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.

Posts about Farm System

Twins hire ex-Cubs manager Quade to lead Rochester

Posted by: Phil Miller Updated: December 19, 2014 - 3:11 PM

    With Gene Glynn on the major-league coaching staff next season, the Twins on Friday named former Cubs manager Mike Quade to replace him as manager of the Rochester Red Wings, the team's Class AAA affiliate.

    Quade, 57, has spent 17 seasons as a minor-league manager, including nine at the Triple-A level, and one-plus at the helm in Chicago, where he went 95-104.

    "With his leadership, experience and passion for the game," Twins director of minor league operations Brad Steil said in a statement, "he will be a great addition to the Red Wings family and the Rochester community."

    Glynn, promoted to third-base coach under Paul Molitor for next season, compiled a 226-206 record in three seasons in Rochester, making the International League playoffs in 2013. The Red Wings have been the Twins' top minor-league affiliate since 2003.

    Quade was a roving outfield and baserunning coordinator in the Yankees' minor league system last year, but has served as a manager in five different organizations, compiling a 1,213-1,165 record overall.

    "After a few years away from managing, I was fortunate enough to have an organization that I have the utmost respect for offer me an opportunity to get back to doing what I've done for so many years," Quade said in the Red Wings' statement. "I am truly looking forward to making Rochester another chapter in my baseball life. My thanks to the Twins for bringing me on board."

    Glynn's coaching staff -- pitching coach Marty Mason and hitting coach Tim Doherty -- will return next year under Quade, as will the team's athletic training staff.

     Quade was the Cubs' third-base coach in 2010 when Lou Piniella retired, and he went 24-13 over the final two months to earn a full-time contract. Quade went 71-91 in 2011, his only full season as a major-league manager.

     MAUER RETURNS TO CEDAR RAPIDS: Jake Mauer will return to Cedar Rapids for his third season as manager, the Twins' Class A affiliate announced Friday. Mauer, whose younger brother Joe is the Twins' first baseman, owns a 161-117 record with the Kernels. Mauer, who turns 36 on Saturday, has also managed the organization's farm clubs in the Florida State League and the Gulf Coast League.

    Former Twins infielder Tommy Watkins will return as the Kernels' hitting coach, while Henry Bonilla will serve as pitching coach after spending last season in the same position with Elizabethton.

    SMITH, MIENTKIEWICZ SWAP JOBS: Jeff Smith, who managed the Twins' Class AA team in New Britain, Conn., for the past five seasons, will take over the Class A Fort Myers Miracle next season, the team announced. It's Smith's second stint as manager near his south Florida hometown.

    Smith's new assignment clears the way for former Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to move up to Double-A, where the Twins have changed affiliations for the 2015 season. Mientkiewicz, who led the Miracle to the Florida State League championship in September, will take over the Chattanooga Lookouts next spring, the Twins' new Class AA affiliate.

    Mientkiewicz, 39, will be joined by hitting coach Chad Allen and pitching coach Stu Cliburn, who formed Smith's staff in New Britain last year.    Smith, 40, has managed in the Twins' system for nine seasons, including 2008-09 in Fort Myers, where he went 157-117 and led the Miracle to the playoffs in both seasons. Smith is a native of Naples, Fla., about 20 miles from Fort Myers.

    Smith's staff will include Jim Dwyer, in his 10th season as the Miracle's hitting coach, and Ivan Arteaga, who spent 2014 with Cedar Rapids, as the pitching coach.

    In addition to those appointments, the Twins announced that Ray Smith will return for his 14th season at rookie-level Elizabethton, while Ramon Borrego will run the team's Gulf Coast League team for a sixth season.

Buxton undergoes surgery on broken finger

Posted by: Phil Miller Updated: October 31, 2014 - 3:22 PM

    Byron Buxton's broken finger required surgery to repair, but the procedure to insert a pin to reinforce the bone went without a problem and the Twins' top prospect is expected to be ready for spring training next February.

    Buxton fractured the middle finger on his left hand on Monday while diving for a ball during an Arizona Fall League game. The injury was originally diagnosed as a dislocation, but a hand specialist discovered the fracture.

