Proven Leadership Will Set Tone for 2018 Red Wings
Image courtesy of © Scott Rovak-USA TODAY SportsJoel Skinner takes over as manager after the departure of Mike Quade. Skinner spent time as the Cleveland Indians manager back in 2002, and has had healthy tenures with both the Indians and White Sox managing in their farm systems. After being tabbed by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to head up the Triple-A level for Minnesota, he is also joined with a fresh face in the form of Mike McCarthy, the new bullpen coach. Both Chad Allen (hitting) and Stu Cliburn (pitching) return to their positions.
The roster itself is home to more than a few veterans, and there are a handful of guys who’ve been in professional baseball for some time. Arguably the biggest name of the group is also somewhat of a surprise. Twins top pitching prospect Fernando Romero was ticketed for Triple-A after spending the 2017 season exclusively at the Double-A level. He compiled a 3.53 ERA across 125.0 IP a year ago, and is looked at as being among Minnesota’s best chances to develop into a bona fide ace. The strikeout stuff is there, and the velocity comes easy for the 23 year-old right-hander. After dominating during spring training for the Twins, the focus prior to making a permanent leap to the big leagues will be on the development of his changeup.
While down in Florida, Paul Molitor got a first-hand look at Romero out of the big league pen, and the results were more than favorable. For the time being, Falvey still wants Romero developed as a starter, with the intention that he can give the Twins 200 innings on the mound in the not-so-distant future. If things fall apart for Romero, the Dominican native has a very promising career in relief ahead of him. There’s no doubt both he and the big league club are envisioning an impact starter for years to come however.
On the offensive side of things, standouts stand in the outfield grass. The duo of Zack Granite and Jake Cave should provide upstate New Yorkers something to get interested in for the early part of the summer. While Granite is a consistent average hitter with significant speed, Cave is more than capable of losing baseballs in the seats.
Granite was left off the Minnesota Twins 25-man roster to start 2018, and it may have come as somewhat of a surprise. He owned a .338/.392/.475 slash line for Rochester a season ago, and appeared to have all but mastered the level. Seeking every day playing time however, Granite could benefit from raking just a little bit longer in the International League. There’s no doubt his defense will play at the next level, and if the bat can be substantiated, it’ll be hard to dub him solely a fourth outfielder.
Acquired from the Yankees this spring, Cave is familiar with the International League having played there for half a season in 2017. His .921 OPS was a career high, and the former sixth-round draft pick dropped 15 bombs in just 72 Triple-A games. Cave does strike out too much while walking too little (82/18 K/BB at AAA in 2017), but if he can improve his eye at the plate, Minnesota likely has a corner outfield bopper on their hands.
Skinner’s pitching staff has plenty of veteran experience both in the rotation and out of the pen. Names like Adalberto Mejia, Jake Reed, Aaron Slegers, and Alan Busenitz are all going to bolster what should be a pretty impressive group. The goal will be in getting the entirety of that group to push for big league playing time early and often, giving the Twins multiple tough decisions to make.
All in all, the Rochester Red Wings are going to see a handful of prospects filter through as they are promoted from the lower levels this season. As it stands currently though, there’s a very talented group on this roster, and there’re leaders that should put up some impressive performances right out of the gate. Developing a new wave of depth was a must for the Twins after graduations by players like Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton. If Rochester’s roster is any indication, they’ve put their foot in the right direction.
PITCHERS (14): Nick Anderson, DJ Baxendale, Alan Busenitz, Casey Crosby, John Curtiss, Tyler Duffey, Dietrich Enns, Myles Jaye, Matt Magill, Adalberto Mejia, Mason Melotakis, Jake Reed, Fernando Romero, Aaron Slegers
CATCHERS (3): Willians Astudillo, Jordan Pacheco, Bobby Wilson
INFIELDERS (6): Jermaine Curtis, Taylor Featherston, Gregorio Petit, Leonardo Reginatto, Brock Stassi, Kennys Vargas
OUTFIELDERS (4): Nick Buss, Jake Cave, Zack Granite, James Ramsey
4/6 - Aaron Slegers R
4/7 - Adalberto Mejia L
4/8 - Fernando Romero R
4/9 - Dietrich Enns L
4/10 - Myles Jaye R
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