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.
Mike Pelfrey is coming off of his longest outing of the season and just his third quality start (at least 6 innings, giving up no more than three earned runs). He can build a little momentum with a strong outing against Philadelphia. That could be a little tough, as Pelfrey is 7-7, 5.16 in his career against the Phils.
Lefthanded hitters are batting .308 against the Phillies' Tyler Cloyd, so Twins manager Ron Gardenhire inserted Eduardo Escobar into the starting lineup tonight. He could not, however, find a spot for Chris Parmelee, who is on the bench.
Gardenhire is trying various ways to get the offense going. I asked him if he feels he has to start manufacturing runs, and he said he'd like to try but doesn't have many manufacturers in the batting order. Mauer, Willingham, Doumit. Morneau and Arcia are not out there to bunt. He said he tried the hit and run three times during the Washington series when the right people were involved.
Ryan Pressly is not available tonight - not because of his shoulder issue from the weekend. He's sick. After a team physician examined him, he and his germs were sent home.
Jared Burton said he's ready to pitch tonight after taking a couple days off give his injured groin some extra rest. He threw a few pitches in the bullpen this afternoon to make sure.
Congrats to Dick Bremer, who will be inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Eddie Guardado has arrived in town in advance of his induction into the Twins Hall of Fame on Friday. Tom Mee, former director of Public Relations, also is being inducted. Current Twins Hall of Fame members Rick Aguilera, Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek, Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva, Jim Perry, Brad Radke and Jim Rantz are scheduled to attend the ceremony prior to the Twins' game against the Tigers.
1. Michael Young, 3B
2. Ben Revere, CF
3. J-Roll, SS
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Domonic Brown, LF
6. Delmon Young, DH
7. John Mayberry, Jr. RF
8. Freddy Galvis, 2B
9. Steve Lerud, C
Pitching: Tyler Cloyd, RHP
1. Jamey Carroll, 3B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Dooms, RF
4. Hammer, DH
5. Mourny. 1B
6. Oswaldo Arcia, LF
7. Clete Thomas, CF
8. Little Hammer, 2B
9. Flory, SS
Pitching: Pelf, RHP
Here are three Twins' thoughts following their win over the Phillies on Tuesday:
1. WALTERS ROCKS: P.J. Walters isn't an ace-like in dominance. But he's doing everything to stabilize the Twins' rotation as he's 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts since being called up from Class AAA Rochester. Walters doesn't have overpowering stuff but is a pretty smart pitcher. The Phillies offense in 10th in drawing walks, so Walters knew they would be an agressive hitting team. He changed speeds and stayed one step ahead of them all night. ``You have to get strike one to do that,'' Walters said of facing teams like the Phillies. He threw 17 of 29 first-pitch strikes - there have been percentages but it was enough for him to pitch into the eighth on Tuesday. He curveball was very sharp.
2. MORNEAU'S LACK OF POWER: At the beginning of the season, I was asked to predict Justin Morneau's home run total. I thought he would hit 25. Someone said that seemed low. I didn't think that was a bad total at all. Morneau was a good hitter in the minors before he realized he could be a good power hitter. I thought that he could fall back on that foundation and still be a good run producer despite not hitting 30 home runs. I didn't think the man would have just TWO home runs at this point of the season. But my premise remains the same. If Morneau remembers that he's a good hitter, he can drive in runs on this team. And sometimes when you don't try to hit home runs is when you start to hit home runs.
3. THE FUTURE: This really has little to do with tonight's game. But Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario are now at Class AA New Britain. If they do well during the second half of the season, then they are threats to have an impact on the 2014 Twins. That means Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier need to take advantage of the present or risk getting run over by the future. Plouffe has to return from his rehab stint at Rochester with a hot bat. He has present and future challenges to his job because Deibinson Romero is playing well at Rochester (Terry Ryan did say today that Romero still isn't in full game shape yet) in addition to Sano at New Britain. Dozier's defense has been above average this season, but he needs to produce more at the plate. And he made a poor baserunning play in the fourth inning Tuesday when he slowed down on a grounder to second and thus made himself an easy runner to tag out and start a double play. Now that Sano and Rosario are at New Britain, stuff is about to get real.
The bus riders are the players who get on base. That's been pretty non-existent lately, as the leadoff spot when 0-for-24 on their recently-completed road trip to Kansas City and Washington.
The bus drivers are your main run producers in the middle of the order. Well, the Twins were 7-for-59 (.119) during the road trip.
