The Minnesota Twins are 9-4. They have won all four series that they have played, something that the team has never done in the organization's history. Despite a hiccup against the Royals on Sunday afternoon, the Twins are playing well. So today, let's take a look at the Twins farm system. I will show a couple of guys who are off to a fast start in the season's first ten games, and a couple of guys who probably wish the season could start over. I'll discuss some injuries to watch, and a couple of very good stories. I hope you will enjoy this segment, and please feel free to ask questions throughout the day.
As I would warn any time you look at statistics through so few games, they must be taken with a grain of salt. A batter who is currently 4-28 on the year is hitting just .143. If that hitter goes 4-4 tomorrow, he is hitting .250.
Rochester Red Wings
The Red Wings are currently 4-6 and tied with two other teams for last place in the North division of the International League. They opened their home scheduled on Saturday with gametime temperatures of just 39 degrees.
Good Start - Brian Dinkelman spent some time with the Twins in big league camp. His name was chanted by Twins fans during the exhibition games against the Cardinals at Target Field. Dinkelman is playing left field for the Red Wings and is hitting .323/.488/.355. He has nine walks to go against just three strikeouts.
Cold Start - Danny Valencia is a guy who many Twins fans hope will be the team's starting third baseman later this season. He is off to a .143/.194/.179 start. I don't think anyone questions his ability to hit, so those people will be excited that through eight games, he has committed zero errors at third base.
- Last week, Anthony Swarzak made a start and in six innings, he gave up just two runs; a very solid start. It is an impressive start when you consider that he broke a bone in his foot on a line drive comebacker in the 2nd inning. He will likely be out of action for four to six weeks.
- Delmon Young isn't the only guy in the organization that lost weight this offseason. "Big Daddy" Rob Delaney may need a new nickname after the relief pitcher lost 35 pounds this offseason. Another reliever, Tim Lahey, lost about 30 pounds as well.
- Second Base is where to be, I guess. Luke Hughes signed with the Twins and early in his career, he played primarily second base. It is his most natural position. He looked solid at the position this spring, so he is the Red Wings primary second baseman and should be considered for the Twins job at second base in 2011. Feeling so comfortable with second base, Hughes also hit his seventh double of the young season on Sunday.
- Wilson Ramos may have been disappointed that he did not begin the season with the Minnesota Twins. Some believe that he may have let that affect him to start the season. In just eight games, he is hitting .212 (7-33) with one double. He hit his first home run of the young season on Sunday just innings after his effort was questioned on a foul pop up that he dropped. He is a great talent, simply off to a slow start.
New Britain Rockcats
The New Britain Rockcats are 3-7 and in last place of the East Division of the Eastern League. However, this is the organization's most talented team. They have actually won their past three games.
Good Start - Rene Tosoni did not stay in big league camp for very long, and he was ready to head to AAA when the Twins signed Jason Repko and Tosoni was heading back to New Britain. He is hitting .364/.432/.485 on the young season. David Bromberg was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2009. He has led his league in strikeouts the past three years. He is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA over his first two starts (11 innings).
Cold Start - Whit Robbins was an Eastern League All Star in 2009. This year, he returns and is hitting .115/.233/.154 in the early season. Juan Portes had a solid 2009 with New Britain which earned him a big league training camp invite. He took advantage with a very good showing. He is back in AA and hitting just .162/.225/.297, although he did hit an RBI double off of Stephen Strasburg on Friday night.
- Steve Hirschfeld had a great year in Ft. Myers in 2009, and he was invited to participate in the Arizona Fall League last year. He was put on the Disabled List this week with an elbow injury.
- Rene Tosoni is off to a great start offensively. Unfortunately, he is being limited to DH right now because of a tear in his rotator cuff. They will be cautious with such a good prospect so it will be closely monitored.
Ft. Myers Miracle
The Ft. Myers Miracle are currently 2-7 and in last place in the South Division of the Florida State League. They were rained out on Sunday.