    Buxton and the Twins had hoped the fracture would heal without operating, but after additional consultation, Twins' minor-league director Brad Steil confirmed Friday, the decision was made to place the pin inside the finger, a procedure which took place Thursday morning in Arizona.

    The damage wasn't as bad as doctors feared, which could speed up his return. Buxton has been told to rest his left hand while it heals, which will limit his ability to swing a bat this winter. But doctors expect him to be able to resume training for the 2015 season by January, well before Twins' camp opens in February.

    The 20-year-old center fielder appeared in 13 AFL games with the Salt River Rafters, hoping to salvage some playing time after an injury-plagued 2014 season. He was batting .263 with five stolen bases when he was injured.

   It's the third injury that Buxton has sustained while diving for fly balls this season. He severely sprained his left wrist on a similar play during the end of training camp last March, costing him nearly three months, and he suffered a concussion during a collision with another outfielder while playing for Class AA New Britain in August.

    Buxton, rated the No. 1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America before the season, also suffered a sore shoulder, bruised toe and bruised right wrist during the season, limiting him to just 31 games.

Meyer leaves Rochester game as precaution

Posted by: Phil Miller Updated: August 30, 2014 - 8:29 PM

    BALTIMORE -- Alex Meyer, rated as the top pitching prospect in the Twins' system, "couldn't get loose" while pitching for Class AAA Rochester on Saturday, a Twins official said, and was removed from the after after recording only four outs.

    The move was "precautionary," Twins director of minor leagues Brad Steil said via text.

    The outing was likely Meyer's final one of 2014, since the International League regular season ends on Monday. Meyer, generally limited to 80-85 pitches all season after suffering a shoulder injury in 2013, had been a candidate for promotion to the major leagues when rosters expand next month, but that's unlikely after he faced only six batters in his final start against Buffalo.

    Meyer, whose fastball is normally clocked at 95 mph or above, was hitting only 90 mph during his brief start. He allowed a run in the first inning on one hit, then a walk and a double in the second before being replaced by Mark Hamburger. Meyer  remained in the dugout as his teammates tried to rally from the early 3-0 deficit.

    Meyer, who leads the IL in strikeouts with 152 in 130 1/3 innings, did not strike out any of the six hitters he faced. A recent strikeout binge -- 67 in his last 52 innings -- gave him a three-strikeout lead over Durham righthander Nate Karns in his attempt to become the first Twins prospect since Boof Bonser in 2005 to win the IL strikeout crown.

    Meyer, acquired from Washington in exchange for center fielder Denard Span two winters ago, is the second top pitching prospect to walk off the mound early with shoulder tightness. Two weeks ago, 2013 first-round pick Kohl Stewart was removed from a game in the second inning and has not pitched since.

Twins promote Sano, two others to Double-A

Posted by: Phil Miller Updated: June 9, 2013 - 6:18 PM

WASHINGTON -- Miguel Sano bid farewell to Class A baseball with a flourish on Sunday. And he wasn't the only one.

Sano, the Twins' top slugging prospect, hit two home runs during Fort Myers' 8-6 loss to Bradenton, then was informed that he had been promoted to Class AA New Britain. He'll head north along with Miracle teammates Eddie Rosario and Angel Morales -- each of whom also homered in their final Class A game.

Sano, a third baseman who was rated the Twins' top prospect by Baseball America, leaves the Miracle after batting .330 with a league-leading 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in just over two months in Fort Myers. Even better, said Twins' minor-league director Brad Steil, his defense has become more consistent.

"His range is improving. He made some pretty good plays the first couple of months, going across the third-base line and making some pretty impressive throws over to first," Steil said. "He's becoming more consistent."

Rosario, a former outfielder being converted to second base, "is becoming more comfortable over there every day," Steil said. "He's making a lot of plays there." Rosario, who batted .329 with six home runs and 35 RBIs, was benched for three games late last month for a violation of team rules, but Steil said that "is not something out of the ordinary."