So what do you have when you there are no bus riders or bus drivers? A broken down bus. They hope to get right against the Phillies and lefthander Cole Hamels tonight. Hamels is 2-9 but entered the season 91-60 in his career and could always have a flashback moment.
Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI today for Class AAA Rochester as he continues with his rehab stint there. Plouffe could return to the team in a few days and needs to bring a hot bat with him. With Deibinson Romero playing well at Rochester and Miguel Sano now at Class AA New Britain, there are present and future challenges in place for the third base job.
OPEN TRYOUTS: The Twins will hold an open tryout at the Metrodome on June 19, 2013. Registration is set to begin at 8:15 a.m. near Gate H on Wednesday, June 19th. Only players that are eligible to sign a professional contract may participate To be eligible, players must be a high school graduate, junior in college or at least 21 years of age.
FAN MILESTONE: The 10 millionth fan in Target Field history should roll through the park tonight. The Twins have drawn 9,983,735 in attendance, making them just 16,265 shy of 10 million. And, no, that fan will not receive any special prizes.
Will check in later with lineups and updates
1. Michael Young, 3B
2. Ren Revere, CF
3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Domonic Brown, LF
6. Delmon Young, DH
7. John Mayberry, Jr. RF
8. Freddy Galvis, 2B
9. Humberto Quintero, C
Pitching: Cole Hamels, LHP
1. Jamey Carroll, 3B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Ryan Doumit, RF
4. Josh Willingham, DH
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Oswaldo Arcia, LF
7. Brian Dozier, 2B
8. Clete Thomas, CF
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
Pitching: P.J. Walters, RHP
TENTH ROUND, C.K. IRBY, RHP
Indications are that he will be a reliever, where his fastball has touched 95 miles an hour to go with a nice curve. Has been a two-way player in college and used as a starter or reliever.
Baseball America has him ranked 233rd. Here's what was written about him:
Irby helped Samford reach regionals in 2012 as a closer (10 saves, 2.06 ERA) and has contributed as a two-way player throughout his career, hitting at a .384 clip with eight home runs entering the season’s last regular-season weekend while spending most of his time at first or third base. Scouts like him on the mound and prefer him in a bullpen role, which made it difficult to evaluate the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder this season. The loss of three senior starters from 2012 forced Irby into the weekend rotation this spring, and his velocity has settled into the 87-90 mph range. In the past he hit 95 and sat 89-93 as a reliever, throwing enough strikes with his fastball to set up his plus curve. He has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning over more than 150 career innings and has a good feel for his breaking ball. Irby has a max-effort approach to the game, and hitting and pitching has taken a lot out of him this spring. A fresh Irby could move quickly as a future middle reliever.
Here's a recent story on Irby
That's it for today! Will be back tomorrow for more, but information might be touch to come by as we near the 40th round!
NINTH ROUND, MITCHELL GARVER, C
Yes, the Twins go for another catcher in Garver, who played well in the Cape Cod Leaguwas undrafted as a junior but came and carried it into his senior year, during which he batted .390 with 6 homers and 68 RBI. He improved his defense, but scouts wonder if his offense was a result of playing in a hitter-friendly enviroment.
Baseball America ranked him 230th, here's their write-up:
Garver is one of the top senior talents in the draft, and could get pushed even further up draft boards because it’s a thin year for college catching. Scouts liked him behind the plate in the Cape Cod League last summer, and he has good defensive statistics this spring. He is a good athlete at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, runs well for a catcher and has above-average arm strength. Still, some scouts doubt his ability to catch long-term in pro ball. He’ll need to do that to have value because while he’s a solid hitter who drives the ball to all fields, it’s to the gaps and he doesn’t really profile as a corner-quality bat. Scouts also wonder how much of Garver’s production is park-related. Heading in the final weekend of the season, he ranked fifth in the country with 84 hits, but he was batting .496 in the thin air in Albuquerque, and .281 on the road. After hitting 10 home runs as a junior–when he went undrafted–he had four this season. Still, as a senior at a premium position, Garver could get pushed up as high as the fifth round.
Like Stuart Turner, Garver is a Johnny Bench Award finalist. The Twins have drafted two of the three finalists for that award.
Here's a little bit from MLB.com.
Garver has improved defensively in the last year, quieting most of the concerns about his ability to remain behind the plate as a professional. He is an average receiver with a solid arm. Garver has also played left field, but his bat profiles much better if he can catch.
