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.

Minor details: Wimmers, Sano, Kepler, Roberts, major leaguers

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects, Vikings draft Updated: June 15, 2011 - 1:56 PM

Righthander Alex Wimmers will pitch in another intrasquad game tomorrow, which will be his next attempt to regain his control that has shockingly and inexplicably left him this year.

Wimmers began struggling late in spring training and made one start for Class A Fort Myers on April 11. He left that game with several walks, wild pitches and infinity for an ERA.

Since then, he's been working on the side, throwing in simulated games and intrasquad games and trying to talk his problems out with Twins coaches and others. He's even spoken with local sports psychotherapist Rick Aberman.

Still, Wimmers hasn't gotten it all back.

``He's done better his last two outings,'' said Twins director of minor leagues Jim Rantz. ``Don't look at the pitching line because he's walked five or six guys, but he's improved as far as getting closer. We want to get him into a game with the Gulf Coast League team when that season starts.''

The Twins are baffled. You ask them about Wimmers and they just shrug their shoulders. Wimmers was the 2010 college pitcher of the year while at Ohio State and the Twins selected him in the first round that year. In four starts late last season, Wimmers was 2-0, 0.57 with five walks and 23 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.

The Twins hoped Wimmers would move quickly through the organization, somewhat similar to the way Kyle Gibson has. But Wimmers came to camp this year a different pitcher.

All the Twins can do now is support him and hope his old form kicks in.

``We're going to hang in there with him and be patient with him,'' Rantz said. ``It's his confidence. He's worked hard and I think he's going to make it back (to official games) here in the next couple of weeks.''

MIGUEL AND MAUER

Joe Nathan threw 30 pitches today in his quest to come back quickly from sore elbow. As scheduled, Joe Mauer stood in against Nathan. (Rantz did not have an update on Mauer's return)

But the Twins also had infield prospect Miguel Angel Sano stand in for a few pitches too.

``Joe, of course, made contact,'' Rantz said. ``(Sano) did too. He hit one ball that short-hopped the fence.''

Sano is headed to rookie league Elizabethton this season, along with fellow international bonus baby Max Kepler. In 41 games with the GCL Twins last season, Sano hit .291 with 4 homers and 19 RBI. But he's a legitimate power hitting prospect.

NATE ROBERTS CHANNELS HIS INNER DON BAYLOR WELL

Outfielder Nate Roberts got a late start to his first full season in the Twins organization because of minor knee surgery. It hasn't taken long for him to show off his willingness to take pitches - off his body.

Roberts was hit 25 times in 59 games for High Point University last year before the Twins drafted him. In 44 games at Class A Beloit this year, Roberts already has been hit 21 times.

He's batting .270 with no homers 18 RBI and six stolen bases for the Snappers. But he has a .436 on base percentage.

He's walked 20 times and has been hit 21 times. Throw in 37 hits and he's been on base a lot.

DRAFT UPDATE

With so much going on with the major league club, it's been hard to get draft signings in the dead tree edition.

The Twins have signed 15 of their picks from the draft, which was held earlier this month.

The highest pick to sign is fifth rounder Tyler Grimes, a shortstop from Wichita State.

Seventh round pick Steven Gruver, a lefthander from Tennessee; ninth-rounder Adam Bryant, a shortstop from Troy State and lefthander Steven Evans, from Liberty University also have signed.

The other signed picks are from the 18th round and later. They include Gophers shortstop A.J. Petterson, drafted in the 25th round.

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