Good Start - Kyle Gibson struggled in his first professional start, but in his second effort, he threw six shutout innings. Fellow starter Bobby Lanigan has given up just one earned run in 10.2 innings over his first two starts.
Cold Start - Deibinson Romero was added to the Twins 40 man roster following the 2008 season in which he suffered two injuries that cost him significant playing time. He spent 2009 in Ft. Myers and was disappointing with the bat and the glove. So far this spring, Romero is hitting .074/.107/.074, and he has already committed three errors.
- In 2005, the Twins drafted high school bats Drew Thompson and Paul Kelly in the first couple of rounds. Each got off to good starts that year with the GCL Twins. Unfortunately, since then, both had major injuries.
- Thompson was one of the really good stories of 2009 when he returned from missing over two full seasons with a stress fracture in his back. He was happy to be able to work out this offseason rather than rehab, and is looking for a strong season. He has started by hitting .308/.357/.500 this season.
- Kelly was a top Twins prospect following a strong 2006 season, but since then he has been limited to just 33 at bats over the past three years due to several knee injuries. He got off to a very good start, hitting .462/.500/.538 in the team's first four games. However, he has not played in several days due to a sprained ankle.
- The Miracle do not have a full-time centerfielder, but maybe they do. Chris Herrmann has played every day, splitting time between catcher and center field. In college, he primarily played second base and third base. The Twins drafted him as a catcher, but he played left field most days last year for Elizabethon. At the Twins Instructional League, he spent most of his time behind the plate. A tremendous athlete, he has a very strong arm. Offensively, he has a fluid left-handed swing with a little power. Comparison to Craig Biggio? That may not be fair... yet. Another reason to be optimistic about his future? The Twins rarely have players skip a level in the lower minor leagues. Herrmann jumped from Elizabethton to Hi-A Ft. Myers without spending time at Beloit.
The Beloit Snappers are 6-5 and tied for second in the Midwestern division of the Midwest League.
Good Start - It starts with the Snappers starting staff (see below), but Anderson Hidalgo should also be recognized. The third baseman is hitting .435/.458/.522 on the young season.
Cold Start - The Twins clear choice for its top prospect the last two offseasons has been Aaron Hicks. That doesn't change even though the outfielder started the season 1-31 (.032). He homered in the next at bat, but he is currently hitting .059/.200/.147 on the season. In 2009, James Beresford was the co-MVP of the Snappers. This year, he has started by going 2-30 (.067/.152/.067).
- As mentioned above, the Snappers starting pitchers have been a great story to start the season:
- Australian Liam Hendriks threw five shutout innings on opening night. In his next two starts, the threw six shutout innings each. So for the year, he has given up no runs in 17 innings. He has given up just six hits, walked one and stuck out 20. And yet, lack of run support means he is still 0-0.
- Tom Stuifbergen (Netherlands) is 1-0, and he has not allowed a run in 13 innings. He has two walks and 15 strikeouts.
- Hard-throwing Miguel Munoz (0.90) and changeup throwing Brad Stillings (0.93) have also pitched very well for the Snappers.
Some more very good pitcher prospects are working hard in Extended Spring Training, waiting for an opportunity with Beloit or for the short-seasons to begin (in June). Adrian Salcedo, BJ Hermsen, Blayne Weller and 2009 supplemental first round pick, Matt Bashore, could all be in Beloit if needed. 17 year olds Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Wander Guillen are all in Ft. Myers readying themselves for the GCL Twins season.
So there you have it, an early season look at who is off to hot starts and who is not hitting yet. There are also a couple of storylines for each affiliate. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave your comments below.
More TwinsCentric articles or activities:
- Seth was joined on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast last night by Snappers starter Liam Hendriks and 1500espn.com's Phil Mackey.
- John, Parker and Seth, along with Aaron Gleeman, will join Phil Mackey at 8:00 on Monday night for a live Twins chat at 1500espn.com. Join the chat and ask us questions.
- If you would like to learn more about the Twins minor league system, for $13.95, you can get a copy of the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook here.