I want to blend Turner's defense, Navarreto's power and Garver's hitting for average. I would have one heck of a prospect!
EIGHTH ROUND, DUSTIN DEMUTH, 3B
The Twins add their second University of Indiana player when they selected third baseman Dustin DeMuth. DeMuth led the Hoosiers with a .396 batting average - 12th in Division I - but hit just five home runs to go with 40 RBI. It's the low power numbers that have the draftniks concerned. But he's listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, and the frame is probably what attracted the Twins. He's also swiped 11 bases.
Baseball America has DeMuth ranked as the 278th best prospect in the draft. He's also played some second base and shortstop.
Here's his campus bio.
SEVENTH ROUND, BRIAN GILBERT, RHP
Early indications are that Gilbnert is a reliever, but he has started some in his college career and the Twins aren't afraid to give him a chance to start if he has a good third pitch. The worst case is that he returns to relieving.
Baseball America has him ranked 495th,
Gilbert went 4-4 with a .240 ERA in 27 games (one start) while collecting six saves.
SIXTH ROUND, BRIAN NAVARRETO, C
High school catchers can be tough to project because they might grow out of the position and they don't have extensive experience calling games and dealing with pitchers. But then some tools can't be ignored. The Twins drafted catcher Brian Navarreto in the sixth round out of Arlington Country Day school (Jacksonville, Fla.). Here's MLB.com's write-up on him:
In a Draft class fairly deep in high school catching, it would be smart not to forget about this Florida prep standout. Big and strong, Navarreto has the chance to hit for both average and power, with bat speed and loft. He has a good plan at the plate and makes adjustments well. He has a strong arm that he's not afraid to show off from behind the plate and is fairly athletic. He's the kind of strong competitor teams like to see at the position as well, giving him the chance to maximize his solid all-around tools.There are other high school backstops who will go ahead of Navarreto, but he shouldn't have to wait too long to hear his name called.
Ranked 185th by Baseball America
Navarreto played a role in this incident, not sure when it happened.
Here's BA's write-up:
Navaretto attends the same school as 2011 Cubs first-rounder Javier Baez and and was playing in a tournament against a team from Oklahoma in March when he was involved in a game-ending brawl. It just added to the makeup questions scouts have about Navaretto, who otherwise has the physicality and arm strength to get scouts excited about him as a future catcher. He has his "man strength" at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, yet shows good agility behind the plate as well as an above-average arm with consistent 1.85-second pop times. He'll tap into his plus raw power if he can shorten up his swing, which is on the long side. In a deep year for prep catchers, Navaretto matches up with just about anyone physically and had some third-round helium.
FIFTH ROUND: AARON SLEGERS, RHP
The Twins selected Indiana U Aaron Slegers, a 6-foot-10 inch righthander. Slegers, the 2013 Big Ten pitcher of the year, has battled injuries in the past but was healthy this year. He went 9-1 with a 1.94 ERA for the Hoosiers this season. In 92 innings, he struck out 53 and walked 13. He gave up one home run all season.
Ranked 226th by Baseball America
Injuries limited Slegers to just 10 innings from 2010, his senior year in high school, to 2012. He is finally healthy this season and, as a redshirt sophomore, has taken over as Indiana's ace, helping lead the Hoosiers to a Big Ten championship. Slegers typically throws his fastball about 90 mph and has touched 95 mph. He has a good approach on the mound and is able to add and subtract from his fastball as needed. Slegers also throws a solid changeup and is working to improve his slider. He is listed at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, but repeats his delivery well for a pitcher of his size.
Here's a story on Slegers as Indiana prepares for Super Regional action this weekend.
FOURTH ROUND, STEPHEN GONSALVES, LHP
The Twins select lefthander Stephen Gonsalves, a lefthander out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, Calif. From what I can tell, he posted a 1.91 ERA in 14 games. Not sure how many wins because some of his outings were three innings.
He's got good size with a fastball that been clocked at 92-93 miles an hour. Sounds like he's a little raw and needs to improve his other pitches, but the crew on mlb.com's webcast said he entered the season expected to go higher in the draft so the Twins might have landed a pitcher with upside.
