2017 Minnesota Twins Minor League Primer
Image courtesy of Seth StohsToday, I thought it would be fun to put together a bit of a primer for some things to look for as minor league camp starts.
There were several changes in the coaching ranks within the organizations. With Jeff Smith getting the Twins first base coaching job, there was an opening. Here are the 2017 Twins Minor League coaches, including some very familiar names.
Rochester Red Wings: Manager - Mike Quade, Hitting Coach - Chad Allen, Pitching Coach - Stu Cliburn
Chattanooga Lookouts: Manager - Jake Mauer, Hitting Coach - Javier Valentin, Pitching Coach - Ivan Arteaga
Ft. Myers Miracle: Manager - Doug Mientkiewicz, Hitting Coach - Steve Singleton, Pitching Coach - Henry Bonilla
Cedar Rapids Kernels: Manager - Tommy Watkins, Hitting Coach - Brian Dinkelman, Pitching Coach - JP Martinez
Elizabethton Twins: Manager - Ray Smith, Hitting Coach - Jeff Reed, Pitching Coach - Luis Ramirez
GCL Twins: Manager - Ramon Borrega, Hitting Coaches - Toby Gardenhire & Jose Marzan, Pitching Coach - Virgil Vasquez, Cibney Bello
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
The World Baseball Classic is beginning in various places around the globe. While four players (Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios) left Twins big league camp to head to Mexico and play for Team Puerto Rico, they aren’t the only WBC participants in the organization. (Here is a list of current, former and future Twins in the WBC.)
Right-hander Dereck Rodriguez is also a member of that Puerto Rican team. As you would expect, the Australian team is full of current and former Twins members. Lefty Lachlan Wells, righty Todd Van Steensel and outfielder Aaron Whitefield represent the Twins on Team Australia this spring. Reynaldo Rodriguez and Yohan Pino (who re-signed with the Twins for his third stint with the team) will play for Team Colombia.
RETURNING FROM INJURY
Injuries happen in baseball. We all know that. However, there are several players this year returning from injury. We’ll want to watch each.
Trevor Hildenberger missed the final month of the season with soreness in his elbow. He’s been full-go for a while now. Nick Burdi missed most of last season with a bone bruise in his elbow. Alex Muren had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery early last season and missed the full year. Lewis Thorpe has missed the last two years after having Tommy John surgery. Jovani Moran had bone chips removed last year.
LaMonte Wade had two stints on the disabled list including one stint at the end of the season. He’s been in Ft. Myers since early January and is ready to go. Jermaine Palacios’s season came to an end early when he was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his hand. Nelson Molina broke his hamate bone in his hand early in the Puerto Rico Winter League. He had surgery and is healthy for spring training. Matt Albanese is excited to get on the field after a fractured wrist and some tendon injuries cost him most of his junior season and all of the Twins short season. Joe Cronin’s pro debut ended early with a hamstring injury.
Brusdar Graterol is likely to start the season in extended spring training. He missed all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery and pitched in the Instructional League (hitting 100 with the fastball). Vadim Balan missed all of 2016 with a stress fracture in his back. He also will start in extended spring before pitching in real games, likely in Elizabethton.
As we learned last week, Alex Kirilloff will be having Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will miss the 2017 season. Tyler Benninghoff had Tommy John right after the June draft. He might see some time in the GCL late in the year. Andro Cutura had Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the 2017 season as well. Zack Jones had shoulder surgery last September and is likely to miss most, if not all, of 2017.
Kerby Camacho missed the 2016 season due to his PED suspension. He has served his time and will be eligible to play right away in 2017.
MINNESOTANS IN A TWINS UNIFORM
There are several Minnesotans in the Twins system. Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins are two on the big league roster. The following players from Minnesota will be in minor league camp.
Recently, the Twins signed former Gophers reliever Seth Rosin (Arden Hills, Mounds View HS). He pitched in four big league games between 2014 and 2015, with Texas and Philadelphia. Brandon Peterson (Savage, Burnsville HS) split the season between Chattanooga and Ft. Myers. Nick Anderson (Crosby, Brainerd HS) was signed by the Twins in August of 2015 and spent last year between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Bo Hellquist (Edina, Burnsville HS) signed with the Twins last year after a strong career at Minnesota-Duluth. The one hitter on this list is Max Murphy (Robbinsdale, Robbinsdale Cooper HS).
It seems as though every year there are a few pitchers who switch positions for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just to accentuate their tools, or just to try something different.
Sam Clay is going to be moved to the bullpen.
The other noteworthy changes involve players moving behind the plate. Rafael Valera went to Instructional League the last couple of years and spent some time catching. However, he didn’t do any catching last year before his season-ending injury. Caleb Hamilton was drafted last year out of Oregon State. For Elizabethton, he played all over the diamond, mostly around the infield. He will add a catcher’s mitt to his bag of gloves this year. Mitch Kranson was a slugging third baseman/DH type for California. He worked a lot behind the plate and hopes to be catching throughout the season. He’ll need to work on it and will likely have the bat to keep him in the lineup even when he isn’t catching.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS WITH MLB SPRING TRAINING INVITE
You know these names already. These guys were signed to minor league deals, but they have been in big league spring training.
Catchers: Chris Gimenez, Eddy Rodriguez, Dan Rohlfing
Infielders: Matt Hague, Ben Paulsen, Benji Gonzalez
Outfielders: JB Shuck, Drew Stubbs
Pitchers: Ryan Vogelsong, Nick Tepesch, Craig Breslow, Drew Rucinski
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS WITHOUT MLB SPRING TRAINING INVITE
Catchers: Jose Gonzalez
Infielders: Jonathan Rodriguez, Dan Gamache, Tom Belza, Shane Kennedy
Outfielders: Quintin Berry, Leandro Castro, Josh Romanski, Ryan Strausborger
Starting Pitchers: Matt Tracy, Nik Turley, Yohan Pino, Henry Centeno
Relief Pitchers: Jim Miller Seth Rosin, Jonny Drozd, David Fischer, Evan Sanders
Here are a few more links you can use as you get excited about the Twins minor league camp open.
2016 TWINS MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS
Here is a quick rundown of the 2016 Minor League Award winners:
- 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
- Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year - Daniel Palka
- Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year - Stephen Gonsalves
- Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year - Trevor Hildenberger
- Twins Daily short-season Minor League Hitter of the Year - Lewin Diaz
- Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year- Huascar Ynoa
20. Justin Haley, RHP
19. Ben Rortvedt, C
18. Engelb Vielma, SS
17. Nick Burdi, RHP
16. Zack Granite, OF
15. LaMonte Wade, OF
14. Daniel Palka, OF
13. JT Chargois, RHP
12. Felix Jorge, RHP
11. Mitch Garver, C
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B
9. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B
8. Kohl Stewart, RHP
7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
6. Wander Javier, SS
5. Tyler Jay, LHP
4. Nick Gordon, SS
3. Alex Kirilloff, OF
2. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
1. Fernando Romero, RHP
2017 Roster Projections
Recently, I made my 2017 Roster Projections for the start of the season. The Twins have signed a couple of minor league deals since then, but you can read them here:
The Middle Infielders
The Corner Infielders
The Starting Pitchers
The Relief Pitchers
The minor league seasons will begin just days after the MLB Opening Day. There are plenty of story lines, as you would expect, when there are 200 players in the organization all hanging out around the Century Link Sports Complex. We’ll be sure to cover them, starting this weekend when Seth travels to Ft. Myers.
For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this 2017 Twins minor league primer and feel free to ask any questions you might have.
- Tom Froemming and caninatl04 like this