Twins third base prospect and 2004 first-round pick Matt Moses has been demoted to Class AA New Britain after batting .224 and committing 10 errors at Class AAA Rochester.
Moses reported to spring training down 41 pounds and seemingly focused on reaching the majors to claim a position that has been unstable since Corey Koskie left the Twins after 2004, but Moses couldn't get going and recently missed three weeks because of a sore neck.
It's a blow to the organization because Moses was sent to the Arizona Fall League last year to try to speed up the transition from Class AA to Class AAA ball. Now it appears more than ever that the Twins don't have a long-term solution at third close to being ready.
"Part of it was because he had missed three weeks due to an injury," said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues. "He was struggling to catch up. He was doing all right, making some improvements, but he got backed up with this injury.
"We pushed him to the next level, hoping he could handle it. Maybe he would have if he had stayed healthy. But he needs to regroup."
Moses, 22, batted only .249 last season at Class AA New Britain, but was moved up partially to make room for David Winfree, another Twins prospect. Now the two will share time at third at New Britain.
Bully for Buscher
Third baseman Brian Buscher was promoted from New Britain to Rochester to replace Moses. Buscher, a Rule 5 pick from San Francisco, was batting .308 with seven homers and 37 RBI at New Britain. But he is a bit old, at 26, to be considered a top prospect.
"He has a thick build and plays a good third base," Rantz said. "He doesn't strike out a lot and has good at-bats."
Then there's Valencia
All this means that there might be a new top third base prospect in Danny Valencia, a 19th-round pick last year out of the University of Miami.
Valencia led Class A Beloit with a .302 batting average, 11 homers and 35 RBI, earning a promotion this week to Class A Fort Myers.
He hit .311 with eight homers and 29 RBI in 48 games at rookie league Elizabethton, Tenn. last season.
"He's got some power and he's shown that he's not a slug at third base," said Rob Antony, the Twins' director of minor leagues. "He is a prospect.' "
Along with Valencia, first baseman Johnny Woodard and second baseman Brian Dinkleman were promoted to Fort Myers. Third baseman Whit Robbins, third baseman Matt Betsill and outfielder Eli Tintor were sent from Fort Myers to Beloit.
Rochester designated hitter Ken Harvey has had three injections in his right knee with a substance that helps generate cartilage. He remains out indefinitely.
Lefthander Brian Forystek was released from Class AA New Britain.