Ranked 107th by Baseball America
Here's what MLB.com wrote about him:
A high school lefty, Gonsalves had a very good summer, pitching well at the Area Code Games and the Perfect Game All-American Classic, though an inconsistent spring had some wondering just how high he'd go on Draft day.This is a pretty decent class for prep southpaws, and with his size and projectability, Gonsalves has the upside to be the best of the lot. He uses a full overhand delivery to fire 88-91 mph fastballs, though he was up to 93 mph at the Perfect Game Classic. He'll throw a plus changeup at times to go along with a slurve, which is a bit of a concern to scouts. So was the fact he struggled with his command for parts of the spring after a fairly successful summer on the showcase/USA Baseball tour. Still, many teams will have trouble looking past the ceiling and Gonsalves still has the chance to hear his name called fairly early in the Draft
THIRD ROUND, STUART TURNER, C
The Twins have selected University of Mississippi catcher Stuart Turner with their pick (No. 78 overall) of the MLB draft.
Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said before the draft that there was good catching depth in this year's draft, and follows that up by taking Turner, who played two years at a junior coilege before spending a year with Mississippi.Turner was considered one of the best catchers in the SEC, one of the strongest conferences in the country. Not too shabby for someone playing one year in that conference.
Ranked 110th by Baseball America.
Defense is his strength, with some concerns about his ability to make consistent contact.
Turner batted .374 for Ole Miss with 5 homers and 51 RBI in 62 games. He posted a .444 on base percentage. He threw out 21 of 41 basestealers. He's a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the top college catcher.
One site had Turner ranked as the 13th best catcher in the draft, calling him a, `solid defender with smart offensive approach.'
Here's what Basebeall America wrote about him:
Turner hails from Eunice, La., and went to Louisiana State-Eunice JC for two seasons, hitting .400 and earning tournament MVP honors last year as LSU-Eunice won the Division II NJCAA World Series. Nevertheless, he wasn't drafted and landed at Ole Miss, where he has been the Southeastern Conference's best catcher this season. Turner had been pitched around a bit in league play but remained the Rebels' best hitter and earned plaudits from scouts as the nation's best draft-eligible defensive catcher. He combines strength at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with flexibility, agile feet and excellent arm strength. He had thrown out 20 of 39 basestealers, with consistent 1.9-second pop times. While Turner has performed at the plate this spring, scouts don't like his swing and question his ability to sting the ball consistently. He has controlled the strike zone and ranked third in the SEC in batting at .389.
Here's your chance to see Twins top draft pick Byron Buxton and the rest of the high-flying Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels.
FoxSports North will televise the Cedar Rapids-Kane County game on Monday LIVE at noon. Anthony Lapanta and Roy Smalley will anchor the telecast from the FOX Sports North studio in Minneapolis, while Marney Gellner reports from Cedar Rapids.
Twins president Dave St. Peter and special assistant Paul Molitor will join-in during the broadcast.
Cedar Rapids is 37-20 and in first place in the Western Division of the Midwest League. Buxton, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, headlines a roster that includes other top prospects like infielder Jorge Polanco, outfielder Adam Brett Walker, righthander Jose Berrios and lefthander Mason Melotakis.
UPDATE: The Twins took two pitchers on the first day of the 2013 MLB draft.
The Twins also went for pitching with their second-round pick, selecting LSU righthander Ryan Eades.
Eades was 8-1 with a 2.81 ERA this season for the Tigers. His fastball ranges from 90-95 miles an hour and also has a hard breaking ball.
He's been healthy throughout his college career, but needed labrum surgery while he was in high school. Baseball American has him listed as the 37th best prospect in the draft.
The draft resumes with rounds 3-10 at noon tomorrow.
Here's BA's take on Edes:
Eades doesn't pitch Fridays like most potential college first-round picks, but that's more a testament to sophomore righthander Aaron Nola, a potential top 10 pick in 2014. Scouts are watching to see if Eades loses steam down the stretch as he did last season, and they've been watching Eades for a while. He was hitting 94 mph as a 16-year-old, then injured his shoulder when he was a prep junior. He had labrum surgery and missed his senior season but has been healthy all three years at Louisiana State. He has an athletic 6-foot-3, 198-pound frame and looks the part of a frontline starter, running his four-seamer up to 90-95 mph and adding a two-seamer this year to get more early-count contact. He's honed his breaking ball into a power curveball that scrapes the low 80s, and has improved his changeup under the tutelage of pitching coach Alan Dunn, a longtime pro pitching coach. Eades grades out better than he's performed, though he has improved his strikeout rate from 6.0 strikeouts per nine innings to 8 K/9 IP as a junior. Eades tends to miss armside and high when he leaks out on his front side or gets fatigued, but his strong work ethic has reduced that in 2013. He slots into the 20-40 range on most teams' draft boards but could go higher with a strong finish.
