Minor league baseball players are doing all the same work that the big leaguers do. They are just doing it with far less fanfare, smaller per diems, less luxurious travel and hotel arrangements, and noticeably lighter wallets due to pay checks with far fewer zeroes. These players deserve to be recognized too!
That is a statement that I have used in the Introduction of the first two Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbooks. I r
eally like that statement and as I’m writing the book, and spending the hours, trying to keep my eyes open, it is what keeps me going. There are profiles for well over 150 Twins prospects in this book. How many will play for the Minnesota Twins? Maybe 25? 35? 50? We don’t know, but in my mind, they all deserve to be recognized. They’re all working hard. They all are playing the game that I know I wanted to be playing as a career when I was in school.
Cover by Brian Henricksen
The past two years, I have written Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbooks (2009 and 2010). Just within the last few days, I am now taking pre-orders for Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2011. Today, I wanted to post just a couple of exerpts from the book to give you a sense of what you can expect from the nearly 170 page book. If you are interested in purchasing a book, please go to SethSpeaks.net to find details for how to pre-order.
Over 160 Prospect Profiles - Players from the Gulf Coast League Twins through Triple-A Rochester will appear in the book. Profiles include some stats, but also a scouting perspective as well. I also give my Top 5 Twins Dominican Summer League Prospects. Here is one example of a player profile.
A.J. Achter – RHP – (8/27/88)
Acquired: 46th round draft pick in 2010 out of Michigan State
2010 Team(s): Elizabethton Twins
2010 Stats: 1-0, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7 IP, 3 BB, 8 K
Many times, teams will draft someone in the later rounds that they like but are not certain they will be able to sign. They want to see something more. After a year at Texas Southern, Achter transferred to Michigan State. In 14 starts in 2009, he went 3-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP for the Spartans. In 2010, he went 4-4 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP (thanks to cutting his walk rate in half). The Twins took a late-round pick on the six-foot-five right-hander, but wanted to see more. Achter went to the prestigious Cape Cod League for the summer. There, he gave up just six earned runs and struck out 34 batters in 38 innings. On the final signing day, the Twins signed Achter and sent him to Elizabethton. In his first outing, he gave up four runs on five hits in 1.1 innings. In his three other appearances, he gave up just two hits (no runs) in six innings.
At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Achter has a good frame, and a strong presence on the mound. He has a fastball that touches 92 but sits at about 90. He is working on a curveball and slider. His best pitch at this stage is his changeup.
There are also a few stories from some other Twins bloggers and other writers. To give an example, here is a bit of an article I wrote called Nate Hanson: Minnesota's Own.
Every year there is someone in the Twins organization (and likely every organization) who steps up and makes a name for himself. The player may have been a late-round pick. The player may have put up average numbers but nothing that jumps out at you. And then out-of-nowhere, the player has a tremendous season and the front office, scouts and fans all have to take a step back and re-evaluate the prospect. In 2010, that prospect for the Twins had to be Nate Hanson.
Hanson is a Minnesotan. Hanson was drafted by the Twins in the 28th round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Minnesota, but he had been a Minnesota guy for a long time already. Sure, he was born in California, but he moved to Minnesota when he was ten years old. Baseball and hockey were his two loves.
“We arrived in Minnesota, we quickly saw how much the state loved its hockey. I was a hockey and baseball player when we lived in California and continued that into Minnesota. I loved both sports the same amount and it was one of those cases where I loved the sport in which I was in season. I did not know what route I wanted to take in college.”
Which sport would he pick, and why? “I was being recruited for both sports and it was a tough decision. I ultimately thought I could play longer in baseball and knew the U of M had an excellent tradition. I visited a few schools and talked to many, but a big factor was coach (John) Anderson and the way he coaches and produces well rounded young men on and off the field. Minnesota is always at the top of the Big Ten and going to Minnesota was the best choice I could have ever made, especially with being so close to home and having my family there at every game. They really wanted to be able to come to all the home games.”
