Twins Prospects in Arizona
UPDATED at 1:30 CST for Official announcement!
For fans of the minor leagues, this time of year is pretty fun. The Elizabethton Twins will be starting their playoff run tonight. September call-ups can start happening on Friday. The minor league regular seasons come to an end on Labor Day and then more players get called up while those playoff runs start.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] As you know, Beloit will be in the Midwest League playoffs, and most likely, they will be the lone Twins full-season playoff team. Today, it is expected that the Arizona Fall League teams will be announced. So, who will represent the Twins in Arizona when the AFL begins on October 9?
According to the Star-Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal, the Twins will send six players to the AFL and also save one more spot for another player. Here is the list, which should become official today.
Chris Herrmann – It isn’t usual for the Twins to send a player to the Arizona Fall League two consecutive years, but Herrmann will do just that. Last year, Herrmann made a name for himself on a more national scene with a strong showing in the AFL. He hit .380/.456/.620 in just 57 at bats. He returned to AA New Britain this season and has hit .268/.342/.385 with 23 doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 55 RBI. The 24 year old has been the team’s primary catcher, but this year, he has returned to playing quite a bit of outfield.
Evan Bigley – The 25 year old outfielder began the 2012 season back in New Britain where he had spent parts of the two previous seasons. In 88 games, he hit .268/.311/.444 with 19 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs. He was promoted to Rochester where, in 35 games, he is hitting .211/.241/.328 with six doubles and three homers. The Right Fielder has a good arm.
Kyle Gibson – Of course, Gibson is the headliner on this roster. Gibson, the Twins 1st round pick in 2009 rocketed through the Twins farm system in 2010. He began 2011 in Rochester where he pitched well until arm issues derailed his season. He had Tommy John surgery last September, and his comeback this season has been going well to this point. He made his first start for the Red Wings in 2011 on Saturday. The goal is to get him as many innings as they can this fall so that he can go to spring training 2013 with a chance to impress.
Logan Darnell – He was the Twins sixth round pick in 2010 out of Kentucky. In 2011, he pitched for Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain (5 starts, 5.58 ERA). This season, he has pitched exclusively for the Rock Cats. He has made 26 starts and thrown 145 innings already after throwing a combined 150.1 innings in 2011. He is 9-12 with a 5.21 ERA. He’s given up 181 hits (21 home runs), walked 44 and struckout just 94. Despite the pedestrian stats and the low strikeout numbers, he is said to have some really good stuff.
Michael Tonkin – The Twins can have up to two players from the Ft. Myers roster compete in the AFL. Michael Tonkin will do that this year. He began the season by completely dominating the Midwest League. For Beloit, he went 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 22 games. He had six saves. In 39 innings, he walked just nine (gave up just one home run) and struckout 53. Opponents hit just .206 off of him. He was promoted to Ft. Myers where opponents are hitting just .202 off of him. He’s 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 20 games. In 28.1 innings, he has walked 11 and struck out 40. He has three good pitches, generally gets a lot of ground balls.
Caleb Thielbar – Thielbar is a lefty from Randolph, MN, who signed with the Twins late last season, the first player the Twins had signed from the St. Paul Saints. Since then, he has been terrific and progressed swiftly up the Twins farm system. He started the season with seven games in Ft. Myers. In 12.1 innings, he gave up four hits, walked two and struck out 16. He moved up to New Britain and pitched in 16 games. In 25 innings ,he gave up 18 hits, walked three and struck out 26. Now, he’s pitched in 24 games for Rochester. In 37 innings, he has given up 40 hits, walked 15 and struckout 29. The Arizona Fall League will be a good challenge for him.
Joe Benson – It’s been a lost season for the Twins talented outfield prospect. He struggled early, but he has had one injury after the next ever since. He had surgery on his hamate bone, he’s had some other minor injuries, and his season came to an end two weeks ago with a knee injury. He will have surgery on Monday. The rehab will likely take at least one month, so the Twins are holding a spot for him in the AFL. He just needs to find some at bats so that he can go into the 2013 season strong and hopefully ready to take that final step.
Nate Roberts - the 23 year old has been an on-base machine for the Beloit Snappers the past two seasons. He missed a lot of time in 2011 with knee injuries, but he has been relatively healthy. It is possible he will be on the roster until Benson is ready to play.
The Twins players will play for the Peoria Javelinas with prospects from the Reds, Phillies, Mariners and Padres. They will be managed by Dusty Wathan.
Be sure to check in with Twins Daily for updates on Twins minor leaguers in the Arizona Fall League, but also Twins minor leaguers playing Winter League ball anywhere. Several players will play in the Caribbean, be it in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or Mexico. Several will also be playing in the Australian Baseball League.