DAY@CAMP Daily dispatch from Fort Myers
Newcomer Parker is eager to get started with Twins
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Blake Parker created headlines in 2017 when he made the Angels as a reliever and spent the season living in an RV — including the month of April in the parking lot of Angel Stadium.
When asked if signing with the Twins meant the RV was headed to Target Field, Parker responded: “I wish, I wish. We’ll see.”
Actually, Parker hasn’t used the RV since 2017, after he and his wife had a baby.
The righthander probably is more concerned about impressing his new bosses than showing off his rig. Parker signed a $1.8 million contract for 2019, and he could earn considerably more based on how long he can stay on the active roster. He got to know some of his new teammates during TwinsFest and looks to meet even more during the coming days.
“We come into spring training ready to roll,” said Parker, 33. “I know we’re all excited to be here and to get going and to get straight into what we’re wanting to do, which is get better is what the focus is here, from what I hear. So I’m really excited to get into that.”
And the Twins are excited to see Parker in action. He throws a fastball in the low 90s, but it’s his split-fingered fastball that has been his calling card in recent years. He altered his grip on the pitch in 2016 while with the Yankees, at the suggestion of teammate Tyler Clippard.
With Twins manager Rocco Baldelli taking a wait-and-see approach to the closer’s role, Parker can show how he saved 14 games for Los Angeles last season while posting a 3.26 ERA. One reason the Angels might have allowed him to leave, however, is that his strikeout rate went from 11.5 per nine innings in 2017 to 9.5 last season.
On his way
Catcher Willians Astudillo has broken through the red tape and has been approved for a visa to travel to the United States and join the Twins for spring training. Astudillo, whose arrival was slowed by visa issues last year, is expected to fly to Florida on Friday join the team for workouts on Saturday.
Although Astudillo is from Venezuela, he will be traveling from the Dominican Republic to Fort Myers.
Astudillo was first called up to the Twins on June 29 and was needed in a variety of roles, including stints in center field and on the mound against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He went on to bat .355 in 29 games with just two walks and three strikeouts in 97 plate appearances.
Plenty of takers
The Twins offer free room and board during the offseason to any of their minor leaguers, and some took them up on the offer. By the start of February, dozens were on hand.
By last weekend, around 100 minor leaguers were already in camp, and their spring training isn’t scheduled to start for another few weeks.
Let’s Meet BEN RORTVEDT
2018 stats: Batted .276 with a homer and 16 RBI for Class A Cedar Rapids in 39 games before moving to Class A Fort Myers, where he hit .250 with four homers — one a grand slam — and 27 RBI in 51 games.
Acquired: Was the Twins’ second-round pick from Verona (Wis.) High School in 2016.
Role: He should begin the year at Fort Myers, which isn’t bad for a 21-year-old.
Did you know? The lefthanded-hitting Rortvedt was known for his offense in high school, so he has been working on developing his catching skills. … He does have a good arm, having thrown out 37 percent of would-be base stealers last season. … He was the first player drafted from his high school, in suburban Madison, in 71 years ... He’s not a rabid football fan, but he does keep up with the Packers.
La VELLE E. NEAL III