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Top 10 Candidates for 2019 Sire of Fort Myers

The Twins opened spring training play this afternoon, meaning it’s time to start searching for the 2019 Sire of Fort Myers. You generally shouldn’t pay any attention to stats this time of year, but there’s always a population of players who have a ton to gain from putting together an impressive spring. This is their opportunity to show the Twins coaching staff what they can do, not to mention the other teams across baseball.
Image courtesy of © Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports (photo of Mike Morin)
So this spring, we will set out to identify those players who have the most to gain from posting impressive stat lines and eventually crown one of them Sire of Fort Myers. I know what some of you are thinking, “really, are we that desperate for baseball we’re going to keep an eye on a bunch of has-beens and never-beens?”

Well first off, yes. It’s February and the snow piled around my house is taller than Michael Pineda, so I am that desperate for baseball. Secondly, how dare you speak ill of Sire Ryan LaMarre, he who smote the Clevelanders in the Battle of Puerto Rico. Lastly, this is like a really, really serious honor, OK? Show some respect.

Last year was really the perfect time to debut this idea. Coming into spring, who could have seen LaMarre heading north with the Twins? Here’s part of what I wrote in my preview last year:

“But, just to be clear, these guys' chances of breaking camp with the Twins are anywhere from remote to downright unthinkable.”

He did it. Ryan LaMarre dreamed the impossible dream and made the team. That was crazy. So I’m not ruling anything out this time around.

Who are the top contenders for this year’s crown? Let's go over who’s eligible first. Anyone who’s not on the 40-man roster is eligible, as well as the few players who are on the 40 man but haven’t made their MLB debut. So before anybody asks, no, Willians Astudillo (a 2018 Sire of Fort Myers honorable mention) is not eligible this year.

Just a reminder, this isn't about identifying the player most likely to make the team, it's simply honoring the player who had the most impressive spring training performance. Without further ado, here’s who I think are the top 10 contenders for 2019 Sire of Fort Myers, in alphabetical order:

Randy Cesar, 24, 3B/1B
This guy seems interesting. Cesar hit .296/.348/.428 (.777 OPS) for Houston’s Double-A team and had a 42-game hitting streak last year. His BABIP dropped from an insane .444 through his first 64 games (which coincided with the end of that impressive streak) to just .277 over his final 52 games. So maybe his success was a complete mirage, but he’s a fun guy to bring in on a minor league deal. Cesar split time between third base and first base last year.

Tim Collins, 29, LHP
Remember this guy? Collins was a long-time member of the Royals’ bullpen before he had to suffer through not one but two Tommy John surgeries. He worked his way back to the big leagues for the first time since 2014, pitching to a 4.37 ERA in 22 2/3 innings with the Nationals last year. His fastball velocity was pretty much back to where it was when he was with Kansas City, averaging 92.5 mph.

Chase De Jong, 25, RHP
The Twins removed De Jong from the 40-man roster earlier this offseason, but he cleared waivers. Acquired in the trade that sent Zach Duke to Seattle, De Jong barely hits 90 mph but manages to induce a fair amount of weak contact. He had a 3.57 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Twins, 3.20 ERA in 39 1/3 innings with Rochester and a 3.80 mark in 120 2/3 innings with the Mariners’ Double-A team.

Lucas Duda, 33, 1B
Duda is hands down the favorite this year. He boasts a career 118 OPS+ and has hit 27 or more home runs three times in the big leagues. They’re trending in two different directions, but Duda’s resume is really even more impressive than that of projected starting first baseman C.J. Cron. The past few years have not been kind to one-dimensional players such as Duda. The fact he had to settle on a minor league deal illustrates that, but he still hit .264/.336/.477 (813 OPS) against right-handers last season.

Ryan Eades, 27, RHP
Eades was drafted in the second round in 2013 but his prospect shine faded fairly quickly. Last year was his second season pitching primarily out of the bullpen. Something clicked. After averaging 6.7 K/9 previously, Eades posted a 10.4 K/9 in 2018. He finished on a particularly high note, giving up just five earned runs over his final 30 1/3 innings (0.89 ERA) while holding opposing hitters to a .198/.244/.225 line, earning a promotion to Rochester in the process.

Nick Gordon, 23, SS/2B
Probably the most recognizable name on this list to Twins fans, Gordon’s stock dropped some after an uninspiring first showing in Triple A. In 164 games at Double A, however, Gordon hit .285/.350/.436 (.787 OPS) with 39 doubles, 11 triples and 14 home runs. He also stole 20 bases during his time in Chattanooga, had 86 RBIs and scored 102 runs. Even in a down season, Gordon posted his best OPS against left-handed pitching (.636) since his draft year.