Here's a story about Edes
MLB.com had Eades ranked 29th:
Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 6/7 | Curve: 4/5 | Changeup: 4/5 | Control: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
Eades is everything you want from a pitcher: size, stuff and feel for pitching.
A Cape Cod League All-Star back in 2011, Eades pitched in LSU's rotation last year and helped anchor it as the Saturday starter in 2013. He'll hit 94 mph with his fastball, and he has a good curve and changeup to go along with it to give him a good three-pitch mix that he knows how to use effectively.
There is some question about his arm action, but the real concern might be about his medical record. Eades had labrum surgery as a senior in high school and any team interested in him in June will have to be convinced of his durability.
The Cape Cod Pitcher of the Year in 2011 didn't go back there in 2012, resting up to try and improve on his sophomore season that saw him go 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts for LSU.
Kohl Stewart, RHP
The Twins have selected righthander Kohl Stewart, a two-sport star out of the St. Pius XX high school in Houston, Texas.
Stewart had been linked to the Twins for several weeks, and his selection seemed a formality as the first three picks were righthander Mark Appel (Astros), third baseman Kris Bryant (Cubs) and righthander Jonathan Gray (Rockies).
The Twins have been in discussions with Stewart's advisers over a bonus and are confident that they are in range of a deal. There had been reports that negations weren't going smoothly on Thursday.
Stewart, on his twitter account, wrote: ``WHAT'S UP TWIN NATION!''
He made eight starts for St. Pius X high school in Houston, going 5-1 with a 0.18 ERA. In 40 innings he struck out 59 and walked 16. He was named Texas All-Region First-Team in 2013. In 2012, as a junior, the right-hander went 8-0 with 72 strikeouts in 54.0 innings pitched, helping guide St. Pius to the TAPPS 5A Title.
The righthander said about 75-100 people filled his house for the draft announcement - but a storm knocked out the television feed. They had to call up the draft on smartphones to pick up the draft, and the house erupted when his named was called.
``It was unbelieveable,'' Stewart said. ``It was one of the crazier feelings I've ever had. A real exciting time in my house.''
Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said Stewart was their man all along. The Twins expected Appel, Bryant and Gray to go somewhere among the top three spots, and had Stewart in their crosshairs.
``He was the best player on the board left for us,'' Johnson said.
Stewart has a fastball in the 92-94 range and a slider that tops out at 88-89 miles an hour. Johnson said Stewart started throwing a curveball last year and it comes out of his hand naturally.
``He has the ability to be just as good as the guy drafted in front of him,'' Johnson said.
Stewart said he has to work to do. He wants to throw his slider in on righthanded hitters better and he's working on a sinker. But leaving football-crazed Texas to focus on baseball will allow him to perfect his pitches.
``I look forward to being able to sit down and focus on baseball for once,'' he said. ``I'm looking forward to focusing on one thing.''
Here's what Baseball America wrote up about Stewart:
A premium football recruit as a quarterback, Stewart passed for 8,803 yards and 87 touchdowns in three high school seasons before committing to play two sports at Texas A&M. It's unlikely he'll ever play for the Aggies because he's the top high school pitcher in the draft. He may not get the No. 1 overall pick buzz of righthanders Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma) and Mark Appel (Stanford), but one scouting director said, "Stewart's pure stuff is as good as theirs, and he's more athletic than they are." Scouts love the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder's arsenal, athleticism and competitiveness. They say that he has better present stuff than Jameson Taillon did when the Pirates took the suburban Houston righthander No. 2 overall in 2010. Stewart has boosted his fastball from 88-93 mph last summer to 91-96 for much of the spring, though his velocity tails off at times in the later innings. His life and command with his heater make it even more dominating, but his best offering is a power mid-80s slider with tilt. He has improved his curveball and shows feel for his changeup, and he'll display four above-average big league pitches at times. He has a clean delivery and should get even better once he concentrates solely on baseball. Stewart has been limited at times this spring because of minor shoulder (a carryover from football), hamstring and thumb ailments, but none is a major concern. Neither is his signability, because he'll get picked early enough to be paid handsomely and teams don't believe he'll go to Texas A&M to sit behind reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Some clubs could shy away from Stewart because he's a Type 1 diabetic, though Brandon Morrow went fifth overall in 2006 with the same condition. Stewart should go in the same range this June.
Now go wash some clothes or run some errands. The Twins's next pick comes in the second round, No. 43 overall.