• Clearing the Path

    When the offseason began, most Twins fans had high hopes that the organization would finally dive into free agency and grab an upper-level starting pitcher. No one realistically expected the Twins to jump through hoops and go after Zach Greinke or Anibal Sanchez, especially after the market for starting pitching went crazy early. However, a second-tier guy like Edwin Jackson was seemingly a realistic dream. Instead, the Twins have signed Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey in an attempt to assist the starting rotation.

    Many Twins fans wanted the team to go after a veteran middle infielder after watching Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon struggle in their first real big league opportunities. Although the Twins acquired some quality pitching from Washington and Philadelphia, it came with the loss of centerfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere. So, there are some fans that wanted the Twins to go after a centerfielder in free agency. Hey, Michael Bourn is still out there, right?
    There is, however, a case to be made that the Twins have been true to themselves and to the players brought up through their organization. It has long been a slogan of the organization. The Twins prefer to build from within. Thats true in the front office, and its true on the field. It is how the Twins have done it for over 30 years, and it is a belief that has proven successful over time. It is the best way to build sustained success.



    Unfortunately, the Twins minor league system since the middle of the past decade has not been able to supply the big league roster with players. Because of that, just one offseason ago, GM Terry Ryan was aggressive in his pursuit of free agents Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Jamey Carroll.

    So what changed this offseason? Well, several of the Twins top prospects made positive strides in the 2012 season and made themselves ready for their big league opportunity. Some even got their first taste of the big league life. This offseason, the Twins have added Alex Meyer and Trevor May, and now have several pitchers that are close. Because of that, it appears, the Twins may not have been as aggressive in free agency. Why? Because the Twins have a very nice core of minor leaguers that are going to be ready to debut in 2013. Others have shown that they have nothing more to prove in the minor leagues and deserve the opportunity to show if they can make it in the big leagues. 2013 is a great opportunity for many players to take a positive step forward in their career, and if a couple of them are able to take big strides and show that they can be consistent and counted on for the future, that is the perfect scenario.

    Chris Parmelee The 24-year-old will get an opportunity to start the season in right field for the Twins. Last year in 64 games at Rochester, he found his power. He hit .338/.457/.645 (1.102) with 17 doubles and 17 home runs. He got time with the Twins and certainly did not look intimidated. He deserves this opportunity to play every day and see what he can become.

    Liam Hendriks We all know that Hendriks struggled most of the 2012 season with the Twins, but he has little to prove in AAA any more. In 16 starts, he went 9-3 with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.98 ERA. His minor league strikeout rate is 7.9 K/9, although that number dropped to 6.9 K/9 last year. He had elbow surgery in October but says he will be ready this spring. (Vance Worley had the same surgery in August, and Scott Diamond did in September.)

    Brian Dozier Yes, he really struggled in 2012 with the Twins, but many players struggle in their first big league opportunity. We can all see that he was handled wrong last year. He was over-touted in spring training, brought up too quickly in early May, and then sent down too late. But it would be silly to completely give up on him. No one is expecting him to be an All Star, but can he be a solid every day starter? Im not yet willing to say he is not. He will turn 26 during the season, so it will be a big year for him.

    Pedro Florimon Im less confident that Florimon will ever hit in the big leagues, primarily because he has never hit in the minor leagues. Last year, his defense with the Twins wasnt very good either. At 26, this will be a big year for him to show that his defense is worth the (lack of) bat. Having the stable Jamey Carroll around, along with Eduardo Escobar, will certainly lower the risk.

    Joe Benson Like Parmelee, Benson will turn 25 during Spring Training. 2012 was a lost season for him. He was hurt all season and his play on the field showed it. He should be healthy in 2013, and when he has been healthy, he has produced. One year ago at this time, he was the Twins #3 prospect by Baseball America. He will get an opportunity to start the season as the centerfielder. He is a great athlete and can play all three outfield positions. Like others, its a big year for him to show what he can do.

    Aaron Hicks Hicks will be 23 years old throughout the 2013 season. He blossomed in 2012 when he hit .286/.384/.460 with 21 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, 100 runs scored, 61 RBI and 32 stolen bases. He is also a tremendous outfielder with a very strong arm. Since the Span and Revere trades, Hicks has been receiving most of the attention and will certainly be given a real shot at opening the season as the Twins centerfield. If it doesnt happen on Opening Day, it will happen sometime during the season.

    Oswaldo Arcia Between Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2012, Arcia hit .320/.388/.539 with 36 doubles, eight triples, 17 home runs and 98 RBI. He will go to his second spring training as a 21 year old. He is a long-shot to make the Opening Day roster, but at some point during the season, it would not be surprising to see him make his debut.