Mike Morin, 27, RHP
Morin was a mainstay in the Angels’ bullpen from 2014-17, pitching to a 4.49 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 3.42 K:BB ratio over 177 appearances. He spent the majority of last season with Seattle’s Triple-A team, where he had a 3.86 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, though he also pitched in three games for the Mariners. Morin’s fastball sits 91.5 mph but he mixes in a changeup about a third of the time and relies on his slider for roughly a quarter of his pitches. I think he’ll get plenty of looks this spring, making him a strong contender for the crown. Morin was born in Andover but grew up in Kansas.

Jake Reed, 26, RHP
FREE REED! This guy has a 1.92 ERA in 89 career Triple-A innings. Considering some of the other guys the Twins have trotted out in their bullpen the past few years it’s pretty incredible he hasn’t had an opportunity to make his debut. The 26-year-old right-hander struck out 50 batters in 47 2/3 innings for Rochester last year. In 246 2/3 career innings in the minor leagues, Reed has surrendered just seven home runs. He’s faced 576 right-handed hitters and they’ve taken him deep just four times. That’s crazy.

Lewis Thorpe, 23, LHP
The 2018 season was a great building block for Thorpe. He reached a career high 129 2/3 innings, excelling in his first regular time in Double-A to the point where he earned a late-season promotion up to Rochester. Altogether, the Aussie lefty had a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP while averaging 10.9 K/9 against just 2.5 BB/9. That works out to an outstanding 4.36 K:BB ratio. The Twins have, understandably, been a little careful with him, but I wonder if they may loosen the reins a bit this year.

LaMonte Wade, 25, OF
It was nowhere near the level of Gordon’s drop off, but Wade slumped some in his first shot in Triple-A too. It was the first time he had more strikeouts than walks, which is pretty incredible in today’s age. But allow me to make the same kind of presentation we did with Gordon. In 163 career games in Double-A, Wade hit .294/.396/.418 (.815) with 14 home runs, 102 walks and just 91 strikeouts. He scored 104 times and drove in 94. He’s played all over the outfield, but seems to have settled in as a left fielder.

Here are the other non-roster invitees I didn’t include in the top 10: Preston Guilmet, Ryne Harper, Justin Nicolino, Brian Navarreto, Ben Rortvedt, Wynston Sawyer, Tomas Telis, Luis Arraez, Randy Cesar, Royce Lewis, Adam Rosales, Alex Kirilloff, Luke Raley and Brent Rooker.

Just a couple quick notes on those included on that list above: I’d expect Lewis and Kirilloff to be among the first cuts. It wouldn’t surprise me if Arraez turned some heads, he just missed my top 10. Harper was another guy who just missed, he had an insane 8.60 K:BB ratio down on the farm for the Twins last year (65 IP, 86 K, 10 BB). Guilmet's another guy who could've very easliy been named in the top 10. He has some ugly MLB numbers but a 2.45 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 in 265 career innings at Triple A. Rosales is 35 now, but he’s coming off of somewhat of a power outburst, as he popped 18 home runs for Cleveland’s Triple-A team last year.

There will be other minor leaguers who work their way in from time to time, especially on the days where the Twins have split squad games on the schedule, but I wouldn’t anticipate them getting enough playing time to be in contention for this most prestigious honor.

So what do you think? I’ve tabbed Duda as the favorite among hitters and Morin among pitchers. Will anybody give either of those guys a run for their money?

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20 Comments

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sweetmusicviola16
Feb 23 2019 02:27 PM

This article must be a lot of Bull, that was my first reaction to the title.

 

Twins not a good showing in this first contest against Baltimore.

Twins not a good showing in this first contest against Baltimore.

It was a good run. Wait 'til next year.

    • scottz, adorduan, mickeymental and 4 others like this

I've got dibs on Mike Morin.Has some MLB experience and he's been through this before.And that changeup.... just' sayin.Still a longshot but I'd give him the best chance on cracking the 25 heading north.

 

 

Oh, and Chase De Jong? Sadly, he's been eliminated from contention almost before spring training has begun. Two walks and a jack today vs the O's.

    • Dman likes this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Feb 23 2019 03:28 PM
If Ryan LaMarre was Sire eligible, than Michael Reed and his career 35 AB's must be too!
    • Original Whizzinator and DannySD like this

Here is a pitcher and a hitter: RHP Ryne Harper, 1B/OF Brent Rooker.

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Feb 23 2019 03:37 PM
I'll take the Reeds, Michael and Jake. There is a path for both of them given the opportunity in the bullpen and the volatility of Cave (.363 babip and 33 k%).
    • Dman and DannySD like this

 

If Ryan LaMarre was Sire eligible, than Michael Reed and his career 35 AB's must be too!

 

Except Reed is on the 40-man. LaMarre was not.

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Feb 23 2019 03:39 PM

Except Reed is on the 40-man. LaMarre was not.


