation. If you want to get a little excited about the return that Liriano could fetch from the Cardinals, stop by Twins Daily where Seth lists some pretty exciting pitching talent the Twins might be able to acquire from the Cardinals.
March is tournament time. I may be the only person in the country who did not fill out a single NCAA Basketball bracket, but millions are watching it intently. On the high school level, the state tournaments are winding down. Next week, when the Minnesota High School Boys Basketball tournament gets started, Perham will be making its first appearance in school history. On Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. at Williams Arena, the Yellowjackets will play the Section 7 AA champions (Virginia and Moose Lake-Willow River play Saturday night at 7:00 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth).
It has been an amazing season for the Perham Yellowjackets. They are now 28-1. Their lone loss came in overtime to perennial power Pelican Rapids. In the sub-section semi-final game last Saturday, they played without one of their key players Jordan Bruhn, who was out sick. The team needed overtime to finish a 65-59 win over Hawley. On Tuesday, the sixth-ranked Jackets beat #4 ranked Pequot Lakes 64-48 to win its first Sub-Section title.
On Friday night, Thief River Falls took a 2-0 lead over Perham. That would be the Prowlers only lead of the entire game. At one point, the Yellowjackets held a 14 point lead, but Thief River Falls cut the lead as low as three points in the second half. The Jackets allowed the game to stay tight because of missed free throws. At one point, they were 4-16 from the line. However, they hit some big free throws down the stretch and held on for the 55-44 win in the Section 8AA final.
It has been an amazing season for the Yellowjackets, and it has been a trying season for the team as well.
In late January, I wrote a Your Voices article called One Clap for Zach. In it, I wrote about a 17 year old Perham boys basketball player named Zach Gabbard who had a cardiac arrest on the court in a game against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on January 20.
Since that time, he has gone through a lot. Here is a brief timeline of highlights since then (according to his Caring Bridge site):
Since being at Bethesda, he has continued to make strides in his physical and speech therapy. On Tuesday night, when Perham had taken a large lead over Pequot Lakes with two minutes to go, Zach uttered, "Yes! We're playing at Concordia on Friday I want to go to the game in a wheelchair!"
Of course, he was not able to go to the game last night in Moorhead. However, with the help of Arvig Communications (ACS), he and his mom were able to watch Friday night's game on a special internet feed. I imagine he was very excited for his teammates, friend and coach. Seeing the black and gold One Clap for Zach t-shirts had to feel good. Seeing his team make it to the state tournament. I can only imagine what was going through his mind.
On Tuesday, his teammates will all come to see him. Will Zach Gabbard be allowed to go to Williams Arena on Wednesday night to watch them make their state tournament appearance? I really, really hope so!
Congrats to Coach Cresap
I played basketball at Perham during the 1991/92 and 1992/93 seasons (Yes, I'm old!), and in those two seasons, we went a combined 3-39. Things did not get better for a couple of years. Not until Coach Dave Cresap came to Perham and changed the basketball mentality of the town.
To gain a perspective of what Coach Cresap has done at Perham, I asked one of his former players to help. Cory Hepola played for Perham in the mid-and-late '90s. He is now a sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, where he is asked to cover many teams including the Twins' AAA Affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, the Buffalo Bills and Syracuse sports. He wanted to share his thoughts on the Perham coach:
Coach Cresap is assisted by Brian Schwantz and Brent Hanson.
When he suffered his cardiac arrest in late January, Gabbard had been Perham's leading scorer in three of the team's four previous games. He was arguably their best player. This run to the state tournament (and that 28-1 record) is a testiment to the rest of the 16 and 17 year olds on the Perham roster. 6-7 Mark Schumacher and guard Jordan Bruhn lead the way while they get major contributions from Sam Stratton, Nick Tobkin and Jordan Cresap. This is a true team, brought together in one purpose.
The story of the 2010/11 Perham Yellowjackets basketball team has been a very interesting one, to say the least. They have experienced the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs. With their win on Friday night, the story continues for one more week. If you are a fan of the high school tournament, and want a team to cheer for next week, this might be your choice.
The story of Zach Gabbard this year has certainly seen the lowest of lows, but a lot of really hard work on his part and encouragement from his family, friends, the basketball community and many people that do not even know him, that story continues. Thankfully, it is a story that will have many chapters to come.