Report From The Fort: Minor League Notebook
Image courtesy of Seth StohsBelow you will find a smorgasbord of topics regarding the Twins minor leagues. Although it is not known for sure, the assumption is that the Twins will make their first big league roster cuts on Monday. On Sunday, the Twins will play a split doubleheader so they’ll need all the players they can get. Expect the first cut to involve a lot of players. 40-man roster guys who aren’t going to compete for a big league job will likely be in that first group. Also starting pitchers who aren’t really competing for an Opening Day roster spot should also be sent down. They need to start building up their pitch count to be ready to throw 80-90 pitches in a game by Opening Day. So, who is in minor league camp will certainly change several times.
Dereck Rodriguez is on the Puerto Rico WBC roster, but you may have seen pictures of him in Ft. Myers. He is an alternate on the Puerto Rico team, and so he is staying in Ft. Myers to continue to work and prepare himself for the season. If Puerto Rico advances to the second round (pretty likely, I would think) Rodriguez could join them then.
Tommy Watkins saw me at the end of practice on Friday. I congratulated him on getting an opportunity to manage. He is very excited for the opportunity. He’s been working with minor league players the last couple of months. He said that almost 100 players reported before minor league report day. Again, the academy is creating an opportunity for players to put in work before they even have to. Watkins also said that they were doing community events three to four times a week. They visited hospitals and schools and conducted a couple of camps.
Trey Cabbage injured his foot in minor league camp. He called it a “stupid freak accident.” He hopes to get back on the field within a couple of weeks.
Trevor Hildenberger threw a bullpen today. He said it went well and his elbow is “all good” and he’s going “full bore.”
Speaking of guys returning, Lewis Thorpe was back on the mound, and he is ‘full-go’ to do all spring training activities. He was a Top 10 Twins prospect before he missed two seasons with, first, Tommy John surgery and then a season-long illness. He could certainly get back to that status by the end of the year. It will be an interesting season for him. Will he start in extended spring training to avoid Cedar Rapids in April? Could he just start with the Miracle? It’ll be interesting to see his innings limit, but he’s essentially where Fernando Romero was a year ago at this time so that’s probably a good barometer.
I met Nelson Molina last May in Cedar Rapids. The infielder had spent a month with the Kernels and was off to a good start. He ended the year hitting .300/.374/.381 (.755) and was named to the Twins Daily Minor League All-Star team as a third baseman.
As I mentioned in the Twins Minor League Primer earlier this week, Molina was coming back from injury. He had a broken hamate bone. At the end of practice, Molina came over to me and we discussed the injury. It was in his right hand. He was playing in his first game in the Puerto Rico Winter League and he flew out to left field in an at-bat and felt pain in his hand. His doctor told him that the bone was already broken and he didn’t even know it. He said he is almost thankful that it happened in the winter so that he could have surgery right away. Had he not played in Puerto Rico, he would have come to spring training and it would have broken early in spring training. Instead of just now having surgery, he is 100% and ready for the season.
Like so many, Molina was up late on Friday night watching Team Puerto Rico beat Venezuela in the WBC. At the Twins Academy, the WBC has become must-watch TV.
And the most important thing I’ve learned through one-plus days of minor league camp… The Twins got rid of their old rule that minor leaguers could not have beards. Young adults can be treated like adults. They can be individuals. Next up, maybe baseball will let minor leaguers get paid a fair wage. One thing at a time, right?
The last three days, the minor leaguers have been working in four work groups.On Sunday, they will work out in the morning and then at noon there will be intrasquad games. Rochester will take on Chattanooga on one field, and Fort Myers will challenge Cedar Rapids on the other field. The same thing will happen on Monday, though the “GCL Twins” will take on Bethel University again this year. Bethel, as you recall, is coached by former Gopher and former Twins player Brian Raabe. Tuesday will be more afternoon intrasquad games. Starting Wednesday, the teams will start playing against other teams. It will be AAA vs AAA, and AA vs AA and so on. They will play teams of the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. On those days, two teams will travel and two teams will play on the back fields.
We’ll be back with more throughout the next week. Again, feel free to use the comments section below to ask questions about this article or things you would like me to dig into on the back fields.
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