Ah, gotcha. Foiled by a technicality!
    • ashbury, nater79a and MN_ExPat like this

Oh, and Chase De Jong? Sadly, he's been eliminated from contention almost before spring training has begun. Two walks and a jack today vs the O's.


I was able to watch the game on TV, his control was horrendous. Gordon looked good, his last single should have been a double off the left field wall except he slipped rounding 1st.
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ChrisKnutson
Feb 23 2019 04:33 PM
While Reed makes the most sense for our questionable bullpen, I’m really curious to see if Wade could possibly unseat Cave as our 4th outfielder, definitely has a better skill set for that type of role (better defense and patience, but less power).
    • caninatl04, BoofBonser and The Mask of Zoilo like this

I feel like Astudillo should be on this list, but is he ineligible because he hit .355 last fall in 97 PAs? Because his popularity could easily win him this award this Spring Training.

 

Whoops, my bad, just read the article again fully. I'll bet on Jake Reed to win the award but inexplicably not make the team because nobody wants. 

Fun discussion with a potential empty premise. But I can't argue with your choices, Tom. Duda seems to be a perfect candidate to show everyone there is gas in the tank still. But I'm split on Collins and Morin. Both could bounce back, and I'm not so sure the Twins won't go north with a trio of LH in the pen. But could Collins rebound enough to pass Moya and Vasquez?

I am really hoping for Wade, to show he will be ready at some point, and either Reed or Eades. Reed should have received a shot last year. I had written off Eades until he adapted so well to the pen last season and his various roles.

I like Magill's FB and slider if he could just find some damned consistency. I'm not one who believes he's secure at all.
    • Dman, ChrisKnutson, nater79a and 3 others like this

I keep waiting for Brian Navarreto to separate himself from the pack. Swing flat, kid! All you gotta do is hit line drives to the gaps! Smell those ribbies like Redmond!

I'll say Jake Reed. 

 

I don't see a hitter. I do think Nick Gordon will have a strong camp. 

    • caninatl04 likes this

I have to go with a position player. I feel like offensive stats are higher than pitching in ST.

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Original Whizzinator
Feb 24 2019 10:39 AM
Reed looks pretty good in that snippet! Gotta get a shot this year right? I'll go with him.
Also the other Reed had quite the year with the bat last year and like cave his babip appears unsustainable. Will be fun to see if one of these two can take the next step. When fans who liked cave get a look at M Reed they might turn fickle
    • The Mask of Zoilo likes this

Fun ST Home Opener last night.

 

Buxton's home run was really encouraging. It was with 2 strikes against a pitcher that although he was a lefty seemed to have some crafty stuff, throwing 94 then 74 off speed.Bux adjusted and drilled the home run. His single was also hard hit.

 

Rosario's two hits were also well earned, as in both of those ABs he fouled off pitch after pitch before getting two he hit very well.

 

If the team does not bring WIllians Astudillio north it is their mistake.This guy makes stuff happen.He is a good hitter with a good approach at the plate (although he could walk more).The guy is just a smart, smart baseball player that brings added versatility.One game observation sample in spring training, but he absolutely controlled the running game.He threw out a runner at second and with snap throws kept the runners that were on base honest.

 

Hard to evaluate pitchers since they only pitched one inning.

 

Kohl Stewart started and I thought looked pretty good.He three 91-93 fastball with reasonable day 1 control.Slider was at 86.He missed some bats with his slider, which was a good sign for him.Did not throw any offspeed pitches.

 

Lewis Thorpe inning was a struggle.He seemed to have good early control of a 74-76 mph curve that he threw for strikes.His fastball was just mediocre though, 89-91 and he did not have good command of it.He was hit pretty hard.He looked in better shape on the mound than when I had watched him previously with the Miracle.

 

Trevor Hildenberger looked pretty good. He kept the hitters off balance with a 74 mph off speed pitch and everyone was behind his 89 mph fastball.If he can step back into form that would be a good thing for the pen.

 

But, the pitcher who looked absolutely dominant was Fernando Romero.He hit 97, was consistent 95-97 with his fb, his slider looked unhittable, and the one hit was a little seeing eye bouncer. I am loathe to move a guy who is a starter to the pen, but Fernando's stuff looked so dominant I think if he can demonstrate the right approach he just needs to be penciled in as our closer, and he could become one of the best ever with his stuff.

    • The Mask of Zoilo likes this
I like the movement on Reed’s pitches. Thanks for the video. I didn’t know the pitch clock at spring training was only 2 seconds! Must really speed up the game.

One other note...

 

It was really irritating that the scoreboard had every non-roster Tampa player's name up on the board, (although they did make a mistake on a guy), but didn't have that information for the Twins non-roster guys. Not a big deal because they announced the substitutions, but I thought it a bit disrespectful to our scrubs. 

I'm guessing it will be a pitcher that is the pick as your Sire" of the camp this year. I'd also agree with DocBauer, thinking it may wind up being either Collins or Morin.


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