Before you get started, be sure to listen to last night’s 90-minute Twins Minor League Weekly show. There were a lot of great topics discussed, so listen to it and let me know what you think. Feedback is always welcome!
As I mentioned yesterday, the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 will be available soon. As has been the case in previous years, there will be over 160 profiles of Twins minor league prospects, from AJ Achter to Jacob Younis. It includes my choices for the Twins top prospects in the Dominican Summer League. There are special articles from Cody Christie (NoDak Twins Fans) and Roger Dehring (Twinkie Town).You’ll find my updated prospect list and the history of my top 30 Twins prospects over the past seven years (which is rather interesting in retrospect!). I also wrote articles with a ton of quotes from Brian Dozier (Hitter of the Year), Liam Hendriks (Starting Pitcher of the Year) and Andrew Albers (Relief Pitcher of the Year).
Today, I thought I would share with you a couple of paragraphs from the three articles. Each is full of quotes from each player.
BRIAN DOZIER – SS – Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year
He credited his manager, Jake Mauer. “I tell you what, he’s a player’s coach. He’s been there, gone through the system and everything. He really relates to his players very well.”
He moved up to New Britain and worked for former Twins hero Tom Brunansky, a member of the Twins 1987 World Series championship team. Dozier said, “He is one of the best when it comes to hitting. He knows how to hit. Actually, when I got moved up, he found a couple of little tweaks in my swing that I never knew I was doing. He showed me on film. I was like, ‘Well, that makes sense!’ Ever since then, since that first week, we worked really hard in the cage, and he found a couple of things, and it took off from there.”
Mark Dolenc is a Minnesota native who spent the past two seasons in New Britain. He said, “When Dozier came up, he immediately stepped in and took on a leadership role.”
Dozier said, “I think from a leadership aspect, everybody kind of looks to the shortstop. They are the captain on the infield. I know Gardy takes a lot of pride in his shortstop being like the quarterback on the field. I’ve taken that to heart a lot. Same thing with my college coach, he was the same way. I’m not a big vocal guy. I never have been. I do try to put myself into the right situations, the right place at the right time, not only on the field but off the field. If you play the game the way it is supposed to be played and always give 110%, people respect that. I try to do that each and every day.”
LIAM HENDRIKS – RH SP – Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year
“I was lucky because when I was younger, I didn’t throw very hard, so I had to throw strikes. I was able to keep it up and as I started throwing harder it stuck with me which is always good. I can locate most (of my pitches) pretty well. I think my changeup is my best pitch, but at times, it is the slider, and every now and then, it’s even the curve ball. I’ve got the pitches so if one isn’t working, I can hopefully fall back on another one.”
“Philosophy-wise, just get ahead. You look at the averages up 0-2, rather than down 2-0. As soon as you get ahead, it makes the hitters sweat a little bit. Most of the time, guys aren’t going to hit you hard.”
It has been a meteoric rise through the Twins farm system the past two years. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he pitched in Beloit (Low A), Ft. Myers (High-A), New Britain (AA), Rochester (AAA) and with the Twins (MLB).
“Every now and then, I’ll think back and think that this takes guys six to eight years to do at times. And I’ve gone from Low A in my first full season in pro ball to the major leagues in two years. I look at it that way and think, ‘Oh Wow! That doesn’t happen often, especially to guys who were signed or drafted out of high school like myself.”
“As I was saying to Luke Hughes, the stars had to align for me to get the call up this year. Luckily enough they did, and hopefully I’ve opened up some eyes up there. I’m hoping to head to spring training and open some more.”
ANDREW ALBERS – LH RP – Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year
22 games with the Miracle, he went 4-1 with four saves. In 52.1 innings, he gave up 48 hits, walked seven and struck out 46.
“My plan was to just go out and be aggressive and pitch to my strengths. I guess I surprised myself a little bit with the first half that I had. Everything kind of went my way, and I caught some breaks and got a little lucky. The defense was outstanding with the likes of Brian Dozier, James Beresford and Aaron Hicks up the middle. Those three guys can make up for a lot of mistakes that I make as a pitcher.”
So what has he learned about himself along this journey?
“I found out that I could still pitch. I had been through a bit of adversity and come out better from it. I learned that I didn't have to live and die with every game and that there are a lot more important issues out there than winning or losing a baseball game. I think being out of the baseball world and not having a job in affiliated ball allowed me to gain a new perspective on different areas of my life. I began to enjoy baseball a lot more and was able to relax more on the mound instead of putting so much pressure on myself to perform every time out. I think that attitude has greatly contributed to my success.”
All three of these players played at least half of season at Double-A New Britain, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that we could see all three players in a Twins uniform. All three were generous with their time as they answered my questions via e-mail and on podcasts and such.
I’m really excited about the 2012 book. I think that the three previous books were good and this one can be better. Twins blogger Josh Johnson designed the cover. Johnson, along with TwinsCentric’s Nick Nelson and the NoDak Twins Fan Cody Christie, helped me by writing some profiles. The profiles are a good combination of stats, advances stats and splits and scouting reports. Much more information will be coming in the near future.
Thank you to all for your support!