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.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Fort is Calling: Hicks, Gibson make top 50

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: January 26, 2011 - 11:47 AM has released its ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball. The Twins have two among the top 50 - outfielder Aaron Hicks at 39 and righthander Kyle Gibson at 40.

I think those rankings are fair. Some Twins fans would have Gibson in front of Hicks - Baseball America has Gibson as the No. 1 Twins prospect with Hicks second - but I think Hicks still deserves the edge because of the five-tool potential he has. Gibson is pretty good - he's got a very good sinker and very good slider - but most projections have him as a No. 2 starter in the majors. has Miguel Angel Sano ranked 60th. The story pointed out how current overall No. 1 prospect Mike
Trout (he can really run) just missed the Top 50 last year but made a big jump during the year. This will be an interesting year for Sano, who got his feet wet in the U.S. last year. He's still growing and will likely end up at third one day. But the Twins are going to have him play plenty at short as much as they can because he'll be better off learning the game from that position. 

Sano is one reason whythis guy thinks the Twins have a farm system worth keeping an eye on.

I'll reveal my rankings during spring training. And I'm lobbying the bosses to resume running the weekly minor league report in the newspaper. It was internet-only last year. Keep your fingers crossed.


I just received this e-mail from Julian (yes, THAT Julian).

Juan Berenguer has been added to the line-up for Ballpark Tours 3rd Annual Last Hot Stove League Banquet & Charity Auction scheduled for this Friday Jan 28th – Carpenter’s Hall 710 Olive Street in St. Paul. Senor Smoke will join Jim Kaat at the podium as our keynoters. In addition, local author Pete Schilling will chat about the art of heckling & a couple of media usual suspects (not sure who yet) will take part in our Q & A. The focus of the event is to raise money for the Dunning Little League baseball program & this anti-dome crowd will be able to bid on an auction item sure to ‘bring down the roof’!!!! The Ballpark Tours gang has raised over $50,000 for the fields at Dunning over the years. 
Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Anodyne Coffee, 43rd and Nicollet, 612-824-4300 and St. Paul: Golden Thyme Coffee, 921 Selby, 651-645-1340.

Pitchers and catchers report in 22 days....pitchers and catchers report in 22 days....


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