John Anderson became the head coach of the Gophers baseball program in the fall of 1981 and remains the team’s coach. He enters the 2011 with a career record of 1038-675-3 in his tenure. When he reached the 1,000 win plateau, he became the 39th coach in Division I history to reach that number, and just the 20th to reach that number with one team. The list of accolades for Anderson is huge, but he has been hugely successful on the field for the Gophers, and more important, he has prepared his players for the game and for life beyond the ball field.
According to Hanson, “Coach Anderson is a flat out leader. He has been winning since he took over as head coach. He is a coach that is well respected not only in the Big Ten, but nationally as well. Players listen to what he has to say and he is a player’s coach. It is always easier to play for a coach that knows the game and doesn't ever panic if faced with adversity. He expects excellence and hard work on and off the field and that is a big reason why guys get drafted a lot from the U of M and why the Gophers finish in the top of the Big Ten year after year. Coach Anderson has taught me how to represent myself and the Gopher baseball tradition.”
Speaking of the draft, the Minnesota Twins have drafted 35 players out of the University of Minnesota since MLB initiated its Rule 4 draft in 1965. Glen Perkins is the only Gophers player to be drafted in the first round. Others drafted high include Denny Neagle (3rd, 1989), Derek McCallum (4th, 2009), Shane Gunderson (6th, 1995), Tom Jagletta (7th, 1977), Bryan Hickerson (7th, 1986) and Matt Scanlon (8th, 1999). Former Gopher Jay Kvasnicka was also drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of the 1988 draft. In 2010, his son Michael Kvasnicka was a first-round selection of the Houston Astros after playing three years with the Gophers.
That is a little less than half of the Hanson story, but it gives a good flavor of the type of information in the book.
Also in the book are several Top 10 Prospect Lists, Josh Johnson (Josh's Thoughts) helped me out by writing a terrific article on Twins 1B prospect Chris Parmelee, as well as with several of the prospect profiles. I included his Top 30 Twins prospects as well. Also, for the first time, I asked someone associated with each of the Twins full-season affiliates to write an article related to their team, city, stadium and more. They did a good job of telling us about the affiliates. Regarding the 2010 draft, I was able to write a story telling the draft stories of several of the 2010 Twins draft picks including David Deminski, a Twins draft pick from St. Cloud State University, who had a very interesting story. In part:
His final three college seasons were spent playing for Pat Dolan at St. Cloud State University. However, the story of Deminsky is that he wondered how long, or even if, he would be able to play at all. “My college career was a bit of a roller coaster as I had never expected to be playing at the professional level after having my colon removed after a two-year battle with Ulcerative Colitis up until my freshman year of college baseball. I never even thought that I would be back for my sophomore season after going down to the Mayo (Clinic) in Rochester to have a surgery that would forever cure me from UC.”
But he not only returned to baseball, but he pitched well enough to garner interest from pro scouts. “I talked with (Twins area scout) Mark Wilson every once in awhile, but I was also in contact with several other teams from around the MLB.”
Draft day was exciting for the left-hander. “It was an honor to have my name called and be drafted. I could not be happier to have been selected by my hometown state’s team, as I have always been a hometown boy my whole life.” In fact, signing was a pretty easy decision, “Pretty simple. Where do I sign?”
There is a lot of information on the Twins minor leaguers fit into 170+ pages of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2011. It was a ton of work, but it is stuff that I really enjoy. For Twins fans, understanding that the Twins choose to build from within whenever possible, the prospect handbook is a must-have! It's a coffee table book to be used whenever Dick Bremer or LaVelle of Joe mention a minor leaguer. And, somehow, I am able to keep the price very low. Similar books that I have seen are found for anywhere from $20-$32, and I am trying to keep the book at $13.95. To pre-order, and for all pre-order information, click here. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. And, as always, thank you to all of you who support us!
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