    Kyle Gibson The Twins top pick in 2009, he was on the fast track to the big leagues until he underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2011 season. His rehab in 2012 went as scripted and he will be ready to debut with the Twins sometime in 2013. Will it be Opening Day or not? Will it be as a starter or a reliever? He will be up early in the season.

    Scott Diamond Yes, he is a given to start the season in the Twins rotation (assuming his elbow allows), but that doesnt mean that there arent still questions about what his future holds. Hopefully what he showed in 2012 is the true Scott Diamond, but again, we will find out more in 2013.

    Alex Meyer and Trevor May he two prospects received in the December trades are both Top 10 Twins prospects who have work to do in the minor leagues. Both are intriguing, hard-throwing, high-upside prospects. Although both will likely debut in 2014, if all goes well, they could see time in 2013.

    Caleb Thielbar and Tyler Robertson These two lefty relievers may be competing for one bullpen spot in spring training, particularly if the Twins decide to carry a third lefty reliever (since Glen Perkins will be the closer).

    So, there are 13 players Ive mentioned above could be seen in a Twins uniform in 2013. Some of these players are top prospects. Some of them have somewhat graduated from the minor leagues and deserve an opportunity to succeed or fail in the big leagues. Some guys will make their debuts and deserve an opportunity to show what they can do.

    If some of these guys can become the core of the next sustained Twins success, that would be best case. Within the next few seasons, there will be an influx of additional talent coming through the farm system. Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and some of those college pitcher draft picks from 2012. Beyond that, names like Byron Buxton and JO Berrios will be coming. In my mind, 2013 is the beginning of what will hopefully be the sustained success that we hear so much about.

    Consider all of the players that the Twins brought up from 1999 through 2006, and what it meant for Twins fans over the better part of a decade. Yes, its been a long couple of seasons, and 2013 could be equally long. However, when you can see the plan, there is at least reason for optimism.

    The Twins front office could have gone out and signed players who would, in essence, block these players. However, if we can all agree that the best way to sustained success is to build from within (and them supplement your core with free agents when they are close to competing), then it is more difficult to argue with the strategy. Sometimes it is important to clear the path.
    This article was originally published in blog: Clearing the Path started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 30 Comments
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Alex Meyer pitched 39 innings in A+ ball in 2012. Trevor May pitched about 150 innings in AA with an 4.87 ERA and a WHIP of 1.450. I would think that neither will see MLB action this year unless the Twins are incredibly desperate.
      On the other hand I have a high regard for your opinion. Really Seth? Might we see these guys on the major league roster this year?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      Alex Meyer pitched 39 innings in A+ ball in 2012. Trevor May pitched about 150 innings in AA with an 4.87 ERA and a WHIP of 1.450. I would think that neither will see MLB action this year unless the Twins are incredibly desperate.
      On the other hand I have a high regard for your opinion. Really Seth? Might we see these guys on the major league roster this year?
      Maybe. May is on the 40 man roster, and if he shows better control, there's no reason to think that he won't be brought up in September. Meyer is less likely, although he has more upside. He won't (and shouldn't) be rushed. He doesn't even have to be added to the 40 man roster until after the 2014 season, so there is no reason to. That said, if his stuff comes together, he could move very fast.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I agree that the Twins need to open up roster spots for many of the kids coming through the system. I don't agree that they needed to leave open quite that much room (and fill the spots they did with incredibly lackluster players).

      I'm actually tempted to write something about Ryan's refusal to address the middle infield situation and how it impacts the team in 2014.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      I don't think there is anything blocking either Meyer or May from advancing very quickly if they are lights out.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I agree that the Twins need to open up roster spots for many of the kids coming through the system. I don't agree that they needed to leave open quite that much room (and fill the spots they did with incredibly lackluster players).

