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.

As you might have noticed, Twins short on relief help in the minors

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects Updated: May 27, 2011 - 1:54 PM

The Twins have been forced to dip into their minor league system for relief help and have come up empty. It's an example of another area of the farm system that needs to be addressed.

Actually, that's a little unfair. In many cases, starters end up converting to relievers as they move through a system or even after they reach the majors. Glen Perkins is an example of someone who was given a chance to start but has thrived as a reliever. Joe Nathan, former starter.

Still, you look at the Twins bullpen and you see players who didn't work out with other organizations, trying to find their niche. Only Alex Burnett and Anthony Swarzak currently are home-grown pitchers in the bullpen. (Not counting the injured Perkins.

Here's a quick look at some relief  prospects, nearly ready or years away. This is not an exhaustive list.

Anthony Slama, RHP, Class AAA Rochester: The only Rochester reliever on the 40-man who hasn't been called up yet. I sense that some Twins folks aren't convinced he can get major league hitters out. They might have no other choice but to give him another shot.

Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, Rochester: The sinker is legit and he can touch 94 miles an hour with his fastball. Perfecting a slider has been his issue ever since he was drafted in the first round in 2008. I know for a fact Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has  been asking for him, but keeps being told he's not ready. He also needs to bring some of his pitches down in the strike zones.

Chuck James, LHP, Rochester:  Upper 80's fastball, slider, curve.  The numbers are pretty strong. With minor league director Jim Rantz watching, James retired all six batters he faced on Tuesday in his most recent outing. Not overpowering but might deserve another shot at the bigs.

Jake Stevens, LHP, Rochester:  Stevens was just promoted to Rochester. He touches 88 but the Twins think he has pretty good stuff. Interesting story from spring training.

Cole DeVries, RHP, Class AA New Britain:  The former Gopher should be promoted to Rochester soon. He stopped throwing his slider because it was affecting his curveball. The curve is his out pitch, and he's rolling with it at New Britain. He's putting himself on the radar.

Dakota Watts, RHP, Class A Fort Myers: Watts has good size and an excellent fastball (clocked at 93-97 miles an hour) to go with a slider. He's still a work in progress in terms of  command, but the tools are there. I watched him give it up against Clearwater last August. I was in manager Jake Mauer's office after the game when he stuck his head in the doorway and said, ``Skip, if that situation comes up again, I want the ball. I want another shot at these guys.'' They like his makeup.

Bruce Pugh, RHP, Fort Myers:  He was a starter last year and was working on change up. But he's been moved to the bullpen this year, where several Twins officials think he can flourish. He throws a fastball and slider, but his fastball - that he runs up there up to 93 mph - has real nice movement and is a bat misser.

Andew Albers, LHP, Fort Myers:    The Twins think they might have a sleeper here in Albers, a former Padres draft pick and Tommy John club member. He's working out of the bullpen but throws four pitches. And the Twins would like to get him to New Britain before the season ends. I found this story about him.

Ben Tootle, RHP, Class A Beloit: This year is all about recovery for Tootle. He hit 99 on the gun during Cape Cod League action a couple years ago but is recovering from shoulder surgery and is hitting just 87 on the gun at the moment/

WILD CARD

Deinys Suarez, RHP, Extended Spring Training: The Twins signed the Cuban defector a few weeks ago. Suarez came over with Team Cuba teammate Yuniesky Maya in 2009 - 2009!. While Maya signed with Washington for a $7.4 million deal, Suarez has had to wait.....a while....for his deal. Heard he was seeking a seven-figure deal but the Twins talked  him down. He's been working out at extended spring training and the Twins wan to get him to New Britain once he gets in shape. Not sure what he throws or how hard he throws it. But he's 27 years old, so he's got to get moving.

ETC.

Top prospect Aaron Hicks, at Class A Fort Myers, might have to head for the disabled list because of a sprained thumb suffered a few days ago.

Righthander Jeff Manship will miss a few weeks with a strained rotator cuff. It's the first time he's ever missed games with an injury.

Class AAA Rochester Yorman Bazardo is out with a hip flexor strain.

Lefthander Dan Osterbrock is out several weeks because of shoulder surgery

 

ADVERTISEMENT

more twins blogs

See all similar bloggersFull story

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT