A trip to the minor league complex during spring training is always rewarding, and one recent trip was no different.
As I posted on twitter earlier)r this week (if you aren't following me, what are you waiting for? @LaVelleNeal), I got a chance to watch Miguel Sano, the top prospect in the organiization. in an intrasquad game. His five at-bats:
Triple down the right field line
Triple to right-center
Home run to left
The homer left the park in like three seconds. I never saw it, just saw the outfielders give up on it. Back in the dugout, one player - I think A. J. Pettersen - hovered over Sano as he sat on the bench. "You gotta hit the ball harder than that,'' he said playfully.
Sano ended last season at 225 pounds and has weighed in at 244 this year. He stands out among his lesser-developed teammates. He's not fat, but I wonder when will he stop filling out, and if he can play third base at 260 pounds? But he's got power. he's agile and he has an arm. The Twins hope he can remain a third baseman. That means he must improve his defense. I was told he made several errors last season attempting plays he shouldn't, leading to some crazy throws, etc.
Eddie Rosario, who out-homered Sano 21-20 in the short-season Appy League, is busy learning second base. Footwork has been the focus, coaches have said, as he sometimes gets mixed up while turning the double play. Paul Molitor has been working with him on his pivot. Rosario has welcomed the change of position and said he thinks players should be versatile.
As they move up the system, it will be interesting to see how they adjust to better breaking balls. These two love to hack and will have to learn to be a little more selective, too, but they both have the skills. Crazy skills.
Levi Michael is a very polite young man. And I can't believe how banged up he was last year at UNC, where he was limited by injuries to his groin, hip and ankle. Curious to see how he does this season after spending the season working out in Florida. At first, the Twins planned to start Michael at Class A Beloit with Sano and Rosario (how far is Cedar Rapids from the Twin Cities? I smell a road trip when the Snappers visit.). Heard earlier this week that there's now a chance that Michael will start the season at High-A Fort Myers, with fifth round pick Tyler Grimes starting at Beloit.
The Twins suddenly have shortstops to work with. Brian Dozier is looking good in the major league camp. Michael, who I keep hearing good things about, is starting his pro career. Grimes, a fifth-round pick from Wichita State, and ninth-round pick Adam Bryant, from Troy State, got their feet wet at Beloit last year. Next step: Latin America.
Other small sample-sized observations:
- Another shortstop to watch is Niko Goodrum, a second round pick in 2010. He was a skinny, wiry cat last year. His father introduced himself to me then, and he was a big, burly man. So the Twins hoped Goodrum would fill out. He's starting to and he looks solid in the field. They feel he made progress during the second half of the season at Elizabethton, where he hit .275. They feel that as he fills out he'll drive the ball more.
- Fort Myers manager Jake Mauer, who has a red welt on his left hip after being hit with a line foul ball on Sunday while coaching third, is fired up about possibly getting Michael and possibly Daniel Santana to play second. He both can run and he won't mind having them at the top of his batting order.
- Watched David Bromberg pitch the other say. He's coming back from a broken forearm last year, and it's a process. His velocity is just starting to come back, his mechanics are off and he's not commanding the strike zone. He hit Angel Morales in the shoulder with a pitch the day I watched him. He came off the mound after the first inning screaming at himself but was much better the second inning.
- In addition to Bromberg, Dallas Gallant, Daniel Osterbrock, Ben Tootle and Matt Bashore lead a group of pitchers coming back from injuries/surgeries. Heard Gallant pitched well today.
- Daniel Turpen, the pitcher the Twins received from Colorado for Kevin Slowey, hit 94 on the gun Sunday.
- That's all I've got for now. Hope to check in with minor league notes one more time before camp ends.