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Twins hope to sign several Latin America prospects

  • Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III and PHIL MILLER
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • July 1, 2014 - 10:26 PM

The international signing window opens at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and the Twins hope to sign three or four Latin American prospects.

Two players they appear close to signing are both from the Dominican Republic, righthander Huascar Ynoa and outfielder Jean Carlos Arias. They also believe they are still in the hunt for Venezuelan righthander Anderson Espinosa but might be a longshot to land him. A source with knowledge of talks confirmed the Twins’ interest.

Ynoa is the younger brother of Michael Ynoa, who signed with Oakland in 2008 for $4.25 million, still a record for an international amateur pitcher. The younger Ynoa is ranked as the 14th best international prospect by Baseball America.

As assigned by Major League Baseball, the Twins have the fifth-largest international budget, at $3.69 million. They have been in on several of the top prospects for this signing period.

Two of the top players they have spoken with, Dominican righthander Christopher Acosta and Dominican third baseman Nelson Gomez, appear to be headed elsewhere.

Any team that spends more than the assigned budget will be taxed, but the Yankees and other teams have let it be known that they will spend big this cycle.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said his team will not go over its budget.

“Once you start paying some of that tax, all of a sudden other people get involved,” he said.

But Ryan expects the Twins to sign a good class of international prospects anyway.

“We have interest in a number of players,” he said.

Suzuki All-Star worthy

All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday, but Ron Gardenhire, in following baseball etiquette, has done no direct lobbying with AL manager John Ferrell for any of his players.

In years past, though not every year, “I’ve been called and asked who is deserving,” Gardenhire said, in which case “you throw him their names. If they’re looking for a certain position where they need depth, they’ll call you. Jimmy Leyland reached out, [Mike] Scioscia did one year.”

If Ferrell, the Boston Red Sox manager, calls, though, Gardenhire said he would recommend catcher Kurt Suzuki without reservation.

“Absolutely. [He’s] batting. 300 as a catcher, what he’s done with the pitching staff, he’s handled it pretty doggone good,” Gardenhire said. “So absolutely.”

Suzuki, third on the team in RBI, has never been an All-Star in his eight-year career, but Ryan endorsed the idea as well. “He’s been good from the first day. He solidified things behind the plate for us,” Ryan said. “He’s got durability and stamina — he can play a lot back there. … I’m glad we have him. He’s done a good job here.”

Dozier given break

With righthander James Shields on the mound for the Royals on Tuesday, Gardenhire took the opportunity to load up his lineup with lefthanded hitters, six of them in all counting switch hitters. It also gave him a chance to keep Brian Dozier on the bench for a change.

“He’s been playing every game, every inning, [and] we all see him scuffling a little bit,” Gardenhire said of Dozier, who batted only .185 with no homers over the last half of June.

“He just missed a home run last night, [and] you can see a little frustration in the dugout with him. He’s a little worn out, you can see that, too.”

Dozier had missed only one game this season, on June 13, when he woke up with a sore back in Detroit.

© 2014 Star Tribune