Twins Sent Eight Players To Minor League Camp
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs (photo of Nick Gordon)In the clubhouse, players shook hands, gave man-hugs and wished the players sent out best wishes, often encouraging them to keep working and that they hope to see them in the big leagues soon. For several, that is a real possibility.
Following Saturday's game, Molitor noted, "We're looking at our departure in less than two weeks. We're trying to do some reduction here."
The Minnesota Twins optioned infielder Engelb Vielma, outfielders Zack Granite and Daniel Palka and catcher Mitch Garver to Rochester. They also reassigned infielders Niko Goodrum, Nick Gordon and Leonardo Reginnato and catcher Dan Rohlfing to minor league camp.
Zack Granite was the Twins minor league player of the year in 2016 and continued to make a good showing. He certainly impressed his manager and teammates. He played quite a bit, going 6-28 (.231) with a double. He played all three outfield positions. The outlook is certainly positive for Granite. He should start the season in Rochester and has a chance to get to the big leagues if there is an injury.
Molitor Note: "I like Zack a lot. I like how he prepares. I like how he competes. It was good to watch him play. He got into actually a lot of games. Made an impression almost every day he played in some capacity."
Daniel Palka was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. He struggled early in camp but came on of late. Palka went 3-18 (.167) with a double and a home run in camp. Palka also should start the season in Rochester. He'll need to work on putting the ball in play more frequently, but his immense power makes him intriguing later in the season.
Molitor Note: "I thought Palka really handled himself great. He had a bit of a label of practicing his swing in the outfield kind of guy. He got his focus on. Pick got to him a little bit. We heard there might be some adventures out there, I didn't see it. I saw a guy who tracked balls, had good first step and did some things. Had good at bats. I think he leads our team in walks. I think he's got to learn to hit a little better. And there's that power. You can tell that he's a threat. People are really more careful when he's in the box. Those two outfielders handled themselves well."
Mitch Garver will head to AAA with a good shot at getting to the big league club in 2017. Garver went 3-13 (.231) with two doubles this spring. Garver should also head to Rochester, where he ended last year. He will do a lot of catching, but when he's not catching, expect to see him continue to get time at first base and DH as well.
Molitor noted, "Mitch, I'm very pleased with him. He didn't get a great opportunity here, but what I saw, I continue to like."
Shortstop Engelb Vielma was added to the 40-man roster. He didn't play a lot. He went 2-12 (.167) with a double. Obviously a great defender, he could go to Rochester or play in Chattanooga.
Molitor Note: "Vielma just needs to get stronger. He can do things you can't really teach with the glove. He just has to make sure he doesn't get sloppy now and then and keep things clean. The defensive player of the year. Brad told him to defend his title."
Of the non-roster players sent down, Nick Gordon is the biggest prospect. He had a good showing in big league camp, doing well at second base and shortstop and at the plate. He's got some work to do, but he'll get every day playing time at shortstop in Chattanooga. He went 2-11 (.182) in eight games in spring training. He told me earlier this week that he gained a lot of confidence after his Arizona Fall League season, and gained even more throughout spring training. He said he learned a lot.
Molitor Note: "Nick Gordon, maybe one of our best hitting prospects that we have, if you ask me. It was good to see him play. He didn't get a lot of chance, but I think he absorbed a lot. Got the chance to play some at short and second."
Niko Goodrum had a nice camp too, at least when he wasn't battling a shoulder issue. He had a big, three-run homer in the game on Wednesday. He showed the ability to play all around the diamond. He went 6-16 (.375) this spring. I thought Goodrum would likely start the season with the Lookouts, and that's probably still the likely scenario, but he did have a very nice showing in big league camp and should move up to AAA at some point in the season.
Molitor Note: Niko Goodrum had a shoulder issue midway through camp, but he showed versatility. I really encouraged him to embrace that rather than wondering why he can't find a position because it has value and can open more doors for him. He showed some things."
Leonardo Reginnato also had to pack his (WBC-issued) bag this morning. The native of Brazil was on his country's WBC-Qualifier team last spring. He can play both positions on the left side of the diamond. Reginnato went 9-17 this spring (.529). He ended last season in Rochester, and should start there this year.
Molitor Note: "Similar to Niko. Doesn't play as many positions, but he still has to be versatile and contribute."
Finally, catcher Dan Rohlfing was sent down. It will be interesting to see where he goes, and if he is asked to work with some of the Twins top pitching prospects. He showed a little power this spring again, and he is a very good athlete behind the plate. He went 2-11 (.182) with a home run. Both of his hits came this week.
Molitor Note: Rohlfing returned to the organization. "He didn't get much of a chance. He's hopefully going to get a significant amount of playing time wherever he would go. He needs to play."
MORE FROM MOLITOR
- Asked if Gordon can stick at shortstop, Molitor said, "We'll see how it matches up with he and Vielma if they're on the same team. We could split them, and we've got other guys who can play short. I would never say that he's not going to develop into potentially being a shortstop. I mean, that's what he's played. Athletes like that, you want to give them every opportunity to work, I would think. But to get some more experience on the other side of the base would be helpful. I think he only started a handful of games at second last year and one at third. Primarily that's been his spot. Maybe it's only two spots, but you want to make sure that you've got more doors open. I mean, I would want to. You just have to make sure that these seeds are planted so that they don't lose confidence if they're not playing the position they thought they might be.
- Asked if Rohlfing can be an asset working with pitching prospects, Molitor said, "He's been challenged to follow the role of a guy like (Chris) Gimenez who has made himself valuable by being a good leader, by being a good teammate, by being able to help develop pitchers. They both have a some versatility and can play first base and left field a little bit. He was very clear the first meeting early on that he hasn't given up his dream of playing in the big leagues. So I encourage that. Didn't give you a great chance here, but go out there and keep yourself on the (radar)."