      I'm actually tempted to write something about Ryan's refusal to address the middle infield situation and how it impacts the team in 2014.
      Yeah, the purpose of this is not at all to justify the Correia signing. I'll never understand that one. I do get the bigger picture. I am perfectly fine with not doing anything in the middle infield though.
    1. pajavorski's Avatar
      pajavorski -
      "Clearing the path", that makes sense for outfield but who is seriously being blocked in the starting rotation? With both gibson and diamond in the rotation our starting staff has more holes than Swiss cheese. 0% chance on Alex Meyer reaching the majors this year right? And May has some control issues to work out and has not pitched that much in AA. I am fine with the twins not spending cash on a lost 2013 season but that saved money better be allocated to free agent spending in the 2014-2015 time frame to patch the holes and field a true contender. We are going to most likely need two infielders and a quality second tier pitcher or two.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by pajavorski View Post
      "Clearing the path", that makes sense for outfield but who is seriously being blocked in the starting rotation? With both gibson and diamond in the rotation our starting staff has more holes than Swiss cheese. 0% chance on Alex Meyer reaching the majors this year right? And May has some control issues to work out and has not pitched that much in AA. I am fine with the twins not spending cash on a lost 2013 season but that saved money better be allocated to free agent spending in the 2014-2015 time frame to patch the holes and field a true contender. We are going to most likely need two infielders and a quality second tier pitcher or two.
      No one is blocking them. That's the point. And, at the end of the year, we'll find out if they need two infielders, one, none... Plouffe, Dozier, etc., will get the opportunity to show if they can be part of the plans for 2014, 2015, etc.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Trade Justin and we will probably need all four.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      If we can all agree? Settle for might be the better question. This lull didn't have to happen. It was orchestrated by bad management, which is virtually the same as it ever was. (Sure, one can contend that Bill Smith was his own person and some of the management was different, and that he wasn't just a different guy wearing the same suit, but I can't.) How did i/we get here? Watching the days go by..........
    1. Jeff P's Avatar
      Jeff P -
      I agree with what you are saying and I am not as upset about the lack of high end FA signings as many Twins fans are, but logical next step is that the Twins should not sign anyone next year either. Most of the guys you list will either be making their debut in 2014 or will need to be given a chance to learn from their experiences in 2013. It seems like next year is a more important year to let guys play and see what they can do.

      Maybe the lack of FA signings won't be so bad because at least then many of the top prospects will be in MN, part of the frustration as a fan is that even though the bases have been cleared, realistically we won't see a bunch of these guys until later in the year or not at all. Again I understand why, but let's face it, this is going to be a tough year for the fans who are paying big money to watch a bad team with a bunch of guys who won't be here in two years.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      If we can all agree? Settle for might be the better question. This lull didn't have to happen. It was orchestrated by bad management, which is virtually the same as it ever was. (Sure, one can contend that Bill Smith was his own person and some of the management was different, and that we wasn't just a different guy wearing the same suit, but I can't.) How did i/we get here? Watching the days go by..........
      Fair enough, but obviously the Twins front office has to move past that and do what they believe is the best thing for the long-term for the Twins. Twins FANS don't have to move past it, but it is the reality. They can't take back certain moves or picks, they can only go forward.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      I would've written a different list. I know the fast-track can work (Meyer has already had success at A+, and could see some mlb time if he dominates at AA this season,) but I think it is much more likely that some of the guys who have already debuted will progress to greater levels of production. Almost all players have a season or 2 of adjusting at the mlb level before they are stable players.These guys have already had those seasons:
      Sam Deduno
      Cole Devries
      Liam Hendriks
      Casey Fien
      Anthony Swarzak
      Chris Parmelee
      Trevor Plouffe
      Joe Benson
      Darin Mastroianni
      Brian Dozier
      Alex Burnett
      -all have seen some mlb time and offer their own reasons for hope, but would need to perform better than they ever have in the majors to be considered an asset. These are the guys who seem to be at the age and the point in their development that they will either excel and make a real impact, or falter and disappear.
      Last year, Diamond/Revere were at that point and established himself. Plouffe/Fein kind of did. Valencia/Hughes were at that make-or-break point and he broke.
      When I look at this list, I see some reasons for hope, but not many reasons for solid faith. I can easily imagine Plouffe going the way of Valencia, Dozier going the way of Luke Hughes, Chris Parmelee going the way of Brian Buchanan, Sam Deduno going the way of Willie Banks (sorry I couldn't come up with a more recent comp)...

      I hope a couple of these guys will find a ceiling higher than role-player as I think it there is an even slimmer chance that Gibson, Hicks, Arcia or May are going to be big impact players in 2013. I'll be happy if they get a chance to see some time on the big field and start to acclimate themselves. They are the hope of 2014 to me.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Seth, I'll agree that you don't want to block your "top prospects," but I can't go along with the concept that guys who have merely "somewhat graduated" from minor league ball (whether that means they'll soon be at risk to being lost to other teams or that they've simply not demonstrably failed at the higher minor league levels) really "deserve" regular playing time at the MLB level.

      The argument that you don't block a young player should only apply when that player has shown a high likelihood of above average success in the Big Leagues. Someone who merely is graduating from the minors shouldn't feel entitled to a spot. If the Twins FO can find affordable veteran players that, in their judgement, are better ballplayers at a given position of need, those players should be acquired.

