Sometimes Brad Steil’s day doesn’t get interesting until Twins games end and he hears from the clubhouse that a player from the minors is needed ASAP. That begins the process of notifying the player and getting him on the first thing smoking to the Twin Cities.
But Steil’s role as the Twins director of minor league operations is much more than that. La Velle E. Neal III checked in with the Litchfield, Minn., native to see what his job is like.
Q We will be flamed if we don’t ask for an update on Byron Buxton’s left wrist strain. What the timetable?
A Byron has been conditioning and taking fly balls, and he has just started some light swinging, which is going well. … He could be playing in extended spring training by the end of the month.
Q Guess we have to ask about Miguel Sano and his Tommy John surgery.
A Miguel is pretty limited right now and is wearing a brace. Conditioning on the bike is about all he’s been doing.
Q What is your day like?
A Right now, it’s a lot of time on the phone talking to our minor league coordinators, managers, trainers and affiliate GMs. Communication is key when you’re dealing with six teams, 150 players and a rehab program.
Q What has it been like to deal with the extra scrutiny because of the high-ranking prospects in your farm system?
A It’s been nice to see the recognition for our players. Regardless of the media attention, though, we are focused on their development and getting them to the next level. … Ultimately we want to get our prospects prepared to play in Minnesota as quickly as we can.
Q At the end of every spring training, you have to release minor leaguers to make way for newcomers. How do you tell someone his dream might be over?
A It’s definitely the worst part of the job, because you watch a lot of these guys grow up and you get to know them quite well over the course of five, six, seven years. Even if most minor leaguers don’t make it to the big leagues, they really do love the game, and being released is hard for them.
Q Some background, please. How did you get into professional baseball? What was your playing career like?
A Do junior high and Babe Ruth League count? I was a huge baseball fan as a kid and really interested in statistics, and from the time I was 11 or 12 I wanted to work in a front office. As for my start with the Twins, Rob Antony hired me as an intern in baseball operations in 2000.
Q Besides Buxton, Sano and Alex Meyer, name some prospects fans should follow this season in the minors.
A Just to name a few: 1B Kennys Vargas at New Britain, SS Jorge Polanco and RP Jose Berrios at Fort Myers, RP Kohl Stewart at Cedar Rapids and LP Lewis Thorpe, who is currently in extended but has a chance to pitch in Cedar Rapids later in the year. A couple of guys with a little lesser name recognition would be RP Brian Gilbert and C Stuart Turner, both at Fort Myers.