Tuesday Camp Notes: Splitsville
Image courtesy of Jerome Miron, USA Today* With Quentin having a June 1st opt-out built into his minor-league deal, there has been some speculation that the Twins might send him to Rochester as depth in case somebody gets hurt or Arcia fizzles early on.
But assistant GM Rob Antony says that the veteran outfielder, who sat out the 2015 season, was signed with an agreement that he’d only be shipped to Triple-A if he had a clear path to the majors.
“He had no problem going to the minor leagues if we saw him as a fit, if he just needed at-bats or something,” Antony explained. “But if we said we don’t see it happening or whatever, I basically verbally told him … I’m not just going to run you down to Rochester and hold you there for two months.”
In other words, if the Twins decide Arcia is their guy, don’t expect Quentin to stick around. But it’s overly hasty to presume that outcome.
“He’s had a very good spring,” the AGM noted of Quentin, who went 1-for-3 with a double and walk today.
* Will it be good enough to unseat the front-runner Arcia? The 24-year-old had himself a solid game with a double and a walk of his own. He also struck out for a 10th time (tying Byung Ho Park for the team lead), but his approach at the plate has been noticeably better.
“Bruno’s happy with his progress, so that’s enough said,” according to bench coach Joe Vavra, who watched things play out today as acting manager.
Meanwhile, Arcia's improvement in the outfield and on the base paths has been as obvious as the trimmed down physique that’s contributed to it. Today he made a heads-up play scrambling from second to third on a ball that skipped away from Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph. This after sprinting about 100 feet to make a nice running catch in left on Monday.
“Those are all big plays, and we’re watching,” Vavra said. “Those are important."
* Spring training is interesting. For established veterans who have been through the grind repeatedly and are just trying to stay healthy into the regular season, it becomes a nuisance that drags on.
For guys like Buddy Boshers, it’s an opportunity worth savoring.
The non-roster invite was out of organized ball last year, pitching in an independent league where he caught the attention of the Twins and a few other teams by posting a 1.00 ERA with a 71-to-14 K/BB ratio in 54 innings. When he had the choice between a couple of different suitors on minor-league deals, Minnesota’s bullpen composition appealed to him and his agent.
“That was a big key for signing here,” said the 27-year-old southpaw. “They needed some left-handed depth in the bullpen.”
He ended up pitching for the Somerset Patriots after being released from Rockies camp last March and receiving no calls. The resounding success he achieved in the Somerset bullpen with his mid-90s fastball and big curve led to his landing with the Twins and getting a shot to compete for a relief job.
Given that he isn’t on the 40-man roster, Boshers is a long shot to win a spot on Opening Day, but right now he’s got all he wants: a chance.
“I’m getting some opportunities so I can’t really complain,” he said.
He made the most of the one he got today. Boshers worked two scoreless frames, including a 1-2-3 sixth against three intimidating big-league righties: Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo.
* Boshers wasn’t the only reliever battling for a job who got an extended look today. It was a bullpen game for Minnesota, with lefty Logan Darnell getting the start and pitching just a couple innings, so the Twins were able to stretch out a few arms, giving two innings apiece to Boshers, Brandon Kintzler and Michael Tonkin.
The stakes are high for Tonkin, in terms of his future with the organization, because he’s out of options and would almost certainly be claimed if he hit waivers. He’s been enduring a miserable spring but had an excellent outing today, retiring all six batters he faced.
The big righty was repeatedly painting the outside corner with his 95 MPH power fastball, making it almost unhittable, and mixed in a sharp breaking ball that drew strong reviews from Vavra after the game.
* A couple hours away in Clearwater, the other half of the split-squad dispatched the Phillies 7-5. Byron Buxton had a pair of hits but struck out three times. Park drove in a couple of runs. Slugging prospect Daniel Palka, acquired in exchange for Chris Herrmann during the offseason, launched two home runs.
* The Twins released a number of minor-leaguers over the past couple days, and most of the names wouldn’t be recognized by anyone other than our guy Seth.
One that stuck out, however, was pitcher Brandon Poulson. You may remember him as the the big 6’6” righty with a triple-digit fastball who received a shocking $250,000 bonus to sign with the Twins in July of 2014 despite being undrafted.
If they could get the kid to throw it in the zone, it was said, he could be a story destined for Hollywood.
Unfortunately, that just never happened.
“Couldn’t throw it over,” Antony said. “He had a terrific arm, and we tried a lot of different things, but he wasn’t able to throw enough strikes.”
Poulson is now 26, and still hadn’t appeared in a full-season league. In 20 rookie ball appearances over the last two seasons, he issued 32 walks in 27 2/3 innings.
* Tomorrow Ricky Nolasco will take the mound against the Rays at 12:05 CT. It'll be my last day in camp, sadly, but Parker will be checking in to wrap up our spring training coverage.
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