Morales, a center fielder, was batting .297 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.

To replace the trio, the Miracle activated Lakeville, Minn., native Mike Kvasnicka, an outfielder who has been sidelined all season with a broken hamate bone in his wrist, and first baseman Bryan Haar, who had been playing with the Twins' extended spring training team.

In another move, New Britain shortstop James Beresford was promoted to Class AAA Rochester. Beresford, who played for Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic in March, was batting .323 with 19 RBIs for the Rock Cats.
 

Perdomo "filthy," May impressive throwing BP

Posted by: Phil Miller Updated: February 18, 2013 - 3:31 PM

     Camp grew more interesting on Monday, and warmer, too, once the sun came out. After yesterday's wet and windy workout, today dawned in the 30s, but was well into the 60s by the time the Twins finished working.
     Mike Pelfrey was the star attraction of live BP, given his status as a likely starter -- and you can read more about him in Tuesday's Star Tribune -- but about a dozen more pitchers took the mound, too. As Pelfrey threw on the auxiliary field, Luis Perdomo unleashed his hard, sinking fastball on the main Hammond Stadium diamond. At one point, a coach looked at us writers near the dugout and described him with one word: "Filthy."
     On the other hand, Justin Morneau has seen sinkers before. He timed one of Perdomo's pitches and launched it to the warning track in dead center field.
     Mostly, however, hitters don't take many cuts on the first day, preferring instead to get their timing down after weeks without seeing full-speed pitching. Morneau probably swung at only three pitches in Perdomo's 10-minute throwing session, and Joe Mauer did the same. (There's also more on Mauer in tomorrow's paper, a story written by La Velle E. Neal III.)
     A total of 15 pitchers threw full-speed on Monday, among them: Josh Roenicke, Michael Tonkin, P.J. Walters, Tyler Robertson, Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly, Anthony Slama, Liam Hendriks, and Deolis Guerra.
     I watched Trevor May throw, first time I'd seen the righthander acquired from Philadelphia in the Ben Revere trade, and was impressed. He's a big guy, 6-5 and thick, and he looked confident on the mound. I also watched Samuel Deduno take his turn, and he made one hitter (whom I couldn't see) swing and miss completely, unusual since the batters know what pitch is coming.
     A handful of other sights at camp on Monday:
     -- Joe Mauer took ground balls at first after the regular workout ended. He is also absolutely besieged by crowds of worked-up autograph seekers who shriek his name every time he walks by.
     -- Tom Kelly gave private fielding lessons on a back field Monday, first to Miguel Sano, then to Jeff Clement.
     -- Trevor Plouffe, bothered by a slightly strained calf, didn't take part in fielding drills for a second day.
     -- The Twins closed the workout with baserunning drills, and nobody hustles on each one more than Darin Mastroianni.
 

Twins agree to terms with standout International League reliever

Posted by: Phil Miller Updated: November 10, 2012 - 8:52 PM

The Twins signed Jared Burton and Casey Fien to minor-league deals last offseason and watched them turn into key members of this year’s bullpen. Maybe Tim Wood will do the same.

The Twins announced Saturday night that they’ve agreed to terms on a minor-league deal for Wood, who was named the International League’s best reliever this year by Baseball America.

Wood, who turns 30 next week, posted a 2.19 ERA and notched 21 saves in 54 appearances for Class AAA Indianapolis (Pirates), averaging 8.2 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine innings.

Two years ago, Baseball America’s scouting report on Wood said, “Despite his slender frame and unassuming appearance, Wood can run his fastball up to 94-95 mph with sink.”

He’s battled elbow and shoulder issues in his career but has shown promise when healthy. In 2009, he had a 2.82 ERA in 18 appearances for the Marlins, but over the next two years, he posted a 5.55 ERA in 39 combined appearances for the Marlins and Pirates.

The Twins also agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with catcher Eric Fryer, who batted .204 in 65 games for Class AAA Indianapolis.

Fryer, 27, has batted .267 in 16 career big league games, all with the Pirates. The Twins likely signed him to provide depth at Class AAA Rochester.

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