Sire of Fort Myers: Rosales, Harper Turning Heads
Image courtesy of © Aaron Doster-USA TODAY SportsThere are very few spots up for grabs on the 25-man roster, but there are still plenty of players who have a lot to gain from having strong spring showings. This is their chance to not only be seen by top members of the Twins’ staff but also the other 29 MLB teams, overseas and independent leagues.
So who is eligible to be named Sire of Fort Myers? Anybody who’s not on the 40-man roster, even guys with several years of MLB service time, and anyone on the 40-man roster who hasn’t made their MLB debut also qualifies.
This is not about identifying the player most likely to break camp with the team, or the player who has the highest upside. It’s all about performance. The mantra this time of year is “spring training stats don’t matter.” That’s definitely true in the case of established major leaguers, but there are some players who have something to gain from a strong spring.
Ryan LaMarre was crowned the inaugural Sire of Fort Myers after hitting .475/.511/.775 (1.286 OPS) in 45 plate appearances. It’d be crazy to expect anyone to replicate those video game numbers, right? Well …
Adam Rosales, 35, IF
.385/.429/.962 (1.390 OPS)
10-for-26, 3 2B, 4 HR, 2 BB, 3 K
Rosales has been bouncing around as a Quad-A type player for years now. He’s seen major league time with six different teams over the past 11 seasons. He’s shown good power with the Twins, both at the plate and in regard to his throwing arm. Most of his time has been spent at third base, but he’s also played some second and even got a start at shortstop. Get a load of that slugging percentage. Wow.
He’s shown almost no pop in the majors (.365 career slugging), but Rosales did hit 18 home runs in 114 games for Cleveland’s Triple-A team last year. The Twins have no shortage of multi-positional players in camp, or whatever Rocco Baldelli prefers to call them, so it’s likely Rosales is playing for an opportunity elsewhere every bit as much as he’s trying to make a good impression on the Twins. But it’s fair to point out that it was almost impossible to imagine Ryan LaMarre making the Opening Day roster at this point last season, so anything’s possible.
Lucas Duda, 33, 1B
.333/.448/.458 (.907 OPS)
8-for-24. 3 2B, 5 BB, 9 K
I tabbed Dude as the hands-down favorite in my Sire of Fort Myers preview, and while he trails a few other players, he has not disappointed. Duda has a lot of pressure on him this spring, a poor performance could have been very damaging to his hopes of landing on a major league roster this season. It’s a bit difficult to see Duda cracking the Twins’ Opening Day roster, but he’s done a nice job at showcasing his skills to other teams that may be searching for a lefty bat.
LaMonte Wade, 25, OF
.296/.375/.556 (.931 OPS)
8-for-27, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 BB, 5 K
How great is this to see? After struggling in his first taste of Triple A toward the end of last season, Wade has put a positive spin on the start to his 2019 season. He was optioned to Rochester after Tuesday’s game, but I felt it was still well worth mentioning his efforts to this point.
Honorable mentions among hitters include Nick Gordon, Brian Navarreto and Jimmy Kerrigan.
The bullpen is the biggest question mark in terms of the major league club. It seems like the guys on the outside looking in smell blood in the water.
Ryne Harper, 29, RHP
0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 39.1 K%
6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Harper always put up great numbers in the minor leagues but never could find an opportunity even above Double A for years. He came up in the Braves’ system before being dealt to Seattle in December of 2015. After a great first season in the Mariners’ system, Harper finally appeared to be getting his shot. He was called up May 28, 2017. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to pitch and was sent back to Triple A just three days later.
Harper became a minor league free agent after that season and signed with the Twins. In 65 innings between Chattanooga and Rochester, Harper posted a 3.60 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. What really jumps off the page is his sterling strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8.60. He averaged 11.9 K/9 while issuing just 1.4 BB/9. The Twins brought him back on another minors deal this offseason. Including winter leagues, Harper has pitched in more than 300 minor league games in his career.
Ryan Eades, 27, RHP
0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 35.0 K%
5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
We go from a former 37th-round pick in Harper to the Twins’ second-round pick from the 2013 Draft. Eades has been pitching primarily out of the bullpen the past two seasons and really took a step forward in 2018. Over his final 30 1/3 innings, Eades gave up just three earned runs (0.89 ERA), struck out 34 batters and walked just five (6.8 K:BB ratio).
Preston Guilmet, 31, RHP
1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 39.1 K%
6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Guilmet has 27 big league appearances under his belt, spreading those across six organizations. That’s a lot of cups of coffee. He was drafted twice, traded once and selected off waivers five times. In all, he’s pitched for 22 different teams in his professional career, including one in Japan (2017 with the Yakult Swallows). He had a 1.60 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 in 33 2/3 Triple-A innings last season.
Mike Morin, 27, RHP
0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 27.3 K%
6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Here’s another reliever who’s bounced around quite a bit. Morin had a great rookie year in 2014 as a 23-year-old with the Angels, pitching to a 2.90 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 59 innings. Things haven’t gone as well since. He was claimed off waivers by the Royals, then again by the Mariners. He made three appearances with Seattle but spent most of the season in Triple A, where he had a 3.86 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Morin was born in Andover but played his high school ball in Kansas before attending the University of North Carolina.
For more on Morin, La Velle E. Neal III wrote a nice profile on him and his changeup over at the Star Tribune.
Honorable mentions among pitchers include Justin Nicolino, Jake Reed and Tim Collins.
So there you have it, the top contenders for 2019 Sire of Fort Myers as we head down the stretch. Coronation day will be in a few short weeks.
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