The Twins roster is set, and with that, the minor league rosters are set as well. It is an unusual season in that the minor league seasons start (a day) before the big league Opening Day. I may be in the minority, but I get just as excited about minor league Opening Day as I do about major league Opening Day (and I think Opening Day should be a national holiday!).
Pending last minute injuries or transactions, below are the Opening Day rosters for the Twins minor league affiliates, along with a very brief summary of what to look for. Please feel free to ask questions in the Comments section, and I'll be sure to try to answer as many as I can.
ROCHESTER RED WINGS
Manager: Gene Glynn… Hitting Coach: Tom Brunansky… Pitching Coach: Bobby Cuellar
Pitchers: Sam Deduno, Cole DeVries, Scott Diamond, Phil Dumatrait, Casey Fien, Kyle Gibson (DL), Carlos Gutierrez, Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Slama, Brad Thompson (DL), Daryl Thompson, Esmerling Vasquez, PJ Walters, Brendan Wise
Catchers: Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, JR Towles
Infielders: Aaron Bates, Matt Rizzotti, Brian Dinkelman, Brian Dozier, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Ray Chang, Michael Hollimon
Outfielders: Joe Benson, Matt Carson, Wilkin Ramirez (DL), Rene Tosoni
SUMMARY THOUGHTS: With Liam Hendriks with the Twins for the time being, who will be the five starters, and what can be expected from them? There are some good bullpen arms, to be sure, though. The catchers can certainly catch, but even in Rochester, they should be hitting ninth. Aaron Bates had a terrific 2011 season with the Red Wings and performed well in big league spring training. Rizzotti could play some 1B but will likely DH a lot. His 24 HR last year (in AA Reading) would have led the Twins organization. Nishioka has been playing well since his demotion early in camp. Chang, Hollimon and Dinkelman all played well in big league camp and profile as utility types. Dozier is the guy that is exciting. He was the Twins minor league player of the year last year, and had a terrific camp with the Twins. If there is a need with the big league club in the middle infield, they will not hesitate to promote the 24 year old.
NEW BRITAIN ROCK CATS
Manager: Jeff Smith… Hitting Coach: Rudy Hernandez… Pitching Coach: Stu Cliburn
Pitchers: Andrew Albers, David Bromberg, Logan Darnell, Luke French, Deolis Guerra, Steve Hirschfeld, Brett Jacobson, Bobby Lanigan, Blake Martin, Lester Oliveros, Luis Perdomo, Daniel Turpen, Alex Wimmers
Catchers: Chris Herrmann, Danny Lehmann
Infielders: Chris Colabello, Nate Hanson, Estarlin De Los Santos, Darin Mastroianni, James Beresford, Pedro Florimon, Deibinson Romero
Outfielders: Evan Bigley, Mark Dolenc, Aaron Hicks
There are several arms in New Britain that many of us assumed would be in Rochester, but that bodes well for the Rock Cats and for the development of these players. There is some surprise that Alex Wimmers is set to start the season with the Rock Cats. That means he must be throwing well, and most important, throwing strikes. Darnell and Lanigan will likely remain in the Rock Cats rotation. Jacobson, Hirschfeld, Albers (last year’s SethSpeaks.net Minor League Reliever of the Year) and Bromberg all could split time between the rotation and the bullpen. Chris Herrmann impressed in 2011, played great in the AFL, and showed well for himself in 2012 big league camp. Lehmann deserves more of an opportunity and is in the same category as the three AAA pitchers. The infield should be strong. Beresford and Florimon perform a great up-the-middle defense while de Los Santos comes back healthy. Colabello was Baseball America’s independent leagues player of the year last year, and Hanson just continues to progress well as he moves up. Romero had a solid comeback year last year with the Rock Cats showing some of the power that made the Twins put him on their 40 man roster three years ago. Mastroianni has played pretty exclusively at 2B since leaving big league camp, but he’ll likely also get time in the outfield behind a very talented starting three. Obviously it is a big season for Hicks in the eyes of prospect hounds, but it will be a challenge for him. Being surrounded by veterans like Dolenc and Bigley should help him.
FT. MYERS MIRACLE
Manager: Jake Mauer… Hitting Coach: Jim Dwyer… Pitching Coach: Steve Mintz
Pitchers: Paul Bargas (DL), Ricky Bowen, Tony Davis, Pat Dean, Jhon Garcia, Jose Gonzalez, Matt Hauser, BJ Hermsen, Edgar Ibarra, Miguel Munoz (DL), Marty Popham, Bruce Pugh, Adrian Salcedo, Manuel Soliman, Tom Stuifbergen (DL), Caleb Thielbar, Dakota Watts (DL)
Catchers: Josmil Pinto, Dan Rohlfing
Infielders: Michael Gonzales, Andy Leer, Reggie Williams, Levi Michael, Danny Santana, Anderson Hidalgo, Jairo Perez
Outfielders: Oswaldo Arcia, Steve Liddle (DL), Angel Morales, Danny Rams, Lance Ray
SUMMARY THOUGHTS: Dean, Hermsen, Munoz, Salcedo and Soliman present a very talented young starting core. Stuifbergen pitched well with the Miracle in 2011, but he has been injured throughout spring training. There are some seriously strong arms in this bullpen. Hauser and Gonzalez each spent time as closers. Watts and Pugh were splitting time as the Miracle closer at times over the past two seasons. Tony Davis had surgery last season and they will be smart with him. He’s a lefty that can throw 95.
