Sometimes there are really great blog topic ideas. There are some days when a blogger can fill your mind with some very interesting statistical analysis. Other days a blogger can express an opinion on an interesting topic that can make you really expand your mind and think. Some blog entries are incredibly creative or funny. What happens when a blogger goes on a vacation though? Well, if it's me, my mind just kind of goes empty, and on my TwinsCentric blog entry day, you get to read about arguably the most random possible topic; Twins prospects whose name is Danny (or any derviation of the name, Dan, Daniel, etc.). Exciting, right? Random, kind of? But it's interesting because there actually are some intriguing, maybe sleeper prospects with this name that might be interesting to know. (Of course, more information on each of these Twins minor leaguers and Twins minor leaguers with other first names, the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2011 is available now.)
Danny Valencia had a very solid minor league track record when he arrived in the major leagues last June. After minimal playing time during inter-league play, he got more and more playing time before quickly becoming a regular in the Twins lineup and at third base. His terrific rookie season was good enough for third place in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Here is more on the other "Danny's" in the Twins system:
While down in Ft. Myers and at the stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Twins prospect I am getting the most questions about is Danny Rams. The powerful, still-very-young prospect drilled two doubles in the big league game on Tuesday afternoon after catching in the "B" game earlier in the day. Rams, arguably, has the most power potential in the organization (all due respect to Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson, of course). He has spent the past two years in Beloit. Last year, he hit .243/.310/.450 with 28 doubles, four triples and 16 home runs for the Twins Low-A affiliate. In 450 plate appearances, he walked 31 times and struck out 145 times. That is the biggest thing the 22 year old will need to improve if he wants to progress up the system. He needs to put the ball in play. He can hit any fastball, but struggles with anything that curves. He has made a strong impression as a non-roster invitee this spring, and despite the low numbers in the low minors, he is a very intriguing prospect, easily the Twins top catching prospect.
Danny Lehmann is a very under-the-radar catching prospect. Last year, he split time between AA and AAA and played in 59 reasons due to injury. Combined, he hit .247/.330/.329 with ten extra base hits. At 25 years old, his future in the big leagues would be that of a backup, but there is no shame in that. Backup catchers can live a long time in baseball if they can play the position defensively. Drew Butera is terrific defensively and does a nice job with the pitching staff and calling a game. The last couple of years while researching information for my prospect handbooks, I have talked to a lot of people to gather information. I like to get information from players as well, but that is especially important when it comes to catchers. Joe Mauer is a rarity, most catchers and particularly backup catchers don't hit, or don't hit much. But their value defensively is so often (too often!) overlooked. When I talked to pitchers about Lehmann, the superlatives don't stop. He is smart. He calls a great game. He is quick to make adjustments. He blocks balls in the dirt very well, so they trust throwing 0-2 sliders in the dirt with a runner on third base. According to teammates, Lehmann's value as their catcher is as high, if not higher, than Butera's. The Twins added Steve Holm and Rene Rivera as veteran catchers, but don't forget Danny Lehmann as a backup catching option for the Twins if something happened to Butera. He has been helping pitchers since long before he led the Rice Owls to the College World Series in 2006 and 2007.
Another catcher who got to spend almost a week in big league camp this year is Dan Rohlfing. Drafted by the Twins in the 14th round out of his high school in St. Louis where he played 3B, the Twins moved him quickly to catcher. A very athletic catcher, Rohlfing has made really godo strides behind the plate. After struggling for three seasons in Rookie Leagues with the Twins, he skipped Beloit and played for Hi-A Ft. Myers in 2010. He actually posted his highest career OPS (.697) when he hit .242/.333/.364. Unfortunately, just as he was getting going, he had a cut on his knee that got infected. After a week in the hospital, he had surgery to remove the infection. After some time to recover, he came back, but soon he was hit by a pitch in a game and fractured his wrist which ended his season. I heard some rumblings that Rohlfing may go to Low A Beloit in 2011 where he would be able to get a lot of playing time behind the plate, which is exactly what the 21-year-old needs to continue to improve his game.
Dan Osterbrock was the Twins 7th round pick out of the University of Cincinnati in 2008. He went to Elizabethton where he was the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year after going 7-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 108 strikeouts (and just eight walks) in 75 innings. 2009 was a rough year for him at Beloit as the soft-tosser gave up too many hits and runs, but he returned to the Snappers to start the 2010 season and went 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts. In that time, he was twice the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week and threw a no-hitter before being promoted to Ft. Myers. He continued his terrific season by posting a 2.73 ERA despite a 7-8 record for the Miracle. Overall, he went 9-9 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. In 139.1 innings, he walked just 28 and struck out 106 batters. He does not throw hard, but he is a very smart pitcher. It will be interesting to see how Double-A treats him. in 2011.
Danny Santana started 2010 in Extended Spring Training, but after Brian Dozier was promoted to Ft. Myers, Santana took his spot in Beloit. The slick-fielding, strong-armed shortstop who will be 20 years old throughout the 2011 season expectedly struggled in his first stint with the Snappers. He went back to Elizabethton when that season started and showed a little bit of pop in his bat considering he is listed at just 5-11 (I doubt it) and 173 pounds (Maybe!). He isn't a fan of the walk at this stage of his career, but the Twins really like him, specifically his speed and his defense. The switch-hitter will likely spend all of 2011 in Beloit.
My Twins minor league sleeper/breakout hitter of the year for 2011 is Daniel Ortiz. The Twins fourth round pick in 2008 from Puerto Rico. He had a solid GCL Twins debut that year, but a knee injury cost him the entire 2009 season. He returned to play in 2010 with the Elizabethton Twins where he hit .259/.299/.498 with 16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. More importantly after a year off, he came on at the end of the year, hitting eight of those 11 home runs in August. A good corner outfield prospect, Daniel Ortiz is one to watch in 2011.
So there you have it, a look at the Dan, Danny and Daniel's in the Twins minor leagues. Although Danny Valencia set the bar pretty high for these guys, don't be surprised if you see a couple of them on 40 man rosters in coming years and who knows, maybe in the big leagues one day.
As I'm sitting in Naples, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, I'm hearing some pretty impressive thunder north of here. Ft. Myers is about 25 miles north and the weather reports indicated rain much of the day, so it is likely I won't be partaking in any baseball activities today. I do plan on being at the ballpark a lot on Friday and Saturday. If you would like to read my thoughts from Ft. Myers on Tuesday and Wednesday, please feel free to do so.
I'm here with Curve for a Strike's Topper Anton and fellow TwinsCentrician Nick Nelson, and Parker Hageman is also around. We had dinner at Michelbob's Ribs in Naples last night with another Twins blogger Steve Lien of the Twins Get Up For Sports blog. So, there are plenty of places you can go to get information and opinions and observations for Twins Spring Training.
And now it is absolutely pouring outside.
Here is some more reading for you today:
- The North Dakota Twins Fan finishes his 3 for 1 series with Kyle Gibson.
- The Baseball Outsider Ed Thoma (who just arrived in Ft. Myers yesterday) continues his Bullpen Candidates series with a look at Carlos Gutierrez.
- Aaron Gleeman continued his Top 40 Minnesota Twins series with his choice for #24.
- Puckett's Pond looks at Storylines through 11 spring games.
- Seth was on KFAN with Paul Allen on Wednesday, live from Hammond Stadium. You can listen to the podcast here.