It’s already been quite a year for the Twins’ farm system. The prospects ranked first and third in all of baseball are coming along.
But minor league coaches also have had to bench three top prospects this season for various missteps.
The latest incident occurred on Tuesday, when third baseman Miguel Sano, ranked third among prospects by Baseball America, homered for Class AA New Britain against Portland. A YouTube video shows Sano connecting with the pitch and following the ball over the wall. When the camera comes back to Sano, he’s still near home plate and has just tossed his bat toward the Rock Cats dugout.
Over-admiration? Showboating? Excessive celebration? Any of those terms could be used. Sano’s biggest mistake was that he did it when Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was in the stands.
“It’s a little tough to slide by when Terry is in town or I’m in town,” said Brad Steil, the Twins’ director of minor leagues. “And our staff does a good job and they know how we want to play the game, respect the game and do things the right way.”
Ryan, in this case, met with Sano after the game to discuss his actions. That couldn’t have been very pleasant. Sano did not appear in the next three games.
In 2003, Ryan was in New Britain watching prospects when Beau Kemp and Ronnie Corona were arrested on third-degree assault and breach of peace. They were in a car together, got into a disagreement, and decided to pull over and fight about it — at around 3 a.m. Ryan fined both players and demoted them to Class A Fort Myers. Neither reached the majors.
It safe to assume the Twins would rather deal with Sano’s celebrations than something that involves a police report.
In May, second baseman Eddie Rosario, Sano’s buddy, was benched for a couple of games at Fort Myers for a poor approach to the game. Rosario apparently cleaned up his act because he earned a promotion to New Britain.
Earlier this week, Oswaldo Arcia was pulled from a game for not hustling at Class AAA Rochester. All three players could be in the Twins lineup next season, with top prospect Byron Buxton getting close.
“It happens on a semi-regular basis,” Steil said of having to discipline prospects. “The extent of discipline varies on the infraction, and sometimes there are fines involved and not benching. Sometimes it is a couple of games. Sometimes it is more than that.”
If Sano, Rosario and Arcia weren’t top prospects, the benchings probably wouldn’t have been news. And that’s another lesson they need to learn. With status comes attention and YouTube.
“That’s something we try to teach all the guys as they come up through the system,” Steil said. “You have to be aware of yourself and your actions.’’
Justin Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.99 ERA. While some Twins starters would love to have those numbers, they represent a slump for the veteran Tigers righthander.
He’s just not the dominating force he’s been the past two years. He’s won the AL strikeout title in each of the past two seasons but is only sixth heading into the weekend.
Doesn’t sound like a problem out here. But the concern is over Verlander’s curveball, which just doesn’t have the same bite it’s had in recent seasons. Some believe the lack of a good curveball is making his fastball more hittable.
From 2011 through the 2012 season, Verlander gave up five earned runs or more a combined five times. This year, he’s done it six times.
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Well, that was fast.
After 48 games as the Royals’ hitting coach, George Brett has stepped down.
“I just felt it was time for me to move on,” Brett said. “It’s been a tremendous experience for me after being gone for 20 years from the game, to have an opportunity again to put on a uniform. It was special.”
Assistant hitting coach Pedro Grifol will take over.
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The White Sox could become a big player before the trade deadline if they are willing to move Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Jake Peavy.
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Cleveland’s credentials as a contender are starting to look shaky. The Indians’ defense is letting them down. And they have lost their past six one-run games.
Three observations …
• One thing overlooked in the Miguel Sano flap: Class AA New Britain was playing Portland the night he admired his home run. Portland is a Red Sox affiliate. The Red Sox are looking for relievers. And GM Terry Ryan JUST happened to be there.
• Congrats to the city of Chicago for approving the $500 million renovation project for Wrigley Field. It will be nice to see how they balance the past and present in the stadium.
• The Yankees appear to be stalling with Alex Rodriguez’s return from injury, and I don’t blame them. If he’s involved in the current PED scandal I would do the same thing.
… and two predictions
• The Twins will trade a reliever before Wednesday’s deadline.
• Not only will the Rays win the AL East, but they will do so comfortably.