Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

The official minor-leaguer of Section 219

Posted by: Howard Sinker under Farm System Updated: March 24, 2010 - 9:03 AM

In Section 219, we don't take cheap shots about people owing to their physical attributes. The blog proprietor is taller than most of you -- and everyone on the 40-man roster except for Jon Rauch and Loek van Mil.

But while Ms. Baseball and I were watching the end of the game during the commercial breaks in Lost, we both did a stunned double take at the guy who came in to replace Orlando Hudson midway through the game.

No. 90, the little fella who looked like one of those kids who runs on the field before Sunday games and stands next to a Twins player during the Star Spangled Banner.

This guy:

 

That's Chris Cates, the 5-foot-3 infielder who played for Fort Myers last year and was the starting shortstop for the South in the Florida State League all-star game.

(Photos courtesy of Jim Crikket)

Cates, 24, played college baseball for Louisville and was taken by the Twins in the 38th round of the 2007 amateur draft. During minor-league training camp last season, first baseman Rene Leveret decided to show off some of his football moves -- and did this when he couldn't find a football.

 

We'll do our best not to lobby for his promotion if J.J. Hardy struggles. At least we won't do it with a straight face -- for now. Our guy Chris has some serious holes in his game, according to his career stats. Only 24 extra-base hits (22 doubles, 2 triples and no homers) in 1050 plate appearances, for example. And he's been successful on only 50 percent of his stolen base attempts (19 for 38).

But it's great that the Twins have a 21st-century version of Houston Jimenez, the tiny shortstop who inherited the position by default in 1984 despite a lack of range, an average arm and batting numbers of .201/.238/.245 in 108 games. (His OPS+, for those of you like that number, was 32.) And now we kind of know why Jimenez ripped the job away from Ron Washington, don't we?

One of the things La Velle will do when the season starts is keep you up to date on the Twins' top minor-leaguers -- guys like Revere, Hicks, Gibson and Sano.

In Section 219, we promise to keep you up to date on the Twins' littlest minor-leaguer, the guy who makes Nick Punto look like Prince Fielder.

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