      In the Twins' past, those graduating minor leaguers with mediocre talent would inherit jobs because they were inexpensive and that factor alone kept the under-funded organization from being able to acquire better talent. But that should no longer be the sole determining factor.

      If a AA or AAA player wants a regular job on the Big League club, he should go out and prove he's a good bet to be better than anyone the team might be able to acquire via trade or free agency. If he can't do that, he shouldn't feel he "deserves" to have a path cleared for him on the Twins.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      My question is why didnt we acquire 1 or 2 quality free agents , and then trade them come july,adding to our prospects? As well i question not taking Lara with a 2nd pick in the rule 5 draft. It would be nice to have a 98mph lefty avalible coming out of the pen , rather then Robertsons 5.40 ERA
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I dont' think I said that any of the players have said they 'deserved' to be handed a job. I talked to Benson, Parmelee, Hendriks, Gibson, Dozier and Hicks and none of them have said they should be or will be handed anything. They know they have to earn it.
    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      Given the "clearing the path" theme, I certainly see a justification for these moves. If you are Pollyanna (and I am) there is pitching potential, outfield potential, and bounceback potential all over the place. Except one. And it's the one Seth acknowledges.

      Pedro Florimon has had a long time in the minors to develop, and has never hit. He is a flashy fielder, but makes way too many mistakes to overcome his weak bat. He's (most likely) not going to start hitting. And more importantly, we don't have any almost-ready middle infielders that he is blocking, probably for 2 years. Given the payroll, finding a solid SS on a 2-year deal would have made sense all around (still would, if any were available).

      As we put batting lineups together for 2013, the glaring holes are at #1 and #2, and we're hoping against hope that whoever mans CF can be one of those (which is a lot of pressure on Mastroanni, Benson, or Hicks), but without moving Mauer up to #2 (which isn't going to happen, in all probability), we don't have TWO guys. I don't mind starting Dozier at 2B, and Carroll at SS or utility, but the existence of both Escobar and Florimon is like admitting that we don't have a good-enough player, so we're going to rotate three backups.

      1 more player. Plenty of money. No blocking of an almost-ready minor leaguer. Dumping whichever of Escobar or Florimon, and just having 1 of them as a second utility/back-up guy along with Carroll. It just makes too much sense. Now, is he (was he) out there? That I don't know....
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      I think J.C. about nails it. It's also possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.
      How does Saint Louis accomplish this along with Tampa and their abundance of Pitching (see KC trade.)
      Even the Twins turned over their Team with out missing a beat. How many players were on the 2002 94 win team and also on the 94 win 2010 team?
      Only once did the Team win less then 83 games during the period between those seasons.
      Also, who is suppose to pay for these throwaway seasons? The Twins will still be charging premium prices for their product.
      The above list contains to many average Players. We have seen this scenario before. (90's) No thank you.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      No room for error. If you will not sign free agents, every one of these guys has to work out and stay healthy and be effective for 5 or so years. I hope it works, because many more 90+ loss seasons, and they have lost me.
    1. ND-Fan's Avatar
      ND-Fan -
      I agree that these players may well turn the corner and become solid major league players but i also would have liked the Twins sign couple more pichers to one year deals for the 2013 season because with all pitchers the twins signed there's bound to be some busts because where they are in careers and health. Even if all these pitchers did make team hold back couple of younger starting pitchers for part of 2013 it would give the twins excellent pitchers that could be traded for some young
      prospects to help shore up some weakness in Twins farm system with middle infielders. Also signing of another middle infielder to help shore up the middle defense would have been prudent and if to minor league contract they could have stock piled him at triple AAA. The Twins could also be on track to be wild card tender if they get some pitching and play better defense up the middle because if M&M and Willingham have average to above average season the twins offense could be good enough to start winning few close games. The key is that pitching cann't be like last year where team is down 4 to 5 runs before the 3 inning. I look at Diamonds starts they were pretty much in those games because he held other team down and bull pen was good enough to hold and win the game. These young players if they all are up with Twins early it means twins have season 100 losses and is building for the 2015 season. I t will be good long term plan but pretty much writes of the season and comes down to just going to target field to watch baseball and dream of the future. It will also give the twins another good draft of player to stock there farm system. What happened 5 or 6 years ago when twins minor league drafts were such a bust.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      The Twins would be talking world series today if they had made the trade the Jays made with the Marlins. 2SP & 2 MI was just what the Twins needed. Now you can just wish for another 5 years.
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