Rohlfing played very well in 2012 and returns as he continues to impress and get better behind the plate. Pinto is a DH type. Expect Levi Michael and Danny Santana to split time between SS and second base. Leer was moved behind the plate in the instructional league, but he moves back to the infield. Gonzales took full advantage of a second season with the Snappers and showed his tremendous power. Anderson Hidalgo is a batting average guy. Jairo Perez seemingly came out of nowhere last year to hit for tremendous power with the Snappers after missing all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery. Speaking of power, Oswaldo Arcia returns to the Miracle. Angel Morales is healthy again and should regain his status as a top prospect. Lance Ray also has very good power, as he showed with a home run in yesterday's Twins game.
Manager: Nelson Prada… Hitting Coach: Tommy Watkins… Pitching Coach: Gary Lucas
Pitchers: AJ Achter, Paul Bargas (DL), Madison Boer, Bart Carter, Clinton Dempster, Nelvin Fuentes, Steven Gruver, Cole Nelson, Ryan O’Rourke, Tim Shibuya, Matt Summers, Matt Tomshaw, Michael Tonkin, Jason Wheeler, Corey Williams
Catchers: Matt Koch, Jairo Rodriguez
Infielders: Rory Rhodes, AJ Pettersen, Eddie Rosario, Adam Bryant, Tyler Grimes, Miguel Sano,
Outfielders: Jhon Goncalves, Wang-Wei Lin, Daniel Ortiz, Nate Roberts (DL), JD Williams
This is a very talented roster. Those 2011 draft picks force their way onto this roster and combine with some pitchers who threw very well for the Snappers a year ago. O’Rourke and Achter pitched well as starters for the Snappers in 2011. Shibuya was the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year last year. Summers, Gruver and Williams all pitched well in the E-Town bullpen a year ago, but in their first full seasons, each could get some time as starters as well. Tomshaw was a 42nd
round pick just last year. He got a chance with the Miracle and became one of their better starters late in the year. He’ll step back to the Snappers. Tonkin likely pitches at the end of games. Wheeler signed late last year, but two summers ago, he was the pitcher of the year in the Northwoods League. There are some strong arms and talented pitchers.
The players that everyone is excited to see are Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. The two combined for 41 home runs in their 68 game season last year. Rosario was the Player of the Year in the Appy League, and Sano is the teams consensus top prospect. Bryant and Grimes were drafted last year and held their own with the Snappers in the second half. Pettersen was also drafted last year and played well in E-Town after breaking his nose running into a fastball. Rhodes is 6-7 and the Australian has very good power. He can help the infielders with his big target at 1B. Lin is back in Beloit for the third straight season, and Goncalves comes back after spending most of the past two seasons in Ft. Myers. JD Williams quietly had a remarkable season in Elizabethton last year, hitting for average, getting on base and stealing bases. He may be as fast as anyone in the organization.
EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING
There are a lot of players who will begin the season at Extended Spring Training and remain in Ft. Myers. These players, along with potentially more players from the Dominican and signees from the 2012 draft, will begin the short-season league games in Elizabethton or with the GCL Twins. Of course, these players will be playing games and working on their games at the Ft. Myers facilities and if there is a need in Beloit, or potentially in Ft. Myers, several could get promoted. In fact, expect that a dozen or so will be needed thanks to promotions up above, injuries or other reasons.
Pitchers: Ricardo Arevalo, Tim Atherton, Hudson Boyd, Josh Burris, Hung Yi Chen, Steven Evans, Dallas Gallant (missed last year with Tommy John surgery), Tyler Herr, Trent Higginbotham, David Hurlbut, Garrett Jewell, Cole Johnson, Tyler Jones, Corey Kimes, Brett Lee, Kuo Hua Lo, Austin Malinowski, Angel Mata, Chris Mazza, Josue Montanez, Luis Nunez, Gerardo Ramirez, Hein Robb, Gonzalo Sanudo, Tobias Streich (moved to Pitcher from Catcher)
Catchers: Jonathan Arias, Kelly Cross, Matt Parker, Michael Quesada, Jacob Younis
Infielders: Josh Hendricks, Kennys Vargas, Nick Lockwood, Candido Pimentel, Julio Torres, Stephen Wickens, Niko Goodrum, Aderling Mejia, Javier Pimentel, Jorge Polanco, Wander Guillen, Travis Harrison
Outfielders: Romy Jimenez, Max Kepler, Drew Leachman, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez
SUMMARY THOUGHTS: The names that stand out here to me are Max Kepler and Niko Goodrum. Kepler played OK, though certainly not great, in Elizabethton. Goodrum, on the other hand, played really well for the E-Twins, especially the final six weeks of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if both, or at least Goodrum, moves up to Beloit before the short seasons begin.
I’m more surprised by some of the college pitchers selected by the Twins in the 2011 draft remaining in EST.
One other thing to point out to fans is that a player can only spend three seasons in the short season leagues. For instance, Kepler spent 2010 in the GCL and 2011 in Elizabethton. He can play in E-Town again in 2012, but in 2013, he would need to go to a full-season affiliate.
Photo by Jim Crikket (Beloit Manager Nelson Prada, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Danny Ortiz)