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: Hicks, Solarte, Arcia, Sano - the heavy hitters edition

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects Updated: July 17, 2011 - 4:45 PM

BREAKING NEWS: Infielder Steve Singleton was released from the organization on Saturday, He hit .295 in 41 games at Class AA New Britain and was batting .246 in 40 games at Class AAA Rochester when the release occurred. Still trying to chase down details on why this has happened.

Singleton has the ability to be a good hitter but I know the Twins were concerned about his defense. He wasn't a top prospect, but this still is surprising.

UPDATE: Been told that off-the-field issues with Singleton factored into the decision to release him. Heard he also didn't handle things  well when he was sent back to New Britain earlier in the season. He eventually returned to Rochester.

How he handled things didn't help, but the other issues forced the club to cut ties with him.

HICKS WILL CONTINUE TO SWITCH-HIT

Aaron Hicks, the Twins top prospect (at least on the Neal board), hit his fourth homer of the season on Friday to help Class A Fort Myers win.
More importantly, he hit it lefthanded. And two Twins officials said the ball was crushed..

Overall, Hicks is batting .267/.378/.407 at Fort Myers. His left-right splits are huge, as he's just .233/.369/.366 against right-handed pitchers.  He's not as aggressive against righties as he is lefties, and some fans have wondered if he can continue to switch hit.

The Twins, however, have seen enough improvement to not consider that.

``It's been brought up,'' Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said,  ``but there wasn't enough concern to as ask him to bat right-handed only.''

And, Anthony added, ``I think he's been swinging better. I think he's come a million miles this year. He's starting to look like a guy who knows what he needs to do.''

UPDATE: Whoever played the Luis Rivas card in questioning Hicks'' status as a prospect is way off base. Rivas didn't have close to the offensive potential Hicks has. The guy walked 88 times last season, which shows he has excellent plate discipline. He has a cannon for an arm and plays good defense. He's still developing as a hitter,with the potential to hit for decent power. Evaluators across the country are high on him. Give him time.

WHERE TO PUT SOLARTE?

Yangervis Solare can hit. He had a .441 batting average over a ten-game stretch for Class AA New Britain to enter Saturday with a .336 average on the season, second in the Eastern League.

But can he field?

The Twins have been trying to figure out where to play him. He's not fast, so he's not going to cover a lot of ground in the outfield and doesn't have a lot of range in the infield. He's playing second base at New Britain, and some think he can stick there. There's also a belief that he will be better at third because he won't have MLB-caliber range at second.

He's committed six errors this season at New Britain, where  he has played 15 games in the outfield and 58 at second.

If he keeps hitting, the Twins will find a spot for him.

ARCIA DRAWS ATTENTION

ESPN's Keith Law has updated his top 50 prospects list.

He dropped Aaron Hicks from 10 to 15.

He moved Miguel Angel Sano from 29 to 23.

The big mover was Fort Myers outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who jumped from 74 all the way to 27. That's a big leap.

Arcia looks like he's going to be a pretty solid outfielder and has put him impressive numbers. He just returned from elbow surgery but entered Saturday hitting .371 over his last ten games. Overall, he's batting .304 with 2 homers and 9 RBI in 16 games since getting healthy and getting promoted to Fort Myers.

Law's take: ``I have to think he would have been in the Futures Game if he'd been healthy. He's hitting .300/.345/.480 in a tiny sample in high-A as a 20-year-old who projects to stay in right field.''

I've heard Arcia being compared to a Jason Kubel with better defense (mainly because of Kubel's knee surgery years ago). And I've heard Bob Abreu with less speed. It's hard to project a player who hasn't had a full year in High-A. But Arcia is one to watch.

ABOUT SANO

A friend of mine recently went to Elizabethton to check out Twins prospects. His take on Miguel Angel Sano:

``He's really,really raw. But when he makes solid contact, flames come out of the baseball.''

Sano has 14 errors in 24 games at E-Town. Antony said Sano has great hands and a great arm, but he's just trying to make too many fantastic plays and attempting things he shouldn't attempt.

That's what rookie ball is for, folks. To learn to stay within yourself, among other things.
 

FINALLY....

Three pitchers at Elizabethton on Saturday combined for a no-hitter against Greenville. All three were selected in this year's draft.

Righthander Tim Shibuya (23rd round) started and went seven innings, striking out six. Righthander Garrett Jewell (31st round) replaced him tor the eighth inning. Righthander Steven Gruver (seventh round) struck out two in the tenth to complete the masterpiece.

 

 

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