Hartman: Talent in minors will help Twins in future

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2013 - 9:36 PM

GM Terry Ryan is hopeful several young pitchers can keep progressing and address his club’s biggest need.

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Twins General Manager Terry Ryan

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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The Twins recently returned from one of their better road trips, going 4-3 against the Angels and Mariners. They were competitive in every game and haven’t lost a series in the second half of the season.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was asked if he feels any better about the team’s performance.

“I feel better about it, but we’re still [13] games under .500 [before Wednesday’s games at 45-58] and that’s not good enough and our record is not good enough,” said Ryan, who kept his word about not trading first baseman Justin Morneau or any player unless he got value in exchange.

“Going into August you don’t want to be in our position. We’re not in a good spot. Even though we’re making strides and [with] some of the younger guys you can start to see some progress, that’s good, but we still are not anywhere near up there with the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians, and that’s where we need to go.”

Ryan also said that while it’s apparent the Twins are struggling, there are positive days ahead for the organization.

“There are days when you feel very proud of what’s going on,” he said. “Our minor leagues are better and more healthy. It’s good to see that Triple-A club [Rochester] finally piece together a pretty good six weeks here and get up to first place. The two A clubs [Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids] have been good all year. Our Double-A club [New Britain] is struggling right now.

“There are some things going on here that are pretty good; unfortunately [the Twins’] record isn’t.”

Ryan said another positive has been the improved defensive play of second baseman Brian Dozier and shortstop Pedro Florimon, along with the rest of the center of the diamond.

“[Aaron] Hicks is one of the better center fielders, period,” Ryan said. “We have some defense up the middle, which is good. Then when you have [Joe] Mauer behind the plate, that is kind of a nice situation where we’ve got some people there that we can rely on defensively. Also they are starting to take better at-bats. We need Hicks to do better offensively, but Florimon and Dozier are starting to take better, more consistent at-bats to provide some offense.”

On the optimistic side, Ryan said the Twins finally have a solid club in Rochester. He pointed to Andrew Albers as a pitcher who could help the team next season.

“Albers works off of deception,” he said about the lefthander who has an 11-5 record and 2.86 ERA for the Red Wings. “He’s athletic and he throws strikes, he’s certainly not afraid. But most of the stuff he throws up there, on a scale it’d probably be below average. But he does have that deceptive delivery, he has funk, he has the stamina. He is a legitimate starting pitcher. He seems to get into that seventh or eighth inning quite often.”

Ryan also talked about Chris Colabello, who has started showing some results for the Twins from the promise he had shown at Rochester.

“Colabello is a guy that pretty much graduated from that Triple-A team,” Ryan said. “He put up tremendous numbers. He hit that home run the other night off of Seattle and that has been a pretty regular feat for him at Rochester, it was just a matter of time.”

The Twins certainly need to add some capable pitching next season if they are to improve. Ryan had a few names in mind.

“[Michael] Tonkin is certainly in that area,” said Ryan. “I believe that [Liam] Hendriks [and] Albers possibly could help us. I just left some of those guys at Double-A, but Trevor May has a chance to help us. There are a handful of guys that ultimately are going to help us. I hope that we can get Alex Meyer back here. I’m thinking it might be August 10th or so that he’ll start for New Britain. But he has a chance to be a guy for us.”

If the pitching doesn’t show a big improvement next season, the Twins will continue to struggle.

Teague talks TV

Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague was asked if the football team’s lone nonconference road game at New Mexico State on Sept. 7 will be televised.

“[The first game of the year at home against] UNLV will be, and we’re not sure about New Mexico State on the road yet,” he said.

Right now the word from a good source is there is no chance of the New Mexico game being televised.

However, Teague added: “All of that will be coming out here really soon as the Big Ten starts shuffling and assigning TV assignments. We’ll see. I have a feeling it probably will [be televised] and we hope so.”

Jottings

• Gophers football coach Jerry Kill spent most of Wednesday being interviewed at the ESPN studios at Bristol, Conn.

• ESPN NFL reporter Mel Kiper Jr. released his top 25 players under 25 and, while no Vikings made the list, tight end Kyle Rudolph and left tackle Matt Kalil were mentioned among 10 players who barely missed the cut. For Rudolph, he wrote: “His TD total [nine] surpassed those of Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis and was tied for second among tight ends.” On Kalil, Kiper wrote: “[He] was actually best as a pass protector. He started all 16 games at left tackle and allowed only two sacks.”

• Former Twin Francisco Liriano is 11 innings short of qualifying for the leaders in National League pitching statistics. Even though he didn’t make his first start until May 11, Liriano is already fifth in the league in victories with 11, only two behind leader Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. His 2.16 ERA would rank fourth in the NL.

• Tom Windle and Chris Anderson, the two Minnesota natives who were drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, continue to pitch great for the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich., in the Class A Midwest League.

Windle, the former Gopher from Maple Grove, is 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched, with only eight walks. Anderson, the Lino Lakes native, is 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched, with 14 walks.

• Incoming Gophers freshman golfer Jose Mendez from San Jose, Costa Rica, won his second junior tournament of the summer last week at the Bob Jones Junior Championships in Yorba Linda, Calif., shooting a 7-under 206 and winning by four strokes. Mendez won the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships the week before.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com.

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