La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Weekend minor league notes

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects, Vikings draft Updated: August 7, 2010 - 12:07 PM

THE WALKING WOUNDED AT FORT MYERS

I had a chance to visit rehab row at Fort Myers this week.

That's what I call it. It's a row of stalls at the minor league complex where all players who are rehabbing from injuries dress. It's where I interviewed Jason Kubel in 2005 as he came back from his terrible knee injury. It's also where I interviewed Juan Rincon as he served his suspension for violating the league's PED policy.

The names of the players - Zink, Bashore, Tootle, Tosoni, Hughes, Steedley, Hendriks....Maroth - are above the stalls. A few of their stories:

It's been a rough year for Mike Maroth, a lefty who is trying to revive his career after a shoulder and knee problems in 2008 and 2009. But he's battled more elbow problems this season. He had a bone spur removed at midseason and tried to throw some rehab innings in the GCL but was in the Twin Cities last week when he ran into more discomfort.

UNDER THE KNIFE - TWICE

I spoke with Luke Hughes. ``It's been really frustrating,'' he said.

Hughes had quite the surgical experience this year. He's been hampered by groin muscle injuries the past few years and was diagnosed in June with a sports hernia - which led to a very interesting day a few weeks ago.

Hughes went in to have his sports hernia operated on. While still knocked out in the surgery room, the hernia surgeon walked out, the groin surgeon walked in and repaired his groin. A 2-for-1!

The groin surgery? ``It's called adductor release surgery,'' Hughes said. ``My adductor has never been able to get loose. So they make a tiny incision in the muscle, and it just releases.''

While this season  - in which he's played just 22 games in the minors (two in the majors) - has been lost, you have not seen the last of Luke Hughes. The Twins coaching staff believes Hughes can hit and is decent at second base. He could be a bench player next season or someone on hold at Class AAA Rochester.

ELBOW A CONCERN

Lefthander Matt Bashore was the Twins' supplemental pick (46th overall) in 2009. But he's out for the year because of Tommy John surgery.

Definitely a blow - and a bigger one than you think. Bashore had Tommy John surgery at age 16 too. Bashore hasn't turned 23 yet and has thrown two innings for the Twins but has two had ligament reconstruction surgeries. Not good.

OTHER FLORIDA NOTES

Tom Brunansky, the former Twin who now is on the staff of the GCL Twins, is full of energy and enthusiasm, which should help those kids get through a season where they are learning about themselves and putting up with major humidity on a daily basis. I can see him managing a team soon.

Talked to Class A Fort Myers manager Jake Mauer, who has a brother who is pretty good at baseball. Like most Twins minor league teams this year, the team is losing and he's doing all he can to keep spirits up.

Mauer,during extended spring training games this year. said he took a team over to play the Red Sox that included shortstop Jorge Polanco,one of the three big international signings the Twins pulled off last year.

Polanco was 16 at the time. Mauer looked at the Red Sox lineup and saw that Clay Buchholz was on the mound that day and immediately worried about his young kid getting carved up by the pro.

``First at-bat, he hits a double to right and pulls into second like it was nothing,'' Mauer said.

The next inning, Polanco rushed in on a slow roller and made an excellent play. Mauer thinks Polanco is a sleeper. He's very smooth with good range and a good arm. The Twins think he'll be able to hold his own at the plate.

Mauer also had a couple stories about Miguel Angel Sano. Mauer watched Sano hit an opposite-field homer this year that grown men have trouble doing. Sano also pulled a line drive down the left field line that hit the top of the fence and popped over for a homer - but the ball got down the line so fast that the ump thought it was a ground rule double. He had to consult with the other umpire before ruling it a homer. 

ONE LAST THING

If you are on twitter, it's worth following @JimcallisBA, who gets all the draft signing info that teams - the Twins included - hold back on.

Here's one tweet from yesterday:

``Twins, 23-rd RHP Dallas Gallant agree on $122,500 bonus. Power stuff returned when he went back to pen in Cape Lg.''

That's like sixth round money. So the Twins must really like Gallant. Here's a story about the signing.

Here's one out of the Cape Cod league that mentions his fastball.

Will have a report next week about visiting the Fort Myers Miracle and watching one of the worst baeball games I've ever seen. Deibinson Romero, what has happened to you????????

 

 

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